Are our dreams and nightmares proof of a non-ordinary state of existence? If they are, why are we so skeptical of other extraordinary states?
Proof of a Non-Ordinary Reality
“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, 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 he qualifies his belief by proof. He accepts everything as a possibility, including fairies, myths, and dreams. However, he rejects those things that are not proven. We know that dreams and nightmares exist. We know they are an imaginary landscape of your mind, but does that mean it is 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. Instead, the symbolism of dreams is 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, a separate state of consciousness. Scholars see them as reflections of thoughts and emotions, and daily activities. Some sages talk about them as an otherworldly mystical realm.
What is Non-Ordinary Reality?
Some define all planes of experience outside of everyday existence as extraordinary. So, who gets to decide what is normal? Many people share the same experiences while in waking consciousness, but we all interpret it uniquely. It is why several people who see the same thing describe it in different ways. It’s the reason why witness statements are often inaccurate. However, we do “really” share the same experience of existence. 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 an individual 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. It 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 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
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. It’s 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 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 essential 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 dreaming opportunity 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, 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 primary states of consciousness. Waking and sleeping are the other two default states of awareness. Science tells us we have dreams curs during the stage of sleep where we have rapid eye movements “REM” sleep.
We can dream outside of the normal sleep stage. Day-dreaming can be just as intense and authentic 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. Test subjects at Maharishi International University confirm this ability. 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. We can trace modern psychoanalysis 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 wrote a paper, The Dream Argument. He argues our dreams provide evidence that reality isn’t objective. He makes two excellent observations.
First, when you dream, you create an imaginary landscape of the mind. It’s tangible and as vivid as any experience in the waking state. Because of this, our waking senses may also be creating a world that is an illusion. How can we trust our five senses or our judgment of what is real?
Second, most people never recognize they are dreaming, which suggests our waking view of reality functions in the same way. What we experience as waking existence is a form of dreaming. We aren’t aware of it—yet.
Many researchers post the same questions about dreams and reality. What are they for, and why do we have them? What is the purpose of dreams? Perhaps this is why some people fear to look into this state of awareness. If we ask the question, what is the non-ordinary existence in the context of a dream, then all experience is non-ordinary. Since we experience everything within the mind, we create a framework we call everyday experience.
So, what is the purpose of dreams? Well, they 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. Some suggest it is the aperture of the soul or spirit.
The Enneagram Personality Profile can give us a glimpse of the structures of our Ego. 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. It is 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 exciting terrain. We recommend learning all the essential 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 meaning of various symbols.
It 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.
The catalog of methods for developing and exploring consciousness is what we call Spiritual Technologies. 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 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 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. All you do is 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. Their use enhances our ability to use common sense and logic. These tools improve observational skills and help us identify the roadblocks that get in the way.
We recommend you incorporate emotional checks in all of these processes. Keeping your feeling in check helps us think more clearly.
These tools help us think more clearly and make better decisions, which helps us avoid many of our path’s everyday obstacles. 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 smartphones to review these tools every month. It’s essential to keep them fresh in our minds, and that’s when they become helpful in spotting ploys and deception.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning, which summarizes the essential use of logic in language. It shows how people misuse language 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 truth-seekers 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.
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. It makes the Enneagram 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 help you understand the source of our “personal power.”
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration.
Meditation is a mind hack that often uses mantras, sutras, and affirmations as tools. These mental devices open doorways of consciousness. You could easily categorize them as awareness expansion tools, the same with Yoga since it contains a range of meditative processes.
Seated meditation is the heart of the spiritual practice for many people. Meditation is an essential tool for exploring consciousness. Seated meditation includes everything from a primary two-step method, Mindfulness Meditation and Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). This modality also has advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Moving meditation is an action with a heightened level of awareness. To perform an activity while simultaneously holding a meditative state involves a high level of mind-body coordination and skill. This modality improves mind and body connection. In turn, this has a positive effect on our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. Grounding exercises focus on our connection with nature, such as Sun Gazing, Forest Bathing, and Tree Grounding.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This category has a diverse mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group includes the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation, lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory (learning how to learn).
Another essential tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows; it’s your personal life coach. This modality also includes exercises like automatic writing and exploring memories. 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 technology for exploring consciousness. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures, and 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 crucial 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.
The Shamanic Journey has been renamed or rebranded in Western cultures. They do this to make it more marketable. You will see it marketed as “guided meditation” or “creative visualization.”
Modalities for Healing
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet, which comes from Indonesia, and Reiki and Shiatsu come from Japan. We teach Vedic medicine, along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Because to help others, we must be in optimal health. 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. They find it 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 merely an expression of everyday existence? 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