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dealing with negative precognitive dreams

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Hi,
I don't know if this is the right place for my question. I have been lurking for a while, after reading Daniel's book which really inspired me to renew my meditation practice.

I guess you could say my tradition is that of the western psychonaut. I've been doing concentration (not too successfully; had 1 experience of 1st Jhana long ago) and doing infrequent edge-of-sleep experiments (lucid dreaming, had 1 short obe etc.) since I was a teenager. Before that, in childhood I had strange experiences and powerful dreams that set me up for a lifetimes interest in what you could call the "imaginal" realm.

Over time I have developed a kind of relationship with dreaming and syncronicity. I often get negative precognitive dreams.

I dreamt my uncle was going to die a month before it happened. Before one of my pets died I had a series of warning dreams and weird syncronicities, but not enough information to do anything about it.

My mum recently lost 2 pet rabbits to illness, which was again portended by dreams and syncronicities which left me in no doubt something bad was going to happen, but again I didn't have enough information to do anything about it. I even dreamt that I was trying to protect the rabbits against a predator that kept changing form; I couldn't distinguish it from the rabbits long enough to stop it.

I feel horrible after dealing with all this negativity and death, and with the general uncanny atmosphere surrounding these kinds of archetypal events.

Has anyone got any experience with this kind of stuff? Is there any way I can get more clarity so I can act decisively? Who on earth can I consult about this?

Again, I'm sorry if this isn't the right place for this kind of question.

Thanks,
Telemachus

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/15/11 10:20 PM as a reply to Telemachus the psychonaut.
have you considered that the experience of the actual bad thing happening might inform what your memory of those dreams were? it could be something like this. you have one dream and a coincidence occurs and you appear to have predicted the event. then you start really, really believing you have this thing. this might fuel some strange dreams which are hard to define. then an event occurs and your perception of the dream shifts just the slightest amount so it seems like it was a real prediction.

"i" do experience stuff like this to lesser degrees and in different forms. "i'm" constantly interpreting everything to give it more meaning for "myself." this stuff could just be a way that the self is feeding, the self feeds on both negative and positive emotions, it does anything it can to perpetuate emotions, if you were afraid for some reason then every shadow can look like a monster, or if you are worried something bad might happen then every ambiguous sign may be interpreted sign of that thing happening.

this is becoming. i don't mean to invalidate your experience or belittle your suffering at all, i've had plenty of experiences where stuff sort of like this seems totally real, and you might have something more intense than i ever have had, but try considering that this stuff is all just the work of "you" as a self.

from a purely buddhist standpoint, the buddha specifically recommends that visions like this are distractions and shouldn't be given credence.

i heard some great advice in a different thread given to someone dealing with the dark night. Jill suggested the following:


it sounds to me like you're going through your first dark night, not a second cycle. but whatever the case, if you've been practicing, anything new and unfamiliar is usually good news, no matter how bad it might feel--you're breaking new ground, making progress. a few things about the dark night:

you absolutely cannot trust your thoughts and feelings in the dark night ñanas, no matter how logical, sane, and true they may seem. the more you hold on to your ways of reasoning, interpreting, analyzing, judging, making conclusions, thinking, making sense of anything, the tougher the resistance you'll face. the mind is simply out of tune at the moment. i don't know what it technically involves (frequencies/energy/or what) but the mind is like a musical instrument with strings getting tuned but not yet in harmony, and sometimes you might think, well it's gotta be either this thought (a bit flat) or that thought (a bit sharp), and believing either one will get you nowhere because neither one is it. only when you let go of this complicated mind, let go of the need to know anything, and let the effects work themselves out (as josh mentioned) will things start tuning up.

think about it--what's the only thing you have that's totally fail-proof? the only way to stay perfectly clear from any kind of wrong view? how can you orient your mind so that there's not a chance you're gonna screw it up and generate new tensions, complications, or hindrances? the only thing you can really really trust is how things appear to your perception at the sense doors--feel that sensation, see that, hear that, taste that, smell that, notice that thought arise. those are your only faculties for direct knowledge and your express ticket for moving in the right direction, so keep your watch at the sense doors like a top guard dog, and every thought and feeling that arises concerning practice (that's not about paying attention to the senses) is potential bullshit and not to be trusted, and a waste of precious moments of practice opportunities.

possibly the worst way that the mind messes with you in the dark night is to make you think your practice is crappy and your efforts aren't going anywhere. towards the later dark night stages, what often happens is that the worse it feels and the harder it gets, the farther along you are, closer and closer to the tipping point before equanimity ñana.

make use of every second you have in your sits and daily life to pay attention to bare sensing without adding a single interpretation or analysis about what's going on. dump all your energy into paying attention to the present sensations more and more constantly, subtly, intensely, objectively (non-judging), and equanimously as possible. you can't waste one second of possible practice, things are already bad enough. stay vigilant, stay innocent/unknowing, stay determined, and everything will fall into place.


i know this doesn't apply directly to your case, but still, you may find it useful.

the buddha certainly implied that siddhis were a real and legitimate thing, that there are powers one can develop with one's mind. i'm not inclined to believe in them personally because i haven't had a convincing experience. but even the buddha himself who could apparently teleport around and keep himself from dying... he still said that this stuff is a distraction

to be more clear, i'd suggest you keep practicing jhana to gain some general peace, keep up attention and abandon unskillful states of mind in which you are worrying about death and being negative.

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/16/11 9:06 AM as a reply to josh r s.
Thanks Josh, I see where you're coming from. You're suggesting that I step outside of the thinking and emoting and try to observe the whole arising thing as a totality, rather than "thinking within" the event and following each line of thought and emotion to new becomings?

One question that came to mind is how does the attainment of this state affect the sense of the injustice of suffering? For me, the perception of the suffering of others is accompanied by awful feelings, desire to act etc. In western thought, we have this idea that the basis of our moral activity is connected to our ability to imagine or in some way feel the suffering of others; we have this whole business of "mirror neurons" in science for example.

What does this stuff look like for someone well along the path? What does compassion look like to someone who has untangled all this?

I've known for a while that in lesser matters I cling to suffering and negativity out of a sense of injustice and a desire to see that particular thing vanquished. I think I forget that insight very quickly when faced with really unpleasant events.

With regard to the reality of the dreams, my thinking is that we are really talking about what would be ordinary faculties that have become entangled, or masked by prior discourses of superstition, metaphysics, and of what we consider historically and culturally to be the "graspable" parts of the mind. By "ordinary" I mean ordinary like fitness or mathematical skill, something to be developed along a path existing within a cultural framework that takes its ordinary use into account. I understand how the siddhis are unnecessary in Buddhist practice, I just get the feeling that humanity is walking around with one arm tied behind its back as long as we don't investigate this stuff!

Thanks again, I really appreciate your reply, and I will follow your suggestions.

Telemachus

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/16/11 10:57 AM as a reply to Telemachus the psychonaut.
just to be clear btw, i am pre-stream entry and so i'm mostly just passing some stuff along,

What does this stuff look like for someone well along the path? What does compassion look like to someone who has untangled all this?


for someone who is an arahant in the 10-fetter model rather than the MCTB/mahasi sayadaw model, compassion isn't there as a feeling (so no compassion-based suffering). but one's actions become even more compassionate. (not according to my experience but to others' descriptions of their experience)

also, when talking about jhana, i suggest you use the instructions the suttas and certain thai forest tradition monks' interpretation of the suttas. their efforts at jhana seem to avoid some of the total absorption and self-aggrandizing of other types of jhana, those self-aggrandizing types may even increase the appearance of legitimacy in terms of the stuff you're dealing with.

here is a link with that type of instruction:

basic breath meditation

to summarize, make the sensations of breath (including "breath energy") as comfortable as possible in a section of the body, like the head or navel or heart. keep making it more and more pleasant at that spot, then start to spread that pleasant sensation to each section of the body. spread it to all of the body, and widen your attention so that you are watching all the pleasant breath sensations at once.

here is the sutta explanations of first jhana both in direct explanation and metaphor

"There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...


if you get to the point where you can easily get into this full-body pleasantness and you intensify it a good bit and start to drop evaluating thought then you will be in what i am taking for the second jhana which is about where i am in terms of concentration practice.

outside of jhana practice i just keep mindfulness as consistently as possible and simply abandon and avoid the unwholesome (that which is part of the path to continued suffering) while developing the seven factors of mindfulness. it's going really great for me right now, so that would be my suggestion.

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/16/11 3:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Thanks for writing such an informative reply. That type of meditation on the breath, where the sensation is spread over the body is new to me and I look forward to working with it.

Before I just concentrated on the breath as firmly as I could. On one occasion I got into a kind of constant unbroken attention which seemed to "roll" continuously with the breath. Then I had an experience of bliss arising within me that I couldn't handle for more than a few seconds. I haven't been able to repeat that experience. These days I seem to get physical jolting sensations and things like that when I concentrate.

cheers,
Telemachus

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/16/11 5:43 PM as a reply to Telemachus the psychonaut.
Telemachus the psychonaut:
Thanks Josh, I see where you're coming from. You're suggesting that I step outside of the thinking and emoting and try to observe the whole arising thing as a totality, rather than "thinking within" the event and following each line of thought and emotion to new becomings?


firstly, welcome to the dho.

secondly, whether or not your question above was what josh was suggesting, it brings to my mind what what daniel ingram, whose book 'MCTB' you have read, was certainly suggesting, in the context of the book's core topic: insight practice (and particularly in chapter 20: from content to insight). following early buddhist tradition, he recommended three ways to (paraphrasing, with your words) 'observe the whole arising thing as a totality': by directly observing the (1) impermanence, (2) dissatisfaction, and/or (3) relentless spontaneity that can be found to characterise one's direct, moment-to-moment, experience.

your question to josh, then, may be re-phrased, in the language used in MCTB to describe insight practice, as follows (with the substitutions in bold):


'You're suggesting that I step outside of the thinking and emoting and try to observe the three characteristics as they manifest in my experience (insight), rather than rolling in content?'


though you posted your thread in the 'magick and the powers' section of the forum, an important tool for understanding the powers and their conditions is an ability to discern causality (in the buddhist sense of the term), which insight practice greatly develops. you may find that an insight practice may do much to help you come to terms with 'all this negativity and death, and with the general uncanny atmosphere surrounding these kinds of archetypal events' ... as it is the lack of such discernment which is most unsettling about these phenomena.

lastly, it is in respect of your interest in the powers that i make mention of insight practice, as it is the final goal of insight which is hailed, in the buddhist canon, as the greatest of all the powers[1].

tarin

[1] "[The ending of mental fermentations], too, great king, is a fruit of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime. And as for another visible fruit of the contemplative life, higher and more sublime than this, there is none." (DN 2 - samannaphala sutta - the fruits of the contemplative life)

RE: dealing with negative precognitive dreams
Answer
10/17/11 1:57 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Hi Tarin,
Thanks for your suggestions. I must make more of an effort with insight meditation; I always found it gave me uncomfortable mental sensations after a short while. Nothing associated with meaningful content, just a kind of rough, exhausted feeling... Will have to work through it.

Thanks again,
Telemachus