What is the meaning of dreams in Buddhism?

Lama Ole’s answer:

First of all, ordinary life is more important than dreams, because this normal waking state that we experience now is a collective dream. In contrast, whatever happens during the night is just individual dreams. We also wake up every morning within more or less the same dream, while at night the dreams change constantly. Our dreams at night are mostly related only to the mind, while the dream we are experiencing right now includes our body and speech.

On the other hand, we have special kinds of wisdom in dreams that we don’t have here, because we are more tied to experience and have more attachment during the waking state. One can also definitely deduce things from dreams.

To do this, we can divide the night into three phases. During the first third, the impressions of the day get put into different drawers in the store consciousness. In the second third, some people have nightmares; they feel pressure and difficulties in the middle of the night. I myself don’t know about this, but if it happens it can have two causes: disturbing energies from the outside or too-slow breathing that causes the body to develop fear of dying. The body then discharges a lot of adrenaline, and when our consciousness perceives this it reacts—“Hey, danger! Enemies!” But in fact it is only the body reanimating itself.

And then the third part of the night is useful. Shortly before waking up, one can dream of the immediate future. And right in the moment of waking, one can dream of the somewhat more distant future. This way, our store consciousness tries to bring a message through the clouds of ignorance and veils into the moment of awareness. This happens in dreams; the mind tries to show itself something. But it has big hindrances caused by expectations, fears, veils, tomorrow and yesterday, etc., which make what is displayed inaccurate.

But in general, you can say that dreams in color are more important than those without color. Dreams with upward movement are a good sign and those with descending movement are not so good, except when one decides out of great compassion to go down consciously and help the beings there. Mind is the boss; it can transform this.

For Buddhists the best dream, of course, is to see one’s lama or buddhas, to receive blessings, or to hear mantras. That’s absolutely great! It means that during the process of dying, the good impressions are so strong and deep that they will come up from the store consciousness and help us into a good rebirth.

In general, also for non-Buddhists or those who don’t work with their minds, the feeling one has while waking up is crucial. If, for example, you have killed people during the night and you wake up feeling wonderful, then this doesn’t mean that you have found your true sadistic nature, but rather that you have removed disturbances. And if you were helping elderly women cross the street all night but you wake up with mixed or bad feelings, then you surely had subconscious thoughts of being mentioned in their wills later.

In any case, the most important thing about dreams is to experience that which is dreaming, the dreamer itself. Try to know who is dreaming and what is being dreamt. And during the day, try to bring the feeling of dreaming into life. Then you are coated with Teflon—you are protected. You won’t get caught by disturbing emotions as much as usual.