Bamso: the Art of Dreams, by Asanaro. Tarcher/Penguin, December 1, 2009. Available at Amazon.*
This is an odd and interesting book touching upon many realms of knowledge and practice: dreams, metaphysics, pre-Buddhist Tibetan healing arts, and the historical development of what we call religion in the western world.
The protagonist/narrator, Asanaro, a young man training in the Tibetan pre-Buddhist disciplines of Seamm-Jasani (“the Art of Active Relaxation”), Jass-U (“the Art of Awakening”) and Boabom (“the Osseous Art”), learns to his surprise that some practitioners of these arts achieve the ability to explore the universe via lucid dreaming. And not just the kind of lucid dreaming where the dreamer becomes conscious that he or she is inhabiting a dream, but a far more extensive, comprehensive and cosmic exploration, where the dreamer is allowed to explore realms of time and consciousness that are unimaginable to mere sleepers.
The main character spends most of his dream-time in the company of a Yoda-like guide who is in charge of completing Asanaro’s education in dreaming. These two travel to times and places early in the Christian era, in Rome and Alexandria, witnessing historical episodes that reveal exactly how early Christianity was appropriated by power-hungry rulers to manipulate and pacify populations and ensure their own perpetual ascendancy. The book ends with Asanaro encountering the man we know as Jesus, in his own historical milieu.
Along the way, we learn more about the art of dreaming. In this particular tradition, there are four levels of dreaming. The first is “ordinary” dreams, when we are asleep and for all purposes, unconscious. Second is Lucid Dreaming, in which we become aware that we are dreaming, and somewhat aware of what is happening. Third is what the author calls Astral Projection. We are dreaming, but we have learned a degree of control over our minds, and our dreams are much more complex and realistic. And finally, there is the Bamso, where we have “expert capability to traverse time and space.”
Many metaphysical questions are raised along the author’s journey. Who is he? What is the nature of consciousness and reality? Is the “reality” we’re aware of simply another dream? As the author says,
The world of dreams is real. Though at first you may think it impossible, all you have seen and felt in the dream state, all of it, is as true as anything you have ever experienced in your waking life. Furthermore… the lucid and the Astral lives have influenced each other since the beginning of time. For those of you who search for a place beyond imagination, where dreams become more solid yet still more fluid, you will find this volume a good fit.
For me this book is particularly interesting in that it offers a non-psychological, non-materialist system for understanding the activity of dreaming. I highly recommend it.
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