Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The Bazaar of Dreams
I am in a marvelous space, with curving arches and columns under a high ceiling. Some long tables run across the hall, as if waiting for market vendors to display their wares, but this space has been cleared for me and a group I am leading in an adventure in active dreaming. Through a rounded doorway I see people walking in a busy, sunny market street. I am happy to be here, in this Bazaar of Dreams.
With me are some entrepreneurial women who are doing a great job of organizing the program and want to help me find ways to bring my teachings to many more people. One of them tells me she wants to introduce me to a woman friend "in shipping" who can help to send out my message - that through dreaming we can wake up to our place in the multiverse - in many new directions.
We are gathering for the last morning session of my workshop. I greet people in several languages, in French and Spanish and possibly Turkish. With formal respect, I salute an elder of this city who has honored me by his presence. He is a tall, elderly man with a white mustache, slightly stooped, formally dressed in a suit of an interesting color; orange more than brown, his suit is the color of old bricks.
Before the group is fully assembled, I deliver an impromptu lecture about dreams in the history of world religions. I observe that many, if not all, religions, are born and grow through dreams and visions, and that most of them continue to acknowledge the importance of dreams, at least in theory. The problem is that religious authorities tend to say, "We will tell you what your dreams mean."
This is a problem, also, with spiritual orders, even the most enlightened. I must tread cautiously now, because I know that many of those present are sympathetic to the Sufis, and we may even have a Sufi shaykh in our midst. Nonetheless, I must explain that in my school - as in the dreamwork movement in general - we do not hand over our dreams to any authority for interpretation. We can say to each other, "If it were my dream, I would think about such-and-such", but our purpose is make it clear that dreams belong to the dreamer, not the guru, the shaykh, or the supposed expert. "Our task is to help each other to become authors of meaning for our dreams and our lives."
Feelings: Happy, filled with a sense of expansion and creative possibility.
Reality: Once again, I see that my dream self is at least as active as a teacher as my waking self, and covers even more geography.
My dream self speaks the same way I do in regular life; see, for example, the chapter on "Divine Dreams" in my Secret History of Dreaming. I am interested in Sufi approaches to dreaming, and have studied and written about the great medieval Sufi explorers of the imaginal realms, Suhrawardi and Ibn al 'Arabi, as well as Rumi. Over several decades, I have had an ongoing realtionship, in a parallel reality accessed through dreams and visions, with certain "princes of the East" who seem to carry the wisdom of ancient Persia. I have studied the history of dreaming in the Islamic world, especially under the Ottoman empire, where dreams were assigned great importance, but were often taken to the shaykh (Şeyh in Turkish) for interpretation; even sultans did this.
My dream could well be a rehearsal for a future teaching situation.
Question: Who is the elder in the brick-colored suit? Is that color significant?
Action plan: remember to show respect for different cultures and the elders of different traditions.
Due diligence: I recorded this dream in my travel journal on January 12, but only got round to typing it up now.
Charles Robertson, "Carpet Bazaar" (1887)