“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”
–William Butler Yeats
“On my meditation walks I am often moved by the life going on about me– boys with hockey sticks battling in the streets at dusk, flocks of screeching Crows nesting in trees, the smile of the crescent moon with the brightly seductive Venus off her bow. And on a warm night there’s crickets and barking dogs, but on a cold and crisp one there’s nothing but silence and the sound of my own footsteps. Sometimes a breeze whips through the branches and rustles the leaves and I hear the raucous laughter of a dinner party just seen through the picture window of the house across the street.
And the world seems right.
But on other nights my mind is disturbed with its thoughts that whirl like a demented vortex and I hear nothing but my own voice. It’s a boring voice droning on and on about inane this’s and that’s and burying the peace of the night in rubble.
And nothing in the world seems right.
I long for the magic I’ve so often felt on so many earlier sojourns through the dark, but on this night it’s not to be. This is when I cry out to the dark denizens of the otherworld, “Come oh magic creatures of the imaginal and entertain me. Bring to me your mystery, your awe, your wonder, and your hidden treasure– make it better than it is.”
That night’s dreams brought me headstones and skulls, darkness and gray empty fields– a reflection of the mood carried back from the earlier journey. And then I ran across the poem by Yeats and I thought, ‘It’s not the fairies of the land he is calling to, but those of the inner soul who are entreated to crawl out from the rubbish and dance with me once again’. And I remember yet again that it is I, it is I who can summon the magic from within.
I’ve been rereading Diane Kennedy Pike’s book “Life as a waking dream” (Riverhead Books, 1997) and thought I’d tackle the concept in a little different way. I decided to look at critical events in my life lately and treat them as dream material and using the dream interpreting book “Morpheus Speaks” (iUniverse, 2019) as a guide to their possible meanings.
Incompetence: I tend to become really upset with what I perceive to be incompetence in anything such as with a person or government or the law, teaching or in the building of something, etc. This probably reflects some of my own worries about my own competence and lack of forgiveness toward myself whenever I deem I’ve been less than competent in some action. Why? Because I hate to be wrong! I mean, being wrong is wrong! I see it as a failing, a less than ideal quality and something broken and God forbid, unfixable. So, I deny the experience, demean it, reject it, and put it down (for purposes of word economics use this last sentence in all the rest of my symbolic meanings).
Injustice: This is another upsetting experience within my everyday waking dream symbols. It is probably connected to incompetence because at one level to be incompetent is unjust or just wrong (are we seeing a theme yet?).
Accused, attacked (especially wrongly): When I or someone I identify with is being wrongfully accused I get upset. Sometimes this may be reflecting my own guilt about something or my doubts about myself. To cover up a wrongdoing e.g., such as a doubt about what you are doing and acting as though you know what you are doing is wrong. Recently I’ve had some doubts about my competence in some action and some project that I’ve taken on and acted as though I knew what I was doing when I wasn’t sure that I did and then the waking world presented me with an unrelated and false accusation that I had to deal with. It was only when I didn’t make it personal such as taking it as a personal wrongdoing that I was able to overcome and solve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.
Fakery: Pretending to be something you’re not. I do this sometimes to make myself seem better than I am. Of course, I only do this when I feel as though I am not very good. I see this a lot in politics and politicians these days.
Lying: I lie to hide my actions and I do this to not look bad or to look good or to look better than I am. I don’t like the fact that I on occasion do this and find that I rail at those who do it publicly and rail in proportion to my rejection of my own lies.
Well, that’s enough for now. The theme seems pretty obvious to me right now in that all of these fall within my biggest bogeyman that of being “WRONG” or “Less than” which shows up as incompetence, injustice, fakery, or lying. Needless to say, that these days I’m spending a lot of time railing at virtually everything that I see on TV or read in the newspaper or the newsfeeds I get on-line.
Ultimately what I’m seeing and railing against are my own shadows i.e., what I deem the darker parts of myself.
The outside world is but a mirror to my own inner self. Calling these reflections out for what they are and who is responsible for them and for who needs to deal with them is probably the next step in this process of working with the waking dream. I cannot change the outside world but when I take responsibility for the inside world change can happen.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.
I love a good meditation! And by ‘good’ I mean where I let go of any expectation thus freeing the soul to come out and play. Down deep in the caves of my being there is only mystery– nothing to figure out, no problems to solve, no worries to chew on. I love it when I can just hand myself over to the dream and the presence of the spirit. The more I can let go of the ego as the here and now definition of myself the more I can align with my soul’s larger being.
Such was the gift handed me one spring day at a coffee shop at the corner of yesterday and tomorrow when these words gilt my caffein charged musings– a waking dream meditation.
Driving to a meeting feeling overwhelmed, burdened, thoughts racing, and more than a little resentful of having to meet in the first place I was beginning to spiral down emotionally. All my mind tricks to try and center myself were having limited success and then I glanced into the next lane. Passing me on the right was a white sedan with a license plate declaring, “BE STILL”.
It was as though the universe were guiding me toward a solution to my dilemma and the source of my unrest. BE STILL, quiet the mind and give power to the soul by quieting the ego-self. Allow for the divine to have influence.
It worked for a while and got me through the meeting but after leaving the little demons rushed in to fill the void, the stillness, with their own agenda– to destabilize and take over. It’s like having my own personal ISIS making camp in my head. I tried stuffing my feelings so as to get home in peace.
But there is little peace to be had in running from the demons and when I got home it didn’t take long for the agitators to stir up problems between my wife and I. Tempers flared over things inconsequential and we both simmered and sulked in different rooms.
As usual it was my wife who recognized the need to transform the stalemate and clear the air. I have learned to trust the process, though I have to admit when I’m stuck in the need to be “right” about something I can be pretty pigheaded.
At first I claimed to not know why I was being so contrary, but with a little patient prodding I shared what was going on with me and the fears I was having about a new assignment. I had been suppressing these fears for days and hiding from them because I thought they would overwhelm me. But as usual suppressing them only emboldened them and the result was the very sense of overwhelm that I was hiding from. Sharing those fears brought them out of the dark recesses of my mind and shined a light upon them. Magically, this simple act of shining a light reduced their hold on me and quieted their influence.
I know this, having experienced it time and again, suggesting its power to others, and having used it many times to dig myself out of the dark holes I’ve jumped into, but when I embrace the mind chatter, the inner voice of the ego-self, the knowing is shut down and allows the little devils to loudly invade and drown out the power of the stillness.
BE STILL. Great advice! Whether from the sleeping dream or the waking dream guidance abounds if you just open to it.
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
*This slow rhythmic prayer has almost mystical qualities much as its magical cousin the Abrasax…
On my walk I met an old man sitting cross-legged in his stall and stirring some concoction in an iron pot.
“What ho?” I inquired but he did not answer and continued to stir.
“Can I see what is in your pot?” I asked as he continued to stir.
Not waiting for an answer I leaned forward to gain a glimpse of what was stirring and all went black. Indiscriminate images whirled and whorled about taking and losing form as I tried to focus upon them. All moved like thickened liquid and climbed the sides of the pot only to be pulled back into its muck.
“What is this place so dark and of undefined form?” I moaned as I was being drawn into its depths.
It was then that the old man spoke. “It is of thee, the hidden thee, the thee of many generations and many worlds.”
“Why do you speak in riddles old man?” I gasped.
“Because your kind cannot understand when confronted directly with the truth.” He said bluntly. “You seek an answer to a question you have not fully understood. Because of this its answer will sit in secret at your core until you are ready to open the gate with its many locks. Meanwhile the secret lies within the chaos dark. Understand your question and the key that will open all the locks will reveal itself to you and of the chaos you will know and the darkness will be no more.”
“Tell me Alchemist about this key of which you speak.” I demanded gently.
“Learn the true secret of the three that are one and dispel the myth of the priests who know not any secrets and the key will be revealed.” Intoned the old man as he very deliberately kept stirring the pot.
“But once I have it how will I know which lock it fits for it cannot fit all of them can it?”
“There is but one lock for all. It is for you to look truly and it will reveal. You cannot distill what is needed while you live in the above ground. You must enter the chaos of the darkness to do that. The answer is not to be found in the nonsense of your wakened state for it only comes in the dark to be then congealed and carried into the light. You must dissolve the hardness of the waking mind through the softness of the darkness only then will the question become clear enough for you to see the key and the lock it opens. Only then can you pass through the gate and find the stone of eternity promised by the divine philosophers.”
My mind began to swim like the stirring liquid of his pot and I swam desperately for its surface. Breaking free of his spell I stood wetted and dripping there before him and his pot but before I could yet speak he smiled and dissolved before me and I awoke. Had I been sleeping? I had not been in my bed for I was sure that I had been walking and yet my eyes seemed opened to something new and I could see then that I needed to find and enter this chaos dark with the question, “What is in there that is for me to find?”
The phrase”Chaos Dark” comes from the 1652 book by Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. My copy is in the original Middle English and was published by Ouroboros Press in 2011. It’s definition of the phrase was found between pages 318 and 341 and was an apt description for the Unconscious Mind and generated this waking dream.
Imagine for a moment that everything we see and hear is but a dream a waking dream if you will where all seems real and following a rational and very linear approach to the world around us. Unlike this waking dream* what if the sleeping dream were to present a reality that was the mirrored image of the waking dream where everything seems real but seemingly irrational and non linear? The experience of the reality of both worlds comes from the individual experiencing them and is projected by the dreamer and is an effect of the inner world of their psyche. In either world as experienced the dreamer cannot be sure they are awake or dreaming.
It is said that if one pinches themselves and it hurts then they are not in a dream but what if feeling in a linear dream world feels like pain and in a nonlinear dream world feels like sadness or the color red? One world follows linear rules of cause and effect while the other does not. Are these worlds any the less real because one does not look like the other?
In a linear world we sleep and then we wake up. It is said that we are becoming conscious from a state of unconsciousness. But could it also be that we are becoming conscious of the unconscious? But perhaps they are mirrored forms of one consciousness.
While pondering this little thought experiment I settled down to meditate on it when a question formed in my mind that wouldn’t go away and shanghaied my focus (this happens more than I like). It went something like this: If a person were living within a waking dream, what would happen if they actually woke up?
As I sat upright I began to imagine what might happen. If most of what drives our vision of the waking world is effected by our personal and collective unconscious material that includes many archetypal symbols shared by all humans both in dreams and in what we call consciousness, what if we were to awaken from this shared symbolic vision and find ourselves functioning with a different symbology? This would probably affect our linguistic system, visual and mental interpretation of everything around us.
Those around us who were still living in the world and asleep would see us behaving in a most peculiar way and we might be confused what with not being able to communicate adequately with those around us. Even our experience of objects and people around us might be altered and our relationship to these might look somewhat delusional to others.
Looking closer at the possible behaviors of this theoretical “awakened” person, I noted the similarity with the diagnostic pattern of schizophrenia. I also remembered an article I’d read years ago that discussed the similarities between those with schizophrenia and shamanism. The seemingly bizarre philosophies and insights of many religious mystics also come to mind.
R.D. Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist during the 1950’s through 1980’s, suggested that Schizophrenia was triggered by what is known as a Double Bind situation, what is sometimes called the “Incompatible Knot” caused by extreme and prolonged different, or incompatible messages and an attempt of the psyche to resolve these**. Laing also suggested the possibility that when experiencing this double bind situation the ego and the self cannot express themselves and that can cause a very personal symbolism that is meaningful to the individual and incomprehensible to all others—diagnostic of Schizophrenia. He also reasoned that quite possibly the actions of those identified with Schizophrenia may actually be in the process of trying to avoid the losing of the self.
For Laing Schizophrenia may be a transformative process like the Shamanic Journey where one might enter a state where they encounter insights which make them more grounded perhaps in an expanded reality.
Might also some of those who experience schizophrenia be on a shamanic journey and among the “awakened,” or they who have experienced a shift in perception? This is hard to tell especially when some doctors use a medical model, or even a behavioral model based on biologics. Dr. Laing suggested that behaviors such as those exhibited by those with Schizophrenia, can both conceal or expose experience. Is it possible that the Schizophrenic is trying to communicate the experience of the shift in awareness, but have lost their connection with the world around them?
But this connection of which I speak between awakening and schizophrenic behaviors is only rumination on my part, or at most, speculation in that there is no evidence for a connection nor for that matter is there any evidence for the Waking Dream as a reality. If the connection is true, I’m not sure I want to be awakened though the prospect and mystical promise is tantalizing.
There does seem to be some experiential evidence, however that society has created a context for behavior that may be antithetical to normal, or natural behaviors e.g. where there is encouraged and unnatural split between inner and outer experience—we are, generally speaking, not aware of our inner selves and thus most of us experience a pervasive alienation from one another and a general misunderstanding of reality. Under extreme cases this may lead to extreme forms of alienation e.g. Schizophrenia.
“For without the inner the outer loses it’s meaning, and without the outer the inner loses it’s substance.”
R.D Laing, The Politics of Experience, 1972
“For nature, as we know, is at once within and without us. Art is the mirror at the interface. So too is ritual, so also myth. These, too, bring out ‘the grand lines of nature,’ and in doing so, re-establish us in our own deep truth, which is one with that of all being.”
Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p. 132
Dream image: 1) An inverted evergreen tree hanging from the ceiling in a grand foyer. This caused much confusion and concern. Though not a nightmare it was very disquieting i.e. it just wasn’t right.
2) In another dream two men are cheating a younger man at cards. He is clueless as to what’s happening. They are manipulating and taking the younger man from all his worth i.e. they are stealing his self-worth. It feels evil.
What to make of these two disquieting snippets of dreams? When I break down the dreams into their component parts I begin to decipher the meaning of these dreams and their import becomes all too obvious both in my treatment of self and in my observation of how the nation as a whole is being treated.
upside down: Confusion as in “Everything turned upside down”. This could also be a metaphor for an antithesis i.e. something in opposition or thinking differently about something or someone. Are you being illogical?
Perhaps you need to see something from a different perspective.
trees: These can represent the structure of your inner being your self-portrait, how you see yourself psychologically e.g. your connection with the family and your past as in your roots.
Trees can represent your personal growth or the stages of your life.
Power, strength, patience, steadfastness, and quiet centeredness seem to be the attributes the trees offer and that I most admire and desire.
ceiling: This could be about your upper limits i.e. what you use to protect your identity. There’s a possibility that your old way of being is breaking down and there’s a need for new coping strategies. Have you reached your limit?
foyer: The main access to the vast inner self. It can also be a space where one may be ready to make an announcement about themselves or reveal something new.
evergreen tree: This could be about growth, eternal knowledge, happiness, immortality, or wealth and even immortality. It could also represent hope in the midst of despair.
Possible interpretations: On a personal level the image of myself may need to be righted in that is has been turned upside down to what is actually there. For example, my self-criticisms have turned my view of the world both in and around me upside down and is breaking down my self-confidence.
Alternatively, my world and the way I thought it was has been turned upside down and makes no sense anymore. My portrait or understanding of self has been inverted. I cannot trust the “rightness” of things.
There may also be a desire to correct the out of balance nature of the inversion and to wade into the confusion created by this out-of-rightness both in myself and in the world. But first the self because it is only from there that one can tackle the rest.
The second dream may reinforce the idea that I am cheating myself of my own worth. Things are not right and need to be corrected in this dream as well.
On a national and world level there are those who are stealing our self-worth and self-image as well and we are cluelessly letting them do it. In the dream the young card player is literally being “Trumped” at every turn. A symbol not lost on those who are following the insanity playing itself out in the American government right now.
We are allowing a small number of people to steal our sense of self and of what we have always said that we stand for both as a people and as a nation. We must stand up to these bullies whether they be our own critical inner voice or the illegitimate voices of our politicians, our so-called leaders, our President.
Our national self-portrait has been turned on its head by an insane and self-serving bunch of crooked people who are turning our deeper natures against us by turning us against ourselves and this must stop or nothing will be right side up again.
In fighting ourselves we are also distracted from the theft of our country and our livelihoods. This is to make us ever more clueless.
They are taking away our traditional good nature and replacing it with suspicion and hatred, they also manipulate us by feeding us misinformation and by destroying our sources of honest information and substituting them with what is essentially a State run media outlet. This is pretty much how it’s done in Russia and China or in any country bending toward autocracy.
This is how one takes over by shutting down honest media and thus controlling the dialog. And these dishonest fellows are masters of controlling the dialog. They say and do outrageous things to hide what they are doing behind our backs e.g. stacking the deck in their favor.
But when will enough of us catch on and refuse to play the game? Will we wait until they’ve taken all that we own? Because if we wait too long to do anything we’ll have nothing with which to stand up to them.
If it is true that there is both a sleeping dream and a waking dream we’ll see how bad the dream gets. Our waking dream is not quite a nightmare yet but moving disquietingly in that direction.
When visiting the UK not too long ago I found myself one late afternoon wandering the grass-covered ruins of an ancient Abbey. A strange fog had rolled in and masked many parts of the ruins making it look even more hollow and missing in walls than it otherwise would. It was on days like these that it is said things come up from the underworld and reach out for the souls that wander these halls that are no more.
This the land of the White Monks and the Black Death sings a lonely song, but during the Spring when the grass is cut it lays like a carpet across the floor of the great nave ready for the grand noble entrance of Kings and Queens once more. I could hear them walking past, the swishing of their robes, the clank of a Bishop’s Crosier striking the pace against the stone floor through the hall, and the smell of incense riding the foggy swirls descending from high in the roofless ceiling.
For one brief moment I was there, witness to what was and is no more. For one brief moment I transcended the veil of time. A coldness crawled up my back and I shook my head vigorously to dispatch the errant visions, then stood chilled and still, hearing echoes of a past I never knew, yet somehow they had followed me here and lay amongst my own memories forever more.