A Seismic Shift + Dating Advice From a Dream
#3 in a series on dreams
I used to believe that dreams mapped onto identifiable things, that the thigh bone of a dinosaur in my dream stood for something dinosaur-ish about my waking life. Dreams usually aren’t literal, but I don’t think of dream-stuff as symbolic either. A symbol is a representation of a thing. An abstraction. When you take that perspective with a dream, you’re saying that the dream is an abstraction, and generally implying that the waking state is The One Reality. But this demotes dreams to the status of lowly representations, mere shadows in the Platonic cave. It’s a distancing move, a sign of the Western ego’s insecurity, and an attempt to strip dreams of their full creative power.
It took me a long time to see past that bias. Now, I’d just say that dreams are real—every bit as real as waking experience. It’s no different than meditation; you wouldn’t say meditation is symbolic. Meditation is experiential reality. Just as you can learn about your mind and your relationship to consciousness via meditation, you can also do so via dreams. These are simply forms of consciousness. In fact, dreams are one of the more highly concentrated states available to us, offering an opportunity for raw creative access to the root OS of our mind. Personally, I’d like to make use of every edge I can when it comes to consciousness. Seeing as I’m biologically programmed to dream for 2-3 hours per night, I’m doing plenty of it anyway. Might as well fuck around and find out.
For a long time, I also assumed that dreams were personal. I believed that I was an individual with a brain separate from other individuals, with no discernible physical connection to other humans as I rested my head on a pillow each night. For 20 years, with scant exceptions, I interpreted my dreams from my personal perspective, as if the figures and story lines I swam through were merely evidence of my own dynamics. In retrospect, I think it’s helpful to have developed that foundation. I needed that grounding and education. It takes a while to figure out who we are, to work through our basic stuff, and all of that came up in my dreams, asking for my attention first.
Little by little, as the years passed my mind became more quiet and clear. And to my surprise, I began to have blatantly premonitory dreams. With fewer blocks and less personal clutter, I experienced more mental clarity, and that clarity extends further than we’re taught to think possible.
Here’s an example: one night, I dreamed I was walking in an open space, and a man I’d never seen before walked up to me. He said, firmly and purposefully, It’s been a long time since there was a big earthquake here. It’s about time for a big one. I listened to his pronouncement with interest; it was eerie, crystal-clear and memorable. He showed me how this would happen, then the setting changed and I had several other dreams. A few hours later, I woke up to the rumbling of a big earthquake, my bed swaying, objects clattering on my nightstand as the foundation of the building groaned. It was a rare and unusual earthquake, a shaker on the Richter scale and very close to where I lived—in other words, dream dude was right. I don’t know how my nocturnal visitor dropped news about an earthquake hours before it happened. At the time, I didn’t even want think about such things. The dream really was announcing a seismic shift, and I was earthquaked, begrudgingly, into paying better attention to the mystery.
The ancient Egyptians considered dreams to be manifestations of a higher order. If you had a problem, you could induce a dream to give you a solution. They created elaborate rituals for this practice, which involved sleepovers at a temple and consultations with a special cleric for interpretation. I stumbled into the practice of dream inducement by accident—it works great for dating advice.
A while back, a charismatic man asked me out. The energy was strange, hot and cold, we’d just met and I didn’t know what to think of him. Before going to bed, I wrote on a piece of paper, I will dream about the nature of my relationship to X, and went to sleep. That night I dreamed he was a horse, standing directly in front of me with a warm, kind, pure presence. There was an ineffable, easy closeness—that link on the soul level we share with true friends we find in this life—but nothing romantic. The forelock of this horse was peculiar and vivid. A couple days later, out of the blue he texted me a selfie of his brand-new haircut, which matched exactly the horse’s do.
We didn’t see each other again for a long time—in waking life he wasn’t like the presence in my dream at all. It would have been easy to dismiss it as half-right or a fluke, but I didn’t. By then, I knew my dreams were pretty solid, reliably serving up an energetic kernel of truth. I just didn’t know when or how it would unfold.
Even so, I was surprised when months later he went through a huge life upheaval, and his personality changed. The presence I’d seen in the dream became his everyday state, and we became friends. Were the changes—a new haircut and this unfolding of his personality—already present when I dreamed them, invisibly coiled in the vectors of his field? I don’t have any explanations. But this happens so frequently it’s routine. Somehow, I receive information that relates to other people, always filtered through the peculiarities of my own imaginal life. We meet in dreams. It’s often outside any normal sense of time; a haircut several days away easily overlaps with a friendship a year in the making. When these occur, I never expect anything. I just notice, absorb the energy the dream delivers as the truth I need to learn, and take whatever actions might be indicated.
I used to think that my dreams were limited, more or less, to the radius of my personal container at a given point in time, like some walled garden I snooped in nightly. Now I’d say that such a limited concept of the self was itself an illusion. We’re not discrete units with tidy borders, in either our daylight or nocturnal rambles. What we tend to think of as ordinary, waking awareness is just a sliver of the vast spectrum of consciousness available to us. We’re always so much greater than the narrow field of vision we perceive in a given moment. And the more we’re present and open, the more we see.
Preview image: Rhea on the Limb by Gordan Ugarković
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