blog #7 – Reading for March 9, 2012

We have focused a lot on the role of songs and dreams while discussing the texts of Milarepa and Shabkar. They are used as tools to transmit knowledge, and express emotion. Within Shabkar’s story, his visions play a big role and can be interpreted to have great meaning, as I touched upon in my previous blog entry. His songs teach those he meets, which is very common in the last portion of the book, as pilgrimage is heavily emphasized.

In chapter twelve, the amount of visions and dreams is not as prominent as was previously throughout Shabkar’s journey. Shabkar states, “Mystical visions are like the allure of a beautiful woman: don’t be attached to them.” This highlights a new role of dreams and visions within the story that we haven’t really seen yet. I found that this was a bit of a turning point. We have discussed the important role of dreams and visions within the story in class and within the blogs. Now, Shabkar is suggesting that like all things within this life, visions and dreams have a limit in their ability to help an individual to abandon attachment and come to terms with impermanence. I know that the idea of attachment and impermanence are foundational concepts within Buddhism and nothing is immune to the role of impermanence, but I found this to be very interesting as dreams and visions played such a big part within Shabkar’s journey.

In the last two chapters of the book, Shabkar embraces his role of the teacher and his visions and dreams continue to dwindle. Shabkar dreams he obtains great and magnificent powers, which he uses to benefit the Tibetan people. This symbolizes his new adoption of the role of teacher throughout his journey. I found that his dreams earlier throughout the story always had meaning pertaining to his own journey to enlightenment. Now it seems that his dream is focused on benefitting others and spreading the knowledge he received from his previous dreams and his own journey. He is spreading and teaching the word of the Buddha to sentient beings within the villages, placing on them great knowledge and a pure way of life.

Shabkar has his very last dream in the last chapter of the book. He dreams of his mother as she tells him she is in the Western Buddhafield. Within this chapter, Shabkar states that dreams are simply illusions. Which, links to the point made in the twelfth chapter. Although Shabkar states that dreams are illusions, it does not mean that he could not apply the wisdom and messages he received from them to his journey to enlightenment, which is exactly what he did. The visions and dreams that Shabkar experiences, aid his spiritual practice. Although they are “illusions,” Shabkar applies his new knowledge from the visions to his practices in reality.

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One Response to blog #7 – Reading for March 9, 2012

  1. Reply To: Erica Blog #7

    Erica, Your discussion of Shabkar’s dreams or illusions as he calls them touching on the theme of consciousness and phenomenology in Buddhism. Shabkar’s understanding of these visions and dreams do influence how he conducts his practices. He is aware that in reality as you say “they may be illusions” but they help to guide him in his spiritual quest.

    Michael M. Paterson

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