Culture of the Dream

Reading the book The Second Self – Sherry Turkle – in which she talks about the influence computers have on culture, raises the idea for me of what effect do dreams have on our cultural values. I mean what effect does deeply involving oneself in the experience of dream exploration and the phenomenon apparent in dreams have upon those who meet them in this way. Just as the computer raises questions regarding how mind works, whether an electronic instrument such as a computer can ever become self-aware, and what is free will – i.e. are we all programmed? So the involvement in dreams raises certain question, some of them similar. What is mind? What is awareness? What is human potential? how do we find/express our potential.

Some of these questions are easy to answer from the evidence of people’s dreams. For instanve what is awareness and mind. It seems that fundamentally we are an underlying formless awareness that can take on any shape, and any gender, but we identify with our body as the example spells out.

Example: 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.

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. I realised that as we enter sleep all our sense are switched off and we are fundamentally bodiless awareness. The experience gave me first hand experience that there are dimensions of the mind, of consciousness, most of us do not even believe in.

But at a much more recognisable level of experience we can see that it is obvious as you watch not only your own dreams, but other also people’s, that that we take into their sleep and dreams all the fears, terrors, sexual questions and longings, as well as all their speculations and beliefs. The huge bear, tiger or frightening person they are terrified of is actually fears either inherited or are frightening experiences from the past. They are purely mental things that you haven’t faced, and are therefore the victims of – victims of your own fears.

Obviously that only applies to those dreams that are frightening, to the people whose sleep is disturbed by thoughts and fears and so can never sleep well. The number is of these is enormous. So the images and fears we experience in our dreams are projection upon the vast screen of our mind. They are all projections from you. Running from them is like trying to escape from yourself. But such dreams are like a computer game with full surround virtual reality. In such games you can be killed a thousand times and yet you survive to deal with the monsters again. That is unless you learn a way through and go on through the levels. But unlike those games there is a wonderful intelligence behind the dreams we have, and if you listen and learn from it you will find a real mastership – not a false one of deny any fear or repressing anything that threatens you.

The influence that dreams have is normally minimal unless you actually explore them – but even then the process of dream underly your well being. Dreams are an expression of a life process that all the time works toward reconciling the difference between the waking self and the dream self. It is called self regulation or homeostasis. It is accepted as a fact in physical science but not so well recognised by those studying the mind.

One of these is a known fact that during dreams our voluntary muscles are paralysed. Yet movements occur. During REM sleep while we are dreaming our voluntary muscles are paralyzed – except for our eyes. It is thought this was developed during a period when our forebears were sleeping in trees. Any movement would have made them fall. The eye movements were of course not dangerous.

An important fact about dreaming is that all the signals for all the dreamt of movements are sent by the sleeping brain to the muscles but are blocked by a part of the brain called the pons. Without that block we would move and act as in a dream.

And here is an important fact that has been pushed away from being recognised. But the block by the pons can be bypassed by having a passive attitude while awake. In a sense we need to maintain the surrendered state necessary for sleep to persist while awake. This allows for a little recognised phenomenon which, while awake and in a passive state, allows the dream process to break through as spontaneous movement, sound and emotion, exactly as with dreams. I call it the waking lucid dream. See Waking Lucid Dream

In the past, and still in the present, this spontaneous movements and speech are all things that happen when this dream process breaks through into consciousness. Things like Seitai, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Shaktipat, Pentecostalism, and Reichian therapy, where spontaneous

This form of movement is practiced by thousands of people.

But when this spontaneous movement breaks through to consciousness many people are frightened of it and rush to the doctor to sedate it. So it is vitally important to understand this action

If we fail to understand that the dream action can produce spontaneous movement which do not arise from our conscious will we will totally miss understanding some dreamsor even our own life. We will be terrified something, an alien force or another being has taken control of us.

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 sleep our voluntary muscles are paralysed – therefore 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 in everyday activities; but the second will takes over when we sleep. See Sleep Paralysis

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 – See ESP in DreamsEdgar Cayce and the Cosmic Mind.

For simplicity I have called this experience, of what is actually waking lucid dreaming, ‘LifeStream’. It would take us too far out of looking at this subject to explore it, but it can be studied within these features: LifeStreamPeople’s Experience of LifeStream – Life’s Little Secrets – Arm Circling Meditation

The culture of dream results in a search for oneself. I can result it the often extraordinary efforts people make to grow beyond the pain of childhood or adult trauma; the quest for knowledge when one truly tries to understand rather than simply remember facts; the artists attempts to go beyond themselves in creative acts; the spiritual quest for the imperishable – are all aspects of this search for self.

In a sense, every dream is a part of this huge journey which is our life. Each dream is a facet of what is met in experiencing – meeting – our own existence. There are definitely highlights in our many dreams – times of critical and arduous difficulties, such as we find in the great quests such as Jason and The Golden Fleece, and the Odyssey. The journey is one we are all on, and our dreams are but ways of depicting aspects of what we meet, the enormity of the ordinary, the hidden depths of a problem we encounter, the wonder of possibilities awaiting discovery, the way into the trackless realm beyond collective norms. The journey is from dependence toward independence, from being a part of collective humanity to the actualisation of our own unique identity. This journey to oneself is, paradoxically, also the journey to the universal, to Life.

Only by making the journey can we find our own wholeness and our own place in life with any awareness.

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