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.