It's hard to keep track of him. When I come home from our travels, I am not quite myself and no longer him. When we part company, I am left to pore over scraps of memory like the things I find in my pockets and on my phone after a regular plane trip: a boarding pass, a bus ticket, a foreign banknote, a scribbled love note, random photos of far-away cities and beaches and train stations.
I am talking about the Traveler, the self who is not confined to my body or brain in dreams and journeys. I track the Traveler by recording his exploits – the ones I manage to catch – in my journal. In one report he seems to be very like my present self, just two days ahead of me, on my present probable event track. Sometimes he is much further ahead, or on a different – mildly or radically – event track, or he is in another body in another time or another world.
Sightings by others give me clues to the range of his excursions. On any given day, it is not unusual for me to receive 20 quite specific reports over the internet from people who say the dreamed of me, in addition to dreams of me shared in person by members of my workshops. My default response is to suggest that the dreamer might want to ask what part of them resembles Dream Robert in some way (for example, as dreamer, teacher, writer, traveler, large person with white hair). Yet I also know that dreaming is social as well as individual, transpersonal as well as personal, and I am aware that the Traveler leads adventures in the dream lands as well as in the physical world.
Some weeks after leading one of my 5-day adventures at the Esalen Institute, I received a note from one of the participants, a highly intelligent, spirited lady, a person with two PhDs who had explored consciousness in many ways. "I want to thank you for that wonderful lecture you gave last night."
I checked the date. I had not given a lecture that evening anywhere in consensus reality. I had already intuited what she was telling me. She had attended a lecture I gave in one of her dreams. The woman from Esalen reported that in my lecture, I had listed, "very clearly and elegantly", five reasons why we misinterpret dreams about the future. I had written them on a whiteboard in view of the group.
This gave me shivers. On that very day, I was laboring over a chapter in a book that was later published as Dreaming True. The chapter was titled "When Dreams Seem False" and on the first page I was developing a list of the five most common reasons why we misinterpret dream messages about the future. I was satisfied with my statement about the first reason we get these messages wrong. But I was not yet content with my formulation of the other four reasons, or the order in which they should appear on the page.
I emailed the woman from Esalen. I asked her, "Any chance you kept notes from my lecture, or could reconstruct what I wrote on the whiteboard?"
She responded within a couple of hours, sending me her version of Dream Robert's five points. They were expressed with admirable brevity, very much in my own style. Borrowing from my dream student's notes, I was able to compose the opening section of that chapter with almost no editing. Here's how it reads:
The five most common reasons why we misinterpret dream message about the future are:
1. We mistake a literal event for a symbolic one, or vice versa.
2. We misidentify people and places.
3. We fail to figure out how far in the future the dreamed event might be.
4. We see future events from a certain angle, that may not reveal the whole picture.
5. We confuse realities, confounding a dream that relates to external reality with dreams that are real experiences in other orders of reality.
I often play the role of teacher in my own dreams, with many different audiences: with people I recognize, with people I will meet in the future, with people in countries I have not yet visited, with people in other orders of reality, including the afterlife. I have preserved hundreds of reports from people who say they have attended a workshop, a lecture, a ritual or some other type of training with me in dreams. I have learned to pay close attention to reports about Dream Robert's teaching activities, because sometimes I find that he is more than a few steps ahead of me. It's a rare student of mine who brings detailed notes back from the dreaming, but I am open to more. So if the Traveler says something interesting in your dreams, leads a new ritual or demonstrates a new exercise, please send me detailed notes. He is often a few steps ahead of me, as in the case of his lecture about why we miss dream messages.
Let me hasten to add that if you dream of me and enjoy the experience, I am happy to accept the credit; if the experience wasn’t great, don’t blame it on me!
Text adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back: Adventures of a Dream Archaeologist in the Multiverse by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.
Photo: Dream coast at Esalen by RM