The Waking Dream: “United we stand, divided we fall”

Why the sudden increase in virus cases? Other than the particulars of opening too soon and the lack of agreement on safety measures I believe there are much more fundamental issues here as to why the U.S. hasn’t been able to get control over the virus spread. One of these issues may very well be our understanding of what independence means. For many it seems to be about “You can’t tell me what to do, it’s a free country”. This attitude can and perhaps does affect the country’s ability to control the virus’ spread.

Mass denial which comes about when there is a large discrepancy between what people want something to be and what is the reality of it is often a human default when the going gets tough even though this is not in our best interests. It’s is part of the fight or flight response with the denial of facts being a flight response even though the flight might have us running into the jaws of a pack of saber-toothed tigers. Overriding our default responses and using the tools at hand to help us mount a sensible ‘fight’ response might be a better approach to fighting this war.

In order for any society to sustain itself there has to be a certain willingness to give up some of our independence for the betterment of the whole, but Americans seem to be less and less inclined to do this and right now that is costing lives and livelihoods. 

Many of our leaders seem to care more about themselves and their Party than they do about the people they are supposed to serve. Beliefs seem to hold more cache than facts and that will eventually catch up with us in some rather nasty outcomes yet to be revealed.

The current federal administration has done just about everything it can do to separate us politically and socially which makes it much harder if not impossible for us to unite in a common goal or to mount an effective war on this virus. If we had acted like this at the beginning of our involvement in World War-II we might be speaking a different language and be ruled by a different country i.e., we would have lost the war just as we are doing now with the so-called virus war.

If we want to continue as one nation under God, if we think that the country is stronger and greater when we unite, we need to ignore the words and actions at the top that are trying to divide us and start thinking of ourselves as a society worth protecting as a whole and doing what promotes inclusiveness and wholeness.

The quote, “United we stand, divided we fall” is a truism that we need more than ever to get behind, learn to compromise, and get back to the hard job of learning to live together.

The War on Peace and Rationality

While digging through a small box of books that I was intending to give away to the local library I discovered a small book that I must have bought years ago intending to read but having never actually gotten beyond the first page. I could see that it would be a fast read so I sat next to the box and opened the book.

It was a very short story written by one of my favorite American authors, Mark Twain, possibly written during or prior to the American Civil War. The title– “The War Prayer”.

The story, almost a poem, told of the patriotic fervor of war, the over romanticized version of going to war of being victorious over those who thought, acted, and believed differently. It described the cheering, parades and speeches from both the politicians and the ministers from the pulpit. Those people who acted as a rational counterpoint were demeaned and threatened until their anti-war point-of-view was suppressed and silenced.

At the height of one minister’s war sermon an old man walked down the aisle and announced that he had been sent by God. He told the congregation that their God had heard their request for victory against their opponents, but that they needed to know the other side, the unspoken side, to their request that only God would know.

He then spoke of the pain, agony, starvation and devastation to their patriotic opponents, their children and their families. He spoke of the shredding of their bodies, their wills, their homes, and the oceans of spilled blood of those who were virtually neighbors and in many cases family that would have to happen in order to claim the victory the congregation had asked for in their prayers. He said that their loving God was ready to grant their request if they realized the full cost of their prayer. They sat in silence, stunned by the old man’s words.

In the end they determined that the old man was a crackpot and cheered their soldiers on.

I’m writing of this story because I have out of fear and misplaced patriotism found myself cheering the destruction of those that don’t agree with me, or my way of life. Instead of searching for a means toward tolerance, I find myself secretly wishing for an end to the conflict through any means including violence even though I know that violence only begets more violence and that over the long haul has never really kept us safe, safe enough to not need our armies and technologies of suppression and death.

Within every violent fanatic is someone who fears loss, the loss of importance, position, meaning, control or safety. They fear not having a voice in the living of their lives. Though their means for preventing the loss or in gaining a voice is abhorrent, immoral, ungodly and inhumane, their need is not alien to the rest of us.

It is in that shared need that the answers to ending violence of all kinds1 resides. Do we have the courage to look for it or is it just too easy to kill what scares us?

The answer resides with us all. What are you really doing to bring about peace?

1Violence can look like oppression of any kind e.g. against children, against women, against one belief over another, one culture over another. It can look like the suppression of any person’s expression of who they are or restricting opportunities for some while enhancing them for others. Oppression can also look like a rigid adherence to only one point-of-view as though any human could actually speak for the intentions of God. What arrogance! 

Violence also comes from well meaning people who are dedicated toward ending such things as racism, feminine harassment, or wage disparity. It shows up in the indiscriminate demeaning of our police forces, hate rhetoric, and the tearing down and defacement of statues.

This violence is more subtle though just as destructive as the bloodletting kind. For many zealots of social-change the attitude toward dissent or a different approach to the one being propagated is one of “your either with us or against us” or that a different kind of hate will dispatch the old kind of hate. NOT SO, hate is hate and always, always, always breeds more hate!

These well-meaning soldiers of fairness then demean any comments or positions that aren’t in alignment with their positions. For example, I belong to a group that has dedicated itself to end racial disparity but anyone who suggests a way of doing that that’s different than the so-called leadership is called old or too unconsciously “white” to truly understand what’s at stake or what needs to be done but if they follow the leaders then they will become ‘woke’  and be of some use to the cause. Never mind that they are shutting down dialog, never mind that they are exhibiting the same kind of prejudice they are trying to eradicate i.e., making unsubstantiated judgments about a person or group of persons based on a lack of understanding and then acting upon those judgments as though real to suppress those with alternate points of view or being. 

This is how movements fail because they become what they are resisting and start tuning out the other voices that don’t sound like theirs.

It’s about time we start listening to the voice of God and not the voice in our heads, the one that’s dismissive, angry, afraid, arrogant, and judgmental then ‘together’ we may have a chance to bring about justice.

But I think the soul needs proximity to connect

Spirit is what we all share and binds us together.

It’s what creates and sustains.

But I think the soul needs proximity to connect.

Spirit speaks to our oneness 

Our love and wholeness.

But I think the soul needs proximity to connect.

Spirit is always with us

Bidden or unbidden.

But I think the soul needs proximity to connect.

In Spirit we are connected

Never alone.

But the soul needs proximity to connect.

When disconnected we 

can make this connection through Spirit but

the soul needs to be open to it.

A Mystery I Kant understand

Infinity

Again while fooling around with words this poem appeared:

Never was a time when time was not

Being and nonbeing

Beyond a thought

Future past here and now

Space before space

Unknown to thou

First cause from all effects arise

Being outside 

Eternity implies

There is a somewhere that is a nowhere

The object is subjective

The everything everywhere

In the secret chamber of your house

Lies a spirit

No falsehood can douse

Non-temporality bent toward immortality

A super reality

Life in perpetuity

No inherent meaning?

 

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Not too long ago I had someone pooh-pooh the idea of there being any inherent meaning to dreams.

What I asked him was, “What evidence do you have that there is inherent meaning in anything?”

He then proceeded to give me the meanings for things and I asked after each one of his assigned meanings, who gave that meaning to the object, or event? “Someone did, an expert, everybody agrees that’s what it means!” He exclaimed in frustration. I then went on to point out how many times in history the meaning of something that was created by an expert, or accepted by the collective turned out to be wrong. I also talked about how something can have several meanings depending on one’s point-of-view, cultural view, values, and experience. “Do you not have thoughts that you commit to words that you have given meaning to and then you put them out into the environment and leave it up to the listener to interpret? Are the words really independent of the speaker, or of the listener? If something can have so many meanings, what is the inherent meaning?”

What I was trying to get at was that there is (prepare yourself) no inherent meaning.

You and I are meaning machines. We are constantly giving meaning to everything we see and every event that we experience. And these meanings are uniquely personal, uniquely ours. Seen this way, the discourse between individuals can be a discovery process, a learning–an expansion toward enlightenment.

This is why I constantly caution the dreamer to follow his own meaning for the persons, places and things in their dream and to use the analysis of an outside interpreter as only a guide.

The meanings of events, things and people in our dreams are no different than they are in our waking lives. Yes, when we are awake the story-line seems to flow more smoothly and follows some kind of logic, but the dream story-line also follows its own logic and the discontinuity that often forms the story-line in a dream seems to be a function of the REM eye movement.

Now you might say that some dream events can be quite bizarre such as flying, or fighting dragons, but so what? Most of us don’t spend much time noticing the bizarreness of ordinary life because we have a built-in bias, a predetermined explanation that deletes anything that doesn’t fit the accepted cognitive paradigm (personal or collective) i.e. it doesn’t even register into consciousness.

In the dream state, that filter is shut down and what is not noticed consciously is released from the subconscious (no, I’m not saying that there are dragons that you’re not noticing, at least not real ones). If these unnoticed events are not brought to consciousness through the process of dream analysis they will be dumped, deleted, trashed. Dream analysis is nothing more than doing to the things of life that we normally do when conscious, only we are doing it with the unconscious material picked up while awake and exposed through the dream.

In our waking lives people and events are often mirrors to ourselves in that they reflect the image we project. If we project fear, then we see fearful things in the mirror of the world. In short, when we hide the essence of who we are, then we can only see the image that we project reflected in the world.

A poem for the heart

Alone one morning last week I sat outside under the broad canopied and cascading Elm that’s taking on new leaf as Spring brings warmer days, though the morning’s are still chilly so I was bundled in my favorite throw blanket across my legs. As I do virtually every morning I was playing around with words and concepts on my laptop hoping for some inspiration to visit and this poem made itself known and demanded that I write it down.

 

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Hidden deep in my heart I hear a plaintive cry, find me, I am here, can you not see?”

What you are looking for is also looking for you. It has always been there waiting for you to show up.

What is it that binds us all together it asks? Surely it is not your illusions of separateness.

What would happen if you were not so interested in your own personality and were grateful for all who come your way for they are your teachers and mirrors to your Self.

You were born of love in a space where there are no boundaries. It is the head that knows boundaries. Not so for the heart. That magic knows no boundaries.

I look closer at the ideas visiting me and see that magic is always my companion if I had but the eyes to see it and the heart to walk with it.

When I see the magic in another person I know that it is my own magic as well that I am seeing.

Tolerance, compassion, and patience are doors into this magic and this magic is never loud for it dwells in the silent places within my heart.

But I struggle to see the magic let alone to be it. And sometimes it is just so hard, and I tire of the scuffle and my body slides down into the chair losing the energy to sit upright.

But then that bossy Spirit that never lets me stay in a good slide for very long pulls me up and I find myself saying that I need embrace the struggle for it is like a fire to the metal beaten by the blacksmith’s hammer and anvil. It makes me pliable to change. The change I need to see the magic.

When the goal is to be open to all the magic that is around and within me, in time I will hear what I am ready to hear and see what I am ready to see. And I whisper to myself,

“be patient, I am here!”

 

 

This is a new ad for the book Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting. For those who are either just starting out working with their dreams or those who are more familiar with the unconscious terrain of their dreams this book covers more than 5000 dream symbols collected from over 3500 dreamers across more than 140 different countries and cultures. Though it cannot cover all the possible meanings it can point the dreamer in a direction for exploration.

 

 

Loss of the Soul

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“Le Vol de l’âme”–by Louis Janmot (1814-1892). It is said that in a dream the soul of a man is symbolized as feminine and with women as masculine.

Because it is not the point of the article, I am not going to go into what the soul is or is not or where it goes when we die. When I speak of Soul Loss I’m speaking to what happens to our souls when we abuse them or when we injure them.

Whenever you’ve said to yourself, “I wish I were dead” we’ve sent a part of the soul to the land of the dead. Every time we give up on a dream or when we lose trust in ourselves we give up a part of our soul. When we play small in our life by giving in to our fears or pride or greed we injure the soul as well for the soul only wants to play large in everything we do. We are constantly banishing pieces of our soul.

In fact many of us cause harm to the soul through our self-destructive habits–drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, self-criticism, overeating, arrogance, etc..

But the soul also leaves us when grief has become so painful that we shut down or when fear becomes too great. Even certain life changes can bruise the soul such as a relationship break-up, a death in the family, or a change in jobs or life style.

Immigrants and refugees suffer this kind of damage when they leave their homes, especially when they are not leaving out of choice. This is of course compounded when their freedom destination has been blocked.

Soul loss is chronic in societies where there’s a small but dominant group of people who control the lives of others such as in autocratic, totalitarian or theocratic cultures or subcultures (this can happen here in the U.S. in villages, small towns, or in peoples homes with an oppressive element). It also happens in cultures and subcultures where opportunities are restricted on an ethnic, class or gender level, or where there is a huge and widening gap between those who have and those who have not. We also see it in cults or with the rigid dogma of some religious sects.

And some jobs are so stifling because of certain oppressive management practices that the soul begins to retreat to the darker parts of our being. The fact is that the soul thrives in creative environments where the individual’s independence is honored and nurtured.

Some say that only trauma will trigger soul loss but isn’t that what I’ve outlined above? Do not all these little traumas whittle away at our souls?

Have you suffered soul loss? It’s possible. Look closely at yourself for a moment do you, or have you, suffer(ed) from depression, constant anxiety, low energy and constant fatigue (any chronic sleep disturbance)? Does the world look gray around you regardless of the weather? Do you suffer low-self esteem, emotional numbness, helplessness or are caught up in and can’t let go of a negative past or some past event? Do you stress over many little things? Are you extremely overweight (or affected by some eating disorder), given up your dreams, or suffered or acted out abuse? Those who have suffered extreme abuse and who have been diagnosed with PTSD are on the rise globally.

Have you ever suffered a loss of self-esteem from a failure or at the hands of a bully personality? Most of us have and most of our negative soul-damaging experiences have been unavoidable. But it’s what we do afterward that can make all the difference to their healing. Often it’s the degree to which we let the hurts steal a part of our souls and when we go into agreement with our darker aspects that the loss was deserved that determines the depth and longevity of the experienced loss.

When we try to stuff the stink of soul loss i.e., suppress it or try to change it by adding perfume to it through a change of narrative the smell becomes buried but isn’t gone. It continues to foul our inner atmosphere until we bring it out of the darkened depths and into the light where we tell the truth about it without drama, judgments, and self-criticism.

Did you know that in some studies in the U.S. almost half the adult population has reported suffering some kind of childhood abuse (this includes neglect, physical, sexual and psychological abuse)? 1 Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident in their lives and that 28% of teens 14-17 have reported sexual victimization.2 Children who live with domestic violence regardless of whether the family is intact or not have a higher risk of abuse and I contend not only suffer psycho-emotional damage but soul loss as well.

But we do not lose our soul permanently or any part of it for that matter. What does happen is we lose touch with it and/or build up barriers to its expression. Meditation, dream work, creative expression, poetry, art, giving, and yoga are some means for healing a damaged soul.

In the fictional novel by R.J. Cole, “The Archipelago of Dreams” is an exploration of how damaged souls are healed in the spirit world.

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1deMouse, Lloyd, The Evolution of the Psyche and Society, Journal of Psycho-history v. 29, #1, 2002, pg.239

2 http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

Be Gentle with Your Dreams: An excerpt from Morpheus Speaks

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The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting

Be careful as you walk through the hidden forests of your dreams. They compose the unprotected essence of who and what you are. They are the messengers of your soul and your deeper self.

They harbor all your worries and fears, your dislikes and rejected aspects, your hopes and desires laid bare. They are born of the irrational, the imaginative, and the intuitive—a world of being as real and as informative as the rational world of science.

Both the outer masks that we all present to the world and the masks turned inward so that we don’t look too deeply at the mysterious inner self are stripped away during our sleep, allowing us to see our most beautiful faces and darkest shadows.

Through our dreams we get a glimpse of what God sees in each and every one of us without judgment or condemnation. Dreams are a grace unearned and a gift to those who learn to accept and interpret them.

Treat them with care, respect, and compassion, for they reveal the best of us and the worst of us. They represent our guide through life and the equilibrium and balance that all living creatures need in order to survive in what is often a chaotic world. Our dreams are our inner saviors.

Dreams reveal a truth about our emotional state of mind, our physical well-being, our psychological health, and our sense of the spiritual. They are our deepest connection with everything, one another, and God or the universal spirit.

Dreams create a nightly map to the experience of being human, and if read properly, they can guide us to worlds not dreamed of through the conscious mind. And they do all this uniquely for the dreamer who has them.

Interpreters can hold our hands briefly and point to the way of the psyche, but the individual needs to walk this path alone. It is about the person’s story and life narrative, and only he or she can know the true meaning of dreams.

In a way, how we interpret our dreams may be about how we interpret ourselves and how we think and imagine ourselves into being.

Knowing your personality type: Excerpts from Morpheus Speaks

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Available at Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Amazon

Looking for patterns within a single dream or across a number of dreams can be a useful way to decode the dream’s meaning.

Whether or not you are able to see a theme or pattern may be affected by your individual personality traits. Whether you are perfectionistic, possessive, image conscious, self-absorbed, secretive, anxious, engaging, scattered, self-confident, willful, easy going, or self-effacing these traits are at some level going to affect your interpretation of dream themes and patterns.

 

The more you know about your traits, the more you can spot what the pallet you’re using to create your dream picture looks like.

Knowing something about your emotional makeup is also going to help in understanding your waking world behaviors as well as your dreams.

There are several personality type indicators with each focusing on different foundational philosophies of personality and personality development. For the purpose of this book I’m highlighting two that I have the most experience with—The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram type indicator. Both will provide the user with rough, though usable information.

I’ve taken the liberty of sharing these links to sites that I believe to be useful:

 

 

Both these sites can be quite useful at an entry level to getting a handle on how you respond to the symbols, circumstances and events of your life and make the process and results of dream interpretation all that much richer and meaningful.

In both the books The Dragon’s Treasure and Morpheus Speaks I discuss in some depth some of the variables that affect our relationship to both the sleeping and waking consciousness.

Not only does your personality determine the symbols and the interpretation of those symbols, so does the extent to which you have immersed yourself in the beliefs of a religion and the values of a culture.

The Quran, the Christian and Jewish bible, the Vedas and other books of religion are used to interpret one’s life and to attempt the understanding of God, so why would they not influence your dreams? The danger in this is that rigidly narrow interpretations can sometimes only give you information about what you already know and not what you don’t know.

In any event, I’m not sure that the ‘self’ of the unconscious adheres to any religion, though it may use your belief as a way of communicating to you. This may add yet another layer of complexity to be unpeeled before getting at the small kernel of truth hidden within.