Read an Excerpt
Dreaming While Awake
Techniques for 24-Hour Lucid Dreaming
By ARNOLD MINDELL
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2000 Arnold Mindell
All rights reserved.
24-Hour Lucid Dreaming
It was a hot, dry morning in Adelaide, Australia, as Amy and I walked quickly along the river near the university to a conflict resolution meeting we were about to facilitate. We were nervous about that meeting, hoping the Aboriginal people would successfully regain the rights to their land, which had been taken from them by the government.
Uncle Lewis Obrien, an Aboriginal elder with whom we were walking, gently put his hand on my shoulder and quietly said, "Arny, look over there, in the direction of the center of the city. What do you see?" I told him that I saw Victoria Square, the noisy bustling business center of the city. Hundreds of people were shopping; cars honked and buses moved slowly through the traffic. "Looks like a busy city," I said.
Uncle Lewis suggested that I take another look. When I looked again, all I saw was the same noisy city. "Well, your sight is good, but you don't see the Dreaming. White fellas don't see the Dreaming. But they sense it anyhow. White fellas built the center of the city there. We Aboriginal people used to camp where the center is now; that's where the Dreaming is strongest. Victoria Square is a wonderful place; that's why the modern business center works so well over there."
My environmental consciousness was shocked and enlightened. I realized how my view of the city was filtered through the lens of my U.S. background and education. Until meeting this elder, given the choice, I tended to avoid cities, preferring the countryside. Uncle Lewis made me realize that the miracle of nature I was looking for in the countryside was right in front of me, in the midst of the bustling city. The Dreaming is always present, like an aura shimmering around the objects and events you call everyday life.
Some Aboriginal peoples describe the Dreaming in terms of the dark side of the moon. When the moon is not quite full, you see its bright, illuminated side. You might call it a half moon. But if you look closely on a clear evening, you can see the dark side, silently shimmering next to the more apparent bright side. Like me, most people focus only the bright side and miss the moon's dark face, that is, the Dreaming reality.
The bright side is only that portion of the whole moon that is illuminated. Focusing only on the bright side of the moon and ignoring the dark side might easily make you think that the dark side does not exist, while in fact we need the dark side to represent the whole moon.
The same is true for everything you see. If you only focus on everyday reality, you neglect the Dreaming. According to Aboriginal thinking, the Dreaming is the basic substance of the material world. The Dreaming gives objects the energy that attracts and repels your attention. If you neglect the Dreaming, you devalue the material environment because you ignore its basis and thus miss half of life.
The power of the Dreaming is right here, behind the everyday world, as part of every object, the part you sometimes forget to notice. From the Aboriginal perspective, everyday reality is the bright side of the moon pointing to the power of Dreaming, the moon's dark side.
In spite of my interest and long background in therapy, dreams, and shamanism, I had unconsciously assumed that the busy city and tall buildings killed the Dreaming. That is probably why, whenever possible, I escaped to the countryside in search of Nature's pristine powers.
Uncle Lewis showed me that the city's reality exists because of the Dreaming. Without it, nothing would be. Dreaming is the energy behind everything; it is the life force of all living beings, the power of trees and plants, and the power of motors, business, and financial centers.
An artist senses the Dreaming in the canvas, paper, and stone and knows that everyday reality is not only concrete. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that artists should look into peeling plaster walls until they can see images emerging from the shapes of the plaster. Similarly, Michelangelo called sculpting a process of bringing out the form that already exists inside the stone. Artists and aboriginal peoples have developed the ability to see the Dreaming, that is, the power behind the figures you see in your nighttime dreams and everyday reality.
About This Book
Just as it is my hope that the ruling governments will be more generous in giving Aboriginal people back their land rights, my goal is to make the Dreaming roots of reality so accessible, so visceral, that your conscious mind will give you back your right to dream.
This book is devoted to perceiving, living, and orienting you to the power of Dreaming. We will be taking a journey together, exploring the territory where shamanism crosses the boundaries of physics, where dreams become body experiences, and where everyday life merges with immortality. We will deepen the exploration begun by Freud and Jung into the subconscious or unconscious, which Buddhists refer to as the Dhammas and the practitioners of Tantra call the Void.
My goal is not to notice the Dreaming only occasionally, but to develop a constant awareness of dreaming. With the new method I call 24-Hour Lucid Dreaming, we will learn to move through and behind the world of everyday life, exploring the world of healing, divination, and immortality.
In the first part of this book, I explore Aboriginal Dreaming and its connections with quantum physics, psychology, and Buddhism. In part two, we will discover the implications of these connections and experiment with new methods of lucid dream and body work, chronic symptom work, relationship and group work.
Part three investigates the implications of the practice of 24-Hour Lucid Dreaming. We will explore how noticing and becoming lucid about the Dreaming connects us to perennial philosophies and to a new self-image. At crucial places along the way, you will be invited to train your awareness in Dreaming. Perhaps you will even consider a whole lifestyle change based on noticing and living the Dreaming, twenty-four hours a day.
The One and Only Problem
It is always foolish to oversimplify complex problems. Nevertheless, from the viewpoint of the Dreaming, regardless of the complexity of your life, you can have only one problem—ignoring the Dreaming background to reality. Ignoring the Dreaming means marginalizing the deepest unformulated experiences that create your actions in everyday life. Every time you ignore sentient, that is, generally unrecognized dreamlike perceptions, something inside of you goes into a mild form of shock because you have overlooked the spirit of life, your greatest potential power.
After many years working as a therapist with people from all over the world, it seems to me that ignoring the Dreaming is an undiagnosed global epidemic. People everywhere suffer from a chronic form of mild depression because they are taught to focus on everyday reality and forget about the Dreaming background.
This depression is not the kind that makes you feel miserable. It is subtler than that. This depression is the sense that something in your life is missing even when outer things are going well. Most likely, no matter where in the world you live, many of the people around you feel that something is missing in life, even while they assume that life inherently lacks that special something. As soon as we have a day off, we feel the most common form of this subtle depression; we feel that life is not special but must simply be lived to completion.
While most people hope to do something meaningful, we do not really expect to be totally inspired and awestruck about life on a day-to-day basis. We do not realize that we are out of touch with the core energy of life, with the Dreaming.
Regardless of what our problems appear to be, ignoring the Dreaming reality is the origin of most depression and low spirits. Without Dreaming, you are living only half your life and seeing only half the world.
The simple solution to this global epidemic involves gaining access to Dreaming, in learning to sense the Dreaming in your body's motions and in the signals you send and receive in relationship with the human and natural worlds.
Perhaps you are already trying to solve your mild chronic sense of depression by noticing your dreams, doing meditation, or following a spiritual tradition. These methods are important because they help you find meaning in life. But Dreaming is beyond even meaning; Dreaming is the origin of all your experiences, including your sense of meaning and your deepest beliefs.
Dreamtime And Physics
According to Aboriginal Dreamtime traditions, all objects, people, and events are echoes of primal creative forces. Native people everywhere have respected and adored the Earth because they sensed that mysterious Dreaming forces created it. According to one Aboriginal elder, "The flint lives inside this stone like a dream inside your mind. Its essence has been prepared inside the stone since dreamtime."
Present-day physicists think differently. According to what they have been taught, physicists believe that a person observed the stone and consciously decided to create a flint out of it. In contrast to this belief, the Aboriginal elder says that the stone has the Dreaming within itself. Therefore, the stone "interacts" with or "dreams" the hands of the "observer" to bring out the flint-like essence that was already present within the stone. In other words, you do not observe and do things; you are attracted to things and their Dreaming power orients your behavior.
While modern physics and Aboriginal science differ, they also share certain ideas. Indigenous people speak about Dreamtime as the root and essential power from which everything else comes; quantum physicists speak of an invisible mathematical entity called the quantum potential from which reality arises.
As you may know, the quantum world cannot be seen or measured directly. As Werner Heisenberg once said, the quantum potential is a sort of "tendency for things to happen." In my recent book, Quantum Mind: The Edge between Physics and Psychology, I show how the forces of Dreaming appear in terms of the quantum wave potential in physics.
Let us explore the meaning of tendencies, or quantum wave potentials, by looking at a psychological analogy. Right now, as you sit or lie reading this book, ask yourself what tendencies your body has to move in one direction or another. Do not move yet; just take a moment to feel those tendencies. Now, experiment with letting your body move in the direction of those tendencies. As you move according to your innermost tendencies, notice the movements your body is making. Do they have any significance for you?
The point is that your tendency to move in one direction or another precedes the actual movement. You cannot measure your tendencies, even though you can feel them. Your tendency to move, which precedes your actual movement, is like the quantum wave potential, which is a tendency for things to happen before they occur and can be measured.
For most physicists today, the quantum world is essentially a mathematical dimension whose essence cannot be measured in terms of everyday reality. According to this theory, everyday reality comes from the mathematical dimensions of the quantum world, just as the real world does not exist in Aboriginal culture without tendencies, that is, without the Dreaming.
Most physicists do not let themselves make definitive statements about the quantum world because it cannot be directly measured. Yet some, like physicist Fred Alan Wolf, refer to the tendencies of the quantum potential in connection with the Aboriginal concept of Dreamtime.
Other physicists also speak of a Dreamtime world from which the real world emerges. I discuss elsewhere how astrophysicist Stephen Hawking's new theory of "imaginary time" is a version of Dreamtime. Hawking's imaginary time cannot be measured, yet it is needed to explain what happened at the moment the real universe began.
Other physicists, such as David Bohm, did not speak of a universe that began with imaginary time, but believed instead that the quantum potential is connected to the state of unbroken wholeness from which the everyday world arises or unfolds. This unbroken wholeness is yet another form of the Dreaming.
In many ways, the Dreaming is to the Aboriginal view of reality as the quantum potential, with its tendencies, imaginary times, and unbroken wholeness, is to the modern physicist's view of reality.
Aboriginal thinking is ahead of physics in that indigenous people insisted that to feel well and enjoy your life, you must perceive and live in the Dreaming. Like many spiritual traditions and individual mystics, Aboriginal spirituality aims at direct access to life in the Dreaming, life in what the native Americans call the Great Spirit.
The Many Names for the Dreaming
The forces of the Dreaming hidden in matter are the potential, future forms of all things. In this last century, Jung and Freud would have spoken of the Dreaming in terms of the subconscious or unconscious mind. Psychology has become so popular that millions of people today refer to their unconscious as the subliminal origin of their behavior.
In the years since Freud developed his concept of the drives and Jung postulated archetypes within the unconscious, since Erickson introduced his "unconscious" mind, psychology has reached an impasse in finding out more about the unconscious. Studying Aboriginal Dreaming (as well as Buddhist ideas of perception, which we will look at later) will teach us more about the unconscious. The more we know about this realm, the more we will be able to understand parapsychology, psychosomatic medicine, synchronicity, and perhaps even life itself.
Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, Taoists, Zen Buddhists, Tantric meditators, and mystics everywhere do not think of the Dreaming world as an "un"-conscious. For these peoples, the sentient Dreaming world is the basic reality. Though marginalized and invisible to mainstream cultures today, Dreamtime has been the essential reality for peoples from the beginning of history.
The energetic tendencies that dream everyday life into existence have gone by many names. Taoists call them "the Tao that cannot be spoken." Chuang Tsu, the ancient Chinese sage, referred to Dreaming as the "Primal Force." Native Americans speak of Dreaming in terms of the power of the "Great Spirit." Tantric meditators speak of the mysterious "Void," and physicists speak of quantum wave functions.
So many spiritual traditions and perennial beliefs support the concept of Dreamtime that you might ask why most of us forget the Dreaming and hang on to everyday reality as if it were the only reality. What hinders us from exploring Dreamtime, our natural inheritance?
I have several answers for why we marginalize the Dreaming and ignore our sentient tendencies, the shimmering sense of the dark side of the moon. First, few people focus on subtle tendencies; there is little community support for doing so. Then, these tendencies are subtle, and their meaning is not immediately apparent. Most people do not think about quick sensations they do not immediately understand. Finally, to catch actions and thoughts as they are arising from the background of subtle tendencies, you must have developed your mindfulness and concentration, which I call lucidity.
An Aboriginal Australian answered the question about why we ignore the Dreaming more simply; he says that mainstream people have simply left Dreaming behind. This man is not only speaking about colonization, that miserable repressive chapter of history in which European civilization dominated and injured Aboriginal Australia. He is also speaking about the internalized racism, the devaluation of Dreaming characteristic of most people in mainstream cultures. He is speaking about how non-Aboriginal peoples everywhere marginalize their own Dreaming. Most of us living in mainstream cultures have learned to turn against and ignore our own Dreaming souls.
Mainstream educational systems repress not only the Dreaming, but the Aboriginal way of life as well. Most school systems reprimand children for being dreamy. As a child, you are in danger of being publicly humiliated if you are meditative or regularly enjoy fantasy.
Everyone, not just Aboriginal peoples, suffers from the decimation of Aboriginal cultures. Today, even though some mainstream people in democratic cultures are awakening to racism, very few notice internalized oppression of Dreaming or its depressing effect on everyone's aboriginal nature. You may be ignoring the Dreaming because of external and internal racism.
The Aboriginal cultures that supported Dreaming have been so hurt by racism that they are just about overwhelmed by Western attachment to "everyday reality." Racism suppresses aboriginal people, their cultures, and everyone's inner tendencies toward Dreaming.
Excerpted from Dreaming While Awake by ARNOLD MINDELL. Copyright © 2000 Arnold Mindell. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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