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Monday, October 05, 2009

"Bamso: The Art of Dreams." A book Review.

I was recently sent a copy of "Bamso: The Art of Dreams" and initially I thought it was more of a manual on how to use your dreams to better your life. And while it does offer some insights in how to use dreams to solve problems in your daily life it reads more like a novel or one person's dream diary. It certainly paints a very wonderful journey of the mind and it's an interesting read. However, personally I find the ideas of astral projection, mental projection and time travel through dreams to be distractions from our ideals as Buddhists of waking up from dreams and illusions.

I have found that the mind in Buddhism is not something to be encouraged. Also, In the book the teacher encourages the student to cultivate his imagination. For many Buddhists such an activity is going against much of the teachings on Dharma to reduce our fantasies and imaginations, which often distract us from the present moment of right here, right now. The Buddha taught that this present moment is all we have and I personally believe that gallivanting off into our dreams can be a really good way to lose focus and become distracted from true awakening.

That said, dreams can provide insights from time to time but attaching too much importance to them (I have found) just leads to more attachments. I have done astral projection before and while it was fun and interesting I didn't do much for me except cause me to attach to the warm fuzzies I often felt mentally traveling through fantasy worlds. It would probably best be appreciated in the Buddhist community by Tibetan Buddhists, who seem to be more open to dream analysis more than other schools. Especially the Dream Yoga and Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhist traditions. I do believe that sometimes dreams replay events from past lives but there is no way of knowing this for sure in a scientifically proven sense. However, I see most dreams as an amalgamation of the days events, worries, fears, hopes, desires and miscellaneous images. If we as Buddhists are too awaken to the illusory nature of our waking state then how is it that we should attach too much importance to our dreams?

The book did explain that if nothing else analyzing your dreams can bring about better sleep and relaxation during the day. Personally, it is quite distressing to have a nightmare and feel the distressing energy throughout the next day. So there suggestion in the book of combining dream analysis with meditation seems useful in letting go of the suffering that often comes with nightmares. Overall I personally wouldn't recommend this book for Buddhists who usually want to wake up from dream states, not enforce them. At least that's how I see it but I'm not a Buddhist master or anything. I know Buddha experienced dreams but somehow it's different, though I can't quite explain why. Perhaps it's that Buddha used his dreams to wake up, not enforce his delusions of the pleasure seeking self. As a Zennist who strips a lot of metaphysical aspects from his practice I'd give this book a 4 out of 10. If you're just looking for a good novel/story though I'd give it a higher rating. That said, I'd be happy to send this to anyone interested in it. Just email me: jaymur-at-gmail-dot-com. UPDATE: This book has now been claimed.

~Peace to all beings~

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Just Dave said...

One of the things I benefited from during my time with Vajrayana Buddhism was the practice of "Dream Yoga". The practice(s) are designed, basically, so that one, when asleep, may realise they are dreaming. This proves very useful when it comes to being "awake" as it aids one in seeing the illusionary nature of reality.

But I most certainly agree with your point on astral projection etc. Adding more to the mind - - spending time there as if it were a vaccation - - this is perhaps not wise at all. Time travel seems somehow against living in the now!

Kaz Maslanka said...

Yep, I agree there seems to be nothing zen about that book.


Marco said...

I haven't read this book but I find this very interesting. Would love to have lottery

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