For some people dreams are just the byproduct of our brains ceaseless whirring, a kind of soup made up of our hopes and dreams and the innumerable little happenings of our day.
For others they are a way that our unconscious minds process our emotional lives so that we can make sense of our day and discharge any stress we may have picked up.
And for still others they are messengers from the gods. Or at the very least from the spiritual realm.
~ We always project our current way of seeing the world onto our dreams ~
The fact is our dreams are the most perfect vehicle for us to project whatever we want to onto.
We can (and do) understand them in any way we choose, according to our current set of beliefs.
I’d like to offer you another way of understanding your dreams that I developed as part of my 7-year Dreamwork training.
During this time I studied one specific text from a philosophy called Kashmir Saivism in great detail. I even memorised it. All 52 verses- not an easy task for me.
This text, called the Spandakarikas, describes a way of understanding the role of a human in the larger context of the universe.
It describes how we have a limited ego identity (this is what we normally think of as ‘me’) that co-exists within and is created by the universal identity (the universe). It is just as much us as the limited identity, we’re just not aware of it.
~ In our highest creative moments we forget our limited ego ~
In our moments of highest creativity, which we may experience as spiritual / religious bliss, a eureka moment, flow or beauty we completely forget our limited ego.
For an instant and sometimes longer the limited ego is no longer there. If we are able to notice this experience while it is happening we can then recognise our true essential nature as being that universal identity.
This is a very clear and beautiful experience of freedom where we feel at peace with the world. If we have been struggling with an issue this is the moment where all becomes clear and we see the solution. Or at least find peace with the current situation.
While it is tempting to look to the grander epiphanies as described by saints having visions as examples of this experience we are all experiencing it daily many, many times in small ways.
We’re just not noticing it because we haven’t trained ourselves to.
~ We are constantly experiencing epiphanies, if we can notice them ~
This way of understanding our experience has been for me the most useful that I have encountered through all my explorations in personal growth.
It has helped me improve the quality and speed of my thinking, my ability to relate to others with more warmth and to adapt and respond in creative ways to life’s challenges that I would never have thought possible.
To explain how I see it in a little more detail- the limited identity is associated with thought.
This is where most of us spend most of our lives. This is totally necessary and normal because without thought we cannot be and act in the world fully.
But this is not all there is.
~ Our thoughts are not all there is ~
In addition to thought there is this quality of universal energy that underlies all things. This is the actual source of life, our inspiration and our aliviness- not the thought itself.
The universal energy is like a field in which all else occurs. It is also the source and foundation of our very being.
It is tempting to think that one is better than the other. Our current society tends to focus on thought and a mechanical understanding of the universe as being all there is.
In India it is still possible (or at least when I was last there) to have the opposite experience where all is seen as part of the universal picture.
But to hold to either one to the exclusion of the other is a mistake.
~ We need access to our thinking and our universal mind to be truly fulfilled ~
Both thought (the limited identity) and non-thinking (the universal identity) only reach their fullest expression in us where there is movement between them.
This movement between the limited identity and the universal identity is the ‘Spanda’, the vibration in the book title ‘Spandakarikas.’
When we look at a dream that we have had we are looking at the thought aspect of a dream, the limited identity aspect of that particular dream.
If we work with a dream it will start to change. Characters, the mood and all the other qualities can change. Sometimes the dream will even disappear completely and be replaced with light.
When this happens we are having a direct experience of the universal identity that lies behind a dream. It can be fleeting or sometimes remain a while but it is always beautiful.
And we don’t even have to actually work with a dream to get a sense of this. All we need to do is have the intention to look towards the source of a dream and this will increase our awareness of these moments of epiphany.
~ Dreams are a perfect way for us to experience our universal identity ~
As we start to have this kind of experience we can then apply it to our lives. This is the real beauty of this approach to working with our dreams.
Our dreams become the vehicle which takes us into a deeper appreciation not only of the immensity of our own self, but also the immensity and beauty that lies behind everything that we take to be the world outside of ourselves.
The dream becomes a doorway into a greater appreciation of our lives as they are now.
This is my way of understanding what lies behind a dream and something I am very grateful to have access to.
But whatever way you choose to understand a dream I hope you choose the one that makes you feel most alive and helps you be your best self in this life.