Dreams of wonder, dreams of deception: Tension and resolution between Buddhism and shamanism in Tibetan culture

Title: Dreams of wonder, dreams of deception: Tension and resolution between Buddhism and shamanism in Tibetan culture
Authors: Sumegi, Angela
Date: 2003
Abstract: This study explores the nature of dreams and dreaming in shamanism and Buddhism. It focuses on the specific case of Tibet where the indigenous layer of religious beliefs and practices has been dominated by Buddhism but continues to emerge as a vital presence in the religious world-view of Tibet. The three major divisions in this study are concerned with (1) the shamanic world-view and attitude towards dream, (2) the ancient Indian world-view and the Buddhist approach to dream, and (3) the use and meaning of dreams and dreaming in Tibetan culture. With regard to Tibetan attitudes to dream, it will be shown that conflicting statements and views expressing, on the one hand, the value of dream as a vehicle of prophecy and knowledge and, on the other, dismissing the world of dream as the ultra-illusions of an illusory world were present in the Indian Buddhist tradition that entered Tibet. However, in the Tibetan context, dream comes to play a heightened role in Buddhist religious life as a method of authenticating spiritual status and as a path to liberation. The Tibetan attitude toward dream is shown to encompass earlier contradictions, but also to involve an additional tension arising out of the Buddhist competition with, and eventual hegemony over, indigenous religious systems that also use dream to transmit and validate knowledge and religious power. These tensions are reflected in conflicting statements over dream that appear in Tibetan literature. Resolution and harmony, however, are possible because of a concept of interdependency and interconnectedness that is fundamental to both shamanism and Buddhism. I have proposed that the conflicting views on dream in Tibetan literature reflect a much more complex situation than is expressed in assigning the differing views to the categories of 'popular' and 'elite', and I have provided an alternate model for understanding the contradictory attitudes to dream in Tibetan Buddhism.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/28969
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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