Tami Simon: Welcome to Insights at the Edge produced by Sounds True. My name is Tami Simon, I’m the founder of Sounds True, and I’d love to take a moment to introduce you to the new Sounds True Foundation. The Sounds True Foundation is dedicated to creating a wiser and kinder world by making transformational education widely available. We want everyone to have access to transformational tools such as mindfulness, emotional awareness, and self-compassion, regardless of financial, social, or physical challenges. The Sounds True Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to providing these transformational tools to communities in need, including at risk-youth, prisoners, veterans, and those in developing countries. If you’d like to learn more or feel inspired to become a supporter, please visit soundstruefoundation.org.
You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today, my guest is Andrew Holecek. Andrew Holecek is an author and spiritual teacher who presents the Buddhist tradition from a contemporary perspective, blending the ancient wisdom of the East with modern knowledge from the West. Known as an expert on lucid dreaming and the Tibetan yogas of sleep and dream, he’s an experienced guide for people who are drawn to these powerful nighttime practices. With Sounds True, Andrew has written the book, Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep, as well as a new book called Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming. In our conversation, Andrew and I have a rollicking time exploring what he calls “a rainbow vision of the world.” You gotta take a listen to this. Here’s my conversation with Andrew Holecek:
Andrew, with your first book with Sounds True, Dream Yoga, you taught people about lucid dreaming and practices we can do at night for spiritual awakening. And now here with your second book, Dreams of Light, you’re teaching the daytime practice of illusory form. Now, I think when people hear about daytime practice of illusory form, it sounds complex, and yet you say right at the beginning of Dreams of Light that this is an easy practice for people to do. So let’s start right there, what is the daytime practice of illusory form? And make it easy for me, Andrew.
Andrew Holecek: We’re with you. Yes, Tami, it’s—it is in fact, easy. It’s a traditional practice, And I simply kind of, so to speak, translated it and adapted it for the Western way. And it’s a threefold practice working with illusory body, illusory form per se; illusory speech; and then illusory mind. And it’d be really interesting to bat around with you like, well, why do we want to do that? Why is this important? But it’s fundamentally a way to work with the three main gates— body, speech and mind—that we relate to the world. And to basically soften, to make more workable the experience that comes in through these principal mediums of our experience.
And it is indeed very simple. I mean, illusory body, for example, is as simple as reciting with as much conviction as you can the iteration almost like a mantra that “This is a dream, this is a dream.” And it’s a wonderful support to the nocturnal practices, and also a practice completely in its own right. And so I’m happy to go into this in any direction that you want, because there’s so many different avenues where we can go to explore it. But in a nutshell, it’s the practice of seeing the world in actually a more authentic way. All the wisdom traditions unequivocally proclaim that the world by nature is illusory, or dreamlike. And what I try to do in this book is explain, well, what does that really mean, and why is that important?
Tami Simon: Let’s start with this word, “illusory.” I mean, from a completely different direction someone might say, “I’m interested in knowing what’s real, what’s authentic. And so I’m practicing presence, so I can discover something that’s undeniably real in this moment. And now, Andrew is telling me ‘Oh, this—everything’s a dream. Just ask during the day, repeat again and again like a mantra, this is a dream. ‘”
Andrew Holecek: Right. Yes. So this is why we have to make the really critically important distinction, which the philosophical and also neuroscientific traditions do, that I try to introduce in the book and support. We have to make the really critical distinction between appearance and reality, because they’re not necessarily the same thing. In fact, according to the radical proclamation of the wisdom traditions, appearance is not in harmony with reality. So we run around, unquestioningly accepting things at face value, and accepting appearance at face value. And the wisdom traditions say that that, in fact, is the source of all our disquietude, our pain, and our suffering. Because then what happens is we confer, we impute, we project a kind of a status that really is not inherent in the appearance itself. And the word—it’s a somewhat daunting word initially, but literally—it’s, to reify, to make real.
And so what we do—and when I say “we,” I’m meaning here specifically ego. This is a kind of a developmental issue. What the ego does for very interesting reasons, by the way, is it runs around like King Midas, touching everything with its senses and transforming all appearance into his version of gold, which is seeing things in solid, lasting, independent, in other words reified. And so what we’re doing is we’re not denying appearance—we meaning the traditions and also the sciences. They’re not denying appearance. Things do appear, absolutely appear. The things that we’re looking at right now, my voice, the chair that you’re sitting on, we—there’s no denial of that appearance. In fact, doing that would be slipping into the error of things like nihilism, and all the subtle traps that go from that kind of extreme position.
And so what the wisdom traditions do, and what I tried to do with this book—which is really the heart of illusory form, and really also therefore the heart of dream yoga—is we challenged the status of that appearance. Just how solid are the contents of this world? Just how solid are the contents of my mind and my experience? And I think it’s a very simple thought experiment to our listeners: we can ask them to examine that when you really suffer in this world, you suffer almost in direct proportion to how solidly you take the contents of your experience.
And so what this book is about is realizing how freeing it is when we finally cut through, see through the facade of mere appearance. Then in fact, like you’re alluding to cut into what is real. And what is real—and this is the irony, actually—what is real is almost the antithesis of what we assume to be real. And so what I always mention here, Tami, is that in connection to the Buddha, the Buddha’s allegedly the awakened one, literally. Well, it was always interesting to me, well, what did the Buddha wake up from, and what did he wake up to? Well, he woke up from the nightmare of reification. He woke up from the nightmare of seeing the world so endarkened. This is the opposite of the enlightenment view, the endarkened heavy, burdensome view. He woke up from that to a dreamlike reality.
And in the book, I go in great length in exploring how in particular the Buddhist tradition refers to this dreamlike nature through its really profound teachings on emptiness. And so if you’d like, we can coast into that direction.
Tami Simon: Now, you said the Buddha woke up from the nightmare of reification.
Andrew Holecek: Yes.
Tami Simon: Once again, what is reification? How do I know when I’m reifying experience?
Andrew Holecek: Yes. Well, here’s the kicker. By default, Tami, by default, the very givens of our world—and this is why these teachings are foundational, and actually somewhat challenging. Because the very givens of the world, the axiom, what we take for granted—the fact that you exist, the fact that I exist, the fact that I see you separate from me. I see the world in this kind of dualistic way. That right there is indicative of our reifying tendencies.
Let’s just, let’s make it very personal. This very sense of self, let’s just cut right to the quick, this very sense of Tami-ness, this very sense of Andrew-ness is something that is actually conferred upon this kind of ongoing stream of awareness or consciousness. And as you well know, in the real heart of the deep nondual wisdom traditions, there is no such thing as a reified, solid—that’s what reification is, solidified, concretize—thing called self. That’s what appears, it appears to be that way. It appears that I’m here, it appears that you’re there. It appears the world is dualistic. But it’s not, and this is what these traditions go after.
So this is the real kicker, and this is why this is so fundamentally challenging because these teachings and the practices then that lead you to their experiences, fundamentally kind of pull the rug out from all the things that we literally take for granted. All the things that we feel to be kind of just, kind of the sanctuaries of the way we live our traditional lives. And the Buddha and many other wisdom masters said this is precisely the reason that we suffer.
So that’s what these practices go after. And in so doing, we remove—this is a wonderful play on the word “enlightenment”—we remove the burdens of having such a heavy, imputed, laden kind of version of self and other.
Tami Simon: I think a good place to start, and it’s where you begin Dreams of Light as well, is, you offer this story of appreciating a rainbow. I think many of us can relate to this, I think. You’re driving after a thunderstorm, you pull over to the side of a road to appreciate how beautiful, glorious, radiant a rainbow is. And you know it’s not going to be there in five, 10, 20 minutes, so you want to pull over to really appreciate it.
In the book, you write, “This is how the awakened ones view the world. For them, everything is a rainbow body.” Then you continue, “You’re sitting on a rainbow chair.” You’re sitting on a rainbow chair as you’re reading this, and you’re introducing this rainbow view of reality, if you will. And I thought to myself, “OK, sitting on a rainbow chair. Well, this chair has a feeling of solidity that seems different to me than that very ephemeral rainbow that I can’t quite touch. I’m touching the chair. Now, I get that I’m calling it ‘chair.’ I don’t have to call it anything. I don’t have to label it. But there’s still a feeling here of something that feels quite solid that feels different than a rainbow.” So, help me really get into the rainbow view of this chair.
Andrew Holecek: Yes. Well, boy, you’re going right to the heart of it, Tami, because this is, again, and the way I parse out the book is I make these assertions from the kind of contemplative traditions, and then I try to substantiate them by bringing in some of the science behind it. And so this fundamental proclamation of the empty, illusory, rainbow-like quality is also a deep implication of the laws of physics. Quantum mechanics is also about this notion that fundamentally, the world is made of frozen light. And this is really not just the metaphor. I mean, the seminal work, for instance—just to give it some substantiation—of David Bohm, one of the preeminent students of Albert Einstein. He quite literally says that the world is made of frozen light.
And so what we want to do—again, it’s not a matter of challenging what you’re actually feeling, the fact that you’re sitting on this chair. It’s really a matter of looking, like you could say underneath the chair. And for instance, again, just to talk briefly on some claims from physics itself, you’re actually not sitting on the chair, Tami. You’re actually hovering above it, believe it or not. You’re never actually fundamentally in contact with anything. And even the neuroscientists come into play here when—and this is a very powerful component of what I tried to riff on in the book, is that all our perception is creation. All our perception. And this is—this includes, Tami, every sense faculty. Not just vision, but the hearing, audition, taction. All our sense faculties do not fundamentally represent the world. Again, this is just the way we think things are. It’s not the way they are. It’s the way we kind of project and impute them to be.
And so literally, both in neuroscience and in the wisdom traditions—and this is a radical proclamation that has tremendous applicability—perception is creation. And so when you feel like you’re objectively registering the sensation that you’re sitting on this chair, this actual sense itself is created. And when I go through some of the neuroscience and physics in the book, I try to tease out some of this from these Western disciplines just to show, first of all, how deeply embedded these misperceptions are in our world.
Again, these are the givens. This is just the way we take things to be, but it is a fundamental mis-take. And pulling the chair out from underneath you, pulling the rug out from underneath you is what I go after in this book. That’s really the core of the practice of illusory form, and it’s also the essence of the spiritual path altogether. And as you know, Tami, when you start to do really deep spiritual practice, it’s not a necessarily comfortable experience because all the things that we take so for granted are fundamentally being challenged. And again, I mean, if we don’t do that, then we’re simply left frozen in the world of mirror appearance, lost in our projections, and fundamentally, suffering as a consequence of it.
And one of my favorite summary statements of this, and I’ll come up for air comes from the great Tibetan Buddhist master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche when he said that samsara, the world of confused, conditioned reality, is mind turned out, lost in its projections. Nirvana is mind turned in, recognizing its nature. And I want to throw this into the mix, because mind turned out, lost in this projections is not only the definition of a non-lucid dream—I want to tie that into the nocturnal practices—it’s also how we get lost in this kind of projected display of what we take as the very given of our reality.
And so this book is an echo of many of the great radical proclamations from the Western wisdom, Western intellectual traditions, and the Eastern wisdom traditions that really go after some of these foundational tenets that actually are not that foundational. They’re constructed. So, direct me if this is where you want to go further.
Tami Simon: OK. Well, this notion, “perception is creation,” is a very—I think is a very, very profound discovery, realization in someone’s experience. And I’d love you to talk more about that, and specifically to that person who says, “Wait a second, I’m dead now. And yet that chair, I don’t care what you call it, is still sitting there in Tami’s recording studio with this podcast. She didn’t create it. She didn’t create it. It’s still sitting there, even though she died. She didn’t create it.” So, how do you explain this?
Andrew Holecek: Yes, exactly. So here we go, I love these questions. This is where we have to make some very subtle and important distinctions between phenomenal and relational experience. And so, I hope—you know, please excuse me as I go to the deep end of the pool here. So, there is, in fact, an appearance. Thinking again—when philosophers talk about this, they have very sophisticated ways of explaining all this. And so, it’s not—what is not being asserted here, and this is the kind of the other extreme, that we somehow create our realities, we create the chair. And when I die, that chair dies with me.
Well, yes and no. The aspect of the chair that dies with you is what’s called the phenomenal sense. That particular chair that you experience is not the same chair that I experience. And let’s do a very brief thought experiment on this one, Tami. This is a good one, and then we’ll come back to the more relational sense. That there is in fact, some thing out there but what that thing is not what we think it is.
But let’s go back to the first sense of relational reality, how it is that we create our perceptions. And so, here’s a very interesting thought experiment. Imagine we are doing a class together, and we had like 50 people in the class. And I often do this and I say, “OK, we’re going to take a 45-minute break. And I want everybody in this room to spend the next 45 minutes, and Sally, I want you to go out and grab a bird. Robert, I want you to get an elephant. Bill, I want you to get a fish.” And basically, you get the idea, all 50 people are going to go out and they’re going to get 50 different animals. Then we’re going to bring all these different animals back, we’re going to put them in the same room. And this is where it gets a little tricky, because you got to hold all their hands really still, and they’re really squirming. It’s hard to hold the head of a worm, you know. They’re really, it’s not an easy thing.
So we all hold their heads together, and then I hold this thing up that I would call a glass. Then as a thought experiment, we’re going to go around the room and we’re going to ask all these animals, “What are you seeing?” Well, the bat will see an ultrasound reality, a bee will see an ultraviolet reality, a snake will see an infrared reality. What’s the real reality? We have the same relational appearance, right? Here’s the glass. That’s the relational appearance—there is something out there, but we definitely do not register it the same way. And so when I die, the chair that I create with my versions—and we can really talk about the neuroscience behind this and also the developmental psychology behind it—the chair that I create, that chair is gone.
And if you want us to know how radical this goes, Tami, the recent work of Donald Hoffman, a really brilliant cognitive neuroscientist, he talks about this absolutely shattering scientific philosophical assertion that right now, the room that you’re sitting at right now, Tami, that room behind you actually does not exist for you until you turn around and enact it and bring it forth. That phenomenal appearance is actually not there until you turn around and actually bring it into your reality.
And so, I want to pause here make and sure we’re not going too far into the deep end and losing people. But this is not mere philosophical role-playing or sophistry. These types of thought experiments—and then most importantly, what I try to portray in the book, the practices that lead you to these types of insights—these are all brought about as ways to relieve our suffering. And therefore, and to realize that we are not—let’s get really practical here—we are not the victims that hapless helpless victims of the world. We are the victims of our projections, our imputations, our hopes and fears, what we bring to that world.
And therefore what these practices, Tami, are fundamentally, they’re extraordinarily empowering. Because what they therefore do then, fundamentally, is they confer—it’s like a transfer of power, it’s like a revolution in perception. It’s a transfer of power from the external world that we take to be so solid and real when it’s actually not, that’s the way we co-create it. We, through these teachings, can transfer that power back to ourselves and realize that we are, in fact, the ones that create these versions of our hardship. And so the maxima I played with here is that fundamentally the world isn’t hard; we are. And so these teachings have tremendous—it’s not just a mere philosophy and intellectual game-playing. These teachings have profound liberation kind of underlying the entire thesis.
Tami Simon: In terms of making it real in people’s experience, the question, “Am I dreaming?” That doesn’t really work for me.
Andrew Holecek: OK.
Tami Simon: But starting to see everything as a rainbow, through a sort of rainbow—like, it’s not solid, and I’m not going to be solid in relationship to it either, it’s all rainbowish—that really turned a light on for me. So that was really helpful. And then you offer a couple of other practices, suggestions that people can do. And I thought some of these were really cool. One, you could wear earplugs around the house, and how that would change your perception. And I wonder if you can comment on that some—how it is that our hearing, by blocking out our hearing changes what we see as an appearance.
Andrew Holecek: Yes, I discovered this when I did my three-year retreat, where the great—and I want to share this just very briefly personally, Tami, because the reason I’m so passionate about what I share in the book is that the experiences that I was so blessed to have during my three-year retreat were really what instilled this upon me. And the way this connects to your question or comment is that we had the great, good opportunity for months on end to practice dream yoga all night, and to practice illusory form all day. And so we had a really a 24/7 opportunity to work with everything that I tried to portray in these two books that I published with you all.
And one of the ways to work with the practice of illusory form that you’re mentioning here is, in fact for each of us—and it’s a very interesting thing for listeners to do, is to actually take the qualities of your normal nighttime dream—which, for most of us, they tend to be mostly visual, so to speak; even though it’s a very interesting sidebar question, where, who’s seeing what when you’re in the dream? We can really do a very powerful thought experiment around this, who’s actually seeing what in the dream when it’s all just in your mind?
But for most of us, and studies have shown this—when people are dreaming, most of their dream experiences, and I think you would probably resonate, are visual. And so what I do in my personal practice that I learned in retreat and also in the dream yoga seminars I teach is OK, take as an illusory form practice, take the characteristics of your dreams and bring them into your waking reality as a way to help you de-reify this waking state. And so there’s one really powerful way is to take these earplugs, put them into your ears, walk around with just your sense faculty of sight kind of taking the reins. Then the other thing you can do also in conjunction with this is move your head—kind of extend the blinks of your eyes and move your head in a slightly disjointed way. Because again, when we look back at our dream states, they’re mostly kind of disjointed. These are kind of the characteristics of our dreams—they’re discontinuous, they’re just jointed, they’re fragmented, they’re primarily visual.
And so what I do then is say, OK, look at your own dream. What are those characteristics? Let’s bring it into the waking reality, and see what happens when we do it. And it’s very interesting, Tami. When we do these things, sometimes people are just utterly delighted with the result of this kind of sensory deprivation experience. And other people actually get a little bit unsettled. They get a little bit freaked out, because it’s like, “Hey, wait a second here, what happened to my solid reality? It feels a little trippy in here right now.” And that in fact, is part of the point, is to, again, challenge the supremacy of the wake-centered experience, challenge the supremacy of seeing the worlds the way we do. And these—yes, they’re contrived. Yes, they’re gimmicky. Yes, they’re tricks, but they’re all kind of fake-it-till-you-make-it practices.
And this is really important throw into the mix, that fundamentally there are several variations of progression in the practice of illusory form. What we’re talking about here, Tami, is what’s called impure illusory form. And it’s impure because it’s still conceptual, you’re still faking it. You’re still doing these crazy tricks with your ears, you’re still saying, “This is a dream” and whatnot. But eventually what happens, and all the wisdom traditions really are in chorus and symphony around this, that fundamentally, you’re doing a practice that is a template and that is in resonance with actual reality. And so eventually, this impure, illusory form practice matures into what’s called perfectly pure illusory form. And it’s therefore—you’re seeing, then, the world as it really is: it’s purified of conception, it’s purified of all these tricks and gadgets of provisional practice. And you’re no longer faking it, you’ve made it. You then actually, literally see the world as a dream.
Then what that means if you want to go there—this is where the book gets really profound, because now we start to do a step into the world of nonduality. And we can take, and I can guide your listeners through a really, a revelatory thought experiment with a nighttime dream experience to really show how this practice can lead to the foundational discovery of nonduality. Because we talk about non duality all the time, but what is it? What is this term? I mean, all the wisdom traditions talk about nonduality, but it’s like, this like spiritual rhetoric. What does that really mean? And so if you want to go into that really deeper, I mean . . .
Tami Simon: Yes! I mean, we’re going to go into a revelatory experience right now of nonduality?
Andrew Holecek: That’s good!
Tami Simon: Of course, the answer—yes, let’s do that.
Andrew Holecek: OK. Cool. So the way this is done, and there’s several dimensions to this, I often recommend people close their eyes for this one. And the way we do this is, we do a little bit of reflection on just a normal, over-the-counter nighttime dream. Let’s just say, I mean, last night, I had just a really great dream. So for the listeners, pause for a second, bring to memory just any old dream. It doesn’t have to be anything special, any dream. Now when you put yourself back into that dream—and again, you’ve probably never thought of this before, because we usually dream in a really kind of unquestioned way. It’s like Socrates once, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, let’s make it worth living. Let’s make our dreams worth experiencing.
So in an unexamined way in the dream—and again, you probably haven’t thought of it this way—there seems to be a dream image, maybe appearing on something like a dream screen. You never really thought of it that way, but there’s a dream image, you take that for granted. Yes, OK, you’re right, there’s a dream image. No doubt. Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but there also seems to be a dreamer. Like some way—or let’s say use the image of a theater, right? So you’re in the dream theater, and there’s a dream playing out on the dream screen. And you probably haven’t thought about it, but there’s—yes, you’re right, there’s a dreamer. There’s a dreamer somewhere in the dream theater that’s watching the dream.
When I do this in public, I ask people to raise their hand and they go, “Yes, that’s—yes, I am experiencing the dream.” Well, is that really what’s going on? That’s just mere appearance. That’s the way it appears—”I am dreaming. I am experiencing the dream.” And so, now what [do] we do? So now we wake up. We are in the waking state. And from this perspective—now we’re sitting in this room, you’re sitting in your chair, we’re back together—you’re awake, in contrast to the experience of last night’s dream.
Now let’s take this new, more awakened perspective and look back at what we just did, and see if in fact, is this really what’s going on? There seems to be a dream, there seems to be a dreamer. But when you step out from this more awakened perspective and look back on that experience and you ask yourself these following questions, that is not at all what’s happening.
Where is the dreamer? Take a really hard look. From a perspective of the waking state, there is no one in there having that dream. There appears to be because you never ask it. What’s simply happening is the dream is manifesting on its own—and this is where the nondual part comes in, where it gets a little bit more kind of sophisticated. You seem to know the dream, there seems to be a subject, there seems to be an object, there seems to be this dualistic relationship to the dream. That’s an illusion. That’s not what’s happening. From the waking state, you can look back and say, “Wait a second. You know what? There might be something going on here. There’s no dreamer. I’m not seeing that dream, still the dream was happening. How was… Who’s knowing the dream? Who’s seeing the dream? Nobody, right? But the dream is still… There’s still some knowing taking place.”
And so the really radical proclamation that may take some reflection—this is a contemplation that may take some repetition—is a nondual proclamation: what type of knowing is actually taking place here? Well, the only conclusion you can draw if there is no subject, there is no object, but there is still some kind of awareness taking place, is that the dream knows itself. The dream is what’s called reflexively aware. This is the experience of nonduality. There is no dreamer, there’s just the dream. And the dream simply knows itself.
And this is—I want to tie this last thing into Dreams of Light, the title of it, Tami. And then, we can come back out and see if this lands with you. The way this ties in beautifully to the title—and the title is a double entendre, it has multiple layers of meaning. And the way this ties in, and just to unpack it even further is, this is a kind of a secondary thought experiment. When you see the objects during day—so now we’re looking around the room, you’re seeing all the stuff around the room. How is it that you see the objects in this room? Well, the light reflects off these objects, and it hits your eye and then you perceive. Have you ever thought about when you see something in your dream, where does that light come from? There’s no sun in there, there’s no light in there. What’s illuminating the objects in the dream? Well, it’s actually the light of the mind itself, the light of the mind itself.
And so this I unpack in great detail in the book because in many ways, this is the crux of the matter. And it’s not an easy one to get because the minute you start talking about nonduality from a dualistic point of view, you’re in a real hornet’s nest, because the dualistic mind cannot grasp nonduality. But with this type of thought experiment repeated several times, reflected on, meditated on deeply, you can come to some really profound radical insights. And the last one, Tami, and then I’ll stop, is then what you do as a practice, is you ask yourself exactly the same questions right here right now. “I seem to be here seeing a screen, seeing a world out there, just like in that dream last night. And just like when I was stuck in that dream last night, that’s the way it appears to be.”
From the awakened state, from a state of awakening even one more than what we’re doing here, what we’re perceiving to dualistically now is just as much an illusion as the nighttime dream. And so therefore, this is what happens when the Buddhas wake up—they wake up to a yet another dimension of reality that is more real than even this. And from that perspective, this becomes a dream.
And so I’ll pause because I know this is nothing the easiest thing to land with people, but I really encourage people, as subtle as this is, to play with this one, because when you actually do experience, it’s a powerful contemplation, this can rock your world because it will change the way you know and the way you perceive, and it’ll give you a very powerful glimpse of what the nondual experience is actually like. And so, does that settle with you at all? Does that land with you?
Tami Simon: Oh, yes, that I think that’s very, very profound, Andrew, what you just took us through. So, thank you. I also think it points to something that you teach, which is the relationship between these daytime practices and our dream yoga life, and how there’s a reciprocal relationship. And I wonder if you can comment on that, how practicing in the daytime changes how we dream and how a different awareness when we’re sleeping changes our daytime practice of illusory form.
Andrew Holecek: Yes, that’s beautiful. Thank you for asking that question, Tami. That’s a great one. This is really important because fundamentally where we’re going with these practices is— lucidity, again is a code word. It’s like, it’s a code language for awareness. And so, lucid dreaming really means aware dreaming, and so where all these practices go is fundamentally to the fruition of lucid living—in other words, a fully aware living. And I can’t overstate the importance of that because otherwise, this stuff can feel philosophical, distant, and removed.
And so the way it works in terms of your question, Tami, is the practice of dream yoga, illusory form, these are what are called bi-directional or reciprocating practices. Again, these are big terms, but they’re intuitive. In other words, what it means is that the more you do the practice of illusory form, the more it actually greases the skids for having lucid dreams at night. And this is a really important foundational tenet, because the reason we’re non-lucid at night is we’re non-lucid during the day. In other words, we are always lost in these kind of non-lucid ways, solidified ways, distracted ways.
And so as we practice illusory form during the day—and I can attest to this in my own experience and also doing this with programs—you’re starting to install a host of pop-ups into your unconscious mind that will then ping into your awareness when you’re dreaming like a pop-up, like these annoying computer pop-ups. You’d be going along in a normal non-lucid dream, And something from your daytime practice of illusory form will just pop up into your mind. Like it will just ping into your mind, and completely clue you into the fact that you’re dreaming. And then instantly, of course, that transforms a non-lucid dream into a lucid dream. Then you do all the stuff I talk about in the first book, you engage in all the illusory form—I mean, I’m sorry, the dream yoga practices and the like.
And this, Tami, is where the big difference is between lucid dreaming and dream yoga. Because mostly with the practice of standard lucid dreaming, what you do in the sanctuary of the night with lucidity is just kind of left there. Not so with dream yoga. Dream yoga transcends but includes lucid dreaming and it goes deeper. So you’re doing, you’re—now you’re lucid, you’re doing your dream thing, you’re doing your dream practices, and because you’re simply working with the mind in a more refined state—and this is really important—what is a dream made of? It’s not like you’re inhabiting some pre-existing dreamscape. Dreams are just made of mind. And so when you’re working with dream yoga, you’re simply working with your mind in a really distilled, refined way.
And so then what happens here that is so cool in this kind of, in not a vicious circle, but a virtuous circle, the practices that you’re now doing in the dream state, well, guess what they do? They now come back in and kind of ping into your waking state. And so, you open—I playfully refer to it, Tami, as you’re opening this kind of inter-state commerce, right? Literally between two different states of consciousness, interstate commerce, where now insights kind of flow and traffic between two previously disparate and sequestered states of mind.
And so, this is radically important for spiritual practitioners who really want to take the utmost advantage of this very precious limited life. I mean, we enter the dream state 500,000 times during the course of a lifetime. About six years. You can earn a PhD in less than six years. And so the practice of illusory form greases the skids for dream yoga, you attain lucidity in a dream state. Those exact same insights now come back into the waking state, they pop back up into the waking state, and then what happens? They support each other bi-directionally. So your dream yoga strengthens your illusory form, your illusory form strengthens your dream yoga, until what happens? Until they actually meet. And the great awakened ones—and this may seem again, outrageous proclamation—but the great truly awakened ones from any wisdom tradition see absolutely no difference between the waking state and the dream state. It’s literally referred to as the quality of one taste, the great equanimity. Everything in the dream state is seen to be as equal status as the awakened state.
And for many of us, it’s like, “Are you effing kidding me?” Well, this is part of what it means to actually wake up, to realize the democratic nature of experience under all states of consciousness. This is not just the Tibetan Buddhist proclamation; all the nondual traditions proclaim this. And so my great kind of passionate riff on these topics is we have such a short life, why not take complete advantage of it? Why not add a month, a year to your life? Why not add six years to your life? Think about how much you could learn if you added six years of awareness or consciousness to your life. And so, that’s a fantastic important question, that fundamentally you open this interstate traffic between two states of consciousness with insights flowing back and forth, and it’s literally like the ultimate frontier.
And I’ll end with this note on this one, Tami. There’s a very sensitive neuroscientist Matthew Walker, hardcore Berkeley scientist wrote a book called Why We Sleep. And at the very end of this book, he says something amazing about lucid dreaming. He says, “It is entirely possible that lucid dreaming and lucid dreamers represent the next iteration in homo sapiens evolution.” And so, to me it represents literally the pedagogy of the future. I’m not kidding when I say this. I think when the induction techniques are harnessed and refined, and largely, this book is an augmentation of those induction techniques; when people can gain increased accessibility to the dream state and attain lucidity, it literally represents the potential future of education altogether.
Tami Simon: I love that. I love right here being on the cusp of human evolution. It’s exciting. You know, Andrew, one thing I just want to comment on, you’re like a little kid who’s so thrilled and turned on by these practices. I mean, I feel the delight in you. And I wonder if you can comment on that because it’s just, it’s so palpable.
Andrew Holecek: Oh, you’re so sweet for saying that. I feel like a kid in the candy store here. I really do. I, first of all, I’m so grateful for the wisdom traditions, the meditation masters I personally studied with. And I have to throw into the mix the scientists, the philosophers that I’ve had the great good fortune to spend a great deal of time with. And to me, it’s like I’m sitting—I’ve discovered this treasure trove, right? This vast, natural resource that’s untapped, deeply connected to the untapped resources of the unconscious mind. And so these practices, it’s like I’ve opened up this little toy—this treasure chest of goodies. I’ve landed in this island of jewels.
And I’m just so excited about this because, again, this is not an academic pursuit for me.
Even though I bring my little nerdy intellectual academic lens to it, this is a very personal heartfelt journey, where I wake up from these things, Tami. This is no kidding. Like just last night, I had a rock’em, sock’em, great lucid dream. And we all know what it’s like to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, right? You had a crappy dream. It’s like, “I didn’t sleep well,” and kind of you have a crappy day, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Well, lucid dreams make me wake up on the right side of the bed every day. And so I have this great opportunity to wake up on the right side of the bed, and have these amazing nighttime experiences really transform my daytime life. And really one thing I want to say here in addition, Tami, is one reason these experiences are so transformative is because they’re so foundational.
It’s a little bit like—I’ve never had a near-death experience. But you probably heard the riff: somebody like Eben Alexander, many, many people have one NDE, one near-death experience. It changes their life irrevocably forever. Why? Because it’s so foundational, you’re working with the tectonic plates of your experience. And so you can have these dreams—this is a little bit of a marketing plug here—you can have these hyper-lucid dreams, these extended lucid dreams that are more real than the waking state. You wake up from those, this appears to be the foggy dream. And just like an NDE, I’ve been graced and blessed to have these experiences. I wake up from these, these are the most profound spiritual experiences I have had in my life. And they echo like a big bang. They actually inform, transform everything I do in my waking state.
And so I get so jazzed about this because I’m no different than you. I’m not special. I’ve just done the work, and anybody can do this work. And when you have these types of experiences and you drink this Kool-Aid, you’re going to realize that woah, baby, there’s something really going on here. And we’re in a very fortuitous time because these teachings are now coming more into the West, we’ve got some really powerful science and psychology to support them. And so what I try to bring with my work is this kind of East-West double-barreled approach, where we can bring these wisdom teachings, kind of in the cultural milieu the Western world and just show people that they’re sitting on such an amazing natural resource every single night that they can use to transform the entire trajectory of their lives.
And the wisdom traditions have proclaimed this radically for thousands of years, so that’s why I get on my soapbox, and I get so excited because it’s working for me.
Tami Simon: And just to let our listeners know, if you’re interested in learning lucid dreaming, Andrew Holecek has created with Sounds True a new Transformation Lab, specifically teaching people the art of lucid dreaming.
Now, Andrew, something I wanted to ask you about. You’ve mentioned a couple of times how when we get deep into this practice of illusory form, we start to discover emptiness. And with that, it’s like having the chair pulled out from under on us. It can be like that for people. And I was reading Dreams of Light, and I was feeling fabulous. I was at peace with the book. I was actually resonating with what you were saying. I was feeling it. I thought I was understanding it. It was great.
I got up after a couple hours of reading, and suddenly it was very odd. I had, I guess I would call it like a momentary anxiety attack or something. Now, I wasn’t really sure it was happening but I knew I needed a hug. I was like, “I need a hug right about now.” And I thought, “Oh, that’s what Andrew was pointing to when he talked about this kind of linchpin being pulled out of our ego structure when we start to really get into these practices.” And so that’s what I’m curious—like, how does that happen? We meditate on the rainbow view of reality, and then there’s some weird kind of upsurge of fear and anxiety. Call it what you want.
Andrew Holecek: Yes. Oh man, does this go deep. Yes, indeed. In fact, Tami, and this is super important to know for the really deep divers on the spiritual path. Because if you’re just window shopping, these experiences will not occur to you. But again, when you start to really get down to it—and that is, in fact, what these practices and teachings are designed to do—you can’t get down to it any more than what the teachings of emptiness are all about.
You will start to kind of cascade through all these levels of construction and creation because remember, we talked earlier about how perception is creation. Well, what happens when you cascade into these deeper teachings is, it’s actually a process of deconstruction. It’s a process, and in the path, I invite deep divers listening to see if this [is] in fact not the case for you. The path is really one of deconstruction. In fact, some teachers say, [inaudible] Rinpoche and others say, that it’s really death in slow motion. It’s letting go of all these false ways of viewing and seeing and perceiving. And eventually, and sometimes quite suddenly—like you can read a text like this, and I’ve read many like that, that you can almost literally be talked into it in a certain sense. Because the teachings can be so resonant with reality that they sometimes actually collapse into reality. And that’s, again, the purification from impure to pure. I mean, you can be reading along, and all of a sudden it just clicks. It’s no longer conceptual. You got it.
And when you stay—this is where it gets so interesting. If you stay with that moment of opening, and that’s what really deep meditation is, meditation is habituation to openness. If you stay with that openness, that’s a glimpse of the awakened state, that freedom, that levity, that literally enlightened state. But however, because we still have this reified echo of ego, this funny way of looking at things, still operating—it’s temporarily suspended, it’s been temporarily deconstructed. And you, when you see the world that way, as a rainbow or whatever, all that construction project has been stripped away, and it’s like, wow, you’re there. But almost always, eventually, fear comes crashing in, and you’ll feel a sudden contraction.
It’s so interesting when you say the word, “I feel like I needed a hug.” Well, in a very real way, if you pay very close attention to this, Tami, you will notice a contraction that takes place. You’re really open, open, open. You see it, it’s like wow. And then somewhere back there there’s a little echo that says, “Well, where do I fit into this? Well, what about me?” And there’s a little panic, a little fear. And the minute you feel that, you feel a contraction. And this is where—and I write about this in the book, this is where it gets so interesting. That very contraction, Tami, actually creates the illusion of the self. It’s so interesting.
And again, this is not just rhetoric. You can experience this for yourself. You will feel an experience of opening and your meditation spontaneously, in nature, whatever. Then some kind of quality of unsettledness, fear will come about, you’ll feel a sense of contraction. It was almost like you have to hug yourself because like “Wait, wait a second, what just happened to me here?” And you actually feel, think—just like in the dream experiment, that you’re actually coming back, contracting, referencing to something, but you’re not. It’s actually the contraction itself that creates the illusion of the self.
There is no self! There is no dreamer! There just isn’t. And every time we open, we feel the release of that. But because we don’t have stability, our habits come in, our karma comes back in, we feel a moment of panic, we contract. That immediate contraction reestablishes the construction project, egos rebuild on the spot, and therefore, ego is synonymous with contraction. And every time we grasp, we reinforce that. Every time we attach ourselves, we reinforce that. And so, this is a really profound insight and comment on your part.
Tami Simon: Now, how do you suggest somebody work with that feeling of contraction, that sense of the surge of anxiety when it arises?
Andrew Holecek: Yes, two ways. First and foremost, you work with it by understanding it. And this is what this term, Tami, in Buddhism is called the power of right view. And that you fundamentally—and that’s exactly why I’m riffing on it and why I riff about it at quite some length on the book when I talk about the evolution of fear, because fear has its place, we just need to keep it in its place. So the first thing we do is we understand the big word, we understand the phenomenology or the process of exactly this. We understand what it is that’s going on.
Then what we do, once we’re armed with this right view, then we do what in fact, our dear friend Pema Chödrön has made a career with, is we actually go to the places that scare us. We go to places when things fall apart, because then we know we can actually use these instances of fear and contraction as one of the surest indicators of where to go if we really want to grow in this life.
And so then—the way I work with this, I’ll be very specific with your listeners. So you arm yourself with the view that I articulate at some length in this book, and then also I introduce this extremely powerful meditation in this book called the practice of open awareness, where—it’s a little bit beyond the scope of what we can talk about here. But fundamentally, you settle in standard kind of mindfulness practice. And then you will allow through a series of very simple guided instructions that I go through in the book, you allow the mind to gradually open, and open and open. Then within that larger kind of framework of openness, you can more readily detect these moments of contraction, and then start to work with them. You can actually start to use what was previously a major obstruction on the path, which is fear and contraction. You can actually know use it as a way to accelerate your path, go to the places that scare you.
Fear etymologically, Tami, comes from a route that means fare, F-A-R-E, as in toll. And so, we can therefore, armed with this view and the practices that support it, and also the attitude of humor and maitri, kindness towards oneself, start to become more sensitized to how it is that we’re contracting all the time. I mean, literally, again, that’s our default. And this ties in, by the way—I have to throw this into the mix, Tami, because this ties in beautifully to the whole idea of reification and the practice of illusory form. Because reification is also completely synonymous with ego and contraction. You’re talking about the same thing in three different ways.
So, this is another way to dovetail this practice into the practice of reification. And the reason I think this is so helpful is because this is not just some intellectual, cerebral, cognitive thing. This is something you can feel. You can feel these contractions. And so therefore, you can work with these.
So, let me just give you a really common example. Let’s say—here’s a really good one, especially in this day and age. Let’s make it super practical, especially in this day and age when there’s just so much to complain about. Whenever you feel the urge to complain—which happens, like, how many times a day right now? As a type of open practice, you can ask yourself, “What is it right now that I just don’t—what am I feeling right now that I just don’t want to feel?” And I guarantee when you ask yourself that question, you will feel some level of contraction. You will feel it. So the next time you have the urge to complain, you’re about to go “Ugh…” Hit the pause button, ask yourself, “OK, what am I feeling right now that I just don’t want to feel? Go down, touch into that. You will find some level of contraction, then you stay with that. You simply stay with that in your body. And simply staying with it will eventually allow that contraction to open. And guess what? You’ll find that you don’t need to complain so much, that the world becomes more graceful.
And so this is a—I throw this into the mix, because this is like an emergency meditation. It’s immediate, on-the-spot application of these tenets that shows us that we don’t have to take things so solidly. Yes, we take them seriously, but taking something seriously doesn’t mean you have to take it literally, and that is a very important distinction. Because otherwise, the near enemy of these types of practices as you know, “Oh, it’s all just a dream. Everything’s just a rainbow. Everything’s just an illusion. I’m just going to go hang out in my illusory world.” No, no, no, that’s a misunderstanding. You want to take these teachings to inform a more open, compassionate relationship to this world, one that isn’t based so much on this contraction.
So something like that, does that land with you?
Tami Simon: It does. And Andrew, you mentioned previously an increase in equanimity that occurs the more we become deeply familiar with emptiness, with this rainbow view of reality. Can you make explicit why this increases our equanimity?
Andrew Holecek: Yes, great—man, these are great questions. So the word for emptiness in Sanskrit is shunya, and that root has a really interesting kind of etymology itself. It not just means this kind of, this emptiness as we kind of hang our hats on when we talk about this topic. It also means potentiality and fullness. And so therefore, truly, to truly understand emptiness—and I talk a lot about in this book, and this is super important because not only does this lead to equanimity, Tami, it leads to compassion.
A really deep understanding of emptiness is a deep understanding of fullness. Empty means full—it just means empty of self. So when you become empty of self or self-nature, what it really means is you become full of everything. So, this is truly not just the basis of equanimity. This is the basis of compassion, this is the basis of love. And so what I riff a lot on these days is that, is emptiness is just the Buddha’s funny way of talking about love. You’re really talking about this foundational kind of affect of emotional expression of what it means to be awake, and this is critically important. Because the fruition of these practices again, is not this kind of dissociated mountaintop, get me away from the world thing. No.
When you realize that empty of self means full of other, it brings about this tremendous sense of equanimity, this kind of deepest of deep ecology that you’re inextricably connected to everything and everything else. And from that, then, Tami, what happens is a spontaneous natural reflex to reach out and help the world, and to help others and to save others. Because you realize that from this very deepest perspective, there is no other. When you’re reaching out to save an other, you’re saving yourself. When you’re reaching out to help this world, you’re helping yourself. And so this is of extraordinary importance because therefore, it has real teeth in terms of how to inform our view of activism in this day. Everything that really needs to be done politically, ecologically, socially can be radically transformed and informed by this view, where then you step into the world spontaneously as an expression of your wisdom to help others because you realize fundamentally, there is no others.
And then the reason you can do this and not get burnt out is because there’s no one here that then kind of appropriates all the hardship. So like our dear friend, Ken Wilber, our mutual friend. He says this along these lines, he says that when you progress along the path, you feel things more but they hurt you less. Because you’re more open, you’re more connected, you’re more sensitive, but they hurt you less, why? Because you don’t give them a place to land. See? You simply, you register without adverse reactivity.
Tami Simon: But let me ask you a question, Andrew. That person who makes that dissociative move—everything’s just display, they feel a little bit like they’re floating on a cloud. Sometimes you wonder like, “Where are you? Where are you? Hello, knock, knock.” What’s happened there?
Andrew Holecek: Yes, that’s the near enemy of these practices. The near enemy, I’m sure people know what this is, that wherever you find light you will find shadows. Very briefly, the near enemy of compassion is pity, the near enemy of confidence is hubris. And so the near enemy of differentiation is dissociation, and spiritual bypassing. And unfortunately, these near enemies are lurking everywhere. They are some of the most common of all spiritual traps. And interestingly enough, the deeper you go, the more insidious these traps become. And so therefore what happens in instances like that, these dissociative tendencies, is ego still comes in. That kind of devolutionary aspect of the spectrum of our being is still operative, we still haven’t exhausted those bad habits. It still comes and uses these teachings, or misuses them, abuses them fundamentally as a way to feel good. And therefore, it’s a very common misunderstanding of spirituality, that’s it’s all about my comfort plan. It’s all about just making my bubble bath a little bit more encompassing.
And so it’s an extremely common trap, and I speak with direct experience of this because I’ve had these kind of blissful states of mind that then I relate to inappropriately. Usually why? Because I reify them, I take them to be too real. And therefore, lo and behold, they hook me, and I go off into La La Land, I go off into these kinds of spiritual traps. And as you know, Tami, these are omnipresent, ubiquitous on the spiritual path. And for the deep divers, they’re really important to understand because you can get stuck in these things for an entire lifetime. [Inaudible] Rinpoche says that these types of traps are the most problematic of all spiritual traps,
And so how do we work with it? Well, again, number one, power of right view. We understand that there’s a very kind of reflex tendency of ego to slip in, take anything for purposes of self-aggrandizement and self instead of self-transcendence. Our mutual teacher Trungpa Rinpoche talked about this very famously, of course, with spiritual materialism. This is just a manifestation of that. So it’s a really important topic because deep spiritual divers, it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when these practices will come, I mean, these experiences will come and stick to you. And so therefore, you then what you do to tie this into your question about equanimity, then the practice becomes, you relate to these delicious states of mind in a completely equanimous way. Exactly the same way you would relate to difficult states, you relate to so called spiritual states, until you come to the fruition that you find these spiritual states in the material. You find fundamentally that everything is spiritual. So, something like that. Does that make sense?
Tami Simon: It does. And just to end, Andrew, there’s a lot I could talk to you about. But I think we’ll end with a practice tip for the profound daytime practice of lucid dreaming. I really like this one. And it has to do with how we work with how we see, how we look. And you teach us this look of lucidity. And I wonder—it’s from leaning back and looking from the back of your eyes. I thought this was really cool. So maybe we could end, you could just give some instructions on how people could try that.
Andrew Holecek: Yes, this is a really immediate type of retreat. And so let me just, let me state just a little bit, Tami about the kind of view of this practice. And then, it’s super easy. Again, this is one of the cool things about the practices in this book. They are easy.
So the view behind this practice is that when we see the world in a more superficial way, from superficial dimensions of our being, this kind of outermost superficial-most dimension is in fact, what creates a world of duality, what reifies the world that creates the world that we usually experience. And so as a type of practice, what you can do is—and also if you want, I’ll share a beautiful story from Tsoknyi Rinpoche around this that would just kind of floored me . . . is that when you are going about your life, or simply just sitting in meditation, you have this sense of bringing your sense of perspective, not from the surface dimensions of your eye, but as if you were seeing things from the back of your head.
And what that does is it creates a new sense of perspective, which is, in fact, what lucidity is, lucidity is perspective. So in the context of a non-lucid dream or a non-lucid life, in a non-lucid dream, you’re seeing the dream from the superficial dimension. You’re sucked into the contents of the dream. You’re lost in the dream. When you attain a moment of lucidity, what happens is, is in a very real way, an instant type of retreat, you step back. And again, just like what you were saying earlier, Tami, if you step too far back, that differentiation flips into dissociation, and that becomes a trap. But you step back, the dream is still there, the world is still there but now you’re seeing it through a new wider lens. You’re seeing it from a more awakened stance.
And just that silly gesture in your daily life of pausing, imagining that you’re seeing things from the back of your head, will actually create and invite this sense of lucidity or perspective, that quite literally, when it’s brought to fruition—this is not a metaphor—literally changes the way you see things because it changes the way you create your world. And it’s a wonderful, immediate practice that you can do once you get the hang of it, you put a little energy into it. You simply step back a spot.
And so yes, it’s one of my favorite ones. I do it all the time. And I do it, especially, Tami, when I’m getting too involved in difficult situations. So again, very practical. I’m getting into a kind of a heated exchange with my partner, my boss, my colleague, I will find that I’m too involved. I’m going non-lucid. I’m seeing things—I’m getting too sucked in.
I’ll remember this practice. That’s the pop-up, this thing will pop up. “Wait a second, let’s do the back-of-the-head meditation.” Bring my awareness, shift it to the back of my head. It’s like going into instant retreat. It’s still there, my partner’s still there, everything’s still there, but I’m no longer so lost in it. And therefore I can see it in this more spacious, accommodating, and therefore lucid perspective. And so I’m really glad you brought that one up, because it’s super easy to do, and once you get the hang of it, you will be surprised how simple, how this simple practice has tremendous applicability in terms of creating the sense of lucidity and space on the spot, and therefore it can really bring a sense of compassionate re-engagement.
Then of course, then when you come back in and you open your mouth, and you actually act, you’re now acting from this more awake stance. And it can really illuminate things, and so it has for me.
Tami Simon: Shall we end Andrew with the Tsoknyi Rinpoche story that you referenced earlier?
Andrew Holecek: Yes. Yes. This is great. So Tsoknyi Rinpoche is one of my favorite teachers, I loved this guy to death. And so we brought him in, we were doing a very interesting study. And I do in this book, I actually have several pages where I riff about the extraordinary power of virtual reality and using these devices can be used in this context in exactly—so for those of you who are really interested in this, the little VR section in my book is a way to support exactly this practice that we just did. And this was inspired by the experience I had with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, a beautiful Tibetan master. We brought him into the lab. I was coauthoring a paper with a cognitive neuroscientist on virtual lucidity using, in fact, the very same tenets that we’re talking about here with illusory form, as a way to work in a really frightening scenario through a virtual reality application.
What happened was Tsoknyi Rinpoche is he’s, he has fear of heights. He has acrophobia. Historically, he’s talked about his fear of heights in his teaching programs. And so in this experiment, when we did, we had this VR setup where the person gets—they go up an elevator, they have the VR set on. And they go up, and the elevator door’s open. You’re wearing a headset. Of course, this is all happening in virtual reality. Then what happens is to really turn this into a mind-eff, you have a physical plank in the room. So in the laboratory, they’re wearing a VR set. We put a physical two-by six-plank in the lab. The person steps out on the plank, and as they step and walk out on the plank, 100 floors above the ground, they’re actually walking out in this virtual scenario.
And what happened with Tsoknyi Rinpoche that was so awesome, is here’s a man who’s terrified heights. And without any hesitation whatsoever, he walked to the very edge of the plank, and just jumped off. And that’s kind of the point, is to get to the end. Then what we do is we measure the effect of negative response to fear and all that. And so when Rinpoche did this, and by the way, if you fall off this thing—it’s just a kick. You fall 100 floors down, and then you hit the ground, everything goes white and all this angelic music comes on. It’s just a hoot. And so Rinpoche did this with total fearlessness, and I was struck because I know his fear of heights. And I said, “Rinpoche, how—” he took the lens off, I said, “Rinpoche, how did you do that?” He said, “I simply put my awareness in the back of my head. And so that when I was walking out on the plank, part of me was walking out on the plank, but the other part wasn’t. And from the back of my head, from that perspective, I had no fear.” And I thought, oh, man, this is so cool.
And it was really from that, that I said this—this is exactly the type of practice experience that we can bring to any life circumstance that these practices of illusory form are designed to do, where we can approach it—a great way, to add, Tami, where we can approach what we experience in this fearful world with fearlessness, and compassion, and equanimity, and love. And so it’s a great place to end that these somewhat abstract, this seemingly initially abstract tenets have tremendous applicability in a world that so desperately needs our help. And these practices can help us work in the world in the most possibly skillful ways because we have this more awakened, lucid, and fearless perspective.
Tami Simon: I’ve been speaking with Andrew Holecek. He’s the author of the new book Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming, and also another book with Sounds True on Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep, and a new three-part Transformation Lab with Sounds True, and specifically on how to lucid dream. Andrew, what a beautiful teacher you are, and what a delight to be with you. Thank you.
Andrew Holecek: Thank you very much, Tami.
Tami Simon: Thank you for listening to Insights at the Edge. You can read a full transcript of today’s interview at soundstrue.com/podcast. And if you’re interested, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. And also if you feel inspired, head to iTunes and leave Insights at the Edge for review. I love getting your feedback, being in connection with you, and learning how we can continue to evolve and improve our program. Working together, I believe we can create a kinder and wiser world. SoundsTrue.com: waking up the world.