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Active Passive

We are in a passive role when we are an inactive observer in our dream, are all the time on the receiving end of dream action, or as in the example below, make no effort to move from discomfort. If this occurs frequently in our dreams, we are probably passive in our waking life also.

Example: ‘I was in a house that I lived in many years ago, how I got there I do not know, but I saw myself sitting in an ordinary chair just behind the closed front street door. It was very quiet, and I was afraid, but I did not make any effort to move.’ Ms J.

This habitual passivity can gradually be changed by such techniques as active imagination. It is our own emotions, fears and sexuality we are meeting in our dreams, so it is wise to take charge of ones inner feelings rather than be a victim. The following dream illustrates an active dreamer. See: Secrets of Power Dreaming – Active Imagination – processing dreams.

Example: ‘As I walked toward a house a number of demons or devils came at me menacingly, trying to stop me getting near the house. Although they made all the ghostly noises I wasn’t at all afraid of them. I felt they were a damned nuisance, and to show them I meant business I grabbed one and with my right hand I gripped its flesh and squeezed. It started to squeak in pain and I squeezed harder.’ Clive J.

Example: I am on holiday, standing outside the hotel, at which I am staying. The day is lovely, warm and sunny. Across the road and to the right there is an old white house with a low, stone bridge leading away from it into the country. I turn, enter the hotel, but when I get to my room find my luggage has been removed and the room occupied by strangers who seem completely unaware of the situation and of me. I then go to the dining room which is full of people eating, enjoying themselves – I know no one and am left standing in the doorway, watching.

I the last example the woman is so passive in her response to other people taking over her room. Because a dream offers so many possibilities the woman could easily throw the people out or acted in a more aggressive manner.

Remember that dreams are like a computer game in which you can kill or be killed – feel it all – and come out of it unhurt unless you are still frightened. Fear is a great creator of awful dreams and you need to fight back.

In the ancient view of dreams recorded in the Atharva Veda, being active, or even actively aggressive, was seen as a positive sign, even if one was injured or mutilated as a result of ones active stance. Whereas if the dreamer passively accepted injury in a dream this was seen as a negative implication. This was because it was felt that the active or passive stance within the dreams indicated a similar disposition during waking life. As the active person is generally more successful, the dream sign of an active disposition was seen as fortunate.

We are psychically always on one side or the other—tiger or fawn, destroyer or destroyed, taker or giver, object or subject, active or passive, creator or created. Here is the dichotomy of our fall from the greater self of primitive psyche into the forms of reality, the division of self and other. All our lives we try to achieve a balance of these contradictory opposites, and whether in our egos we succeed or fail, every function claimed by the ego is balanced by its opposite in the subconscious. Only in the fusion of infancy, or of sexual orgasm, or in religious ecstasy do we escape the psychic wound of division. See Secrets of Power Dreaming and Avoid Being Victims

There is another side to this disposition of action or passivity though, where passivity has a positive connotation. So this must not be forgotten in regard to dreams and dream work, or in fact in connection with everyday life. This aspect of passive/active is described well by P. W. Martin in his book Experiment In Depth (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1964). In talking about working with active imagination he says, ‘One must be actively passive – active in giving over the energy, passive in observing. The outstanding characteristic of the true vision is its complete autonomy.’ This is a very important issue, as without the ability to control ones reaction to ones inner life, much of it will remain unavailable. If one is stuck in being constantly controlling ones thoughts and emotions, in being a sort of powerful ‘in charge’ sort of person, then ones spontaneous inner life may never be able to emerge. Thus an ability to become passive is essential. But Martin calls it passive-active because it is a consciously decided passivity rather than an unconscious habit.

This holds true even while one is asleep and dreaming. I learned this lesson while hunting as a young man. For hours I had walked through woodland looking for a quarry but without sign of a single creature. Tiring I stood against a tree eating a sandwich. Slowly and magically the forest came to life around me, creatures walking and flying nearby unafraid while I remained quiet.

This powerful control of ones own activity in an open and receptive state is the key to the doorway of the living ‘creatures’ and personalities of our dreams – to the unfolding of innate qualities that would not otherwise be able to break through the threshold of consciousness and become known. Without being able to become passive in the sense of not interfering, the spontaneous emergence of unconscious vision and content cannot occur. The examples given in active imagination and dreams shown how this is used in actually meeting unconscious content.

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-Syed Waqar 2012-05-11 21:23:11

active and passive

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