Thursday, January 11, 2024

Open Secrets of the Dreamtime


Here are the open secrets of the Dreamtime, insights shared by many dreaming traditions and indigenous peoples that challenge the ruling paradigms of a culture that confuses the real with the physical

1. Dreams are real experiences.

There are big dreams and little dreams. “Bottom-line it for me,” bulled a radio host over the phone from North Dakota. “Aren’t dreamed caused by spicy pizza?” Well, yes, some dreams are. But we will not expend much space here on the surface bubbles of the dozing brain and belly.

In big dreams - in what Sri Aurobindo called “the sleep of experiences" - we are dealing with events, encounters, and challenges that are entirely real on their own level of reality. Our dream memories may be garbled or muddy, but the dream is a real experience whose meaning lies within the dreamscape itself. The dream experience, fully remembered, is its own interpretation. But we must do more than interpret dreams; we must manifest their energy and insight in our waking lives.

Shamanic dreamers tend to be quite literal-minded about dreams. If you dreamed you fell off a rock-face, you’d better remember to check your safety harness if there is any chance you might go rock climbing. If you flew with the eagle, you discovered a powerful spiritual ally — and your own ability to transcend the limitations of your physical body. If you dreamed of your dead uncle, before you start asking yourself what part of you he might represent, you should consider the possibility that you had a visit with him. Is he bothering you — maybe trying to cadge a drink or a smoke — or offering you help? If you dreamed you received instruction at a mountain shrine, you should be open to twin possibilities: that you may go there someday, in physical reality; and that you may have been called in your dreams to one of the many “invisible schools” where training and initiation on the higher planes are conducted.


2. Dreams are flights of the soul.

During one of the final presentations at a hectic conference in Berkeley, I regretted that I had not taken that Saturday morning off to explore the Bay area. I closed my eyes, slipped free from my physical focus, and felt myself gliding over the Bay on the wings of an eagle. It was a wholly tactile sensation. I was drawn to a wild, lightly wooded area with intriguing stone formations that looked from the air like volcanic rock. As I dipped into a fold in the hills to examine the area more closely, I saw another interesting formation, shaped by human hands: a circular labyrinth, or spiral, at the edge of a pond.

At lunch, I casually described the scene I had explored. “It could be the Sibley Volcanic Preserve,” one of the local conferees piped up. “I can take you out there this afternoon if you have time.” She did not know about the spiral path, but we found it fairly easily, at the edge of a swampy pond.

From a shamanic perspective, there was nothing extraordinary about my experience. It was just a routine scout — a Middle World journey — in which I moved beyond the range of my physical senses to check out my environment. I was traveling beyond my body, but I kept a firm connection with it, maintaining awareness of the activity in the lecture room even as I flew across the Bay.

Shamanic dreamers say that in real dreams (waking or sleeping) one of two things is happening. Either you are journeying beyond your body, released from the limits of space-time and the physical senses; or you receive a visitation from a being — god, spirit, or fellow dreamer — who does not suffer from these limitations. In the language of the Makiritare, a dreaming people of Venezuela, the word for dream, adekato, means literally a “flight of the soul.”

The open secret is that consciousness if never confined to the body and brain. We discover this in spontaneous night dreams and intuitive flashes, when our left-brain inhibitions are down. As we become active dreamers, we can hone the ability to make intentional journeys beyond the body at any time of day or night.

3. You have a dreambody as well as a physical body.

I am leading one of my Active Dreaming circles. We are squatting around a centerspread with a white candle. Someone asks whether there is any way to prove that we are not dreaming. I pick up the candle and pour hot wax onto my hand. I feel a sting of pain as the wax sears the web of skin between my thumb and forefinger, and I tell the group, “I guess that proves I’m not dreaming.” Then I wake up.

What is this dream telling me? That I am a nitwit because I can’t tell whether I’m dreaming? If so, I will take solace from the fact that in most sleep dreams, most people are completely unaware that they are dreaming. Actually, I think this dream has a more interesting and specific message, related to the theme that dreams are real experiences. In my dreambody, I can know pleasure and pain just as vividly as in my physical body. I have more than one body, or vehicle of consciousness, and when I go into the dreamworld and other worlds, I go embodied. And so do you.


4. Dreams may be memories of the future.

I dreamed of a silly little dog decked out with fake antlers for some kind of Christmas pageant. The dog ran out on the road and was killed, but was magically revived by a dubious, utterly amoral character who seemed remote from the normal range of human emotions.

The dream had a movielike quality. I had no idea what was going on here, but because I had no particular feelings about it, I was content to record it in my journal before rushing off to the airport to catch a plane to Denver.

I missed my connection and later found myself on a different flight form the one schedules. Whenever my travel planes come unstuck, I am alert for the play of the Trickster. On the “wrong” plane, I found myself seated next to a woman who turned out to be best friends with a person in publishing to whom I had been introduced only the day before, and I was able to glean some useful insights. Our conversation was interrupted by the screening of the in-flight movie. I looked up to see a silly little dog decked out in fake antlers for a Christmas pageant. Later in the movie, the dog is killed on the road and magically revived — by a low-flying angel portrayed by John Travolta. The title of the movie is Michael, and I highly recommend it. What interested me most was that I seemed to have attended an advance screening in my dream the night before.

We dream things before they happen in waking life. If you work with your dreams and scan them for precognitive content, you can develop a superb personal radar system that will help you to navigate in waking life. You can also learn to fold time and travel into the possible future by the methods explained in this book. For even the most active dreamers, however, the meaning of many dreams of the future may be veiled until waking events catch up with the dream.

If dreams are memories of the future, is much of waking like the experiencing in the physical body what we have already lived in the dreambody? What would we become if we participated more consciously in this process? There is an Iroquois story of a great hunter who always scouted ahead, in conscious dream journeys, to locate the game and rehearse the kill. In one of his dream scouts, he located an elk and sought its permission to take its life to feed his extended family. He killed the elk in his dream and noted the red mark on its chest where the arrow had gone in. The following day, he walked to the place he had visited in dreaming and identified his elk by the red mark on its chest. He then replayed an event that had already taken place, by killing the elk again with a physical arrow.


5. Dreaming, we choose the events that will be manifested in our waking lives.

The fact that we dream things before they happen does not mean everything is predetermined. People who are not active dreamers can get quite confused about what is going on when they wake up to the fact that we are dreaming future events, both large and small, all the time. I think it’s like this. If you do not remember your dreams, you are condemned to live them. (If you don’t know where you’re going, you will likely end up where you are headed.) If you remember some of your dreams and screen them for messages about the future, you will find yourself able to make wiser choices. You will discover that by taking appropriate action you can often avoid the enactment of a “bad” dream or bring about the fulfillment of a happy one. As you become a conscious dreamer, you will find yourself increasingly able to choose inside the dreaming the events that will be manifested in your waking life.

It’s not about predestination. It’s about the spiritual secrets of manifestation — and your ability to become cocreator of your life.

Meister Eckhart tells us how it is the razor-sharp clarity of the practical mystic who has seen and experienced for himself: “When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters her own image.”

Indigenous peoples tell a recurring story of how the material world is spun from the dream of a deity. For the Guajiro, the physical universe is the product of conscious dreaming. The Guajiro say that the Creator-god made this world after the divine Dreamgiver, Apusanai, made him aware that he was dreaming and he began to experiment with molding and solidifying the fluid forms he perceived endlessly aborning and transforming on another plane of reality.

It is not merely that we dream things (maybe everything) before they happen; dreams make them happen.


6. The path of the soul after death is the path of the soul in dreams.

Your dreambody does not die when your physical body loses it vital signs. You will live on in your dreambody for a shorter or greater time, according to your ruling passions and personal evolution. You will find yourself, as you do each night in dreams, in a realm where thoughts are things, and imagination, the great faculty of soul, can create whole worlds.

You come from the Dreaming, and you are released into the Dreaming when you drop your sack of meat and bones.

In a dream, I found myself walking in a pleasant cemetery. A voice said, "You must prepare your Houses of Death". I looked and saw brightly painted cabins. I chose one - blue with yellow trim - and stepped through the door that opened for me. There was no wall on the far side. The view was of a lovely cove with a white sand beach, A beautiful dark-skinned woman in a sarong was in the water beckoning to me.

I waded out to join her. She handed me a conch shell. When I held it to my ear, I received instructions for making a crossing an island that now appeared shimmering on the horizon. I understood that I had been given a departure point for a voyage to the Other Side. I have returned to that scene often, in lucid dreaming. I would not be surprised to find myself there again when it is time to leave the body behind.

Dreaming with growing consciousness is excellent preparation, not only for the challenges that lie before you on the roads in this life, but for the challenges of the journey you will make after physical death. How do you know for sure? By doing it.

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

Art by Robert Moss: "You Must Prepare Your Houses of Death"

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