Dreams: Are We Entering Another Reality?

For the majority of members of us, the dream world is the most immediate and pressing of all alternative actualities. Its bizarreness, its sheer otherness, which portrays itself to us each night, invariably reminds us that world is multifaceted and malleable, and its own experience of it very likely illusory.

There seems to be nothing more solid and irrefutable than the fact that we assure what we see and we examine what we hear. And more every night we discover and sounds things- often vividly- that in waking being we take to have no reality whatsoever. Indeed some Hindu philosophers have said that the only reason why we conclude waking animation to be real and dream lifetime to be illusory is that we spend more time in one than in the other.

In the West, until the twentieth century dreams were regarded principally in two different ways. On the one mitt, they were taken as renewals of everyday recommends: a hungry adult dreams of food, a thirsty subject of boozing, a being with a full bladder of going to the bathroom. On the other hand, dreams are also among taken as words from the other world. If a dead father or leader appeared in a dream, that appearance was often regarded as a genuine contact with that person.

Dreams were also seen as omen of the future. In one notorious instance, Alexander the Great, besetting the city of Tyre in the fourth century BCE, dreamt that a satyr was dancing on his shield. The Greek seer Aristander interpreted the dream as a visual pun: satyros in Greek can be read as sa Tyros- “Tyre is yours”- in this case a prediction that came true.

The most famous of dream translators in antiquity- Artemidorus of Ephesus, who lived in the second century CE- is of the view that both positions are authentic. The first kind, those that are based on bodily needs and sensory stimuli, he announced enhypnia; the second largest, oneiroi, which he held to be prophetic. He himself be concentrated on the latter, and his interpretations of these were both complex and far-reaching; his treatise on the subject, the Oneirocritica( “Examination of Dreams”) embraces the definitions of, for example, dreaming of being beheaded, writing with the left hand, and being sold into slavery.

Even minor details were significant. In a prefiguration of Sigmund Freud’s Oedipus complex, Artemidorus wrote, “The case of[ intimacy with] one’s mother is both complex and manifold and declares of many different interpretations- a thing not all dream translators have realised. The detail is that the mere accomplishment of intimacy by itself is not enough to show what is predicted. Preferably, the manner of the accepts and the various positions of their own bodies express different outcomes.”

Artemidorus’s dream manual- the only one to survive from classical antiquity- is not widely read today, but it is the forefather of all modern texts that discuss dreams as forebodings of the future. This has been a popular genre for contemporaries, and I can recollect a photocopy of a exertion entitled 10,000 Dreams Explained on my mother’s bookshelf, though I do not remember that she ever consulted it.

By the end of the 19th century , no serious thinker would yield any credence to presentations of this kind , no matter how favourite they remained among the masses. Instead some psychologists attempted to characterise all dreams as what Artemidorus announced enhypnia – that is, as constructions of bodily needs and functions. The German psychologist W. Weigandt, for example, argued that all dream epitomes “have their immediate cause in sensory stimuli.” Another psychologist of the era, Philippe Tissie, insisted that “dreams of an exclusively psychic[ i.e ., psychological] descent do not exist.”

Freud’s Interpretation

These citations are cited in Sigmund Freud’s landmark work The Interpretation of Dreams, first be made available in 1900, which marked the exhaustive break with the reductionist notion that all dreams can be explained by sensory stimuli. Freud did not deny that some dreams were justification this highway, but he took exception to the idea that all of them were. He departed a stair further and suggested that even dreams that could be explained by sensory stimuli had a deeper implication: “There are no incidental initiators of dreams, and thus no innocuous dreams … The dream never squanders its occasion on frivolities; we do not earmark a mere nothing to disturb our sleep.”

At the simplest level, Freud suggested, the dream is a form of wish fulfilment. We dream of things of which we are deprived in waking man. He cited a action from his own experience. When he was young, he said, “hes having” what he announced “dreams of convenience” routinely. “Accustomed to working late into the night, I always detected it difficult to wake betimes; then I used to dream that I was out of the bunked and standing at the washstand.”

Instances of this sort are easy enough to understand, but even wish fulfilment dreams have a way of disguising their contents. At one point a friend of Freud’s told him, “My wife has asked me to tell you that yesterday she dreamed she had started her stage. You will know what that means.” Freud commented, “Indeed I do; if the young woman has dreamed that she has had her span, then she is missing it. I can imagine she would have liked to enjoy her sovereignty a bit longer before the difficulties involved in motherhood begin.”

This relatively simple example places up a central actuality about dreams: their content is not self-evident. As Freud indicated, this is partly because the portion of the psyche that dreams cannot express its own meaning in oral discourse; that is, it cannot come out and say immediately what it is trying to express; it speaks in marks. But there is another consideration. As in the case of the young pregnant woman above, we often have wants that we cannot admit to ourselves. Thus the soul picks a roundabout way of carrying it. This is a way of getting around the limiteds and inhibitions of our conditioning.

Toward the end of The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud affords a initial summary of his findings 😛 TAGEND

” Dreams are fully paid-up psychical accomplishments; their driving-force is a wish in need of fulfilment; their unrecognisability as wishes, and their numerous idiosyncrasies and incongruities, derive from the influence of the psychical censorship which they have gone through in the course of their constitution; as well as the compulsion to escape this censorship, the following factors have shared in forming them: the compulsion to condense the psychical cloth, consider for representability in visual or other sensory personas, and- though not invariably- relation for a rational and intelligible look for the dream’s structure .”

Freud admitted that not every dream could be interpreted, and that there exists countless that constructed sense simply in the context of numerous weeks of dreams that were interrelated, whether they appeared to be or not. Furthermore, he said , no reading of a rendered dream is extensive; there is always more that could be said and learned about it. But a central part of his theory was that the wishes that dreams attempted to fulfil arose out of the libido- the sex drive.

This drive, constantly existing and always disheartened in civilised humans, was the energy that held lifetime to dreams and definitely to the psyche as a whole.( Later in his busines, in an perplexing slog entitled Beyond the Pleasure-pain principle, Freud would argue that another drive existed: the recommend for an organism to return to its primordial inanimate mood. This countervailing “death wish” existed alongside and in opposition to the drive toward reproduction .)

Jung’s Interpretation

Freud’s greatest student, the Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung, made exception to these views. To begin with, he questioned Freud’s idea that dreams were obliterate because they obscured things that the self-conscious ego did not want to admit to itself. Jung wrote, “Some of the pioneers of psychology”- likely including Freud- “came to the conclusion that dreams did not mean what they appeared to mean. The epitomes or symbols that they introduced were dismissed as ludicrou shapes in which oppressed contents of the subconsciou appeared to the conscious psyche. It thus came to be taken for granted that a dream meant something other than its obvious statement.

“Why should they mean something different from their contents? ” Jung countered. “Is there anything in quality that is other than it does not mean something it is not. The Talmud even says:’ The dream is its own interpretation’. The embarrassment starts because the dream’s materials are figurative and thus have more than one conveying. The badges part in different directions from those we apprehend with the intentional attention; and therefore they relate to something either instinctive or at least not entirely conscious.”

Jung too disagreed with Freud’s view that libido could be reduced to the sex drive. In an early succeed entitled Wandlungen and Symbole der Libido( “Transformations and Symbols of the Libido”; its English title is Symbols of Transformation ), Jung wrote: “We know far too few about the nature of human instincts and their mystic dynamism to risk giving priority to any one instinct. We would be better cautioned, therefore, when speaking of libido, to understand it as an energy-value which is able to communicate itself to any environment of task whatsoever, be it power, hunger, hatred, virility, or religion.”

Baby in dreams

From these two opinions- that dream symbolism had an intrinsic represent of its own and that the libido could not be characterised exclusively as the sex drive- sprang Jung’s mature theory of the subconsciou, which centred on what he called the archetypes: “The archetypes are the numinous structural elements of the psyche and possess a certain autonomy and specific energy which allows them to allure, out of the intentional recollection, those materials which are best suited to themselves.” That is, the archetypes are centres of force within the psyche. We can never ensure them directly: they can only be approached through the types by which they manifest.

Jung became further than this. The archetypes, he postulated, do not only make use of types that they manage to discover out of the awareness head. They also create epitomizes of their own that best express their nature. Since the structure of the human psyche is common to everyone, it thus follows that the same archetypes and typifies of the psyche would be discovered throughout the world. These representations would also spontaneously appear in the dreams and delusions of people who had never been exposed to them. And this, Jung suggested, was in fact the case.

In his late work Man and His Symbols, Jung describes the dreams of an eight-year-old girl that she wrote down and gave to her leader as a Christmas gift. The father-god , not knowing what to do with them, depicted them to Jung. “They made up the weirdest streaks of dreams I have ever seen, ” Jung wrote, “and I could well understand why her father was more than just puzzled by them.”

In one of the dreams, for example, “’the evil animal’, a snakelike monster with many trumpets, kills and downs all other swine. But God comes from the four regions, being in fact four separate gods, and dedicates rebirth to all the dead animals.” Jung observed that this dream resembled the motif of the apokatastasis, or recovery of all things, that arise in early Christianity. Moreover, the four deities who collected from the “four corners” form a fourfold anatomy that he called a “quaternity”- “a strange idea, but one that dallies a great role in many religions and philosophies.” In the Bible, this quaternity was used in the chariot vision that opens the book of Ezekiel, with living creatures who have the faces of a mortal, an ox, a lion, and an eagle( Ezekiel 1:10 ).

The Christians made up this decoration and used it to represent the four evangelists, each of whom was symbolised by one of the following options swine. We view the same theme in the four sacred tacks of Native American religion, and in the Tibetan mandala, which combinations the motif of a circle with that of a square. But where could the little girl have learned of these portraits? “She had very little religious background, ” Jung said. “Her mothers were Protestants in name; but in fact they knew the Bible only from hearsay.”

Jung, with his compendious knowledge of the illusions and badges “of the worlds”, would have this experience often with his patients. Another example was that of a prof “who had had a sudden vision and thought he was insane. He came to see me in a state of ended panic. I simply made a 400 -year-old book from the shelf and demonstrated him an old-fashioned woodcut depicting his very vision.’ There’s no reason for you to believe that you’re insane’, I told us to him.’ They knew about your eyesight 400 years ago’. Whereupon he sat down exclusively collapsed, but normal.”

What does this all come down to? For Freud, dream idols of this kind were merely coping mechanisms, enabling men and women to function in some kind of way among “civilisation and its discontents”( the deed of one of his jobs ). But Jung believed that the psyche had a purpose and a direction of its own. Its eventual drive was not toward sexual fulfilment, but toward its own wholeness and integrating. The period he held to this was individuation. The archetypes were the primordial forces-out that drove this process; the epitomizes of dreams and illusions were their manifestation.

Psychic dreams

Individuation consists of a long process in which specific archetypes in the soul are confronted and( to a degree) performed intentional. If this process continues long enough, eventually the archetype of the Self will appear in dreams. It can take the form of a wise old man or woman, a guru or guardian, a see youth, a helpful animal, or even a stone.( The Bible alludes to this last motif where reference is says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the foreman stone of the corner”: Psalm 118:22 ). Jung’s associate Marie-Louise von Franz described the Self as “an inner pas part that is different from the self-conscious personality and that can be comprehended exclusively through the investigation of one’s own dreams.

These show it to be the modulating core that brings about a constant postponement and ripening of the personality.” It is this “extension and maturing” that is the goal of Jungian analysis.

Dreams& Neurology

Although Freud and Jung remain the greatest dream interpreters of the 20th century, their own views are unfashionable in psychology today. This is in large responsibility because neurology has become great strides in mapping mental state onto neural phenomena.

While this is useful work in its own right, it has led countless modern researchers to conclude, with J. Allan Hobson of Harvard, that dreams are purely the result of random energy signals that contact the brain’s cortex during particular phases of sleep. The plan that there are hidden entails to dreams are, Hobson says , nothing more than “the mystique of rich cookie dream interpretation.”

It seems that we have come full circle in increased understanding of dreams. Modern investigates are telling us that, to use Artemidorus’s language, all dreams are enhypnia. They do not transmit senses from the gods or from higher levels of reality; they do not even transmit any meaningful letters from our own psyches. This is the state that psychology has reached in the early twenty-first century: we are back to a reductionism that is telling us that all mental activity can be reduced to the activity of the nervous system.

Unfortunately, this approach is not only narrow but self-refuting. If all mental activity can be reduced to mere functions of our nerves- and hence can be dismissed as illusory or ludicrous- that would have to include waking experience as well, including the neural outputs that accompany scientific reasoning. We are left with no good reason to believe in a world-wide “out there” beyond our own abilities- certainly not in any nature that has any genuine correlation to what the hell is experience.

The Dream World: Is It Real?

This contributes us back to the most difficult and most fascinating question about the dream world: is it real? If so, what sort of reality does it have? As I said at the beginning of this article, some Hindu philosophers have claimed that the only reason we take waking being to be real is that we spend more of our time in it than we do in dreams.

To this we might contributed the consideration that there is an indefinable something in waking live that we call awareness, or perhaps lucidity. But even this is not as decided as we may think. We need quality simply to the existence of lucid dreams – that is, dreams in which the daydreamer is aware that he is dreaming.

Lucid dreaming has been studied at great length- notably by Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University- and, as with another type of dreams, it is associated with certain types of brain territories , notably rapid-eye pushes or REMs. LaBerge even civilized his subjects to show that they were having coherent dreams by moving their gazes in certain guidances. For the technical materialist, this leads to the same inevitable resolution: that lucid dreams are the products of certain brain states and nothing more. But I am not so sure.

I myself had a lucid dream a number of years ago. I remember surveying the landscape of the dream and questioned myself, “Is this really different from waking life? If so, how? ” I concluded that there was a difference, but it was a difference in feeling-quality: the dream world simply felt different, in a way that I ascertained difficult to characterise. But I did not have the sense that one world was “real” and the other “unreal”; each had its own independent reality.

Lucid dreaming

Among the world’s most technical sober daydreamers are certain institutions of Tibetan Buddhists, who tradition a “dream yoga” that is meant to keep awareness unbroken between the waking and dream districts. For them, it has a highly pragmatic office: to enable an individual to continue spiritual pattern during sleep. The Tibetan lama Namkhai Norbu mentions, “The night is very important for people because half our lives pass during it; but often we humbly sleep away all that time without additional efforts or commitment. There has to be real awareness that pattern can occur at all period, even during sleep or feeing, for example. If this does not happen, the developments on the course is difficult to make.”

In his notebook Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light, Norbu describes the practices that are used to maintain awareness into the dream state. In essence, the practitioner visualises the Tibetan equivalent of the word A in the center of his torso until he falls asleep. “If one is capable of falling asleep like this, ” Norbu claims, “one would find the full vicinity on the part of states of natural light-colored. One drops-off asleep, and one is asleep with practically full awareness.” Even if you don’t succeeded with this practice the first few terms “were trying” it, Norbu says, eventually you will be able to attain a state of lucid dreaming this way.

The reason for doing this at all is, as I have said, highly practical: it enables the aspirant to continue spiritual task even while sleeping. According to Norbu, sure-fire textbooks claim that a spiritual pattern is nine times more effective carried out in the dream country than “- its” the waking state.

As even this brief description proposes, the motive for Tibetan dream practice is completely different from the dream analysis practised by either Freud or Jung. Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Michael Katz says, “Although there seem to be clear relative the potential benefits of the thorough examination of dream material, it is quite possible that these benefits are only for the novice. For the advanced practitioner, awareness itself may eventually be far more valuable than its own experience and content , no matter how artistic. Great educators have was pointed out that dreams cease perfectly when awareness becomes absolute, to be replaced by luminous precision of an indescribable nature.”

As for the ontological reality of the dream world, the Tibetan Buddhists hold that it is ultimately no different from that of the waking macrocosm. In the words of the Mahayana Buddhist Heart Sutra, “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” Namkhai Norbu writes 😛 TAGEND

” In a real appreciation, all the seeings that we see in our lifetime are like a big dream. If we examine them well, the big-hearted dream of life and the smaller dreams of one nighttime are not very different. If we truly realise the essential nature of both, we will see that there really is no discrepancies between them. If we can finally liberate ourselves from the series of spirits, components, and ego by this realisation, we have the possibility of eventually becoming enlightened.”

It would be possible, of course, to go much deeper into ideas and theories of dreams than the cavity of such articles tolerates. But even the little we have been able to see tells us one important thing: our views of the dream state are inextricably linked with our views of actuality as a whole.

For materialistic researchers like J. Allan Hobson, dreams arise from the firings of neurons and good-for-nothing more. Freud and Jung held that dreams were the show of primal instincts- for Freud, the sex drive; for Jung, a more comprehensive urge within the psyche for wholeness.

For Tibetan Buddhists, they serve to remind us that the phenomena that pass before the screen of the imagination- whether seen in waking or in sleeping positions- are free of an eventual actuality. Our own beliefs of dreams will almost certainly show our own creeds and preconceptions. The question that faces us then is, are these views expanding our knowledge of reality or restraint it?

( c) Copyright New Dawn Magazine, www.newdawnmagazine.com. Permission granted to freely distribute such articles for non-commercial roles if unedited and facsimile in full, including this notice.

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