The Magical Dream Machine
We all dream every night, so we each have what could be called a Magical Dream Machine.
To gain a feeling of this, imagine yourself entering one of those game machine areas where youngsters can ride a motorbike, or ski down a slope. But instead of a simulation of a car, you discover a large machine that you can climb into and become completely enclosed. When you close the door, contacts link onto your body and head in the complete darkness. It is quiet as all the external sounds disappear, and you relax your hold on your body and senses. Your whole experience of yourself shifts as the external world melts away, along with your awareness of your body.
That is sleep.
But now – in the darkness a light glimmers. Gradually it takes shape. The shape of a person is suggested. In the time that follows he or she evolves form, moves, and you have full sensory experience. You are totally involved, with all your emotions and sexuality responding. Changes occur and you love, fight, fear, murder or bring to life again the person, who can become an animal, a devil, God or a bodiless voice lost in a sombre countryside. Your experiences are totally real, and you move through heaven and hell, despair and joy, darkness and light. Scenes from your past can be revisited – or totally new experiences can be felt so clearly, you are enriched.
That is a dream. There is nobody there except you, your imagination and your fears, your hopes and even, at times, wisdom. When my children were young at one period, all three of them were sleeping in the same bedroom. One night my eldest son started telling scary stories to frighten the younger ones. But the two younger ones fell asleep but the eldest son couldn’t sleep because he had frightened himself with the stories. Like my son, you can tell yourself scary stories and frightened yourself.
Seeing Is Not Believing
If you had been in such a machine, and on coming out of the total involvement of these moving experiences, you were told you had created it all yourself – that on the black screen you had, out of your fears, habits, secret longings and passion; out of your immense store of memories; with your unbelievable range of feelings and creativity – you had given form to urges and processes in your body and made this rich world of experience, what would you feel? Would you disclaim responsibility? Would you consider it meaningless? Would you realise what amazing creativity and potential you have?
In your dreams you create such a world and such experiences. But perhaps you have not taken time to consider the wonder of your creative process in dreams. Every night you create a new drama. You conjure out of your own being the people, the creatures, the surroundings of your dream. Then you give life to what you create not only life but purpose and drama. You are a supreme dramatist, playwright, actor and actress. You are the great Creator in your dreams. Considering this, have you ever wondered why that enormous creativity does not flow into your waking life? You can see that some people have that creativity and are enriched by it personally and financially. Why not you?
The REAL World
In considering how you reply to this, remember a few well-known facts about how you encounter the so-called ‘real’ world of waking life. Firstly, when you look at an object such as an orange or apple, remember that although you have the sense of seeing what colour and texture the fruit has, in fact all you are seeing is reflected light. You never see the actual colour of the object.
Also, as far as texture is concerned, this is a mystery to you. Texture depends entirely on what you approach the fruit with. If it is an electron microscope, then the texture is one of shifting swirling atoms and subatomic particles. If you were tiny the apple would have a very different appearance than it does to you at your present size. Also, remember that you never actually know what the apple feels like or looks like directly. Your eye takes in streams of light that are translated into nerve impulses transmitted along the optic nerve. In the brain these nerve impulses are again translated into an image that enables you to have some relationship with an apparently external world. In the same way the nerve endings on your fingers transmit signals that are translated into sensation.
Similarly the television picture you watch on a screen is translated from signals the TV set is sensitive to and changes into pictures, colour and sound. The signals are not in themselves images, colour or sound. So, like the TV, the world you feel so sure you are seeing and experiencing, is one your brain has created in order to enable you to deal with survival. Even so it is a translation of ‘the world’ that has been shaped by evolution and its limited needs. You only respond to very narrow wavebands of light and sound for instance. So you do not know much of what is actually going on in the world anyway. Your eye, as a lens produces an upside down image of your surroundings, and this is ‘corrected’ to help you move around more easily.
Considering that you only experience a virtual reality of the external world created by your brain – and that is itself limited to a tiny fraction of what is actually surrounding you – you cannot take seriously your perceptions of the world or people. There are so many radiations, energies, and depth upon depth of texture in the cosmos and objects around us, that in effect we are blind and deaf.
You Are the Creator
So it is true to say that you live in a world, in conceptions of yourself and your surroundings, that are a self-created virtual reality. You could just as correctly be asked the question of whether you accept that you create all you experience in regard to the objective world, as you could of the magical dream machine.
However, we are discussing dreams, but remember that what is said could equally as well refer to your waking life.
So, your dreams are a magical place in that you have the ability in them to create a totally real world. Do you discount them? Do you see that you create your own world of experience in them? If you do, have you wondered why you may have a propensity for creating what you do? Or why, with such creative potential, you might still lack self-confidence? Just as you create your surroundings in dreams, you also create the psychological and sensory world you live in. Understanding your dreams can help you to clarify why you at times create what does not satisfy you, and how to generate a whole new world of experience. You can take charge of your creativity and ride with it instead of being at its mercy. Such power, after all, can as easily produce misery and ill health as pleasure and ability – unless you learn to direct it. Such creativity can lead you into hell, or create a heaven.
Amazing Storehouse of the Mind
Although you constantly use the huge storehouse of memory and developed skills in your everyday life, you may usually fail to recognise what you are doing, and what a miracle it is. As an example, you now hold in store millions of bits of information. By asking you a simple question such as ‘What is your present home address?’ I can call to conscious awareness a minute part of the information lying unconscious. If I were to present you with a bicycle, or you were dropped in deep water, the skill of cycling or swimming could also emerge from latency if you had previously learned those skills.
Apart from these aspects of your immense storage of information, there is also the possibility that by the right series of questions or experience, you could arrive at a creative synthesis of information already held. In other words something not previously held in memory could arise by putting together old ideas or experiences. With the right stimulus, in the same way you could bring to expression potential within you that is at the moment lying dormant.
While we dream we have a fuller access to the storehouse of our experience. If we learn to use the dream process we can more capably use the riches of what usually lies unconscious like treasures at the bottom of the ocean. There is a natural process of putting together the separate pieces of your experience into creative new combinations. All of this can be accessed by exploring the treasures held in your dreams and the dream process.
Because of the many nature films shown on television we are now used to the idea of mature and intelligent adults spending days or years watching the behaviour of animals such as hyenas or chimpanzees. In her book In The Shadow of Man, Jane Von Lawick Goodall explains how, by watching chimpanzees and taking note of her observations, radical new insight into the behaviour of chimpanzees arose. She didn’t think beforehand what she expected to find, but simply observed and put together the information that arose. For instance on several occasions she saw the chimpanzees kill another animal and eat its flesh. The knowledge that chimpanzees were meat eaters was entirely new.
In a similar way, by observing dreams and laying bare the emotions and associated ideas and memories you have with your dream imagery, you gradually define who and what you are, your strengths and weaknesses, in a depth you had never managed previously. I have called this ‘mind watching’, but it covers every aspect of human nature, not simply the intellect or thinking.
This mind watching through observation of your dreams first presents information about your personal experiences and memories and how they influenced your growth and influence present responses. Gradually the information arising from such watching leads beyond your present boundaries of self. It shows in many cases how your unique self has arisen from, and has indissoluble links with your forebears, with your culture, with the past as a whole, and with the cosmos itself. It leads from yourself to the edge of the known, and perhaps helps you take a few steps beyond that edge into the unknown, to create new understanding, and enter new dimensions of experience.
Remember that you are probably one of the millions of humans suffering amnesia. If you doubt this ask yourself why you do not remember your childhood. No doubt you have also forgotten your life as a baby. You fail to remember your life in the womb. Perhaps, more importantly, you have also forgotten your link with the rest of the cosmos. In fact you are an amnesiac, and by ‘dream watching’ your memory can gradually be restored. It takes time and perseverance, but gradually the time line of your existence will be filled with detail.
This mind watching also gradually reveals to you the many aspects of your mind’s working, and with such insight may come the growing ability to use these facets of yourself. Not only may you discover great vistas of personal memory, but also the roots of your creativity, the subtle senses of your emotions and unconscious, and the treasures of experience you have gathered.
The Path To Take
There are many methods you can use to discover the enormous content within your dreams. For instance look at the following features and explore them to discover what works best for you:
A method that can be used with great benefit if you are a person who meditates, is as follows:
The meditation method of dream understanding rests on the function of memory. What was said above about this is important to understand if you are using this method. The aim is to hold the dream in mind, and at the same time hold the question of what are the activities, passions, memories or pains in you that have formed the dream?
You hold this question in the same way that you hold any question such as the one asked above about your address. Do not strive, and do not struggle to arrive at an answer. Simply sit and WATCH the dark space of your mind and feelings. Take note of whatever memories, feelings and fantasies arise.
It helps to think of your being as a keyboard that your unconscious knowledge and intuitions can play upon. Holding your self stiffly, in mind or body blocks this mobility. See the passage on using the body in dream work for further information.
This may not be a quick method. So be patient, even when nothing seems to be happening. The mind is a wonderfully responsive thing, and will attempt to present what you are seeking. But at first perhaps only stray memories or feelings will arise. Also, the insight might require you to feel something deeply, so be ready for that and let it happen if you can.
Over a period of days gradually more and more will arise, and it is worth the time spent in the exploration. But do not be content with airy-fairy insight. Do not make the dream a platitude or a clich. Dreams are powerful expressions of your down to earth, here and now self. You will know if you have arrived at insight because it will be deeply moving and clarify areas of your life that were previously obscure.
It is important to consider what you have received and weigh it against practical observation. See if there is something you can learn from it and apply. Test it wherever practical. Do not be afraid to doubt it and try it against the world. If you are not accessing the best in yourself you need to know it. This avoids the trap of wanting your intuitions about your dream to be true at any cost. The intuitions arising from the meditation method are a valid way of gaining information, just as your senses are, or your ability to read. But your senses and your ability to read can also be ways in which false information is taken in. So your discrimination is needed when using your intuition, as it is in everyday life. The more you use it the more sharp your faculty will become. But discrimination must not act as a source of doubt that blocks your ability to receive spontaneous information.
The Hidden Buttons in the Machine
One of the things we take for granted in our experience of the world is that there are many possibilities hidden in nature that nature itself does not express. For instance lightning is one of the few ways nature expresses electricity. But as a species we have learned there are many other possibilities for the use of electricity. By directing it in various ways we can produce heat, light, sound, power to move things, and pictures as we see on the television or in the cinema.
This applies also to your own body and personality. The example we can use here is the drive towards sex. This has developed in us through millions of years of evolution in the process of reproduction. This gradual development has formed organs and traits, such as courting behaviour, that lead directly toward an attempt to plant the seeds or receive the seeds to reproduce.
In our own culture we largely accept this except where there is psychological trauma that may prevent a normal expression of sexual drive. We have the unconscious concept that there is no other possibility. This is rather like looking at lightning and saying, “Well, that’s how nature does it, and that is the only possible way it can be experienced.” But some other cultures have looked on the sexual drive in a similar way that we have looked upon electricity. They have explored its possibilities.
To explain what they found, and its relevance to what is being said about your personal potential, we need to remember that in nature the electricity in the lightning simply earths itself. All that tremendous energy flows into the earth. What we have learned to do is to put something in between the flow, such as an electric fire or a television set. In this way the flow back to earth produces many different phenomena. New potentials of the electricity are manifest.
Although this is an analogy, we could say the same thing about human sexuality. The discharge of feelings and body fluids in sexual orgasm and ejaculation are like the flowing back to earth. Nature does its thing and the energy is gone. In most human sexuality today there is not even the possibility of reproduction. What other cultures have developed is the concept of this as energy. They say that this energy is potentially many other things than physical reproduction. So they divert the energy into the body toward the brain, rather than out of the body to be earthed. The results of this when successful are extended functions of the brain and senses.
The techniques and teachings lying behind yoga are fundamentally about recognising the potentials lying dormant in you and learning to use them. The eastern cultures, far more than is true in the West, have developed techniques to extend possibilities of human life.
Bringing this back to the “Magical Dream Machine”, once we recognise the enormous creative potential we have, and that we can see active in our dreams, we can begin to realise we are only at the foothills of the possibilities open to us. For a start, millions of tonnes of drugs are taken each year to deal with depression. Yet here we each are, capable of creating a full surround virtual reality, with extraordinary people and creatures, but we are still victims of our own feelings and fears. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t that a tragedy?
Take the journey! Learn how your magical dream machine works. Find out which buttons you unconsciously press to create heaven and which buttons you press to create hell! Create your own music. Create your own life!