Although there are a few beliefs or behaviours that are endorsed by cultures in all parts of the world – such as the taboo against incest and certain forms of murder – there are no beliefs which we can call essentially human. Our dreams tend to reflect the cultural and personal beliefs we have accepted from our upbringing, or that we have discovered for ourselves. One must therefore be careful of looking to dreams for endorsement of our personal beliefs.

However, what is important to understand, is that our dreams can graphically illustrate our beliefs and what influence they have upon our decision making, responses and relationships. The importance lies in the fact that many of our beliefs are unconscious. They were absorbed in childhood and often remain without any conscious evaluation. Dreams also tend to explore where such beliefs lead us, and what the outcome of holding them may be in certain circumstances. For instance see the first example under people. In such dreams we may be defining personal beliefs rather than culturally held ones.

Another aspect is that occasionally a dream occurs that directly questions our beliefs, or even gives us experience of a completely different belief system or paradigm. See: the first example under religion and dreams. If we remember that dreams might be a sort of virtual reality we create ourselves, formed out of unconscious fears, hopes, intuitions, attitudes, beliefs, and the mass of our experience, then it seems likely that in this virtual world there are boundaries to the landscape, people and things we create. Not only do we spend time within the graphically projected beliefs, formed as they are into events and situations, but we might also at times venture beyond the creation of our own imagery into discovery of fresh worlds. In doing this we may realise that there are no boundaries except what we create. Please see Archetype of the paradigm, as it takes the insights into beliefs into a new dimension.

In dreams, our sense of self – our ego, our personality or identity – is depicted by our own body, or sometimes simply by the sense of our own existence as an observer. In most dreams our ‘I’ goes through a series of experiences just as we do in waking life, seeing things through our physical eyes, touching with our hands, and so on. But occasionally we watch our own body and other people as if from a detached point of bodiless awareness. If we accept that dreams portray in images our conception of self, then dreams suggest that our identity largely depends upon having a body, its gender, health, quality, skin colour, the social position we are born into, and our relationship with others. In fact we know that if a person loses their legs, becomes paralysed, loses childbearing ability, becomes blind or is made redundant, they face an identity crisis. Yet despite all of that they still exist as a person, and if we realise that early we can avoid all the pain and distress caused by a complete identification with our body.

But the bodiless experience of self shows the human possibility of sensing self as having separate existence from the biological processes, from one’s body, one’s state of health, and social standing. In its most naked form, the ‘I’ may be simply a sense of its own existence, without body awareness.

This is very noticeable in dreams where the dreamer does not identify with his human body but an animal or something else.

Example:  I’m always having dreams of me running free in a field on all fours but in my dream I was an all black wolf. Also in one of my dreams I was running on all fours chasing something and I was chasing some thing and killing it with my pack, but other times I just be running on all fours in the woods or a field when its dark and misty.

For instance what is the real person in these dreams? Is it the body that everyone is so fixated on?

Example: Had a very unusual dream last night. I was in an outdoor environment. It seemed a bit dark, or maybe morbid is the right word. I was with other people but none of them stood out to remain in memory. There was a definite awareness though of being near to a place that was haunted, and that a man was in trouble in the haunted place.

I decided to go and see if I could sort out the problem. I walked down a slope to where the centre of the haunting existed. It was an open space with an old double-decker bus in it. The only person on the bus was a middle-aged man who was sitting on the top deck leaning out of a window on the right hand side of the bus. I stood beneath him and looked up. He was staring in a glazed way and didn’t see me. I could see and feel that he was being hit by fantasies or hallucinations by whatever was the source of the haunting. This invasion of his mind was grabbing his attention so fully that he wasn’t aware of his surrounding or of me. I was sure that if he went any deeper into this mind stuff he wouldn’t be able to pull out. I waved my hand in his line of vision and banged my hand on the bus to make a noise and get his attention. At first it didn’t seem as if I would bring him out of it, but after a while he looked at me.

I shouted at him to pull out. I said that he had a wife and some more years of his life to live, so why lose himself into this Buddhist type of loss of personality. This didn’t seem to grab him so I shouted again and said that he would eventually slip into this empty mind world anyway – at death – so why not live with his wife the remaining years of his life. I was sure that if he lost awareness he would let himself starve.

I was aware that what he desired was to slip away into the void, into the awareness of the one life in which he lost any awareness of self. But I banged and shouted and he became more ‘present’. I then felt I had to confront whatever was the source of the powerful ‘haunting’ that was pulling him into the inner mind. I turned away from the man and saw just to my right a short distance from the bus an animal that was the ‘haunter’. It was a mammal of no particular type – a bit like a mixture of dog, rat and guinea pig. It seemed very ordinary and tame, and stood looking at me. I walked toward it and stretched out my hand. It was a tan colour with short fur and gave a feeling of being okay to approach, so I touched it to stroke. This was okay and I was thinking there was no problem when the creature leapt at my throat in a flash of movement and ripped my throat out.

This sounds disturbing but I simply observed this and thought to myself that stroking and trying to be friendly was no way of dealing with this thing. It was as if I was in command of the imagery in that I simply formed another body, we usually feel our body is US and are terrified of it being damaged, but in our dreams it is just an image we form and can recreate. In fact apart from the gory imagery, there was nothing to be frightened of, as the creature was only attacking my dream image of myself. As I wasn’t identified with this, it couldn’t hurt me. That was the end of the dream.

Example: Then in the dream the scene changed and I was walking up the several flights of stairs to get to the attic room. I was holding a small dog in my arms – one of those rather flat nosed toy dogs.

When I arrived at the attic I put the dog down. But now the attic was empty and dark. I could feel my hair stand on end and my skin ‘crawling’. Actually I feel it all again as I write this. The feeling arose because there was an unformed dark shape creeping around at the far end of the room. The dog was really afraid and leapt into my arms.

Then the dark creature leapt at me, transforming into a massive mouth with huge fangs and awful demonic face. Immediately I leapt at it in the same way and smashed against its face with my own huge fangs. This utterly disarmed it because it had felt, in its primitive way, to terrify me. It surprised me too that I could so immediately transform into a monster when necessary.

Then I approached the dark form, back in its original condition, trying to find out what it was and why I had met it in that way. Gradually I experienced its situation. It had originally been a human being, but had gradually lost its humanness and become this slinking darkness. I was slowly able to help it realise that it could once more take the path to become human if it wanted to. Then it asked me how that could be done. I told it that first of all it had to come out of this dark and empty place to mix with people. The human environment created a different surrounding and influence that would penetrate it and help it to change.

Dreams such as those illustrate the possibilities of us human beings. It shows first of all that we need not be frightened of all the strange creatures that haunt many people’s dreams. They are simply images created by us to reveal things to us. They have not more power the hurt us that an image of a monster on a cinema screen. Unless of course we terrify ourselves by believing in it. See Dreams are Like a Computer Game

We cannot die or be hurt in dreams either. What we do is to take real fears about the external world and take them into us and believe they are real and can hurt us. There is an old wives tale that if you fall from a great height in a dream and hit the ground it will kill you. I know that is not true because I have fallen and hit the ground and I got up none the worse. Other people have also sent me dreams of falling and they were not harmed.

But some dreams of our body can be useful. On occasion they show us what is going on inside us and what they need to stay well. Early warning dreams forecast conditions that may develop, often years before physical symptoms appear n and often counsel on prevention and alternative approaches. When we do become ill, dreams give us fresh and powerful imagery for healing and recovery. Because the body does not appear to distinguish between a physical event and a mental or emotional event that carries real energy, these images can help us reshape the physical blueprint. Some leading-edge research suggests that in this way we may even be able to change the cellular memory of the body. Above all, dreaming puts us in touch with the hidden sources of illness and wellness, and opens paths to recovering soul. See Secrets of Power Dreaming

Some people are sure they have an ‘astral body’ as real in its own way as our physical body. Again I say that is not true because of personal experience. The truth is that dreams can produce any scene or drama, and it is all a virtual reality. See OBE.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What belief is shown in my dream, and what is the dream commenting about it?

Is this a belief I accept without re-evaluation?

Would it be difficult for me to question this belief?

What beliefs do I live by and control my actions?

If I imagine world which is my beliefs, and then imagine myself gong beyond it, what do I experience?

It might be useful to read Dream Yoga and What I Need to Remember.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved