Worlds of Dream in the Yogavāsiṣṭha: Virtual and Virtuous Realities

Dreams, the act of dreaming, and the elusive identities of the dreamer play a central role in the philosophy of the Yogavāsiṣṭha. Reality in this text is always virtual; nothing has fixity. The only constant is change, tempered and formed according to the principles of karma. What has happened in the past influences the present; what is not dealt with in the present will continue to assert itself in the future. Knowing this, one must seek to become virtuous. 

This study begins with a brief history of the text and research on the text. It then focuses on the role of dream in two segments of the Yogavāiṣṭha: the story of King Lavana and the centrality of dream in the teachings of sevenfold Yoga. Other studies on dream are also presented, including the role of dream in tribal cultures, the work of Jeremy Taylor, and other scholars’ views on dream in the Yogavāsiṣṭha. In summary, the Yogavāsiṣṭha posits that by exploring the realm of dream one can gain mastery within the waking realm. 

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