Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Speaking Land


Everything is speaking to you.
The tarot Fool is out of the deck
and walking up the drive

with the patterns of the world in his sack
to remind you (if you’ll listen)
that to be wise you may need to be crazy
in the eyes of others, but don’t confuse this
with behaving like a bloody fool.

The chickens in the yard can teach you
multiplication and what you need
to hatch that dragon's eggs you have inside.
Hawk will come over, more interested in you
than a chicken dinner. Are you ready
so soar on his wings, and claim his vision
and see your life roads from his sky?
Everything is conspiring to show you
what heaven and earth want to happen.
When you think your way is lost,
when there are mountains of glass
and concrete between you and your dreams,
the ones who move beyond the curtain
of our consensual hallucinations
and speak as the wind in the trees
as the call of a bird, as the bark of a fox
will open ways where you least expect them.
All you need are new ears and fresh eyes.

I used this poem as the prologue for my book Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life, and you'll find much guidance there on how to grow your poetic health and walk consciously in the Speaking Land, in a forest of living symbols that are looking at you.

Art: Dorothy Englander, "Dream Path II"

Friday, September 15, 2017

Quantum dreaming


The findings of leading-edge physics have brought us scientific confirmation of the worldview of ancient shamans, mystics and dreamers, who have always known that there is a place beyond surface reality where all things are connected, a place beyond  time where all times are accessible, and that consciousness generates worlds. The new science suggests the following:

-        *  Mind is nonlocal. Consciousness is not confined to the brain or to space and  time.
-        * You  are living, right now, in one of Many Interactive Worlds. You have parallel selves moving through life in parallel worlds.
-        * Time travel  is possible.
-        * There is no firm separation between subject and object in the universe.
-        * At quantum  levels the act of observation plucks one event into manifestation out of a soup of potentialities. This may also be true on a human and  macro scale.
-       * Humans have an innate ability to communicate and influence people and objects across a distance.
-      * Any event that occurs in the universe is immediately available anywhere as information.
-      * Our experience of reality, like our experience of linear time, is a mental construct. Change the construct, and we change our world.

How do we bring all of this together with our lived experience, our human needs, and our hopes for world peace and a gentle upward evolution of our species?
     By mastering the skills of Active Dreaming. Bring these powerful techniques together with ancient wisdom and  new science, and you are ready to practice quantum dreaming, become a full citizen of the multidimensional universe and be present at the creation of your world.
    You will find that you hold the secret of time travel. You can travel into the possible future, scouting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. You can travel to the past and into parallel world. You will gain first-hand knowledge of the multidimensional universe that science is modeling – and you can use this to heal and  thrive in your everyday life.
     Active Dreaming is a discipline, like yoga, or archaeology, or painting with oils. It offers wild fun and great entertainment, but – like anything else worth doing really well – it requires practice, practice, practice. Active dreamers have an advantage over most people when it comes to putting in the hours required. We can do a lot of practice in our sleep! We are also doing deep practice when we learn to navigate by synchronicity are look at the everyday world around us as a set of dreamlike symbols. 
     The best place to look for the chance of a quantum leap in our contemporary lives is the place where many pioneers of the new science have found their inspiration: the secret laboratory of dreams and half-dream states.
      Wolfgang Pauli, the Nobel laureate who was one of the founders of quantum  physics, declared that dreams were his “secret laboratory”. He demonstrated  this by sharing 1,500 dreams with Carl Jung and his assistant over an 18 month period. Jung, the founder of depth psychology, wrote that all his important work was guided by dreams and that “dreams are the facts from which we must proceed.”
      The dreams you remember are your best portals for travel into the deeper reality, and your royal road to lucid dreaming. A dream is a journey; it is also a place. You went somewhere in your dream, near or far from the fields you know in your regular life. Because you have been to that place, you can find your way there again.
       In dreams, we are time travelers. Released from Newtonian physics and our consensual hallucinations, the dream self travels into past time, future time, and alternate realities. As quantum dreamers using the skills of shamanic journeying and lucid dreaming, we can travel consciously across time to scout the future for ourselves and others, and grow a better future. We draw confidence from the knowledge that the new physics confirms that in the limitless field of nonlocal mind the time is always Now. All probable event tracks – past, future or parallel - are accessible in this moment and may be revised for the better.
       Every night, your dream self goes ahead of your waking self, scouting out challenges and opportunities that lie on the roads ahead. This is part of our human survival kit. Once you wake up to the fact that you dream events before they happen in regular life, you can graduate to the good stuff, which is changing your possible future for the better and becoming co-creator of your reality.
      You are a natural psychic of a high order in your dreams, when you let down your left-brain inhibitions and just do it. You routinely practice precognition, clairvoyance, telepathy. Such powers are sometimes described as examples of ESP. Today scientists are reviving a better term invented by the great Victorian scientist of the unseen, Frederick Myers: supernormal. Scientists like Dean Radin maintain that quantum entanglement means that supernormal phenomena are inevitable. Laboratory research confirms that supernormal abilities are for real, and that the spectrum of possibility extends to retrocausation; reaching back across time to influence events in the past.
       Your dreams may also be glimpses of a continuous life your parallel self is leading in a parallel world, in which you made different choices. Physicist Brian Greene speculates that we all have "endless doppelgangers" leading parallel lives in parallel universes. When we develop the skills of Active Dreaming, you can explore this experientially - and learn how to bring gifts and lessons from a parallel world into this one. Through these excursions, you will grow a personal geography of the multiverse and accumulate first-hand data on the reality of parallel worlds
       Medical science confirms that thoughts are things and living cells respond to consciousness. It gets better, and stranger. Laboratory experiments demonstrate that the nervous system responds to physical events before they take place. If future events can influence the current state of the body, it follows that we may be able to reach back into the “past” to improve our body’s history and performance. This is one of many exciting avenues for quantum healing
       As a time traveler, you can journey to a younger self in her own Now time. As a voice in her mind, you can provide the encouragement and counsel she may need at a time of unbearable pain or challenge. You can be the friend and protector she lacked when her need was great. From this can flow tremendous healing for both of you, for you in your present time and for her in her own time
     The immense body of data on near-death experiences (NDEs) is scientific evidence of the survival of consciousness after the physical body has closed down. If you are now awakened to your own supernormal abilities to step outside time and space, you know that awareness is not confined to the body and brain, and therefore is able to survive death. You are ready to learn that healing and forgiveness are always available across the apparent barrier of death, and to develop your personal geography of the afterlife.
     What happens after death is far too important for us to rely on hand-me-down beliefs and second-hand accounts. We need first-hand knowledge. We get that by visiting places where the dead are alive, and by receiving visitations from those who have departed this world. Both ways of knowing are opened, easily and naturally, in dreams.
     Inner and outer, subjective and objective, interweave and move together at quantum levels, on a human scale, and no doubt everywhere in the universe. We live in an energy field where everything resonates — to a greater or lesser degree — with everything else. The world we inhabit mirrors our thoughts and feelings, and vice versa.
     The physicist and the dream shaman agree: we live in a conscious universe where everything is alive and connected, and mind and matter interweave. To live most fully in this universe, we must learn to navigate by synchronicity, poised to recognize and act in those special Kairos moments when the universe gets personal.
     A kairomancer is someone who is ready to recognize the special moments when synchronicity is at work – and to seize on the revelation or opportunity that is now available. To be a kairomancer, you must be open to new experience, willing to set aside plans, grateful for secret handshakes and surprises, and ready to honor your special moments of revelation by taking appropriate action.
     In the creation story of the Wayuu, the world begins when a god becomes conscious that he is dreaming and is made aware by a spirit of awareness that he can choose what to pluck from a matrix of potentialities to make an earth and the beings that will inhabit it. This is a mythic analog for the observer effect in quantum physics. As quantum dreamers, we can go consciously into the matrix, observe the pulse of possibility, and choose what we will bring into manifestation. 
    As a active dreamer, you can step outside time and move towards the source of the events and circumstances that will be played out in your lives. You can stir the quantum soup of possibilities, and select what will emerge into form and manifestation.


Graphic: Quantum entanglement may operate at human as well as microcosmic levels.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

We dream the future, all the time


Our dreams are constantly coaching us for challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us on the roads of life. It’s possible that we rehearse everything that will take place in the future in our dreams, though we forget most of it. Across human evolution, dreaming has been a vital survival mechanism. In the days when we were naked apes without good weapons, our dream radar – our ability to scout across both space and time – often enabled us to avoid becoming breakfast for saber-toothed tigers or leathery raptors.
     A recent theory posits that dreaming prepares us for challenges by putting us through frequent workouts in threat simulation, helping us to develop the reflexes and responses that will get us through. Our relationship with the future in dreams is much deeper and more important than this. In dreaming, we have access to the matrix in which the events and circumstances that will manifest in our physical lives have their origins. We can not only see future events; we can choose – to varying degrees, and according to our level of consciousness – which among many possible future events will manifest.
     It’s my impression that we are dreaming the future all the time. If you adopt the practice of recording your dreams and comparing the dream data with subsequent events, it won’t take long for you to notice some match-ups. The incidents you preview in your dreams may be trivial or terrifying, blah or wonderful. They may be events in your own life, or events in the future history of the world.
     If you adopt the practice of recording your dreams and comparing the dream data with subsequent events, it won’t take long for you to notice some match-ups. The incidents you preview in your dreams may be trivial or terrifying, blah or wonderful. They may be events in your own life, or events in the future history of the world.
     In our dreams, we have several kinds of engagement with the future.  

Precognitive Dreams

Through precognition, we see events and circumstances ahead of time, as they will be played out. A precognitive dream may be literal, or symbolic or both. For example, a dream of a tsunami might turn out to be both a preview of a literal disaster and advance notice of an emotional storm that will hit with the force of a tsunami. We may not understand what we have seen in a precognitive dream until a physical event catches up with that dream. It may also be difficult for us to understand what we have seen because we are looking at things from a certain angle, perhaps the perspective of a different person. But with practice, we can learn to recognize markers that a dream relates to future events, and we can then move to clarify and use the dream information.
      Such practice becomes very interesting when our dreams show us possible future events that can be changed for the better.

Early Warning Dreams 

Dreams may contain early warnings of a possible future development we may not want – a crisis at work, the bust-up of a relationship, a health problem, a car accident. We may not want to focus on any of these unpleasant possibilities. But if we are willing to study what an early warning dream is telling us, we will often find that it is giving us vital information that can help us avoid a possible future problem if we take appropriate action.
     Sometimes we dream the future for the benefit of another person, even a great cause. What will then happen depends whether we can find an effective way to get the dream information to the person who can best act upon it.

Early Opportunity Dreams 

Early opportunity dreams may also require action if we are going to manifest a future we’ll enjoy. You dream you are in your ideal home, or doing the work that nourishes your soul and your bank account, or you are with your soulmate, who is someone you have not yet met in the regular world. These dreams may be inspiring and encouraging, but you won’t want to leave them floating away from your physical life like helium balloons that have lost their strings. You’ll want to figure out what practical action you can take to move decisively in the direction of that happy dream.

Choosing Alternate Event Tracks

Any future we can see (in dreams or through wakeful intuition) is a possible future. We can influence the odds on the manifestation of a specific future event. While it may seem impossible for an individual to change certain future events perceived in dreams – like a natural disaster or death at an advanced age – it may still be possible to work with the dream information in a useful way: for example, to alert friends not to go on vacation in the place where the dreamed hurricane will hit, or to help someone whose death is near, and the family, to meet that situation with grace and closure.
     We not only travel to past and future; we travel between alternate timelines. With growing awareness, we can develop greater and greater ability to choose the event track – maybe one of infinite alternative possible event tracks – that will be followed through a certain life passage, or even the larger history of our world. This may be a case of the observer effect operating on a human scale. It is well understood that at quantum levels, deep within subatomic space, the act of observation causes plucks a specific phenomenon out of a bubbling cauldron of possibilities. It may be that, in the cauldron of our dreaming: through the act of observation, we select a certain event track that will begin to be manifested in the physical world. By a fresh act of observation, or re-visioning, we can then proceed to alter that event track, or switch to an entirely different one.

Practical advice on dreaming the future

1. Record your dreams. Date them and give them titles. Note your feelings right after each dream.
2. Ask, of any dream: Is it remotely possible that some part of this dream could manifest in the future, literally or metaphorically?
3. Learn to reenter your dreams to clarify information.
4. Come up with an action plan.  If you don't like the possible future event you have dreamed, create an action plan to avoid it or contain it, or at least be fully prepared. If you do like a possible future you have dreamed, come up with an action plan to make it more likely that it will manifest.
5. Note when a later event seems to fulfill a dream. Try to identify personal markers that are telling you that a dream is about the future.

Adapted from The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dreaming of Home in the American Civil War

Guest blog by Wanda Easter Burch

Physically exhausted from walking, fighting, and from four days’ detail digging trenches under an unbearable Petersburg, Virginia, sun and “not a breath of air stirring,” Henry Lea Graves, a private in the Macon Georgia Volunteers, wrote to his aunt on August 7, 1862, that it was “…hot as it ever gets to be in central Ethiopia.”  Paying homage to both the imagination and the night dream, he described a dream in which he saw himself standing, not with spade in hand, but eating from a bowl of peaches in the midst of “homefolk” with his coat off, moving across the piazza, enjoying the cool breeze “that almost always is blowing fresh through there with a basket of peaches at my side and all the homefolk around.[1]
            He told her that he often went into this place in his imagination to pass time swiftly and shared that “soldier mortals” would not survive if they were not “blessed with the gift of imagination and the pictures of hope.” The second “angel of mercy,” he said, was the night dream, which presented him even more vivid pictures of hope than any daydream.           
            The soldiers of both the North and the South in the American Civil War described conflicting emotions of loyalty to their individual causes, but letters describing a dramatic shift in consciousness when the soldier entered the battlefield, and the immense longing for “home” were universal, and the dreams in those letters were described generally as the most “real” dreams ever experienced. These dreams permeated the nineteenth century culture. They were printed as poems, written as songs, painted, scripted in journals and diaries and became the daily “news” in popular newspapers.  They embodied a quality of immediacy and flawlessness of revelation that escalated with the increasing horror of the conditions of the reality of a war that began with hope for a short ending, occasionally seen even as a jolly adventure that would be over before it began, to the waking reality of a lengthy contest of grim terror that brought death, maimed bodies, disease and living conditions that deteriorated as the years wore on. If the soldier or family member could not integrate the dream with the waking reality, the nightmare, called Soldier’s Heart in the Civil War, took on a life of its own, consuming waking reality for those who could not find their way back to a safe and nurturing place.
            Mark Huber, Vietnam combat veteran, wrote that all veterans come home “naked in the dark,” referring to the barren, solitary feelings described by Tolkien’s character in Lord of the Rings who had lost his ability to feel anything. Mark Huber asked questions difficult to answer about those in the Civil War whose lives became a closed book once the war ended and the letters and diaries were packed away, and he couldn’t help but speculate on whether those soldiers in the South who lost their war had feelings close to his own of having lost his war in Vietnam. Did the Confederate soldier whose feelings of a noble cause turned to dust leave him standing alone with nothing left but anger at the human loss “expended in vain” for the wrong cause?[2]
            The simple answer is “yes.” But the dream, then and now, could be the “angel of mercy,” described by Henry of Graves in 1862. Brian Turner, Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Mosul, 2004, described that same sense of dream reality as soldiers writing from any war, past, present or future:. “…And finally the dream shifts to where it often goes, a dream I started having when I was in Iraq — I’m back home in the San Joaquin Valley, about 20 miles north of Fresno, out in the country, and I’m sort of a disembodied hovering version of myself, floating over my family’s property where I was raised, drifting in and out of the eucalyptus trees…It’s a dream I like, one that I always want to last longer, drifting between those trees. The clarity of this dream is far beyond most of my dreams, which are often murky, convoluted, fragmented, disjointed.[3]
            Recognizing the power of dreams of home and family and of the gifts of the imagination could still be the missing piece to returning today’s soldier safely home and to offering families healing from the nightmare of war; a place where souls and hearts can mend and find humanity when horror and terror force themselves into the most protected and private places that struggle to keep body and spirit together and whole. Our culture is not so far removed from the Civil War that we cannot reclaim the power of dreaming as a vital part of healing soldiers and families  experiencing home after a physical nightmare.



[1] Dear Mother: Don’t Grieve about me, 176-177. See Graves Family Papers, UNC, Collection Number: 02716; http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/g/Graves_Family.html
Henry Lea Graves to his aunt, August 7, 1862, St. Petersburg.
“Chiefly letters to and from Henry Lea Graves. Letters from Graves discuss routine military life, maneuvers, camp life, and requests for mail; letters to Graves chiefly discuss life on the home front, family news, illnesses, etc. 1861 letters found Henry in the vicinity of Norfolk, Va.; letters in January-September 1862 found him in Wilmington, N.C., and Petersburg, Va.; October 1862-January 1863 letters found him in Petersburg and Richmond, Va.; and letters, 1864-1865, were received by him at Savannah, Ga., and Charleston and James Island, S.C.
[2] http://backstoryradio.org/civil-war-call-in-show/ Wanda Burch interview; Comment by Mark Huber, Vietnam combat veteran; J. R. R. Tolkien, Book Six, Chapter Three. “Mount Doom,” The Lord of the Rings.
[3] Brian Turner served seven years in the Army, most recently in 2004 as an infantry team leader in Mosul with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division. His 2005 book of poems, “Here, Bullet,” challenges others to record and share their dreams, many of those responding by sharing the dreams of home that got them through the most difficult days. A young soldier reported on Turner’s blog dreams of home mixing with scenes in Baghdad but bringing him back home again in the terror of war.

Text adapted from by The Home Voices Speak Louder than the Drums:Dreams and the Imagination in Civil War Letters and Memoirs by Wanda Easter Burch, just published by McFarland.

The letter at the top was sent by Charles [Charlie] Tenney of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to Addie Case, dated April 11, 1862.The stationery is an example of a kind that could be purchased at that time, featuring a popular Thomas Campbell poem titled “The Soldier’s Dream.” Campbell was a Scottish poet who died in 1844, but his poem found its way on letter heads and in soldier’s letters on both sides of the conflict. The actual letter is one of hundreds of letters between Charlie and Addie, many of them with dreams. Addie's dreams were extraordinary dreams of presentiment of Charlie’s death, the last one an out-of-body dream experience that crossed at the same period of Charlie’s actual death in a make-shift hospital in a church in Bolivar Heights, a community outside Harper’s Ferry.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Talk to the dead: they are alive and available


Many of us yearn for contact with departed loved ones. We miss them; we ache for forgiveness or closure; we yearn for confirmation that there is life beyond physical death. This is one of the main reasons why people go to psychic readers.
      Here’s an open secret: we don’t need a go-between to talk to the deceased. We can have direct communication with our departed, in timely and helpful ways, especially if we are willing to pay attention to our dreams and learn the arts of active and conscious dreaming.
Sometimes we sense the presence of a deceased person we have loved. Sometimes this is accompanied by physical signs, little anomalies that suggest that something is moving through the veil of our routine perception and our consensual reality. Full-fledged visitations often take place in the spacious reality of dreams and liminal states of consciousness, quite often in the hypnagogic zone.
     In whatever ways they can find to get through to us, our departed come to visit for all sorts of reasons. They come to offer us guidance or assurance of life beyond death; sometimes they need help from us because they are lost or confused, or need forgiveness and closure. Encounters with the deceased are generally our best way of gaining  first-hand knowledge of what happens after physical death.
     One of the cruelest things that mainstream Western culture has done is to suggest that communication with the departed is either impossible or unnatural.  There is nothing spooky or “supernatural” involved, though these experiences take us into realms beyond physical reality.
     The easiest way for the departed to communicate with the living is through dreams -though sometimes the departed, as well as the living, fail to realize this. In the movie The Sixth Sense a psychically gifted young boy can see and speak with the departed. He plays counselor to a man who has died, is initially confused about his situation, and then dismayed that he cannot talk to his wife. The boy instructs the dead man, "Speak to her in her dreams, only then will she hear you". As the film suggests, sometimes the living are required to play guides for the deceased.
     In most dreams, the departed appear to be living, and very often the dreamer is unaware that the person he or she encounters is “dead” until after waking. The reason is that the departed are indeed alive, though no longer in the physical realm.
     The deceased may appear as the dreamer remembers them from their last days of physical life, especially in the first dream encounters. But over time, it is quite common for the departed to alter their appearance, to shrug off signs of age and bodily ailments, and to present themselves as healthy and attractive. People who died in later years frequently reappear looking around 30 years old.
      After my father’s death in 1987, he appeared repeatedly in my dreams to offer counsel to the family, bringing specific and practical information to which I did not have access in waking life. For example, he gave me the name of the realtor on the other side of the Pacific – someone otherwise unknown to me – who moved with great speed and humanity (once we contacted him because of the dream) to help my mother sell her home and resettle in a community where she spent some of the happiest years of her life. My father also made a happy dream visit to one of my daughters, who bitterly regretted never having known him in physical life; he showed himself as a handsome horseman, about 30 years old, and took her riding.
      Through many dream encounters with my father, I was vividly reminded that a departed loved one can truly play “family angel”. After he made certain life choices on the Other Side - which he explained to me - he was no longer available in the way he had been for several years after his death. However, he surprised me by dropping in last year to give me an important personal health advisory on which I took immediate action.
     After his death, my favorite professor from my undergraduate days in Australia began to appear in my dreams as a different kind of history teacher, instructing me that each of us belongs to a family of personalities in different times and dimensions whose dramas are being played out now.
     From my early childhood, when I gained first-hand knowledge of the other side when I died and came back (in what are now described as near-death experiences) I have had had frequent contact with people who are living on the other side.I have worked with thousands of dreams and other experiences of encounters with the departed that have been shared with me by others. While the deceased person in some of these dreams may be an aspect of the dreamer’s own personality or genetic inheritance – or a mask for a messenger from the deeper Self – the great majority of these dreams involve transpersonal encounters.
     When you become an active dreamer, able to shift consciousness and travel to other realities at will, you'll know that you don't have to go to sleep in order to dream. You can make conscious journeys to the Other Side for timely and helpful communication with the departed, learning about their current environments and transitions. You can invite a loved one to have chat with you over tea or a glass of wine. You can entertain friendly spirits in the liminal space of sleep and awake, and will want to learn the arts of discernment and psychic screening to make sure that you don't invite any unwanted guests.
     Let's notice that among your friends on the Other Side are beloved animals who shared your life and can prove to be impeccable allies. 

Further Reading

Chapter 7, "Dreaming with the Departed", in my book Conscious Dreaming.

Part III, "A Little Manual for the Psychopomp" in Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death


Photo: A boy psychic guides a dead man played by Bruce Willis in the movie "The Sixth Sense".

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The gods love to travel in disguise


The Greeks say the gods love to travel in disguise. In Greek folk tradition, it’s good policy to be nice to strangers, and to pay attention to what they say, because you never know what is traveling behind their masks.
On a visit to England, I landed at Heathrow airport on a redeye flight, exhausted and burdened with financial worries. I was carrying too much baggage, and had to wrestle an oversize suitcase down the steps to the Underground.
As I collapsed onto a seat on the train, a roly-poly man, bearded like Santa Claus, winked at me from the seat opposite. He said with a broad grin, “The Buddha says – Walk on the bridge, don’t build on it.”
The words slapped me in the face. They stung me awake. They were exactly what I needed to hear. Caught up in my immediate worries, stressed out and overtired, I had been forgetting one of the secrets of living the Incredible Journey:  it’s the journey, not the destination, that counts
The stranger on the London Tube was an example of how we play everyday angels – even gods in disguise -for each other. The Buddha-quoting Santa figure reminds me that there is a provocative Buddhist text on this theme. In the version translated by Thomas Cleary, it is titled Entry into the Realm of Reality. It describes how authentic spiritual teachers – even the greatest who walk this earth – can appear in any guise, as an exotic dancer or as a monk, as a panhandler or a king, as a scholar or a warrior.
We are most likely to run into them when we are in motion, especially when we are crossing a border into unfamiliar territory, when strong emotions are in play, and when we are facing the greatest challenges. 

Text adapted from The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.




Picture: from London Transport Museum

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Firmness of rock


I hold memory from before your time
I contain a space you can enter
where you may find a universe as big
as the one you think is the real world.
I’m not easy to break or wear down.

Take lessons in constancy from me,
claim the power to stand your ground
but allow for the patient counsel of water.
When I stand in your way, go around
or be ready to wait eons to wear me down.

Go back to the pool in a temple of healing
where a god-man told a cripple to get up
and pick up more than his bedding.
To rise from the dead, you must pick up
the biggest stone in what you take for a world.

Do you begin to see what I am?
All of this, and more: your challenge,
your burden, your duration, your remembering.



The cry of the trees


The cry of the trees, at the very end of a training I led deep in the woods in the Pacific Northwest, was the only disturbing episode during that grand adventure. All that week, we had delighted in a world of green – frilly greens of the cedars, mossy greens hanging from high trunks and draping stumps and nurse logs, bottle-green shadows of the deep woods, juicy greens of berry bushes and young vines, splashy brown-greens of the beaver swamp.
    -On our last morning, preparing for an exercise in community visioning, I asked the members of our circle to join hands and imagine that we were creating a Dream Tree with our joined energies.

“Let your awareness go down to the souls of your feet. You feel yourself standing with the Earth. You are reaching down now, through the souls of your feet.
     "You are reaching deep into the Earth, going deep and spreading wide, as the roots of a tree go deep and spread wide. You feel your energy filaments touching and clasping the energy roots of all of us in this circle.
      "We are coming together, forming a root ball deep within the Earth. As you breath in, feel the Earth energy rising up to form the trunk of our Dream Tree – our One Tree, soaring towards the sky, spreading its canopy to catch the light.
       "Now we are feeding on sunfire…”


-In this way, we wove our energies together in a Dream Tree that we intended to use as a base for visioning, from which we could scout in different directions to fulfill a common agenda: to find new ways to bring dreaming into our environments and communities all over the map.
    I suggested that during the drumming, we would all find our way to an observation deck or tree house high in the upper branches of the Dream Tree. We could look out from there to see what we needed to see, and zoom in on things we needed to study closely, or take flight like birds to visit places many looks away.
-   When I started the drumming, the energy form of the One Tree emerged vividly. I could feel it, see it, smell it. It was unlike any previous tree of vision I have used. It was an immense elder of the rainforest, as wide and tall as a skyscraper. Its lower trunk was alive with creeping and slithering things, including thousands of snakes, hard to tell apart from the creepers and strangler vines until they darted out.
-    I moved gingerly to a shelf high above where a giant white heron was perched, looking out over vast distances. I was shot out from there, to meet one elder tree after another - a great Douglas fir, an ancient oak, a mighty poplar, a wide banyan rooting itself again and again from its branches.
    They showed me scenes of pain and destruction in the landscapes they inhabit. I was made to watch clear-cutting in the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest, and to be present during brutal deforestation in Brazil, with great machines rending the Earth, and the stink of smoke and the cries of dying trees everywhere.
    The grief of the trees entered my being. It was like being made to witness the rape and butchery of innocents. Choking and sobbing, I had difficulty sustaining the beat of the drum.
-   I heard the voices of the tree elders. Their message, in different accents, was the same.

-You use trees for your dreaming.
The trees need humans to dream with them.
The trees are dying through the ignorance and greed of men,
and with them your world.
We need Tree Speakers to speak for the green world.
It is your duty to find them and give them voice and vision.

-  I want to reissue an invitation for members of our dreaming community all over the world to dream with the trees and discover what it would mean and require to become a Tree Speaker. We can embark on this – as my group did at Mosswood Hollow – by imagining ourselves coming together to create a Dream Tree, with a shared root ball deep in the Earth, and a place of vision high in the upper branches. 

photo: Great Stump at Mosswood Hollow (c) Robert Moss

An expanded version of this article appears in my book Active Dreaming: Journeying beyond Self-Limitation to a Life of Wild Freedom. Published by New World Library.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Man Who Blew Things Up

Wolfgang Pauli was one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneer work in quantum physics. He was also a world-class dreamer. He described dreams as his "secret laboratory". Early in their relationship, Pauli shared 1,500 dream reports with Jung and his assistants over an 18 month period, and these were a primary source for Jung's book Psychology and Alchemy.
    The creative collaboration between Pauli and Jung over many years is one of the great examples of cross-pollination between great intellects working in different fields. The pioneers of depth psychology and quantum physics found themselves in ever-deepening agreement that there is no fundamental divide between mind and matter. In a paper on "Background Physics", Pauli discussed the need to develop “a description of nature integrating both physis and psyche” He explained that in developing this model he would use terms and concepts from physics that came alive as symbols in his dreams. [1]

    Pauli and Jung found themselves in agreement that the study of synchronicity is the royal road to the unus mundus, the identity of mind and matter in the deeper reality. Pauli made a tremendous contribution to the theory of synchronicity for which Jung became famous. Ironically, he disliked that word "synchronicity", coined by Jung.  He preferred older terms like "correspondence" or the term "isomorphy", used in mathematics to describe the identity or near identity of forms.
    In an excellent summation, Suzanne Gieser observed that “Pauli had from the start a very well-defined opinion of synchronicity: it represents a coinciding of an internal condition – for example a particular state of consciousness – and an external process which is related to the condition. The relationship between the internal and the external appears meaningful, in other words a kind of ‘sense in chance’. Pauli therefore felt that the emphasis ought to be on the experience of meaning and significance, not on the relative simultaneity as is implied in the concept of synchronicity. It would be more appropriate to speak of a meaningful connection or correspondence of meaning. The phenomena…often arise with a transition from an unstable state of consciousness into a new stable state” [2]
    Pauli lived this stuff. He became the poster boy for a dramatic mode of synchronistic phenomena that is now known, in his honor, as the Pauli Effect and can be found in almost any dictionary.
    “Pauli Effect” is a term invented to describe the way the mere presence of the pioneer of quantum mechanics, tended to cause things to blow up, especially physics experiments and equipment. At least one experimental physicist (Otto Stern) banned Pauli from coming anywhere near his laboratory.

    Pauli was brilliant, but he was also a roiling mass of conflicted emotions. His mother’s suicide, his father’s subsequent marriage to a woman half his age, his discovery as a young adult that his parents had concealed the fact that three of his grandparents were Jewish, his heavy drinking and a disastrous early union with a cabaret dancer who ran off with another man, all contributed his violent mood swings. The way the material world seemed to react to him is a case study in how mind and matter interact, so egregious that we can hardly miss drawing the lesson that thoughts and feelings are actions that change the world we inhabit.
   Pauli's friend and colleague Rudolf Peierls (a German-born physicist who moved to England and later worked on the Manhattan Project) described the Paul Effect as follows: “This was a kind of spell he was supposed to cast on people or objects in his neighborhood, particularly in physics laboratories, causing accidents of all sorts. Machines would stop running when he arrived in a laboratory, a glass apparatus would suddenly break, a leak would appear in a vacuum system, but none of these accidents would ever hurt or inconvenience Pauli himself.” [3]
   When important experimental equipment in Professor James Frank’s laboratory at the Physics Institute at the University of Gottingen blew up for no apparent reason, someone remarked that this could be the Pauli effect. However, Pauli was nowhere in the area; he was on a train, traveling to Denmark. It was later discovered that at the time of the lab explosion, the train carrying Pauli from Zurich to Copenhagen was making a stop at Gottingen station.
  When he arrived at Princeton in 1950, an expensive new cyclotron that had recently be installed burned for no obvious reason, and there was again speculation about the Pauli Effect.
   Such phenomena happened outside the laboratory.
   When the Jung Institute was inaugurated in Zurich in 1948, Pauli attended the opening ceremony, since Jung had asked him to become a “scientific patron” and so represent the convergence of physics and psychology. At the time, Pauli's mind was turning on the tension between two earlier approaches to knowledge represented by the alchemist Robert Fludd and the scientist Johannes Kepler. When Pauli entered the reception room for the Jung party, a large Chinese vase inexplicably slid off a table, creating a flood that drenched some of the distinguished guests. Pauli saw huge symbolic significance because of the echo of “Fludd” in the phenomenon of the spontaneous “flood”. This incident inspired him to write his paper “Background Physics”.
    On another occasion, Pauli was sitting at a table in the window of the Café Odeon, thinking intently about the color red and its feeling tones. While thinking “red”, he was unable to take his eyes off a large, unoccupied car parked in front of the restaurant. As he watched, the car burst into flames and his field of vision was filled with fiery red.
    In yet another, quite hilarious, incident in New York, Pauli was lunching with Erwin Panofsky, the famous art historian and two other scholars. When they rose from the table after dessert, three of the men found that they had been sitting - inexplicably - on whipped cream, now smeared over their trousered rumps. The only one unscathed, of course, was Pauli.
    According to his close colleague Marcus Fierz, “Pauli believed thoroughly in his effect.”  He experienced an unpleasant inner tension before things blew up. After the event, he felt relief and release from tension, even moments of euphoria. No doubt he enjoyed his ever-growing reputation for producing wickedly strange phenomena. This was, after all, the man who dressed up as Mephistopheles for a skit in front of Niels Bohr’s circle in Copenhagen. [4]
The best story on the Pauli Effect is from Rudolf Peierls. Some of Pauli’s fellow-scientists plotted to spoof the effect attributed to him at a reception. They carefully suspended a chandelier by a rope that they intended to release when Pauli entered the room, causing the chandelier to crash down. “But when Pauli came, the rope became wedged on a pulley and nothing happened – a typical example of the Pauli effect.” [5]
It has been suggested that the reason Pauli was not invited to join the Manhattan Project – which recruited many physicists from his circle – was that the directors knew Pauli’s reputation and were worried that he would blow up something vital.


Refererences

1. C.A, Meier (ed) Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958 (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001) 176, 180
2. Suzanne Gieser, The Innermost Kernel: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics  (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2005) 284.
3.R.E.Peierls. “Wolfgang Ernest Pauli 1900-1958” in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society vol 5 (February, 1960) 185.
4. Charles Enz, No Time to Be Brief: A Scientific Biography of Wolfgang Pauli (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 150.
5. Peierls, ibid.



Text adapted from chapter 11 of The Secret History of Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.   


No the upside-down photo is not an example of the spontaneous working of the Pauli Effect. However, the fact it nearly failed to load could be.

The Double on the Balcony

You are not my shadow.
You stand closer to the sun.
Of all my doubles, you are the most interesting.
You are watching when I forget you.
You are with me when I don’t notice.
You are not my judge, or my guardian angel.
You are the one who remembers.
You are my witness on the balcony above the world.

My friend the witchdoctor calls you
My “double in heaven”. You smile at this,
Reminding me the African lives are mine, not yours.
You saw all of it, from your balcony,
But did not drink the blood or savage joy.
It’s the other way round in other lives, you say:
From life to life, we change places.
When you come down to Earth
I take your seat on the terrace above.

We are together now, for a moment.
I’ve slipped out of the body
That neither confines nor delights you
To join you on your balcony above the world.
The wine in the cup is the color of moonlight.
Below us are all the roads of the world,
The casts and dramas of the many lives
Laid out in dioramas, as manageable from here
As toy soldier sets, or tea-party dolls.

You chide me gently (since humans are forgetful animals)
For forgetting you. I have been a serial amnesiac,
Losing bright nights when we roamed together,
And an ingrate – not seeing your hand in everyday miracles,
Not hearing your voice in the still sure moments of knowing,
Not feeling the breeze of your wing when you come,
In reluctant extremity, to restrain or release me.

When my road was blocked, you were the one
Who reminded me we can fly.
You love to travel in disguise
And I often missed you behind your masks.
When I mislaid my sense of humor
You burst in as a stand-up comic
And shocked me alive with belly-bawdy farce.
It’s easy for you to bring light, and lighten things up:
You stand closer to the sun.

This poem is in my collection Here, Everything Is Dreaming, published by Excelsior Editions.

Poems really shouldn't be explained. Robert Frost once said to someone who asked him to explain what one of his poems was about, "You want me to say it in worse English?" Nonetheless, I'll add two notes to the poem above because I am interested in encouraging conscious exploration of the many aspects and levels of the multidimensional self.
    The Yoruba of West Africa say that while we are living our lives in the "marketplace" of this world, we have a "double in heaven" who observes us from a higher level, and that we swap roles from life to life.
    In a big dream Wolfgang Pauli encountered a mysterious bright-and-dark stranger. Having been mentored for years by Jung on the categories of analytical psychology, the great physicist asked, "Are you my shadow?" To which the stranger responded, "You are my shadow. I stand between you and the sun." This episode is fully recounted in chapter 11 of  The Secret History of Dreaming.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The only dream expert is you


You are the final authority on your dreams, and you should never give the power of your dreams away by handing them over to other people to interpret. Yes, our dreams can be confusing and opaque, and we gain greatly from other people's insights, especially when those other people are "frequent fliers" who work closely with their own dreams and have developed a fine intuition about what may be going on in dreaming. So it's okay to ask for help. More than that, we often need help because we are too close to our own issues, or too inhibited by self-limiting to see what may be obvious to a complete outsider.
     However, we need to learn some simple rules about how to share and comment on dreams. I suggest the following guidelines for both sharing and self-study:

1. Record or tell the dream as clearly and exactly as possible. Dreams are real experiences, and the meaning of the dream is often inside the dream experience itself. Give your story a title.
2. Consider your feelings, inside the dream and especially on waking. Your first feelings around a dream are a quick and usually reliable guide to its relative importance, urgency and quality (e.g. positive/negative, literal/symbolic).
3. Always run a reality check by asking: Is it remotely possible the events in this dream could be played out in waking life? I have never seen more time wasted in dream analysis -- and more life-supporting messages lost -- than when we fail to recognize that our dreams are constantly rehearsing us for challenges that lie around the corner. In our dreams, we are all psychic.
4. If you are going to comment on someone else's dream, always begin by saying (in these words or similar words), "If this were my dream, I would think about..." This way, you are not leaning on other people and presuming to tell them the meaning of their dreams or their lives. If we can only encourage more people to follow this vitally important etiquette for dream-sharing, we'll create a safe space for many people to share dreams and work with them in everyday situations. Most important, we will help each other to become authors of meaning for our own dreams, and our own lives.
5. Try to go back inside the dream and recover more information. A dream fully remembered is often its own interpretation. You may find dream reentry much easier than you thought when you wake up to the fact that a dream is also a place; because you have been to that place, you can find your way there again.
6. Try to come up with a one-liner to summarize what happens in the dream (or encourage the dreamer to do that). This will often turn out to be a personal dream motto that will orient you towards appropriate action -- to act on the dream guidance and honor the dream.
7. Always do something with the dream! Dreams require action. We need to do far more than interpret dreams;we need to bring their energy and insight into manifestation in waking life.


The simple guidelines above are central to my Active Dreaming approach. You can learn more about fun, everyday techniques for working and playing with dreams and using them as portals for adventure and healing in a larger reality in my books; The Three "Only" Things and Active Dreaming are good places to jump in.



Art: René Magritte, Belgian, La légende des siècles (1952).