Sunday, July 4, 2010

Who is doing the dreaming?

A practical psychology of dream experience needs to raise the question: which part of the dreamer is doing the dreaming? The psychic Edgar Cayce suggested distinguishing dreams that reflect the needs or wishes of the body, the mind and the spirit. But the issue involves more than needs and wishes. In dreaming, we get out there. The question is: who is the dream traveler?

In keeping with my recent theme of Eastern approaches to the Imaginal Realm, I want to note that the great Persian Sufi philosopher, Suhrawardi, offers a very clear experiential psychology of dream travel. He distinguished different levels of dreaming – with corresponding degrees of importance and reliability – according to which aspect of self is the traveler.

(1) Clear dreams or “free revelation” [kashf] are experiences of soul [ruh] traveling beyond the body, or having clear communication with a visitor. The territory visited may be a separate reality or a situation in the future. “With the eye of the free soul, by the imagination, a person contemplates in dreams the state of things which is yet in the hidden.” In this condition, the dreamer can have accurate foreknowledge of future events, and true clairvoyance. “After separation from the body, the soul knows even of the small things heard and seen of this world.”

In clear dreams, the dreamer becomes a remote viewer. This is a practice that can be developed in waking states of altered consciousness, or mukashafa. The Prophet Muhammad scouted out the progress of a caravan en route to Mecca in this way. The Caliph Umar, from afar, scouted an ambush that had been laid for his general Sariya (and sent his general a telepathic warning that was received).

(2) Symbolic dreams or “fancied revelations” are dreams in which the lower self [nafs] is dominant. Clear vision is cloaked by the “fancy garments” of appetite and desire. Landscapes traveled in such dreams are “the stages of lust.” Interpretation is required to separate a message from the fancy dress.

(3)“Pure fancy” is when “sensual thoughts” take over completely and higher consciousness [ruh] is “veiled from considering the hidden world.”

Source: H. Wilberforce Clarke (trans.) A Dervish Textbook - Kashani's Recension of Suhrawardi's Gifts : from the 'Awarifu-l-Ma'arif (London: Octagon Books, 1980).


Unknown said...

Very interesting. I have trouble distinguishing between clear dreams and symbolic dreams. I had a recent experience when I shared a dream that I thought was symbolic, but it predicted the future (and the situation had nothing to do with me). Now I wonder how many of my dreams are prescient but I don't realize it so I'm only viewing them as symbolic. Can they be both? And what good do clear dreams do if the dreamer isn't aware that they're clear dreams?

Robert Moss said...

Krista - My practice is to run a reality check on ALL dream material, asking whether it is remotely possible that something seen in a dream will manifest in the future, literally or symbolically.

Yes, dreams can be both literal and symbolic. And of course they can be experiences in a different order of reality. Don't forget the theme of the piece: dreaming is traveling, and in our dream travels we cross time and also dimensions.

Unknown said...

You hit directly on the dominant theme of my dreams lately - travel. I'm on a trip. A focus of driving in some, suitcases in others. They're all about getting somewhere.

You have vast experience in dreams and dreamwork. When you run a reality check, how can you know it's a clear dream if it involves other people? Some people I can check with, but others I can't. I know from reading your books that you found out years later of the accuracy of some dreams. Did you discover along your way that there was a particular resonance to clear dreams? Or do you just trust that the people will show up at the right time and place to verify what you've dreamed?

Robert Moss said...

Krista - With practice, we develop a set of personal "markers" that flag the dreams that are most likely to play out in ordinary reality. We can also learn to go back inside a dream - through the technique I call Dream Reentry - to clarify the nature of the dream and gather further information. Then we can progress to the most interesting thing: using dream clues to the POSSIBLE future to change the future for the better. My most complete treatment of all of this is in my book DREAMING TRUE, where you'll find a wealth of practical techniques (including how to work with dreams about other people) as well as stories that are instructive on the many forms in which we engage with the future in dreaming.

Unknown said...

Robert, I have all of your books, but they're hiding from me right now. I thought I had all of them together on a specific bookshelf - nope. When I find Dreaming True, I'll reread it. I've also been in your S&H forums before but haven't lately because I felt I didn't contribute enough to the community. I'd read lots dreams and have absolutely no resonance, and since the whole point of forum is to share, I felt I wasn't participating enough. Thanks for your comments today.

Worldbridger said...

I think the keeping of a dream journal is the glue that keeps it all together. Since no matter how lucid one becomes there will always be material beyond one's understanding lingering in the just beyond. One's dream journal becomes the anchor in the sand of time.

Robert Moss said...

On the practice of dream journaling, you may want to check out my recent articles at my new Dream Gates blog at Beliefnet, the first of which is here: