The book Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light (Click
here and Buy This Book)
was first inspired many years ago by a series of dreams I had of my
teacher Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. It has now been well over a decade
publication of the first edition of the book,
and it has been officially translated into more than a dozen
It was also bootlegged in Russian before the fall of the communist
Within the second edition manuscript, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has included specific methods for training, transforming, dissolving, disordering, stabilizing, essentializing, holding, and reversing dreams. In addition, he has presented practices for maintaining one's practice throughout all moments of the day and night.
Over the years, tens of thousands have read it. As I have traveled teaching Dream Yoga I have heard many accounts of how people have been inspired by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s example and encouragement. On at least one occasion the book literally fell off a shelf, and hit someone on the head. We have included links to the Dzogchen community's bookstore where interested readers might purchase this book as well as many other books, which provide access to the Dzogchen tradition.
Many have understood Rinpoche’s message about the importance practicing Dream Yoga or the Dzogchen practice of Natural light. In other words using the time spent asleep and dreaming for spiritual or transpersonal purposes. We offer these web pages to further this work, and we are inviting conscious dreamers to share their dreams of clarity which will be posted anonymously on the web site to inspire others. It is not only Chogyal Namkhai Norbu who has dream experience although his is truly extraordinary.
One of the important messages of Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light has been the distinction between the Dzogchen awareness referred to as rigpa, which arises from the practice of natural light, and the more relative but still important experience of lucid dreaming. The lucidity experience, which may arise as a by-product of rigpa awareness or spontaneously due to karmic causes, assists in understanding the unreality of phenomena, which otherwise, during dream or the death experience, might be overwhelming. My teachers have cautioned seeking experiences of lucid dreaming simply for entertainment.
Great Yogis who have mastered Dzogchen awareness meditation and who have developed the Practice of Natural Light are able to liberate themselves directly into the great clear light at the moment of death. Practitioners who have at least developed the capacity for occasional lucid dreaming may still recognize the apparitions that arise within the sidpai bardo as illusory. Reportedly, at the time of death when the mental body is uncoupled from the physical body, all experiences are magnified by a factor of seven. At these moments, according to our teachers, there is a possibility of achieving a form of liberation.
The habitual tendencies towards ignorance accrued over countless lifetimes are powerful. How many of us see the signs of age in the mirror and have little in the way of dream awareness to show for it. It is likely that you, like myself, were unconscious in your dreams for most of the three years you have spent sleeping in the past decade.
Progress in the practices of dream yoga and the Dzogchen practice of natural light will allow us to realize a form of enlightenment during the death process as we practice lucidity and awareness during the moments of sleep. Conversely, continued ignorance within the states of sleep and dreaming will ensure only continued rebirth within one of the realms of samsara.
Even a few experiences
of lucidity or, more ideally, seizing upon the lucid
One should be heartened by the advanced practices described within the dream yoga book as well as the inspirational dreams to be included on the web pages. Although progress may not always be swift, it is essential that all of us look carefully at our capacity and move forward. This may entail making an effort to remember a dream for the first time, or if more advanced, transforming dreams. There are greater and greater gifts available to those who take up the practice of dream work at any level.
Within my practice as a psychologist, I have had the opportunity to travel and conduct workshops in Dream Yoga over the years. These workshops have assisted others to develop lucidity in dreams and understand the spiritual context. The work also promotes relative goals often associated with Western psychotherapy such as understanding the unconscious and integrating that, which is disowned.
Occasionally when requested I have had to decline transmitting the practice of natural light. This practice is linked with the Dzogchen transmission and the practice of Guru Yoga, and only a master like Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has the capacity to introduce this state of extraordinary non conceptual awareness. The book has also inspired many to receive Dzogchen transmission directly from a master Lama.
The Buddha taught that every being possesses the capacity to recognize Rigpa. Our obscurations cloud this awareness that, according to one metaphor, continuously shines like the sun hidden by clouds. With practice, Rigpa may be accessed at any moment, even within the various stages of sleep and dreaming. It is never destroyed.
There are myriad metaphors used to explain our lack of relationship with Rigpa. One of my favorites is a story about a poor peasant who had nothing and continuously bemoaned his fate. Due to his extreme poverty, he was forced to use a stone for a pillow. The irony of the story is that the stone he used for his pillow was a diamond. Here this diamond represents Rigpa.
I offer a more personal anecdote on the subject. Some years ago, I had seized an opportunity to conduct a retreat so as to interrupt my busy routine and focus on the inner life. On this occasion I had arranged to conduct a “dark retreat” according to instructions by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Contrary to expectations, the dark retreat affords a secure and tranquil environment to practice meditation without any external light.
The dark retreat, by virtue of reducing distractions to a minimum, provides a natural opportunity to practice dream yoga and the practice of natural light. Early on during what would be a twenty-two-day retreat in the dark, I had a dream.
In it I was standing on a beach near the shoreline. In the surf I saw a crystal baby being washed back and forth by the waves. Although I had little hope that the baby was alive due to its prolonged exposure to the waves and the ocean, I nevertheless rushed down to the shore and snatched it out of the water. No sooner had I cradled it in my arms than the crystal baby became animated. Its uniqueness and beauty instantly struck me.
This dream expresses a great deal about our predicament - and its solution. Distracted by the 100,000 things of the world, our crystal awareness, or Rigpa, is temporarily obscured by the waves of violent emotions. Despite this, it is never destroyed and, with attention, becomes alive.
often takes a kind of shock to stir us from our
complacency and habitual tendencies. In the same way that seeing a baby
thrown by the waves of violent surf would spur one to immediate action,
Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light and the Dream yoga website
reminder to awaken.
New York City 2005