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Accomplishing Dream Yoga

Dream Yoga is accomplished by means of controlling the vital energies and by the power of conscious intent. Of these, the former is the most important. To gain this ability we must be able to hold the clear light of sleep and, at the time of awakening, be able to direct the vital energies into the central channel. As the function of the inner fire yoga is to bring the vital energies into the central channel for the first time, the heat yoga is fundamental to the dream yoga.


The Vajra Verses states,

"Whoever overpowers conceptual thought
Should dedicate himself intensely to dream yoga,
Which automatically purifies the darkness of confusion.
The excellence gained by the illusory body training
Then automatically arises, day and night."

This is the purpose for the order of these yogas. As said earlier, the main force used in the dream yoga is the power over the vital energies which operate during sleep.


As said above, the main practice in the dream yoga is the control of the vital energies. In particular, the principal instruction becomes retaining the clear light of sleep. Thus it becomes necessary to say something on the two subjects of dream yoga and clear light.

The manner of cultivating the power of intention in the dream yoga is explained in the oral tradition of the gurus under six headings:

  • recognizing dreams
  • purifying them
  • increasing dream objects
  • emanating within the dream
  • being aware of the objects of perception
  • meditating on their thatness

(a) The first of these begins by meditating on guru yoga and making a prayer that one may be able to retain the dream and to practice the spiritual path within the context of the dream.

The method of training in retaining dreams is twofold: during the day practicing an appropriate mindfulness meditation and at night applying the forceful  method of the oral instruction.

The first of these involves regarding all objects perceived during the daytime as things of a dream. One must think to oneself, "These objects are but dream experiences and I must recognize this dream as a dream." [Compare to The Key of Sol]

Practicing this mindfulness during the day will have the effect that at night when a dream occurs one will automatically think, This is but a dream experience." The stronger becomes the instinct of the training cultivated during the day, the stronger will become one's ability to recognize the dream state when asleep.

Excerpted from Treatise on the Six Yogas of Niguma by the Second Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gendun Gyatso (1475-1542). Published by Snow Lion (2006) in The Dalai Lamas on Tantra, translated by Glenn H. Mullin.