Our dreams and nightmares are proof of a non-ordinary state of existence. So, why are we so skeptical about other levels of reality?
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 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. So, this meditative partition is another proof of non-ordinary reality.
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, 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.
Shamanic State of Consciousness
The shamanic journey’s imaginary landscape is the fifth state of non-ordinary consciousness. Michael Harner, (1) anthropologist and modern shaman, calls this state the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). In this state, the brainwaves are in the theta-wave area, making it a distinct partition of awareness from waking, dreaming, or sleep. Besides being self-aware, you project yourself into a “visionary state” of consciousness. You are both the director and participant within a landscape of non-ordinary reality.
This partition of awareness is the most ancient form of spiritual practice known. The Shamanic Journey has similarities across many cultures. It is the most likely source of modern religion. This process has undergone rebranding and renaming to make it more acceptable to the Western culture. We know it today as guided meditation, creative visualization, and mindscape. The Shamanic State of Consciousness is significant for several characteristics. The person using SSC controls when, where, and how long they travel. By setting the goal of their journey, they provide a level of freedom and control.
The Shamanic Journey is yet another universal proof of non-ordinary reality.
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 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 minds.
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 ancient methods for exploring consciousness is what we call spiritual technologies. They are a collection of processes to develop the potential of the mind, body, and spirit. They offer us ways to expand awareness and reach higher states of consciousness.
These tools differ significantly from religion. They do not require faith or belief in any religious doctrine. Anyone can use these processes to develop their full potential. All you need to do is follow the process, and it’s just like following the recipe for baking a cake. If you combine the right ingredients in the right way and you get something delicious.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning method. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. They are repeatable processes, and several produce measurable effects on our physiology. These changes include increased brainwave coherence, lower heart rate, and increased skin resistance. Changes like this prove these partitions of consciousness differ significantly from waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
Everyone can use these methods to create their unique spiritual path, and you can start with any of these methods. The more of them you use, the faster your progress.
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 to explore.
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and our traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission.
(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia