Zen Wisdom 257

There is a story of someone who lived during the T'ang dynasty who was supposed to be executed. In a dream the night before he was told to recite a special form of the Avatamsaka Sutra one thousand times. When he awoke he did what the dream instructed him to do, and when it came time to be executed, the blade would not penetrate his neck, so he was spared.

I could relate dream stories from the sutras all day and night. Obviously Buddhism makes mention of dreams. From the perspective of Buddhadharma, dreams can be of three kinds. The first involves dreams that arise from vexation and imagination. For example, fears from daily life may manifest as nightmares. The second consists of dreams about someone you have a strong affinity with, perhaps someone in the family. When something is happening to them, you will somehow know about it through dreams. The third includes dreams that deities, ghosts, bodhisattvas and Buddhas put into you. Living beings who have developed certain supernormal powers can also make some people dream particular dreams.

Ch'an considers all dreams to be illusion ─ short dreams, long dreams, real dreams, unreal dreams, the dream of life, birth, death and rebirth. The dream of our daily life is called the intermediate dream. The dreams we have while we sleep are minor dreams. We should consider all dreams to be illusory, otherwise we will pay too much attention to them and they will cause us to have fears, expectations and other feelings. It will make it difficult for us to practice.