Your Guru the Dream – Step Six

We have moved slowly in learning how to look at your dream in two basic ways – themes, and projecting forward. In most cases, using these techniques may allow you to arrive at some insight into how your dream links with your everyday life and concerns. You might even have experienced something of the forces of your inner life similar to feeling currents pulling at you as you tried projecting the dream into greater satisfaction. But a dream is like an iceberg, only a tiny proportion of it is visible above the water. The water surface is, in this case, your conscious awareness. Even if you have looked underneath that surface using these techniques, there is still massive material left unseen, beyond what has been experienced.

However, the analogy of the iceberg is not a good one. The dream is not a separate block of experience. Perhaps the dream is more like a tree. Although when we look at a tree we might feel it is a distinct thing, and can be seen as separate from other growing things, this is an illusion. If you removed the tree from the earth, or from the billions of living bacteria, fungi and fauna of the earth, if you removed it from the sun and the weather, it would not exist. It is in fact not a separate form, but a part of a continuum, of a whole cosmic and planetary process.

Your dream is a web of connections


Similarly, your dream does not exist outside of your own totality as a person – your body processes, the flow of food, air and water through your system, your psychological and physiological makeup, your unconscious dependencies on other humans, your sociological connections, your personal awareness through language, and on and on.

David Bohm, one of the great modern physicists, argues that the way science views causality and connections are much too limited. Most phenomena or events are thought of as having only one or several causes. Bohm felt that a phenomenon could have an infinite number of causes. He gave the example of Abraham Lincoln’s death, with the question of what caused it. The answer might be given that it was the bullet fired from John Wilkes Booth’s gun. But that is only one of the end results. A proper list would include all of the events that led to the development of the gun, all of the factors that caused Booth to want to kill Lincoln, all of the steps in the evolution of the human race that allowed for the development of a hand capable of holding a gun, and so on, and so on. (Paraphrased from The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.)

The depth and wisdom our dreams contain can only be gauged, an understanding only touched on, when we realise how our dream is a manifestation of our integration, our connectivity, with the web of life within our own being and around us. Realising this we might see that to communicate with our dream, to receive insight and experience from it, we need more than rational thinking and analysis. The dream arises from parts of yourself beyond any concepts you have of time and space, of cell division, of physiological, psychological and sociological function. If you do not have the concepts for these things, how can you think about them? How can you analyse them? It is in fact a fallacy to say we can analyse a dream.

So, we need another tool, one that can reach into our depths and portray what is found.

The sense beyond thinking

It seems quite clear that for millions of years the human animal lived without rational thought – which is a very recent thing – and they lived without what we call self-awareness. Julian Jaynes, in his book The Origin of Consciousness, suggests that humans did not have self-awareness until about three thousand years ago. Therefore the actions of our forebears did not arise out of thought, as we know it, or out of self-awareness as we experience it. It came from a feeling response, a directive from the experience of their unconscious which had its own wisdom gathered from countless generations. This feeling or intuitive response was probably manifested in direct impulses to act, or in dreamlike thought processes, or hallucinated/waking dream images. We know the mind integrates separate information by forming it into wholes, into a gestalt, and this was most likely one of the ways they arrived at extraordinary perceptions and creativity. For instance, the Norse legend of how the weaving of flax was taught to humans by a goddess, is almost certainly a description of a waking dream experienced by the person who invented weaving. Unable to reason, but having already noticed the separate pieces of information, such as the flax growing, then rotting to reveal its fibres, the person’s unconscious formed a new gestalt, maybe with the help of seeing woven baskets. So the person, while awake, experienced a vivid ‘dream’ or image thought process, in which the new idea is expressed as a goddess showing point by point how to weave flax.

To enter into communication with our dreams more fully, we need to arouse the sense our forebears used – the feeling sense, the experienced gestalt.

One of the clearest writers on this subject has been Eugene Gendlin in his book Focussing.

Gendlin suggests exercises that are helpful in becoming aware of the felt-sense, or if you are uncertain whether you have feelings or not. People often tell me that they are not sure if what they are observing in themselves is a feeling or a thought, and Gendlin’s approach helps this. He suggests:

  1. When in a time of quiet, think of something or someone you love or think is beautiful. It can be a pet, an object, a person, anything.
  2. Consider why you love what you have chosen, or why it is beautiful.
  3. Notice what different feelings arise in you, how your body feels, when you consider what you have chosen, than when you think of something else. I find it helpful to think of the body as a T.V. screen you are watching. Before you think about your beautiful thing, notice what tensions or peace are on the screen. Take note of any aches and pains, any sense of tiredness or energy, and any attitudes such as boredom, or being pleased, which are there. Don’t try to banish these, just note them. Then bring to mind your chosen object and note what changes take place on the screen of your being.
  4. See if you can find any words that fit what you can observe or feel. Let yourself feel what the words are about, and note whether what is on your screen changes, and what it is expressing. Then shift to thinking about something that is not beautiful and notice any change. Rudolph Steiner suggests doing this with something that is living, such as flower – then something that is dead, such as a piece of dead wood.

Try the above exercise a few times to see if you can note the differences in feelings and body situation.

There’s More

A series of exercises that help to define this important feeling sense, is an extension of considering oneself as a screen. With some space around you, and loose clothing, stand and relax unnecessary tension. Take note of what is then happening on your ‘screen’. Simply note, do not alter. Then think of a word such as ashamed. Hold the word in mind and note what changes occur on the ‘screen’, and what changes in body posture. Give this some minutes, then change the word to unashamed and note the difference. Try this with different words such as depressed/happy, failure/success, etc.

Most people, but not everyone, can find an easily noticeable change with the different words. Even the body posture alters. And the exercise not only helps us to note the different feeling qualities we have with each word, but also demonstrates how just holding a thought can alter our whole body and feeling situation.

Can you say it?

It is important to express what you experience in these experiments. I believe a good test of integration is that what you describe is understandable not only to yourself, but also to any casual listener. For some people the word and the feeling are very much connected.

Something that is very important is that when you look at your ‘screen’ and note what is happening, some parts of what are being experienced will be clear and easily put into words. But there will often be an area of what you notice that is not yet clear, not yet capable of being expressed. You are looking into a place in yourself that is beyond words. If you continue to observe it however, it begins to open up, to grow, as it were, to emerge from the darkness into awareness, and gradually becomes clear enough to join with words. That is the most important area. In watching it you are looking into what is unconscious. When it ‘opens’ the unconscious emerges into consciousness where it can be verbalised. Your observation of the place beyond words allows a communication between your deep unconscious and your conscious sense of yourself. If these exercises in contacting the feeling sense are used, you will have a wonderful tool with which to explore your dreams.

See Your Guru the Dream – Step Seven

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