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Q&A 90. Having Dream Tests

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Q: Master Lu, what kind of dream is considered a “Dream Test”?


  • Dream Tests can be presented in many different forms. Generally, you will encounter a Dream Test after making a vow to observe certain precepts. Along the path of your Buddhist practice, Dream Tests are considered to be “pre-qualifying tests”, meaning that they help you understand the current level of your practice and guide you in adjusting the direction of your practice.
  • For example, one may have a Dream Test after making a vow to adopt a vegetarian diet on the 1st and 15th day of every lunar month or for the rest of their life; to never steal again; or to refrain from sexual misconduct going forward.
  • In Dream Tests, there may be scenarios which present fresh seafood or your favourite meat dishes to see if you give in to the temptation, or money on the ground to tempt your greed.
  • If you are able to pass your Dream Test, your level of practice will rise, meaning that your wisdom, power and spiritual state will reach a higher level. Also, part of your karmic obstacles would be eliminated. However, once you have passed a Dream Test, you will still encounter other Dream Tests in the future. Passing one Dream Test does not mean that you will never be tested again.
  • Suppose a person vowed to never go fishing again but broke the vow in his dream, e.g. he dreamt that he went fishing and ate the fish that he had killed. This would then be a typical example of failing a Dream Test. While awake, this person might have consciously convinced himself not to go fishing. But doing the opposite in his dream reveals that his subconscious self has failed to resist the temptation. Although he broke his vow only in a dream and not in reality, he has still broken the law in the spirit world. As a result, he will experience some misfortune in the near future.
  • When you fail a Dream Test, your level of practice will be downgraded.  Since you have broken precepts in the spirit world, you should repent by reciting the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance. Generally, 49 times is sufficient. In particularly serious cases, you need to recite more, e.g. 108 times.
    The most common Dream Tests are those related to eating meat or non-vegetarian food.  If you consume meat in a dream, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 49 times; if, before swallowing the non-vegetarian food, you realised the error and spat it out instead, you are considered to have passed the Dream Test.
  • If you have a Dream Test in which you commit killing of animals, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 49 times, as well as the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra to help the spirits of the deceased animals in your dream to ascend to a higher spiritual realm.
  • If you have a Dream Test in which you kill a person, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 108 times, and recite 21 Little Houses addressed to the “Karmic Creditor of <your full name>”.
  • If you have a Dream Test in which you commit a particularly serious case of sexual misconduct, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 108 times.
  • If you dream about relatively minor wrongdoings such as lying or deceiving others, you can recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 27 times.
  • On the day you fail a Dream Test, (within 24 hours after the dream starts), you can complete more recitations of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance to specifically repent of this. For example, you can recite it 49 or 108 times within 24 hours.
  • If 24 hours have already passed, then you should not do these extra recitations of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance in a day. You can only split the total number into smaller portions and spend several days finishing them. Do not recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance over 7 times per day, as it will be difficult to cope once the karmic obstacles are activated. Therefore, it is best to split the total number of recitations over several days. You could also temporarily stop your daily recitation of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, and instead recite it 7 times per day to specifically address the issue of failing the Dream Test.
  • After repenting, you should make the same vow again in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  • As a matter of fact, we encounter similar tests in our daily lives, not just in dreams. For example, when family members invite us to eat freshly killed fish and shrimp, or when we face a situation that tempts us to lose our temper, etc. When you pass a test in real life such as those described above, it is wise to pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva: “The Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva, in the past, when I, <your full name>, encountered <incident>, I would have committed a wrongdoing. Since I am now cultivating my mind and practising Buddhism, I have not committed the same wrongdoings again.”  With the above prayer, Guan Yin Bodhisattva will give blessings to you, and good things will happen to you.
  • Guan Yin Bodhisattva is merciful and compassionate, and is much like a mother to us. She will never abandon nor judge us; she will only feel sympathetic towards us. Hence, we can tell Guan Yin Bodhisattva everything.
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