Saturday 19 November 2016

How Does The Waking Dream Work? (Concluding Post)

During our discussion of whether waking dreams are invented out of our own minds or brought on by a force larger than ourselves, we have established that 1) there is a consistent/constant interaction with something outside of ourselves, 2) these waking dream events are designed as metaphoric communications, 3) they come into our lives—not in an adversarial role—but as an effort on the part of life/the universe/God/the-source-of-all-things to maintain a constructive communication with us.

What this suggests about the structure of life is mind-boggling. It implies that everything we come into contact with is not so much its own unique, independent self, but rather, a metaphoric reflection of our own state of consciousness at any given moment. As an example: If I wake up in the morning and see my wife trying to wear shoes that are ill-fitting and don’t belong to her, there are two reactions I can have. Objectively, I can react by thinking, “Wow! She needs a cup of coffee; she’s still half asleep!” But subjectively and metaphorically, I would think, “She’s me. So I am witnessing my feminine self, trying to ‘wear a pair of shoes’ i.e. ‘step into a role‘ that doesn’t fit me.” I would then go within to examine my own thoughts and motivations of the moment and try to make a course correction.

I suspect most of us would claim that the objective reaction above is the primary one. But I would quietly disagree. Decades of working with dreams has brought me to a different understanding. I now believe that life is primarily an experience of metaphoric interaction: My wife serves as a metaphor for me, and in some extraordinary way, I act in the same role for her.

This may seem like a radical perspective on life. But I am not alone in thinking this way. Here is psychologist Jack Downing talking about dreams:

…the hardest thing to accept is that every part of the dream is the dreamer: if am driving along a dream highway, the car, the road, the passing automobiles, the distant mountains, the unseen dread, all are me… The car in my dream isn’t my actual car, it is my impression, my memory trace of that automobile, having attributes and opinions and attitudes coming from me, not the vehicle.

Downing is talking about traditional dreams—ones we have while we sleep. I am taking this one step further and asserting that there is no difference between the metaphoric experience of “sleeping” dreams and the metaphors that come to us in our waking lives. “Waking” dreams are exactly the same. Like an important sleeping dream, waking dreams jolt their way into our lives unannounced and with disturbing power. But they are not trying to be mean to us; they are here to teach us. Once we start working with them rather than against them, we see that they are an invaluable tool constantly available to us, offering help that we can be eternally grateful for having.

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