Could our dreams and nightmares be proof of non-ordinary reality? If so, why are we so skeptical of other non-ordinary states of consciousness?
Non-Ordinary States Of Reality
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 as a possibility. This includes myths and dreams. However, he rejects those things that have no proof. We know that dreams and nightmares exist. We know they are an imaginary landscape of your mind. Does that mean they are not real?
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, are dreams proof of non-ordinary reality, or just a product of our psyche?
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. You do not need to believe in the existence of dreams.
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 always share the same experience of reality. Our dreams provide a unique experience.
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 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. 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 lucid dreaming techniques, 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, in reality, is actually non-ordinary. Since we experience everything in the mind, we experience everything differently.
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.
Spiritual technologies are tools for exploring consciousness. They are processes that can change or expand our awareness. Some of them are also doorways to higher states of consciousness. In short, spiritual technologies are methods of change. These processes result from eons of research by cultures around the world. Using these tools is what we call spiritual exploration.
These tools stand up to the test of science. That’s because they are repeatable. Several produce measurable changes in our physiology. It’s important to realize what spiritual exploration is not.
Spiritual exploration does not involve belief in a religion. This means they are available to anyone that can follow a process. It’s like baking a cake. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious. The processes are formulas or ingredients for exploring consciousness.
There are many ways to list these methods. One simple way is to divide them into four primary groups. You could list some of these tools in more than one group.
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Healing Practices
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools. However, analytical processes are vital to the spiritual quest. This is because their use enhances our reasoning ability. This helps us to think more clearly. This helps us avoid many of the common obstacles. The two tools in this group are Logical Reasoning and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice. It’s especially helpful for those new to the spiritual path. We come back to review them regularly. This keeps them fresh in our minds.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning. This article summarizes logic. It shows how people misuse logic to sell us ideas and beliefs. Next is spotting logical fallacies. This module provides practical examples of the most common logical fallacies. The last module, the logical axioms, ties everything together.
Comparative Analysis is another valuable analytical tool. This is a systematic approach to research based on the scientific model. It is a method that compares ideas and beliefs from different worldviews.
This process introduces the challenge of comparing their beliefs to other worldviews. Here we also learn why it is so important to use emotional checks. It helps us research with the least amount of bias and prejudice.
Above all, the use of logical reasoning and comparative analysis will sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction. So, these aren’t just for research. You’ll find a use for these tools every day. Besides their use in religion, politics, they are also helpful with TV and Radio newscasts.
The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. Modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others was and remains a common practice. For instance, Jungian psychology parallels the structure of the Enneagram. It has nine processes of consciousness.
The core of the Enneagram Personality Profile is a series of questionnaires. If you provide honest answers, you will get an accurate profile of our personality. The scientific method of testing verifies the accuracy of this tool. The system goes beyond identification into deeper thought processes and beliefs. It integrates spiritual and psychological understanding. It will lead you to an understanding of the source of your personal power.
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration. The practice of meditation is now common knowledge. Both seated and moving meditation bring many health and wellness benefits.
Seated meditation is the heart of many spiritual practices. Meditation is a range of mental tools for exploring consciousness. It has everything from Mindfulness Meditation through Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). And also includes more advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Moving meditation is action together with a heightened level of awareness. So, this includes a range of activities involving the mind-body connection. Using these modalities helps improve our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. It also includes Forest Bathing. techniques for grounding, like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This group is a mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group of processes starts with the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation. It also includes lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory. Another important tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows. This is your best coach. It also includes exercises like automatic writing. You could list these tools among some groups. However, we like to list separately because of their importance to awareness.
The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first spiritual technology. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures. It serves as evidence to the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but all use essentially the same formula. Rhythm is a key element that regulates heart rate and breathing. Then the mind projects an inner world providing the lucid journey. A Shaman is a person who guides people through this journey in the spirit world. However, you can take this inward journey by yourself. This tool for changing awareness uses a range of seated and moving forms.
This is one of the ancient technologies that people have tried to rename or rebrand. They do this to make the Shamanic Journey more marketable. So, some people know it as guided meditation or creative visualization.
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet from Indonesia, or Reiki, and Shiatsu from Japan. Vedic medicine is also available, along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Our overall health and wellness affect every aspect of life.
Using any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. Then they find it is an enjoyable way of giving back and helping others.
What is a dream? We know it is an imaginary landscape created by the mind. But does that make it only imagination? Are dreams like everything simply an expression of reality? We can conclude that our dreams are universal proof of non-ordinary reality. And, they are a signpost, telling us there is much more explore.
We hope you found this article helpful, maybe even thought-provoking. You will find more interesting posts on our blog page. Use the “search” option on the blog page to find articles by key terms, topics, or category.
Does spiritual exploration interest you? If so, we offer both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. We use a blended learning process to get the best learning outcomes. This blended approach aligns with what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia