Our dreams and nightmares are proof of non-ordinary reality. We can prove it exists in the dream state. So, why are we so skeptical of other non-ordinary states of consciousness?
An Imaginary Landscape of Your Mind
I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? — John Lennon
Notice how his belief is qualified by proof. He accepts everything and then rejects those things that have no proof. We know that dreams and nightmares exist. We know they are an imaginary landscape of your mind. The fact is everything we experience happens in the mind. But dreams and nightmares produce measurable changes in our physiology. And they are also a common experiential element of our consciousness.
So, dreams differ from things like fairies and the mythologies of the most popular religions. Religion requires faith in addition to belief. That is because these things are without objective proof.
What is a Dream?
Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. — Joseph Campbell
Dreams are a partition of consciousness that explores an imaginary landscape of your mind. The symbolism in dreams is controversial. Some like Sigmund Freud theorized that dreams represented repressed desires. Others think dreams are much more than the subconscious mind. Rather, the symbolism in our dreams are messages from our spiritual self or even the universe.
So, what is a dream? It is a doorway to the subconscious mind. Other scholars see dreams as a reflection of thoughts and emotions and daily activities. Some sages talk about dreams as a mystical realm.
What is Non-Ordinary Reality?
This is a plane of experiential reality that exists outside the shared experience of normal reality. Many people share the same experience of waking consciousness. However, we do not share the same experience of reality with the other two default settings of sleeping and dreaming. We each have unique experiences while in these two states of consciousness.
There are many millions of people who meditate and reach a state of pure consciousness. This is a state that produces physiological changes that differ from our default states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Some of these markers include an increase in brainwave coherence. Another characteristic is brain frequency operation in the theta-wave area around 4 to 7 Hz. These distinctive attributes make it a unique state of consciousness. Some people refer to this partition of awareness as the “fourth” state, pure consciousness, pure consciousness, etc.
Another state of consciousness beyond the default settings is the Shamanic Journey. This is probably the first advanced level of consciousness discovered by man. This method opens a doorway to a heightened state of awareness Michael Harner calls “The Shamanic State of Consciousness” (SSC). Mr. Harner is an anthropologist, author, and modern-day Shaman. It uses sound as a gateway. Perhaps it is just a signpost pointing us to a greater understanding of reality?
Dreams are an imaginary landscape of the mind. We don’t have to use any special technique to reach this
Proof of Non-Ordinary Reality
The Land of Dreams, that mystical realm, where the oddest of visions appear, come wander through scenes of a joyful peace, or stampeded through nightmares of fear. Dare we open those secret doors, down dusty paths of mind, in long-forgotten corners, what memories we’ll find. Who rules over the Kingdom of Night, where all is not what it seems? ‘Tis I, the Weaver of Tales, for I am the Dreamer of Dreams!
― Brian Jacques, The Rogue Crew
So, when you ask what is a dream, you are also asking what is non-ordinary reality? All we know for sure is that it fits the definition of an imaginary landscape of the mind. Thus, it is then also a practical proof of non-ordinary reality.
Most people don’t remember all of their dreams. So, we miss the proof of non-ordinary reality. However, if we have a nightmare and we wake up, then we can recount the details. If we wake up shortly after dreaming, then even if the dream isn’t unpleasant or significant, we may still remember them. This is why expanding our awareness is so important. It helps us to be aware of more of our dreams.
Lucid dreaming is the easiest way to expand awareness. We use the natural elements of dreaming along with a Sutra to achieve greater levels of lucid dreaming.
All you have to do is remember your dreams in the first place and write it down.
— Joseph Campbell
Recording your dreams is an important step in building toward being aware as you sleep. The acting writing helps to solidify your memory. And, it can open your recollection of related memories and dreams. Then take one or two of the main images or ideas, and brainstorm on them. Write what comes to your mind, and again what comes to your mind, and again.
You’ll find that your dreams come from a body of significant experiences. You may not be aware of how they influence your thinking and your choices. Soon the next dream will come along. Take the images and move your interpretation further. The key is recording your dreams immediately after waking up.
We use the above process to begin our journey into lucid dreaming. This is a state where you are aware when you are dreaming. The more you practice, the greater your degree of control.
Dreaming a Default State of Consciousness
Dreaming is one of the three basic states of consciousness, along with waking and sleeping. Science tells us that the ideal time for dreaming is during the “REM” sleep. REM is an acronym for rapid eye movement. This normally occurs during the sleep stage.
However, dreaming is not confined to the sleep stage. Day-dreaming can be just as intense and real to the mind. Many people jump straight into the REM stage when they first fall asleep.
People who meditate can fall into the dreaming state from the 4th state of consciousness. This is something that is documented with test subjects at Maharishi International University. Those who practice the Shamanic Journey and enter SSC are also prone to transition from SSC into the dreaming state. It seems the mind naturally goes to this state.
Dream Interpretation & Symbolism in Dreams
The famous psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, was curious about the source and meaning of dreams. Modern psychoanalysis can be traced to his fascination with this state of consciousness. He wasn’t the only researcher to look at this state as a key to understanding the mind. In the 1600s, the French philosopher Rene Descartes is a philosopher of the 1600s. In his paper, The Dream Argument that our dreams provide evidence reality isn’t real. He makes two good observations.
First, when you are dreaming, you are creating an imaginary landscape of the mind. They are tangibly real and vivid. Because of this, our waking senses may also be creating a world that is an illusion. So, how can we trust our senses or our judgment of what is real?
Second, most people never recognize they are dreaming. This suggests our waking view of reality functions in the same way. What we experience as waking reality is a form of dreaming, we are simply not aware of it.
Many researchers post the same questions about dreams and reality. are dreams good for? What is a dream and what is their purpose? Perhaps this is why some people fear to look into this state of awareness. If we ask what is non-ordinary reality in the context of dreams, everything we experience becomes non-ordinary reality.
So, we ask what are dreams good for? Well, dreams are a window of sorts into our subconscious. Sometimes the window isn’t clear. But it allows us to process our hopes, fears, and instincts.
This is where The Enneagram Personality Profile can help. It shows us the default programming of our personality and instincts. This way we can recognize the thought scripts when they appear in the landscape of your mind.
Interpreting the symbolism in dreams isn’t new. This was one of the main functions of the mystic and shaman. Freud’s dream symbolism draws heavily from the earlier recorded symbolism of the Bestiaries. These books of symbolism catalog stories that were once oral traditions.
Using both the Enneagram and techniques for lucid dreaming provides some interesting terrain. We recommend learning all the basic spiritual technologies.
The symbolism in dreams comes from many sources. We have a cultural narrative that programs us with specific values, fears, and judgments. Our personality and instincts come with default settings. Our family and our experiences also color the symbolism of our dreams. Our imagination is another element contributing to the process. Imagination colors our memories. Add all these elements together with and you have your own individual meaning of various symbols.
This is why dream interpretation differs for everyone. In times past, people stayed in the same area and shared the same common beliefs. Now that we are transient beings, this cohesive cultural narrative no longer exists. The symbolism of our dreams is also ever-changing. As we progress on the path of spiritual development, we overcome obstacles. We move from a victim to a survivor, then a victor.
What is a dream? It is an imaginary landscape created by the mind. What is non-ordinary reality? It is only what we experience as dreams? Or is all our experience something we create, day-by-day? Our dreams are universal proof of non-ordinary reality that we take for granted. It is a signpost, telling us there is much more explore.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia