Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I and Thou: Dream Characters and Other People

Still reading Robert Waggoner's book on lucid dreaming (see previous post) and am delighting in the chapter: "Independent Agents and the Voice of the Unconscious" in which he poses some intriguing ideas:

"Taught to believe and expect that the entire dream exists as our imagined projection, that we dream it into being, many lucid dreamers naturally resist any notion of not completely creating and controlling the dream. Yet, these conversations suggest a new level of inherent complexity in dreaming. With experience, lucid dreamers come to realize that the dream space contains various types of dream figures, behaving with varying degrees of awareness." p.58

What, who, where are the characters in our dreams? Are they aspects of our own waking personalities that need attention and integration? Of course, but Waggoner raises the possibility of autonomy in some dream characters. A key indicator of a character's autonomy or "otherness" is when he experiences in lucid dream adventures characters who resist his intentions, give him unexpected information or profess independent viewpoints. Are dream characters projections of our own personalities, created by our dreaming minds to instruct our waking egos? Or are they, as in our waking experience, independent beings, separate from us and capable of choice, as we are?

A little mind blowing, perhaps, but how valuable a consideration. What's wonderful about the dream world is anything is possible. It doesn't have to be one way or the other; it can be both, or entirely different than expected, so dreaming offers a model for expanded consciousness and creativity in the waking world.

In ancient alchemical teachings, inner and outer realities mirror each other, as above, so below. I find this is very true with dreaming. What I learn in the dreaming, can usually come in handy in waking reality. Reflecting on waking experience, how much of what I know about other people is my own projection based on my own needs, much as I might assume the shadow figures and animus gents in my dreams are? The negative things I see about people and the people I put on a pedestal, if they were dream figures, how would I see them? Why would they be in my dream?

Considering the autonomy of dream figures in my dreams heightens my sense of my own autonomy and that of others, those I like and those I don't, in waking life. I'm more mindful of my waking projections and also more eager to look at my dreams for that spark of independence in people I encounter. Perhaps these are other dreamers sharing my dream locale or people who lived in another time or on another dimension?

One of my favorite authors, Ursula LeGuin, writes about outer space as a metaphor for inner space. In her view, inner space is the real frontier for exploration, available through the vast unconscious to all of us. Dreams help me understand myself better, and they help me understand others. In my dreams there are scenarios, like when I find myself in traffic on a highway or when I'm riding on a train or bus. that say to me, "We are multitudes, but we're all in this together." I take that feeling into my waking relationships.

The idea that dream figures may in some cases be autonomous just as I assume people in waking life are creates another dimension of exploration every time I cross the threshold of sleep. At the same time, realizing that even in waking life, people I meet reflect for me some aspect of myself, especially when they elicit strong emotional reaction, helps me interact more mindfully with everyone, keeping a check on my projections and truly honoring each individual and his or her unique life journey.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Magic is in Your Hands

My title carries a double entendre. One because I'm talking about the practice of dreaming and two because I'm in the midst of reading a fun book by Robert Waggoner, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, in which the author recalls using Castaneda's teachings from Don Juan:

"Don Juan suggests to Castaneda a simple technique to "set up dreaming" or become conscious in the dream state. 'Tonight,in your dreams you must look at your hands.'" pg. 6.

Ah, yes, me too. I loved reading Castaneda's adventures with Don Juan as a teenager and beyond.

Happy New Year everyone.

I wish that everyone who has an interest in dreaming pursue it.

I see vast new territories for dreamanauts like myself to explore; ( I made up this word. A popular term in the literature is oneironaut, based on the Greek word for dream, but English is my principal language at the moment. so I like dream-astronaut or dreamanaut.)

The magic of dreaming is close at hand, always. It's easy to start your own practice and have fun, plus reap the benefits of self-knowledge and personal growth. It doesn't have to be something you do everyday, one more chore. Let it happen when it does; write it down when you do. Just pay more attention. Perhaps, discuss dream events more with friends. I follow much of the teaching of Robert Moss and his Active Dreaming practice for dream play, but any approach that works for you is fine.

I've written a lot here about developing a dreaming practice, so that's not what this post is about. It's about a new year and magic at hand. I hear many people I respect talking about new consciousness and spiritual opportunity; in their messages, I hear cautious optimism and wild hope for the future. It makes me believe 2012 will bring many good things in the service of Love.

Speaking of growth in the service of Love, people talk a lot about the need for self-esteem, which is after all, self love. Knowing yourself in your capacity as a dreaming being is one of the most liberating, self affirming experiences for the ego on this planet. I think so and so do the many dreamers I know. Dreams are healing magic, excitement, wisdom and adventure; kind of like the six flags of the night.

It's in each human being's power to consult her or his inner wisdom through his or her dreams. Connecting to dreaming more frequently; perhaps seeking guidance from dreams, are practices that anyone can adopt. There's fabulous teaching out there in books and media for anyone who wants to launch. And, of course, I write this blog to inspire you.

Have you looked at your hands lately?

This ink drawing was a wedding gift from a dear college friend; it's sign language for "the Christ". A friend of hers, Charlotte Graesser Henderson, is the artist.