Idiomatic Terms in Cultivation and Cultivation through Idioms

PureInsight | November 5, 2006

[] There are many Chinese idioms that have connotations of cultivation behind them. Here is a prime example.

Golden Millet Dream
- describing a brief dream of grandeur

Lu Sheng lived in Tang Dynasty.  One day, Lu Sheng came across a
Daoist named Father Lu in an inn in Han Dan City.  Lu Sheng
complained to Father Lu about being poor and unable to achieve his
ambitions.  Father Lu took out a pillow and said that Lu could
fulfil his dream of wealth and rank if he slept on the pillow.  Lu
Sheng lay down on the pillow.  At the moment, the owner of the inn
was going to cook some millet and had just put the pot on the stove. Lu
Sheng had a dream where he lived through the rest of his life. In the
dream, he successfully passed the imperial civil service examination
and became an influential, high-ranking official at the imperial
court.  He went through his entire life in the dream. When he woke
up, he realized that his dream was so short that the millet was not yet
fully cooked.  

The original purpose of the story was to advise and warn people,
especially cultivators, not to become attached to the human life. The
term now generally means having an unrealistic dream.  The current
meaning is quite different from the original one.

Another story talks about the same thing. In the Tang dynasty, the book
"The Story of Nanhe" recorded a story.  A young scholar named Chun
Yufeng dreamed that he had arrived in a state called Huai An.  He
then married the princess of the country and became a high ranking
official. He was enjoying a life of wealth and rank.  He did not
realize that it was only a dream until he woke up and realized that the
state of Huai An was nothing but an ant hole in a locust tree in his

Master teaches us in Zhuan Falun,
"There is one kind of dream that does directly have to do with you,
though, and we can't really refer to these dreams as dreams: it's where
your master consciousness, meaning, your master soul, sees your family
approach you in your dream, or you have a real-to-life experience, or
you see or do something. If that's the case, your master soul really
did do something or see something in another dimension, it's you who
did it, and you were clearheaded and you had a real experience. Those
things really do exist. It's just that they exist in other dimensions
and they were done in other space-times. So can you say they're dreams?
You can't. Your physical body on this side was definitely sleeping, so
for you it's just a dream. Only those dreams have a direct bearing on

After Lu Sheng in the first story woke up, he sighed when he saw
everything was still the same as before and it was only a dream. 
At that moment, Father Lu pointed out to him that when people are
attached to the fame, self-interest and the emotions of the human
world, it is the same thing as having a dream.  Lu Sheng was
deeply moved by the words and became enlightened. It was also a great
comfort and happiness to Father Lu to see that Lu had very good
enlightenment quality.

Lu Sheng thanked Father Lu and said, "Honor or disgrace, gain or loss,
life or death, I now understand them well. Father Lu used the dream as
a method to teach me a lesson. I now know what I should do in the
future."  Lu Sheng then bowed respectfully toward Father Lu and
left.  It marked the beginning of his cultivation.

Finally, please allow me to add a side note. Teaching their disciples
through dreams was one of the methods that Buddhist or Daoist masters
used to advise their disciples based on individual situations. 
Our Master uses many methods to advise and teach the disciples, not
only dreams.  Cultivators should not be attached to certain dreams
they have. Otherwise, it is easy to take the wrong path.

Translated from:

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