Don’t cast out the demon: A case for following your dreams

 

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There is an uncontrolled and uncontrollable background world from which we are all born and out of which we motivate our lives. It is only through self-reflection, the art of transcending our conscious selves that we can discover a psychological resilience the likes of which the vast majority of people have never known or even knew was possible.

This is the art of reflecting on our experiences instead of being caught up in them. To do this one needs to gain some distance from them. For example, one can experience being depressed and become so wrapped up in the experience that it’s like being caught in a never-ending maze where you seem to wander aimlessly forever.

But transforming the experience from one of “being” depressed to the depression as being a signal that your approach to life has been outgrown and that a new approach needs to be developed can take you outside the experience and allow for a new perspective and change.

In short, by being your symptoms you can become lost, but by using the symptoms as signals of the psyche’s attempt to heal itself you can transcend, step out of, the maze. As with everything else the symptoms aren’t what’s causing the imbalance e.g. depression, they are only indicators that an imbalance exists. Too often we get caught up in our ego needs and forget that we are actually creatures of a much greater background world.

When we act as though we are our symptoms (fear, anxiety, depression, anger, powerlessness, etc.) we automatically try to avoid or cast out the demon. In other words, we try to reject rather than go into relationship with the symptom.

When we reject our feelings, our thoughts, or our unwanted memories we send the pains they cause into the dark cellars of our unconscious mind where they can fester and source all kinds of mischief. The art of reflection is the first step into dealing with our imbalances directly and one of the best ways of reflecting on our inner self is through the analysis of dreams. It is through our dreams that we can connect with that background world from which we all come.

In the dream it is the soul that reflects on itself while the ego sleeps rather than the daytime reflections of the ego upon itself that rarely produce any useful insight. Learning to see reality through your dreams can be a transforming experience.

Mystery: Being in the I-know-not-where

 

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Forever striving to know everything

Forever frustrated and afraid.

Ah, to embrace ignorance if only

As an entry to the holy.

I love it when I admit that

I don’t know what I’m doing.

For me the holy mystery seems to reside

in those spaces between knowing and not knowing.

Always trying to know leaves me empty

No matter how much I think I know.

Mystery on the other hand seems to fill

Every nook and cranny of my soul.

My desperate need for knowing leaves me angry,

Frustrated, anxious, defensive, and frightened.

Not knowing seems to cool the mind like

A splash of cold water on a sweaty summers day.

This effort to know everything sometimes heats up the mind and soul

And agitates the very essence of my being.

I’m left exhausted depressed and lost and I ache for the release

Of the mysterious, its softness, awe, and wonder.

It’s there somewhere behind and beneath that pile of knowing

And I think it’s time to invite it out to play.

The constant striving and worrying about knowing what,

where, and why is so tiring, so meaningless.

Being in the I-know-not-where can be so peaceful,

so joyful.

 

The dark night

 

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Sadness, depression, anguish, anger, chaos, nightmare, disillusionment are all aspects of the dark night of the soul.

One can see them as aspects to avoid, supplant with loving thoughts or religious practice, or distracting regimens

OR

One can see these aspects as the dark side of the soul that brings to light its more positive aspects.

The soul represents all the spiritual aspects of our being, those that we like and those that we don’t. But regardless of our ego’s point-of-view about the soul’s values the soul will express itself, it will insist upon full participation in the world.

Our response to its activity will either enable its participation or hinder it and to hinder it is to limit our own growth and spiritual evolution.

To the believer who imagines that only love can bring spirit into being and thus pastes over or varnishes their darker aspects with thoughts of only loving gesture I say you will fail for even the power of love knows that it needs to make room for its darker cousin.

One must face the issues of life and death and the values existent within that life regardless of whether approved of in order to bring true love to their own being and the being of all else.

We are all tried in the crucible of the soul’s dark night. To seek consolation from without through religion, or rituals designed to eradicate the darkness often results in less than success. Facing the darkness and wrestling with it can be liberating from the constant struggle to eliminate it that is fruitless.

Many see the full expression of love as being divine in and a reflection of our true nature. This is true but the operative phrase here is, “full expression” not partial expression or only those expressions that we deem acceptable.

There is an inner wisdom being offered to the dreamer who dreams images of being threatened, attacked, killed, killing, or chased and hunted down by dark figures. All are shadows of the hidden self, the dark hidden soul wanting to be expressed and dealt with openly and honestly instead of suppressed and reviled.

Contrary to many so-called wisdom teachers the dark night is not necessarily something to be overcome but acknowledged and brought into the light and dealt with openly. Remember the old folk sayings that darkness comes before the light or the storm before the dawn? This is partly true in that it is often through personal struggle that ones true nature and purpose is revealed.

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But even with the best of intentions to integrate and thus grow oneself one can find themselves so immersed in the darkness that they cannot find themselves. For those who find they are thus trapped they may need the guidance, partnership, and counseling of one who knows how to work with the darkness and its integration with the light. I have found these guides in dream groups, spiritual teachers, psychologists,  and psychotherapists. All have helped in this journey to full expression of the soul.

It’s a strange world to live in when we sleep, but maybe it’s more real than we think.

 

 

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By.–Manuel Archain

When we fall asleep we enter a world of the unconscious where the personality, the ego-self, surrenders itself and the self-conscious barriers to reality dissolve into nothing. Suddenly we can walk through walls, traverse time in all directions and jump from one place to another without any external transportation.

Time and space seem irrelevant to this world and our individual self seems to all but disappear allowing us access to what seems to be a universal mind or the collective unconscious as Carl Jung described it.

In this world one does not have to be located in any particular place, we are neither here or there i.e. we are no longer dualistic in nature.

Here we can sift through incredible amounts of data to solve the unsolvable problems of our waking lives. We become particularly attuned to our inner body messages as well as the body messages of others we have seen, but have not been conscious of, during the day.

There is even some evidence that dreamers who are close or in some way genetically linked can meet each other in their dreams– the walls between us, what Alan Watts termed, “That skin encapsulated ego” that is us, seem to dissolve allowing for a connectivity beyond the body.

Dreams in fact seem to be a meeting place between the older archetypal self and the conscious personality. This older self is often seen as being eternal in nature with the younger self only being temporary. The conscious self seems to stop at the end of the finger tips while in a dream one can easily extend beyond this imagined or believed to be real body limit.

In our wakeful state we believe the body to have a limited range of sensory experience. This disappears when the boundaries of time and space fall away as they do in the dream state where we become transpersonal in nature. Here consciousness seems to transcend the limits of space/time. In the unconscious one seems to be nonlocal, being everywhere at the same time, a phenomenon thought to only exist in the quantum or atomic realm of reality.

There are some scientists who suggest, wonder, or imagine that consciousness itself exists in this nano-world of quantum physics and not in the body. Some suggest that our brains and bodies are more like radio receivers than transmitters. Perhaps our dreams are our link with our true nature?

If we are more than our bodies, might we then be more than that body’s limitations?

 

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By.–Manuel Archain found on the Huffington Post

Messages of hope in dark dreams

 

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The other night I had a disturbing dream where I saw a child being abducted and carried away. My heart went out and I desperately tried to recapture or save her.

On the next night I was carrying two books, one was a large book with beautiful illustrations and embellishments and the other with the word “Hope” emblazoned on the dust jacket. As I carried them across a deck overlooking the water I dropped them and they sank to the bottom, I quickly reached for them and saved them from a watery demise.

The dreams followed a two day run of depression and negative self-talk.

While writing the dreams in my journal the fog of meaning started to clear and I jotted down the beginnings of my interpretation.

“Innocence: The phenomenon of seeing without judgment, notions, bias, or to see purely i.e. to take something in without changing it or “adulterating” it. I have lost this reality and want ever so badly to recapture it, to make it my own again. It made sense to me a sense that adulthood has never made.

The world of imagination (a child’s world) captures my heart and holds it with far more interest than anything the material world of the adult has to offer. The imaginal feeds, the material does not. The material leaves me empty no matter how much I have, unfulfilled, and un-nurtured.

This is also the message of the “Blue Fresco”  dream a number of years ago where I first met a Spirit Guide, Sophia, who invited me to leave behind the adult world that is so very childish in its pursuits and follow a path of my own. Basically she gently admonished me to stop trying to get what will nurture from the material world. It cannot fulfill or nourish what is truly important in and to me.

I have been acting as though I am my thoughts rather than being that which thinks.

The dream where I drop the books into the water may also be an encouragement to stop looking to the material world for my satisfaction, soul, or sense of being.

The answer i.e. “Hope” for me is only to be found in the intuitive, imaginal, mystical, and spiritual realm. As with the “Blue Fresco” dream these dreams remind me to leave behind my childish search for acknowledgment in the material world because it’s not there.

The “Retrieval” aspect of both dreams seems to be speaking to a transformation of thinking metaphor suggesting a need to transform my current negative inner narrative in order to save me. I need to reach into the primal waters and pull myself out. The drowning book in the second dream may also represent the rigid intellect being drowned but allowing the creative to be saved. The inner self desires to be free. It may be my only “Hope”. By continually looking for rigid intellectual “consensus reality” I will always be drowning and stifled. I need to reach into the deep dark waters and save myself.”

Mystical Experience

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Many people over the years have shared their unusual experiences, bidden or unbidden, eyes open or eyes closed and all having profound effects on their ordinary state of consciousness. All those who shared seemed to experience a deep sense of connectedness or union with others and/or the environment.

Some people have had these experiences while in deep meditation, through their dreams, or while just walking down the street. There is for all a sense of transcending the self i.e. the ordinary self identified by name and body to a place of communion with something much, much greater.

Some years ago when descending from a hilltop building toward the parking lot below I happened to look out at the dusky glow of the city as it was slowly being cloaked by the evening light. My focus went to the traffic on the street slightly below me and made eye contact with one of the drivers.

Suddenly something else looked out from those eyes driving by. It was a spirit so profound I could only imagine it to be that of God. As I scanned other drivers this same observer looked out and saw a man standing on a hillside about to descend toward a parking lot. I was both seeing them and seeing me through them. The boundary between us disappeared and the stress of the day melted away.

I continued down the embankment with tears in my eyes knowing that something had changed forever in the way I was seeing the world. As I climbed into my car and pulled out of the lot and into the traffic on the street the experience lasted for at least another few minutes, or longer, or shorter, I don’t know because time too had stopped. Fortunately this didn’t last too much longer or I’d no doubt have ended up in a fender-bender.

This is what some philosophers call a mystical experience, though others might label it a brain burp caused by some random misfiring of neurons.

The phenomenology of mysticism was summarized in Borg and Wright’s book The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (Chapter 4 page 61) where a five-part description of a mystical experience was presented.

Borg suggested that the pre Easter Jesus was a mystic and that “If one takes seriously that the sacred can be experienced, and that people who have such experiences frequently and vividly may be called mystics or Spirit persons, then it seems apparent that Jesus was one of these (62-63).”

Though Borg was describing the pre Easter Jesus he was also defining the experience of mysticism and mystics in general. Borg’s description seemed spot on with my own experience as well as those shared by the many people who have written me over the years.

Mystical experience generally involves five characteristics; Ineffability: where the experience can’t really be described through ordinary words, Transiency: where the experience is somewhat brief, Passivity: in that they are usually unbidden, received rather than achieved, the Noetic: produce a knowing of something not known before the experience i.e. a new reality. This may also include a sense of awe and joy. Fifth in the series is that these experiences are Transformative: they transform a person’s way of being in part because they see the world differently after the experience.

For me the experience on the hilltop above the parking lot was one of many I’ve experienced throughout my life all of which have shifted radically my vision of reality. Though my ego-self continues to insist that I view reality through a vision of separateness I know and am able to easily access the “knowing” that has grown from my experiences of the mystical.

I wish that I could share that there was some secret means for accessing the mystical spiritual but all of my experiences have come unbidden though my tendency to give emphasis to such things as dreams, meditations, spiritual, psychological and emotional exploration may have left me more open to them. I have often had a dream or a meditation or rumination that I thought should have produced something deep and profound only to have it reach the level of interesting but hardly awe-inspiring. It’s one of those pieces of “magic” that can’t be made to happen but can be allowed or given room to happen.