Friday, June 28, 2019

Ritual initiation inside the dream state: A story from India

Can a ritual performed in a dream be for real? In the sacred literature of India, there is no doubt. Mind you, the ritual conducted in the dream world may involve living a whole life in another reality. The remarkable story of King Lavana, as recounted in the Yogavasistha, is an example.

In the lush country of the northern Pandavas, a king called Lavana performed a complex religious ceremony in his mind. It was the sacrifice of royal consecration, which made him a true king. What he accomplished in his imagination was entirely real. But there were consequences.
   Lavana is sitting on his throne when a magician appears, bows and invites the king to watch a marvelous trick. When the magician waves his peacock-feather wand, a man enters leading a horse. The king stares at the horse, transfixed, and then begins to fall from his throne. The servants catch him, but he is completely disoriented; he does not know where he is.
   When he recovers himself, he explains that he believes he mounted the horse and galloped away hunting across a great desert and into a jungle until he was pulled out of his saddle by a creeper and left swinging in a tree. He was starving by the time he was discovered by an Untouchable girl who agreed to rescue and feed him on condition that he married her and lived with her in her village.
   He spent sixty years with her, and had children, and ate carrion in cremation grounds, and forgot he had ever been a king - until a terrible drought struck the land and, in desperation, he ordered his son to kill him and eat his flesh. He was about to throw himself on the pyre when a great shout restored him to his throne.
   As he finishes this speech, the magician vanishes. It now becomes plain that what the fellow with the wand effected was no mere conjuring trick but a "divine illusion" designed to demonstrate the nature of reality.
   Lavana sets out to revisit the landscapes of his adventure - and finds the desert and the jungle he crossed, and the tree where he hung, and the village of the Untouchables and the crone who was his mother-in-law and recalls the king who married her daughter and the drought that destroyed the rest of the family. 

We eventually learn that Lavana's sufferings as an Untouchable were not only real but were arranged by Indra, to fulfill the ritual requirement that a king who performs the sacrifice of royal consecration must endure twelve years of suffering. By effecting the whole complex ceremony of the royal consecration in his mind - through an act of imagination - Lavana had accomplished instant initiation.

Wendy O'Flaherty comments on this tale from the Yogavasistha in her excellent book Dreams, Illusion and Other Realities: "To this day, many Indian sects hold that anyone who dreams that he is initiated has in fact been initiated." This has ancient precedent. In Vedic sacrifice, one priest serves as the witness. He does nothing except think the sacrifice while others make the physical motions.

Image: Indian king (Maharaja of Patiala) in 19th century picture

What if the dream angel spoke to you tonight?

"Can you imagine a modern American man coming to his wife, who had just had a baby, and saying 'I had a dream last night, and I received a message that we need to move to Mexico because our baby is in danger here'?  Can you imagine her discussion with her parents, as they’re packing up the house?  The conversation at work when they quit their jobs?"
     The question was put to me by a Christian friend after he read an article I had written on the dreams that saved the life of the infant Jesus. My friend continued:
     "Somehow we seem to think that lives 2,000 years ago were simpler, and that these decisions weren’t as 'big' as they would be today, but in an era when the average person probably never traveled more than 50 miles from the spot they were born, this was a very large decision indeed.  They knew how to listen."
      A thought transference exercise of this kind is like stoking a fire, and bringing the glowing coals under the cold ashes alive. It carries a fierce and luminous story that may have grown cold and gray through mindless repetition into blazing relevance for how we live today.
      My friend had further questions. "Where, and when, did we lose the ability to listen to our dreams? How do we get it back?"
       Here's part of the answer I give in my book Conscious Dreaming:

For centuries, the church applied crushing weight to deny the validity of personal experience in the worlds of spirit. Personal revelation is always perceived as a threat by religious monopolies. To impose its control over bodies and souls, the medieval church not only demonized half the cosmos; it demonized the dream source and the personal unconscious - a poor name for what is also our channel to higher consciousness.
     Carl Jung, the son of a Protestant minister who had lost his faith, observed that organized religion exists to protect people from a personal experience of the divine. Hopefully, we and our churches will evolve beyond the need for such defenses. In these things, there is simply no substitute for personal experience.
     If fear of dreams breeds witchfinders, it also spawns reductionists, who are perhaps more deadly (or at least more deadening) because they invoke scientific jargon in a society where 'science' is widely presumed to have all the answers. Turn a certain kind of scientist loose on the dreaming mind and you will soon be informed that dreams are hallucinations spawned by the wash of chemicals, or nonsensical clutter generated by random neural firing. Such findings are usually reported without a single reference to the researcher's personal experience of dreaming, which speaks eloquently about their value.
     There is all the difference in the world between a genuinely scientific approach and scientism, the dull ideology that denies the authenticity of what cannot be quantified and replicated under laboratory conditions. It is scientism, not genuine science, that is the enemy of dreaming. True science is hungry for fresh data and new experiments, ready to jettison theories that our understanding has outgrown, ever alive to the possibility that the universe (like the dream source) is putting bigger questions to us than our best brains can put to it. It is no accident that the pathfinders of modern science - Einstein and Pauli, Kekule and Bohr, even Sir Isaac Newton in his day - have been dreamers and practical mystics.

"How do we get it back?"

I've spent nearly thirty years in that cause, and have founded my own school of Active Dreaming, training dream teachers from more that 20 countries. Part of what we help people to understand - to revert to my friend's initial questions - is the need for discernment. Working with dreams, as with any other source of information, we want to check the reliability of our sources and fact-check the details. Active dreamers learn to do this in a  number of ways, for example by (a)  identifying and trusting their true feelings and gut instincts about a dream; (by) getting feedback from others according to the quick, clear and action-oriented Lightning Dreamwork process and (c)  mastering the art of dream reentry, which means going back inside a significant dream, wide awake and conscious, to develop further information and dialogue with the source.

Image: Russian Orthodox icon of the archangel Gabriel

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Dreaming humanity's path

I have a dream: that we will again become a society of dreamers. In a dreaming culture, dreams are valued and celebrated. The first business of the day, for most people, is to share dreams – dreams from the night, and dreams of life - and seek to harvest their guidance. The community joins in manifesting the energy and insight of dreams in waking life. In a dreaming culture, nobody says, “It’s only a dream" or “In your dreams, mister.” It is understood that dreams are both wishes (“I have a dream”) and experiences of the soul.

If dreams were honored throughout our society, our world would be different, and magical. Let me count the ways:

1. Dream Partners.
Personal relations will be richer, more intimate and creative. There will be less room for pretense and denial. Sharing dreams, we overcome the taboos that prevent us from expressing our real needs and feelings and open ourselves to those of others.

2. Family life and home entertainment.
“What did you dream?” is the first question asked around the table in a family of dreamers. In our dreaming culture, families everywhere will share dreams and harvest their gifts of story, mutual understanding and healing. Parents will listen to their children’s dreams and help them to confront and overcome nightmare terrors. Best of all, they will learn from their children, because kids are wonderful dreamers. This might be bad for TV ratings but it would bring back the precious arts of storytelling, helping us learn to tell our own story (a gift with almost limitless applications) and to recognize the larger story of our lives.

3. Dream Healing.
In our dreaming culture, dream groups will be a vital part of every clinic, hospital and treatment center and doctors will begin their patient interviews by asking about dreams as well as physical symptoms. Health costs will plummet, because when we listen to our dreams, we receive keys to self-healing. Dreams often alert us to possible health problems long before physical symptoms develop; by heeding those messages, we can sometimes avoid manifesting those symptoms. Dreams give us an impeccable nightly readout on our physical, emotional and spiritual health.

4. The Care of Souls.
As a dreaming culture, we will remember that the causes of disease are spiritual as well as physical. We will use dreams to facilitate soul recovery. In dreams where we encounter a younger version of ourselves, or are drawn back to a scene from childhood, we are brought to recognize a deeper kind of energy loss, that shamans call soul loss. Through trauma or abuse, through addiction or great sadness, we can lose a part of our vital soul energy. So long as it is missing, we are not whole and the gap may be filled by sickness or addiction. Dreams show us what has become of our lost children and when it is timely to call them home.

5. Dream Incubation.
In a dreaming culture, we will remember to “sleep on it,” asking dreams for creative guidance on school assignments, work projects, relationships and whatever challenges are looming in waking life. When we seek dream guidance, we must be ready for answers that go beyond our questions, because the dream source is infinitely deeper and wiser than what Yeats called the “daily trivial mind.”

6. Using Dream Radar.
Dreaming, we routinely fold time and space and scout far into the future. As a dreaming culture, we will work with dream precognition on a daily basis -- and develop strategies to revise the possible futures foreseen in dreams for the benefit of ourselves and others.

7. Building Communities.
When we share dreams with others, we recognize something of ourselves in their experiences. This helps us to move beyond prejudice and build heart-centered communities.

8. The Art of Dying.
The path of the soul after death, say the Plains Indians, is the same as the path of the soul in dreams -- except that after physical death, we won’t come back to the same body. Dreamwork is a vital tool in helping the dying to prepare for the conditions of the afterlife.

9. Walking the Path of Soul.
The greatest gift of dreaming is that it facilitates an encounter between the little self and the big Self. Active dreaming is a vital form of soul remembering: of reclaiming knowledge that belonged to us, on the levels of soul and spirit, before we entered this life experience. So much of the harm we do to ourselves and others stems from the fact that we have forgotten who we are and what we are meant to become. Dreaming, we remember, and encounter authentic spiritual guides who will help us on our paths.

Photo by RM: Dream sharing in one of the retreats I lead for Active Dreamers twice a year on a magic mountain in the New York Adirondacks. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

How a Physician Was Called to the Medicine Bear

A woman physician in Alaska dreamed that her two grandmothers, one Athapaskan Indian, the other Euro-American, paid her a visit in the same dream. They told her, “Go to Robert Moss. You need to meet the Bear. Until you meet the Bear, you will only be a doctor, not yet a healer.”
    At the time, the doctor had never heard of me. But she made a search and immediately pulled up the details of a workshop I was leading in Oregon a few weeks later. The title of this program was “Dancing with the Bear: Reclaiming the Arts of Dream Healing.” The physician did not hesitate. She booked a plane ticket, flew down the coast, drove in a rental car out to a small center near Bend, and was soon singing an indigenous song to call in the healing power of the Bear. On our first morning together, we journeyed together down into the Cave of the Bear to receive its gifts.
    After the drumming, the physician from Alaska came back with tears of joy in her eyes. She told us, “I now know what is required for me to be a true healer as well as a physician. When my patients come to me, they will get the best that modern medicine has to offer. At the same time, they will receive the healing power of the Bear because that is all around me.” She told me later that when she worked with patients in her office, she felt Bear paws over her hands, gently guiding her in diagnosis and healing. And that when she had to accompany a patient to an operating room, she would get everyone present - nurses, orderlies, even the occasional radiologist - to sing the song I had given her to call the Bear.

Art by Cristina Craciun. In RM private collection

Monday, June 17, 2019

Dreaming with Einstein

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.

- Albert Einstein

 While leading a workshop in Chicago, I recorded the following dream:

 Einstein tutors me on time travel

I enter a landscape that can be folded like a map, or crumpled so that points that would normally appear distant in time and space are next to each other. I see a beaming Einstein figure sailing across the vista. He seems to be gliding in midair, but may be traveling across the surface of an invisible screen.
      Einstein wants to talk to me, and begins to speak in a thick German accent. I am amazed, delighted and skeptical. Who would a great scientist wish to communicate with a scientific ignoramus like me?
      Einstein explains that there are two reasons. First, from his current vantage point he has an even greater appreciation of the value of dreams and the central role of dreaming in our future science. Second, he reminds me that he was always a dreamer, and that his greatest discoveries were the fruit of his dreaming. “Dreaming was central to my lifelong work, from my vision at sixteen of riding a beam of light.”
     Einstein tells me that dreaming will help to unlock the secrets of time travel – which could, however, be a mixed blessing. He continues to insist on the physical impossibility of human travel backwards through time. On the other hand, according to “my” Einstein, it is possible to enter the past and interact with beings and situations in the past in other ways – for example, by materializing a body at an earlier time or by occupying the body and awareness of a person living in that time.
    “Higher entities are capable of direct intervention in any time,” says my dream Einstein, who proceeds to tutor me on the existence and nature of five-dimensional (and higher-dimensional) beings who are not confined to the rules of the universe, even the relative universe. 

 This is one of a series of dreams and visions in which “Einstein” has appeared to mentor me on the structures of multidimensional reality. He gave me a very interesting working model of synchronicity described in my book Sidewalk Oracles. Some of his dream transmissions are extremely complex. I have shared some of my reports with scientist friends who can compare this material with their own explorations in string theory, particle physics and the nature of time. Sometimes we journey together, into a shared dreamscape – like the scene in which a landscape is folded like a map, or the courtyard beyond a Chinese gate where Einstein introduced me to Fu Tsi, the legendary creator of the I Ching, and explained why the I Ching is an accurate model of the universe and its patterns of manifestation.
    Whether “my” Einstein is an aspect of myself, or a fantasy figure, or a holographic legacy of a great mind, or the scientist himself, making a visit from his research center on the other side, this ongoing dream series is provocative and thrilling, and gets me thinking about what dreamers and scientists have to offer each other.

In the wake of the Einstein revolution of 1905, physics became a science of uncertainty, improvisation and wonder. It revealed that behind the seemingly solid surface of things is an incredible dance of energy, or pure consciousness. It showed us that time and space, as we experience them on the way to the office or to pick up the kids from school, are not conditions for any other kind of life in the universe, merely human conveniences (although they often seem more like inconveniences). 
   Today, popular hypotheses in physics suggest the following:

* Time travel into the future is possible.
* Time travel into the past may be possible. (Einstein, in his time and in my dreamtime, maintains that it is not a physical possibility for a human body – but allows, in the dream version, that it could be accomplished in other ways.)
* There is no firm separation between subject and object in the universe. The observer and the “outside world” he thinks he is observing are enmeshed together. Indeed, at subatomic levels, it is the act of observation that plucks events from a soup of possibilities.
* Humans have an innate ability to communicate and influence people and objects across a distance.
* The mind is nonlocal. Consciousness acts outside the brain and outside spacetime.
* 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.

The new physics shows us a universe that baffles common sense, a universe that operates along utterly different lines from one in which the commuter train   leaves at 6:05 (if we’re lucky). Yet the findings of leading-edge physics have brought us scientific confirmation of the worldview of 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
    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?
    Through dreaming.
    Dreaming, we swim in the quantum soup of possibilities, where the act of looking brings things into being. Dreaming, we discover the existence of alternate realities and parallel worlds – including dimensions that escape human conceptions of form – and can actively explore them.
     Dreaming, we confirm that consciousness is never confined to the body and that we can reach people and objects at a distance. Dreaming, we are time jumpers, able to visit (and possibly influence) both past and future. Dreaming, we can experience the six (or seven) “hidden” dimensions of physical reality, separated from our everyday sensory perception at the time of the Big Bang, that are posited by string theory.
     As dreamers, we can achieve experiential understanding of the multidimensional universe that science is modeling.
     As active dreamers and researchers inside multidimensional reality, we can contribute in important ways to what will be – if we are lucky – the foremost contribution of the twenty-first century to science and evolution: the emergence of a true science of consciousness.

Part of this text is adapted from Dreaming True by Robert Moss. Published by Pocket Books.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On the Three Broad Bands of Dreaming

In our contemporary society, when people (including analysts and “dream experts”) take dreams seriously, they usually approach them from just one perspective, as sets of symbols to be decoded.
     Certainly our dream life is rich in symbols. Etymologically, a symbol is something that “brings things together” (what is “diabolical”, by contrast, is what divides and separates). Symbols help bring together our workaday mind and the workings of a deeper multidimensional reality. We need symbols to take us beyond the little we know, or think we know, to a richer and deeper understanding of everything.
     So we dream in symbols. But we also experience dreams that need to be taken literally rather than symbolically, because they give us a clear perception of events that are unfolding or will unfold in physical reality or in another order of reality that is no less “real”. They are experiences that take place within two broad bands of dreaming that should not be confused with symbolic dreaming.
     One of those broad bands involves the ESP that works naturally during dreaming, and  is part of our human survival kit. In dreams, our intuitive radar sometimes functions better than it does amid the clutter of waking life; we scout across time and space and glimpse events at a distance. To borrow language from the East, these are “clear” dreams or “dreams of clarity” (although on waking, we may struggle to retain clear and complete information from them).
      The other broad band of dreaming involves the dreams and journeys that are experiences of a separate reality somewhere in the multiverse. For active dreamers, this is the richest treasury of dreaming. We travel, consciously or not, to the realm that a great Sufi philosopher (Ibn 'Arabi) called “the isthmus of imagination”, which lies between the realm of the senses and the realm of the eternal. We have adventures in many other locales in the mutiverse, including parallel worlds, bardo zones, far-flung galaxies, and places where gods, demons and faeries are at home.
     So, as we reflect on a dream, let's remember to ask: Which band was I dreaming on - symbolic, clear, or MV (multiverse)?

Drawing: "Three Bands of Dreaming"by Robert Moss

Churchill’s Art of Vision Transfer

It’s June 1940. England stands alone against the Nazi horde that has overrun Western Europe, and Hitler looks invincible. Churchill, Prime Minister for just one month, speaks to the people and warns them of the stakes. If the British people fail to resist Hitler, the world will be plunged “into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
     But defeatism is everywhere. It has rotted the British establishment, and keeps America on the sidelines. How can Churchill transfer the vision of possible victory against terrible odds? He delivers his most famous sentence: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
    These words seized the imagination of a people. They transferred moral courage and confidence. Let’s notice two distinctive elements in Churchill’s vision transfer that helped it to take root in the minds of many.
    The first is the time shift. He carries his listeners with him into the far future, beyond current dangers into a time where everything has long been resolved. He persuades his audience that victory over Hitler is not only inevitable, but was won long ago - so brilliantly that anything that has followed looks like an anti-climax.
      Then there is the shift to the witness perspective. He stirs us to do our duty now (‘brace ourselves to our duties”). But at the same time he lifts us, with his words, to a place above, a place of eagles. We look down on our current struggles from a higher level. The bigger self looks down on the smaller self, and says with admiration, “This was their finest hour.”
     Churchill brings his audience inside his tremendous imagination, where the war is already won.

We can learn from Churchill how to transfer a vision to someone in need of a vision.  Let’s review the two key elements.
First, we take ourselves – and then others – through the power of imagination to a future in which an issue or conflict has already been successfully resolved. We build a happy future we can believe in, and that imagined future gives us traction to get beyond current difficulties.
Second, we inspire those for whom we are spreading a vision to rise above the current worries, and look at everything from a bigger perspective. We invite them to inhabit the Big Story, not the old history and the thousand reasons why success is impossible.
We give them a bigger dream, and invite them to live that dream, and bring the world with them.

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

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Where's the rest of me?

Part of me is weeping against an ash tree beside a field of hay
Part of me checked out of this body at age three
Part of me never left London
Part of me is on an island of no-pain where I never have to grow up
Part of me never stopped fighting battles that cannot be won
Part of me never stopped winning battles that should not be fought
Part of me never left that marriage, or that early love
Part of me wears a lion robe lined with the night sky
Part of me remembers this as a fading dream
Part of me does not know he has more than one body

Part of me is teaching school in a dusty town in New South Wales
Part of me is painting with Kupka in a French garden
Part of me is an African witchdoctor dancing with spirits all night
Part of me is fighting the Magical Battle of Britain
Part of me is entertaining in a villa in the astral realm of Luna
Part of me is in the Cinema of Lost Dreams, lost in the movies

Part of me fights to leave my body whenever I suffer heartbreak
Part of me abandoned me when I gave up on a life dream
Part of me hanged himself from the World Tree but did not die
Part of me is swimming with manta rays in the South Pacific
Part of me is interrogating the ghosts of Egyptian sorcerers
Part of me keeps score by money and part of me flees from it
Part of me is the tiger and part of me is the sheep

Part of me stands at the center of all these selves
and reminds them of our family motto: Reviresco. I grow back
Part of me is weeping against an ash tree by a field of hay

-         - Ryzmburk, June 8, 2019

       Drawing: "Storm Bird Brings Me Back to Earth" by RM