Awakening from the Daydream - Foreword
Hell realms, gods, and hungry ghosts—these are just a few of the images on the Buddhist wheel of life. In Awakening from the Daydream, discover how these ancient symbols are still relevant to our modern life.
By Lodro Rinzler
When you are a child you sometimes have adults in your life who appear very wise. That was the case for me with David Nichtern. By the time I was born, David was already a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, having studied at the feet of the great Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche for over a decade. (At the time of writing this David has studied Buddhism for more than forty years. I mean, come on. Not many Buddhist teachers in America can say that.)
A family friend, I was lucky to spend time with David beginning at an early age. I remember his grace and charm first, the practicalities of any meditation wisdom he may have shared second. I mention that because sometimes it is the presence of a teacher that inspires us, and my experience has been shared with thousands of people at this point: David’s warm presence invites us to explore the teachings in an insightful and sane manner. When you grow up, if you’re lucky, you sometimes form a peer-based relationship with those seemingly peaceful adults from your youth and begin to see all their foibles, growing disheartened. You might ask yourself, “If that wise teacher from my youth is actually a jerk, what hope do I have going forward?” Not so with David. He is one of those teachers who not only manifests his decades of meditation practice when on the teaching seat but also behind closed doors, in the rest of his life. When I began teaching meditation myself, David was always supportive, mentoring me behind the scenes and leading by example, specifically around how to make the esoteric accessible. With this, his first book, he has done a beautiful job at just that.
The six realms of existence, karma, and the twelve nidanas are about as esoteric a topic you could choose for a book. To study them is to study the very nature of who we are, how we get confused and stray from our natural state, thus creating our own egoic identity. Following in the footsteps of his teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, David shows us both the traditional manifestation of these realms, where we are said to be reborn lifetime after lifetime, but also breaks those teachings down into how the essence of those realms manifest in our day-today existence.
In the volume that you’ve wisely chosen to pick up, David addresses the way that we fall prey to our own aggression, passion, and delusion. He talks about the six realms of existence, but he also dives into really important questions like “What is karma, anyway?” and “What’s the role of a teacher? Do I need one?” He skillfully offers teachings around how to unhook whatever ego trap you may have fallen into and climb out. Perhaps most importantly, he provides a slew of practices you can develop on a daily basis that will allow you to transform your heart and mind.
Let me reiterate that last point: in my experience, if you practice the teachings set forth in this book, you will be transformed in the most beautiful ways. You become more present, both for the wonderful parts of your life but also the not-so-wonderful parts too (and that makes them more bearable). You become kinder, both to yourself and also to everyone else you encounter. You live a life based in virtue, with less stress and an open heart. But you have to take David’s advice and do the practices in order for that to happen.
So you possess two things in this volume. If you’re the sort of person who seeks genuine practices for selfreflection, deep peace, and living with an open heart, then you’re in luck. David includes practices at the end of each of these chapters to aide you in that regard. If you’re the sort of person who seeks advice on how to get out of the way of your own ego, see the very nature of karma, and ultimately wake up to the essence of your mind well, (1) I’m impressed, and (2) good news: this book will also aide you in that endeavor.
Whatever your Dharmic motivation may be, this book can show you the way. Through furthering our own understanding of our minds and hearts we are able to wake up in ways big and small, thus causing less harm in this world and perhaps even being able to help it.
This book is not just a meditation manual: it is a deep exploration of the Buddhist path. There is much discussion these days about meditation teachings going mainstream. The future of Buddhism is not a dumbing down or stripping away of the traditional practices and teachings; it’s a translation of them so that they are made applicable and understandable in today’s context. David continues to serve as an example for us students of the Dharma: the future of Buddhism is made brighter by the proclamation of truth laid bare and the teachings made clear in this delightful book.