Dreamworlds of Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism

The Third Place

By Angela Sumegi

Subjects: Psychology Of Religion, Buddhism, Dreams, Tibetan Buddhism, Religion
Paperback : 9780791474648, 180 pages, May 2008
Hardcover : 9780791474631, 180 pages, May 2008

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Tables

1. Shamanisms and Dreams
The World as Being
Animate and Inanimate Beings
Contracts and Negotiation
Joining Heaven and Earth
Sleep and Dream as Shamanic Activity
Dream, Initiation, and Power
Envisioning the Invisible

2. Dream in the Ancient Indian Matrix
Ritual and Homology in the Vedas
Vitality and Power in the Vedas
Sleep and Dream in the Vedas
Self and Dream in the Upanisads

3. Indian Buddhist Views of Dream
Buddhist Dream Theory and Its Indian Context
Dream and Direct Perception of the Buddha
Dreaming and Paranormal Powers
Dream Interpretation and Classification
The Conception Dream of Queen Maya
Dreams of Awakening
Dream and the Moral Condition of the Dreamer

4. Dream in the Tibetan Context
Conflict and Competition
The Lama, the Shaman, and the Yogi
Dream and Liberation: The Bodhi Orientation
Dreaming and Dying: The Karma Orientation
Dream and Divination: The Pragmatic Orientation
Buddhist Distinctions between Lama and Shaman
Shamanism and Soteriology

5. Tibetan Dream Theory, Imagery, and Interpretation
General Dream Theory
Theory and Imagery from Medical Texts
Popular Dream Images
Dream and Evidence of Success in Religious Practice
Gaining Permission of the Deity
The Question of Tendrel
Dream and the Illusion of Illusion

Appendix: Gampopa's Dreams

Explores shamanic and Tibetan Buddhist attitudes toward dreams.


Dreamworlds of Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism explores the fertile interaction of Buddhism, shamanism, and Tibetan culture with the subject of dreaming. In Tibetan Buddhist literature, there are numerous examples of statements that express the value of dreams as a vehicle of authentic spiritual knowledge and, at the same time, dismiss dreams as the ultra-illusions of an illusory world. Examining the "third place" from the perspective of shamanism and Buddhism, Angela Sumegi provides a fresh look at the contradictory attitudes toward dreams in Tibetan culture. Sumegi questions the longstanding interpretation that views this dichotomy as a difference between popular and elite religion, and theorizes that a better explanation of the ambiguous position of dreams can be gained through attention to the spiritual dynamics at play between Buddhism and an indigenous shamanic presence. By exploring the themes of conflict and resolution that coalesce in the Tibetan experience, and examining dreams as a site of dialogue between shamanism and Buddhism, this book provides an alternate model for understanding dreams in Tibetan Buddhism.

Angela Sumegi is Assistant Professor of Religion at Carleton University.


"The dream narratives are fascinating, the scholarship is uniformly excellent, and the book will definitely appeal to South Asia area specialists, religious studies scholars, and anyone interested in the far horizons of the dreaming imagination. " — Kelly Bulkeley, author of Visions of the Night: Dreams, Religion, and Psychology