I had the opportunity to work with a psychologist in a short “guided imagery/dream therapy” program. The point was to write down what I could remember of my dreams each morning and then discuss them during the weekly sessions.
After the first two weeks I noticed that the division between dream time and awake time was not as sharp as I had assumed. In fact, there was an air of unreality to both states when the attention was focused. The main difference between the two realties was that the awake time had more of a sense of continuity to it. My memory connected Monday to Tuesday; connected this year with last year; with this stage of life with earlier stages. Perhaps it was also a belief in causality that enabled this seemingly seamless transition and connection.
My dream time, in contrast, at first appeared to be disconnected. Each night’s journey seemed to live within its on bizarre environment and operated according to its own laws. Everyday objects had their own meaning in the private symbology of my mind. When is a purse not a purse – why when it is a vagina, of course.
But after writing down my dream memories for a few weeks the lines of a continuity and inner consistency faintly developed. The dream journal showed patterns and arcs of topics and themes. It reminded me of the time, several years ago, when I unearthed all of my earlier diaries and reread them.
Over and over again I read of my battles with love and money and the lack thereof. Year after year I had decried the same problems with monotonous regularity. When I realized that I had not really changed or dealt with these recurring issues over the passage of many years, I was so disgusted – and bored – with myself that I ripped up these journals and threw them away.
I saw the same pattern repeated in my dream journal. There were the same figures from my past peopling my dreams – the same white and black hats bringing happiness or causing chaos. The same issues of lack and fear arose. In fact, I estimated that more than 90% of my dreams were either neutral in emotional tone, or arising out of fear or sadness. Where were the happy dreams? Where were the inner visions of better times and better days? Where dreams the fruit of negative emotions and conflicts?
There were unresolved issues in both my awake state and my dream state. I debated the value of continuing this dream record. Do not the spiritual teachers say that there are three states of the mind; the awake mind, the dreaming mind and finally the conscious mind that views both of the other states? If both the awake and dreaming states are ‘unreal’ what is the use of recording them – as if these states had an intrinsic value and knowledge?
Are not they both “stories?” Are they both not products of the conscious and unconscious mind that develops a sense of identity and continuity by casting the self and the decisions of the thinking mind in the starring role? Which reminds me of a fact, opinion, premise that has been stated about those people who reached enlightenment – that they no longer dream. One of the characteristics, supposedly, of an enlightened consciousness is the “doer” or the identity is gone (or perhaps more correctly, shown to have no reality). If there is no doer, there is no hero to the story, no star to the drama, no need to create a sense of continuity within a state or from state to state.
So should I continue this dream watching? Will it bring me important information; provide me with the fuel for breakthroughs? And, who is this “me” that is watching and wants to know?