On Being Lucid, No Longer Dreaming, In The Waking State.
by Barry Fishman
Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly; he didn't know he was Chuang Tzu.
He awoke and he was Chuang Tzu. However, he didn't know if he was
ChuangTzu who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming
he was Chuang Tzu.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation we don't want to be in
and we think "This has to be a dream; I know I'm going to wake up
any minute now."
How can we really "wake up"; how can we become aware of our actions,
change our condition, whether we're "dreaming-awake" or "dreaming-asleep".
If we can be aware in our dreams, and observe them, we can alter their
outcome and in turn make changes in our waking state. It requires a
lot of effort, to learn to observe and be lucid in the dream state.
It is fairly obvious we create our dreams while in the "dreaming-asleep"
state, however, it is harder for us to appreciate that we are also
responsible for our creations during the "dreaming-awake" state.
Our actions and thoughts in our waking state influence our dream state.
For instance, a fight or argument can cause anxiety in dreams, and eating
just before going to bed will increase dreaming.
We spend twice as many hours in the waking state as the dream state,
although enlightened Beings tell us we are asleep in both the sleep
and waking states. The only way we can know if someone else is "awake"
is if we ourselves are awake.
If we could only become aware of our actions in our waking state,
which I'm sure most of us have been trying to do in one form or another,
we would be able to make appropriate changes in our lives.
We have a greater opportunity, in terms of time, to make these changes
while we are "dreaming-awake" than when we are "dreaming-asleep".
Additionally, since we are supposedly more aware and in control of
our actions during "dreaming-awake"
perhaps we can actually effect some change.
We can't escape from karma; we have to pay our dues. The only real
changes to be made are in attitude - all else will follow. The key
is to become aware that we're acting in a certain manner before we
can change an attitude or a habit. Once we observe ourselves in some
action, as if we were seeing it in another person, we can actually
do something about it. Until that time,if someone tells us to change
something about ourselves or points out something we do, or habit
we have, we haven't a clue as to what they are talking about.
The Buddhists have a method of walking or wakeful meditation called
Vipassana where one moves slowly and observes "I pick up my left
foot, now I place it down in front of me, my right foot begins to
In Tai Chi Chi Chuan one also moves slowly with conscious awareness,feeling
arcs, circles, weight changes, flow, continuity and oppositions of
yin and yang.
Feldenkrais focuses on observing slow movements in order to change habits.
In Hatha Yoga, we hold various postures, while focusing on and directing our
breath, in order to release tensions and holding patterns.
All practices of mindfulness.
I have come upon an interesting method by which I can shift my consciousness
and thereby change my vision of apparently mundane day to day life,
and imbue it with a magical quality.
This method places me in the present moment, allows me to observe
(witness),and participate fully, while shifting my vision.
I call it lucid dreaming in the "dreaming-awake" state.
It's a form of meditation. The ultimate goal of meditation being to be
in a transcendental state at all times, during all activities, sleeping or
waking. In other words to be "awake".
It is very simple and anyone can do it.
It's truly romantic with no past or future.
While doing anything no matter how mundane, eating, typing, sitting
and talking with friends, etc. view it as a dream. Look around, observe.
Feel you can't wait to wake up, to write it down, and tell someone
As you observe, say or think to yourself, or out loud "I'm
in a dream, this dream is so rich in symbolism. So much is going on
I hope I can remember it all."
"If this were a dream I couldnít wait to wake up to tell so and so about
or say to a friend you're with, "we're in this dream", as you point
out and state verbally everything you're doing and seeing taking place around
Isn't it odd?
"I canít wait to wake up to tell you you were in my dream and what happened,
and figure out what it all meant."
Also, he or she will be able to tell you that you were in his or her dream.
Your vision will shift; nothing will any longer seem mundane.
A true experience.
I'm walking with Nancy; we see the following: buildings, cars, a large
silver tractor trailer jacked up off its wheels with heavy black cable
feeding into a red brick building. I note the quality of the light.
A man in a blue wool winter coat, long white hair with a brown shopping
bag, two women in fur coats walking a dog, a dachshund, with it's
penis almost scraping the floor. There is snow on the ground. Wow!
what a great dream so full of symbolism. Freud or Jung would have
a field day, and I'm sure they would want to see me at least once
As soon as I started describing everything I saw to her and said "if this
were a dream" and "I can't wait to wake up and tell you about it"
a shift took place in both of us. Magic!
However, since all these events are taking place in our "dreaming-awake" state
we usually pay no attention. Sometimes we should just take things
for what they are and let them go, other times they can be powerful
precipitators to shift our consciousness, allowing us a richer experience,
and to make changes in our lives.
You might start by contemplating coincidences or certain situations you
find yourself in . Ask yourself, "If this were a dream, what would it
Just an ever so slight shift in our vision can be enough to change us
One final thought. Why do we consider an object or incident we perceive
as ordinary in the "dreaming-awake" state, and interesting and exciting in
the the "dreaming-asleep" state?
Is there really any difference, Chuang Tzu?
in a dream
Isn't it true?
that we are
that we have
The dilemma is:
Am I Chuang Tzu
I'm a butterfly
I'm Chuang Tzu ?
Don't you know?
It's really so simple.
all are God.
Copyright © 2001 Barry Fishman