What are dreams? Could dreams be proof of non-ordinary reality? Is there proof for other higher levels of consciousness? Let’s see if we can find the answers to these questions.
Several people can witness the same event but give different accounts. Our senses don’t record what happens; they provide input into the process of perception which takes place in the mind. It’s the reason witness statements are often found to be inaccurate. What does this tell us about our perception of reality? What is your experience?
Before we get to dreams, we need to see if we can define non-ordinary and ordinary reality.
What is Non-Ordinary Reality
The cultural narrative wants us to believe that ordinary is “what is obvious” to the senses, but is this a good way to define ordinary or normal reality? No. We don’t think so, either. We already discussed how our senses yield different results for the same experience.
Guess what? The dominant cultural narrative gets to make the rules. Ordinary reality is whatever the narrative tells us is acceptable and normal, and everything outside the range of what is considered normal is an extraordinary or non-ordinary experience. Whoever controls the cultural narrative gets to decide what is normal. (1) Is that an accurate representation of reality? No, it is not. However, most people don’t question it. Does it do any good to question it? Yes!
Do We Need Proof of Non-Ordinary Reality?
Yes, we need proof, and I think we have it. Millions of people meditate daily using a mantra to reach a pure consciousness, producing physiological changes that differ from waking, dreaming, and sleeping. These markers include increased brainwave coherence. It also shows theta brain wavelength activity between 4 to 7 Hz. This partition of awareness goes by several names, including the fourth state, the ground state, pure consciousness, or bliss consciousness. So, is this partition proof of non-ordinary reality?
Another state of consciousness beyond the default settings is the Shamanic Journey. It is probably the first method of consciousness exploration developed or discovered by man, which opens a doorway to another partition of awareness, The Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). Mr. Harner is the first to use this term to describe this state. He is an anthropologist, author, and modern-day Shaman.
How you answer the question of what is non-ordinary reality depends on several factors.
- your mental and physical health
- the diversity of your life experiences
- your level of awareness
- level of intelligence
- the beliefs and values of your worldview
When you mix all these ever-changing factors, you create a unique concoction that defines our worldview. It sounds like a rather messy process. and it is. Let’s start our investigation of these questions by unraveling our experience with the third state of consciousness, our dreams.
What Are Dreams?
Dreams and nightmares are an imaginary landscape of the mind, and We don’t need a special technique to reach this partition of awareness. Some think it’s more than a link to the subconscious mind. Is it possible this is a window to some level of existence? So, are nightmares a non-ordinary reality? (2)
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 during REM sleep.
We can dream outside of the normal sleep stage. Daydreaming 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. (3)
When you ask, “what are dreams,” you are asking about the intersection between the boundaries of consciousness, imagination, and memory.
“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 possible, including fairies, myths, and dreams. However, he rejects those things that are not proven. Dreams and nightmares are imaginary landscapes of the mind, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. It all depends on how you categorize experience.
The fact is, everything we experience happens within the mind. Dreams and nightmares produce similar measurable physiological changes, so they are a shared experiential element of our consciousness. So, are nightmares a non-ordinary reality or just a product of our psyche? So, dreams differ from the mythologies of religion. Religion does not accurately represent history or reality; it is the assumption that myths and superstitions are accurate and real. You do not need to believe in the existence of dreams.
Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. — Joseph Campbell
Dreams are a partition of consciousness that creates an imaginary landscape, and that is proof of non-ordinary reality. The symbolism in dreams comes from many different sources. Some, like Sigmund Freud, theorized that dreams represented repressed desires. However, there are a lot of other things that influence our dreams besides repressed desires. Our fears seem to be reflected a large degree in nightmares.
Others think dreams go beyond the subconscious consciousness mind, and this makes up the symbolism of dreams a message from the universe. Are these messages from our spiritual self we call the soul, or is this the same as the universal consciousness?
So, what is a dream? We know it is a doorway to a separate state of consciousness. Exactly where it opens is a mystery. Scholars see dreams as reflections of thoughts and emotions, and daily activities. Some sages talk about them as an otherworldly mystical realm as concrete as our waking consciousness experience.
Are Nightmares A 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 are dreams, you also ask what is non-ordinary reality. We know for sure that everything we experience is an imaginary landscape of the mind that includes dreams, nightmares, and what we know as normal reality. Eek! Everything is non-ordinary in our reality.
Most people don’t remember all of their dreams. However, we can recount the details if we have a nightmare and wake up. 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 and helps us 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 essential for building awareness. When you write, it solidifies your memories, and it can open your recollection to other related memories and dreams. Once you have a history of dreams recorded, you can take one or two of the main images or ideas and brainstorm. Write what comes to your mind. It will open doors to other memories and dreams you’ve forgotten. It’s a very interesting investigation.
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 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 for lucid dreaming. It is learning to be self-aware so that you know when you are dreaming when it happens. The more you practice lucid dreaming techniques, the greater your degree of control within the dream.
When we can control our dreams, we can change the outcome of nightmares, so instead of falling to our death from a tower that is collapsing, we fly away. It brings us back to our original question: Are nightmares a non-ordinary reality? If they are, then lucid dreaming teaches us to control reality.
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.
First, when you dream, you create an imaginary landscape of the mind, and it’s tangible and as vivid as any experience in the waking state. Because of this, our waking senses may also create a world that is an illusion. How can we trust the judgment of our senses to determine what is real?
Second, most people never recognize they are dreaming, suggesting our waking view of reality functions similarly. We experience reality the same way in the waking state as we experience dreaming; we simply prioritize one over the other.
Many researchers pose the same questions about dreams and reality. What is the purpose of dreams and nightmares? Where does the symbolism of dreams come from? People hesitate to ask these questions because they fear the possible answers.
If you attribute the experience of dreams to non-ordinary reality, then all experience is non-ordinary. Since we experience everything within the mind, we are constantly recreating reality.
So, what is the purpose of dreams? Well, they are a window of sorts into our subconscious. Sometimes, the window isn’t clear, yet they reflect our hopes, fears, and instincts that begs further investigation. Some suggest it is the aperture of the soul or spirit.
The Enneagram Personality Profile is a tool to help us understand the structures of our personality and instincts. This helps us see how our default preferences’ programming affects thoughts and values.
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 catalog stories that were once oral traditions.
We recommend learning all the essential spiritual technologies.
The symbolism in dreams comes from many sources. Our cultural narrative programs us with specific values, fears, and judgments. Our personalities 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 the past, people stayed in the same area and shared common beliefs. This cohesive cultural narrative no longer exists because we are transient beings. 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 are dreams? We know it is an imaginary landscape created by the mind, but does that make it only a product of imagination? Do we think there is convincing proof that dreams are “a universal proof” of non-ordinary reality? Are our dreams signposts telling us there is much more we need to explore? What do you think?