Joing Alan Wallace in this discussion of the meditations of shamatha and vipashyana, to the dream yoga practice of vipashyana, and Madhyamaka (Middle Way School) and Dzogchen.

For a transcript of this interview, see below.

Join Andrew in this interview with B. Alan Wallace PhD for a truly remarkable conversation. Dr. Wallace is renowned for his incisive clarity and rigorous intellect, and this is fully evident as he cascades over a tremendous amount of material. The discussion begins with a deep dive into the central meditations of shamatha and vipashyana, and how both of these practices are integral to lucid dreaming. Alan goes so far as to say that dream yoga is the practice of vipashyana, and further situates dream yoga within the Madhyamaka (Middle Way School) and Dzogchen. The discussion then addresses the key question: what does it mean to say reality is a dream? In answering this, Dr. Wallace levels a strong attack against materialism, and the perverted science that supports this wrong view. Insights from psychology, philosophy of mind, physics, cosmology, and many schools of Buddhism are delivered with high-velocity and humor (offering neologisms like cognoscopy – “to scope the mind”), illuminating vast swaths of terrain. Alan speaks of the importance of “authentic Buddhism,” the need to honor tradition, and criticizes the popular but misguided new school of “Secular Buddhism.” Because of Alan’s encyclopedic knowledge, this interview lets him loose, with Andrew allowing him the space to run free. The result is an absolute feast of wisdom, supported by a lifetime of extensive scholarship and deep spiritual practice.

Alan Wallace is a prominent voice in the emerging discussion between contemporary Buddhist thinkers and scientists who question the materialist presumptions of their 20th-century paradigms. He left his college studies in 1971 and moved to Dharamsala, India to study Tibetan Buddhism, medicine and language. He was ordained by H.H. the Dalai Lama, and over fourteen years as a monk he studied with and translated for several of the generation’s greatest lamas. In 1984 he resumed his Western education at Amherst College where he studied physics and the philosophy of science. He then applied that background to his PhD research at Stanford on the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy. Since 1987 Alan Wallace has been a frequent translator and contributor to meetings between the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, and he has written and translated more than 40 books. Along with his scholarly work, Alan Wallace is regarded as one of the West’s preeminent meditation teachers and retreat guides. He is the founder and director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and is the motivating force behind the develop of the Center for Contemplative Research in Tuscany, Italy.

*Pro Tip: Take the interview with you! All our interviews can be downloaded to your smartphone or computer to listen offline and on the go. Click the downward pointing arrow on the Audio track to download.

Take these podcasts with you!

You can find these podcasts at the following podcast partners:

Interview Transcript

Andrew:

Welcome, everybody. Andrew Holecek here and I am particularly thrilled with the guest that I have for today. Truly one of the great scholar practitioners of our age in my opinion. I’m deeply honored and humbled that he would take the time to chat with us a little bit today. So, I will give Alan his formal introduction then I’ll plant some seeds for directions where I like to take our conversation, and as you’ll see there will be no shortage of rich material to cover.

So, Alan Wallace is a prominent voice in the emerging discussion between contemporary Buddhist thinkers and scientists who question materialist assumptions of their 20th century paradigms. He left his college studies in 1971 to move to Dharamsala, India to study Tibet Buddhism, medicine, and language. He was ordained by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Over 14 years as a monk, he studied with and translated for several of the generation’s greatest Lamas. In 1984 he resumed his Western education at Amherst College where he studied physics and the philosophy of science. He then applied that background to his PhD research at Stanford on the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy.

Since 1987, he has been a frequent translator and contributor to meetings between the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, and he has written and translated more than 40 books. Along with his scholarly work, Alan is regarded as one of the West’s preeminent meditation teachers and retreat guides. He is the founder and director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and is the motivating force behind the development of the Center for Contemplative Research in Tuscany, Italy.

So, Alan, really, thank you so much for taking the time out of your extraordinarily busy schedule to chat with us. You may not remember, but we’ve crossed paths a number of times over the years. I ran into you a little bit when you were doing the now famous Shamatha project at Shambhala Mountain Center.

Alan:

Yes, indeed.

Andrew:

We also crossed paths several times when you were gracious enough to do some presentations at Naropa University and the like.

Alan:

I remember. Yeah.

Andrew:

Your work all together has been with me literally for decades. I have to say that your intellectual rigor, the scope and depth of what you do really places you in one of the categories of the intellectual and spiritual heroes in my life. One of the things that really touches me the most, Alan, is your absolutely fearless attitude in taking on the high priests of science. You have amazing verve and fearless, gusto to go after this new religion which it really is.

Alan:

Well, that’s what it is. Yeah.

Andrew:

Isn’t it? This belief system that people who are blinded by their own brilliance take as irrefutable dogma. I so delight the conversations you’ve had with high end theoretical physicists like Sean Carroll and the like. And I continue to savor everything you do when you kind of challenge the western materialistic paradigm, point out its blind spots, and then just have the gumption wherewithal to go after it.

So, there is so much I’d like to discuss with you. With my guests, I often take these teaching as deep as we possibly can. And with you, that means, you know, to the very ground of this groundless thing we call reality. What I think might be a little bit helpful element, I’ll start off with a couple questions for you, is to just situate a little bit the context in which these discussions are taking place.

We launched a site some months ago called Night Club which is just a platform for supporting people in what I am now playfully calling the nocturnal meditations. What we do is we have six kind of parallel tracks that run in this kind of pedagogy. We say the back of a night club is what we call night school. The first track is the science and medicine of sleep. The second track is the daily support practices like meditation and the practice of illusory form. Lucid dreaming in a real way is the kind of the center of this mandala. But then it evolves in a kind of Hegelian sense is kind of transcend and include progression that I like to look at the nocturnal practices with the dream yoga, sleep yoga, or luminosity yoga, and then bardo yoga.

With that said, you are absolutely the perfect person to talk to because your work is completely in resonant with our central underlying mission statement, you could say, which is the use of dreams as almost an excuse to explore the nature of mind and reality. As I was reviewing many of your books just over these last couple days, I was struck by how often you use the dream analogy, the dream state, and dream yoga, lucid dreaming as a way in fact to explore these finer dimensions of mind.

So before we get into the kind of the deeper, you could almost say philosophical theoretical end of this sort of stuff, I am curious what role has lucid dreaming, dream yoga played in your life, because, in addition to the many books where you referenced it, you devoted one entire book to this topic. So, I’m curious where these nocturnal practices are stationed in your life today.

Alan:

So, when I think of dream yoga, I think very classically that it’s in accordance with traditional text and I first received teachings on dream yoga back in 1978 in Switzerland. And that was within the context of the Six Yogas of Naropa. He taught us, gave a transmission on the whole. But it was really in 1990 from the Nyingma Lama with Gyatrul Rinpoche that I first received teachings. It really struck me as accessible, inviting. For you now it’s not just mental imprints for some later time and later lifetime. And since then I received further teaching from him in the book, “Natural Liberation” on the Six Bardos including the bardo dreaming and so forth. So that’s kind of, that’s my context, my access to the theory and practice of dream yoga. And then just again as a side light, during my graduate studies at Stanford from 1989 to 1995, it was during that time that I struck up a friendship and then a professional collaboration with Stephen LaBerge.

Andrew:

Of course.

Alan:

He was doing his PhD in the psychology department, but it was an independent PhD. I’d been interested in dream yoga for a very long time. He had learned that I was doing my dissertation on and had some background in shamatha. He saw the relevance of developing attention skills and very briefly put relaxation, a sense of ease of the body and mind, a sense of composure, of stillness, of unification, stability, and then finally clarity, vividness, luminosity of awareness, and how the cultivation of these different aspects of attention could be enormously relevant for the practice of lucid dreaming. So, over the ensuing years, it was 6 times that we led 10-day retreats at Stanford and Hawaii.

Andrew:

All right.

Alan:

And so that’s kind of my background of how I come to this. But if we go deeper, I was first introduced to the Middle Way view, the Madhyamaka back in 1972 when I was a very young student at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. It was in the context that was with Lamrim. When we came to the Madhyamaka, the emptiness of the nature all phenomena often as arising as dependently related events and in between formal meditative equipoise sessions viewing all phenomena as dream-like. I would say my real practice of doing dream yoga began then.

Andrew:

Yes.

Alan:

Let me go back to my first sentence. Classically when I think of dream yoga and even for that matter, lucid dreaming, which I integrated my book, “Dreaming Yourself Awake” I don’t think of it simply as nocturnal practice, but rather as divided rather evenly or even I might weighted more heavily to the daytime dream yoga and then the nighttime dream yoga.

Andrew:

Beautiful.

Alan:

Daytime dream yoga is really vipashyana. It really is vipashyana, with the orientation, the ambiance, the context of moving towards lucidity while sleeping in the dream state. But also moving towards, as you well know, the possibility of becoming lucid in the dreamless deep sleep state. Both of these have enormous relevance they are covered in “Natural Liberation”.

I would say, when we take both of these into account then, I mentioned before in our kind of preamble conversation that really, the central stream of my daily meditative practice for almost 30 years now has been this current, kind of an unbroken current or continuum of shamatha, vipashyana, and then cutting through or Trekchö, which is the quintessential Dzogchen practice. So, in this context then, all of this is in my worldview, then the practice of daytime and nighttime dream yoga is couched within the Madhyamaka view, coached within the Dzogchen view. So, this is utterly central.

What role does it play? Well, shamatha is just splashing around in the shallow end of the pool. If you don’t go beyond shamatha, if you’re just doing shamatha for the sake of shamatha, then, as it’s widely accepted universally in Buddhism that nobody even reaches the path. Let alone achieves liberation or awakening without going beyond shamatha, into vipashyana, motivation into bodhicitta if you’re following the Mahayana path. And then into really identifying pristine awareness if you’re going into the Mahamudra or Dzogchen path.

So we can see that central to this triad, the shamatha, vipashyana, and let’s say tekchud or identifying pristine awareness, primordial consciousness. Vipashyana is in the core and dream yoga is simply a variation on the theme or an expression of the teachings of vipashyana. So nighttime dream yoga is simply nighttime vipashyana, and daytime dream yoga is daytime vipashyana, in my view.

Andrew:

That’s just fantastic. I could not agree more with you. It’s really beautifully and articulately delivered there, Alan. To me, as you know, His Holiness Dalai Lama in Waking, Dreaming, and Sleeping, I believe is the title, he talks about…

Alan:

Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying.

Andrew:

Oh, yes, of course, “Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying.”

Alan:

Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying. I remember that conference very, very well.

Andrew:

That’s right. You were you were one of the translators. And sometimes…

Alan:

That’s right.

Andrew:

…I conflate that title with Evan Thompson’s more recent book, “Waking, Dreaming, Being”

Alan:

Well, Evan Thompson has been part of my life for a long time. So he maybe nibbled away at that title.

Andrew:

Exactly. In fact he said as much. But as His Holiness says and what you’re intimating here is that really in so many ways dream yoga circumambulates these teachings on emptiness.

Alan:

Definitely. Yeah.

Andrew:

I think there’s no doubt about that. And that’s where you’re kind of dovetailing that into the Middle Way teachings, the teachings of Madhyamaka. All of them really in the service, so to speak, of Dzogchen completely resonant with my own approach. But, for the listeners who may not be as facile as we are with terms like shamatha and vipashyana, and of course, often, Alan, when I think of you, I think of you in the most endearing way as “Mr. Shamatha”.

Alan:

Yeah. Some people call me shamatha junkie, but maybe Mr. Shamatha is a bit nicer.

Andrew:

Mr. Shamatha. Right. I want to come back to that, because, not only is this one of your central contributions. I think it’s absolutely critical as an infrastructure practice for lucid dreaming and dream yoga, let alone the path of awakening all together.

But if you don’t mind taking a moment for some of our listeners who may not be as facile with the terms shamatha and vipashyana, and tell us briefly, especially within the framework that you’re alluding to here, how you define those terms. And then I definitely want to come back and unpack with you the critical importance of stabilizing the mind.

Alan:

Well, first of all, I would say I don’t have a view. Well, here’s my Alan Wallace’s special spin on shamatha and my interpretation of vipashyana is such and such. I don’t have one. I think I’ve been teaching now for 42 years, really a central guiding light for me in teaching is to give authentic teachings. If you’re teaching Buddhism, teach authentic Buddhism. If you want to teach your own view, I’m about to teach the Alan Wallace view and it’ll be authentic is whatever I say is what I believe, you know. But no, I’m not here to teach Alan Wallace’s view.

So, when I’m teaching, I often teach Theravada, and I teach mindfulness of breathing, qualifications of mindfulness, the immeasurables. And then I’m really following very closely to the Pali Canon, to Buddhaghosa, the classic teachings. And so likewise when we come to shamatha and vipashyana. These two terms are already defined and they’re really quite, in terms of classic, authentic Buddhism whether Theravada, Indian, Tibetan, there’s a tremendous amount of consensus about the meaning of these terms. That doesn’t mean that people in 20, 21st century can’t come up with their own definitions, but they are coming up with a little kind of feather on the top of the table and the table has been around for 2,500 years. A gust of wind is probably gonna blow away that feather within a matter of months or years.

So shamatha, here’s classic teachings in shamatha, Theravada, Indian, Tibetan Buddhism it’s very straightforward. The term itself in Sanskrit means serenity, quiescence, tranquility. Shinay, my translation of it would be, shinay, “shi” is peaceful and “nay” is stillness. A peaceful stillness of mind. Calmer abiding is fine, this is Jeffrey Hopkins 45 years ago. So it is certainly not incorrect. I can’t remember he’s making a mistake frankly.

So shamatha, that’s just the meaning of the term then, but what’s the whole genre of shamatha meditations is about. In the Pali Canon, the Buddha taught 40 different methods and then we find further in Mahayana tradition, in Vajrayana further methods in Mahamudra and Dzogchen. What they all have in common is that shamatha is an array of practices designed to develop attention skills. It’s really straightforward.

Now, attention skills that are cultivated by developing single pointed attention, that’s Samadhi, by developing mindfulness, which is the Buddhist meaning is really very different from the modern meaning of moment to moment, non-judgmental awareness. Very useful, but not a Buddhist definition, never has been. And it does become Buddhist just by saying so. The Buddhist definition throughout all of Buddhism, all through all the various Buddhist cultures throughout Asia is mindfulness, sati, smṛti has a primary connotation of bearing in mind.

Bearing in mind something with which you’re familiar, with which you’re acquainted, and bearing it in mind without forgetfulness or distraction. This is a very noncontroversial definition and although there are subtle nuances here and there in all these languages, Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese, in all of these terms, all of these languages that have absorbed Buddhism deeply and for centuries, the term that is translated from the sati always has a primary connotation of to bear in mind or to recall.

So, that’s a crucial feature that is if you’re focusing on something, whether it’s focusing on your breath, or whether you’ve just slipped into lucidity in a dream. Now you have lab time and the optimal lab, laboratory for exploring the nature of the mind because the whole laboratory is made of the mind.

Andrew:

That’s right.

Alan:

So whatever you look at, it’s a configuration and expression of mind. Of course there’s nothing whatsoever that is physical in a dreamscape, not you, not your awareness, not appearances, nothing. And so once you’ve entered into lucidity, you’ve recognized the dream is a dream. Then I’ll show how this relates to shamatha. So maybe I’m just gonna wind around a little bit if you don’t mind.

Andrew:

Go for it.

Alan:

And this just goes back to my initial professional collaborations with Stephen LaBerge. Many, many people when they have their first lucid dream, they get so excited, they wake themselves up, you know. It’s a matter of seconds and, “Wow, I’m lucid. Oh, oops. I’m no longer now. I’m just awake.” And so the first thing is chill, dude, you know, relax. So, you come lucid, take it easy-peasy. You know, slip into it, relax, be at ease, but don’t jolt yourself out of it because you get so excited.

So the first in this triad, this sequential triad, relaxation, stability, vividness is directly relevant to developing the skills not only to become lucid, but once you’re lucid, to not blow it just by getting excited, you know, or agitated. And then secondly, once you’re in this lucid dreaming laboratory, then, like an astronomer that gets to go to a world class observatory, you want to have as much time there as possible, you know. This is solid gold. So, once you become lucid in a dream, it just makes sense. You are now in a very precious opportunity to make some very important insights, transformative, revealing of the nature of consciousness and so forth. So wouldn’t you like to have greater lab time and this means maintaining two things that are independent variables, and that is, one, maintain the continuity of the dream itself so it doesn’t just fade out or you don’t wake up, and then, secondly, is the independent variable, maintain the lucidity, because you can continue dreaming and slip back into a non-lucid dream. You can also, if you’re maintaining lucidity, you can lose the dream, but you can go right into lucid dreamless sleep.

So, the second quality then would be the ability to maintain that continuity and that is exactly mindfulness. It’s bearing in mind what you wish to attend to without forgetfulness, without distraction. And then thirdly, again, relating shamatha to lucid dreaming and dream yoga, the higher the definition, the higher clarity, the vividness, higher resolution and so forth of your dream, of course, it’s just, it’s better. It’s just a more vivid experience all together and that brings in the third quality that is cultivated explicitly in shamatha and that is the vividness, the brightness, the luminosity, high resolution, sharp focus of your awareness.

So, shamatha in short, that was kind of an elaboration touching on different points, but shamatha in short is developing the attention skills together with mindfulness, the ability to bear in mind what you’re attending to. But also, in order to sustain this, to achieve this, the samadhi, the single pointedness of attention and the mindfulness, they need the samkrajanya [SP] and it’s translated in various ways.

I’m not really satisfied with other translations. I translate [samkrajanya] or changed into Tibetan as introspection. The reason for that, I’m sticking to that, and not clear comprehension, or vigilance, or alertness, or full awareness, I think they all missed the mark. They’re not wrong, but they really missed the mark. The reason for that is this introspection is always by definition reflexive. I can practice mindfulness on your voice, but I can practice [samkrajanya] on my body, my voice, my mind, but not on anybody else’s body or the external environment and so forth.

So, we’re cultivating mindfulness and introspection, “specting intro” reflexively not just on the mind, but the body, on occasion, the body, on one’s speech when one is speaking, and then of course, when you’re practicing shamatha is overwhelmingly reflectively attending to the flow of mindfulness so you can recognize as quickly as possible when the flow of attention has veered off into either the two extremes. That’s laxity, loss of clarity and dullness, and excitation or agitation, and that’s where you lose it because you’ve been distracted. So this is, if we consider that vipashyana, especially vipashyana in the very nature of the mind and dream yoga is an expression of vipashyana and the nature of mind. But if we consider vipashyana and nature of mind is a contemplative science, and the object of the science is the space of the mind, the space of awareness, and whatever mental events take place within that space including dreams, then vipashyana is like astronomy and shamatha is like a telescope.

Andrew:

That’s beautiful.

Alan:

That’s really it. And the telescope… And I like the largeness of it. Rather than thinking a contemplative laboratory, a contemplative observatory, because the space of the mind is not microscopic. It’s not inside the head, despite all the ridiculous propaganda about thoughts and images, and memories, and so forth, all occurring inside neurons and synapses. One of the biggest superstitions of modern era unfortunately promoted by the scientific community which should be getting rid of superstitions and not adding to them.

Andrew:

That’s right.

Alan:

There’s so much nonsense, just use a nice word, nonsense. Coming out of people’s materialistic beliefs, that is actually not only not scientific, it’s anti-scientific because it obscures the actual evidence and the evidence is that obviously, mental events, dreams, consciousness are all nonphysical. That should be as plain as day because none of them could be measured physically, and when you observe them, they don’t display any physical characteristic, whatsoever. Shouldn’t that be QED right there and stop the conversation, aren’t we finished here?

The answer is no, but many people cling more tenaciously to their beliefs, whether they’re religious beliefs, or they’re materialistic beliefs, or they’re political beliefs. And I’m not gonna go there. But people cling to their idols, their, you know, their heroes, their beliefs, and that just throws reason and empirical evidence out the window. That’s what’s happened with materialism, and how it’s so suffocating to the scientific study of the mind.

Shamatha then is technology and it overcomes some of the deepest qualms that were very legitimate qualms during the opening decades of the modern scientific study of the mind. This is from about 1875 to 1910 where the giants in the field such as Edward Titchener, William James, Wilhelm Wundt were all promoting a very scientific approach to the study of the mind in which they emphasize above all, observed it for heaven’s sakes. This has been the success route for all other branches of science, whatever you like to understand in the natural world, observe it with as much sophistication and rigor, and replicability as you possibly can. And so that’s what William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Titchener were all trying to do, Titchener was really quite outstanding.

But what they didn’t have, and William James didn’t know about, in fact none of them did because they were very Eurocentric living in this Victorian era by and large, is they didn’t have any sophisticated means for developing attention skills. In fact, William James concluded, based on the evidence he had at his fingertips that the attention couldn’t be trained. That it’s just a fixed quality of each individual.

Well, they never went to India. I don’t think Titchener did or Wilhelm Wundt either. They were very Eurocentric. They considered if Europeans, Eurocentric civilization doesn’t know something, nobody does, and so meanwhile, 8,000 miles away, India, Tibet, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Mongolia, etc, they’ve been developing incredible technologies of samadhi, of shamatha for literally millennia. But we, in our Eurocentric pomposity considered, have assumed, almost to the present day, that if we haven’t achieved it, nobody has.

So shamatha is the technology, it’s the missing link to make introspection viable as a rigorously scientific way of attending to and beginning to investigate the nature of the mind. It’s the telescope without which all you have is folk astronomy, stargazing, and without shamatha, you’ve got folk psychology, you’ve got folk meditation, you’ve got folk contemplative inquiry. And vipashyana without shamatha is like, again, it’s like being an astronomer with no telescope. So, that’s shamatha and then, so that’s a contemplative technology.

And then vipashyana, contrary to the very valuable, very misleading watering down of vipashyana, where it’s become equated with mindfulness, which has never been true. It’s often equated with mindfulness, and then mindfulness is always equated with bare attention, which has never been true. And then people sitting and just practicing bare attention think that they’re practicing vipashyana. Well, this is like a VW with a Rolls-Royce insignia on the hood, you know. “Well, look. Look at my Rolls-Royce,” but just look at the insignia. Don’t look at the car.” It does Rolls-Royce. Or, you know, one of the $10 watches they used to sell in Hong Kong. It’s a Rolex. It’s a great deal.

Andrew:

Exactly.

Alan:

A $10 Rolex. It’s got to be a Rolex because it says so. And this must be vipashyana because everybody says it’s vipashyana. All righty. Well, let’s deal with this, get back to the real world. I’ve read Theravada, authoritative Theravada literature and it’s completely in accordance with the classical Mahayana literature for all over Asia. And that is vipashyana differs from shamatha in that it entails an element of inquiry.

Andrew:

That’s right.

Alan:

If it’s just being here now, just being barely attentive to whether it’s coming up, it’s not even shamatha and it’s not vipashyana. And so vipashyana is contemplative science. It can be vipashyana investigating in permanence and the nature of dukkha, the unsatisfying nature of existence when our lives are permeated by attachment and craving. It is investigating what is really I or mine, you know, when the first journey will have done in Theravada is there anything that is really I, really mine. And so philosophers think about these kind of things, and philosophers were thinking about these kind of things at the time of the Buddha and before the Buddha.

There was such a pluralism of philosophical inquiry from atheism, materialism, polytheism, monotheism, personal god, impersonal god. It was far more advanced in Greece at that time in the richness of philosophical inquiry, but then parallel with it, because there are many schools of philosophical or spiritual worldviews at the time of the Buddha.

But, what was unique about India that I think you do not find at that time in China, in Greece, the Mayans or anywhere else was, by the time the Buddha came along, they already had extremely mature discipline of samadhi. According to the Buddhist view, they had already explored all of the dhyānas within the form of realm, all of the Samāpattis when they formed this realm and in so doing had made a tremendous number of discoveries prior to the Buddha.

And Buddhism embraced that, but, again, the critical feature here that was unique unprecedented in the cultural…no, the contemplative history of India was, we had philosophers on the one hand and we had samadhi masters on the other. And what the Buddha did on the night of his enlightenment that was unprecedented was that fusion of shamatha with vipashyana.

Andrew:

Exactly. Yup.

Alan:

And it’s using a very refined…He’s got his telescope down, a very refined, first dhyāna, first dhyāna is good enough, fourth dhyāna, all the better, then you don’t have the intellectual faculties of vicara and vitarka of close investigation, of course investigation. So the first dhyāna was really perfect because you have that magnificent equipoise, the balance, the clarity, the sustainability of attention which you can sustain effortlessly for hours on end. But then on that basis, and this was a tremendous innovation, maybe the most important one of the historical Buddha, on that basis, now, don’t just start philosophizing and thinking about this and that, but use this like Galileo looking at the little dots around Jupiter and asking a question, “Are those background stars or might they be, contrary to every belief in Europe at that time, might they be actually moons around Jupiter?” He tracked them for two weeks and he found those background stars moved along with Jupiter, which means they’re not background stars. And that violated beliefs ever since Aristotle that all celestial bodies located around the earth. So, that is, astronomy is the vipashyana of celestial phenomena.

Andrew:

Beautiful.

Alan:

And vipashyana is contemplative science regarding everything. Elementary particles, galaxy, space, time, matter, ideas, dreams, mountains, tectonic plates, you name it, and of course, body and mind, to really try to identify phenomenologically. So it’s two levels here, phenomenologically, are these impermanent, permanent? Are they genuine sources of well-being? Are they not? Are they I or mine, or are they not?

And then we go into the deeper waters that brings us to dream yoga. And then we ask…We start with the observation, and that is, as we look around us, whether in a waking state or the dream, and it certainly appears to us as if all those appearances out there. I’m looking at a cabinet right in front of me and it’s brown, it’s wood, it’s old wood, and I can almost see it’s from this. It’s very woody, you know. It’s just wood-stained and I’m sure if I walk over and I put my finger onto it, I know exactly what it’s gonna feel like because it’s over there, it’s over there. And I’m pointing my finger at it. It’s over there and it absolutely appears to be really existing over there independently of my looking at it or thinking about it. It’s just a big, great big chunk of wooden cabinet over there, and that’s equally true in a dream, where only retrospectively when we wake up we say, “Oh, that was misleading.” There are no wooden cabinets in the dream because there’s no wood, because there’s no molecules.

And so vipashyana is really trying to understand, in a kind of a scientific way, the nature of phenomenological reality in a way analogous to what scientists do. They observe carefully, they ask questions, they apply analysis, they draw conclusions, they create hypotheses, test the hypotheses. And vipashyana, at the best, that’s exactly what you’re doing. But science is overwhelmingly, especially since behaviorism took over the mind sciences and then neuroscience took over…

Announcer: Thanks for listening. You can listen to the full interview with Alan Wallace by joining the “Night Club: Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga” community. Just $1 for your first 30 days.

How to Lucid Dream

How to Lucid Dream:
My Top 10 Techniques

With the proper techniques, anyone can lucid dream. My FREE PDF download will tell you how.

Get Yours Today!

X