Answer: Yes, dreams relate to our consciousness… and sub-consciousness, that we are less aware of in real life. However, they also relate to our positive and negative karma, which are sometimes mixed and expressed together. Just like in moments awake, this present expression of past karma cannot be controlled directly, but with increased mindfulness, it can be redirected.
For example, be it in a dream or awake state, when frightened, there is ideally enough mindfulness to remember to be mindful of Āmítuófó, for protection, and to vanquish fear and confusion. Just as those less mindful in real life might forget, they might likewise forget in dream life. Just as those more mindful in real life will remember, they will likewise remember in dream life.
The way to train to be more mindful in dream life is to train to be more mindful in real life, with more sincere and regular practice. We know this can be done as there are many cases of those who practised mindfulness of Āmítuófó well in nightmares, which transformed their nightmarish conditions to peaceful ones. With more practice when wide awake AND while going to sleep, less nightmares will occur. (In deep sleep, one is fully unconscious, with no dreaming.)
Question: Once, an unconscious dying relative, whose heartbeat had declined to 20 bpm (beats per minute) raced to 180 bpm, with several frenzied swings in between for about 20 minutes, as if internally struggling to revive. Her closed eyes also moved rapidly, as if seeing many things. Will we be able to control what we are conscious of when dying?
Answer: Yes we will be able to, if as above, we had trained to be more mindful in real life, with more sincere and regular practice, to create a powerful instinctive habit, to be readily mindful of Āmítuófó in all kinds of challenging conditions. However, as our practice might not be strong enough when dying, there should be guidance and support-chanting made available. The period of struggle could had been a final burst of physical energy before death, which often occurs.
The Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) is what happens during the dream stage of sleep, wherein one is dreaming to be moving and looking around. As she was already dying, what should had been done, without touching (to avoid causing magnified pain), was to offer audible words of guidance to awaken her, followed by support-chanting with Āmítuófó’s name. This will help any nightmarish state with potential karmic creditors to end, while facilitating swift connection to Āmítuófó, to depart from her suffering, by reaching his Pure Land.