Are our dreams and nightmares proof of a non-ordinary state of reality? If they are, why are we so skeptical of other non-ordinary states?
Proof of a Non-Ordinary 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 within 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 the mythologies of religion. 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 your mind’s imaginary landscape. 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 of dreams are some type of message. Are these 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 reflections 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 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.
Many millions of people meditate and reach a state of pure consciousness. This state produces physiological changes that differ from our default states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Some of these markers include an increase in brainwave coherence. It also produces a unique change in brain frequency, with theta brain wavelength between 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, or bliss consciousness.
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 partition of awareness.
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? We know for sure that everything we experience is 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 wake up, 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 and a Sutra to achieve greater lucid dreaming levels.
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 awareness 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 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 within the dream.
Dreaming a Default State of Consciousness
Dreaming is one of the three basic states of consciousness. Waking and sleeping are the other two. Science tells us dreaming occurs during “REM” sleep. REM is an acronym for rapid eye movement. This normally occurs during the sleep stage. However, we can access this portion without sleeping through other techniques.
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 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 dream, you create 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. 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 aren’t aware of it—yet.
Many researchers post the same questions about dreams and reality. What are dreams good for? What is the purpose of dreams? Perhaps this is why some people fear to look into this state of awareness. If we ask what is the non-ordinary reality in the context of dreams, then everything, in reality, is actually non-ordinary. Since we experience everything within the mind, we experience everything differently.
So, 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 our 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 Bestiaries. These books of symbolism and superstition cataloging 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, 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 developing and exploring consciousness. They are processes that can alter, change, or expand our awareness. Some of these methods open doorways to higher states of consciousness.
These processes come from eons of research by cultures around the world. We use the term spiritual exploration to describe these powerful methods.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our own blended learning process. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. Several of these methods produce measurable changes in our physiology. These physiological markers prove these partitions of awareness differ from normal waking, sleeping, and dreaming states.
Spiritual exploration is not about faith or belief in a religion. They are processes that anyone can use. They don’t require belief, just the ability to follow a process. We like to think of it just like baking a cake. When you want to bake a delicious cake, you follow a recipe. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious. The processes of spiritual exploration are formulas or ingredients for exploring consciousness.
There are many ways to list these methods. We divide these tools into four major categories:
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Modalities for Healing
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools, but these analytical processes are vital to our spiritual quest. This is because their use enhances our ability to use common sense and logic.
These tools help us think more clearly and make better decisions. This helps us avoid many of the common obstacles in our culture. This group’s primary tools are Logical Reasoning, Comparative Analysis, and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice, but these methods help anyone seeking the truth. We encourage our participants to create a reminder on their smartphone to review these tools every month. This keeps them fresh in our minds, and that’s when they become useful in spotting ploys and deception.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning, which summarizes the basic use of logic in language. 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 by contrasting how science and mythology differ in their approaches to presenting the truth.
Comparative Analysis is a systematic approach to comparative religious study based on the scientific model. It is a method of comparing ideas and beliefs from different worldviews, and it is another tool we recommend for the new spiritual explorer.
This process introduces the challenge of comparing their beliefs to other worldviews. We incorporate the use of emotional checks with this process to maintain our emotional equilibrium. This helps us think more clearly by reducing interference from our emotions.
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 cognitive science tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. The best authors and researchers write in easily understandable language so the layperson can understand it, while it is deep enough for any clinician. This makes it a powerful system available to almost everyone.
You will find modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others is 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 personality profile. 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 a better understanding 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 an action performed with a heightened level of awareness. These techniques involve a high level of mind-body coordination. These modalities have a positive effect on our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. It also includes Forest Bathing and grounding techniques like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This category has a diverse 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 them 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 of the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but 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.
Modalities for Healing
The last group includes a diverse set of healing practices such as Vedic medicine, Pe Jet from Indonesia, Reiki, and Shiatsu from Japan. Practical methods for Self-care techniques round out this a vital category.
The practice of any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. Although not initially interested in practicing the healing arts, they find it enjoyable to channel energy and help 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. They are a signpost, telling us there is much more explore.
Thanks for reading this article. We welcome your opinion, so don’t hesitate to comment or email us. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia