How The Practice of the Night carries over into the Practice of the Day
My dreams are populated by characters that are featureless when I don't pay attention, like extras in a movie, but become more detailed when I pay attention to them. Faces appear on them, personalities emerge, if I look.
This happens in waking life as well. I like to walk down streets, in the marketplace, seeing everything as a dream, paying attention to all details, events and beings as dream events and dream characters. If I am absorbed in my own subjective experience and distracted by thoughts, passers-by are just props, extras, ghosts or phantoms. But if I 'wake up' from the trance of internal monologue, and recognize my experience as lucid awareness, I become aware of exquisite and surreal details rich in meaning which does not extend past the moment of recognition of natural lucid awareness.
Lucid dreamers are in a unique position to realize the nature of mind. In dreams the trick is to remain lucid and not get caught up in the events of the dream and lose lucidity and at the same time not to become fascinated with pure lucidity itself and have all dream phenomena melt into awareness, have the dream end prematurely, and consequentially wake up compulsively.
There is a balance to maintaining lucidity in the dream. This is Sahaja Samadhi. It is a high level of Access Concentration. Sahaja (Sanskrit: sahaja), meaning "coemergent; spontaneously or naturally born together." This is the same as shamatha in the open awareness traditions such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra. Too lax and one loses lucidity; too tense and one wakes up from the dream. Each instant of experience is 'coemergent' or 'spontaneously born together' with natural lucid awareness.
So, applying all of this to walking down the street in waking life we can maintain the same sahaja samadhi where each and every event is an opportunity to recognize the nature of mind. Walking without destination, and seeing without fixation. Aware without fabrication.
All this busy activity does not arise as enemies or distractions, but as friends to meditation. It isn't even necessary to maintain a center of stillness, because even that is fabricated. Instead of fabricating a center of stillness, or using a stable object such as the breath as an object to anchor the mind, recognize the actual bustle of activity as the expression of the dynamic creative energy of the nature of mind.
Although all phenomena are absolutely empty and without intrinsic existence or self-nature, they still continue to arise without obstruction. The empty nature of mind is also a creative energy which is reminiscent of a hive of buzzing bees or a hummingbird hovering in a dynamic state of stillness.
How often do we forget to 'see?' How often is our continuity of awareness interrupted? How often are we aware of the essence of seeing rather than having our attention absorbed into objects and thoughts? "Tantra" means "continuity." The continuity of lucid awareness not interrupted by distraction becomes easy when everything we see is recognized as mind itself. That is one reason why lucid dreaming and dream yoga is so helpful.
From The Lamp of Mahamudra:
"Resting one’s mind without fabrication is considered the single key point of the realization of all the countless profound and extensive oral instructions in meditation practice such as Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Lamdrey, Cho, Zhije and so forth. The oral instructions appear in various modes due to the differences in ways of human understanding.
Some meditators regard meditation practice as simply a thought-free state of mind in which all gross and subtle perceptions of the six senses have ceased. This is called straying into a dull state of shamatha.
Some presume stable meditation to be a state of neutral dullness not embraced by mindfulness.
Some regard meditation as complete clarity, smooth bliss or utter voidness and cling to those experiences.
Some chop their meditation into fragments, believing the objective of meditation to be a vacant state of mind between the cessation of one thought and the arising of the next.
Some hold on to such thoughts as, "The mind-nature is dharmakaya! It is empty! It cannot be grasped!" To think, "Everything is devoid of true existence! It is like a magical illusion! It is like space!" and to regard that as the meditation state is to have fallen into the extreme of intellectual assumption.
Some people claim that whatever is thought or whatever occurs is of the nature of meditation. They stray into craziness by falling under the power of ordinary thinking.
Most others regard thinking as a defect and inhibit it. They believe in resting in meditation after controlling what is being thought and tie themselves up in fixated mindfulness or an ascetic state of mind.
In short, the mind may be still, in turmoil as thoughts and disturbing emotions, or tranquil in any of the experiences of bliss, clarity, and nonthought. Knowing how to sustain the spontaneity of innate naturalness directly in whatever occurs, without having to fabricate, reject or change anything is extremely rare."
~ Tsele Natsok Rangdrol, Lamp of Mahamudra
The Buddhist siddha Saraha (8th century CE) was the founder of the Buddhist movement termed "Sahajayana" which flourished in Orissa and Bengal. Sahajiya mahasiddhas like Saraha, Kanha, Savari and Luipa were tantric Buddhists who expounded their beliefs in songs and dohas in the Apabhraṃśa languages and Bengali. Many of the songs in this tradition are preserved in the Charyapada.
Sahajiyas such as Saraha believed that enlightenment could be achieved in this lifetime, by laypersons living in samsara. The sahajiyas practiced a form of ritual union which was supposed to bring the female and male elements together in balance. Saraha and his disciples were also master practitioners of Mahamudra meditation, and Saraha composed a famous Mahamudra meditation text along with his 'Three Cycles of Doha', a series of yogic songs.
Sahajiyas also criticized the Hindu caste system. Sahajayana Buddhism became very popular in the Pala Empire, especially among commoners. One of the classic texts associated with the Sahajiya Buddhists is the Hevajra Tantra. The tantra describes four kinds of Joy (ecstasy):
"From Joy there is some bliss, from Perfect Joy yet more. From the Joy of Cessation comes a passionless state. The Joy of Sahaja is finality. The first comes by desire for contact, the second by desire for bliss, the third from the passing of passion, and by this means the fourth [Sahaja] is realized. Perfect Joy is samsara [mystic union]. The Joy of Cessation is nirvana. Then there is a plain Joy between the two. Sahaja is free of them all. For there is neither desire nor absence of desire, nor a middle to be obtained."
The siddha, Indrabhuti, wrote a commentary on Sahaja teachings called the Sahajasiddhipaddhati.