I’ve visited the question of the butterfly dream before on this blog. It’s relevance to lucid dreaming has until now been largely left as an exercise for the reader.
Today we’re going to revisit it briefly because there is another important aspect to the question posed by Chuang Tzu:
Paraphrased, the question put by the Chinese philosopher is this: “If I dream that I am a butterfly, how can I be sure which “me” (man or butterfly) exists in reality, and which one is merely a dream?”
Without delving too deeply into the question of what “reality” actually is, let’s take a look at the central theme as it relates to you learning how to lucid dream.
Learning how to lucid dream often introduces people to dream journaling and reality checks. I’ve spoken about this before.
The point is simply this, although it may take a while to sink in:
Whether you’re the man or the butterfly, your reality is whatever you’re paying attention to.
The reason people fail to have a lucid dream despite their best efforts probably has something to do with what they pay attention to most of the time.
Think about it. Right now are you really paying attention or are you just skimming over the text on this page. Did you even make it this far? Does your mind jump from one thing to the next?
Most people unfortunately lack the mental discipline to make lucid dreaming work for them. Unless you can direct your consciousness to pay attention it won’t matter if you’re a man or a butterfly. You’ll be so caught up in your internal dialogue and following your mind as it wanders that you’ll miss the lucid dreaming forest for the metaphorical trees.