Blog 2: Regard All Dharmas as Dreams

A Year of Atisha Slogans

POINT TWO: THE MAIN PRACTICE, WHICH IS TRAINING IN BODHICHITTA

[Point two includes five ultimate bodhichitta slogans and four relative bodhichitta slogans. It is connected with the paramita of generosity.]

2. Regard all dharmas as dreams.
If the point is not to sleepwalk through life, but to be awake to our life, why would we want to regard all dharmas, or all phenomena, as dreams? Is that not a contradiction?

It is intriguing that this slogan comes right at the beginning, because it sets a tone that is a little intimidating. If we want to work with the slogans, we need to allow our reality to be bit more shifty. This slogan challenges our desire to make our world solid and reliable—solid objects, solid self, solid views, solid ideologies, solid opinions, solid relationships, solid everything!

We take ourselves and our world so seriously. Things seem so real, so intense and colorful, even overwhelming, but at the same time, everything we try to hold onto slips away. Nothing is all that substantial. It is amazing that there is anything at all! At the same time, nothing seems to be there in the way we would want.

Seeing the dreamlike quality of experience is not sloppy or vague, and it is not just spacing out. It is just the opposite. In fact, it is our habit of imagining ourselves and the world around us not to be dreamlike that is the delusion.

So the starting point of working with the slogans is to face up to our desire to make everything solid. When we lighten up on that particular scheme even momentarily, our mind opens up a bit and relaxes. And the more openness there is, the more slogan practice becomes gentle and natural rather than heavy handed or moralistic.

 Today’s Practice

As thoughts, emotions, experiences, and dramas come and go, try to notice the point at which you appropriate them into your solid interpretation of the way things are. Pay attention to the contrast between holding and solidifying and releasing and opening out.