What is going on in your dreams doesn't necessarily stop when you wake up or switch to a different screen. The action may play on, like episodes in a television series that continue to run after you turn off the set.
It gets more interesting. In dreams, you may check in to a parallel life you are leading somewhere else.
You may be swimming with seals, or looking for the selkie skin that was hidden from you. You might still be living with your ex, doing the things you would be doing if you had never broken up. You might be marching with those warriors in leather armor under the banner of a Bear Goddess. You might be running that bordello in the French Quarter in old New Orleans. You may be up on a high roof top, looking down on your present life in the perspective of the Double on the Balcony, your eternal witness.
When you exit a scene in a life you are leading somewhere else, you may or may not remember where you were and who you are in that other world. When you do remember, you tag what lingers in your mind as a dream.
When you exit a dream that is also a visit to a parallel life, your parallel self continues on its way. While you go about your day, your other self may dream of you.
Jung struggled for clarity on this, and found it late in life. He came to believe that we lead continuous lives in our dreams. Put another way, your dream may be a glimpse of a continuous life you are living somewhere else, a life that goes on whether or not you are tuned to its channel. This is something you can dream on.
You get up in the middle of the night and go the bathroom. When you return to bed, you find the same dream is playing as you were dreaming before, but the action has moved along. A bathroom break may be the start of your awakening.
Sometimes a dream of this kind reaches to you from another realm like a giant fist, pulling you in and back. It was like that for me one night at Big Sur. I was in a bed overlooking the Pacific Ocean, my window open to catch the sea breeze and the marvelous rhythm of the waves breaking on the rocky shore.
In my dreams, I was far away, in Mongolia in a cruel winter, on the eve of World War II. I was engaged in a secret mission, to spy on a team of SS commandos who were seeking to capture the most powerful shamanic artifact in the Central Asia: the spirit banner of Genghis Khan. I stirred from this dream, thrilled and mystified. I might have made it my plan to reenter the dream to try to understand why I was in Mongolia in the 1930s while my body was on the California coast. But no effort on my part was required - unless I had wanted to resist going back.
Again and again, through the whole night, the drama played on. All my senses were engaged. Now in a dual or multiple state of consciousness, I could hear the Pacific breakers and turn my body on the bed, while fully present in the Mongolian adventure in a body that felt no less real. I could taste the blood from a horse's neck I was required to drink in order to survive that terrible winter, in a wilderness of snow. I could smell the rank fear of horses and men. I have no doubt I was there.
Art: René Magritte, "Faraway Looks" (1927)
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