A normal individual spends one-third of his life sleeping. During a part of that time, he is also dreaming. Basically, dreams are our way of relaxing and letting our minds drift away into a distant world. While dreaming, we can intermingle with diverse people, places or things. In current times, dreams are viewed as a mass hallucination. A dream is an illusion that is also a fantastical voyage in our sleep that either relieves us of stress or tries to detract us from a certain habit or future happening. Dreams have enthralled man since the beginning of time.
It was thought of as a link to the future. For some individuals, dreams encompass reality, and a distinction between both was difficult to establish. Although modern science has found a way to explain the mechanics behind dreams, it is still viewed with a sense of perplexity. As defined in Webster’s Dictionary, a dream is a “sequence of sensations, images, thoughts, etc. , passing through a sleeping person’s mind”. The interpretations of dreams began in 3000 B. C. and were kept on clay tablets. Dreams and their interpretation has been a topic of interest for a long time.
Throughout history, prophets and fortune tellers alike have tried to use them as a guide to the future. In archaic Western cultures, specifically the Greek and Roman eras, dreams were thought of as sacred; they were either messages from the gods or from the dead. Dreams were regarded as solutions to problems, and were also believed as forewarnings and predictions of the future. According to DreamMoods. com (2008), special shrines were even built where people can go there to sleep and hope that a message could be passed to them through their dreams.
Their conviction in dreams was so strong that it even dictated the actions of political and military leaders. In fact, dream interpreters went with military leaders into battle to help with war strategy. During the Hellenistic period, the main focus of dreams was centered on its ability to heal. Temples, called Asclepieions, were constructed around the healing power of dreams (Sure, 2008). It was supposed that sick people who stay in these temples would be sent cures through their dreams. Dream interpreters even aided the physicians in their medical diagnosis.
For them, dreams offered a vital clue for healers to finding what was wrong with the dreamer. In Chinese culture, Sure (2008) mentioned that the Chinese believed that the soul leaves the body to go into this world. However, if they should be abruptly awakened, their soul may be unsuccessful to return to the body. It is because of this that even until now, some Chinese are wary of using alarm clocks. Buddhism does not see the world itself as an figment of the imagination, but the emotions and perceptions we hold which provoke our responses to the world are seen as the illusion.
Therefore dreams are not considered of as being illusions, but depict the illusions of our everyday experience of life. The very nature of dreams is expressive of the complicated realm of fears, longings and mental concepts we are deeply enmeshed in. Nightmares especially demonstrate how intensely involved our waking self is with the internal world of obsessive feelings and imagery (Crisp, 2008). Sure (2008) added that Buddhists, while dreaming, perceived the same disembodied shadows and disconnected images as we do. After waking they sought the significance of their dreams.
The diviners of India and China, being culture-bound individuals, construed the dreams according to the modes and techniques available to them. Those methods were in some respects reminiscent of methods used today, in some respects they were quite different. Dream as an adventure or life as a dream is a pervasive cultural, religious, literary motif in Chinese and western literature. There are three determining factors that may be considered important in regards to dreams: 1. A vision of grandeur: The hero is put to sleep and dreams that he undergoes a long series of experiences in which he imagines that he achieves a high degree of success.
An example of this kind of dream would be that of Queen Maya’s, the mother of Gautama Buddha. Buddha’s mother, in particular, was spiritually aware of Buddha’s qualities. She had dreams indicative that her son’s rebirth lineage was special. She dreamt that a six-tusked elephant pierced her side with one of its tusks. This produced an immaculate conception. She understood the dream to mean the consequential child would become a sovereign whose sphere was the world (Crisp, 2008). The child she eventually bore became a mystical and influential ruler of his time.
Buddha became the founder of Buddhism, and has spread his teachings across the globe. At present, Buddhism is still a major religion in some countries. The vision of grandeur in this case was translated into reality, although chronicles of the life of Buddha were mixed with fiction. In another story, the Junti Dharani Sutra, the hero entered into the Junti Samadhi Out of sympathy and pity for living beings of future times, who will be poor in blessings and full of bad karma, and spoke a mantra that came from the mother of seven ages of Buddhas of the past.
In order save other people, the hero should recite the mantra twenty thousand times, so they will see the heavens and the celestial monasteries and halls, or perhaps they will see themselves climbing a tall mountain, or climbing a tree; or see themselves bathing in a large pool; or see themselves soaring aloft; or playing together with maidens from the heavens. In these stories, Buddhists narrate how heroes acquire vast success and power, serve humanity, and at the same time spread their Buddhist beliefs.
Buddhists believe that a great force is needed to conquer the evils in their lives. The evils referred to are the trials one must overcome to achieve Nirvana. In the Lotus Sutra, a vision of grandeur was through an image where the phenomenal world is alluded to as a burning house, and it is in this world that the Buddha appears. He eventually quenches these fires and save the people from suffering. The burning house represents the world, and the three poisons that ravage the people are hatred, greed, and egoism, perpetuating the cycle of animosity and violence.
The four sufferings of birth, aging, illness and death which are depicted in the Similes and Parables chapter of the Lotus Sutra, symbolize the sufferings in society which comes from different forms of violence. Though the vision of grandeur was told in a situation of hardship, the Buddhist belief behind this is that desire, form, and formlessness can be vanquished through Buddha and his teachings. In Buddhism, hatred churns inside one’s life in various forms such as rage, resentment, enmity, jealousy, and then finally erupts into the harming of others. Greed and hate are the pillars of structural violence.
But even more fundamental than these, points out Ikeda (2008), is the illness of dehumanization. In Buddhism, dehumanization is regarded as fundamental darkness (also ignorance) and is an extreme form of egoism. 2. Illusion of time: When the hero falls asleep, his dream seems to occupy a long period of time, but when he awakens, he finds that he has been asleep only briefly. “Bubbles burst, shadows run from light, dewdrops vanish by noon without a trace, lightning roars and vanishes, and dreams leave us at dawn. To constantly perceive such things as real locks us into the never-ending cycle of birth and death.
” So goes a metaphor of Buddha. In Buddhism, impermanence is one of the three marks of existence. According to Shambahala (2008), “Impermanence is the goodness of reality. Just as the four seasons are in repeated flux, winter changing to spring to summer to autumn; just as day becomes night, light becoming dark becoming light again—in the same way, everything is constantly evolving. Impermanence is the essence of everything. ” Impermanence resembles reality, and accepting it would make the person in harmony with life. In the given excerpt, time is viewed as something fleeting. More so, it depicts how time flies fast.
Although this is true in reality, dreams give an illusion that a span of years can occur within one short dream. In a parable of Buddha, as translated by Palmer (2007), there was an old monk who, through diligent practice, had attained a certain degree of spiritual penetration. One day the monk looked at a boy’s face and saw there that he would die within the next few months. Distraught by this, he told the boy to take a lengthy holiday and go and visit his parents. ‘Take your time,’ said the monk. ‘Don’t hurry back. ‘ For he felt the boy should be with his family when he died.
Three months later, to his amazement, the monk saw the boy walking back up the mountain. When he arrived he looked closely at his face and saw that they boy would now live to a ripe old age. That story supposedly spanned three months, however, in reality, it just lasted in a night’s dream. This is but an example of how time seemingly flies faster in dreams, making the dreamer think that so much time has past even though in reality it is the otherwise. The Buddhist concept of time affirms that all phenomena and events exist only in the present moment. For them, past and future are nothing other than simple concepts, simple mental constructs.
Dreams generally explain time in terms of relativity, as an abstract entity developed by the mind on the basis of an imputation, the continuity of an event or phenomenon. As for awareness it has neither past nor future and knows only present moments; it is the range of a present moment being transformed into another present moment, whereas with external objects the present disappears in favor of notions of past and future. But further quest of this logic will lead to irrationality, because to position past and future we need a frame of an orientation which, in this case, is the present (Dresser, 2008).
Since dreams are portrayed as happening in the present, they are seen as eternally continuing; it doesn’t have a past nor a future. It is because of this that dreams sometimes seem like a long time. 3. Time-measuring device: The story uses a material object to measure the amount of time that actually passes in the dream. Various forms of meditation or practice are used to aid the process of waking up in life and in dreams; principal among them is Vipassana, which aims at constant self-awareness.
This form of self witnessing slowly permits one to catch oneself in the act of getting mislaid in fantasy, in thoughts, in the ever shifting tides of emotion and sexual drive. It is not an act of defiance, but the consciousness that enables insight into behavior to arise. Such self-awareness enables one to slowly steer clear of getting trapped in the waking ‘dream’ of long sojourns into such things as guilt, depression, and emotional pain arising from childhood patterns. According to iPedia.
net, Buddhism has a concept of a “wheel of time” that regards time as cyclical and quantic consisting of repeating ages that happen to every being of the Universe between birth and extinction. This is the origin of karma, where it is thought that a person’s actions in this life will be rewarded or punished in the next life. Buddhist psychologists saw dreams as the revisit at night of things thought on during the day. In a sense, this thought also follows the doctrine of karma. In Buddhism, a “ksana” is the most minimal component of time. Within the framework of how we measure time today, it is roughly one seventy-fifth of a second.
It is quite brief. A reflection is an instant of thought; one human reflection takes up ninety ksanas. Within one ksana, there are nine hundred instances of happenings and ceasings. There are 32,820,000 ksanas in one day. (Yun, 2007) In another parable of Buddha, translated by Bancroft (2008), told this story: “During the Ch’ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch’eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told him, ‘Tomorrow the Ch’ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your domestic, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate.
Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you bashed him twenty-six times and killed him. ‘ Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva added, ‘There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things. ‘ The amount of time of the dream was measured when the actions of the characters were described. It gave a picture of how events were sequenced, hence the element of time in this particular dream is vivid. Also in this story, the value of forgiving was taught.
Because Buddhists believe in karma, Ch’eng Pai Lin did not kill Wang Ma Tze. Instead, he scratched Wang Ma Tze’s chest twenty-six times to make them even, and from then on they became the best of friends. Because Buddhists believe that every happening or situation in life has a meaning, dreams and their interpretation have become an essential topic for learning. Modern science has converted dreams to mere brain activity, but in Buddhism, they are still considered as a connection to ethereal beings. Dreams are not solely pertained to as signs; they are also a vehicle to push forward Buddhist beliefs and inculcate values to every individual.
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