What are thoughts? Are dreams like thoughts?

The recent Insight Timer live event description explaining the title questions:

Let’s powwow for 30 minutes or so on these two questions from my “Distortions and Dreams” event to address any parallels between thoughts and dreams. We may even do some mindfulness of thinking meditation

To save time, the short answer is I don’t know.

Feel free to listen in and/or check out some of the notes:

Thoughts and thinking

"Thought" definition:

1) an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind
2) the action or process of thinking

[and/or] …conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation.

  • Images and/or words
  • very pronounced to faint blips like small bubbles popping
  • Where do they come from? Outside the mind(?)
  • Joseph Goldstein/Munindraji
  • How do electrochemical occurrences translate to particular distinct thought(s)?

First more background:

All experience is preceded by mind
Led by mind
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never departing shadow.

First two verse of the Dhammapada — translation by Gil Fronsdal

Mental activity: judging, reasoning, concept formation, visualization, problem solving, deliberation, considering an idea, memory, conversations, reflection, imagination, contemplation

  • emotional feedback loop and moods
  • Frequency spectrum — alpha, beta, delta, gamma, theta
  • Brainwave entrainment
  • Pattern recognition & completion
  • Conditioning
  • Proximity

Fringe and parapolitcal:

  • TV programming
  • Subliminals
  • Retinal induction programming (seizures)
  • MK Ultra
  • Trauma based mind control
  • Mythology: Thoth
  • Experiences beyond frequency spectrum:
    • stilling/quieting mind and jhanas
  • Maybe an interface: experience, perception and consciousness are translated into words and images and/or vice versa words and images influence experience, perception and consciousness

Now back to phenomena of thoughts and thinking:

  • trance of thinking
  • demonizing and/or worshiping thinking
  • overthinking as alarm clock
  • heart alignment to amplify what?
  • use thinking instead of thinking using you
  • arhats only thinking when choosing to


"Dreams" definition:

1) a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind during sleep

2) a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal

  • States of (human) existence:
    • Waking
    • Dreaming
    • Deep sleep
    • Meditation/substances/(altered) states/mix of these
  • Types of dreams:
    • visions of past (lives)
    • visions of future
    • messages from other realms
    • wind in the belly
    • [cold room, “cold” dream]
  • loving-kindness for sweet dreams
  • perception (recognition) and consciousness (knowing shape and color)
    • waking: limited by acuity of senses and misperception
    • dreaming: perception opened up
  • Bhavaṅga: deep sleep. when drowsy between taking up mind objects
  • Unconscious Asaññasatta world attained by consciousness suppressing practices
  • sense of time passing during an anesthetic vs deep sleep
  • (lucid) dreaming practices:
    • visualization of 16 petaled blue lotus of throat chakra
    • last and first breaths
    • looking at hands
    • reading
    • walking meditation
    • “am I dreaming?”
    • light switch
    • devices
    • alarm
    • journaling
    • look for these dream signposts/indicators — like light switches, hands, reading, (picking up) things on ground — in both waking and dreaming life

Guided Practice:

  • words or images
  • location
  • observe
  • pink elephant
  • how is the mind pre-thought?
  • catching arising, if remaining, passing
  • thought energy
  • suppression?
Audio: What are thoughts? Are dreams like thoughts?

Starting at 43:34 Pa Auk Sayadaw answers how devas can appear in and influence dreams

Starting at 43:34 Pa Auk Sayadaw answers how devas can appear in and influence dreams

Published by josh dippold


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