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Dream Sources

If one is sincerely attempting to use dreams as a way of research, one has to realise that dreams deal with a variety of aspects of oneself. This has already been mentioned, but what has been said is perhaps not detailed enough if we want to probe deeply. At the very outset of trying to give further information, however, it has to be admitted that the following statements are not made dogmatically. Very little is known about the sources of dreams. The inner consciousness has not been explored and charted sufficiently to make it common territory. For this reason I have collected several explanations of the main aspects of man’s being. Whether these descriptions are true or adequate has to be left to each person’s experience. At least it is hoped they are helpful.

In giving the various theories concerning the dream, we have seen that one of the commonest is that they rise from subtle physical sensations. In some cases, disease has been indicated by dreams some time prior to its appearance outwardly. While A. J. Davis goes into some detail as to descriptions of dreams and their possible sources in the bodily functions, he also says. ‘There are numerous spiritual phenomena connected with the state of sleep.’ That is, he defines levels of consciousness. He says that man’s being is the harmonious relationship of seven principles. If we think of dreams once more as the instruments panel, then just as the oil gauge of a car connects with the oil pump, and the thermometer with the Water, so dreams can be indicators of these seven modes of being.

Davis lists these as the Anatomical, which relates to the body as matter, and its form; the Physiological, which relates to the function of the form; the Mechanical, which is the energy or force behind the function or form in matter, and can be termed movement; the Chemical, which is decomposition of form and substance, as in catabolism; the Electrical, which expresses as combination, or anabolism, or the combination of simple chemical or organic substances into more complex ones; the Magnetical, which is the law of harmony allowing the other principles to relate together harmoniously; the Spiritual, or that which relates to attenuation, or growth and development of more extended aspects, or that relates to all other manifestation. Therefore, a dream could arise from any of these areas of us.

Davis, like many other seers, gives the over all forces within man as Love, Wisdom and Will. Others express it as Love, Wisdom and Power. As general classifications these include many seemingly separate functions and capabilities of the human being. They may be better understood if we say that Love covers such diverse activities as physical attraction of the opposite sexes; emotional attraction and harmony between any sex or age group; the grouping together of cells and chemical substances in the body seemingly opposite or antagonistic. In fact the law of love seems to be the bringing together and stabilising of opposites or conflicting factions, whether physically, emotionally, energetically or mentally. Similar general rules apply to the other two classifications. Love may unite, but Wisdom gathers experience, looks for causes, understands direction. Power on the other hand relates to all expressions of energy, of will, of force. In human affairs we may see a loving person who lacks wisdom or power to understand and direct their love; or a forceful person may lack love and wisdom and so be destructive and hurtful. Or a wise person may lack force­fulness and love, and so be a dry, fruitless intellectual; and so on with the other combinations.

Dreams can be concerned with Love in its various aspects. Here, perhaps the Freudian type of interpretation concerns itself most with relationships of passion and love. Alder is an excellent example of one who concentrated on dealing with the Power aspect of dreams. His life was spent helping people to direct their ‘will to power’ their ambitions and energies.

Without stretching our imagination too much, we can say Jung represents the study of dreams of Wisdom. Such dreams would deal with the desire to understand, to clarify awareness of self, and relationship to life, with its attendant unravelling of the beauty and wisdom of our own and other cultures.

As many other investigators of man’s being have listed seven main principles, perhaps I can summarise these to make them more understandable. For the information locked in Davis’ remarks may lose its helpfulness without a little further commentary; and philosophical systems as varied as Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Alchemical, Christian, Agnostic and Anthroposophical, have all listed these seven levels. As these could naturally take volumes to explain in detail, an analogy will be used to summarise them. In doing this, the failings of using such a symbol and imaginative method must be forgiven. To start with we have to imagine the sperm and ovum as a seed, planted in the fertile soil of the womb. This seed holds in it a great deal of potential, but it is at present all unexpressed. See KundaliniEnergy Sex and Dreams


 Matter Or Physical Body 

When we plant this human seed let us think of it as a little piece of earth, of matter, only. If we literally planted a piece of earth in a human womb, nothing would happen as far as growth was  con­cerned. In this sense matter represents just a set of ‘materials’. Just as we may use bricks or clay, planks of wood, nails of iron, windows of glass to build a house, so the seed is likewise a collection of materials, which in themselves are inert. This is Davis’ ‘Anatomical’.

When we plant our seed under the right circumstances, however, it already has form, and continues to express itself in forming a developing body. Therefore, one of the things latent in the seed was a sort of formative poweror process. This same organic forma­tive power, that takes hold of inert matter and shapes it, is one of the first processes of evolution. We see it at work in forming the minerals of our Earth, and the crystals. This is the first of its potentials the seed can express. At its lowest level this formative power is something like the growth of a crystal, of filings shaping themselves round a magnet. At its highest phase it becomes move­ment such as plants describe in growth. This is Davis’ ‘Physiological’.


In the growth of our seed, further levels of potential can express themselves as the lower stage prepares the ground. The plant cannot use sunlight until the leaves are unfolded. So, sentience cannot express until a sensitive vehicle is formed. In plants, this sentience can be seen in the growing toward light, or closing of flowers at night. Without this sentience or sensitivity, one would never be aware of physical or sensual impressions. Naturally, with the emergence of sentience, it changes the direction of effort of the previous processes. In this way a plant directs the formative processes to grow to the light, through its sensitiveness to light. At its lowest level this is a chemical and organic response to impacts from within and outside itself. At its highest level it becomes emotion or feelings. This is Davis’ ‘Mechanical’.


I feel that in fact, sentience may be a fundamental state that leads the other factors toward form and growth and thus perception. Perception means an awareness of sensations. It means the ability to add two and two together. When a dog sits too near the fire and burns himself, he learns to avoid such close contact again. The dog has associated the sensation of burning with the image of the fire. In man, such perceptions become more and more complex. A man can take the ideas of pain and fire as abstractions, and add the idea of prevention, thus producing a fire guard. This is thought. At its lowest level, perception is memory to avoid pain, or direct activities. At its highest level it becomes constructive thought, which has emerged out of feeling. This is Davis’ ‘Chemical’.


Out of thinking develops knowledge. When we experience a feeling such as pleasure, it is ours alone. It cannot be handed from person to person. It can be stimulated in others, but not given. But Knowledge goes beyond the individual. At this stage a man can look at life and discover that if corn is planted, a harvest may later be reaped. This realisation can be passed on. At its lowest level it is learned response. At its highest level a collection of conscious realisations about life. This is Davis’ ‘Electrical’.


This level is often listed as intuition, but with careful thought we see that many creatures possess intuition, but it takes a man of a high calibre to possess insight. Insight is the result of a high level of consciousness, a wide knowledge, plus the faculty of intuition. Intuition is the power that takes hold of experience and facts, and puts them into new orders, fresh insight. Intuition reveals deeper meaning in already known subjects of knowledge, producing insight.

Or should we say, insight is the result of conscious knowledge plus intuition. Intuition minus high conscious awareness produces strange knowledge, unexplainable reaction, but it does not produce insight. So here we have consciousness and its contents, Opening itself to the unconscious, resulting in insight, the link between the two worlds of seen and unseen, manifest and potential. This is Davis’ ‘Magnetical’.


This is the antipode to matter. Matter is the receptive and resource­ful womb that spirit enters, and begins to manifest its potentials by using the materials matter presents. A later description will clarify this.

This may all seem very confusing, and, in fact, it is. Such lists of attributes are only a structure which human beings use to hang their understanding upon; but no such structure will stand up to vigorous investigation, and so secondary or alternative structures are built such as the Love, Wisdom and Power explanation. Some thinkers break man’s complicated being into a simpler symbol and instead of seven levels, they list three. This is not to say that they thereby miss out parts given by the others; they put them all together instead. The results, however, seem a lot more understand­able. In this category we have the thoughts and investigations of such men as Rudolph Steiner, Edgar Cayce and Spencer Lewis. Steiner calls those three levels Body, Soul and Spirit, and Cayce the Conscious, Unconscious and Superconscious, or sometimes Body, Soul and Spirit as Steiner. Spencer Lewis expressed them as Physical, Psychic and Cosmic. Although these three men had their own individual way of describing these levels according to their own genius, I will attempt to summarise what they said.

Physical Or Body

We are all familiar with this. We have to recognise that in this category it is mentioned as the body minus consciousness, as consciousness belongs to another level. Under this classification of Body we have inanimate, unfeeling matter. It represents those parts of our nature that by themselves are inert, without energy, without sensa­tion or feeling, like a dead body. Forces are certainly at work in such a body, such as disintegration, breakdown. This level represents the power of Inertia, of Limitation, of Unconsciousness. These are stressed because they have a power in their own right, and if we do not understand them, we may miss seeing their expression in dreams. If we take the analogy of a stream, using the water as move­ment or energy, and the stream bed as matter or inertia, we see that matter directs the expression of energy, but in its turn, energy shapes and gives form to matter. Another example is an electric motor, which is itself inert matter, but which directs the expression of energy. So the elements, form and physiology of the body direct the expression of the energy. In turn the energy gives form and function to the body, for at death, when the energy is no longer active, the form disintegrates, and the function ceases.

Psychic Or Soul

Our psychic life, or soul life, is the world of our sensations, emotions, thoughts. It is the world of our individual consciousness and intelli­gence. The body cannot feel or sense or know without this soul life. Just as the heat from an electric fire is the combination, or result, of electricity and the inert instruments, so this soul life is the result of a combination between spirit and body, energy and matter. At one extreme of soul life we have alert, concentrated conscious­ness, with a sense of individuality and self awareness. At the other extreme we have the subconscious, which is a wider consciousness going beyond our sense of being cut off, individual, and touches the next level of being, the Spirit. Cayce calls the soul, the sense of individual activity and decision, the memory of one’s personal activities.

The energy that gave life to man is universal, but if consciousness remained at that level, no individual realisation could take place. Thus the soul is the record and the experience of the individual outside a consciousness of the universal.

This level includes all the levels of a man’s individual mind, ranging from sensual impressions, thought and emotion, memory, and subconscious activities. It is called the psychic because it is the realm that is neither formless as is the spirit, nor bound to form as is the body. Soul experience is a middle way between the extremes, and a dream is a weaving together of formless energies with images to make them understandable. It links the limitation and unconsciousness of the body on the one hand, with all its separate­ness with the infinite extensions and possibilities of spirit on the other. So man, in his dream life, can dwell in the aloneness of his body, or contact all beings through the agency of his life force.


Spirit Or Cosmic

This is that energy which is the very opposite of matter. In itself it represents the infinite consciousness, movement, knowledge, creativity and energy. This is the male aspect of self, while the body is its mate or wife, which it enters and brings forth the child of self consciousness. As consciousness in the body is a mixture of spirit and matter, it likewise blends the two, that is, it has limited awareness. But it can either associate itself with the body, when it takes on more and more of the physical characteristics, such as inertia, unfeelingness and limited knowledge. Or it can associate itself with its energy, which leads to expanded awareness, greater energy and creativeness. The spirit is man’s sense of union or identity with his source. This level of man’s being is the synthesis of all experience. it holds within it the memory of all men, all creatures, all activity, while man’s soul is the record of his doings only. But as the soul is an extension of the spirit, it can partake of the greater wisdom, the greater experience by a harkening to that part of itself instead of only bodily experience, and yet still maintain its individuality, just as a man may learn from others yet apply it differently.

To summarise this description of man’s being in connection with dreams, they may arise from body, soul or spirit. If they arise from body they will deal with the health, or workings, or intricate wisdom that its form portrays due to it being a reflection of spirit in matter. If they arise from the soul, they will deal with the range of human feelings, relationships, fears, individual growth, past memories, desires, and aspects of the individual’s life. If they arise from the spirit, they will express elements beyond the limited desires, aims and knowledge of the individual. Such dreams may carry information about other people, about the meaning of life, or be of universal appeal. People living or dead may be dealt with in a meaningful and usually super logical way. For the dead are only dead in body. The memory, the spirit, of their whole experience is caught in the memory of the Cosmic. Therefore, not only our own past may come to us in a dream, but also the past and experience of the long dead may arise in us, if it is connected with our present life in some way.

One other definition of man’s experience of himself may find a useful place here. This is Jung’s description of man’s four functions.

These he called Sensation – Feeling – Thinking – Intuition. These are the aspects of man’s soul life as depicted above. In saying this I am not trying to confuse Jung’s ideas with those of other people. I am merely trying to give a reasonably understandable presenta­tion of man’s being that includes the materialistic and the mystical, the practical and the psychological. Therefore, to define the four functions, We can say that in the function of Sensation, man’s soul life is directed towards the body. Jung explained that each person had dependence on one main function. Thus a person whose consciousness mainly existed in their physical sensations could be listed under this first function. These are people who are keenly aware of the outside world, and are at home in their physical sensations.

As for the Feeling function, this refers to people Who are ‘at home’ in their emotions and inner feelings. They can cope with relationships on the emotional level easily and constructively, although they, like the others, may be quite lost outside their own sphere.

The Thinking function refers to the man or woman ‘at home’ in their ideas, plans, opinions and the world of thought.

The Intuitive function person has the ability to see beyond the rational, beyond the things portrayed by thought, feeling or senses. He arrives at truths that seem beyond the ken of those using the other functions.

If four such typical people walked down a street together, we might say that the one with Sensation as his leading function would notice the houses, their colours and changes made since his last visit. The Feeling person would be aware of the emotions stimulated by the surroundings and relationship with the people. The Thinking person would perhaps be little aware of the street at all, but be following a line of thought. While the Intuitive might know from his perceptions, much of what the others are thinking or feeling.

So dreams may be expressions of some aspect of these functions in our life. Naturally, each of us has the other functions, although we live mostly in one. As these have to some extent been explained under other headings, I have done no more than mention them.

Inadequate as it is, it is hoped that these sketchy outlines of the various schools of thought will at least direct attention towards a constructively analytical direction, For sometimes, even hints help us to unravel a difficult dream.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved