“Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light” explains both the Dzogchen nature of dreams and the practice of natural light. It is a how-to manual on the practice of natural light. The practice of natural light is the ability to recognize the state of natural light, a state of mind in which the mind does not function, but only exists. It is a state of awareness, absent of thought. The practice of natural light occurs during the period beginning when you fall asleep and ending when the mind begins to function again via a dream.
My few attempts of the practice yielded a state of mind similar to the state of mind I often achieve when practicing Transcendental Meditation, a drifting between thoughts and pure awareness. The goal is to fall asleep in this state of pure awareness, or presence of the state of natural light. According to Norbu, if one has this presence of mind upon entering the state of dreams, it is easy to recognize one is dreaming, thus becoming lucid. This act of entering a dream fully conscious is similar to what Dr. Stephen LaBerge refers to as a WILD (wake induced lucid dream). I can only speculate that the practice of natural light may be exercise that produces WILDs.
Practitioners of Tantric Buddhism believe there is a correlation between the states of sleep and dreams and our experiences when we die. The practice of natural light prepares one for death by aiding you to realize these states of death and achieve liberation from being reborn. The development of lucidity is actually a secondary effect of the practice of natural light. One practices being in the state of natural light to prepare for recognizing a greater capacity of this state shortly after death. The end result of the Dzogchen practitioner is not then lucid dreaming, but liberation from samsara, or rebirth.
This heavy eastern philosophy shouldn’t scare away those interested in developing their own lucid dreaming (or learning a new culture). The book seems to be targeted for a Western audience. The practice itself and many other related dream exercises are very clearly explained and easy to understand and follow. However, some readers less experienced with the religions of the world may get lost in a web of Buddhist terminology and concepts. The reader shouldn’t be too concerned; the footnotes in each chapter do a fine job explaining everything.
In general, the book is friendly reading. It is written by Tibetan master Namkhai Norbu and edited by one of his Western students, Michael Katz. Katz gives an excellent introduction to dreaming and lucid dreaming prior to Norbu’s text on the practice. Also included is an interview between Katz and Norbu that provides additional insight to dreams and Dzogchen. I recommend “Dream Yoga and the Practice of the Natural Light” for those who are interested in gaining an always-mentioned-but-never-explained Tibetan insight into lucid dreaming.