A Slightly Different Perspective on Lucidity

In Book III, Chapter III of "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, Evans-Wentz offers this translation followed by his own footnote:

“…‘the initial comprehending of the dream’ referreth to resolving to maintain an unbroken continuity of consciousness [throughout both the waking-state and the dream-state].”

…and his footnote:

“As a result of these methods, the yogin enjoys as vivid conscious in the dream-state as in the waking-state; and in passing from one state to another experiences no break in the continuity of memory”

I find that this perspective, particularly the continuity of memory, resonates strongly with my own experiences with more of a passive and observational dream lucidity that is aimed more at liberating karmic traces than at, well…having fun. :wink:

It is also good preparation for those times when I find myself alone in a dream and can then work with some of the more transformational dream yoga protocols.


What is your thinking like when you move from one state to another? Does the randomness, stream of consciousness slow down or are you just above/below it through observation.

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The interesting thing about this kind of unbroken continuity of consciousness is the way it flows at times. It can be extremely natural…as if I was just going from one room to another.

For instance, in my final dream last night I was following the action of some people I knew years ago. One of them drove his car up and over an embankment in front of me. I jumped to the top of the embankment and found myself on top of a very tall wall…the car was sticking out of the ground some distance away. I looked down and thought…pretty far down, Steve…you sure about this? Then I jumped off and floated to the ground.

I woke up right after sticking my landing. :sunglasses:

I sat there on the edge of the bed and said…well that worked out about right. Guess it’s time for a shower. It felt as if I had just walked from one scene to another. In that liminal space there was no demarcation between dream state and waking state.

They were both equally real and equally illusory.

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Good example Steve. Could you say that about a feeling after a wonderful dream experience and carrying that feeling and thought into the day? I’ve experienced that and have felt those times to be somehow “elevated.” I guess the trick for me is to keep that up.

Dreams like that one very definitely stay with me through the day…and often times much longer. There is an amazing feeling of…expansion…that comes from simply extending one’s consciously aware time into the dream state.

The trick is to develop a simplified night time protocol that becomes second nature, so much so that you practice it every night without even thinking.

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Pondering this even more as my dreaming continues to leave me with the strong feeling that the dream state is just as real and just as illusory as the waking state.

My subconscious mind is helping to enable this by providing me with dream after dream of relatively normal activities with normal people, with just enough subtle anomalies for me to know I am dreaming. It has been a while since I was faced with any sort of radical occurrence in a dream that required transformation.

I have never developed any dream incubation skills.

This has brought me to a place where I simply let the dream unfold around me and gently guide the plot. This has definitely translated into my waking life. Just the other day I found myself in a tight spot in a very bad neighborhood while selling a car. I was able to let that “dream” unfold around me while I gently guided myself out of trouble.

What I wonder about is how this perspective on lucidity coincides with the classic lucid dreaming perspective that uses reality checks to determine the difference between the waking state and the dream state. None of the original texts that describe dream yoga protocols mention state checks. They all ask the budding yogin to see both sets of images as illusory in nature.

Can anybody offer any insight on that apparent discrepancy between lucid dreaming and dream yoga protocols?


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@Steve_Gleason What exactly are you pondering, is it the question why there is appearantly no state checks in traditional dream yoga texts?

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Yes…although I do accept that on a purely perceptual level the dream state is very different than the waking state and that identifying that difference could result in dream lucidity.

While I have, on occasion, put my finger through my palm, I have never actually achieved lucidity that way.

Any insight on this?

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Some thoughts on your points:

I suppose it has to do with the perspective taken when experiencing the dream phenomenon;
a more dualistic perspective vs. a less dualistic perspective or form of lucidity of the dreamer:

From a classic conventional lucid dreaming perspective, when one would succeed to become lucid by doing state checks and realizes one is in a dream, then one would perceive/understand the anomalies of the dream state in contrast to the waking state.
While awake, the conventional lucid dreamer still perceives the waking state as normal, solid reality.

When using prospective memory practices during the day like repeating “This is a dream!” or “Is this a dream?” then the conventional lucid dreamer may succeed in repeating this habit with the associated reality check also during dream state and may successfully become lucid.
But, has one’s perspective of waking reality really changed at all with this prospective memory practice/state check practice only?

Probably not (much), since it is one thing to take the actual reality check and do it and succeeed, and another to actually try to see waking reality as a dream or dreamlike.
After all, what evidence is there that would convince a sceptical dualistic mind that waking reality is indeed a dream or dreamlike?!
So, I suppose the conventional lucid dreamer becomes lucid, but lucid in a dualistic perspective.

From a dream yoga point of view, one is practicing to dissolve the dualistic perpective. From a non-dualistic perspective, one would see the similarities between waking and dreaming experiences, seeing both of these as dreamlike.
What does this mean?
In a dream, that is obvious. All characters, actions, stories, emotions are the dream, no doubt.
In waking state, not quite so obvious, but from a non-dualistic perspective still very similar and dreamlike:
The person I think I am, the story of myself, of others, my life, my view of my environment, my emotions. All identity reifications in my mind? Mental reification equals dream ?

What happens to those identities when one gets a hard knock on the head (e.g. in a car accident) and one cannot remember all these identities? Where are those reified identities then?
One is still conscious, perhaps hasn’t lost all other abilites like talking etc but has no idea who one is.
The identity dream has dissolved but one is present and conscious and alive.
And other mental phenomena like emotions… are they not transient, energetic waves passing through the perceiver? Where are they when the wave has passed and what is the difference of an emotion experienced in a dream to one experienced during waking state?

So, even without having to lose those identity reifications by getting knocked on the head, one could practice to see mental phenomena as dreamlike, not solid. The story about oneself as a father, mother, husband, wife, co-worker, pro-golfer etc. could be seen as only dreamlike temporary reifications.

B.Alan Wallace has often used the Dona Sutta (paraphrased by me below):

Dona once asked the Buddha in awe:
“Are you a god?”
The Buddha said “no”.

“Are you a cellestial being?”

“Are you an earth spirit?”

“Are you a man?”

“Then what are you?”
“I am awake”

B. Alan Wallace offers the interpretation that the Buddha answered Dona honestly (although being of human descend) by first drawing the comparison to a lucid dream (ref. Fall 2014 8-Week Retreat-Audio Stream of SBI):

Imagine being in a in a lucid dream and - being lucid yourself - a dream character would ask you those questions that Dona asked the Buddha.
The dream character - believing that he is man - would ask you if you are a man, too (implying “a man like him”) - would it be correct to answer “yes”, although you would know that he is a dream character in your dream, not aware of that and not a man?
So, an honest answer would indeed be “no”.
So what would be an good answer to describe what you are?
“I am awake”, saying effectively “I am lucid” would be a good answer to describe precisely your state in the lucid dream.

B. Alan Wallace then refers to the waking state:
From a perspective of non-dual awareness, in which all conditional identities are seen as empty phenomena, if one would be asked to describe what one is, wouldn’t be “I am awake (i.e. aware/lucid)” a very precise answer?

So, perhaps from a traditional dream yoga perspective, where dream yoga practice is closely associated with other non-dualistic treachings (dzogchen, sleep yoga, chöd, etc.), a practicioner would practice to integrate the same, non-dualistic view during both dream and waking state.
This integrative view stands in contrast to the dualistic view of a conventional lucid dreamer.

That is interesting, so in some instances, you were not lucid and then put your finger through your palm and did not become lucid?

For me, it is mostly that I become lucid first (by looking at my hands and seeing an anomaly, or by noticing some other anomaly) and then - when I am already lucid - I do the finger through palm test, knowing that I am lucid.

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Excellent write-up on this issue,

I think the take-away is “I am awake” …in both states. That is our goal in all of this, I believe. I use that term to mean awake to the true nature of mind…empty and clear; pristinely aware.

I have also always been fully lucid before doing the finger/palm thing…it is always an afterthought. I do not often become lucid in a dream so much as realize that I am lucid. My reliance on dream yoga protocols as laid out in The Six Yogas of Naropa rather than classic LD protocols seems to be instilling a more intrinsic lucidity to my dreams.

My most vibrant lucidity comes when I enter into a dream fully lucid after strong nocturnal meditation periods.

I really appreciate your insights, @KhyungMar .


I too appreciate these thoughts, and this discussion, though I am not sure when and how I will be able to bring my own nescient practices much further along unless I do more preparation through reading, listening, contemplating and meditating. Off to meditate.


Seems to me to be a sign of progress, since that sounds like for you that your lucid awareness is becoming gradually more and more consistently „present“, without having to recall it „manually“ for example with mnemonic techniques.
Embedded in the final part of my traditional Ngondro/dzogchen training, the teacher taught Dream Yoga in a basic, on the side fashion, which meant that he focused on traditional WILD techniques only (no mnemonic techniques or similar). Kind of like presuming that the practicioners just take their lucidity into the dream with some steadiness.
I remember B.Alan Wallace mentioning once that lucid dreaming at some point just happens as a natural result of shamata practice. I guess that holds true also for other practices.


@_Barry @Steve_Gleason yeah, pondering these questions is fun and beneficial to some extent. Barry, good point, the progress as can be seen with Steve comes surely as a result of consistent practice. Thanks for the reminder, guys.


What I have garnered from reading the older texts that center on the Six Yogas is that lucid dreaming flows naturally from a dedicated practice of Inner Heat Meditation.

Gathering the “winds” into the central channel and dissolving them there produces an Illusory Body which, in turn, brings Clear Light awareness and naturally occurring lucidity. It’s a tri-kaya progression…Nirmanakaya to Samboghakaya to Dharmakaya.

The above meditation, when done in a WBTB period, flows naturally into WILD.


Here are a couple of other ponderations for your consideration and possible comment…

With a true understanding of the underlying principles of emptiness it’s clear that the waking state is illusory in nature. In that respect it is just as dream-like as the dream state. But here’s the rub…in the dream state I can make the rules. I can fly, for instance. In the waking state I can’t control the parameters…I can’t “make the rules”. I can’t fly (yet :wink: ).

With that in mind I would postulate that the waking dream is not “my dream” whereas the dream state dream…is. The dream state dream is…a dream within a dream.

So…who’s dream is it? Perhaps the waking dream is the dream of Consciousness; the collective “dream” of all sentient beings. As we learn how to abide in our subtle bodies more during our waking state perhaps we gain more and more control over the waking dream…just as we do in the dream state.

It is said that the Mahasiddhas often “made the rules” and performed various “miracles”. It is written that Naropa often flew.

I have seen “miracles” so I know this is possible. :sunglasses:

Perhaps making some of the rules, or better, the rules (whatever they are, let us operate in a different way than in a waking state since we are no longer bound by our senses, but we are still bound by mind and karma, as I understand it. Good to ponder.

Hmmmmmm…I guess the “rules” I’m referring to are those of physics…the ones that don’t let us walk through walls or breathe under water like we can in the dream state…rules such as gravity. We seem to be bound by them in the waking state.

…and yet I have seen that particular one broken recently here in this waking dream, as you may recall from one of my other odd postings. I think that is what has me pondering all of this. :slightly_smiling_face:

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@Steve_Gleason Hmm… don‘t have much to contribute. Reading your text, the pictures of fractals came to my mind. Perhaps the dream within the dream is like zooming into a fractal and the waking dream is like zooming out, effectively seeing the collective of fractals as infinite conglomerate…
The classic texts do talk of „nyams“ associated with meditational practice, e.g. the ability to control the elements when resting for example in deep states of samadhi. No personal experiences on that one :wink:

I think that boundaries can fuzz out even earlier than having reached 1st dyana, for example. During one‘s life span I believe there could be a few instances where the conditions just happen to fall in place in a supportive way that for example support the natural manifestation of phenomena like ESP, the perception of other realms of reality (e.g. form realm) and the like.