Sunday, February 28, 2016

Make your creative genius happy

The Romans never described a person as a genius. They might say, "Apollonius has a genius" - i.e., a special relationship with a tutelary spirit. The word genius is related to gignere, which means to engender or "beget". It implies reproductive energy, the power of inseminating new life. The Romans called the marriage bed genialis lectus. As observed by Jungian analyst and classicist Marie-Louise von Franz, "this referred not only to sexual potency but also to the qualities that today we would call psychic vitality, temperament, resourcefulness and a lively imagination."
    In a well-bred Roman household, a statuette representing the personal genius of the father of the family usually stood near the hearth in the kitchen. It might be the figure of a young man, holding a horn of plenty or a phallus or a snake. The woman of the house was believe to have her own guardian spirit, or "Juno", who embodied the power of giving birth. In the Roman conception, each of us is born with a personal relationship with a spiritual patron, or genius, who is the source of creative energy.
    James Russell Lowell was close to this perception when he wrote: "Talent is that which is in a man's power; genius is that in whose power a man is."
    To live and work creatively, we need to make room for this energy. The Romans were on to something. To bring something new into the world is to give birth. We see this in the pregnancy dreams that are not about physical childbirth, but about something new that is borning inside us. We can feel it in our bodies in a period of creative gestation.
    When one of my books is ready to be born, I feel pregnant. I mean that in a quite literal sense. My appetites change. I develop odd cravings at strange hours. I forget to eat or sleep for days at a time, then walk out of a dinner party to crash or feed my face with something I wouldn't normally touch. I develop morning sickness. When my new baby is ready to come out, I can't stop the contractions, even though sometimes, like a woman I once heard screaming in a maternity ward, I want to yell, "This has to stop!" There is no dope, no epidural, no C-section available to dull the experience or shortcut the labor; whatever is in me has to come out the old-fashioned way. There is an equivalent to birthing in water: the blessed gift of going into a state of flow, in which I relax into the rhythms of what is fighting its way into the world.
     To choose and act creatively, we must be able to put our commonplace selves, with their reliance on structures and schedules,on one side, and make room for the source energy of the begetter. Creative inspiration, as all artists and discoverers know, comes through spontaneous combustion between the waking mind and other levels of consciousness. "I know now," wrote Yeats, "that revelation is from the self, but from that age-old memoried self, that shares the elaborate shell of the mollusc and the child in the womb, that teaches the birds to make their nest; and that genius is a crisis that joins the buried self for certain moments to our daily trivial mind."
     You cannot program a creative breakthrough, but you can clear a space where it may come about. Dreamwork is a wonderful aid to the creative process, because the source of dream images and the source of creative inspiration are not separate. When you resolve to catch your dreams, you are telling your creative source, "I am available. I'm listening." When you record your dreams, you are developing the art of storytelling. You will discover your gifts as a writer, and if you are already a writer,you will find you have done your "warm-up" exercises almost effortlessly and are ready to go he distance. Best of all, through dreamwork you are constantly learning to approach challenges from new angles, in a spirit of play.
   The Romans believed that a person's genius rejoices in good living, in laughter, in healthy sex, in having fun. Forget to play, and you are not working with your genius, for whom play is the only thing in mortal affairs worth taking seriously.

Text adapted from Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by Three Rivers Press. All rights reserved.

Image: First century Roman bronze statuette of a genius wearing a toga with the top pulled over the head in the style of a priest at a religious sacrifice.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Three: Truth Caller, Green Skin, Birthday Waters


Truth Caller

She stands straight as a spear. Young, tall, ivory-skinned. The fall of her hair: straight and long as a horse’s tail. Her clear bright eyes reach into secret places. They make deceivers squirm. They are the eyes of a truth caller.
    I know where I want her to be. I move her like a chess piece to the edge of the concourse, where the people who come here for power and show must pass. Let them see her and tremble for the consciences they left behind. She stands straight as the spear of Athena.


Green Skin

I sample the fruit before I join my hosts at the table. It is green-skinned, small and round. When I try to peel it, the skin does not readily yield the flesh. The pieces drip through my fingers. The green fruit is good eating, neither sweet nor sour.
    At the table, they give me a platter of the green fruit, already sliced. I see I am meant to eat the skin. I have brought some of the green balls with me. I bite into these, enjoying the play of teeth and hands, eating skin and all, before I take a fork to what has been sliced and prepared. I am filling with green fire.


Birthday waters

My companions and I have agreed to meet on a remote, rocky shore in the cold dawn, to make a ceremony of renewal. Our clothes are simple, homespun or merely skins, in the style of this ancient time. This is the birthday of our cause. The waters are chill, the sky is leaden, but we will perform the act.
    My place is apart from the others: a high natural platform of rock jutting out from a sea cave, above the waters, which turn and roil here as if something vast is stirring in the deep.
    I stand back now, as observer. My mind hovers above the scene like a sea bird. I see the companions who have entered the sea from the pebbled beach. They stand waist-deep, watching the man on the high ledge. I was in him, and he in me, but now there is distance between us. I will witness his passion, not join myself to it.
    There is something of the holy man about him. And the king, and the fool.
    His garments fall away from him like tree bark. He drops into the sea with his two legs pressed together. The people on the beach shriek like gulls.
    The man from the rock is gone for a long time. The others begin to doubt that he will return. One by one, they drift away, seeking warmth and food and solace.
    Only a child will see when the drowned man returns.
    On that day, the world will change. Even the child may not remember what the world was like before, except in the dreams of an old man.
     These are birthday waters.

Sometimes all the dreamwork I feel called to do is to write (or draw) the scenes that stay with me as well as I can and let them speak for themselves, as creative acts. These three vignettes came from my dreams in the early hours of Friday morning.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Real dream science needs to be conducted inside the dream state

The most original and revealing scientific study of dreams – the only kind that is likely to bring us the big stuff – is research inside dreams, rather than research about dreams.
       Charting a path for future research, William C. Dement, a pioneer of scientific investigation of  sleep and dreams, appealed back in the 1970s for “trained introspectionists to give us somewhat more confident information about what goes on in the mind during sleep.” Dement suggested that the most important research would require science to recognize that there are some individuals who seem to be “supremely good at recalling their dreams.” Perhaps they could be encouraged not only to increase their recall even further but to attain some degree of mental control inside the dreamstate “which would allow them to attend to the dream more closely with the idea of remembering it and reporting it.”
     Dement concluded: “Our major data about the dream world should come from those best able to describe it” – dream experiencers. [1]

Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys

A century before Dement made his remarks, the Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys (1822-1892), a French aristocrat and oriental scholar, made this type of research his ruling passion. He started observing his dreams closely at the age of thirteen, as a way of whiling away his time after completing lessons with his private tutors. Within a year, he noticed he was often aware while dreaming of his “true situation” - that he was dreaming – and was able to “guide their development” consciously. He dreamed, for example, that he was among flowering lilac trees. Aware that he was dreaming, he remembered reading that our memories of smell are “seldom correct” when we wake from dreams. “I caught hold of the branch, and first assured myself that the smell of lilac was recalled in my memory by this imaginary but voluntary act.” [2]
     Over decades, Saint-Denys became an intrepid investigator inside his dreams, producing and exploring dream images that revolved around his research interests. “During the day I reflected on the subjects most worthy of examination; at night, during the dreams in which I was aware of my situation, I sought every possible opportunity to discover and analyze.” [3]
     There was a curious blind spot in his dream exploration. He believed that dream images all derive from our waking experiences: that whatever we see in dreams is constructed from life memories. Scientist that he was, he tested this by his experiential method. Perhaps the fact that he was not able – by his own account – to identify dreamscapes that were unrelated to waking life memories was a function of his own belief system. That would fit his own observation that whenever he thought about something in a conscious dream, a corresponding scene or image appeared. Dream images, he concluded, are “the representation in our mind’s eye of the objects that occupy our thoughts.”

Our best dream scientists are likely to be assiduous dream journalists, keeping detailed logs of their own experiences in the dream worlds, and those shared with them. By collecting and pooling data of this kind, we can overwhelm the silly reductionism that dismisses one-off dream reports as "anecdotal." If we can point to 1,000 or even 100 dated and authentic dream reports suggestive of precognition, or dream diagnosis, or interactive or social dreaming, we have evidence for these phenomena that cannot be shrugged off because it failed to meet laboratory standards.
   Active dreamers following my methods and sharing results have now gone a long way in assembling a remarkable data bases of this kind. We are not only assembling evidence of the play of "supernormal" abilities like precognition, telepathy and clairvoyance in dreams, but logging serial dreams suggestive of parallel realities and shared, interactive experiences in other realities that seem to be no less "real" than the ordinary world.
    In these areas, the big game will always elude those who try to pen it in cages. The real dream scientist will seek it where it is to be found, deep in the forests of the night.
    Quantum pioneer and Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli, himself a world-class dreamer, said that 
“We need a new science to explore the objective side of human consciousness and the subjective side of matter: a science willing to embrace both objective and subjective avenues to discovery while recognizing the legitimacy of  individual experience.” Active dreamers are on it.

1. William C. Dement, “Proposals for future research” in Gabrielle C. Lairy and Pero Salzarulo (eds) The Experimental Study of Human Sleep: Methodological Problems (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1975) 442.
2. Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys, Dreams and How to Guide Them trans. Nicholas Fry, ed. Morton Schatzman M.D. (London: Duckworth, 1982) 56.
3. ibid, 20.

For the role of dreaming in the history of science, please see The Secret History of Dreaming. For a leading-edge experiential adventure exploring themes discussed here, look for my next online course "Active Dreaming: The Essential Training".

The soul is only partly confined to the body

One of Jung's great finds in his study of alchemy was a passage from de Sulphure, a tract by Michael Sendivogius, that Jung paraphrased as follows:

The soul is only partly confined to the body, just as God is only partly enclosed in the body of the world. [1]

In this conception the soul is "the vice-regent of God" and dwells in the life spirit of the blood. It rules the mind and this rules the body. Soul operates within the body, but the greater part of its function is outside the body. The power of the soul is that of imaginatio. Through its "imaginative faculty", the soul can operate in the deepest regions (profundissima) outside the body. It has absolute and independent power to do things beyond what the body can grasp.

When it so desires, it has the greatest power over the body, for otherwise our philosophy would be in vain. Thou cans conceive no greater, for we have opened the gate unto thee. [2]

The picture that emerges is of a lively, ever-shifting engagement between soul and the world of the body, an engagement that generates physical events from a deeper matrix. By implication, we see that individuals may be less separate than they supposed, joined in realms where soul is at home in overlapping fields of energy that may approximate group souls. It goes without saying that in this vision of reality, soul must survive the death of the body, since it exists and operates outside the body, as well as in it, during earthly life.


1. C.G.Jung, Psychology and Alchemy trans. R.F.C. Hull.  Collected Works volume 12 (Princeton University Press, 1968) 282
2. ibid, 279-80.

Illustration from the Splendor Solis, 16th century illuminated Hermetic text.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The nearness of the Moon

Just now I received a beautiful dream report from one of our teachers of Active Dreaming. She dreamed that the moon was coming close to the earth and we all could fly easily to it. There was a disabled boy in a wheelchair, and for him the Moon got so close to the earth it touched the land and the boy could roll right out to the surface of the Moon from a special hilltop. The dreamer received the wonderful feeling that anyone who is suffering can find a place of respite and magic in the realm of the Moon. After reading this account, I returned to a leisurely morning spent going over old journals. This is always a rich and absorbing exercise. I turned the page in a 2003 journal and found the drawing I have posted above. The accompanying brief dream report reads as follows:
The Nearness of the Moon
I become vividly aware that Luna is very close. It is easy to take people there for fun and adventure, and for instruction in schools that operate on this plane.

I think now of Jung's wildly - and wisely - shamanic understanding of a woman patient who said she went to live on the Moon after suffering incest and abuse as a teen.To the amazement and derision of his colleagues, Jung insisted that she really was living on the Moon. When the young Marie Louise von Franz heard Jung say this in a lecture, she confronted him. He couldn’t be serious, surely. He was. Marie-Louise suggested to Jung that what he meant to say that the patient's situation was “as if” she lived on the Moon. Jung replied, “No, not ‘as if’. She did live on the Moon.” Von Franz thought at the time that he must be crazy. [1] Later she came to understand that Jung recognized that we when we suffer intolerable conditions in this world, part of us may part company with us in order to survive - and why not in the astral realm of Luna, which ancient and indigenous peoples recognize to be thickly settled by spirits who take a close interest in human affairs?
1. Von Franz tells the story of The Woman Who Lived on the Moon in Animus and Anima in Fairy Tales (Toronto: Inner City Books, 2002) 6. She talks about the same episode in the documentary film The Wisdom of the Dream.
Drawing by RM. July 21, 2003.

Monday, February 22, 2016

We dream the future, all the time

Dreaming, we are released from the limitations of the body and of spacetime. We fold time and travel into the future (and into the past and parallel dimensions).
    I became fascinated by this subject because I have been dreaming about future events, large and small, before they happened since my early childhood in Australia. Here are a few examples:

Dream 1: I check into a hotel where they tell me the credit card I use to pay my bill will be my room key.
Follow-up: Three months later, I make last-minute arrangements to stay at a New York hotel. They explain they have a new system; the credit card I will use to pay my bill will be my room key.

Dream 2: 68 people have signed up for one of my workshops.
Follow-up: Thirteen months later, I arrive at a rural retreat to lead a workshop (not even conceived at the time of the dream) and find 68 people are signed up. The rest of my quite complex dream report gave me very helpful guidance in handling things over the weekend.

Dream 3: A silly little dog decked out in fake antlers for a Christmas event runs out on the road and is killed. He is magically revived by a bizarre character who doesn’t conform to any normal standards of behavior.
Follow-up: The next day, having missed a connection, I am seated on the “wrong” plane for the second leg of a flight to the West Coast. At the start of the in-flight movie, a silly little dog decked out in fake antlers for a Christmas photo shoot is killed on the road, and magically revived by a bizarre character: the Archangel Michael as portrayed by John Travolta.

If we can dream something as trivial as the in-flight movie on the wrong plane, or the key card system a a hotel, it seems safe to assume we dream about the big stuff ahead if time too. And indeed we do.
    How common is the experience of dreaming the future? I think it goes on all the time, because our dream self is forever traveling ahead of us, scouting the roads we have not yet taken in physical life. Even the most prolific dream recaller can handle only a limited number of the “memories of the future” with which the traveling dream self returns to the body. And it may be difficult to figure out what exactly is going on in a future situation until waking events catch up with the dream.
     If you have ever had the sense of déjà vu, you are already deep inside this territory. That feeling of déjà vu (“already seen”) generally comes when you enter a scene in waking life that you have already dreamed. You may have lost the dream, but you recognize a place or a person you encountered when you were dreaming.
      In modern Western societies – unlike traditional dreaming cultures, like those of Aborigines, Native Americans or ancient Celts – few of us are given much encouragement or coaching to grow the skills of dreaming true. Many of us are quite unaware that we dream the future (maybe all the time) until a specific dream jolts us awake.
     The first time many of us notice that we been to the future in a dream is when we are shocked by a dream of death or disaster that subsequently takes place in physical reality. A radio show host told me he was terrified, as a teenager, by a dream in which he looked down on his mother, apparently dead inside a coffin. A week later, he saw the scene tragically enacted in waking life when the family was out tobogganing in the Rocky Mountains. His mother’s sled shot off over a precipice and – when he got to the foot of the slope – the dreamer found himself looking down at her as she lay, with her back broken, inside the coffin-like box .
      Dreams of this kind can seem like a curse, when we feel unable to do anything to change an unhappy outcome we have dreamed. But if we pay attention to our dreams, we’ll soon notice that our dreams of the future don’t only involve death and disaster. Our dream radar scans events large and small, happy and sad, which are coming into our field of experience.
     Some indigenous peoples maintain that we dream everything that will manifest in physical life before it happens. I think this is correct.
     Let’s be constantly aware that the futures we see in dreams (or through waking intuition) are possible futures, not predetermined ones.. We can change the odds on the manifestation of any possible future depending on whether we are able to recognize and clarify the information and then take appropriate action to move towards a desirable outcome or avoid an unwanted one.
    The future we can foresee can often be changed or shaped for the better. If we don’t know where we are going, we are liable to end up where we are headed. The travels of the dream self enable us to take a long clear look down the roads of life, and make better choices.

For much more on this subject, please see my books Conscious Dreaming (especially chapter 6 on "Using Dream Radar") and Dreaming True.

At the Maison Carrée, the Roman temple in Nîmes, a locale I dreamed before I went there. My dream self routinely visits foreign countries before I go to them – and doesn’t have to pay for a plane ticket or wait for his bags.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The stone Jung's builders rejected

Jung dreamed of a tower and he built it, on old church land at the edge of the village of Bollingen, on the shore of the Obersee basin of Lake Zürich. He started work soon after his mother’s death in 1923. What began as a simple neo-medieval tower with a pointed roof grew, in successive waves of inspiration and construction, into a small castle. Jung embarked on the final phase of construction after his wife Emma’s death in 1955, adding a high upper room he called the chapel to the middle building between what were now two towers. He painted the walls with scenes of other times, and filled the room with things that took him “out of time, out of the present.”
    He always refused to install electricity and indoor plumbing. He lived here like a farmer of an earlier time, pumping his own water, chopping wood for his fire, lighting his candles and oil lamps, cooking his hearty stews. He spent several months of the year at Bollingen. He came for solitude and simplicity, leaving behind his patients, his lecture room audiences, and his persona as professor and professional analyst. He went about in old, comfortable clothes, and was often to be seen in overalls and even, on occasion, washing a pair of jeans. He did the best of his creative writing here in the last period of his life.
     Very often, if you were nearby, you could hear the tap of Jung’s chisel or the clang of his hammer. He worked here with stone as well as paper, covering many surfaces with images and inscriptions. He called the whole place his “confession in stone”. Some of the things he carved were there for any visitor to see, some were hidden. One of the hidden inscriptions read in Latin Philemonis sacrum Faust poenetentia [sic] which means “Sanctuary of Philemon, Penitence of Faust”. 
     Philemon was the name by which Jung knew the spiritual guide whose importance is fully revealed in the Red Book, the guide who, as he wrote, convinced him of the objective reality of the psyche and its productions. Philemon is also the name, in the myth, of a kindly old man who gives hospitality to gods who are traveling in disguise – and is killed, together with his gentle wife, through the greed and megalomania of Faust, the model of heedless Western man, in Part II of Goethe’s Faust.
     When he was writing his essay on synchronicity, Jung carved the face of a laughing Trickster on the west wall of the original tower.
     Jung’s confession in stone contains many images that spark fire in the imagination but do not immediately yield explanation, except where Jung has added words, always in Greek or Latin, which he read fluently. Here is a woman reaching for the udder of a mare. Here is a bear behind her, apparently rolling a ball. Here is Salome. Here is a family crest.
      The best story of Jung’s stone work involves the block that was not supposed to be delivered. Jung wanted to build a wall for his garden. He engaged a mason who gave exact measurements for the stones required to the owner of a quarry while Jung was standing by. The stones were delivered by boat. 
     When unloaded, it was clear at once that there had been a major mistake. The cornerstone was not triangular, as ordered. It was a perfect cube of much larger dimensions, about twenty inches thick. Enraged, the mason ordered the workmen to reload this block on the boat. Jung intervened, saying, “That is my stone! I must have it.” He knew at once that the stone his mason had rejected would suit him perfectly for a purpose he did not yet understand.
     Fairly soon, he decided to chisel a quotation from one of his beloved alchemists on one side of the cube. But something deeper was stirring, through affinity between Jung and the stone itself. On a second face of the stone, he saw something like a tiny eye, looking at him. He chiseled a definite eye. 
    Around it he carved the shape of a little hooded figure, a homunculus. He had a name for this figure, Telesphoros. The name means “one who guides to completion”. In Greek mythology, he is a son of Asklepios, the patron of dream healing. This figure was a recurring archetype in Jung’s inner life, one he sought to give physical form with pen and chisel and, as a boy, with a pocket knife. When he was ten years old, Jung carved a little manikin of this kind from a school ruler and kept it hidden in a box. He regarded this as his first great secret in life, and “the climax and conclusion” of his childhood. 

     Now, around Telesphoros, he chiseled words in Greek that came to him. In Memories Dreams Reflections they are translated as follows:

Time is a child – playing like a child – playing a board game – the kingdom of the child. This is Telesphoros, who roams through the dark regions of this cosmos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams.

The broken first sentence is a loose translation of one of the most mysterious and compelling fragments of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Key words are open to rival translations. The word Jung renders as time is aion for which “time” is perhaps not a strong enough rendering. A recent translation of the line from Heraclitus offers this: “Lifetime is a child at play, moving pieces on a board. Kingship belongs to the child.” 
      I wonder whether Jung played with the idea, as he chiseled, that what Heraclitus was talking about was a secret law of manifestation, perhaps none other than what Jung dubbed synchronicity. Beyond logic, beyond causation as it is commonly understood, the play of forces outside time determines what happens within the human experience of time. Play is what we must be most serious about. Play in the spirit of the child, who plays without concern for consequences, because the play is the thing.      
     So, I suggest: “Synchronicity is a child at play, moving pieces on a board.” On our side of reality, we see the pieces move, but not the hand that moves them or casts them.

Merlin's cry

One side of Jung's cube remains blank. He said near the end of his life that he had an idea for it, never realized: "Do you know what I wanted to chisel into the back face of the stone? “Le cri de Merlin!” For what the stone expressed reminded me of Merlin’s life in the forest, after he had vanished from the world. Men still hear his cries, so the legend runs, but they cannot understand or interpret them."

Adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Black dog gives me a sign

I was in high spirits, swinging my black dog stick, as I walked down the cobbled winding street for the first session in the four-day series of adventures in Active Dreaming I am leading at Maitrea in Prague. My spirits rose higher when I saw there was a friendly black dog out for his evening walk right in front of me. I am in favor of personal omens, and for many years the appearance of a friendly black dog has been a happy omen for me. On Týnská ulička, the black dog squatted in front of me and proceeded to pump out a prodigious quantity of poop on the sidewalk,right at my feet. Hmm, did this mean my evening was going to be crappy? I decided to cleave to the traditional belief that shit, as a dream symbol, is auspicious, boding abundance and fortune. In the Greco-Roman world, the belief was related the fact that excrement goes into underworld, from which we get gold and silver. A name for the Lord of the Underworld is Pluto, meaning the Wealthy (not the Disney dog, though there is another canine connection) from which we derive the word "plutocrat." My choice of symbolic frames of reference worked out well. I opened the evening workshop with my fresh story. Czechs have a great, often very earthy, sense of humor, and the sixty people packed into our space loved my dog story. "That touched my poetic intestine," one of them laughed, using a wonderful Czech tongue-in-cheek expression. We received an abundance of gifts as we proceeded to play my Coincidence Card Game, turning a simple deck of index cards into an impromptu oracle that delivered amazingly specific and arousing responses to the questions we posed on life issues. The black dog dump gave me a great way to ensure that we all had our sense of humor in good working order at the start of play. The general title of my series in Prague is "On Wings of Dreams". The black dog episode, and the funny story it gave us, will make it likely that we bring all our discoveries and heady adventures in flying between the worlds back down to solid ground by the close of play.
We spent some time in the class that followed this sidewalk oracle discussing how you come to recognize personal omens, and how - if they are to be practical, rather than "mere" superstitions - you are going to want to watch closely what follows after one of them turns up on the roads of life. I provide guidance on this in my book Sidewalk Oracles, from which I excerpt the following:
Game Rules for Recognizing Personal Omens
1. Start by checking on superstitions you may have inherited or picked up from others. For example,that walking under a ladder or having a black cat walk in front of you is bad luck, or that having a bird poop on your head or your car might mean money is coming. Have any of these supposed omens worked for you the way they are supposed to? If so, keep them on your personal list of practical omens. If not, scratch them.
2. Check recurring images or incidents that catch your attention.
3. Keep track of what happens after sightings of this kind. Does a certain kind of incident follow? Does the day turn out well or badly? Does the repeated number or similar sighting seem only to be saying, “Listen up, pay attention”?
4. Make a short list of your personal omens, the ones that seem to work, and pay attention to what follows your next sightings of them.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

In the place between sleep and awake


How I love to lie, after sleep, in a state of horizontal meditation. Sometimes my thoughts and images stream from a dream I remember or that now slips through the curtain between the worlds. Often I am simply attending, in a relaxes way, to the forms and pictures that surface, fresh and unexpected, from a creative matrix that now becomes available.
     On my first morning back in Prague, I was startled, but not altogether surprised, to observe a large number of people advancing towards me from bank of the Vltava River. They were well dressed in middle-class winter clothes, dark topcoats and hats, male and female, mostly adults. I indicated that they should choose one to speak.
     The man who came forward had a German name I will not make public here.  He told me that had been try to cross N
ový Most, but there was a problem. I walked with him to the bridge, try to understand. He demonstrated by stepping out onto the bridge. He got only so far - perhaps to the middle - when he was bounced back, as if he had run into an invisible rubber wall. I understood now that he and the others were dead but had not yet been able to make their crossing. They seemed like decent people, but I wondered about the history here. For example, what had this German been doing in World War II?
     I stirred from this scene, not feeling an obligation to stay with this group.
     Later, a scene opened like the cover of a children's book with a scene of a bright starry sky above rooftops, framed by a colored border that made the whole thing look like a stage. Big words floated in the sky: FRUTA DE DESCANSO. I knew this menat "Fruit of Rest" and thought it might be a delightful invitation. I entered into the spirit. I was drawn into enjoyable sideshows and spectacles. The whole thing had the quality of a mild and gentle version of Carnaval.
     After a bathroom break and some time online, I lay down again and heard an inner voice. The in-between space between sleep and awake is a good place to entertain inner and transpersonal guides, but when the contact seems new, you want to check its reliability. This voice told me encouraging things about myself and my possible accomplishments as teacher and healer, but I felt the need to follow it into its home realm.
    I willed myself to rise above the body and seek face-to-face contact. I did not lose contact with my physical body; some pains resulting from recent wear and tear helped to ensure that. I succeeded in finding a place that reminded me of a school of advanced studies on the other side. The entrance was quite different, though. It became something like the portal of huge, immensely elongated rocket ship. I was given to understand that beings here do not need to retain human form and that knowledge here can be stored in forms other than my beloved books.
    I asked for a name for the guiding intelligence that was with me. He said I could think of him as the Rememberer, or the Memorialist, within my larger Self. To demonstrate what he remembers, he surprised me by putting me on a bus full of radiant beings. They all looked like children between ten and twelve years old. Around them, I saw luminous "shadows" - shapes in their energy fields - that provided hints of who and what they are, as adults, even very old ones, in other places and times.
    Why did we all appear as children? It was indicated that this was because I had been brought to a place of despatch, from which all us - related personalities with related missions - were sent out across time 

There was much, much more. I let many of the images and openings come and go without involvement or attachment. This part is no doubt familiar to meditators. More familiar to active dreamers is the choice to follow a certain encounter or portal that is offered into a lucid dream adventure - as with the group of the dead trying to cross the New Bridge, or the invitation to enjoy the Fruits of Rest in a latino funfair environment.
    I drifted into sleep dream before ending the adventures. I thought I was at home, engaged in a fascinating online conference with vibrant African music in the background. The layout of my house was inverted. My study was at the top instead of the bottom. I did not notice this anomaly in the dream. I was interrupted by the early arrival of the mailman downstairs. I padded down to collect the mail. It was voluminous, filling twice the normal space. I gathered it up, but woke before I had the chance to go through it. Opening my dream mail is clearly an assignment for another period between sleep and awake.

Note: Sleep researchers call the state of consciousness I describe here the hypnopompic zone. I like the phrase used by Tinker Bell in the movie Peter Pan, when she tells Peter, "Look for me in the place between sleep and awake. There you will always find me."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The shimmer effect of gods among us

I observe powers of the deeper world moving among humans. Some of these powers are called gods in certain cultures. A Jungian might call them archetypes. Most humans are utterly unaware of their presence.
   When they are in the field - noticed or invisible, invoked or uninvoked - their simple presence effects a radical change in the ordinary world. It creates a "shimmer effect". The fabric of physical reality in their vicinity becomes fluid and unstable. It produces changes that may be experiences by humans as coincidences or anomalies.
    I realize the importance of being alert for the presence of these powers. If we can learn to make the right move during the period of "shimmer", we can help manifest extraordinary things.

I note in my journal: I woke from this dream in my second sleep thrilled with excitement

Reality check: I think this may be an entirely accurate glimpse of how things work when beings from multidimensional reality move close to the human sphere.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The universe is created when illusion binds itself with the thread of a dream

Listen up. Leave your chores and worries. You need to know where we are.
    First there is Nainema. He is illusion. He is called “Father with an Illusion”. He is all there is.
    The illusion that is Nainema affects itself deeply.
    Nainema takes the illusion that is himself into himself. He holds the illusion by the thread of a dream and looks into it. He is searching, but finds nothing.
    He looks again. He breathes. He holds the phantasm and binds it to the dream thread with a magical glue that comes from inside himself.. Then he takes the phantasm and tramples the bottom of it, He goes on stamping until he has made an earth that is big enough for him to sit on.
    Seated on the earth he has made, holding onto the dream, he spits out a stream of saliva. The forests are born from  this and begin to grow.
    He stretches himself out on the earth and dreams a sky above it. He pulls blue and white out of the earth. Now there is sky.
    Gazing at himself, he – the one who is the story itself – creates this story to tell us how it is.
    Now do you understand? 

This is the creation story as told by the Huitoto (or Uitoto) a people of the Colombian rainforest who live by slash-and-burn agriculture, fishing, and their deep connection with the life of the jungle around them. They move through the forest at night using luminous fungi as flashlights.

    Their cosmogony is no more strange than the discovery, in quantum physics, that the act of observation plucks events into manifestation from a cosmic noodle soup of potentialities. Reality begins with illusion. A cosmic illusion becomes self-aware, looks into itself. The act of observation begins to collapse a formless wave into form. But nothing is definite until the process is tied down with the thread of a dream, and juiced by divine acts of emission.
    As in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the place of creation is a state of conscious dreaming. In this Upanishad, whose title means The Great Forest Book, the
state of conscious dreaming is described as a state of "emitting" [srj], a word that can also mean the ejaculation of semen. The dreamer "emits" [srjate] or projects from himself "joys, happinesses and delights...ponds, lotus pools and flowing streams, for he is the Maker." The word srj is also used to describe the way a turtle projects its head and paws from under its shell.
     In both stories from the forest, we learn that ancient wisdom traditions have taught for millennia that quantum effects observed at the smallest levels of the universe may be at work in the largest: that microcosm is macrocosm. Nainema's story tells us that reality starts with illusion. Quantum physics suggests that the universe is made of dream stuff. Go dream on it.

Note: I have based my retelling of the Huitoto creation story on two texts. The older is in Paul Radin, Monotheism among Primitive Peoples (Basel: Ethnographical Museum 1954) pp 13-14; paraphrasing and summarizing K. T.Preuss, Religion und Mythologie der Uitoto (Gottingen, 1921). The more recent is in David  Leeming and Jake Page, God: Myths of the Male Divine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) 157-158

Top image: I found this photo from Huitoto country, showing the largest water lilies in the Amazon region, in a fascinating blog "Wandering Philosophies"

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Arouse your mind to invention like Leonardo da Vinci

He noticed how mountains become bluer the further away they are, asked why, and came up with a theory far ahead of his time. He looked at the crescent moon in the night sky, and wondered why a ghost disk floated above it — and grasped that he was looking at Earthshine, the reflected light from the Earth, and described this effect in a way that NASA found quite exact more than five centuries later.    
     In 1502, he designed a single-span bridge, like a pressed bow, to span the
Golden Horn — the estuary that once divided the European part of Constantinople — but his plan was rejected because everyone else agreed it was impossible to build. In 2001, when technology had caught up with his vision, a bridge that exactly followed his specifications was constructed at Aas in Norway. In May 2006, the Turkish government ordered the construction of his bridge, following his original plans, over the Golden Horn.   
     Before 1500, and shortly after, he designed prototypes for the helicopter, the tank, the hang glider, scuba diving equipment, a submarine, a calculator, a mobile robot, and something akin to a programmable analog computer. IBM put up the money to build forty working models of his inventions, which are on display at the Chateau of Clos Luce at
Amboise, where he spent the last three years of his life as the guest of King Francis I of France. He was also an anatomist, an astronomer, and one of the greatest — if not the greatest — painter and sculptor of the Renaissance, an age of titanic artists.   
     He was, of course, Leonardo da Vinci. The secret of this polymath’s immense imagination is of endless fascination. We won’t understand him unless we grasp that his power was, quite simply, the practice of
     Leonardo has left us clues as to how we can exercise imagination as he did, and these clues are more thrilling — and vastly more practical — than anything you will find in a conspiracy thriller. In his
Treatise on Painting, he gives us “a way of arousing the mind to various inventions".   
      The preferred method, he suggests, is to
stare at a blank wall.   
      He specifies that the wall must not be literally blank. The ideal wall will have stains and cracks and discolorations. You stare at these until images begin to form in your mind, and then change and quicken. You may see many different landscapes, “graced with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, great valleys, and hills in many combinations.”
     Or you can exercise your director’s power and let the scenes evolve into battles or great dramas, with “figures darting about, strange-looking faces and costumes, and an endless number of things which you can distill into finely rendered forms.”
     He does not spell out that the things “you can distill into finely rendered forms” may include a new invention that goes centuries beyond current technology.
     Leonardo tells us we can read patterns on a stone as easily as on a wall and get similarly fabulous results.
     We can also take a break from visual thinking and see what comes when we devote our fullest attention to another sense: hearing. To switch from visual mode to auditory mode, he advises listening with undivided focus to the sound of bells or the sound of running water. As you let your imagination stream with the sounds, words and music will come to you, and if you let it flow, you will soon be in creative flow yourself, bringing through fresh words and new ideas.
    The greatest secret of the
true Da Vinci Code is hidden in plain view, and audible to anyone — as soon as we adjust our senses.

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