My daughter is currently doing a report in school on dreams. Her primary focus has been on why do we dream, what purpose do they serve, and is the technique of counting sheep effective to getting us to sleep so that we can dream. Interesting that she associated being asleep with dreaming. I don't necessarily agree that we need to be asleep to dream. There is of course "day dreaming" but there is also a nagging thought in me that maybe when we are awake we are actually dreaming and when we are dreaming we are actually awake? I have often thought that dreaming was a way for our subconscious to work things through. Images, thoughts, experiences that are too stressful, difficult, or even unable to be processed in our "waking state".
Did the Buddha then rise to consciousness from the dream that we all entertain daily? Or did he actually fall into beautiful expression from his state of deepened samsara of slumber. Wakefully expressing his dream state? So the "counting sheep" theory, my daughter in all her 13 year old wisdom, discovered that actually imagining a peaceful scene in your mind (seashore, field of flowers, gorgeous mountain top) is actually MORE effective than counting sheep in assisting folks through the gates of dreamland. We did discuss the idea behind counting sheep and it does seem to have a semblance of a meditative practice However, the reason for it being sheep jumping over a fence did stump us, perhaps because shepherds had insomnia? You could easily, without your awareness really, allow each leap of sheep over that fence to be your inhale and exhale. The counting to follow your breath, a very useful, and popular, meditation technique.
"Buddha is translated into "awakened one" literally."