Dream initiations, etc.

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FiveSkandhas
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Dream initiations, etc.

Post by FiveSkandhas » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am

There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:33 am

I definitely think it's possible. Now, once it leaves one's subjective experience and into the realm of "prove it is transmission" or "since I had this happen in a dream I don't need a human teacher"...then we enter into the realm of ego gratification and have answered our own question.

Particularly in Vajrayana, one has all kinds of experiences, but we still have to rely on a human Guru to truly validate these, at least I would.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by FromTheEarth » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:43 pm

The Tibetan ones are called pure visions and are actually quite common: some of the most popular contemporary practices come from such origins.

To humbly clarify the point, I would like to say that these experiences are not restricted to Vajrayana practitioners or the Vajrayana system although you have already included "teachings" in the original post. Distinguished from mere auspicious dreams, the experiences in which one can interact with a higher being and receive teachings (1) are considered legitimate within Mahayana in general, (2) could take place in dreams, meditative states, and other samadhi practices, and (3) may be designated as a goal of some particular practices rather than naturally arising religious experience (and in those contexts, the person could be a diligent, devoted practitioner who may still be an ordinary, defiled being).

One of the earliest (no later than the 2nd century) Pure Land/Amitabha-centric sutra, the Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra mentioned, after a long-term, say, three-month, ascetic practice of constant walking and concentrating on the thought of Buddha, one may achieve such a state:
Likewise, if one wishes to see a Buddha, one with a pure mind will be able to see. When one sees Him, one can ask questions, and He will give a reply.
Another important text is the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, which is associated with the Lotus Sutra and lays out the foundation for Tiantai/Tendai Lotus Samadhi practice and East Asian repentance liturgies. In this text, one is supposed to repent and pray to Samantabhandra until He and Buddhas from the ten directions manifest to the practitioner in person. Here is a part of what one is supposed to experience:
是時,行者見諸菩薩身心歡喜,為其作禮,白言:『大慈大悲者!愍念我故,為我說法。』說是語時,諸菩薩等異口同音各說清淨大乘經法,作諸偈頌讚歎行者,是名始觀普賢菩薩最初境界。
(my literal translation) By that time, the practitioner sees the Bodhisattvas and feels joy in his mind and body. The practitioner then pays hommage to Them and says "The Ones with Great Mercy and Compassion! Please mercifully think of me and teach the Dharma to me." When he says these words, the Bodhisattvas respectively articulate the Pure Mahayana Sutras and teachings with but one voice. They (also) compose various verses to praise the practitioner. This is called the First Stage of the Samantabhadra Meditation.
The Samantabhadra Sutra has already been translated but I could not find a digital version by now so I'd just give my literal translation here. Please correct me for any inaccuracies or mistakes. The practice of Samantabhadra Meditation normally lasts 21 days and is designed for those who "have not eliminated the defilement nor distanced oneself from the five worldly desires (不斷煩惱不離五欲)."

Whether the private revelations/teachings could be publicized and endorsed by the relevant sectarian authorities is another problem. That would be much more complex. Contingencies, such as doctrinal, organizational and political factors, may all affect the matter. Supposedly, the Samgha or spiritual authorities in other forms would (and should) get involved and examine them based on whether the revelations are in conformity with the orthodox doctrines and tradition. But were I to answer the question directly, at least for me personally, I would say that if I were to receive a transmission of views and practices from such resources, I would definitely make sure that I could trust the person as a great practitioner in the first place.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by WesleyP » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:21 pm

Like the appearances of the Tibetan dreaming practices? . .

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by tatpurusa » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:56 pm

Initiations and serious teachings through dreams (or during meditation) are common at a certain stage.
But in order to be able to utilize and follow those teaching one has to be able to distinguish between karmic
dreams, common daydreams and pure visions.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by PeterC » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:43 am

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures?
There have been many celebrated cycles of teachings revealed in dreams and pure visions in the 19th and 20th centuries, not least major cycles of teachings such as the Chokgyur Lingpa and Dudjom Lingpa / Dudjom Rinpoche lineages, which are very popular Nyingma practices. The minor cycles revealed this way are numerous. So yes, pretty much every Vajrayana practitioner will accept this as completely valid.

However nobody takes these on trust. Chokgyur Lingpa and Dudjom Lingpa were the subject of considerable skepticism initially, some of it quite aggressive and overt, until their teachings were validated either by more established teachers' recognition, or by the achievements of themselves and their students. Nobody assumes revealed teachings of any kind to be valid without their having very good provenance. Nor, for that matter, do the recipients of the teachings always try to share them - often they are kept secret for a period of time, or shared with only one or a very few students. For instance, very few people received Ayu Khandro's mind termas, though she was clearly a very advanced practitioner. Dudjom Lingpa refused Jamgon Kongtrul's request to include his termas in Kongtrul's compilations of teachings, which would have given them both validation and greater distribution. And when you go a few centuries back in Tibetan Dharma literature, there is a lot of discussion of "fake lamas with fake termas", and of how one discriminates between valid and invalid teachings.

It it of course possible that a "humbler figure" may receive teachings in this way, and indeed a lot of advanced practitioners over the years have been humble and often largely unknown. What is rightly greeted with considerable skepticism is the newbie who goes to one Dharma talk, reads something about an yidam and then decides that she or he has received initiation in a dream and tells everyone about it on the internet. That isn't Dharma, that's deluded ideation, a.k.a. bullshit.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:18 am

WesleyP wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:21 pm
Like the appearances of the Tibetan dreaming practices? . .
Yes and no. Pure visions do not necessarily come in dreams. If I was going to classify them according to Western psychology, they would fall in the category of hallucinations. Not to say that one cannot receive them in dreams...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by humble.student » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:26 am

FromTheEarth wrote: Another important text is the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, which is associated with the Lotus Sutra and lays out the foundation for Tiantai/Tendai Lotus Samadhi practice and East Asian repentance liturgies. In this text, one is supposed to repent and pray to Samantabhandra until He and Buddhas from the ten directions manifest to the practitioner in person. Here is a part of what one is supposed to experience:
是時,行者見諸菩薩身心歡喜,為其作禮,白言:『大慈大悲者!愍念我故,為我說法。』說是語時,諸菩薩等異口同音各說清淨大乘經法,作諸偈頌讚歎行者,是名始觀普賢菩薩最初境界。
(my literal translation) By that time, the practitioner sees the Bodhisattvas and feels joy in his mind and body. The practitioner then pays hommage to Them and says "The Ones with Great Mercy and Compassion! Please mercifully think of me and teach the Dharma to me." When he says these words, the Bodhisattvas respectively articulate the Pure Mahayana Sutras and teachings with but one voice. They (also) compose various verses to praise the practitioner. This is called the First Stage of the Samantabhadra Meditation.
The Samantabhadra Sutra has already been translated but I could not find a digital version by now so I'd just give my literal translation here. Please correct me for any inaccuracies or mistakes. The practice of Samantabhadra Meditation normally lasts 21 days and is designed for those who "have not eliminated the defilement nor distanced oneself from the five worldly desires (不斷煩惱不離五欲)."
Here you go: https://rk-world.org/publications/Three ... sSutra.pdf

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:29 am

humble.student wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:26 am
FromTheEarth wrote: Another important text is the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, which is associated with the Lotus Sutra and lays out the foundation for Tiantai/Tendai Lotus Samadhi practice and East Asian repentance liturgies. In this text, one is supposed to repent and pray to Samantabhandra until He and Buddhas from the ten directions manifest to the practitioner in person. Here is a part of what one is supposed to experience:
是時,行者見諸菩薩身心歡喜,為其作禮,白言:『大慈大悲者!愍念我故,為我說法。』說是語時,諸菩薩等異口同音各說清淨大乘經法,作諸偈頌讚歎行者,是名始觀普賢菩薩最初境界。
(my literal translation) By that time, the practitioner sees the Bodhisattvas and feels joy in his mind and body. The practitioner then pays hommage to Them and says "The Ones with Great Mercy and Compassion! Please mercifully think of me and teach the Dharma to me." When he says these words, the Bodhisattvas respectively articulate the Pure Mahayana Sutras and teachings with but one voice. They (also) compose various verses to praise the practitioner. This is called the First Stage of the Samantabhadra Meditation.
The Samantabhadra Sutra has already been translated but I could not find a digital version by now so I'd just give my literal translation here. Please correct me for any inaccuracies or mistakes. The practice of Samantabhadra Meditation normally lasts 21 days and is designed for those who "have not eliminated the defilement nor distanced oneself from the five worldly desires (不斷煩惱不離五欲)."
Here you go: https://rk-world.org/publications/Three ... sSutra.pdf
Thanks!

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Astus » Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:34 am

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world?
The source is less important than the content. As Mipham wrote:

"No matter what kind of person a teacher is, he cannot purify or liberate you. If the teaching he gives is truly meaningful, it is proper to adhere to it. But if it is not meaningful, it is improper to adhere to it. Thus, one should not rely on the person but on the teaching."
(Gateway to Knowledge, vol 4, p 123)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by humble.student » Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:05 pm

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.
You have partially answered your own question: the idea in general seems to be that remarkable figures are privy to this sort of transmission, whereas more humble figures, to use your terms, are more likely to receive dreams as signs a practice is working and that one is making progress. This is also found in some sutras. I would hazard a guess and say that the latter phenomenon is more common than the first. See also this relevant article: https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma7/dreams.html

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by WesleyP » Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:52 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:18 am
WesleyP wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:21 pm
Like the appearances of the Tibetan dreaming practices? . .
Yes and no. Pure visions do not necessarily come in dreams. If I was going to classify them according to Western psychology, they would fall in the category of hallucinations. Not to say that one cannot receive them in dreams...
So you fancy a bit of Western Pyschology . . But doesn't the Tibetan tradition have the Tantric dreaming practices.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by pemachophel » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:43 pm

It's possible to receive initiations and teachings in dreams. But then you have to practice those to see if they truly bear fruit. The proof of the authenticity is in the pudding, the fruition of the accomplishment. This is why some practitioners wait to practice a new terma or pure vision to see if it has resulted in obvious accomplishment in others.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:11 pm

WesleyP wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:52 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:18 am
WesleyP wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:21 pm
Like the appearances of the Tibetan dreaming practices? . .
Yes and no. Pure visions do not necessarily come in dreams. If I was going to classify them according to Western psychology, they would fall in the category of hallucinations. Not to say that one cannot receive them in dreams...
So you fancy a bit of Western Pyschology . . But doesn't the Tibetan tradition have the Tantric dreaming practices.
I am trying to explain to you in plain (Western) language and concepts the difference between pure visions and dreams.

Did you understand the difference?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

WesleyP
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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by WesleyP » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:58 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:11 pm
WesleyP wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:52 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:18 am
Yes and no. Pure visions do not necessarily come in dreams. If I was going to classify them according to Western psychology, they would fall in the category of hallucinations. Not to say that one cannot receive them in dreams...
So you fancy a bit of Western Pyschology . . But doesn't the Tibetan tradition have the Tantric dreaming practices.
I am trying to explain to you in plain (Western) language and concepts the difference between pure visions and dreams.

Did you understand the difference?
Sometimes.

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Grigoris
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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:19 pm

WesleyP wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:58 pm
Sometimes.
That's good enough.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by TheWhiteLotus » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:32 pm

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.
Yes it is possible and true. But don't get upset, that we don't follow you [become your student or follower] because of it. In the beginning visions as such can be mixed, a product of your own mind and pure vision. This is why we have the three jewels [The Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha and in some traditions include a 4th, the teacher], as a way to protect, the individual from delusions of the ego.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Caoimhghín » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:36 pm

TheWhiteLotus wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:32 pm
FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.
Yes it is possible and true. But don't get upset, that we don't follow you [become your student or follower] because of it. In the beginning visions as such can be mixed, a product of your own mind and pure vision. This is why we have the three jewels [The Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha and in some traditions include a 4th, the teacher], as a way to protect, the individual from delusions of the ego.
What I am familiar with moreso is the re-reading of the three jewels as mapped into the teacher's body, speech, and mind, which in turn is based on other mappings. Where did u hear of the four jewel?
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

Simon E.
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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:43 am

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.
I have no direct experience of this myself. But a practitioner whose integrity and commitment I don’t doubt had such an experience..I.e. receiving an empowerment in a dream.
Her reaction, and I think it was based on sound principles, was to seek out that same empowerment in the “ outer world”:so that there an alignment between the inner and the outer.
This both affirmed the reality of the dream and removed any subjectivity.
“ When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won’t be there no more
Any major dude will tell you”.

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Re: Dream initiations, etc.

Post by SonamTashi » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:59 am

Caoimhghín wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:36 pm
TheWhiteLotus wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:32 pm
FiveSkandhas wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 am
There are a number of stories in Japanese Buddhism (and I think I have seen a few Tibetan ones as well) about people receiving empowerment/initiation/teachings etc. directly from higher beings in dreams rather than by human agency. Granted, these are stories of great historically famous teachers and lineage founders, not your average aspirants, as far as I know.

But I was wondering about your opinions on this phenomenon. Does anyone think it is a valid form of transmission, etc. in the modern world? Could it work for humbler figures? One thing is that it is usually (but perhaps not always) connected with situations in which people are in isolated areas or situations in which contact with a valid teacher seems almost impossible. In this day and age most people can access teachers, although not necessarily easily. One thing is for certain: you would need to have a great deal of confidence in such a dream (or be badly mistaken/a charlatan) to place so much faith in a dream unless you were already a highly advanced practitioner.
Yes it is possible and true. But don't get upset, that we don't follow you [become your student or follower] because of it. In the beginning visions as such can be mixed, a product of your own mind and pure vision. This is why we have the three jewels [The Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha and in some traditions include a 4th, the teacher], as a way to protect, the individual from delusions of the ego.
What I am familiar with moreso is the re-reading of the three jewels as mapped into the teacher's body, speech, and mind, which in turn is based on other mappings. Where did u hear of the four jewel?
This is related to the Vajrayana. They're referring to the Guru, who is the embodiment of the 3 jewels.
:bow: :buddha1: :bow: :anjali: :meditate:

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