Dreams of Space

When we dream of space we dream of opportunity, the opportunity to explore, to build in the space, to explore our imagination in creativity. There is so much opportunity in a large space some people might even be frightened of it.  It brings with it the feelings that here, in a large space, one can go beyond the present view of the world one has created. The realisation ones personal experience is not all there is. Perhaps this is why some churches are so huge and encompasses so many differences in size and surrounding – a real feast for ones mind and emotions. I remember once walking into a church in Paris and feeling that it must have been built for giants, the supporting columns were so immensely tall.

But there are spaces and spaces. Some are very small, even impoverished and some give flight to ones fancy. Dreams do all this through their wonderful imaginative use of settings and people. Here is a dream showing the poverty of mind of the dreamer and his eventually transcending it.

“I dreamt I was watching a man who insisted on living in a small stable like room that was foul with his faeces and urine. He wouldn’t go out or clean it and his clothes too were filthy. He wouldn’t be helped by his friends, but blamed his condition on anything and anyone but himself. As I watched though, he came to the point of accepting responsibility for his own condition. He came out, and we then happily asked if we could put his clothes in the washing machine. He started a new life.

When the dreamer explored his dream he saw an attitude I had in which I loved to have problems or shit. I saw that again and again, when talking to people I would describe this shaky condition I was in, the problems I faced, the difficulties I had. For instance, I might say, “It’s OK for someone like you, you’re not so anxious. You didn’t have such a bad start. You have more money. You have more luck on your side, etc, etc.” I just reveled in the shit.

I saw how I used this defence because I was anxious life or people would ask something of me. If I had a nice problem, I could run back and hide in it. It helped me escape the necessity of saying, “What you are asking makes me feel anxious. I’m afraid I might fail. Don’t ask me for love or help, it frightens me.”

Going further still, the coming out of the shit house was very beautiful. It was that I’m okay – Your okay. If I’m not hiding in my shit, I look around and see life going on everywhere. People loving, killing, being born, dying, and I am a part of it all. I see people exploring, feel the excitement, fear, pain, love, that all life feels. It means I am ready to relate more openly, more humanely. I had been afraid to reach out because I felt I was a parasite having no value. Now as an ordinary human being with value, I can meet other ordinary humans with a good feeling, and something to offer. I can look around and see the humour, wonder, tragedy, pain, joy of human existence, and live in it, taking my chances. I felt all this very deeply – experienced it rather than thought it”.

Here is another dream, showing how ever confinement in a small prison cell can be overcome.

“I was in a prison cell with two other men. I felt it was in Spain somewhere. We ate, slept and defecated in the cell. I was standing at the bars of the cell, and had the impression I had been in the prison for years. I was shouting and cursing the people who had put me in the prison, full of hate and self pity.

One day as I stood raging at the bars I suddenly realised that my years of shouting had availed nothing. The only person who was upset by it was me. I was the victim of my own anger and turmoil. It was as if I had been haunted all my life by ghosts of anger and passion. I dropped the attitudes or ‘ghosts’ and was free of them. Years went by and one by one I recognised and dropped other habits of emotion and thought that had trapped and tortured me. I realised I could be totally free within myself.

One morning I woke and sat up on the mattress on the floor that was my bed. The last ghost of inner entrapment fell away. A fountain of joy opened in my body, pouring upwards through me. It was so intense I cried out. My cell mates called a warden because they thought I had gone mad. They stood looking at me as I experienced radiance so strong I felt as if I must be shining. I was aware my joy poured into them, although they thought I was possibly insane. I could sense the enormous change in me influencing them, and I knew it couldn’t help but change them also. I realised that I might never be released from the prison, but it didn’t matter as I had found a fuller release than simply walking the streets. Even though remaining behind prison bars, I would still be touching people’s lives deeply. Nothing would ever be the same again.”

Something I realised deeply some years ago was that our homes deeply influence our moods. I first thought this when witnessing an animal psychologist  change a hamster who bite his keepers to something easy with them and no viciousness. All I needed to produce this change was a house suited to its needs. For instance it has also been revealed that the brains of mice can be profoundly affected by the kind of cages in which they’re kept, raising questions about some of the most fundamental experiments in biological science. This links in so deeply with dreams, and begins to show how our houses and of course our social environment. Iin fact it has been shown That the brain structure of children brought up in deprivation is changed for the worse.

But what is a home that will satisfy our needs and change our aggression to ease? A man who had undergone LSD psychotherapy had this to say:

When I came home that evening and walked through the gate, I noticed things about the garden I had never let myself see before. But then I came to the door, and I knew suddenly that it was me. The door was me, and every scratch on its paint was a part of my life, its state.  Opening the door I went into myself. The door and garden had already shocked me with my lack of attention to outer details. The untidiness and absence of care were no longer hidden by veils. Particularly the track I had worn across a small front lawn because I had used a shortcut instead of walking along the path, had shouted at me about my lack of care. Now inside the house, the same things showed themselves in the state of my house, my inner health. I was humbled by my feelings of love for my wife, but more humbled by how much I owed her. Despite all, she had stayed. The dog jumped up at me, pleased to have me home. The children all had something to ask or tell. The house was untidy, but it was home where they were.

Mark wanted food. I had to watch Neal’s nose while he quivered it and told me it was a motorcar engine. Helen I held close. She said that we were both number one triangle on the fireguard. Having realised that the door was me, and gone inside, I saw that for years I had been so bound up with myself that the whole house reflected my neglect. It was my neglect. Even so, despite that there was my wife, who I had come home for. There were the children. And as I entered I looked at the map of the world I had stuck on the wall. I saw it as the children might see it. That is, not just as a picture, but as colours and a feeling. The light was switched on in the kitchen. It was soft coming into the darkened room I was in. There was a lot I could not be proud of. But the map, and the light in the kitchen, that was home.

There are some uses of space that are full of mystery of even of threat. Like this dream which uses a whole house, but is centered around the attic, a space that many people have feelings of fear around.

When I arrived at the attic I was carrying a small pug nosed dog which I put down. But 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 came 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. It also asked me how I knew about its condition and how I could transform into its own monstrous form. I told it I had once experienced that condition, and that’s how I knew it was possible to come out of it.

Amazing how a space can be so suffused with dark feelings, and yet there is another side to that – you can feel wonder, excitement and longing too. Here is another dream illustrating it.

In the dream I am standing by a door pausing before I walk through it into a room. The room has about it the feeling of the room in the first house I owned. In it we had a room used for nothing else but meditation and study of ‘the inner life’. We called it the sanctum. So I am outside the sanctum. I know that I am going in to meet, or give myself or surrender to God. So as I pause before entering I let the sweet feeling of this surrender fill me. It feels like an opening to a wider life of experience. Suddenly the door opens and an intense wind enveloped me. It gripped me as with an invisible power and pulled me into the room. It felt to me as if the power I was surrendering to – God – wanted me as badly as I wanted to be filled, and had reached out and pulled me into itself. As this happened I cried out in surprise and with some shock, waking myself as I felt gripped by this great power.

Of course the great power was everything that one ever wanted – love, sex, being wanted, being treasured and held in a wondrous power and a relinquishment of all cares. It was all at once feeling. The dreamer later commented on his dream:

What is it that I want? It is sensed as something that I have held back for most of my life. Perhaps we are all holding this thing back. I have held myself back. We live in a culture that is perhaps not as bad as it used to be in my childhood, but there are still so many boundaries, so many things that are not socially or politically correct to express openly.

I am trying to think about what it is that is pushing for expression in me, but it is not a thought thing so I cannot get at it by thinking. It has something to do with longing, with yearning for something. I feel it here at the top of my chest as if there is something I want to cry out about.

In fact I then started to let the sound out of me and began bellowing like stags do in the rutting season. It was something of that primal sound animals make when they simply let their feelings pour out of them in sound. But it was more of a roar than a howl like a wolf or a dog. And this roaring went on for some minutes. I really felt like a wonderful beast crying out and roaring its feelings.

So we use or see our space through the limitations or freedom of our mind and attitudes. A beautiful home can be a place of torture if it is as restrictive as a prison – or a damp cave can be a refuse. Here is a woman’s comments that explain it beautifully.

In the kitchen this feeling developed. I sat on the floor near the fire and began to see things about our house, about Tim and myself. We were a middle-aged couple, somewhat dried up and impoverished. I kept thinking of French working-class people. Maybe I saw a film a long time back. But here we were in this rather drab house, expressive of the sort of demise of warm human feelings. Such things creep into some people’s lives. We were people who had missed out on life somewhere. No, not that, just very ordinary, not too alive or warm human animals. I could see how worn and dog- eared the kitchen was, and wondered if we were gradually slipping into decadence. But slowly I got into the mood I entered last time, of being an animal – human animal – just the same as my primitive forebears, but now confronted by the complexities of modern life, with its subtle and ingeniously devastating values. This business about the house was one of these values. A house was a modified cave. It was so easy to get lost in this jungle of values and forget this. As a (primitive) man I recognise what are the basic needs – food, shelter, and human and physical warmth. A cave without emotional warmth was deadly and even if it fitted the modern “values” was deadening. Love was a food that we all needed to face the outside world with outgoingness and pleasure. Without it there was no flowing radiating charge in us to transform the outer world into a place we could face with courage.

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