Q: Dear Master Lu, what do our dreams mean?
- Dreams are a way for us to receive messages from the spirit world. Some dreams are foretelling, a reflection of what you have thought about throughout the day, or are scenes from your past lives. Some dreams provide us with some revelation or suggestions, but we should not obsessively dwell on dreams.
- Some dreams become unclear as soon as you wake up, and you cannot recall them clearly, or these dreams may have been scattered and fragmented to begin with. Dreams like these are not very meaningful.
- If some dreams mirror what you are doing or thinking about in real life, it is likely a case of “one dreams at night about what one thinks about during the day”. We do not need to concern ourselves with such dreams.
- If you dream about eating meat dishes, killing animals and such, it is likely that you encounter aDream Test. Please refer to Q&A 90: Having Dream Tests.
- If you dream about ancient times, bygone eras or battles, it is possibly related to your past lives. If the scenes depicted are not particularly meaningful, you do not need to worry about them as the past has passed, and there is no point in dwelling on them. If you dream about yourself in a past life committing bad deeds, or dying, it generally means that you may encounter a predestined hardship or calamity in the near future, so you must strengthen your recitations and cultivation.
- If your dreams feature people who have passed away, e.g. deceased family members, regardless of the scene, it means that they are asking you to perform recitations for them. You need to recite Little Houses addressed to <full name of the deceased>. Generally, you can recite at least 7 Little Houses for each deceased person, or 21 Little Houses for family members or close friends.
- If you dream about being chased, or people asking you for money or other objects, it means you have karmic creditors and you need to recite Little Houses.
- If you dream about becoming pregnant (but you are neither pregnant nor planning to get pregnant in reality), or you dream about babies or children, this generally refers to the children you have aborted or miscarried. You need to recite Little Houses addressed to the “children of <your full name>” to help them ascend to a higher spiritual realm. If, during the process of offering Little Houses, you dream about children well dressed, happily saying goodbye to you (as if to bid farewell), or taken away by other people, or you dream about someone else becoming pregnant, then it means the child has ascended to a higher spiritual realm.
- Dreams about dead poultry or animals usually refer to the small animals or creatures that you killed or ate in the past. It means that you need to continue reciting the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra.
- Relatively disturbing dreams, which include dark scenes making you afraid or anxious, or dreams that feature disasters or inauspicious animals such as snakes, cats, worms/bugs, shoes, etc., indicate trouble or obstacles in the near future. Therefore, you need to do more recitations of the following as part of your daily recitation: the Xiao Zai Ji Xiang Shen Zhou, and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra. If you dream about shoes, you should also include the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots. You will also need to keep reciting Little Houses addressed to the “Karmic Creditor of <your full name>”. You should also make vows and perform life liberations.
- Dreams that have bright and beautiful scenes, or make you feel happy are good dreams. Dreams that feature Bodhisattvas, Master Lu, esteemed and virtuous Buddhist monastic or lay practitioners, auspicious creatures or even fresh food are all positive. They indicate good fortune or joy. Nevertheless, you must continue performing recitations and cultivating your mind diligently.
- For reference, the categories below feature some of the items that commonly show up in dreams.
- Auspicious creatures, (such as dragons, peacocks, phoenixes, qilin/kirin): These are all auspicious, and will bring good fortune.
- Fish: Dreams about live fish represent good fortune and wealth; dreams about dead fish represent dejection or sadness, and you need to recite the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra. Similar dreams that feature domesticated animals (provided they are alive in the dream) are usually good.
- Dogs: Dogs represent friends and companions in dreams. If you dream about dogs being friendly to you, it means your friends will be good to you, or vice versa.
- Turtles/Tortoises: It indicates increased longevity. But sometimes different scenes require different interpretations.
- Snakes, cats, mice, predatory animals (such as tigers, alligators/crocodiles, wolves, bears and other such aggressive wild animals), bats, crows/ravens or spiders: Generally, it indicates misfortune, and you should recite the Xiao Zai Ji Xiang Shen Zhou and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra.
- Bugs and insects: Seeing bugs or insects in the dream normally indicates problems or karmic obstacles. If you dream about your body being covered in bugs, it means your karmic obstacles are about to break out.
- Domesticated birds: If they are dead or appear aggressive, it generally indicates that you have killed these kinds of birds before, and you should recite the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra.
- Teeth: Dreams about problems with your teeth generally predict family members experiencing health problems, or indicate that you may have conflicts with family members. Upper teeth relate to elder family members, whereas lower teeth relate to younger family members.
- Fruit and vegetables: Seeing fresh fruit or vegetables in the dream is good. This indicates that you have attained a relatively good state from your spiritual practice, and you will have good fortune. However, if the fruit or vegetables are not fresh or become spoiled, you need to recall if you have committed any improper conduct or have had impure intentions/actions while practising Buddhism. You should also examine if you have done anything that reduces your merits and virtues.
- Food (cakes and chocolate, etc.): If fresh, then it indicates good fortune. If spoilt or going bad, then it indicates misfortune.
- Dumplings: A sign of getting together and reunion (e.g. of family members or friends).
- Noodles: It indicates increased longevity.
- Transport (cars, trains, airplanes, boats/ships, etc.): A normal, moving car (or other vehicles) is good, indicating good fortune and progress. If the vehicle has broken down or fallen into disrepair, it represents obstacles or problems.
- New clothing: Out with the old, in with the new. It indicates the elimination of karmic obstacles.
- Old clothing: Generally, it represents karmic obstacles. It means you need to diligently perform recitations and cultivate your mind, repent wrongdoings, and eliminate karmic obstacles.
- Shoes: Generally, it indicates misfortune or problems, or may indicate interpersonal conflicts or trouble with people.
- Hair: Hair represents worries and concerns. If hair is long in dreams, it symbolises the presence of many worries and concerns, and you should perform more recitations of the Heart Sutra. But if hair is cut short, it indicates the elimination of worries and concerns.
- Eyes, glasses: The eyes represent the soul. Seeing things clearly in your dream indicates that you have a very clean and pure mind. If your vision is blurry, it means your mind is not very pure. Glasses or spectacles are the glass of the windows to the soul, so if glasses are broken or dirty it means they are unclean and your viewpoints may be faulty or misguided.
- Umbrellas: It indicates parting ways in relationships.
- Keys and locks: Our minds can be compared to a lock, and the Dharma Door (Buddhist approach) can be compared to the key that can be used to unlock our minds. If you dream about being unable to unlock something, it means a problem remains unresolved, or that you have yet to have an open heart. Therefore, you should do more recitations of the Heart Sutra and read Master Lu’s Buddhism in Plain Terms.
- Clocks, watches and time: It indicates that you should hurry up and make the most of your time in performing recitations and cultivating your mind, do not slack off.
- Money: Money is a product of good fortune and misfortune. If you got the money in your dream through legitimate ways, it generally indicates some wealth. However, if someone asks you for money or gives you money in the dream, then it generally relates to Little Houses, and you need to recite Little Houses for your karmic creditors.
- Counterfeit currency: You need to pay attention to the quality of your Little Houses.
- Damaged sutras or mantras booklets: It indicates that there has been improper conduct that has reduced your merits and virtues. It could also mean you are not reciting sutras and mantras well, or you have been disrespectful.
- Coffins: If the scenes are bright and your feel happy in the dream, seeing coffins indicates wealth. If you feel afraid, or feel the coffin is being prepared for someone in your family, it may indicate that one of your family members will have some health issues.
- Excrement, faeces: If you dream about normal human faeces, it means wealth. If you dream about animal faeces, it indicates misfortune. If the excrement is very dirty, smelly and disgusting in the dream, it indicates misfortune, or even the Hell of Excrement.
- Buddhist Altar: If you dream about the Buddhist altar being unclean, incense sticks broken or breaking, oil lamps going out, flowers deteriorating, etc., it means there has been improper conduct in how you pay respect or that you have not been sincere or have had impure thoughts. You need to reflect upon yourself and repent. If statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are missing or have fallen over in the dream, it means that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have departed. If the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on the altar have changed forms, making you feel dark, gloomy or scary, it means that foreign spirits have entered the statues. You will need to recite at least 21 Little Houses for the karmic creditor of your house, and pay respect to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas sincerely and properly.
- Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or deities: It means that you have affinities with them or that you have been making good progress along the path of practising Buddhism.
- Master Jun Hong Lu: You have received blessings from Master Lu. The guidance that Master Lu gives in dreams is real. However, if Master Lu’s speech, actions or demeanour in the dream noticeably differs from his usual self or seems unreal, chances are it is not the real Master Lu, and you should recite Little Houses for your karmic creditor.
- Famous people, heads of state/political leaders: It indicates good fortune.
- Deceased people: Any dreams about deceased people means they require you to perform recitations, and you need to recite Little Houses to help them ascend to a higher spiritual realm. If you dream about already deceased people dying again, it means that they will be reborn soon. You can pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, and recite more Little Houses for them as soon as possible to help them to ascend to a higher spiritual realm. You can pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva as follows: “I, <your full name>, will recite <number of> (Note: 21 or more) Little Houses, for <full name of the deceased> in <time period or by X date>. May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless <full name of the deceased> so that he/she can receive Little Houses and ascend to a higher spiritual realm.”
- Living people: If there are no particularly meaningful scenes depicted in the dream, it means you have affinities with the person. If you dream about living people not behaving normally, acting aggressively or angrily, being unfriendly towards you or asking you for money etc., it means you owe them karmic debts and you need to recite Little Houses for them.
- Visitors to your home: If you do not know them, it generally means your house has foreign spirits and you need to recite Little Houses for the karmic creditors of your house.
- Black or White Enforcement Officer of the Underworld: The White Enforcement Officer of the Underworld monitors and records a person’s wrongdoings from their speech or action in the human realm. The Black Enforcement Officer of the Underworld monitors and records a person’s wrongdoings with respect to their thoughts or intentions, or the wrongdoings they have done behind others’ backs in the human realm.
It indicates that you have committed a grave wrongdoing or are about to experience a major predestined calamity. You need to make great vows, recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance to repent your wrongdoings sincerely, make a vow to recite a large quantity of Little Houses and perform life liberations in large quantities.
- Arguments/fighting: If you dream about quarrelling with people you know, it indicates that some sort of agreement will be reached. You can recite the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots.
- Moving house: It represents change or transitions. If the move goes well in your dream, then it means that things will progress in a positive direction. On the other hand, if the move does not go well, it means that something will not turn out well.
- Climbing mountains, riding escalators/elevators: Any movement upwards is a good thing. Any movement downwards indicates going downhill.
- Losing things: It foretells misfortune/problems.
- Lost things and being found again: Regaining confidence; things will go smoothly.
- Not wearing clothes: It means you have karmic obstacles. You have committed wrongdoings in the past that are immoral and cannot be brought to light. To eliminate these karmic obstacles, you need to sincerely perform recitations, cultivate your mind, and repent your wrongdoings.
- People engaging in sexual or other despicable acts: It may mean that your mind is not clean or pure enough, and you need to enhance your recitations and cultivation.
- Fire, things catching on fire: Major fires or being burnt and injured indicate trouble. Small fires may indicate good fortune.
- Leaking water: Generally, it means that trouble will occur in your home. If the water trickles, and is clean, it could mean wealth.
- Swimming: Swimming well indicates success, and vice versa.
- Taking exams: If you do well in the exam it means things will go well. It generally indicates that you have been making good progress in practising Buddhism. Otherwise, the opposite is true and you need to enhance the cultivation of your mind.
- Performing life liberations, introducing Buddhism to others, helping them become spiritually awakened: Doing meritorious deeds in your dreams is a good thing. In fact, you should also do more of these in real life. If you dream about performing life liberations but there are dead fish or other negative scenarios, you may need to examine whether you have done anything in an improper manner during the life liberation process, such as releasing an incorrect quantity of fish, or releasing the fish at an unsuitable location. If you dream about the dead fish, you should recite the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra.
- Incense sticks curling or looping over on itself or the wick of oil lamps forming the shape of a lotus flower: It means that Bodhisattvas have visited your home.
- Showering: Clearing or eliminating karmic obstacles.
- Sweeping, cleaning activities: Clearing or eliminating karmic obstacles.
- Clipping nails: Clearing or eliminating karmic obstacles.
- Raining, snowing: Heavy rain or snow is indicative of trouble, whereas light showers or snow is indicative of good fortune.
- Flowers withering, trees/wood rotting or decaying, things getting old/bad: These indicate misfortune. Conversely, dreaming about everything being renewed and growing indicates good fortune.
- Death: Dreaming about someone dying (who is alive in reality) indicates that the person will experience poor health or other trouble. They need to enhance their recitation of sutras and mantras and the cultivation of their mind.
- Sickness or illness: It foretells health issues. But in reality the issues tend to be less severe than depicted in the dream.
- Disasters: It could be a scene from a past life, or predictive of some future issues. You need to diligently recite sutras and mantras, cultivate your mind, and introduce Buddhism to more people, helping them become spiritually awakened.
- Going to the toilet: Clearing or eliminating karmic obstacles.
- Menstruation: It foretells gynaecological issues. Pay attention to your health. At the same time, persist with performing recitations and cultivating your mind.
- Vomiting: It could be predictive of issues with your digestion or throat. If you feel lighter, better, and more comfortable after vomiting, then it indicates the elimination of karmic obstacles.
- Reciting sutras and mantras: This means that you perform recitations of this sutra or mantra well, and the sutra or mantra has been stored in your eighth consciousness. It could also mean that you need to recite more of this particular sutra or mantra.
- Not all numbers are significant.
- If in your dreams there are scenes about karmic creditors as well as accompanying numbers, then the numbers usually have an association with the number of Little Houses you should recite. For example, if someone you do not know says that you owe him $30, it usually means that you need to recite 30 Little Houses for your karmic creditors. For relatively large numbers such as 18,000, if there are no other determining factors or distinctive scenes in the dream, then you can ignore the zeros at the end and interpret it as 18 Little Houses. If it is a very large number, such as 3,600,000, you can divide it by 30,000, which gives you 120 Little Houses, but it could also mean 36 or 360 Little Houses.
In some special circumstances, very large numbers may be the actual representation of the required number of Little Houses. For example, $30,000 may very well mean 30,000 Little Houses (The above examples are only an indication as the actual numbers vary according to the details of the dream).
- There are no hard and fast rules. The specific circumstances shown in the dream as well as one’s actual circumstances need to be considered altogether. If someone suffering from a severe illness dreams about $500, this could probably mean 500 Little Houses are required; if a healthy person were to dream about $500, it might only mean 50 Little Houses.
- If you frequently find it difficult to determine the number of Little Houses required, just persist with reciting Little Houses for your karmic creditors. Even if you cannot tell how many Little Houses are required, you will eventually be able to help them ascend to a higher spiritual realm if you continue.
The above guidelines are only for general reference. There are times when dreams present aspects differently and this can have a bearing on the meaning. Dreams are only a guide, a form of suggestion for Buddhist practitioners. It is best not to fixate on dreams and read too much into them, forgetting what truly matters.
It is also not recommended to speak of good dreams too much, lest they become inaccurate and cause the good fortune to slip away easily. In addition, if one does not continue to practise Buddhism sincerely and diligently, the good fortune predicted in such dreams will also change in line with your level of cultivation.
Having bad dreams means you need to be more cautious and practise Buddhism more diligently. You need to perform more recitations, recite Little Houses, make vows and perform life liberations to resolve these problems.
It is best to avoid interpreting dreams for people who do not believe in Buddhism, as this will easily cause you to bear the burden of their karma.