Category: Dreams

dreaming – awakening

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens. 

– Carl Jung –

This quote is at the beginning of a book “Deepak Chopra, Leonard Mlodinow: Is God an Illusion? The Great Debate Between Science and Spirituality”. Mlodinow is a physician and I doubt Chopra needs any introduction.

It is true that the inner world is of immense value. It is here that soul-making occurs. Our own dreams point the way.

I look back over this year to when I started my own garden of eden blog and I am deeply grateful to all of you who have read the blog and to the many of you who have left comments.

Many of the comments have been quite elaborate and I really feel that have learned much from them! Thank you!

I know that in a previous blog on dreams I have used these quotes before, but I am using them again as they are worthwhile repeating.

Talmud: An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter –

Socrates (in Plato’s Phaedro): An unexamined life is not worth living –

Thank you for being with me on this journey! I wish you and your families all the very best for 2013 – health, joy, dreaming, awakening.

– a dream and a meditation –

Many years ago I woke in the middle of the night from a dream. For me it was very powerful and I knew, just knew, that I would remember it. How could I forget it – it was very vivid and very mystical. I went back to sleep.

In the morning, it was gone. I tried as hard as possible to recall it, but could not. I was so mad. A missed opportunity, this I knew. I was very upset.

Some days later I was driving out of town somewhere admiring the scenery. Music was playing on the radio. All of a sudden I remembered my dream and stopped the car and wrote it down immediately on the only piece of paper to hand in which some food had been wrapped. This is the dream:

I am in a large underground cave, lit by candles. I don’t know what I’m doing there. There is a large wooden table with benches surrounding it. The atmosphere is calm and friendly. There is some sense of anticipation. Annie suddenly appears in the cave, We are both wearing robes. She is tall, very fair, very beautiful. She approaches me – we greet each other. I give her a beautiful sparkling Faberge-like egg, which she accepts, and then she leaves’.

I had often thought and wondered about this dream over the years. I know Annie in real-life, not very well although she is part of my larger social circle. She had never appeared before in a dream. I had no reason to be dreaming of her. I had not seen her in a very long while. She also happens to be a Gemini as I am and I used to wonder about this ‘twin’ – tall and fair as I am not. It worried me over the years, my giving away a valuable jewelled egg. I was aware of the symbolism of the egg – it speaks for itself. What part of me – a part that I perhaps did not value sufficiently – was I giving away to this other person in such a strange place, clothed in robes as we were? Was I giving it away to the ‘other’ in me for safekeeping, until I was ready to take it on? I really had no clue but it bothered me in a real  and disturbing way –

Now, many years later, a few years back, I was at my usual monthly art class at Monika’s home. Margaret, a member of our group, led us in meditation before the class began. While our eyes were closed, she painted a mental picture for us leading us through the various chakras from the bottom to the top. The others and I had, while in meditation, visited a sparkling lake, a forest, a field of flowers, some rocks, crossed a few bridges – all rather pleasing nature scenes. Then I came to a building, into which I entered by the front door. Then I approached another door. I opened the door, and entered the room. To my absolute amazement, there was Annie. She was holding the same Faberge-like egg in her hands that I had given her in my dream in the cave many years back. She gave it back to me.

I was stunned. We came out of our meditation soon after and I was left with a feeling of ‘completion’ in some way .. of something coming together, of my taking back for myself that which I had given away.


– the home of the dream – the unconscious –

 

This image above brings a few thoughts to mind – ‘as above so below’ – as in the reflection of the trunks of the trees and their branches and leaves in the stream. Perhaps the water is still for the moment and a little bit clogged from the fallen leaves. I am not sure if the water is stagnant or flowing, fresh or stale, spring or salt water. Have the trees been stripped of their leaves because of a storm? I am not sure how deep the water is. It is restful in its way. I like pondering on it. Sunlight is filtering through – and perhaps I can discern a ripple or two.

So it is with dreams –

It has happened to me a few times e.g. that as I was about to introduce two people to each other who I knew reasonably well, the name of one (or both) escaped me at that precise moment of introduction, even though I may been chatting to them previously and separately.

What happened here? I know what happened – that I knew their names but at that moment their names slipped into the unconscious. Or a thought that I had that was important to me in some way, cannot be recalled by me no matter how hard I try to access it. It is there somewhere in my unconscious and all I have to do is to retrieve it. I know it’s there.

I like what Marie Louise von Franz says about the unconscious.

The unconscious is all that which we know is psychically real but is not conscious. It’s a borderline concept, a negative concept. We use the negative concept in order not to have a prejudice.

‘…We prefer the word unconscious because it says nothing. It says only that it is not conscious, and this leaves it as a mystery. We don’t know what it is. We only know that there are psychic phenomena which manifest through dreams or through involuntary gestures or speech mistakes or hallucinations or fantasies which are not conscious.’*

Sigmund Freud was the first to coin the psychological phrase ‘dreams are the royal road to the unconscious’. This is like saying that we can know light only if we know dark. It is by way of the depths that we can reach the heights. Can we perhaps say that dreams are the royal road to consciousness? – on the understanding that it is only by becoming familiar with the unconscious that we can become more conscious?

C.G. Jung’s definition of the psyche includes both conscious and unconscious processes. Consciousness is like an island emerging from a vast expanse of sea of unconsciousness. At any one time we are aware of only a small part of this totality. Awareness is variable and although ‘...consciousness can potentially encompass the totality of the psyche, in practice it moves within a very circumscribed area or field due to its association with the ego’. (Faber and Saayman). ** The ego forms the central core of consciousness and needs to be firmly grounded therein. It is analogous to the beam of the torch which illuminates the darkness of night.

The unconscious is not inactive. Like our conscious mind, the unconscious inter alia‘is ceaselessly engaged in grouping and re-grouping its contents’. *** (Jung Vol 7). This indicates that there is a purpose and aim in the workings of the unconscious. Experiences that were once conscious and have become repressed or forgotten constitute the personal unconscious. This is essentially the repository of memories and is relatively accessible to consciousness, and dreams will initially, predominantly tap into this level of being.

But it is the bigger, deeper, greater reservoir of unconsciousness that we must somehow try to access. This is what Jung termed the collective unconscious. It lies ‘at a deeper level and is further removed from consciousness than the personal unconscious. The ‘big’ or ‘meaningful’ dreams come from this deeper level’. **** (Jung: On the Nature of Dreams).

Through the dream, we venture down into the depths to consciously reclaim some of he fertile ground of the unconscious.

The characters in the dream that we dislike the most give us valuable clues as to what we reject in ourselves. It is quite possible that many of the characters in our dream may be people who we like and admire. We also need to ask what of their qualities do we own that we do not admit?

One’s ego needs to be strong and have firm foundations to undergo the task of knowing one’s self better, and thereby also having an understanding of others. This is an important consideration. How can we pass judgement on any one thing or person when we do not know our own selves? Which means knowing our dark side as well.

Soul work.

Nothing is arbitrary.

* The Way of the Dream. Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation. Marie-Louise von Franz, Fraser Boa. Shambhala, Boston & London 1994

**Jung in Modern Perspective edited by Renos Papadopolous and Graham S Saayman. Wildwood House Ltd. 1984

***C.G. Jung: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology CW (Vol 7) translated by R.F.C. Hull. Meridian Books NY, 1956

****C.G. Jung: On the Nature of DReams in C.G. Jung, Collected Works Vol 8 2nd edition, Princeton University Press, 1972

– dreaming the dream onward – part 5

heaven and earthDreams provide the most interesting information for those who take the trouble to understand their symbols. The results, it is true, have little to do with such worldly concerns as buying and selling. But the meaning of life is not exhaustively explained by one’s business life, nor is the deep desire of the human heart answered by a bank account. – C.G. Jung*

 We know so much about so much these days. We are well informed on the latest discoveries of science, medicine, technology. We wonder and marvel at the recent landing on Mars and it is wondrous indeed. The Haldron Collider in Bern may well give us an idea of what came before the Big Bang. We’re connected to the larger, broader, wider world in a way as never before. May we continue to push the boundaries in all fields of our wondrous planet and beyond and find other realities of whose existence we were previously unaware.

But what of the inner world and its realities? How connected are we to our inner world? What is the potential value of the inner world? Can it help to regulate and balance our mental and physical energies? Can our dreams help us to be more of who we are or are yet to become? Is there a superior intelligence at work in the unconscious? Do we have any idea of what is of value to us when we reach a stage of thinking ‘where to from here?’ or ‘is this all there is?’ Is there meaning to be discerned in our inner world as expressed by the image of the dream? Can they hint at, or guide to a deeper meaning or an underlying unity in our lives? What can ‘this heap of broken images’ reveal to us? Can we have a dialogue with them? What can they tell us that we do not already know?

We know that dreams are spontaneous, mercurial and unpredictable. They do not seem to fit into our normal waking consciousness and at first glance we can make no sense of them. So we disregard them as nonsense, as we do just about anything that does not fit in with our world view.

Working with dreams is sacred soul work. They form a bridge between the conscious and unconscious, a bridge between world and self. They lead to greater knowledge about one’s self and therefore to the wider world and one’s place in it. They lead away from a psychic numbness that pervades today’s world and towards a sense of more wholeness within.

The unconscious – from where the dream originates –

‘What is not conscious to us is by definition unconscious and unknown to us and this is its mystery’. As Marie-Louise von Franz says in the book ‘The Way of the Dream’** …the unconscious part of our psyche is portrayed in our dreams, and by recalling the dreams, our conscious mind has the opportunity to view contents of the unconscious mind.’

In my next blog I may write about the unconscious that resides within us all and attempt to sketch this untapped reservoir. For now I will end with another quote by C.G. Jung.

When we consider the infinite variety of dreams, it is difficult to conceive that there could ever be a method or a technical procedure which would lead to an infallible result. It is, indeed, a good thing that no valid method exists, for otherwise the meaning of the dream would be limited in advance and would lose precisely that virtue which makes dreams so valuable for therapeutic purposes – their ability to offer new points of view.

So difficult is it to understand a dream that for a long time I have made it a rule, when someone tells me a dream and asks for my opinion, to say first of all to myself: ‘I have no idea what this dream means.’ After that I can begin to examine the dream.***

*C.G. Jung quoted in: The Way of the Dream. Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation, Mari-Louise von Franz, Fraser Boa. Shambhala. Boston & London 1994.

** same reference though Marie Louise von Franz’ own words

*** CG Jung, Collected Works, quoted in: Dreams, a Portal to the Source. Edward C. Whitmont & Sylvia Brinton Perera. Routledge. London and New York 1991.

– dreams – the golden thread – part four

I’ve been in resistance mode for the last several weeks. The thought of writing another blog on dreams has filled me with despair. I think this is due to what I see as the enormity of dreams as a subject – or object. As a subject it is too big an attempt to write about dreams on a blog. It is too psychological, too big, too meaningful, too serious, too filled with gravitas. Where do I go from here I wonder to myself. Perhaps I should have attempted to write about them in a different way right at the beginning. I think my second blog on dreams got a bit too technical and didactic in that I gave tips for enlarging the dream inter alia by underlining the verbs in the (written down) dream. This may have been a bit off-putting to those of you who are new to ‘dreaming’. Or perhaps it is simply that no-one really wants to take the time and energy to pursue their dream/s and their meaning; and also that no-one really has the time or the inclination to read a blog (mine) on dreams. Who am I to say anything about dreams anyway. Maybe I am guilty of hubris imagining that anyone else may be interested. But in spite of all the aforementioned misgivings, I feel that I must say something more about dreams, even if it kills me.

All is not so despairing actually. Every now and then things happen that bring me out of the gloom. More lately, I am reading Richard Tarnas’ book: Cosmos and Psyche. Intimations of a New World View. I am newly into the book – on about page 60 in a book of well over 500 pages. It is such a pleasure to read this book. He writes so eloquently and cogently and speaks clearly to the existential crisis that we are in, now, even if we are unaware of it. The rise of technology has dehumanized the world to a great extent, even though we have much to laud and be grateful for the stunning advances in all areas of science, medicine, technology et al.

These days, in our post modern world where reason and empiricism holds sway and our world is largely mechanistic, this way of being has now become overly fixed with very little room for movement or flexibility.

Very little of soul manages to get through. This is why I continue to write about dreams, as I believe this is one of the many fruitful ways of retaining or re-claiming a connection with all that is soul-ful.

The act of commitment changes things: Goethe

This means to me that when I commit to any project the universe supports that commitment. When I say ‘yes’ an unfolding seems to occur both innerly and outerly. I know that as mother’s milk increases the more the infant is fed from the breast, so too do dreams yield more of their secrets and enchantments when I say ‘yes’ to my dreams and ‘yes’ I will take them seriously and pay them the attention that they deserve. When I say ‘yes’ to my psyche, it responds and is helpful along the way, even though I may be in for some surprises, good or otherwise.

                  the importance of the inner world as counter to the outer world

The language of the dream – mostly in metaphor – opens up our inner space. Our dreams tell a story and they really do invite you in. Of course they are not easy to decipher. The dreams says you have to go really deep if you want to understand me. I will take you where you have never been before. I will tell you things that you did not know before. You may be disoriented when your dreams start to mean something to you, but disorientation is necessary to experience deeper unity.

That which is neglected will appear on the outside as in Fate

                                 a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

 Every interpretation is an hypothesis, an attempt to read an unknown text. (Jung, Collected Works, 16, para. 322)

One would do well to treat every dream as though it were a totally unknown object. Look at it from all sides, take it in your hands, carry it about with you, let your imagination play around with it. (Jung, CW, 10, para. 320)

So, something compels me to continue my diligence in writing down my dreams and pondering on them, knowing full well that I have a duty to my psyche to listen to what they are saying and knowing too that the answer is not immediately apparent.

– dreaming the dream onward – the golden thread – part three

Several times each night the unconscious part of our psyche is portrayed in our dreams. We are given the golden opportunity to bring our conscious mind to view those contents, by using our imagination in an attitude different to our usual modus operandi.  It helps us view our current, past and future life situation in a way which complements the mode usually used.

It seems that the more attention we pay to our dreams, the more they yield, even though the material may not be immediately understandable. Like mother’s milk, the more the infant is fed, the more milk is made. It is a two-way street. Our soul seems to be fed in some way, and it seems to get extra energy and insight when we diligently and creatively record and investigate our storehouse of dreams.

We begin to discern the value that this journey of dreaming holds for us. If we know who we are, or becoming, we can be who we are.

The dream speaks in a language of images and symbols which is quite different to our ordinary everyday language. It speaks in a language which initially seems vague and strange to us.

The language of dreams takes time to learn. This language of dreams is the language of the arts, poetry, metaphor, myth, symbol and image, in contrast to the language of logic and reason that we usually use. We all have our blind spots; there are possibilities and perceptions we choose not to entertain because we don’t want to admit them. We may not have the vocabulary to begin to trace its meaning/s and this is one of the reasons why dreams are often very difficult to understand and why we choose to ignore them. Its language is often indirect but not always. At times it is blatantly obvious what it is trying to convey. For example, you believe yourself to be a kind person and the dream portrays you – or someone else in the dream – as cruel. It is showing you that you are not enough aware of your capacity for cruelty and is conveying an element of you (portrayed by another person in the dream) that need to be recognised.

As part of this of this onging dialectical process, we become increasingly aware of the outside influences of the world on our own inner world and vice versa. We begin to look at things, events, circumstances, happenings, feelings, thoughts a little more closely, like a scientist with a microscope who concentrates and magnifies the scope more clearly; or like a Sherlock Holmes on the scent of something, which initially seems mysterious, strange, difficult and indefinable, yet in which we sense a valuable clue is being presented.

We wonder whether dreams hold the clue to unravelling the knots in our stressful lives. Could there be a link with the image or drama in the dream with ongoing e.g. physical symptoms, psychological dramas, unsuccessful relationships and unresolved inner complexes which never seem lessened or resolved?

Yes.

500 words.

– dreaming the dream onwards – part two

A few of you commented on my previous blog on dreams and their value thereof, which I always appreciate. Others responded via e-mail and it is these few comments that I want to share with you inter alia in 501 words.

Gwynn in the US said her dreams were like watching a re-run of a movie; Carol in Canada said her dreams were like watching a movie, in which she gets to play the main part!

Sonja here in Johannesburg, South Africa, said “I think of it as an infinite story factory .. an endless library of books meant for ME”.

These are insightful and useful metaphors! I hadn’t thought of them that way before! They gave me permission to use them in this blog.

Dr. Deon van Zyl, who facilitated a dream seminar a few weekends back which I attended, responded via email suggesting that the dream be given a title, a genre and a central one-line theme.

Among other valuable tips I learned at this dream seminar is the tactic of underlining the VERBS in the dream.

The following is a completely made up dream by me:- I am employing the ‘tactic’ of underlining the verbs.

I am walking on the road, enjoying the sunshine and view, minding my own business, thinking about things when a person suddenly appears out of nowhere and rushes up to me swinging a stick. I turn away and start runningI am wondering what to do and how to escape. I spied a bridge up ahead and think that if I get to the other side, I will be ok. I trip and fall, get up and continue running. I cannot see who it is.

Walking, enjoying, minding, thinking, appears, rushes, swinging, turn, running, wondering, escape, spied, think, get, be, trip, fall, get, running, see …

I (usually) write verbs out on the opposite page of my written down dream. I like to check out the energy of it and wonder about that.

In the beginning of this made-up dream, all seems quite peaceful but the whole tenor of it changes suddenly and dramatically.

I look at any repetition of verbs (the above made-up dream has one or two). My dream in the morning is enormously enlarged by this simple device. If I have 2 or more dreams in the same night I look to see if there is any connection and if not (sometimes they seem completely disparate), I wonder about that. Occasionally, all I have is an image – nothing more.

If I gave the above dream a title, I would call it something like “Walk interrupted”. Genre? “Threat” or something like that. A central one-line theme: something like “Unknown Attacker” or “Running Away” or “The Bridge Ahead” or … who knows what …

Listening with a keen ear to the message/s of the dream/s takes courage and commitment and a hearty dose of introspection and Self-reflection.

Will we listen and hear the messages from our ‘other’ world? As real and as different as our conscious world?

501 words.

 

 

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