I just returned from a memorial for my friend and sis-in-law's brother in my high school home town. What I experienced is that, despite our sometimes day and night view points, we have each other's backs. Love does that. You can believe that I am immensely grateful and appreciative of that reality in my life.
Still, these differences I mention can be like day and night; like living only in the waking world and never in the dreaming worlds, living as if only waking experiences matter. Why has the art of dreaming been so diminished in our culture?
A short while ago I was at the wake of a friend's mother. The preacher was a lovely young man who suggested in his eulogy, with existential Christian honesty, that he didn't know what happens after death, nobody knows. He goes on to offer the promise that faith in the death and resurrection of that amazing man, Jesus Christ, whom we must worship according to a rigorous set of precepts, depending on religious denomination, is the only road to a happy eternity.
And Jesus knows, I say this with no irony intended. Jesus is amazing, especially as a divine son, derived of this colossal six millennia long patriarchal cultural myth we've been living on this beautiful, endangered planet earth. Thank goddess for the example he set while he was with us. Too bad the patriarchy that killed him found ways to use his legacy to their own gain. Following Jesus is pretty simple; Love Is The Answer. Following patriarchal religious 'biceps' leads nowhere good.
The joke Jim and I share about that particular memorial is that when the preacher proclaimed that nobody knows about life after death, (think Monty Python, "The Life of Brian") I could barely contain myself from raising my hand and saying, "I do".
Anybody who pays attention to her/his dreaming life, and brings the same attention to her/his waking life, can tell you the same thing; consciousness is much greater than the brain. Anyone who has had an NDE, OBE or lucid dream encounter with the numinous knows that there is more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than has been admitted in patriarchal theocracies.
The most important thing each of us has is our own spirit; we are connected to our spirit home through our dreams on a daily basis. It's another perspective. It helps me live twice as long because I live my dreams as well as my waking experiences. The best symbol to embody this wisdom I know is the Yin/Yang, the great Balance. That is who we are: Spirit/Physical. It's not opposites that are either/or; it is compliments that are best in equilibrium, in a constant dance of balance. The relationship between Yin and Yang is the dance of Life. Living aware of our waking and dream experiences is a reflection of this equilibrium.
The most important thing is to stop putting mommy/daddy responsibility on whatever Mystery it is that makes us tick and take responsibility for using the tools we are each born with to solve the problems that confront us here in the physical. In other words, as Ecclesssiastes aptly stated, "Naked I'm born into this world, and naked I will depart." You take nothing from the physical, but you can develop so much understanding to take with you! There is always help available in a dream practice.
I've found my way to so many soul answers in dreaming, very few in listening unquestioningly to others. I've also found so much in books, or film, or art or dance. I see my task to live from the heart and do as much as I can for myself and others, in balance. But one very important thing is to pay attention to my dreams and to respect that the dreams of others can only truly be interpreted by the dreamer, her or himself.
So, while maybe some of my tribe wants to fine dine, I want to hear about people's dreams. Does that mean I don't enjoy fine dining with them? Of course I do; it's awesome food shared in love. But I also enjoy how we talk about things more intimately in person and how my topics never fail to come up, eventually.
"My dreams are weird; I don't dream except sometimes." So are everyone's dreams weird from the perspective of waking paradigms. When you look through the lens of dreaming as an experience, however, you recognize that the laws of the physical may not apply in many dream scenarios. And as I love to say when someone tells me they can't remember their dreams, "Well, do you want to?"
It's the new year. We're in a shit-load of confusion. As former president, Barack Obama, suggests, what are you going to do about it? We feel small, powerless to alter the big picture, but if the big picture includes our own journeys through this life and on into others, in other dimensions, then perhaps we can brave up and do whatever we can, however insignificant we deem it to be, to help make it better for others, as well as for ourselves, before we inevitably move on.
The art of dreaming always involves a correlation to the art of living a waking life; it's up to each of us to create the lives on both sides, the spiritual and the physical, that we truly want. I say the spiritual first because without a spiritual anchor, we tend to seriously drift on the oceans of existence.
However, if we let ourselves be tethered with fear and inhibitions, hate and hopelessness, we'll miss our opportunity this time around to contribute something useful to the expansion of the spirit in the physical and the salvation of this planet. Religions barter in salvation, but when I say salvation, I mean in the physical sense, as in survival rather than extinction on this beautiful planet Earth. Otherwise, I don't have much to fear, and I devote a lot of my time to understanding my spiritual existence, because my dreams are a window to my soul.
The most important thing is that we are eternal beings, because we are, not because we have to earn it. We also have nothing to fear but for the damage we can do to ourselves in self-hate. A social/psychological paradigm that includes original despicableness (sin) is not a good place, psychically, from which to live.
You will die. I will die. What we believe about death will color everything we do in life. Dreaming is our spiritual companion all of our lives long. We're not born into ignorance, abandoned by our inner resources and beholding to some mercurial male deity. We're born eternal; we probably asked to be here. We are responsible for everything we do; we have a connection to spirit, that which we are, that cannot be broken.