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Saturday, December 16, 2017

On the Nature of Dreams

Imagine a distant garden, far away from the world´s ups and downs, a place where you really can rest, sleep and heal, such as The Garden of Epicurus, Wang Hsichih´s The Orchid Pavilion, or The Last Homely House in Rivendell.

In order to understand the nature of dreams you must simplify your life. In old days this meant to become a nun or monk. Today you can do this through the philosophy of idleness.

Dreams are a continuation in the sleep of the thinking in the awaken state. The awaken state´s thinking is primarily characterized by words, while the thinking in the dream state primarily is characterized by images. When you fall asleep the thinking in other words dissolves in images.

The thinking´s structure is the personal, collective and universal images in time. So, in dreams you experience the thinking´s structure. The personal and collective images work in past and future, while the universal images work in synchronicity with the Now (the Now is also connected to consciousness, Wholeness and reality - in my booklet, Philosophy of Mind, I have described these connections).

The collective images are the area of primordial images, archetypes, religious images, symbols, teachers, higher worlds, other dimensions etc. They are form-formations of energy, creative up-tensions, a kind of matter, though on a highly abstract plane. These images exist in other words in the actual movement of the matter, and therefore not only in your mental activity, but also outside you in nature. They reflect themselves in your personal images, more or less vaguely.

Only you yourself know what your personal images are, but usually you don´t understand the conflicts. Due to the challenges of the Now the Ego is created. The Ego is the source of your conflicts. The Ego makes resistant against the Now, and therefore in fact against reality. This resistance consists of problematizing the Now by evaluating, saying yes and now, accepting and denying, comparing with earlier and hoping, desiring or fearing something else.

In this way the Ego creates a line of thought distortions of reality.

Feelings arise where the mind and the body meet. They are reflections of the mind in the body. Feelings can also be a reflection of a whole thought-pattern. A thought-pattern can create an enlarged and energy-charged reflection of itself in the form of a feeling. This means, that the whole of the thought´s past also can create a reflection of itself in the body. And if this past is filled with pain, this can show itself as a negative energy-field in the body. This is the emotional painbody.

In the concrete dream-content, which can be personal or collective, the universal images work in form of symbols. The symbol is a telescopying, a representing quintessence of the informationquantities, which the wholeness of the universal images contain. In this way the symbol-function of the dreams has a developmental function, which works with the person´s developmental level (the level of realization-work and ethical practice). This means, that dreams seek to put together, to synthesize and join, what the Ego in the awaken state has divided.

The developmental function tries to show you the map of your spiritual history, the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your spiritual life – your progressive karma. 

But therefore it is also impossible for the Ego in the awaken state to understand the dreams. It can well be, that the Ego finds that the dreams cost identitical clarity, but the Ego can logical seen not understand their function. Much dream interpretation is therefore completely deceptive. The Ego must let go of its desire after control.

Furthermore the dream state is connected with the body. When you fall asleep the energy flows away from the head and down into the body – you can feel it when you become sleepy, and your feet´s becoming warm. And therefore dreams are more characterized by feelings than by thoughts. The typical feelings in dreams are characterized by the five existential categories of suffering: unreality, division, stagnation, anxiety and meaninglessness. These are in Meditation as an Art of Life inextricable linked with the painbody.

Feelings are the body´s reaction on the thoughts. Feelings arise where the thoughts and the body meet. They are a reflection of the thoughts in the body. The thoughts create a build-up of energy in the body. It is this energy, which is the feeling, and it is in this energy the images of the dreams show themselves. In order to understand a dream you therefore have to try to feel it rather than to think it. And if there is conflict between a positive thought (all of your desires and longings) and a negative feeling, then the thought is a lie and the feeling is a truth.

The five existential categories of suffering are a part of your life-situation. In this way suffering has a past and a future. The past and the future form an unbroken continuum, unless the Now´s releasing power is activated through your aware presence, which is the goal with Meditation as an Art of Life. Behind all the different circumstances which constitute your life-situation, and which exist in time, there in other words exists something deeper, more essential: life itself, your being in the timeless Now itself.

If you activate this deeper dimension you will get the opposite categories: reality, cooperation, movement, safety and meaning.

The Ego-weakening, and the dreams´ connection with the body, causes that the energy-laws of life work much better in the dream state. In other words: dreams balance the energetical swings of the thoughts. And dreams seek to finish unfinished situations.

If you follow your dreams you will see, that wherever and whenever the Ego´s awake life - on the background of evaluations using opposites - has slipped out in one extreme, then the dream-process seeks to balance this imbalance by insisting on the opposite extreme. If you awake were too gentle, the dreams depict the more stubborn and unfriendly sides in your personality. If you were too negative, the dreams seek to bring the positive aspect into light. And each and every time the Ego in the awake life reacts on the challenges of the various situations, by using the past, an unfinished situation is left behind. The dreams seek to finish this as good as possible. As you know you are cursed to re-live the same dreaming themes again and again – until you begin to examine yourself, and change and restructure your thought-patterns, so that you can let go of the situations.

So, firstly the dreams have a developmental function through their symbol-function (progressive karma). Secondly the dreams function with reference to bodily and energetical balancing and regulation of the swings of the thoughts (compensatory karma). This, the self-regulating system of the dream-process, is a Sisyphean task though, as long as you in the awake life don't help.

This help is Meditation as an Art of Life. In my booklet The Nine Gates of Middle-earth I have described the typical phases of this journey, as seen in relation to the chakra-system.

Your dreams, and the five existential categories of suffering, will typical revolve around three of four themes (it can be less or more). The themes are due to particular painful/problematic events in your life. Jorge Luis Borges says something important about ordinary dreams:

“A curious feature of my nightmares – I don´t know if you share this with me – is that they have a precise topography. I, for example, always dream of certain corners in Buenos Aires. I´m on the corner of Laprida and Arenales, or the one at Balcarce and Chile. I know exactly where I am, and I know that I must head toward some far-off place. These places in my dreams have a precise topography, but they are completely different. They may be mountain paths or swamps or jungles, it doesn´t matter: I know that I am on a certain corner in Buenos Aires. I try to find my way.”

I think Borges here tells us something very common to all ordinary dreams. The thought (the dreamer) is lost in an endless split, and he tries to control the situation without luck. The horror is the negation of control. The content of the dream will normally be about childhood, your hometown, your school, family, the time where you lost the innocence of childhood, as well as later traumas; all elements of your painbody - in all kinds of variations. All characterized by that you try to find your way; either concretely as a search for the way home, or as an attempt to figure out how to manage situations. Without luck. The painbody is the material for the dreams. If we want to enter into unordinary dreams (lucid or astral dreams) we must let go of our will to power.

The first step in Dream Yoga is to be clarified over what kind of themes your dreams typical revolve around. Therefore you must begin a process of remembering your dreams. You can do this by writing your dreams down in the moment you awake. Later you won´t need that.

In the booklet The Nine Gates of Middle-earth I clearly emphasize that you must begin working with the lower chakras before you can move to the upper chakras in a balanced way. If you start this work (when following my teaching), your dreams will normally change character from compensatory karma (balancing thought extremes, and finishing unfinished siturations) to progressive karma. The chakras are now being processed. This will show itself in an increasing experience of quest dreams, dreams where you are on a journey, visiting strange and unknown places, and are meeting unknown people, all in a balanced and pleasurable way. These people are spirits of different kinds. But they will be clothed in the shapes you give them by using your personal images. And it is a very slow process. It will not happen at once (in the appendix to my article, Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Relation with Mystical Experiences, you can read more about shamanism and spirit help).

In the same booklet I also sugggest that you let your dreams be your teacher. But again: don´t let yourself be fooled by the "interpretation bias". The whole thing happens by itself. Treat the dreams as a whole (a gestalt). The secret is to allow the dreams to be your teacher (you can for example ask them in a prayer to teach you), and allow them to work according to their nature. You wake up with a certain feeling and direction in the mind. Normally, when you aren´t in spiritual practice, you´ll also wake up with a mood and direction from the compensatory aspect of the dream. But here you normally will let your ego´s daily life and ideals move you back into the usual pattern (the Sisyphean work). If you are in a spiritual practice, and for example practice the morning meditation, the message from the night´s dreams as a whole, will more and more be allowed to get through as intuitions and ideas. 

Where dreams, without a daily spiritual practice, will try to get you to change certain things in your life, dreams, with a daily spiritual practice, will focus on corrections of this spiritual practice.

The Art of Pilgrimage theme is a theme which my free Ebook Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien is revolving around.

In the later development your dreams can become lucid and even astral. The states of dreams can be grey, lucid and astral, which again correspond to the personal, collective and universal images in time. In the grey state you don´t know you are dreaming. In the lucid state you know you are dreaming, but you don´t know you are lying here in this bed and are and sleeping. In this state the creativity of the consciousness is set free in a fascinating degree.

In the astral state you know all this, and your consciousness can so to speak follow the dissolvement of the thoughts out into the astral worlds of the collective and universal images of time. In this state you can leave your body and use your dreambody to travel elsewhere, meet other astral travelers, and receive teaching from dream masters. In this state you´re like Peter Pan.

Again the secret is to let the dreams teach, to allow the spiritual practice to become a part of the dreams, so that you in dreams are seeking spiritual guidance, and not are following the ego´desires. You can for example seek churches, temples, or other places which seem spiritual to you (it could also be places like Rivendell or Lothlorién in The Lord of the Rings). You can stumble upon written messages, which contains direct teachings, and finally you can meet concrete teachers (though still in symbolic form). In connection with this it is important that you find a religion which suits you; with this I mean a religion with a long tradition for spiritual practice, and which is lying in your own ancestral roots. In this way you are supporting the already existing material for the spiritual dream content, instead of adding further layers of conditioned reality (see my article The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice). This doesn´t mean that you can´t be inspired by other traditions though. 

My own personal spiritual practice consist in a combination of Nordic/Celtic shamanism, Christian mysticism and Tibetan Dream Yoga. But I don´t teach Tibetan Dream yoga like a Tibetan teacher, since this involves the ability of spiritual transmissions linked to tradition and lineage. I use what I can use in combination with Nordic/Celtic shamanism and Christian mysticism.

Since its first publication I have been fascinated by the fantasy table-top role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, probably because it contains all these elements from quest dreams (see my booklet on Dungeons and Dragons). In my view you should not understate the implied philosophy of pop cultural phenomena. 

And, in connection with Dungeons and Dragons: the area of the collective images of time is a  dangerous place full of pitfalls.  As explained in my booklet The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, it is quite easy to open the upper chakras, but very difficult to open them in a balanced way. To open them in a balanced way requires that you work with your lower chakras first, and to open the lower chakras is more difficult in the sense that you have to realize your shadow. The internet is swarming with methods to open the third eye chakra, and psychedelics are also a means to experience openings of the third eye. And with these methods you can have incredible dreams and visions, and you can experience lucid dreams and astral projections, and believe you are close to enlightenment. But if this happens in an unbalanced way you will just add further layers of conditioned reality; further layers of psychological and mental constructs. The worst is that such a movement, in New Age, is supported by a problematic metaphysical theory called idealism, an idea that doesn´t allow you to discriminate between subject and object, dream and reality, fact and fiction. You therefore have a metaphysical justification for getting completely lost in this masked ball (in my view this is a demonical trick). I call this The Borgesian Nightmare (see my article on Jorge Luis Borges, who deals especially with the absurd consequences of philosophical idealism). The cult-classic The Arabian Nightmare, is a novel by Robert Irwin, where the narrator in a similar way moves into a labyrinth of stories, dreams and visions, where it becomes increasingly difficult to discriminate between dream and reality. The special touch in this latter novel is that it deals with kundalini and, in my interpretation, an unbalanced third eye awakening.

These literary examples deal with the nightmarish consequences of unbalanced openings of the upper chakras. But you can also have ego-inflated, euphorical experiences, which completely removes any possibility of critical evaluation (see my article The Ego-inflation in the New Age and Self-help environment).

Central in Dream Yoga is the discrimination between subject and object, dream and reality - and what is lie or illusion, and reality. All original wisdom traditions have knowledge about this. The Dominican mystics call this step discriminatio, the ability to discriminate between how the energy is used temporal or religious. And despite that magical thinking actually can create something magical, then in true spirituality it is still something temporal, or relatively (black magic/occultism), which will create negative karma if practiced. The Orientals call it viveka, discrimination, the ability to use your will on that part of the energy, you can steer yourself, and steer it towards exercises, prayer, mantras, meditation, instead of towards career, worldliness, self-unfolding, as for example the New Thought movement wrongly preaches. Hereafter you let the process work by itself.

Tolkien made it clear that enchantment would not be possible if you couldn´t discriminate between dream and reality. Enchantment is precisely enchanting because of the sense of something real, or true; that is: something you haven´t produced yourself.

The most philosophical provocative part of his essay “On Fairy-Stories” is what Tolkien says about fairy stories being “true”.

It is…essential to a genuine fairy-story…that it should be presented as “true”…

Probably every writer making a secondary world, a fantasy, every sub-creator, wishes in some measure to be a real maker, or hopes that he is drawing on reality: hopes that the peculiar quality of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from Reality, or are flowing into it…the peculiar quality of the “joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, “Is it true?”…In the “eucatastrophe” we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater – it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium [gospel, good news] in the real world…All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen, that we know (“On Fairy-Stories”, pp. 87-90).

Tolkien found the process of writing The Lord of the Rings to be one of discovery rather than creation. Tolkien´s son Christopher said of his father´s writing: “I say discover because that is how he himself saw it, as he once said, ‘Always I had the sense of recording what was already there, somewhere; not of inventing’ (Silmarillion, Foreword, p. 9).

So, in spiritual practice it is of vital importance, that you begin to practice Harameditation (or other supporting religious/spiritual exercises), if there should occur lucid and/or astral states. This consists quite simple in stopping the fascination of the anti-spiritual (ego-based) experiences and temptations, and instead focus the awareness in Hara, and therewith lead the awareness in towards the source of consciousness. As mentioned: you can also seek after spiritual places and persons.

This will lead the consciousness towards the more universal images of time, which work in synchronism with the Now.

If you remain in, or explore the astral worlds of the collective time, which the astral state gives access to, then you in other words distract your awareness in past or future. This can cost awakenness and life energy. In addition it can cause Ego-inflation and other spiritual crises.

It is in other words very important that you do not move accent from awake day to dreams and sleep, do not use drugs or one-sided development techniques, which promise you great experiences concerning either lucidity or astrality.

You have to have patience. Even for people with a regular and well-ordered practice (2-3 hours every day) there can pass weeks, months or years between the reflections into the processes of dreams and sleep. However if practice is appropriate, the spiritual consciousness will with time automatically penetrate the nightlife´s vegetative forms of consciousness.

The nature of dreams is equivalent to the nature of death.

Three reminders (if you are practicing Meditation as an Art of Life):

1)  Let the dreams work by themselves as flowers.

2)  Don´t interfere in their self-regulating system with interpretations, psychedelics, or similar.

3)  If you interfere they will get more distorted. You will add further layers of your own conditioned reality, further psychological and mental constructs.

Dream Yoga is about fertilizing the nightlife´s own vegative forms of consciousness.


Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Relation with Mystical Experiences (in the appendix you can find the connection between shamanism, spirit help and dreams).

Philosophy of Mind (In the above I talked about the "Wholeness of the Universal Images." In this article I show how consciousness is akin to the Wholeness, and different from mind. It is in this Wholeness the universal images are lying as a kind of dreaming tracks and songlines. Kant called it the transcendental apperception. Tibetan Buddhists call it Rigpa. It is this Wholeness which function as the synthesizing, healing and progressive factor in dreams).

The Nine Gates of Middle-earth

Philosophical Counseling in Rold Forest

Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien

Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy

The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice

Other related links:

Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection with Mystical Experiences (this article is about the nature of symbols).

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