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Buddhist and Western Concepts Study Group

January 9, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EST

Please join us at Gar Drolma for the continuing study group; Buddhist and Western Concepts Study Group.  The group will meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. 

The discussions will include reflecting on Buddhist and Western philosophical thinking about the mind, reviewing neurophysiological evidence concerning the body and mind, and discussing recent theories and ideas from physics. We will provide web links each month that provide relevant background information on the topics to be discussed to make it easier for everyone to participate in the discussion.

The principal focus of the group is to attempt to reconcile Buddhist ideas and concepts about the body, mind, and universe with Western knowledge.  The Discussion Topic for the meeting is provided below.  If you would like to participate but cannot attend at Gar Drolma please consider participating via Skype at: mike-young-skype

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 : DREAMS

Do you dream?  Actually, everyone dreams, although approximately only half of all individuals asked say they can remember their dreams.  Why do we dream? A popular Western scientific belief is that we dream to consolidate memory traces from the previous day.  The hippocampus generates synchronized firings of neuronal ensembles that strengthen connections among them, resulting in the laying down of memories. 

An alternative Western idea is that dreams embody meaning, and that they are sent to us in our sleep. But by whom? In the analytic depth psychology of Carl Jung, there are different types dreams: random dreams, subjective dreams, and objective dreams.  Random dreams are a collection of events from the last couple of days and do not convey any meaning (like the scientific model above).  Subjective dreams have a structure and message that conveys meaning about the dreamer’s personal situation. Elements of the dream relate to individuals and places the dreamer knows.  The dream, if understood, provides insight into a personal relationship or problem.  In contrast, objective dreams seem to address issues that a society is facing as it adapts to a changing environment (e.g., women moving into the workforce in mass in the 60s-70s which required learning new gender roles and adjusting the care of children). One might say that societal dreams deal with our collective karma.

In talking to Tibetan Buddhists they seem to have a different dream taxonomy.  They say there are dreams that relate to an individual (similar to Jung’s subjective dream), and societal dreams (similar to objective dreams).  This latter type of dreams, however, is normally associated with oracles who have had special training to make them ready to receive and understand such dreams. In addition, Tibetans discuss how meditation practice during the day can influence a practitioner’s dreams at night.  Specifically, if the practice went well you might see auspicious signs in your dreams (which should be ignored).

Random and subjective dreams probably arise from an individual’s mind.  But where do societal dreams come from?  Jung postulates the existence of a collective unconscious that we all connect to in the deeper layers of our mind.  More specifically, Jung proposes that the collective unconscious contains archetypes that could be thought of as programs built up over evolutionary time that contribute to, or guide, our adaptation to the changing world. 

What about the Tibetans, do they have anything similar to archetypes?  They, of course, have deities that can influence individuals.  It is not clear where these deities reside physically, but they seem to play a similar role to Jung’s archetypes. Interestingly these deities are linked to specific types of meditation practice called deity yoga.  What is interesting about this practice is that in the beginning the deity is external to the practitioner but over time the practitioner becomes the deity.  This has some similarity to the Jungian concept of individuation, where a patient can identify with the archetype and use it to produce adaptation of an attitude which leads to a more fuller sense of self.

In this session we will look at how dreams are thought of in Western and Buddhist societies.  We will consider how dreams arise, the purpose of dreams, the process through which dreams influence behavior, and the role archetypes/deities play in influencing individuation/spiritual growth via dreams.  Next month we will likely stay with the topic of dreams and look at the Buddhist practice of dream yoga and the Western concept of lucid dreaming.

Background material:





Tibetan Deities:




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January 9, 2018
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EST
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Gar Drolma Buddhist Center
1329 Creighton Ave.
Dayton, OH 45420 United States
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(937) 252-2220


Gar Drolma
(937) 252-2220