Why I don´t Teach Tibetan Dream Yoga
This article is updates and commentaries to the main article What is Dream Yoga?
Dream Yoga is a central part of my teaching. Let me begin this article with the backcover description to my book Dream Yoga:
The spiritual practice consists of meditation and dream yoga. Meditation and dream yoga are two sides of the same thing. If you nevertheless should try to discriminate, then you about meditation can say, that the three aspects of meditation are relaxfullness, awareness and heartfullness.
Dream Yoga is shortly said about realizing the illusory aspect of life and death.
Normally Dream Yoga is understood as practising meditation during sleep, about realizing the illusory aspects of dreams, and about achieving special states in sleep, such as lucidity and astrality. But dream yoga is also about realizing the illusory aspect of the waking life, both one´s own thought distortions, but also the thought distortions of society (the book includes for example some very critical articles on the Zeitgeist of New Age and coaching). Finally Dream Yoga is about practising meditation during suffering, and during the deathprocess.
Through 18 articles Morten Tolboll draws a map over the spiritual journey through the dream-labyrinth of life and death. In this map he shows both dangers and pitfalls, as well as pathfinders and trail markers. The map is in that way intended to function as a help so that people can find the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of their lives.
The term Dream Yoga comes from Tibetan Buddhism. But there are some things I need to clarify. Most important: I don´t teach Tibetan Dream Yoga! I will explain this in the following three points:
1. Fake New Age gurus.
2. The guru-centric aspect of Tibetan Buddhism.
3. The methods in Dream yoga
1. Fake New Age gurus.
In the Tibetan lama Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche´s book The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, he explains why he teaches Dream yoga to Westerners:
Dream Yoga is a primary support in developing my own practice and this has been true for many, many masters and yogis of Tibet […] Some Tibetan masters might find it strange that I teach these practices to Westerners who have not done certain preliminary practices or who do not have certain understandings. The teaching were traditionally maintained as secret teachings, both as a sign of respect and as a protection against dilution through the misunderstanding of unprepared practitioners. They were never taught publicly nor give lightly, but were reserved for individuals who had prepared to receive them.
The practices are no less efficacious and valuable then they ever were, but conditions in the world have changed, and so I am trying something different. I hope that by teaching what is effective, openly and simply, the tradition will be better preserved and more people would be able to benefit from it. But it is important to respect the teachings, both to protect them and to further our own practice. Please try to receive the direct transmission of these teachings from an authentic teacher. It is a good to read about these yogas but better to receive the oral transmission, which creates a stronger connection with the lineage. Also. It is easy to encounter obstacles on the path that are hard to overcome on our own but which an experienced teacher can identify and help to remove. This is an important point that should not be forgotten.
Well, I think Tenzin here are overestimating Westerners, especially within the New Age and Self-help environment. Because if something here is valuable as abuse, it will for sure be abused. New Age is booming with Dream Yoga teachers, “experts” in lucid dreaming and astral projection. Just try to make a google search on “lucid dreaming teacher” (667.000 results) or “astral projection teacher” (374.000 results). Well, according to the results, the huge amount of teachers at least have figured out one thing: a lucid dreaming teacher is a bit easier job than that of an astral projection teacher.
The teachings these people teach they most often describe as shamanism; that is: plastic shamanism. Plastic shaman, or plastic medicine people, is a pejorative colloquialism applied to individuals who are attempting to pass themselves off as shamans, holy people, or other traditional spiritual leaders, but who have no genuine connection to the traditions or cultures they claim to represent (see the Matrix Dictionary entry on Plastic Shamanism).
The mix with Tibetan Dream Yoga is easily seen when the teachers use the term shamanism about their own teaching, and at the same time are teaching lucid dreaming techniques, or even astral projection and after life states. Teaching lucid dreaming techniques and astral projection techniques have nothing whatever to do with shamanism, nor the idea that all people could be taught how to be shamans, and having “shamanic experiences.” An example is Ayahuasca Tourism.
The incredible Dr. Joe (see The Matrix Dictionary entry on Joe Dispenza) has obviously sniffed the opportunity to abuse the sacred teachings of Dream Yoga, as well as Shamanism. Here is an introduction to one of his workshops:
Come join us at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort!
The theme for this event is... Dreamtime!
In this workshop, we focus on integrating the work that you have learned in the Advanced Workshops and taking it even further.
Be prepared to create and sustain a new state of being, to become your future self, to strengthen your coherence, and open your heart. It’s all about new possibilities!
Dr Joe may cover many of these topics:
Unlocking the alchemist within
Space/Time to Time/Space shifts
Interdimensional moments: seeing beyond the veil
Finding the eternal now
5th dimensional creation
Vibrational match making
Making good brains great
Building the Energy Body
Your all-inclusive Los Cabos Advanced Follow Up Workshop includes a 5 night stay at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort!
All prices listed below include the Advanced Follow Up Workshop ticket.
Prices are based on your room choice at the resort.
This is an Adult-Only resort. You must be 18 years or older. Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort offers 500 luxurious guest suites, each featuring a king-size bed (or two double beds), full bathroom with whirlpool, private and furnished terrace or balcony, complimentary mini-bar and much more.
Junior Suite- Single Occupancy ONLY – 1 Single King Bed: $2050
Junior Suite- Double Occupancy – 2 Double Beds: $1750 Per Person (2 People per room REQUIRED)
Junior Suite- Double Occupancy – 1 Shared King Bed: $1750 Per Person (2 People per room REQUIRED)
If you are ready to experience an even higher level of luxury, the Preferred Club is for you. Enjoy an upgraded suite, access to an exclusive lounge, special concierge services and other enhanced amenities. Preferred Club Jr. Suite- Single Occupancy ONLY – 1 Single King Bed: $2400
Preferred Club Jr. Suite- Double Occupancy - 1 Shared King Bed: $2050 Per Person (2 People per room REQUIRED)
We are also offering a limited number of Master and Presidential Suite room upgrade options for the Ultimate Luxury Experience!
Master Suite- Single Occupancy ONLY – 1 Single King Bed: $4975
Master Suite- Double Occupancy – 1 Shared King Bed: $2850 Per Person (2 People per room REQUIRED)
Presidential Suite- Single Occupancy ONLY – 1 Single King Bed: $8350 Presidential Suite- Double Occupancy – 1 Shared King Bed: $7850 Per Person (2 People per room REQUIRED)
*Please note that we do not offer Repeater Discounts for our Advanced Follow Up Workshops
Fantastic right! Dr. Joe´s Advanced Follow Up Workshop in dreamtime is conveniently enough followed by higher and higher levels of luxury. As it says: “If you are ready to experience an even higher level of luxury.” Besides the comfortable beds, the workshop doesn´t seem to include the so-called Dark Retreat, which is a requirement in Tibetan Dream Yoga. It´s a twenty-two-day retreat in complete darkness, no light whatsoever. Dr. Joe does it in 5 days with extreme luxury, if you can pay the price that is.
I don´t bother to go into whether Dr. Joe and the thousands of other New Age lucid dream teachers, are authentic teachers. In Tibetan Buddhism an authentic teacher is an enlightened master. All I can do is to refer to the Matrix Dictionary and the entry: Playing the Enlightenment Card.
Mentioning the fake New Age gurus who are abusing the original teachings is one of the problems with Tibetan Dream Yoga. Another problem is the problem with the guru-centric aspect of Tibetan Buddhism itself.
2. The guru-centric aspect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Here I clearly follow Krishnamurti´s philosophy. Let me explain.
Around ethical highly placed spiritual teachers, there seem to be formed existential mandala-structures, which, as great energy-whirls, canalize highly growth-advancing energy and consciousness-waves from the Source (the Now, life itself). These mandala-structures necessarily have to arrange themselves after the collective images´ polarization-patterns in past and future, whereby the lines are formed, which the energy and the transmissions can follow into the personal images, which after all also only work in past and future.
These energy-mandalas are in religious art archetypical portrayed in for example the classic configurations around Christ (the four evangelists and their symbolical power) and Buddha (the Dyani-Buddhas with their esoterical figures).
Such mandala-fields are constelled concretely among the students, who relate to such a teacher. And in these fields, constituted by human beings, the Source manifests itself concretely-existential.
In the former time´s spiritual pedagogics the teacher took the central place in these mandalas, whereby the hierarchical structure was able to be unfold (Christ and Buddha in the centre). In the newer time´s spiritual pedagogics (maybe because of the Ego-extreme in our time, and the many people who, because of ego-inflated psycho-religious movements as the New Thought movement, and the self-help industry as such, end up in Ego-inflation – see my articles The New Thought movement and the Law of Attraction and Management Theory and the Self-help Industry) the development aims towards holding free the center of the circles, whereby an ideal equal spirituality can begin to unfold.
This development is especially represented by Krishnamurti, who in this way seeks to make the Source common. In such a mandala-structure is that, which before symbolical was gathered in the centre, now unfolded and made common in the periphery. The aim is completely to avoid the guru-centric. Anybody, who has worked with Krishnamurti´s teaching, can recognize this (see my article The philosophy of Krishnamurti).
But there still exist many traces of the former time´s spiritual pedagogics; and there is often offence connected to it. The conditions are not realized for what, they really are. People choose to understand from their own conditions, understandable enough. In addition to this shall be added, that these energetical structures are subtle, they are extremely powerful, and they are in themselves neither good or evil. To a high degree it depends of the participants and their philosophical integration, and their realization work and ethical practice, what use there is made of these powers and functions.
One can therefore not blame observers, partially that the phenomena are misjudged, partially that they easily awake suspicions. For surely is it namely, that such energy-phenomena often enough have become used in lesser beneficial situations. I have explained this in my article The Philosophy of Karen Blixen, and in my book Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love Story.
The headline to an article in the Telegraph by Mick Brown (21 September 2017) says:
Sexual assaults and violent rages... Inside the dark world of Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche.
Here are some quotes from the article (click here and read it in full):
In August last year, Sogyal Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama whose book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has sold more than three million copies around the world, and made him probably the best known Tibetan Buddhist teacher after the Dalai Lama, gave his annual teaching at his French centre Lerab Ling.
Sogyal’s organisation Rigpa - a Tibetan word meaning the essential nature of mind - has more than 100 centres in 40 countries around the world, but Lerab Ling, situated in rolling countryside in L’Hérault is the jewel in the crown. Boasting what is said to be the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in the West, it was formally opened in 2008 by the Dalai Lama, with Carla Bruni Sarkozy, then France’s first lady, and a host of other dignitaries in attendance.
Sogyal is regarded by his students as a living embodiment of the Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion, but a man who teaches in a highly unorthodox way, known as ‘crazy wisdom’.
At Lerab Ling, more than 1000 students were gathered in the temple as he walked on stage, accompanied by his attendant, a Danish nun named Ani Chokyi. Sogyal, who is 70, is a portly, bespectacled man who requires a footstool to mount the throne from which he customarily teaches. Approaching the throne, he paused, then turned suddenly and punched the nun hard in the stomach.
Within the Buddhist community, however, Sogyal Rinpoche has long been a controversial figure. For years, rumours have circulated on the internet about his behaviour, and in the 1990s a lawsuit alleging sexual and physical abuse was settled out of court.
Yet his position as one of the foremost Buddhist teachers in the West has remained remarkably intact - until now. In July, eight senior and long-standing current and former students sent a 12-page letter to Sogyal. ‘Long simmering issues with your behaviour,’ it began, ‘can no longer be ignored or denied’, going on to list a catalogue of damning allegations against him.
Sogyal’s habitual physical abuse, the letter alleged, had ‘left monks, nuns, and lay people students of yours with bloody injuries and permanent scars.’ He had used his role as a teacher ‘to gain access to young women, and to coerce, intimidate and manipulate them into giving you sexual favours’. Students had been ordered to strip, ‘to show you our genitals’, ‘to give you oral sex,’ and ‘to have sex in your bed with our partners’.
Sogyal, it went on, had led a ‘lavish, gluttonous and sybaritic lifestyle’, which had been kept secret from the large body of his followers, and financed by donations by students ‘who believe their offering is being used to further wisdom and compassion in the world.’
‘If your striking and punching us and others, and having sex with your students and married women, and funding your sybaritic lifestyle with students’ donations is actually the ethical and compassionate behaviour of a Buddhist teacher, please explain to us how it is.’
Copied to the Dalai Lama, and Sogyal’s most senior students, the letter quickly went viral, shaking the foundation of Rigpa to the core. For Sogyal Rinpoche himself it was the prelude to the most spectacular fall from grace.
Assuming the honorific Rinpoche (it means ‘precious one’) Sogyal set himself up as a teacher in the Vajrayana, or tantric, tradition - a deeply esoteric aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, through which, it is believed, a student can unshackle the chains of ego and attain enlightenment in a single lifetime - ‘the helicopter to the top of the mountain’, as Sogyal has put it.
It involves the student giving total obedience to the lama in the belief that whatever the lama does, no matter how irrational or incomprehensible it may seem, is for the student’s benefit. Whatever doubts might arise in the mind of the student about these methods is due to ‘impure perception.’
The Dalai Lama has cautioned putative students that a good test of a teacher who is beyond attachments and the temptations of self-gratification is whether they can eat a piece of excrement with the same equanimity as a piece of food. Asked which Tibetan teachers were of a sufficiently high level of self-realisation to do this, he replied ‘Zero.’
In 1976, Sogyal visited America to meet with another Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa, who was regarded as the most extreme exemplar of ‘crazy wisdom’ teachings. Trungpa drank like a fish (he would die in 1987 from complications arising due to alcoholism), openly slept with his students and ran his organisation like a feudal court, surrounding himself with an elite bodyguard, sometimes amusing himself by dressing as a Grenadier guard. ‘The real function of the guru,’ he once said, ‘is to insult you.’ ‘Sogyal looked at what Trungpa had,’ says Mary Finnigan, ‘and said “That’s what I want.”’
The book [The Tibetan Book of Living and Dead] made Sogyal a celebrity. He appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Little Buddha, and he travelled the world, establishing new centres. The combination of Sogyal’s charisma - a purveyor of ancient wisdom in touch with the modern world - and the mystique of Tibetan Buddhism proved a potent lure for new followers. Those signing up for his courses had little idea that, as one former follower puts it, Sogyal was ‘using meditation as a gateway drug into a cult of personality.’
But the first storm clouds were already gathering. Sogyal is not a monk, and there is theoretically no prohibition on him marrying or having sexual relations. But his sexual conduct was becoming a cause of increasing controversy in Buddhist circles - not least his surrounding himself with an effective harem of young women, whom Sogyal described as his ‘dakinis’ - a Tibetan term meaning spiritual muse.
In this environment, everything would be rationalised and accepted as ‘a teaching’. Several people told the Telegraph how Sogyal would sometimes address his closest students while defecating - like a Tudor monarch, ordering his ‘dakinis’ to perform the appropriate ablutions as a demonstration of ‘service’.
The analogy with a monarch is not misplaced. It is further alleged that among his inner circle, Sogyal frequently practiced a sort of droit de seigneur, taking the wives or girlfriends of his most loyal male followers as his sexual partners, either openly or covertly. Men were expected to accept this is as part of the teaching. When one complained, Sogyal told his partner the man was ‘possessed by demons’. The eight-signatory letter further alleges that on at least one occasion, Sogyal had offered one of his female attendants to another lama for sex.
For a woman to be chosen by Sogyal as a sexual partner was regarded as ‘an honour,’ Drolma says. ‘It meant they had dakini qualities, and you’re said to be prolonging the life of the master.’
The Dalai Lama has frequently condemned unethical behaviour among Buddhist teachers, and urged students to speak out against it - ‘through the newspaper, through the radio. Make public’ - while never specifically commenting on Sogyal by name. But last month, speaking in Ladakh, he talked of the need to reform the ‘influence of the feudal system’ in Tibetan institutions. Followers, he said, ‘must not say, “this is my guru, whatever my guru says I must follow.” That’s totally wrong.’ If a teacher is behaving unethically there was a duty to make their behaviour public.
‘Now recently,’ he went on, ‘Sogyal Rinpoche, my very good friend, but he is disgraced....’
To the outsider it might have seemed a fleetingly incidental reference; to the Buddhist community it was tantamount to excommunication.
Just a few days after the Dalai Lama’s speech, Sogyal announced that he was ‘retiring’ as spiritual director of Rigpa, citing the ‘turbulence’ the allegations around him had caused. There was no acknowledgment of abuse, and no expression of apology or regret.
While no longer spiritual director, he said, he would continue as their teacher. ‘Please understand that I am not and never will abandon you! I have a solemn commitment to help bring you to enlightenment and I will never renege on that!’
3. The methods in Dream yoga
The third problem is the practice itself. I don´t recommend anyone to follow Tibetan practices, or any other practice which aims towards developing states of lucidity and astrality (as they do in plastic shamanism). As everything else in my teaching, it is based on my own experiences with a spiritual crisis, and yes, it is about having knowledge about these states (that is the good thing about that the teachings are made common), and how to navigate in the states if they are occurring (the death-state will of course eventually occur).
But in all briefness it is my opinion, that genuine spiritual practice tries to guide people, who wish to learn, outside the states, which have to do with the collective time (where the states of lucidity and astrality occur), or at least, to shorten the passage through these areas. And if you are lost in them, to lead you back on the right track.
What is Dream Yoga?
Spiritual Crises as the Cause of Paranormal Phenomena
The Awakening of Kundalini
The Philosophy of Krishnamurti
The Philosophy of Karen Blixen
The Hero´s Journey
List of notorious plastic shamans:
Carlos Castaneda. Carlos Castaneda was a best-selling author of a number of books centering on a Mexican Yaqui brujo (witch, sorcerer, or shaman) and his pharmacologically induced visions. He called the brujo Don Juan Matus. Castaneda claimed he was doing anthropology, that his books were not fiction. He was granted a Ph.D. by the UCLA Anthropology Department in 1973 for his third book, Journey to Ixtlan. Critics say the work is not ethnographically accurate and is a work of fiction.
Lynn Andrews. Lynn Andrews has been instrumental in propagating the non-existent Sisterhood of the Shields. She has been shown to peddle fantasy, and heads the list of fake medicine people.
James Arthur Ray. Read my article James Arthur Ray and The Sweat Lodge Tragedy
Stanislav Grof. Read my article A Critique of Stanislav Grof and Holotropic Breathwork
Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love story
The Matrix Dictionary