Houses in dreams are metaphors for the “us” that lives within our bodies– our inner self. It is our spiritual dwelling where the soul rests and looks out upon the world. The doors to its rooms reflect aspects of ourselves open and closed such as our sexual self, our feeling self, spiritual self, our intellectual self and how we cope with the world self. Furniture in our dream house reflects the habits, beliefs, attitudes and values with which we furnish the mind.
Whether we find our dream self in a flooding basement or locked in an attic the symbols tell us something about ourselves and how we are dealing with the world we live in.
It is in our dreams that we most often brush up against the soul and get a peek at the divine. In our meditations, daydreams and musings the divine can also intrude.
But where is this divine being really, in the sky, in the ocean, in a rock, in a church/tabernacle/temple/mosque/synagogue? Some say it is everywhere and some say it is within the heart of humankind alone.
In the Hindu religion the coconut is cracked open and offered in a ritual signifying that the hard exterior of the ego needs to be cracked open in order to get at the sweetness of the divine within. The sweet innards are also a symbol of transformation because the palm tree sucks up salty water and transforms it into the sweet water of the nut.
The Kingdom of god is within (amongst or in your midst) from luke 17:21 and in the King James version (i.e. it’s a spiritual kingdom) of the bible is also a version of the Spirit within you concept.
A poetic look at the path to God-realization is also found in the lines of the 13th century Persian poet Mahmud Shabistari:
“Go sweep out the chamber of your heart, make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved, when you depart, He will enter, in you, void of yourself, will He display His beauties.”
–Mystic Rose Garden, Mahmud Shabistari, as translated by E.H. Whinfield
The Sufi musician and teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan says that in The Inner Life, a person needs to be whole to take the journey. His point is that one needs to get their basic self in tune with their higher self.
The basic truth is that before any spiritual light from our inner selves can come into consciousness various distortions of thinking need to be dealt with. This often takes a lot of personal work and that is why there isn’t much of it going on with the “immediate gratification” mentality and rigidly shallow awareness that exists in most places across the world.
In our spiritual lives these days we spend far too much time battling with others about who has the best truth or which holy book uses the best words to describe what can’t be described with words. I suspect that all of this is a distraction and barrier to true spirituality.
Basically the differences in religions and the differences found within each e.g. protestant/catholic, orthodox or reform, Shia or Sunni, Mahayana or Theravada, Shaivism or Shaktism are only of the human ego and not of God.
The Spirit of life cannot be found in any place or any time but can be glimpsed within the heart of humankind but only if he or she has swept that heart clean of the nonessential ego rubbish thrown there.
We need to start cleaning out our house or be forever swamped by the garbage of the fearful ego. We need to clean out the rooms of our spiritual house so that we can welcome the Spirit in.
Simply put, God is not a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jain, a Hindu or a Christian– He is ONE and ALL.
I’ve been having dreams of people and things where there are parts or aspects missing and dreams of my childhood and childhood home where I see things and people I haven’t seen in years. There’s a common meaning between these kinds of dreams, that of something lost, something that used to be there but is no longer.
There’s an ‘energy’ in each of the images of a dream, an energy associated with each of the aspects of ourselves. Sometimes when something is lost or missing or that was associated with some part of our childhood but no longer present our deeper self longs for the missing part. What’s lost could be an admired aspect such as hope, or a dream of the future, or a feeling of excitement, or love, or of peace, acceptance, potential, possibilities, esteem, or meaning.
The list can be endless for when young, everything is possible and then life happens and the possibilities get whittled away and we learn to let go of more and more of our dreams. All these energies of the self that have been filed away or shoved down into the unconscious want to be recognized, reenergized if you will, and brought back into the self that is you.
For me it is enchantment, awe, and significance that has been carved away from my core, the suppressed expressions of my soul. My dreams serve as healers to the wounds suffered by my soul self and reminders of who I am. A dream of my eleven year old self has an energy that I gave up over time and sometimes this aspect will return in the form of my childhood bedroom or a beloved, but now gone, family member or pet and serve as a guide to regaining the lost energy.
The process is often called “soul recovery”. We may have lost some part of ourselves due to some pain or abuse, some trauma or heartbreak but for whatever the reason we cannot feel complete until we have learned to bring home the missing aspects. They’re still there, these missing parts of ourselves, they’re still part of us.
The eleven year old is still in there with the same dream for his or her life and the essence of the dream can still be expressed only now we have tools and opportunities gained through age and hard fought for wisdom that can help us to harness our missing energies and express the basic core of the dream. But first we have to recall the messages of our inner self through the medium of our sleeping dreams for it is in these dreams that the soul is trying desperately to communicate with us what we are really here for.
Don’t give up on your soul dreams. Listen to that small quiet voice from within that wants you to know who and what you really are.
As I finished writing I pushed away from my desk and took a break, pulled on a jacket and stepped outside into a brightly crisp morning and bid the just rising sun a good day. As per my morning ritual I closed my eyes and welcomed my part of the earth into its new course– standing before each of the cardinal directions and whispering a heart-filled gratefulness. With each breath in and out I chanted the morning’s mantra, “Earth am I, air am I, fire and water and spirit am I. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us”
I opened my eyes once again to the east and the sky was ablaze with gold, the distant trees dark silhouettes against its slowly strengthening glow. Turning to the North again and preparing to turn through the compass once more I was stopped in my tracks, for this morning the Earth had given me a new gift. Rising before me stood a brightly colored and full-arced rainbow with one foot planted near a Sycamore at the end of the street and the other stretching off to the south as though challenging me to follow.
The crows were flying out of the northwest on their morning pilgrimage and flew through the multicolored arc, winged black caricatures of the magical arts transformed into soaring messengers of joy. This is going to be a soul dream of a day.
“A true human being is high without wine.
A true human being is full without dinner.
A true human being seems lost and befuddled.
A true human being is not ruled by eating and sleeping.
A true human being is the king in disguise.
A true human being is a jewel in the dust.
A true human being is not fashioned of elements.
A true human being is a shoreless wide ocean.
A true human being is a rain without clouds.
A true human being sees truth face to face.
A true human being is wise without reading.
A true human being is without belief or falsehood.
A true human being is not burdened with right or wrongness.
A true human being steps out of emptiness, arrives in a glory.
A true human being is secret and hidden.
Oh my dear and beloved you shine like the sun!
Oh my heart, go and find a true human being.”
What I hear in this poem is that our true nature is not of the material Earth, the body and what feeds it. We’re much, much bigger than that. Who we are is not of the dust that returns to dust but lies quietly surrounding us within and without.
“ There is another world inside this one– no words can describe it. There is living, but no fear of death; There is Spring, but never a turn to Autumn. There are legends and stories coming from the walls and ceilings. Even the rocks and trees recite poetry. Here an owl becomes a peacock, A wolf becomes a beautiful shepherd. To change the scenery, change your mood; To move around, just will it. Stand for a moment And look at a desert of thorns– it becomes a flowery garden.”
The world to each of us is the product of what we project, what we see, what we hear and what we feel. It is determined by our own minds and our own prejudices.
To Rumi, those who see their true nature fall in love and it is through that reality that they can live in the “Heaven on Earth” that so many religions speak of.
“Without love, all worship is a burden, all dancing is a chore, all music is mere noise. All the rain of heaven may fall into the sea– Without love, not one drop would become a pearl. For those in love, Moslem, Christian, and Jew do not exist. For those in love, faith and infidelity do not exist. For those in love, body, mind, heart, and soul do not exist. Why listen to those who see it another way?– if they’re not in love their eyes do not exist. If you hurt others, don’t expect kindness in return. One who sows rotten seeds will get rotten fruit. God is great and compassionate but if you plant barley, don’t expect a harvest of wheat.”
Basically we live, see and become what we project. Another way of saying that is, “we reap what we sew”. We can only feed ourselves, our inner selves, by the projections that we have put out there. If we see only fear, or anger, or hatred, then it’s only their council we can hear. In short, we are only listening to our own egos.
“We can’t be what we can’t see”
-Marian Wright Edelman
Another way of saying this is that peace in the world does not exist outside ourselves. It is only when we find it in ourselves that we can make a difference in the peace of the world. Angry, hateful and dismissive people cannot find peace or comfort because they are not being that which they seek.
We need nothing to tell us how we should feel, what we should believe and how we should act. At our core all of this is known. At our core is the “true human being”. It is only at the surface where our egos lie that we are forced to listen to that which is outside of us, because the ego-self does not know what’s inside and because it so desperately wants to remain in control, it depends on extensions of itself to provide the guidance and wisdoms it lacks. But being only extensions of itself it can only project the ignorance it lives within.
Once one finds their core being, their true human self, there is no need for the others outside us.
While cleaning up my desk from all the notes and paper, books, and articles I collect over time I ran across the following missive written on a napkin from some long forgotten coffee shop experience.
“Everywhere I look light is playing with me. Rays, rainbow streaks, dancing shadows and flying things winking in and out of existence as the sun plays off their wings before they dive into the shadows of the no-see-ums.
The tall tree sways in the breeze like the soft fur of a Persian cat being gently petted– the light playing off its many strands turning green into a palette of golds, rusts, and orange.
Suddenly a ball of light catches my eye. It radiates into a moving mandala with a center of pure light– delightful! Like a beam from another universe inviting me in.
“What am I?” It says.
“I don’t know.” I say.
“That’s right!” It says. “And what do you think of that?”
I bought myself a new Moon Calendar for 2019. I stick this on the refrigerator both as a means of tracking the moon’s phases but also to add a little of the mysterious and anticipation to the every day.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Moon as it waxes and wanes across the sky. It shows up in my dreams and I’ve even marked special occasions and special people in my life with phases of the Moon. But the Moon has even more meaning than meets the eye.
In the photo at left is Selene the Greek Moon goddess and guardian of the night. She was, according to legend, daughter of Hyperion–the lord of light– and sibling of Eos the goddess of the dawn. She’s also known as Luna, a Roman Titan.
A character in the Archipelago of Dreams, Eo is named after the Celtic goddess for rebirth. She is cast as a Phoenix bush– that which burns, but does not die, becoming reborn anew. In the book she plays a role as a healer of souls and guides Robert in the processes of healing. A star in the East also shows up in the Archipelago of Dreams and represents the deeper self of the book’s hero.
An eclipse of the Moon can suggest that ones feminine side is being overshadowed, or that some hidden aspect is about to be revealed. The moon eclipsing the Sun could very well be a union of the feminine and masculine aspects of ones self. The new light peeking from behind the Moon as the eclipse passes could be a new light, knowledge, or a new perspective.
The moon is often a symbol for the Priestess, or Goddess who may in a man’s dream be about second-sight, or insight, the intuitive, and a messenger guide (this was so for me in the dream, The Blue Fresco) from the unconscious mind.
The full Moon may represents wholeness while the crescent can represent transformation (Shiva in Hinduism is the god of transformation and is represented by the crescent), openness and resurrection (as with the middle eastern crescent of Islam). A waning Moon, can symbolize letting go, whereas the waxing Moon can be about growing insight and awareness.
Sometimes there can be a month when there is no full moon. This is known amongst Astrologists as a “Black Moon” month. For me if this were to present itself in a dream it might signify that something is missing in my life or that I’m not feeling whole and complete or that my inner light is somewhat diminished i.e. that I’m not reflecting the full light of God or the Spirit.
A red Moon can be about violence, disaster and strife, while a blue Moon can represent rarity. The moon also represents the receptive and wisdom. The Virgin Mary and Sophia were likened to The Moon of the Church, the reflector of the light of the Christ (often symbolized by the Sun).
The full Moon in the book The Archipelago of Dreams represented wholeness and completion and a goddess messenger for success. Viewing it helped the hero, Robert, to calm himself and get to sleep before battling the shadows of the Dark Lords.
Stars in ones dream can represent knowledge (universal and self) and the divine. Sometimes a star can be like an angel, a messenger from the divine spirit. In some Native American tribes the stars in the sky are the campfires of dead ancestors with their spirits forever looking down upon you. Here too the star played a prominent role in Robert’s transformation while in the Archipelago of Dreams.
The morning star (Venus the goddess of persuasive feminine charm and for the Romans, the mother of them all) heralds the rise of the Sun (the Moon’s male counterpart). This was a good sign for a new beginning and for enlightenment. However, some early Christians saw the same symbol in opposition when they determined that this star represented the devil Lucifer that means “Morning Star” in Latin. Interestingly enough the archetypal image of the devil usually refers to a dark and unwanted side of our own nature that can only be dealt with in the direct light of day e.g. through conscious awareness.
The five-pointed star called a pentacle shows up in many Christian churches as a symbol to ward off evil, though in opposition, or inverted, the star represents evil. The European Roma call it the Star of Knowledge. When an apple is cut in half across the core a pentacle becomes evident–no wonder the apple gets such a bad rap.
The six-pointed Star of David can signify the union of Heaven and Earth–body and spirit.
Shooting stars are often seen as a divine sign, or as a messenger from God, hence the ancient ritual of asking (praying) for some intervention as it shoots across the sky.
Generally, stars in ones dream can represent success i.e. fame and fortune, aspirations and high ideals. Or you could be putting your fortunes into the hands of the stars e.g. luck. A star can also refer to the dreamer, the star of his or her own life.
Planets in dreams may be about creativity, exploration and adventure. Each planet has its own particular meaning e.g. Jupiter may be about success and extravagance, while Venus may represent desire, beauty and feminine power, whereas Mars may be energy, drive, passion, and masculine power.
The Zodiac is a system of explaining the universe through the movements of the stars, around the ecliptic path of the Sun, Moon and planets. To see the zodiac in your dreams is to see a representation of the various traits and aspects that one uses to connect with their universe. For those who are familiar with the signs, a particular sign may point to a particular trait or aspect in the dreamer. The zodiac can also be a metaphor for the passage of time, or the mysteries of life as well as being a metaphor for destiny e.g. something over which you have little or no control.
My last blog of the year is on flowers and their meaning in dreams.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. “
–In Shakespeare’s Hamlet
On a walk with my wife early this summer I was admiring all the gardens along our route, not just the quality of the landscaping but the profusion of flowers as well. While bending down to take in the fragrance of a rose I recalled an earlier dream where a rose played a prominent part. This got me to thinking about flowers in general and the special place they have in all our lives and dreams.
We adorn our church sanctuaries with flowers, brides carry a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle and the space is often covered in flowers. The poinsettia shows up at Christmas, the lily makes an entrance at the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Lotus is divine, symbolic of creation. Gods and goddesses sit upon the Lotus that symbolizes purity and raising them above the common, muddy existence of desire and attachment.
Flowers are at our funerals, our graves, our love affairs, our weddings, on national and regional flags, significant celebrations, and we even name our children after them is it any wonder that they also show up in our dreams?
Though today flowers tend to be just pretty emblems of occasion they once had great social and spiritual meaning.
Though Roses may mean a declaration of love today, Marigolds once held that position. Basil is pretty much an aromatic herb for many of us, but for many Indians it is the symbol for the god Vishnu and can be found in a place of honor in their family gardens. Forget-me-nots are the flower of Pisces from the Zodiac, the Yellow Wattle is symbolic of Australia, Tulips are symbolic of Sagittarius and heralds of Spring, and Daisies perfectly symbolize young innocence.
Carl Jung, the 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and guru of dreams saw the rose as representing the Mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self. He thought that dreams with roses were very spiritual in nature and that they were the equivalent of the lotus signifying transformation.
Across the millennia people have assigned mythical and religious meaning to flowers. For example, Lilies might represent the Trinity or the Virgin Mary, Easter, rebirth, or royalty (as in the fleur di lis).
The morning-glory is appropriately named, because the flower blooms in the morning and dies by the afternoon. Georgia O’Keeffe brought the calla lily to prominence with her series of close-up paintings of single calla lily flowers. She wanted the viewer to look closely at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Many of her paintings are considered by some to be spiritual in nature, though some see many of them as sexual so I’m not sure how successful she was at having people see her paintings without preconceived notions. However, the concept of “seeing” something with no preconceived notions is often the Eastern way of seeing a thing’s true nature.
For many years I’ve been fascinated by creation stories, probably because of my curiosity for how and why we got here.
It seems as though every culture, extinct or extant, has a creation story explaining how they and their world came to be. To me they all read like a dream. It’s my intention across a number of my Blog entries to touch on the dream states of cultures in some detail.
One of these cultures in particular is very much a “dream”. It’s even called the “Dreamtime” and comes to us from the Australian Aborigine. I choose this group to be first because they come from the land of my birth as well, though I am not Aborigine, but of the Europeans who invaded their land some 250 years ago.
These people have lived the vast land of the Australs* for some twenty-two thousand generations, that’s 40,000+ years. Before the arrival of the Europeans, some 200 different language groups existed. Though there are now only seventy groups remaining with each calling their land something different, they all tell a similar story of the creation of the world–the story of the Dreamtime.
From the Dreamtime, Rainbow Snake and others “Dreamed” the world into being. Areas in their world are named for the Dreaming of that part of creation that took place there. The word “Dreaming” symbolizes another aspect in that it represents the individual tribal beliefs and spiritual understandings. For example, one tribe might refer to themselves as having Kangaroo Dreaming or Honey Ant Dreaming. All that comes into the world such as a painting, or other object, or idea, is still dreamed and is claimed by the person or group that has produced it. To them everything comes from the Dreamtime. Individual lives come from those of the Dreamtime as well and return to it when the body dies. In all the people there is an eternal part borne through the mother in time from the originals of the Dreamtime.
The visions of the early Aborigine and to some extent today do not differentiate between men or their surroundings. They experience an undifferentiated state of mind that makes separation much less common among them than with modern man. I believe the western mans general lack of caring for the world and each other comes from this separation. In the Aborigine there was no separation between their daily living, eating, working, sexual, and religious lives. All were either dreams or waking visions. And all come from the “all-at-once time”** and are born into a “life in time.” In a way the Aborigine lives in a dream within a dream.
Through the waking dream (awake state) and the sleeping dream and various altered states, the Aborigine interacts with his reality–indeed with his soul. To him everything is connected.
*Variously known as Australische by the Dutch and Terra Australis Incognita (The Southern Unknown Land) and Colloquially since the early 20th century as Oz.
**Known in quantum physics as the super temporal or in metaphysics as time transcendence.
In my last blog I ended with this sentence, “Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?”
That wasn’t just a play on words. There are a number of “selves” of which I speak. There’s the “self” that you have named and allocated thoughts and beliefs to. Then there’s the self that each of us presents to the world. There’s also the self we would like to be and the self that we think we are.
But there’s more. There’s the self that your parents projected onto you with their “you’re always” or “you never” or “you can’t” or “why can’t you be more like…” statements. And then there are the limits that society places on you with its can and can-nots, shoulds and shouldn’ts that also come attached to and are often held in place by our religious beliefs all of which together define your social-self.
As you can see we are already full of “selves”, ourselves, and all of these make up what is known as the “ego-self”. While wearing this ego-self there’s no room for our real self to be expressed. We spend every moment of every day that we are here on this earth developing and filling our life with the “untrue self”. We spend so much time doing this that the real self is barely if ever visible to us.
“If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but to come into you.”
“If you leave, God can enter.”
Basically he’s saying that when you are full of yourself i.e. focused on the development and maintenance of your ego-self there’s no room for the Other.
When we try to be “something” rather than nothing i.e. when we think of ourselves as being objects e.g. body, emotions, beliefs, personality we shut out our true nature. When we think of ourselves as being all these selves the real us can’t come into our awareness. This odd way of being is pure ignorance and illusion and robs us of our true inheritance.
So the act of emptying yourself of all these selves allows for your cup to be full of what you really, and already, are.
In conclusion and as I quoted from the Tao Te Ching in the last blog, “If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”.
*The title of a supplementary meditation manual that I authored in 1979 as part of a Title VI-B Federal Grant supporting the identification of and curriculum development for adjudicated youth with special education needs. https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5393374
We all act as though we know what is real and what is not real. We act as though we know what is fantasy from what is real but are we right? Many think that to be knowledgeable is to be wise, but is this so? If we acquire enough knowledge will we then gain enlightenment and wisdom?
Fantasy, illusion, myth, intuition, the subjective, imaginal, real, sensory, rational, or objective are always seen as opposites of what is considered reality when in all possibility they are just aspects of the whole. There’s an objective reality that each of us interact with subjectively i.e. the subjective creates the objective that in turn creates the subjective. We project onto everything our image of it. Basically the reality that we see is imaginal even what we call ‘rational’ is imaginal and subjective. Yes, it’s all real, but what real and whose real?
All the so-called opposites i.e. the real and not real things are actually compliments that support each other. They are facets of the whole each contributing to the whole and without them there is no whole and without the whole we do not exist.
Get it? No?
Let me try a few quotes from people who are smarter than I am.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”
–Daniel Boorstin (also attributed to Stephen Hawking)
So you think you know? In short,
“It’s hard to fill a cup that is already full”
–Tao Te Ching– Lao Tzu
“Your cup is only useful when it’s empty”
Have you emptied your cup today?
“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”
–Tao Te Ching
They all seem to be saying, ‘Be less so as to be more’. But aren’t these opposites? Try living that for a while and you’ll see the truth in it. Maybe more and less define and complement one another and are not in opposition.
So if being more knowledgeable or ‘all knowing’ doesn’t gain wisdom, how do we gain wisdom? In order to find wisdom we might need to open our hearts and minds. Perhaps knowing a lot or thinking that we know cannot help because they fill us up and close us off, but an innocent and curious mind might open us to see what’s really there. This is what Buddhists call the “Beginners Mind”. It’s the mind of a child that is open until we fill it with all kinds of sense and nonsense.
“Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
–Jesus of Nazereth
So whadda ya think? Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?