Most of the items in this month's Forum are selections in response to last month's call for papers: "What have you learned from studying your dreams?" We want to thank everyone who took the time to reply, regardless of whether your essay was chosen for inclusion.
This month's contents:
Jacob's Ladder (part 5) by Richard Rose | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Things Are Not What They Seem by Bart Marshall | The Language of the Soul by Richard Rose | Everything Will Be Okay by Art Ticknor | Getting Back to What's Important by Jeff Crilley | In Your Dreams from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | On Dream Study by Jim Burns | A First Step by Bob Fergeson | Humor: Guru Poem by John Wren-Lewis
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Want to meet some of the Forum authors in person? Interested in meeting other Forum readers? Watch for more information about TAT's meeting schedule and programs.
~ Continued from the May 2005 TAT Forum
Q. How do you go about developing your intuition?
R. Yes. I think there are ways that you can perfect your intuition. This is one of the big things. Of course, there are ways of testing it. I think even ESP experimentation and that sort of thing tests your intuition. Because intuition is something more of a direct mind experience.
They say the yogis, centuries ago, used to study astronomy by not using charts or stuff, but they would look at a planet, say, until they became one with it.
If you want to be a real psychologist, there's a simple formula: you step inside the man's shoes and walk in his thoughts. And you know. You don't have many words to describe what goes on. But this is possible; you can step inside.
Lots of times you know this. All of you here have met somebody, that you bumped up to, and all at once you stopped and you looked—you never saw that man before in your life, but you knew him, and beyond a shadow of a doubt knew what to expect out of him.
This is intuition. Ok. So—if that guy comes along later and borrows five hundred dollars from you, and doesn't come back—you know you were wrong. So that's the test.
Q. Would it be safe to make the assumption that there's a circle or blob in every one of us that's all of the same stuff?
R. I do.
(Break in tape.)
(Rose) ...making capital and small "s". Of course, most of us begin by thinking that the self is the capital-S self. But after we see it from an anterior viewpoint, we discover that we were misjudging, and it was a small-s self. Or a mundane self, or an ego, or one of these I's.
So then immediately we are displaced from that small-s self to a degree, toward a capital-S Self. And when you reach the maximum, capital-S self, you are one with.
Q. Is there sort of an unformed blob there that is acted upon, or does it act, or is it beyond action?
R. I know what you're getting at, and I don't ... maybe if I knew I wouldn't even tell you. Because I think it's impossible that everybody act as though they can't act. And if you thought that it would happen whether you acted or not, nobody would act. I'm a believer that you have to believe that you can act.
Q. As this other gentleman was saying, from a certain perspective most of the things we do are, after reaching that point, really kind of absurd....
R. Oh, yeah. That's the process of life.
Q. For instance, if you're dying, or if you come very close to death, from the perspective of your dying, everything else is sort of trivial.
R. That's right. Some hate to come back. As I said, there's a lot of stuff written now that wasn't written before. Like Raymond Moody's books. Kubler-Ross also writes on the death experiences. In very few of these cases is there scratching the wallpaper off the wall. Very seldom. They generally say, "Oh, well—Ok."
I remember one case back home. An old man, a doctor, about eighty years of age was dying. And naturally everybody in the hospital knew him. And they tried to revive him, they threw him down on the floor and pounded his chest. And he came back—and proceeded to curse them all out.
Q. What can you say about death in relation to the ego?
R. Well, this is really what death is. Most of our comprehension of death is the death of the ego. So if all of the egos collapse, then we go through what we really believe is a physical death.
This is what happens at death. You have the ego, say, of importance. That you're important enough to live forever or something. Or maybe you hope; hope is a kind of an ego too.
But when a person is told by the doctor, "You have two or three hours to live," he realizes that in a short while, what he conceived of as being him—unless he's had an experience of something of a philosophic type—his concept, if it's somatic, will be that his totality is going to be decayed, just within a very short period of time. He may die within an hour and be nothing but a decayed body.
So in the process—he gives up. He knows better. And I maintain that quite a few people, possibly, go through before they die a realization that results from dropping all of those egos. And then they know—they know the answer. Now if they die, of course, they can't tell you. But some come back.
Now this is this process. The process of dropping egos is death. We die a little, as Saint Paul said I think—he died a little every day. Because he was getting rid of his egos every day.
Q. You have to encounter risk to the ego, and disruptions and displacements?
R. Yes. There's a little thing that you have to watch. You can drop your vanity -- or it will be just like me, the hair falls out and you're not quite as vain. So that's no problem; some of the vanity leaves.
Then you have an intellectual vanity, an intellectual ego. That can leave.
But you have to hang onto the vanity of the importance of yourself as a living creature. Most people think, "Oh, those other people out there, those poor devils, aren't as important as I am. I'm really important." Almost everybody has that. And he has to maintain that, that I call pride, because if he doesn't he's liable to let his body organism deteriorate.
You have to have that basic pride. You can't dump all your egos.
So when a guy goes through this experience of Sahaja Samadhi it's a synthetic thing, in which he really goes through it, loses his body pride, loses his importance in relation to the cosmos: "In the next few minutes I may be zero, obliviated for ever." And when he does that he drops all of his ego and boom, the light goes on.
Now—I'm telling you something I can't prove. I'm just telling you an experience.
So then when he comes back, if he wants to live, he better get his ego back and start scrubbing his teeth. And watching the diseases he catches, and be proud of his appearance and his stamina and everything—or he's going to rot while he's on his feet.
Q. From my limited experience and from reading Moody's books and other accounts, it seems that you do bring back something—you may see the hills and the valleys as they were, but you relate to them in a different way.
R. Right, right.
Q. So there is some goal, something you want to do, some kind of a contribution, some way of operating from a higher place....
R. Well—for instance, I don't know how much of a contribution I make. I often wonder. Sometimes I think it's all ego. But I do feel this, that I don't look at things the same. I don't see things in the same importance. The death of my relatives, for instance. I don't say now, "Oh, this is terrible." Because the previous conception was they were gone forever. Now I say they might be a hell of a sight better off. It's over. See what I mean? And there's no extinction.
Another thing is the idea of competition. I can't get competitive. I can't see the sense in what's important, whether you have three apples and I've only got two. This to me becomes ridiculous.
The same thing in relation to the appetites. Some of these boys have known me for several years, and they joke about the way I eat; I'm not conscious of what I eat. I could care less what I eat. I just hope they've taken the feathers off it before it gets to me, that's all. And the same way with sex; I can't get identified, I can't get steamed up over something else which I know is a body, that's all, with a hell of a lot of problems.
So sure, I'm not saying I didn't. I got married and raised a family after this happened. But—it wasn't anything romantic for my wife, I'm afraid.
Q. When you're watching all of these relative egos, and slowly getting rid of the ones that you see are not very real, or misleading and so on—do you ever get to something that might be called a genuine relative self?
R. Yeah, you've got it right now. Everybody's got a genuine relative self.
Q. What I mean—that you get rid of falseness, but there's something like a real ego, before you get rid of the real one. Or even does that last one fall too, then?
R. Well, no, I don't see—they're only real in relation to their function. They're all real.
Q. Well, like the Christian notion that there's an individual soul, that you've been molded....
R. The thing is—I'm convinced that I am an individual soul, and I'm convinced that I am not in any ways individual, from the total absolute essence. Now that's what you find out. I am nothing. And yet I am everything.
Q. There's nothing like individuality, where one soul is different?
R. Oh yes, it's like a drop of water, in the ocean, trying to break loose and vote. He might be there, and he's conscious, but he's one—the ocean is one big drop. This is the paradox. You have to be prepared in philosophy for the paradox. And not that we want to, or want to throw one in there every time, no. But this is what you discover.
When you get there, too, possibly, you might have more separateness than what you feel. You'll be separate. But you'll be one, because you're still observing. The drop of water is still observing the surrounding ocean. But it's boundaries might not be the same.
Q. I know you don't want to push any system of religion, and you just want to be effective—so do you have any advice, or any catalysts?
R. Well, I wouldn't say that I don't do anything, because I did write a book, and that's provocative. I like to shake people's heads up and say, "Hey, start thinking." (I don't say that everything in there is really kosher, that you need to have it.)
By the same token I've dedicated the rest of my life to whatever I could do to help people. I have a tract of ground back home, and I turned it over to some people to use as an ashram, so that they'd have a place to come and think.
Because it's very difficult to think, and it's good if you live in town to at least once a year shake your head loose from the squirrel cage. You can't stop your thoughts and start new ones. You have to get completely away from the job. So I felt that this was necessary.
I felt it was necessary when I was younger—and I didn't have it. So when I got some land I turned a section of it over for that use. So that people could. And I think that it's important.
I think there's a number of steps, sure. I don't say that there isn't advice. For instance, I believe the first thing that you have to do is to establish a priority on what you want in life. Regardless—if it's a million dollars, go out whole hog for it. And if it's a spiritual thing—I use the word spiritual, but you can redefine that to suit yourself, you can be philosophical if you wish to call it that.
But don't do it halfway. Because you're only going to get halfway. And halfway to eternity is nowhere. You can go halfway to a million and get five hundred thousand, but halfway to eternity is nowhere. That's still ignorance. Because you know nothing until you know everything.
That's what I meant about definition. I said, "Define yourself," and immediately the man's right; he says, "You can't." That's right; but you keep belaboring with it. But then once you find anything you know everything. Once you really define it then you know everything.
But to do that requires a relative setting. Possibly to have somebody irritate you a bit now and then. And if a lecture or a book or a little ashram someplace where people peck at you and ask you questions—if that helps, Ok, that's good.
But I don't interfere; I don't try to say, "You are now a thirty-second degree so-and-so." No. I don't gauge. Because—I'll tell you something else: I don't believe I'm doing anything. I believe it would be facetious if I were to try to take over somebody's life.
Any experience—my experience was spontaneous. If you could predict, if you could take a system by which you would reach enlightenment step by step, and write it down in a book, it would not be enlightenment. Because of the risk that you would have to take into account that this would be created by the mind, under conditions. Predicted conditions.
To be scientific in esoteric matters you have to divert diametrically opposite to scientific prediction and result. Prediction and result are the basis of science. And a spiritual experience has to be unpredicted. Spontaneous.
Because if you go about it in such a way that you say, "Now I'm getting two degrees hotter, three degrees closer, now such and such will occur, and then tomorrow I'll have so many degrees of enlightenment..." Nonsense. You'll be kidding yourself. It has to pop on you like a lightening bolt.
Ok—anybody that tries to take a systematic approach to a lightening bolt—is going to be lying to you, I think. Or maybe killing your time for you.
But I do believe you can do certain mundane things. Collective economy—you can go in there and cook on the same stove and chop firewood together, and protect yourselves by your numbers, so that people will let you think a little while. You get a thirty day vacation—Ok, go think. That gives you at least a new perspective. You're not going to be thinking the same treadmill thoughts 365 days out of the year.
And that's the reason there's a group here in Los Angeles. That some fellows here decided that they would meet, once a week or so, just to say, "Hey, what are you thinking? Are you still on the treadmill? Get off the treadmill."
Q. What is your way of reaching the mind of a spiritual seeker who comes to you?
R. Mostly attack. I ask people what they believe. And you'd be surprised. A lot of them I don't say anything to, because—if they're creating themselves a heaven out of faith and belief and fear, you leave them alone. You can only help people who have ears.
Only people can hear who have ears. Meaning, I might talk to you and you might hear me. You may talk to somebody else and they may hear you. But I talk to that person and they won't hear me. It's a strange situation there. You waste your time if you reach what I call too far down on the ladder.
I look upon this student-teacher business as a ladder. We are restricted to the understanding of three rungs on the ladder. We can see the man who teaches us, and vaguely maybe understand him. The man on the rung below—we can see him, he can see us, and we can help him. And this is the law; we have to help him. We're supposed to.
We're supposed to learn something from somebody else. You can't learn too much from people on your own rung. You have to work with those on your own rung; that's the relationship there. The brotherhood—on your own rung.
Now if you look up too far, if you reach up too far, you won't understand that man. This is where the language comes in and the ears. You'll write him off as being crazy. You'll reject his theories or whatever. And that's a safety valve; you're not ready, you don't have the capacity.
If you reach down two rungs or more to help somebody—crucifixion is the result. That's what happened to Christ. He reached down too many rungs. They pulled him down by the hair of the head. You only can talk to those who have an understanding.
End of talk.
© 1976 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. This talk is available on CD through Rose Publications.
How can I exist?
In the highest expression
We are November butterflies
A crow and a human voice
I can't dream of summer
Even I imbue images with life.
This is an empty room
Dreams have long been used as a metaphor for the transient, ephemeral, un-real nature of waking life. Plato used the analogy of shadows cast on a cave wall by firelight. Contemporary philosophers have compared waking life to a movie projected on a screen. Now we can create metaphors from holograms and virtual reality. But they all convey the same message: "Things are not what they seem."
These metaphors also ask: "Who is it that watches this dream/shadow/movie/game?" Where is the observer behind it all that ISN'T a shadow character in the dream? Right now, for instance, is it the observer who reads these words? Is it the one who stands apart in judgment of the reader? Is it some ultimate observer you believe in but have yet to touch? Or is it perhaps that as deep into the observer lineup as we go in this hall of mirrors the observers are all false?
In the end, it seems, there is no real observer behind it all. There is no place of final refuge. It is always the same false observer, slipping into a new guise as an anterior, superior, observer. Observers, no matter how sublime, must by their very nature stand apart from what is observed or they cease to be. In Reality, nothing stands apart. There is only Unity, the One.
It is the dream of an ultimate observer—a place of final refuge—that blocks the light. When observing stops, the Real appears—crystal clear and empty.
Knowing the self is a complex and confusing endeavor involving the hilarious dog-chases-tail pursuit—probably not funny to the dog—of using the mind to study the mind. The difference between man and dog, I presume, is that dogs don't acquire the ability to laugh at themselves.
Where does dream-study come into this quest for knowing the self? What I found were the following values:
When watching a video or reading a book, we often become temporarily identified with a particular character. When the movie stops or the book is closed, we eventually awaken from the spell. This is essentially what happens when the spell of individuality is broken and we awaken to our true identity.
It is only recently that I began to work with my dreams. I have not interpreted hundreds of my dreams—only dozens. However, every dream which I have given serious consideration to has shown me something important about myself that has been particularly relevant to my life and my search. I have been amazed at how valuable, accurate, and enlightening dreams can be.
It is hard to sum up what I have learned from studying my dreams because what I take from them is personal. My dreams tell me about myself. They reveal things to me which upon reflection I see are true even though I often had believed the opposite. Several particularly valuable things which dreams have shown me come to mind, but I feel it might be more worthwhile to discuss a recent significant dream and what I took from it as opposed to just listing all of the different things my dreams have shown me.
In the beginning of this dream it was dark, and I was lying in bed at night. Several times I felt on the verge of coming apart/fading away/changing. A voice at first told me to let go and let things take their course—to die—and let myself go into the fear and unknown. I felt fairly strong fear, and as this continued to go on a voice told me to befriend death and not be afraid. After the third time of feeling on the verge of fading away and then coming out of it, a voice which I recognized as Richard Rose's told me it (i.e., becoming) was not going to happen that night. I felt somewhat disappointed, but things became vague at that point and the dream faded out. Then I "woke up" into a new dream but with a recollection of the dream I had just had. I was outside, and there was a picnic of some kind—a gathering. It was sunny and everything was light colored and fair. I found myself in the midst of a dance. I was concerned I might be the only guy and thus look feminine, but looking around I saw other guys dancing. The whole scene had a country feel. Then I found I was dancing with all girls, but the dance had changed so that it now demonstrated that all of the girls desired me, not that I was like a girl. It didn't feel real however—the dance was just telling a story. Myself and the girls were just role-players was how it felt to me—everything was out there and just going along on its own. I became concerned with getting away so that I could record and think about the dream I had just had. An opportunity arose, and I slipped away and went into a building. Things had a much different feel inside. It was dim and vague—unclear and unknown.
At first glance, like most of my dreams, I did not have a sense of this dream or its message. However while considering it and talking it over with a friend, things began to fall into place. One of the first things I noticed was how the background of the dream scenes went from dark to light to dark, reflecting the changing mood of the dream. Darkness was associated with going within, whereas when things were light it was relatively nice but superficial and became unsatisfying. While considering a title for this dream what occurred to me and struck a chord was "Getting back to what's important." The title helped put things together and give clarity to what the main message of the dream was—that is, what I feel the dream was about. Thinking about the dream in relation to my life, the parallels and significance of it seem clear. For the two weeks prior to the dream I had been running away from the fear, longing and sadness that I felt inside. I sought distraction more than I had in a long time, but soon it was not satisfying or effective anymore. The dream reflected this and served as a reminder and catalyst to get back to what was important—going within. The beginning part of the dream also indicated that fear of the unknown and fear of death were significant obstacles that were preventing me from going within and becoming. Those fears were in part what I had been running from in my waking life, and I feel that the dream was indicating that I need to face or alleviate those fears in part by befriending death, as the voice in the dream suggested. I took other things from this dream as well, but they require greater context to explain, and what I did discuss I feel gets to the heart of what the dream was saying.
As I said at the beginning I have been amazed at how helpful dreams can be. I have found them to be powerful and intimate in speaking to my life, revealing things which I am unaware of and often also providing guidance. Despite only seriously working with them for a short period of time, I feel that dreams have been invaluable to me.
~ From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Monday, December 8, 2003
The average person will spend 50,000 hours of his life dreaming—more than two hours a night, every night. For an activity that consumes so much of our time, however, scientists still don't completely understand why we dream or what dreams mean.
In this five-part series, "In Your Dreams," the Post-Gazette provides the latest information and newest theories on dreaming. We talked to dozens of sleep researchers and dream experts from around the nation, as well as everyday people who are fascinated by the subject and keep track of their dreams in elaborate journals. Our goal: To shed as much light as we could on the mysteries of the night. Illustrations by Stacy Innerst, Post-Gazette.
Day One: The Science of Dreams
After centuries of research, scientists still can't explain why we dream or what our dreams mean, but they're learning more all the time.
Day Two: The History of Dreaming
In 1953, a graduate student's experiment with his son opened the door to research about sleep patterns and their link to dreaming.
Day Three: Nightmares
Nightmares are common among children, who mostly grow out of them. But not everyone. Nearly 14 million American adults each night suffer recurring nightmares.
Day Four: Intruders in the Night
Normally our muscles are virtually paralyzed when we dream. But some people walk, talk, fight and even eat while sleeping.
Day Five: Taking Control
Can you control your dreams? Those who believe it's possible have promoted the concept of "lucid dreaming." Others, however, wonder whether we're meant to control our dreams.
"It might seem funny to write in our waking-life appointment book "reserve time for self-exploration," but, in order to be healthy and whole, that is exactly what we have to do. (Even if it looks like the height of laziness or irresponsibility from the point of view of the waking ego, which is driven to make the most of every precious moment.) This dream (forgetting the baby) informs you that ignoring one's deepest spiritual needs and desires is the truly irresponsible activity—as irresponsible as agreeing to look after a baby, and then forgetting about it." —Jeremy Taylor
Dream study was an important step in my journey to self-discovery, for several reasons. It gave me a way to begin the process of seeing my own mind by retreating from it, by seeing the moods that governed its behavior, and by starting that all-important inward movement, the backing away from illusion. Most importantly, it gave me a discipline, an open window, through which I could begin my journey. It shook my belief in my "self," and convinced me of my own ignorance. Dream study was my window to awakening. There are others, as varied the individuals who find them. What is important is to find yours, and take the first step on the path.
While the study of our dreams may seem like a superfluous or shallow way of finding ourselves as one with the Absolute, if we shut out any form of self-study before we get started by saying that we understand that there is no doer, that there is nothing but the one, we have perhaps fallen for the trick of the ego and its survival program. Its job is to stop all inner movement before it gets started, to keep us from ever making a move. An intellectual understanding of the abstract concepts of no doer, the one, the absolute and effortlessness, is not what we're after. This is simply the ego using the intellect to distract us, leading us deeper into the realm of imagination and fantasy. Eventually, this fantasy will be tested by the traumas of life, and we will come to know if we have actually reached more than an intellectual understanding of ourselves. Copping out through the intellect and unconscious belief in abstract concepts will not help us. By starting work on any proven discipline, such as dream work, we've made that first move against our ego, into the Unknown and out of our safe conceptual nest.
Like a lot of others, I too grabbed eagerly at the intellectual concepts of the non-doer and the One. I also came to admit that this did not dispel the inner angst, did not make it evaporate. The misery was still there, if I was honest with myself and watched my day-to-day life. The intellect could not get rid of the problem; the inner angst still resided in the feeling self. But I came to see, once I finally made a move and started a discipline through dream work, that by finding out what moods were driving me, what my states of mind were, and by making that simple turn within which started a vector of self-observation, I found relief. It became fascinating, and I noticed that I was discovering an unknown territory called myself, while before I had only been playing games in the intellect. Things started getting better.
The ego can use the intellect to juggle abstract concepts and make the inner imaginative world primary and of more value than the world of perception. This is simply a trick to keep us out of real work. By disciplines such as studying our dreams, one can begin to see how this trap works, in ourselves. We can see how we're tricked into thinking that simply because we can project and believe in abstract concepts in our imagination, that this is somehow going to relieve our misery and change the world.
The ego mind can play pretty elaborate tricks. One of these is to shut down the self-discovery process at the outset, to say that the study of dreams is only the mind playing around in the mind, that it takes effort, isn't going to lead us to the One, and is only furthering delusion. But this line of thinking is also just the mind talking to itself; the ego again using the mind to fool the mind. Instead of seeking an answer, it cops out of the search in a grand and prideful manner. This does not make sense and is simply another way the ego tricks us into inaction, thus maintaining the status quo of ignorance and illusion.
The study of our dreams can be the first step into our mind. We start looking at ourselves. We're told that the one thing we don't know anything about is the self, and yet that's what we must study. By studying dreams we can do this from a safe place by studying the mind obliquely. We begin to see what our mind patterns are without the interference of the ego survival program shutting us down before we get started. This is important, because by beginning to study our dreams we start to take a turn within. We start to look at ourselves rather than looking only at our imagination and its projections.
Secondly, what is important is that we begin to discover our moods, and eventually, to see what our dominant state of mind is. By looking at the pattern of our dreams over a period of time, we can see what our dominant moods are, and how they affect our day-to-day life. Again, we see this obliquely at first through the dreams, and later come to see how it's happening in our waking life as well. This leads us eventually to seeing what our state of mind is. We can't see our state of mind when we're in it, or even know that we have one; we're too close to it. But through our dreams we can get a handle on it and begin to see the underlying forces that guide our thoughts, feelings, and life.
And thirdly, through the study of dreams and the correlation between them and our waking life, we'll eventually come to see that it is all in the mind, and that the mind has limits. We'll come face-to-face with our own mechanicalness, the limits of our mental powers, and that the mind cannot free itself from itself. By the study of our dreams, self-study, we've created a vector pointed within, which will carry us past the limits of the mechanical mind into the Unknown. Here, we leave all dreams behind, even the dream of our life, and make the leap from the known world of the mind and dreams back into the Unknown realm of the Real, to who and what we really are.
The above said, dream study is only good for certain people. Some find nothing in it, and for them other avenues of search must be found. If your mind thinks along the lines of metaphor, then dream study could be useful to you. If you're fascinated with it, and can stick with it long enough to get something from it, go for it.
~ A couple of links to help with starting a study of one's dreams: University of Yourself and Jeremy Taylor. See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, NostalgiaWest, and The Listening Attention. Illuminated letter D by Heidi Mann.
When a guru's not engaged in meditation
~ This poem by John Wren-Lewis was inspired by "The Policemens' Chorus" from The Pirates of Penzance and the first (1988) edition of The Serpent Rising by Mary Garden. For more on and by Wren-Lewis, see Alan Mann's Capacitie site and the TAT Forum index.
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