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When I was 15 I started a new phase of the long journey of my life – I am now 80. At that time I experienced something extraordinary – I went to sleep but remained awake. At eighty I am still discovering the depth of meaning in that experience – no, it was not lucid dreaming, for in that condition people are still lost in their dream images and are only slightly awake.

Tony at a bit past fifteen

I want to explain step by step, because we are all lost in a form of dream, for I am writing about Lucidity – a clear understanding, allowing them to explain simply.


The First Step

The first step is to realise that we are probably all almost totally blind, deaf and senseless. That is because now it is shown that we are only aware of 1% of the spectrum of light, we can only hear 1% of audible sound, and our sense of smell doesn’t even get near to what dogs and cats can detect. So, we live in a dimmed down awareness of the world we exist in. The amazing sense we do have is self awareness and a complex language.

That is strange, because if you ask anyone, “Who are you?” they give answers such, “I am a woman” or “I am a male” – both of which are descriptions of their body, not of their SELF. Or they say such things as I am the President, I am a loser – an alcoholic – a child – an electrician – a father – etc. all descriptions of their activity, social position or their age – never the vital description of who they are fundamentally.

The reason for that inability is because we are all asleep to what we are.


The Second Step

I took the second step when I began to explore memory. Realising that scientific investigation found that everyone dreams several times a night, and I wondered why most of us cannot remember any dreams, or very few of them. Knowing the experience of totally waking up in sleep and that we were missing half of our life experience, I investigated how memory works. I wasn’t from studying what others had said about memory, but by observing it, a sort of field study. I carefully analysed how I recalled things. I saw that a very special state of mind is necessary. This became obvious when we try to recall ordinary memories that usually are so available. Or if in a situation such as an exam, where questions need a speedy reply, and a great deal rests upon being able to answer, one might very well find known information beyond recall due to one’s fear of forgetting, or overactive attempt to remember. This is often due to feeding into our memory system a wrong re-call stimuli. Or, put more simply, we may feel sure the name we are trying to remember begins with ‘B’ and we are searching through the ‘Bs’; while in fact the name is Miller, and thus should have been called up under ‘M’. So holding the ‘B’ in mind has actually blocked the memory. Then, as soon as we drop the search. and thus drop the blockage, up pops the right name.

Therefore a strong desire to remember is as blocking as the fear of failure. Particular emotional or mental biases are also causes for blocking. Also the search is conditioned by information that is thought to be right, such as our search through the ‘Bs’.

So, remembering a dream in this way is a tremendous break through into the immense and hidden world of our consciousness. This method of penetrating the great mystery of sleep also makes nonsense of the many meditation techniques with a formed goal in mind. I learned much later that Carl Jung, in writing a commentary on the traditional Chinese meditation method – The Secret of the Golden Flower - said, the great secret is to do nothing but let things happen.

The question I asked was – What did I dream or experience during my sleep?

Having formed the question, one now has to realise that as one has never been conscious of the answer, one is looking for information one has never known. Therefore, all attempts to search for the answer must be avoided, as one does not know where or how this information is filed. The question must be held steadily without even a hope of response, or fear of failure. We have to leave ourselves wide open to all images and ideas. I can only describe this as standing in a stream of images and ideas, letting them all drift past without interference until the right one comes. When the actual memory comes, there will be an immediate realisation that this was a dream, despite all the other images. Why this is so I cannot explain. But just as, when the right name is remembered, there is a feeling of sureness, fitting the name to the face; so there is immediate sureness fitting the memory to the question.



The results soon appeared, and I could magically conjured up what was previously invisible. Soon another unsought result began to appear – lucid dreams. It seemed that breaking open the seal of forgetfulness, had taken awareness into the dream world itself.

The following example is fairly typical of the dreams I had.

“My family and I got out of our car. As we talked I realised there was a motorbike where my car had been. I said to everyone, ‘There was a car here a moment ago, now it’s a motorbike. Do you know what that means? It means we are dreaming.’ So I asked them if they realised they were dreaming. They got very vague and didn’t reply. I asked them again and felt very clearly awake.”

As you can see, I was awake but clearly still in the images of dreaming. I know many lucid dreamers will say there own dreams are full of meeting with great people of the past, or they can change the images to whatever thy wish. Wonderful, but they are still locked in dream images.

But it didn’t take long before another level of lucidity appeared.

“In my dream I was watching a fern grow. It was small but opened very rapidly. As I watched I became aware that the fern was an image representing a process occurring within myself, one I grew increasingly aware of as I watched. Then I was fully awake in my dream and realised that my dream, perhaps any dream, was an expression in images of actual events occurring unconsciously in myself. I felt enormous excitement, as if I were witnessing something of great importance.”

In remembering my dreams I broke through the barrier between our conscious self, our personality and the unconscious. In doing so I was still dealing with dreams and their imagery. However, you cannot keep digging without going deeper still. Carl Jung said what we find within us is as natural, as limitless, and as powerful as the stars.

There is a whole universe to discover within you. Go explore it!

 “I felt a slow dawning of something soft and beautiful in me. It emerged from a deep silence and filled me with a feeling of radiance, as if my being was gently shining. I literally felt and saw a shining light from within. I felt certain this is the direction I am going, and this radiance would alter the way I relate to others and also penetrate them. I felt I could love easily and without grasping, and it didn’t matter what happened in the relationship.”


Steps Onward

I began to see and understand, that what we call our personality, is a tiny point of awareness dipped into the sensory experience of the body. Behind that point lies an immensity that in one sense is not at all mysterious. The immensity is there for all of us to see as the existence and workings of our body and consciousness, that we are mostly unaware of.

Also, over the years, I experienced a growing sureness, that we, our sense of having separate existence, our personality, is a tiny part of a huge and powerful under-being; a being that is incredibly creative – after all it is the creative action that brought us into our life and continues to keep our body and mind working – and with wisdom beyond our understanding, but is not an intellectual or word based consciousness.

The next barrier to pass through was dream symbolism. People try to understand their dreams by thinking about them, but dreams arose millions of years ago in creatures without any ability to think; they were creatures who reacted and had only a small behavioural range. We too are living life forms whose dreams arise out of the ancient workings that are how Life has dreamt for a long time. Here is how the Life process deals with this when it is allowed to surface.

 “I was dreaming and woke up in sleep. I was then aware of being in the level of dream images and wondered what was beyond it. Immediately I was in another level in which I could directly observe the subtle energy workings of my body. I saw that I had a slight infection in my lungs, and observed how  it was like  watching fluid moving through a plant. It was a healing action. Then I also observed how the energy between my trunk and head was blocked slightly in my neck. In trying  to understand what the block was I realised it was an attitude I have of being proud or stiff necked. If it were not dealt with I could see it would lead to a serious  illness in my neck.”

In that one short experience a massive amount of information is shown. Firstly there was no dream imagery of a person and body, but there was direct insight that was otherwise unavailable. I had never before realised I was ‘stiff necked’. I had certainly had several neck problems, but had no clue what caused them; and the information that if it were not dealt with I could see it would lead to a serious  illness in my neck was serious. In later explorations I several times saw maggots coming out of my neck and saw that if these were not cleared it could lead to cancer. They were later cleared by using Opening to Life

As can be seen it  is this level of  insight that can radically change one’s life. But there is still more.

 “I became lucid in my dream and realised that I could move deeper. I was already at the level of seeing into the inner workings of the body so asked the question is there anything else. Suddenly I was plunged into bodiless awareness. I had been here many years previous and so I was at ease  with it. In the past I  had seen that this was the apparent nothingness that is the primal level, and out of it everything flowed. But being curious I asked if there was anything beyond this. I was amazed at what happened next. I was at  the same time bodiless, space less and timeless existence, and also here and now in everyday waking  life. I had always thought that the physical existence and the holy of holies, the Core Self, were completely and utterly separated and beyond each other. And here I was experiencing the marriage of such enormous opposites.

It was like Blake described it, “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”

 That is true lucidity.

 Summing Up

• In life and sleep we have two powerful actions working in us. The first is our waking experience based on having a body, its limitations, vulnerabilities and a particular gender.

Our second is the power that gave us life and continues to express as dreams.

• While we sleep our conscious self is largely or totally unconscious, and while we dream our voluntary muscles are paralysed – so another will or motivating force moves our body. So, we have a Conscious Will, and what I will call a Life Will. The first one we have experience of as we can move our arm or speak; but the second will takes over when we sleep.

• This Life Will can move us to speak, to move our body, and in fact do things that we cannot do with our Conscious Will. As Freud pointed out this inner will has full access to our memories. It can do so many other things that are described else where.

This Life Will or motivator has been active for millions of years and we see it working all the time in animals. We are partly split in half because we are often opposed to what our Life Will in us wants. So, the only way to express what is good for us is in dreams when our conscious will is largely passive.

• Life Will created your body and pre-existed you as a person you know today. It was working in you prior to your ability to speak or know in the way you do now. But of course it has fantastic wisdom and skills, as can be seen in animals.  See Life’s Little Secrets 


The experience mentioned at the beginning is:

In 1952, when I was fifteen, and already deeply interested in the possibilities of the human mind, I took a course in deep relaxation. It was a postal course by Willian Ousby titled Self Hypnotism, but it was actually advanced relaxatiion. I practised every day for three months, tensing my muscles, relaxing them, then passing my awareness over and over my body, dropping the feeling of tension. After three months I was quite proficient. One evening, after coming home from dining out with friends, I went to bed thinking I would leave my usual practice, but in the end decided to practice even though it was late. After going over my body several times I suddenly lost my right arm. I had no sensation of it other than space, hugeness. Then I lost my left arm, and – my whole body. It was like falling through a trap-door into the stars. I had no sense of having a body. Thoughts had ceased, except for a murmur apparently a thousand miles away. Yet in blackness, in immensity, in absence of thought I existed vitally as bodiless awareness. We think that we are our body because we have no other experience of our existence. So, we identify with our body and so are terrified of dying – which in a sense is what we do every time we go to sleep and leave our sense of a body behind.

After that day I could for while repeat the experience almost any time I sat down and used the relaxation technique. I felt at the time, and still believe it correct, that I had fallen asleep yet remained awake. Waking, critical awareness, had been taken through the magic doors of sleep into a universe it seldom ever sees – deep dreamless sleep. See Dimensions of Human Experience

I realise that what I describe must seem like a strange and even imaginary world to many people – except that it isn’t – the man taking the drug every day is a fact. But many people do not give three months of their life in everyday practice at the age of 15 to break through the barriers of our physical senses. Looking back I realise that I had dropped every thing – I did nothing and let things happen. At the time I had not really grasped the how and meaning if it. See Criticism –  Answers To

A few more experiences gained in the same way. 

“Suddenly, toward the end of exploring my dream, I leaped beyond anything I had ever experienced before. I knew just as clearly as in ordinary life I know my name, that instead of being someone separated from everybody else living a certain day in time, My real self was a river that flowed through all time. I had always existed and was involved in all history. With an amazing heightened awareness I could see the influence from this timeless self flowing through all my present life, subtly shaping it. The things I had chosen to do or work at were all connected as a working out of ancient or timeless influences, or an attempt to change them.”

“I am in a landscape and notice that everything is brown; the whole world is brown and lifeless. There is also a feeling of solemnity or dullness. I have enough lucidity to wonder why the world of my dream is so brown and dull. As I ask this I become more aware of what feeling the brownness expresses. It is seriousness – with no room for humour or fun. The feeling deepens, real enough and clear enough to look at and understand. I see it is my father’s attitude to life that I have unconsciously inherited. I realise how anxious he always felt about life, and how I took this in. That is how I became a ‘brown’ person. I see too that I do not need to be either brown or serious anymore.

Then the landscape changes. There are trees, plants and animals in brilliant colour. I wonder what this means, and the landscape begins to spin until the colours blend and shimmer. Suddenly my body seems to open to them, as if they are spinning inside of me, and with a most glorious feeling, a sensation of vibrating energy pours up my trunk to my head. With this comes realisation. I see how stupid I have been in my brown, anxious existence, how much life I have held back. The animals and plants are the different forces in my being that blend into energy and awareness. I feel I am capable of doing almost anything, like loving, writing a song, painting, telepathy, or speaking with the dead. This sparkling vibrating energy is life itself and can, if I learn to work with it, grow into any ability or direction I choose. I wake with a wonderful sense of my possibilities.”

“To my amazement a huge living and wondrous circle appeared on the wall. It was full of movement, everything dancing in time to music. At the very centre of the circle was emptiness, nothing, a void. Yet out of this nothingness all things emerged. There were plants, animals, people, hills, rivers and mountains all coming to birth. They danced out in their own individual movement, yet each unknowingly was part of the whole wonderful and intricate dance which made a great pattern and movement in the body of the circle. All danced to the periphery and there turned and moved, still in their ballet, back to the centre. At that centre they plunged into its oblivion again. But at that very moment new life sprang from it to dance once more.”

True this has dream images, but such enormous truth is shown. But the real lucidity is done while fully awake, by penetrating dream symbols, or learning to switch between bodiless, space less and timeless existence, and the here and now everyday waking  life.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved