Monday, September 30, 2019

Dream Brownies May be Authors...or Engineers

The novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) described dreams as occurring in "that small theater of the brain which we keep brightly lighted all night long."
    Stevenson said of his now classic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it was "conceived, written, re-written, re-re-written, and printed inside ten weeks" in 1886. The conception came in a dream:

"For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterward split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers."

His wife related picturesquely how one night Louis cried out horror-stricken, how she woke him up and he protested, "Why did you waken me? I was dreaming a fine bogy-tale!" She also related how he appeared the next morning excitedly exclaiming, "I have got my schilling-shocker -- I have got my schilling-shocker!"
    Stevenson wrote extensively about how his passion for writing interacted with his remarkable dreams and said that, from an early age, his dreams were so vivid and moving that they were more entertaining to him personally than any literature. He learned early in his life that he could dream complete stories and that he could even go back to the same dreams on succeeding nights to give them a different ending. Later he trained himself to remember his dreams and to dream plots for his books.
    Stevenson described the central role of dreaming and dreamlike states in his creative process in “A Chapter on Dreams”. During his sickly childhood, he was often oppressed by night terrors and the “night hag”.  But as he grew older, he found that his dreams often became welcome adventures, in which he would travel to far-off places or engage in costume dramas among the Jacobites.
    He often read stories in his dreams, and as he developed the ambition to become a writer, it dawned on him that a clever way to get his material would be to transcribe what he was reading in his sleep. “When he lay down to prepare himself for sleep, he no longer sought amusement, but printable and profitable tales.” And his dream producers accommodated him. He noticed they became especially industrious when he was under a tight deadline. When “the bank begins to send letters” his “sleepless Brownies” work overtime, turning out marketable stories.
    In his “Chapter on Dreams” (written in his house on Saranac Lake in upstate New York and published in Across the Plains) RLS gave a vivid depiction of his dream helpers.

“Who are the Little People? They are near connections of the dreamer's, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries and have an eye to the bank-book; they share plainly in his training; they have plainly learned like him to build the scheme of a considerate story and to arrange emotion in progressive order; only I think they have more talent; and one thing is beyond doubt, they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim…
“And for the Little People, what shall I say they are but just my Brownies, God bless them! who do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself. That part which is done while I am sleeping is the Brownies' part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to show the Brownies have a hand in it even then.”

He observed that  “my Brownies are somewhat fantastic, like their stories hot and hot, full of passion and the picturesque, alive with animating incident; and they have no prejudice against the supernatural.” – and have no morals at all.”

 A Railroad Baron’s Brownies

We may nod our heads over this and say, Well, there you go – that’s a writer’s imagination. Yet similar sources of inspiration are at work in the lives of innovators who might seem far removed from literature. 

    A case in point is one of the great financiers and railroad barons of nineteenth century America, one Arthur Stilwell. He made a fortune and lost it, but his name – as in Stilwell Financial - is still associated with Janus Mutual funds and the Kansas City Southern Railroad. And with a city he founded in Texas, Port Arthur, as a result of dream encounters with beings that, like Stevenson, he called Brownies. It took the city fathers of Port Arthur well over a century from incorporation (1898) to admit its origins. At the time of writing, the official city website contained the following statement:

The inspiration for Port Arthur's founding was novel; railroad pioneer Arthur E. Stilwell, who established the town, later wrote that the ideas for his railways and the location of his namesake city came from "brownies" who spoke to him.

   Stilwell himself kept quiet about these things until the end of his business career, concerned that his respectable investors would consider him a “nut” if he revealed that he was laying railroad track according to plans that were being given to him in his dreams.
   In 1921, Stilwell confessed that he had been visited in his sleep throughout his heyday by guides that (like Stevenson) he called Brownies. In dreams these beings gave him the plans for his railroads, the location and layout of the city of Port Arthur, and the spur to embark on many other business ventures, as well as ideas for books. Stilwell wrote: “There is no doubt in my mind that these messages come from the spirit world, and that this circle of spirits that communicates with me by this rare method is comprised of engineers, poets, and authors.”
    There’s that “committee of sleep” that Steinbeck invoked. In any life, we are likely to find it most lively when we are engaged in a creative task that fresh and risky, especially when that task is all but impossible. Greater challenges draw greater helpers, in and out of the dreamworlds.

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

The inner psychic combustion that gave us a great multidimensional teacher

There is one God, but within that God are many. There is one self, but within that self are many. There is one body, in one time, but the self has other bodies in other times. All “times” exist at once.

The voice is that of Seth, the "energy personality essence" channeled by Jane Roberts. We are near the beginning of the third of the Seth books, titled The "Unknown" Reality. I see from my note on the flyleaf that I purchased this book on 8.8.88.
    I came to the Seth materials reluctantly, even after I moved to upstate New York, not so far from where Jane Roberts had lived and practiced (in the Saratoga area and later in Elmira). I was wary around psychic mediums, perhaps because my great-aunt, the opera singer, had foreseen my death in the tea leaves when I was three years old. She was entirely accurate, by the way; in the words of a doctor in a hospital in the winter that followed, I was a boy who died and came back.
    Then, too, I winced at the slovenly or overly portentous verbiage of much of the channeled material that had come to my attention. Much of it seemed quite lacking in humor or wordcraft.
    It took an intervention to get me to start reading the Seth books. The intervention came embodied by a lively, intelligent woman from Caracas named Romelia. I had met her the previous year in Brazil, where we had investigated the mixology of caipirinhas. On a visit to New York, she called me at the farm to which I had recently moved. Naturally, I invited her to visit. At the end of the long drive to the farm house, she could not wait to cross my threshold before she shouted, "Robert, you must read Jane Roberts!"
    And I did, and I did. I started with Seth Speaks. I was stunned. Here was the clearest model I had so far found for the nature of the self and the conditions for reality creation in the multiverse. I could have done without all the interruptions to the text (as we are told that Jane paused to smoke a cigarette, for example) but nonetheless the voice came through, bold and clear. 

Who is Seth? In describing himself, he prefers not to use the word “spirit”. He jokes that he is a “ghost writer”. He says, “I am an energy personality essence, no longer focused in physical matter...     To write this book…I adopt from my own bank of past personalities those characteristics that seem most appropriate.” He can communicate through Jane Roberts because she is a "window". Within her psyche is “what amounts to a transparent dimensional warp that serves almost like an open window through which other realities can be perceived.”
    Where is Seth based? Not in what we think of as the afterlife. “You must die many times before you enter into this particular plane of existence.”

    The plot thickens when Seth starts speaking of an entity called, for convenience, Seth Two, a personality operating on a level above his. Jane Roberts speculates  that “Seth may be as much of a creation as his book is.” A form of the Speaker generated by a multidimensional intelligence to communicate in her time, and ours.
     As a former journalist, I am trained and disposed to check on the reliability of any source. But the true test for a source of this kind is the quality of the material that comes through. And the Seth material is extraordinary. 
    Seth is one of the really great dream educators. He is crystal clear about the important things that go on in dreaming. Consciousness travels outside the body, every night, in dreams. Dreaming, we travel to other realities, no less real (maybe more so) than the physical world.  Dreaming, we choose from an infinity of probable events those which will become physical. As we become conscious dreamers, we can not only shape reality on other planes, but can engage in reality creation on the physical plane. Thus:

“You can learn to change your physical environment by learning to change and manipulate your dream environment.” 

“Each of you intrudes into other systems of reality in your dream states” 

“This sleeping self of yours is far more knowledgeable than the waking self of which you are so proud.” 

“As there is continuity in your daily life, so there is continuity in your sleeping life...Dreams are no more hallucinatory than your waking life is. Your waking physical self is the dreamer, as far as your dreaming self is concerned. You are the dreamer it sends on its way. Your daily experiences are the dreams that it dreams.” 

Before long I was dreaming my own version of Seth. He looked like a knobby Dutch or Scandinavian publican, who might have spent time at sea, and I drew him looking like that. Years later, when I saw a picture of Seth by Jane Roberts’ husband Rob Butts, I was struck by the strong resemblance.

     I became content to respond to the Seth material channeled by Jane Roberts according to its inherent quality, without asking many questions about the source.
     As I listen to Seth again, I am again thrilled by the simplicity and vital importance of his key statements. Re-read the one that opens this post. This goes to the heart of what it means to be a conscious citizen of the multiverse.
     I was interested to find a detailed account by Jane Roberts in a 1976 essay of what it was like to be speaker for The "Unknown" Reality. She described the book as the product of “an inner psychic ‘combustion’ – the spark that is lit in our world, as Seth’s reality strikes mine – or vice versa." She said that in her trance of transmission she entered "a higher state of wakefulness rather than the sleep usually associated with trance – but a different kind of wakefulness, in which the usual world seems to be sleeping.” This type of trance brought "a feeling of inexhaustible energy, emotional wholeness, and subjective freedom.” In a striking attempt to define her relationship with Seth, she added, “I think I’m alive in Seth’s subjective ‘body’ in the same way that one of my cells is alive in my physical body.” 

Portrait of Seth by Robert F. Butts

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Exploring the afterlife in the space between sleep and awake

Emanuel  Swedenborg (1688–1772) was the son of a Lutheran bishop attached to the Swedish court. Living at the dawn of modern science, he mastered all the sciences of his day. He was driven by a passion for knowledge. He became fluent in nine languages. He made his own telescope and produces designs for a submarine and an airplane. He published a whole library of scientific treatises on subjects ranging from algebra to fossils, from hematology to the brain. In the words of one of his biographers, “he exhausted all the known sciences after founding several of them.”
     Then he brought his towering intellect and his experiential approach to the study of the unseen. He was called to the new work by his dreams. In his fifties, he began keeping a dream journal in which he was wholly frank about erotic dreams as well as spiritual adventures. In twilight states, between sleep and waking, he found himself being drawn into experience of a deeper reality. Surfacing from sleep, he found himself entering “wakeful ecstasies.”

I lay awake, but as if in a vision; I could open my eyes and be awake if I wanted to, but yet I was in the spirit — there was an inward and sensible joy through my whole body.

In the city of Delft, on the night of April 6, 1744, Swedenborg experienced the vision that transformed his life and work. Retiring early, he wrestled with an entity he described as the Tempter. After his struggles, he heard a noise under his bed, which he interpreted as the departure of this dark being.
     He started shivering uncontrollably.  He was at last able to snatch a few hours’ sleep. Then:

I trembled violently from head to foot and there was a great sound as of many storms colliding, which shook me and threw me on my face. In the moment I was thrown down I was fully awake and saw how I was thrown down.

Terrified by this wholly vivid experience of being propelled outside his physical body, Swedenborg prayed for help. As he held up his folded hands — the hands of his subtle body — “a hand came which clasped mine hard.” He found himself in the presence of a radiant being he took to be Christ.

I saw him face-to-face….He spoke to me and asked if I had a certificate of health. I answered, “Lord thou knowest that better than I.” He said, “Well, then act.”

Afterward, Swedenborg found himself traveling far and deep into nonordinary reality in a state that was “neither sleep nor wakefulness.” He conversed and interacted with beings in the spirit would “the same as with my familiars here on earth, and this almost continuously.”He conversed with dead people “of all classes,” including many people he had known during their physical lives. They gave him information he was able to verify and put to use.
    These encounters gave him a firsthand understanding of the conditions of the afterlife. Previously, his religious faith had convinced him that the spirit survives physical death. Now he could begin to study how it survives.
      He gained important insights from encounters with departed people he had known before their deaths. He discovered that dead people are frequently confused about their situation because they cannot distinguish between the physical body and the subtle body. During the funeral of Christopher Polhem, one of his former teachers, Polhem “came through” to Swedenborg, “asking why he was buried when he was still alive.” The dead man was puzzled by the fact that, while the priest sermonized about the resurrection of the dead at the Last Judgment, “he was still alive” and “sensible of being in a body.”
     Swedenborg’s observation of the condition of other spirits in the afterlife led him to formulate the important observation that “when a man dies, his soul does not divest itself of its peculiarities.” He observed the condition of the executed nobleman Eric Brahe and reported that two days after his death “he began to return to his former state of life, which was to love worldly things, and after three days he became just as he was previously in the world.”
     The departed follow the path of their desire and understanding. In his soul journeys, Swedenborg tracked them into many regions in the Otherworld. He encountered an angelic guide who told him that the “other members of his society” were appalled by the “crass ignorance” of the real conditions of the afterlife that prevailed among Westerners even after they took up residence in the spirit world. 
     Swedenborg’s mentor told him that “angels” of his rank are instructed to gather newly arrived spirits, find out their ideas about heavenly joy — and give them what they desire. “You know that everyone that has desired heaven…is introduced after death into those particular joys which he had imagined.”
      For example, there is a heaven for big talkers and another for big eaters. There is a paradise for those who believe the promise that they will rule with Christ forever; they see themselves enthroned as kings and princes. If you think of heaven as a beautiful garden, you get to smell the roses. But in all cases, according to Swedenborg’s mentor, you will be bored to distraction within two days.
    Now that you are ready to move beyond your expectations, the guide assigned to you can begin to instruct you on further possibilities. By one means or another, you will learn that happiness requires “doing something that us useful to ourselves and others.” Swedenborg’s angel explains that heaven is not a fixed environment or program of events, but a state that corresponds to — or is actually created by — the spiritual condition of its inhabitants.
     The local clergy were not enthusiastic about Swedenborg’s road maps, or the fact that his example might encourage others to go exploring for themselves. Inflamed by Swedenborg’s observation that few priests (“that order of which very few are saved”) seemed to prosper on the other side, a Swedish minister plotted to have him judged insane and committed to a lunatic asylum.
      Swedenborg’s geography of the afterlife was the gift of experience, which invited us to go beyond his maps, just as he went beyond the maps of previous explorers. His basic travel techniques will be recognized by active dreamers. They include:

Deep relaxation: He would close his eyes, focus his attention on a single theme or target, and slow his breath. He first practiced this approach, especially breath control, in childhood during morning and evening prayers. He spoke of the “passive potency” of his meditation practice. The heart of it was to “withdraw the mind from terms and ideas that are broken, limited, and material.”

Experiment in the twilight zone: The half-dream state on the cusp between sleep and waking was Swedenborg’s favorite launchpad. He described this state as “the sweetest of all, for heaven then operates into [the] rational mind in the utmost tranquility.” He worked with both spontaneous and familiar photisms. For example, he writes of an “affirming flame” that would appear on his inner screen at the start of a journey or in the midst of a writing binge, reassuring him that conditions were favorable and that he was on the right track.

Soul journeying: Swedenborg developed a fluid ability to shift consciousness and travel beyond the physical plane. “When I am alone my soul as it were out of the body and in the other world; in all respects I am in a visible manner there as I am here.”

Night and day, he lived and worked as an active dreamer. His banker friend Robsahm observed that Swedenborg “worked without much regard to the distinction of day and night. Swedenborg himself noted, “When I am sleepy, I got to bed.” He kept a fire going at all times, drank large quantities of coffee with a huge amount of sugar. His dress at home was a robe in summer, a reindeer coat in winter.
     Across the centuries, his words echo as a clarion call to new generations of explorers who refuse to settle their accounts with possibility and just do it:

I am well aware that many will say that no one can possibly speak with spirits and angels so long as he lives in the body; and many will say that it is all fancy, others that I relate such things in order to gain credence, and others will make other objections. But by all this I am not deterred, for I have seen, I have heard, I have felt.

Among his many scientific discoveries and inventions, Swedenborg designed a flying machine. However, his flights were journeys in consciousness, into a deeper reality that opened to him in the twilight zone between sleep and awake. He practiced a self-generated Western yoga of hypnagogia, and we have much to learn from his practice.

Text adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: Der Wächter des Paradieses by Franz von Stuck (1889)

Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul

The most important thing to know about humans is that they have souls, and that everybody starts out with more than one soul or else they wouldn’t be human.
   The world is getting into trouble because a lot of people have lost one or more of their souls. Sometimes, when that happens, a dark spirit gets in – something that does not belong to you – and makes you do crazy things you would never do if you belonged to yourself. Most often the soul-gone just move into the endless procession of the walking dead. They don’t feel anything truly anymore. They don’t remember that their life has any meaning beyond the little pleasures and pains they experience from day to day.
    Your world is in more danger than you know because you have lost the knowledge of soul. If you are going to make it through, you are going to have to recover the art of putting souls back in the bodies where they belong.

    You can’t know these things just because someone tells you about them. You can only know by going there and experiencing the other side for yourself. That is why dreaming is so important. It shows us where the soul is, and it opens the road for the soul to come home.
    There is more. Through dreaming, we recover the knowledge of our sacred purpose that belonged to us before we came into our present bodies. Then we can begin to live from our sacred purpose and unite ourselves to the powers of creation. We can also begin to get in touch with other members of our soul families who live in other places and times.

- from “The Teachings of Island Woman” in Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul by Robert Moss. Published by Inner Traditions.

Art: "Island Woman Shows Her Credentials" by Robert Moss

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In the Garden behind the Moon

The Garden Behind the Moon, by Howard Pyle, originally published in 1895, may be quite my favorite story for younger readers and for older readers who would like to recover the magical child within themselves.
    My friendly daimon of Luna concurs*. He especially approves of the fact that a beautiful but terrible entity “whom so many people know by a different name and are so afraid of” is called the Moon-Angel. Around his face, it is bright like sunlight. He “never brings something but he takes something away from him again” - and we come to learn that this is most often the soul of someone who has died. The Moon-Angel of the story is also called the Master Cobbler, which appears to reflect the preferences of an old cobbler in a fishing village who “knows less than nothing” and thereby more than those around him. We see the old cobbler pegging soles to uppers on his last. My daimon points out that there is a crafty allusion here to Sandalphon, the Sandal-Angel or Shoe-Angel who gives and takes away soul bodies for transits to and from the Moon.
   So to the story:
   A boy called David, who is not yet twelve, and is regarded as dreamy and simple (a “moon-calf”) by his peers, learns from the old cobbler that a moon-path opens across the sea a day or two after the moon is at its full. Close to shore, the first steps float in the tide as bars of light, slippery underfoot. But if you persist, the moon-path becomes a gravel road, and finally a broad shining field, until you get to the Moon.
    After an initial mishap, the boy gets to the Moon, where a man-in-the-Moon pulls him up a stair. From each window of the Moon house, he sees into different scenes, into the inside as well as the outside. He is set to polishing stars with lamb's wool, for nights when the Moon is waning. He earns a little break; he is allowed down a back stair into a lovely garden where he plays with other children. He has his time in the garden for three days every month, and falls in love with a little princess, but is then told that he cannot return to the garden because he is turning twelve, and will be too old.
     Now he is called to the Quest: to win his girl, he must find the Know All book in the Wonder Box that has been hidden since Eve and Adam (note the order) were driven form the garden. To do this, he must “go behind” the Moon-Angel, something that has almost never been done. When he confronts the Moon-Angel, we begin to feel his terror as well as his beauty. In effect the boy has to step THROUGH his form, through unbearable cold that transforms to unbearable heat. He bursts through a great iron door into the landscape of the Quest. He is no longer a boy; he has aged ten years.
    He finds his local guide - a woman in a red shift who cleans souls and leaves them out to dry. She tells him what he will need to do to capture the black winged horse that will take him to the Iron Castle of the Iron Man where the Wonder Box has long been locked up. He catches the black horse by the forelock (like Kairos - opportunity - time). It can no longer fly with a human on its back, but it can run fast. David manages to enter the Iron Castle, and steals the Wonder Box, and rediscovers the girl - escapes from the Iron Castle, and kills the Iron Man with a stone from the sea shore.
    David and his beloved return to the “brown world” on the moonpath, but find that the path branches to take each to their separate homes. So now there is another test, for the princess (she's a real one) to find her hero and for the Wonder Box she took from him to be opened with the key that he retained. A happy and triumphant ending, of course. In which the most interesting feature (as my daimon observes, pointing a finger up under his left eye) is that nobody knew that David was missing all the time he spent in the house of the Moon and the lands beyond it. And nobody in Princess Aurelia's kingdom knew she was gone either; they had merely found her, from birth, strangely mute and emotion-less. She's fully alive now that her soul has come home from the Garden Behind the Moon.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Our Most Potent Muse

Our most potent muse is our inner child.               
                 -   Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play

“The creative mind plays with the objects it loves,” said Carl Jung. An earnest man at one of my lectures once asked me to summarize what I consider essential practice. I said, “Remember to play.” He carefully wrote down those three words as if he was marking a schedule. I don't think he quite got the message.
       The child inside him
and in each of us knows. Like puppies or lion cubs or dolphins spinning silver lariats of bubbles, children play for the joy of playing. Young children are masters of imagination, since they know the magic of making things up. Our first and best teacher of conscious living is our inner child.
       But that inner child may have gone into hiding, under a glass dome or in a room in Grandma’s house, because of shame or abuse, ridicule or loneliness, because the world wasn’t safe or it wasn’t fun. If we have lost our dreams, if our imaginations are stuck in a groove, it’s because we have lost our inner child. To live as active dreamers in everyday life, we have to bring that child home. This requires a quest, a negotiation, and fulfillment of a promise.
       The quest will lead us down halls of memory to a place and time where our wonder-child went missing. We can embark on the quest as a guided journey (through an exercise at the end of this chapter) to a real place in the imaginal realm.
       The negotiation requires us to convince our child selves that we are safe and we are fun to be around. Fulfilling the promises we make will require us to remember to play without scheduling it.
       Play first, work later, the child that is with us will insist. The cautious, dutiful adult self will protest. But if we are to keep our inner child at home in our bodies and our lives, we’ll need to fulfill our promise to be fun as well as safe. If we play well enough, then before we quite know it we’ll fall in love with our work, because it will be our play.

Text adapted from Active Dreaming: Journeying beyond Self-Limitation to a Life of Wild Freedom by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: "Children Dancing on the Strand" by AE (George Russell)

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Nine Keys to Living Consciously in the Multiverse

The only time is Now. All other times - past, present and parallel - can be accessed in this moment of Now, and may be changed for the better.

We dream to wake up. Dreaming is not fundamentally about what happens during sleep. It is about waking up to a deeper order of reality. Dreaming is a discipline; to get really good at it requires practice, practice, practice.

Treasures are waiting for us in the Place Between Sleep and Awake. The easiest way to become a lucid or conscious dreamer is to spend more time in the twilight zone between waking and sleep, or between sleep and waking. Tinker Bell told Peter Pan to look for her in the Place between Sleep and Awake. This liminal state is a place of encounter with inner guides and transpersonal visitors. It is also a place of heightened psychic perception and creative breakthroughs, where it is easy to make connections that escape the daily mind.

We live in the Speaking Land, as the First Peoples of my native Australia say. Everything in the world around us is alive and conscious and will speak to us if we are paying attention. Navigating by synchronicity becomes very simple, even irresistible, when we stream into this mode of understanding.

To live well, we must practice death. We bring courage and clarity to life choices when we are aware that death is always with us, and that we should be ready to meet it any day.

We must feed and honor our animal spirits. A working connection with them gives us immense resources for self-healing.

We have a guide for our lives who is no stranger. He is always with us and does not judge us. This is the Self on a higher level. When we rise to the perspective of the Greater Self, we are able to make peace between different personality aspects, including our counterparts in other times and parallel realities.

We are at the center of all times. The dramas of lives being lived in other times and in parallel realities may be intensely relevant to understanding and navigating our current relationships and life issues. We can learn to reach into those other lives to share gifts and lessons. We can dialog with our own older and younger selves within our present lifetimes.

We must entertain the spirits, starting with our very own - the child self, the inner artist, the passionate teen, the animal spirits, the creative daimon.

Text adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Photo: Path in Transylvania by Robert Moss

Friday, September 6, 2019

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

The liminal state of hypnagogia, when you are drifting between sleep and awake, or between waking and sleep, is a marvelous launchpad for lucid dreaming. If you can train yourself to maintain a state of relaxed attention in this in-between state, you will notice that you may be receiving a whole menu of possibilities for lucid dream adventures. Images, faces, landscapes rise and fall. When you learn to hold one of them in focus, it may become the portal for a conscious journey.
    The Parade of Faces is a frequent phenomenon in this state. You may feel you are among a crowd of people, with faces and figures rushing by. Sometimes one may turn to look at you, which can be an interesting opportunity to enter a shared experience with another dream traveler you may or may not know in ordinary reality. Sometimes the images rising and falling before you look like a child’s sketches, or cartoons.    
    A frequent sighting for me, in this in-between state, is of what initially looks like the weave of a carpet or the mesh of a net. I have come to recognize this as a kind of border between states of reality and consciousness. With intention, I can part the strands and find myself in another order or reality.
    This liminal state, which I also call the twilight zone, is a good place to become aware of the ability to travel beyond the body. I often find myself lifting out of the body quite effortlessly in this state, without bumps and grinds. Sometimes, when tired, I simply rest half in and half out of my physical form. Sometimes I float up to the ceiling. In my second body, I may go through a series of simple kinesthetics before becoming airborne
    As I drift toward sleep in the twilight zone, I may notice that a second version of myself, in a different form, is waking up. One night, as I flirted with sleep, I became aware that I was lying back-to-back on the bed with a maned lion stirring from his nap as I slumbered. Quite often I go flying, like a bird, over a landscape, to places far away.
   The twilight zone of hypnagogia is a wonderful place to rendezvous with other beings and other intelligences. It is a state in which we often become aware of the psychic activity around us. We may receive visitors, and we will want to learn to screen and discern who we are letting into our space, because to be open to all comers is like opening your doors and windows in a city at night  and hanging out signs saying, “Party! Come on In! Everyone Welcome!”
    I frequently have inner dialogues in the twilight zone, with sources of knowledge I have come to trust. This is a time when I can often receive streams of counsel and information from inner guides. In Dreamgates, I record some of my conversations with the intelligence I decided to call “G2.” He carried the vocabulary and knowledge of a great Western Mystery order. I felt he was a transpersonal figure, though in no way alien to me. Many others have come to me in this liminal state. The most important of these inner guides is certainly no stranger; he is a self who observes and operates on a level of reality above the one I inhabit while living on this earth in a physical body.
    In the history of creative breakthroughs in every field, including science and technology, the hypnagogic state has been of vital importance. In this liminal zone, it is easy to make creative connections, which often involves linking things that seem to the routine mind to be unconnected. Many inventions and discoveries attributed to dreams by overhasty writers — like Kekulé’s discovery of the benzene ring — are actually gifts brought through from hypnagogia, to such an extent that I call this zone of consciousness “the solution state” in my Secret History of Dreaming.
     The place between sleep and awake can also be the very best place to go on with a dream or go back inside one. You may want to practice dream reentry to clarify information from a dream, or get to its full meaning, or continue a conversation with a dream character. You may need to reenter a dream because there are terrors to be overcome, or a mystery to be explored, or simply because you were having fun and adventure and would like to have more. Or because Tinker Bell is waiting for you.
     Often, I find different casts of characters waiting or popping up as I hover on the edge of sleep or linger in the twilight zone after waking. Sometimes, they appear to be quite literally on stage, or in the wings, waiting for me to show up in order to start or resume a play. More often, they seem to be characters in life dramas that are being played out in other times or in parallel worlds, dramas in which I have a lead role from which I may have been absent while attending to things in my default reality.

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.

Art: With Lion at the Night Cinema. Drawing by Robert Moss from adventures in the twilight state

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Acts of creation

To be creative is to bring something new, and valuable, into our lives and our world. You don’t have to be an Einstein or a Shakespeare to be creative. You need to play the best game you can, in whatever field is calling you, and come up with some new moves, and play so hard you don’t think of your game as just work (and may never want to retire from it).
What makes a world-class creative remains mysterious. But new research in neuroscience is telling us interesting things about how the association centers of the brain work when new ideas are coming through, confirming that one characteristic of creative people is that they make connections between things that other people don’t see as connected. Nancy Andreasen, a pioneer of brain imaging at the University of Iowa, found that in episodes of high creativity, multiple association cortices of the brain are communicating back and forth with each other - not to process sensory input, but in free conversation. Wild and novel connections are made, and from these – through the brain’s character as a self-organizing system – new creation emerges.
 Educational psychologists who try to rate creativity levels speak of a “fourth-grade slump”, when adult assumptions and formal training start to block kids’ natural ability to make things up. This suggests another key to creative living; we want to stay in touch or get in touch with the spontaneous creativity of our inner child, our master imagineer. 
Something important that creative people have in common is that they develop creative habits. For choreographer Twyla Tharp, these include “subtraction” – making a conscious effort to minimize distractions and make sufficient time and space available for a new project. For creativity researcher Keith Sawyer (a psychology professor at Washington University in St Louis) good creative habits include “working smart”, creating a daily rhythm that sets the right balance between hard work and “idle time” when the best ideas often jump out.
    For Columbia business professor William Duggan, creativity in business hinges on “opportunistic innovation”, the readiness to watch for unexpected opportunities and change your plans in order to cash in on them when they turn up.
Other habits of creative people:

- They find personal ways of getting “into the zone”.
- They are risk-takers. They are willing to make mistakes, and learn from them. They look at mistakes as experiments rather than failures.
 - Creative people are “prepared for good luck”; they view coincidences as homing beacons and turn accidents into inventions.
- They make room for creation – time and private space.
- They find a creative friend. This is a person who provides helpful feedback and supports their experiments.
- They persevere.

Creativity is not just the preserve of a lucky – or tormented – few. It’s a power we can all claim.

And here is what, for me, is the most important key to creativity. When we take on a creative project - and its element of risk - and step out of whatever box we have been in, we draw supporting powers, especially the power that the ancients called the genius or the daimon. Most people understand this intuitively, even though we may fumble for an agreed language to describe it.

Photo by RM: Creative soles at the Bloom School in Sarajevo