What is a dream?




So what is a dream? Fundamentally it’s all the event material from the day being processed through the filter of your particular psyche with its biases, points-of-view, beliefs, and ways of being. If the material is consistent with your particular bias or established world-view then it is processed into longer-term memory. When you remember a dream you are not recalling the exact dream but an abbreviated text of your waking psyche’s perception of it. There’s the raw experience of the dream, then there’s a translation of that into the language of your conscious mind. But buried in that waking narrative there are the “images” of the dream and their unconscious meaning.

It is that unconscious meaning that one mines when attempting to interpret a dream and in those cracks and crevices of the dark and deep there is gold to be found. We do that by understanding our psychological associations with the images. In essence the dream image of a table doesn’t necessarily mean anything except that it might be associated with a table you used to sit at as a child where your grandmother served you warm cookies and milk and you felt all loved and cared for or it was the table you were forced to sit at for hours staring at the wall when you were being punished and felt unloved and uncared for.

Both table images can reveal the current emotional circumstances of your life, e.g. feeling loved or not loved. Both images can reveal inner conflicts. For example, the former meaning of a grandmother’s table could be revealing a lack of love and caring in your life as can the latter meaning. Your grandmother’s table could reveal a need for love but so can the punishment table. Taking this in mind one needs to apply all the possible meanings of an image to ones life as it currently manifests itself. When doing this notice when one meaning seems to stand out or resonate from the others e.g. when it seems right. This will most likely be the meaning that resonates with your current psychological or emotional situation.

So how you might ask could a dictionary of dream meanings possibly define your own personal image? It can’t. What it can do is to get you thinking of and considering your own possible image meanings. It is like a menu that describes a meal but isn’t the meal itself. It can give you an idea of the meal but shouldn’t be mistaken for the actual food and its experience. In short, a good dream dictionary points to possible meanings rather than declaring a meaning. It allows you to explore the different directions you might go in to find a meaning to a particular image.

So enough about images, what about the dream narrative that I unceremoniously discounted in the beginning of this article? Though the narrative comes from the language of the conscious mind with all its biases, prejudices, and confusions it’s those very biases etc. that reveal hidden patterns of behavior that are affecting our lives. These same patterns can reveal solutions to vexing problems or the unseen behaviors of others that may be affecting us negatively. It is also this same unconscious material that influences our thoughts, our feelings, and our beliefs within the conscious world.

Simply put the material hidden within our dreams is all the stuff we unconsciously noticed while our conscious mind was busy with the events and worries of the day. It is from the unconscious mind that our dreams come to us and by understanding both that material and what our conscious mind does with it after waking we can access and process a much greater reality than just the surface material of the everyday.





Becoming your own Shaman–checking in with the Spirit Guide


For over three thousand of you who have written me with your dreams you have probably noticed my caveat at the end of each interpretation.

“Please note that the interpretation(s) that I provide are not the ultimate meaning of the dream. Every interpretation is but a hypothesis and an attempt to read what is often an enigmatic narrative. You the dreamer will know what meaning(s) would be your own truth by what you feel in your heart. If it resonates as true, then go with it; otherwise discard it in part, or in its entirety. I can only offer what the dream would mean for me if it were mine.”

My point is that each of us has our own inner wisdom, our own Spirit Guide that has informed our creative energies and guided us through our life regardless of whether we’ve listened or not. No Guru, or Priest, Rdreamtime.jpgabbi, Imam, shaman, psychologist, therapist, or dream analyst can tell you who you are, or guide you on the path that is uniquely yours.

And that is my purpose for this Blog, the website and the books–to help manifest your, and my, becoming our own sham
an, our own intercessions with God.

When I say, “You the dreamer will know what meaning(s) would be your own truth by what you feel in your heart.” I’m suggesting that this resonance is a product of your inner Spirit, Self, and Soul. This is not to say that the interaction between other Spirits or Self’s isn’t useful, or deepening. Experts have “other” points-of-view, but not “the” point-of-view, so the dreamer must actively include their own wisdom and not just be the passive recipient of someone else’s hypotheses.

It is said that the Shaman, or Priest for that matter, believes in the reality of their Spirit Guides whether they be Wolf-Goddess, Rainbow Snake, Jesus, Mohammad, Shiva, Buddha, or Abraham. They all reside in the reality of the imagining of humankind. At a profound level they are not just figures outside ourselves, they are all representatives of our true essence–they are our core wisdom shining before us as we look into the mirrors of their eyes. In short, they are us!

Through dream, trance, or meditation they come to us with ancient wisdom if we only had ears to hear. We are all born with the talent for this hearing, but as with any gift, or talent it needs to be studied, developed, and practiced in order for the song to be heard as it is sung in its purest form. And not just practiced through the mind, but also through the body, heart, and the soul.

Okay, it’s time to consult your Shaman.

Stand quietly for a moment before your mirror, empty your mind, and look deeply, lovingly, compassionately into the eyes of the person reflected. Try to forgive him, or her, all their judgments and criticisms of you.

“Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” ~Rumi

Take a few moments to do this….


There is an amazing spirit watching through those eyes, smiling, and knowing. Knowing you as nothing else knows you. Knowing that you came into the world complete, whole, with nothing left out, and perfect. For a few moments just imagine the truth in that….

Now try to remember why you’re here–not just standing before the mirror, but why you’re in this world at all. Chant softly “Why am I here?” “Why am I here?, “Why am I here?”, “Why am I here?” deepening with each repetition and listen with no editing.

It’s that first thought that floats to the surface, no matter how trivial, small, or hugely big that is often the answer to the inner query. It’s only the ego-self that is judging the thought; the Self has no such judgments. For it, everything makes a difference, everything is important and it’s why you’re here. You might write it down quickly because the ego-self likes to fade to unconsciousness right about here.

Be aware that you’ll probably have to do this several times in your life because the ego-self is easily distracted and is constantly chasing squirrels and its own tail in the belief that the catching will bring true happiness, unless of course chasing squirrels and tails is your true purpose, then chase with intention and abandon–never do anything passively i.e. participate in your life, don’t just be the audience.

“If you knew yourself for even one moment, if you could just glimpse your most beautiful face, maybe you wouldn’t slumber so deeply in that house of clay. Why not move into your house of joy and shine into every crevice! For you are the secret Treasure-bearer, and always have been. Didn’t you know?” ~Rumi

(I’ve seen a number of translations of this quote and used a different one than the one here at the end of the last chapter in The Dragon’s Treasure.)



Worlds collide



lens2349037_1230185131dream_a_z.jpgAs I wake worlds collide melting into one another

Reality gives way to reality

One narrative ends beginning the other.


Sleeping dreams left behind giving way to waking dreams

Real giving in to real

The same story in another form.


While waking I am not sure where I am

Living within and between worlds

The arc of the same book.


As yet unfocused and unsure I am awake yet

Is it all just one?

Is it the same story?


When awake how will I know when I’m awake?

Is this real or that?

Can I turn the page?


                          –by R.J. Cole (2016)

The Darkling Wood



Into the wood where the Darkling play2_fairies_lighting_moon_reflections.gif

Follow the path, I’ll show you the way.

Look carefully now for all crawly and slither

They’ll make you all creepy, scaredy and shiver.

The night falls here with a cackle and thump

A crack of a twig, a murmer and bump.

For it’s these dark woods where the nightmares play

The nightwoods where your darkmares say,

Beware, beware the darkling soul

He cannot be bested by fairy nor troll.

For he rules the forests of your mind

Your lighter and darker forever entwined.

Look close dear one for there is a charm

That can tame before there is too much harm.

Face the demon to make you wise

Embrace his fire and don’t despise.

Give only what he is due and

Accept that he is but a part of you.

He will bow his head and give you due

For his master is really you.

So harness him up and together take flight

Across the deep lake and into the night.

–R.J. Cole


Take a peek at the Dark Knight of the Soul blog and see what it is that dark dreams have to tell us.

Soul work: Letting go, is great therapy and great healing




A psychology professor walked around a room while teaching stress management to a class. As he raised a glass of water, everyone expected he’d ask if the glass were “half empty or half full”. But instead he inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” The students called out a number of answers.

He then replied, “The weight doesn’t matter because it depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for 20 minutes, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for an hour or even a day, my arm will feel numb, paralyzed and shaky. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer it’s held, the heavier it becomes.”

He then continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Worry about them for a while and nothing happens. Worry about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you worry about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing much of anything.” In short, remember to put the glass down.

There’s another story told by an old Zen master who told of two monks who were walking near a river. At one point they came upon a woman who looked upset for somehow she had become separated from her child who was on the other side of the river.

The older monk went up to her and asked if he could help and she said that she needed to get across the river but could not swim. Much to the concern of the younger monk the older monk said, “climb on my back and I’ll take you across”. And so she did and all three waded across. They bid their farewell but much later down the road the younger monk was so upset that he couldn’t be quiet any longer and had to say something to the older monk. “You carried that woman across the river! He shrieked. You know we are not supposed to have anything to do with women!”

The older monk smiled and replied, “Why are you still upset? You are still carrying her, I left her at the water’s edge some time ago!”

When we hold on to things they tend to burden us and make our journey through life heavier and more burdensome.

There’s also the story of the businessman who goes to a guru so as to find inner peace and the answers to life. When he gets there he sits before the master and tells him to give him the answers to life. The master pours him some tea but soon the tea overflows the cup and on to the table. The businessman gets all excited and cries out, “You are overflowing the cup, no more tea can go in!”

“Precisely, said the master. The cup is like your mind, it is overflowing with its own ideas and there’s no more room to hear what I have to teach! Empty your mind and then we shall talk.”

We can’t really hear anything new if our minds are full of old thoughts and ideas. Whether it’s ideas, beliefs, or suffering holding on to them makes it hard to move on. Here’s a quote from Shunryu Suzuki that hits me close to home:

 “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”

Shunryu Suzuki

As I’ve said before one of the best ways of letting go of the past and the suffering for what you would have wanted reality to be is to forgive it for what it was. To forgive our hurts and those who hurt us takes great courage, but it also relieves us of great burdens.

Unless of course you insist on holding on to your hurts because at least they’re familiar, or they offer you the chance to not be responsible for what you’ve become. Blaming the past for what you are or are not keeps you from moving on, or at the least makes it damn hard– harder than it needs to be.

Forgiveness is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. It can empty and heal your mind of past insults, self or other-inflicted. Don’t make it so hard!




Dreams and hypnosis

“Session of Hypnosis”, Richard Bergh

Not too long ago someone asked about the relationship between dreams and hypnosis.

Did you know that dreaming and hypnosis have a lot in common? Both tap into what the subconscious is observing and has stored. Both place the conscious mind in a state that allows for access to the unconscious. Neurologically these frequency wave states are called alpha and theta (8-13 Hz and 4-7 Hz respectively. A Hz being a “Hertz,” which is the name for a cycle per second).

Sometimes hypnosis can help you to recall a forgotten dream, or it can be used to go back into a favorite dream so that you can finish it up (don’t you hate it when you’re in a great dream and you wake up in the middle of it?).

Hypnosis can also be used to generate dreams (dream incubation), or be used in the technique called “Active Imagining” when you take a dream theme and imagine it evolving beyond the reality of the actual dream. This is sort of like Gestalt therapy when the client imagines a theme or an outcome, or places themselves in another’s shoes by acting it out.

There are several states of consciousness with the mind crossing in an out of all three–Beta, Alpha, Theta and even a fourth, Delta, though this last one would be very momentary for this is the state of deep sleep. Each state has its own breadth and depth of consciousness and unconsciousness. Thought (what we laughingly call consciousness) is quite broad, but has very little depth, whereas the dream state isn’t very broad in that it is more focused, but is very deep and then there’s hypnosis which has a lot of focused consciousness and a much larger depth of unconsciousness.

To incubate a dream, or to set the stage for what is known as a “Lucid Dream” (one where you are aware that you are dreaming when in the dream, which allows you to orchestrate it), suggestions are placed during a hypnosis session. These sessions can use cultural ideas, values, or behavior patterns (called memes) in the form of suggestions that are “planted” into the unconscious and which can be brought to consciousness by attaching a cue to them (in the form of a word, phrase, sound, or visual stimulus*) that when expressed will activate the meme. These are good for the short-term, so are effective in dream incubation and recall.

The mind is a fascinating thing!


* For example, “When you see your hand in the dream you will become lucid.”

The mirror of my soul



I’m back from the nether regions of the Oregon wild (if watching Shakespearean plays in the warmth of a theater seat can be considered the wilds of Oregon) where my nights were full of awesome dreams one of which I thought I’d share.

I’m walking in a forest surrounded by all the shadows of dusk. The sounds and smells of crushed pine needles beneath my feet softly fills me with an awesome peace when suddenly appears before me a long dressing mirror seemingly floating above the wooded debris. I stand there gazing upon my own reflection, an image of someone much older than the child who had once stared into a similar mirror so many years earlier, and a disembodied voice entreats me to look closely at the image before me. It then asks, “Who are you?” I wake up.

“A dream?” I exclaim somewhat disappointed for it had been so real and I wanted very badly to go back but though I turned in the bed and covered my head I could not go back to sleep.

“Nothing for it that a now have to figure out its message” I thought to myself.

Being a smart rat from many encounters with the mystical I knew that who I was or the “who” of the question asked by the voice was not my name or profession, or roles that I have played or am playing and unlike Rene Descartes the philosopher I exist not because of my thoughts. There are indeed thoughts but who is it that watches them?  “Am I the emotions I feel? No, not those either.” I muse.

“Ah, I am a soul!” I declare confidently. “But what the hell is that?” “What does the soul really do other than maybe animate the body? Not that that isn’t important.” Desperately trying to get beyond my thoughts I muse and musing yet further I begin to watch the thoughts and feelings of my musing. “They’re like objects of the outside me but walking through the inside.” I note. “But who is it that is doing the watching? Is that me?” I ponder.

“Am I deep within me the observer of my thoughts, my feelings, emotions and all the objects and events detected from the senses?”

Reflecting back on the dream I noted that the image in the mirror had changed over time but was this image the same me? Is the ‘who’ of the voice’s query the same ‘who’ that always was? Is the essence the same and what is that essence but that part that is always observing the march of changes passing before its awareness?

Over the years my patchwork sense of self has become projected onto the objects about me e.g. the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and sensory inputs and then fed back into the self as though I were them instead of them, I. But who am I? Am I even a human being or am I a consciousness, an awareness, just watching one?

“What happens when we become conscious of our consciousness?”   I asked myself. “The answer was in the dream.” Said the voice. “You wake up!”