Posts filed under Dream Journal

Dream #7: Horrors

As the dream starts out, I'm teaching my poetry class at Pitt in the Cathedral of Learning.  Except there's a big bed in the room and the bed has a quilt with various panels.  I'm re-arranging the panels of the quilt like one would arrange windows on a computer screen.  Each panel is half a poem and half a very melty picture of a face merged with a texture: a wooden face, a seashell face, a grass face, a coal face.  I finally arrange the panels to my satisfaction and have some conversations with my class.  But there's a pervasive sense of unhappiness and misery.  I feel like I'm enslaved, like I have no choice about being there.

I leave the classroom and I go out into the wide city.  I go downtown and I see a scene that decimates me: I witness Matthu destroyed by a car accident.  Someone tells me that his father was also in the accident and was blinded.  No one will tell me if Matthu is just badly hurt or dead.  I'm screaming hysterically and looking at the wreckage. Then suddenly, I'm away from the scene of the accident and back at the base of the Cathedral, which is also somehow the campus of CMU.  Something has shifted in me and I start speaking coherently and loudly about the evils of the universities, their war-mongering, their exploitations of students and teachers.  A crowd gathers around me.  My mind feels like it's been clarified rather than clouded by grief; I can no longer stand even one tiny jot of complicity with falsehood any longer.  I don't want any one to ever imagine that I think the universities are okay or not wickedly destructive to the souls and minds and bodies of all involved with them.  Also, it seems to me that Matthu has been destroyed by the whole wicked apparatus of the world, like the harm that came to him wasn't by chance, it was a direct consequence of the whole insane society.

Finally a crowd of police surround me.  They tell me to stop talking about the evils of the university and let them arrest me or they'll burn me to death.  They propose to burn me to death with giant sheets of white paper which I sense are acidic - they could wrap me in the paper and I'd burn/dissolve.  I let them arrest me.  They're very kind to me after I do that.  I tell them about Matthu and they take me back to the site of the accident.  My father is there, saying completely useless, ignorant things about how Matthu is dead because he wasn't careful enough.  This enrages me and I start beating my father and shouting about how Matthu was beautiful and perfect and a thousand times better than him (my father).

Then I wake up.

What the dream makes me think about:

I had a conversation just the other day about the ridiculousness of police brutality, about police violently breaking up peaceful celebrations and share faires because we no longer have a right to be happy and love each other.  Because happiness and love and sharing are direct threats to the private-property capitalist consumerist state.  It makes me think about my general frustrations with my father, which I've worked on for a long long time but which come up in dreams like this fairly often.  It makes me think about how yes, I would like to shout to everyone about the evils of the universities.  And also about how that in itself would probably be seen as somehow terroristic, given the bomb threats that the campus received this past spring.  I'm left with the sense of how very precious Matthu is to me and how I do indeed see his very existence as something that goes against the grain of our culture in how radically strange and gorgeous he is.  So I feel like this dream is doing a lot for me - reflecting back many intense passions both personal and political and trying to show me perhaps where they intertwine.

 

image: [p. Gordon]

Posted on June 7, 2012 and filed under Dream Journal.

What Are Dreams

We all must wonder sometimes: what are dreams? Are they just weird little synaptic hiccups? Or something vaster and stranger?

Theories abound about what dreams are.  Scientists only have a very basic grasp: they know that when humans dream, certain perceptual areas of the brain light up with electrical activity.  This knowledge doesn't really solve any mysteries for us.

I want to offer that what we experience as dreams are actually worlds similar to our waking world in some regards.  How can that be? you might wonder.  Our waking world is so firm and solid - there's the ground beneath our feet, the hours that drag out through the day while we're at work, our stable identities and our stable friends.  Meanwhile, in dreams things shift and alter constantly.

Dreams Are Energy

It can be because our waking world, just like the worlds we experience in our dreams at night, is only energy interpreted by our minds and senses into a specific configuration that seems very stable.  Both dreams and the waking world are just streams of energy.  Though the energy of our waking world certainly appears quite stable compared to that of our dream worlds, it's actually not rock solid.  Far from it - everything we experience as matter is made up of tiny particles moving very rapidly through space.

And consider this: do you remember exactly what you ate for breakfast two mornings ago?  And don't your friends always recall stories about your exploits together rather differently than you do?  And haven't you often perceived things in a certain way that you later learned to be false or incomplete?  I ask these questions only to point out that there's many facets of our reality that are subject to shift.  Memory is especially vulnerable, but even present-moment happenings can be experienced very differently by various subjects.

The Dream Body

Just as we have a physical body with physical senses, we also have a dreaming body with dream senses. The sense organs of the dreaming body correspond to the chakras, or energy centers, of the body. One of the reasons why the worlds we experience in our night-time dreams don't seem as stable as our waking world is that our dreaming senses are not as highly developed as our physical senses.  Many of us have undergone a very thorough education in navigating the physical world via our physical senses (remember your parents telling you to always "look out" for dangerous things and to always "listen" to them? they were drawing attention to and training your senses as they did that) and a very poor or nonexistent education in navigating the dream world via our dream senses (did your parents or teachers ever give you dreaming advice other than suggesting that you have "sweet dreams"?)  In many other cultures in other times, the cultivation of the dream senses and the navigation of the dream world was considered just as important (if not more so) than the cultivation of the physical senses and the navigation of the waking world.

How could navigation of dream worlds possibly be more important than navigation of waking worlds?  Don't we need to know how to get around in the waking world in order to survive? Absolutely, yes.  And in that sense the waking world has a fundamental importance.  But our present society wrongly values the navigation of the waking world so much more highly than that of the dreaming world that we actually end up having a lopsided and less happy existence.   "Man cannot live on bread alone" is an old proverb.  It means that human beings are more-than-physical creatures who need more-than-physical nurturance.  It's not enough to just survive.  We need to flourish at the level of soul, of spirit.  And the dreaming experience is so crucial because that experience is actually where the soul can find its nourishment.

If the human physical form is nourished by food, water, and oxygen, the human soul is nourished by the symbols given to us in our dreams.  Just like we have to gather food and water and oxygen in order to survive, we have to gather and assimilate our dream symbols in order to flourish.  This is something that goes almost entirely neglected in our society because the prevailing paradigm doesn't like to recognize that there's a vast source of power beyond any worldly or material power. The capitalist system that we dwell in masterfully controls material resources and material power.  It has, however, no such monopoly on immaterial power.  The only way that capitalism can perpetuate itself is by having its institutions teach us to deny, ignore, minimize and otherwise neglect the vast power of insight and creation that comes to us each night through our dreams.

Revolutionary Dreaming

By choosing to meditate, keep a dream journal and practice dream interpretation, we begin to cultivate our dream body and our dream senses.  We grow closer to integrating the energy streams of dreams with the energy stream of our waking world.  As we achieve that integration, life within our waking world becomes more intuitive and more in harmony with our deep being.  This occurs because most of us mistake who we are: we think we're our waking egos, a little separate "I" with a personal history of grievances and desires, longings and fears.  In a way, this is correct.  We are our egos. But we are also much more.  We are souls, and our waking ego is just one little part of the whole soul that we are.  The work of being alive is to come to know ourselves as complete, integrated souls.  As we do this work we shed our pettiness and selfishness and become aware of our connection to the larger forces at work in the universe.

As we become fully integrated (Keats liked to say "made") souls, we are more and more capable of working for the good of everyone rather than just for the good of our individual egos.  We're of greater service to others; we generate less drama in our lives; we experience greater joy.  We don't need to look to the external world for validation through status, power, physical gratification and material wealth.  In short, we become free of the snares of greed that tie us into capitalism.  Instead, we become the sovereigns of our own selves, capable of answering directly to the source of everything that exists.

image: [zbigphotography]

The frightening secret about why you don't remember your dreams

 

"I try to remember my dreams but I can't."

The alarm rings. You fumble to shut it off as fast as possible. Do you really have to get up and leave right now, or could you afford a few more minutes in bed? You try to estimate the risks of sleeping longer. You decide you really do, indeed, have to wake up now.

Then you remember-- you're trying to keep a dream journal. "What was I just dreaming?" you ask yourself.

But it's too late; there are no savory licks of dream-stuff left. It's all gone away, into the aether from whence it came.

Your heart sinks with a little disappointment.  You're really trying to remember your dreams; you really want to connect more deeply with your creative unconscious; it's just that the dreams slip away so fast before you can grab them.  Now you can remember nothing from your night's adventures and you feel a little soul-less, a little empty.  What, after all, is a person without dreams?

A person without dreams is someone who succeeds at fitting in and not shaking the airplane. (I could have said "and not rocking the boat"-- but what thought scares you more-- a rocking boat or a shaking airplane?)

A person who doesn't remember what he dreams is someone who is more easily roped into the counterfeit dream of the culture-at-large: the manufactured dream of constant high status, hot sex, and total security.

Have you noticed that the dream of the culture-at-large is not only unattainable, but boring? It's not enough to fire the full range of the human imagination; it's just enough to stoke our base cravings.

Costly, poisoned milk

 

A person who doesn't remember what he dreams is someone cut off from the marrow of his own being, from the sustenance of his own life.  He's like a desperate farmer who has sold his cow and now has to buy the milk back at a steep price. And not only is the milk costly; it's also been poisoned; it's actually dangerous to consume.

As we settle for the mass-produced dreams of television, commercials and popular film we're drinking poison milk.  That stuff, taken as our only nourishment, makes us weaker and weaker.  We notice the symptoms of what's happening to us: we're depressed and anxious, unfocused and miserable. But lie to ourselves about the root cause.  We think that we suffer just because we don't yet have enough status, sex, security.

We can't even begin to imagine that our pain and our boredom and our sense of meaninglessness might have something to do with the fact that we routinely ignore the vast and beautiful productions that our soul offers us each night while we sleep; the secrets of the universe which are hand-tailored to us; the magnificent gifts that come fully-made.

Your dreams are your dreams.  They are communications that have the power to awaken you. The more you ignore them, the more you ignore your own spiritual growth.

"But I'm trying to remember my dreams-- I just can't!"

This is never true.

You don't remember your dreams because you don't truly want to remember.

You can't remember your dreams because you want other things much more.  Why? Because you're too heavily plugged in to the pseudo-dream: the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning is your security, your status.  Do you need to get up and run? What do you need to do before you leave the house? What should you eat for breakfast? What should you wear?

You can't remember your dreams because those thoughts are more urgent to you, more vivid and more intense than your desire to be in conscious contact with your own soul.  Just admit that it's true.  You would like to remember your dreams, but frankly you're more worried about being on time for wherever you've got to go.

If you want to know your soul, you have to make that knowing your priority

If you truly want to remember your dream-time escapades, you have to be willing to care more about what's going on within you than what's going on without you.  You have to be more focussed on the world of your spiritual and emotional terrain than on the world of your oh-so-urgent duties.

This is an intense reversal.  This is a taboo reversal.  No one in our culture is allowed to do this-- do this and you'll become weak, lazy, worthless-- or so the notion goes.  I say do it and you'll become truly awake to the weird wonder that you are.  And out of this weird wonder you'll make full, vast, and sculptured treasures.  You'll bring back incredible gifts.  You'll enrich our day-time world immensely.  You'll be a hero and you'll have our gratitude-- for you were the brave one who made the journey where we were too scared to go.

To remember your dreams, you have to decide that your dreams are more important than what anyone else thinks of you

Your first thought when you wake must be: "I am dreaming a dream. What is happening in my dream? What am I doing?" And then you offer a kind of very soft, gentle attention.  You attend for some moments, laying still in the dark (so as not to disturb the swirling aether where your dream licks are laying in wait) and then once you've collected as much as you can, you pick up pen and paper and write what's gone on.

You make this more important than "being where I have to be." You make your dreams the most important thing.

Gradually, as you treat your dreams with this kind of respect, they begin to speak to you more loudly and more clearly.  They begin to realize that you're one who listens; you're one who attends.  They begin to offer the deep initiation to you, the initiation into your own transcendent power as the interdimensional creature you really are.

So make the decision right now.

Decide to dream at any cost.

It won't hurt as much as you think, my darling.

 

Love!

Carolyn

 

Dream #5: The Fundamentalist Compound where the earth resurrects a baby

Sonny and Cher run a fundamentalist cult compound

I'm watching a documentary about Sonny and Cher.  They're running a ranch.  The have a huge family-- a narrator says, "Sonny liked to make Cher jealous by cheating on her Friday nights; Cher made Sonny jealous by attracting the attention of the whole village."

 

There's a scene where a young Cher is playing tennis on the ranch, her long hair swinging around her waist.

 

Then cut to a rag-tag group of 20 young teen boys.  They're all kids from the same compound; there's about 100 of them total and they split into 5 different groups and fight each other.  There's not enough adults around to control them.  It's like Lord of the Flies. 

 

Then cut to a scene of a bare-chested and muscled man crowing and strutting, strapped with guns.  He grabs Cher (who is now me) by the waist under a picnic shelter and says to her, "God, I need to make love to you, I need to have a reunion of the tribe, whatever it takes-- no more divisions" and with that he orders the warring factions of the compound to unite.  He says cliques of women have to be separated and declares that his men "take apart close friends" and for all the men to find new wives among the girls.  He advises them, "hit on a girl who's humming" -- meaning someone innocent.

 

A baby comes back to life 

Next scene, still on the ranch: a man is cradling a baby.  The baby's face is dirty-- her head is at an odd angle-- she's dead.  The baby is just about two weeks old. The man sings to the baby while he digs her a very shallow grave in the loose dirt with one hand.  He puts the baby in the grave and covers her with dirt.  He then walks away.  The view stays on the baby. Close up on the baby's face.  I see that her nose and mouth are still uncovered by dirt.  She starts breathing again, miraculously.  It seems that the earth has brought her back to life rather than accepting her as a buried corpse.

 

The baby is somehow strong-- it wiggles out of the dirt.  A young woman (me) comes by and picks her up and starts caring for her.

 

Next, the young woman is inside a cabin, the baby is cleaned up.  The young woman is cuddling and cooing to the baby, who responds with total joy.

 

A guy comes up to the ranch, a military man in a face uniform and jeers at the shirtless leader and his army of vicious young boys, "You're not even as rich as a mormon," the military man says to the leader, "You little budgets" (he's calling the boys "budgets")

 

I have a sense of being very attracted to the gun-bearing leader.  I feel pity for the little lost boys.  I feel adoration for the baby-- its tiny little body.

 

 

 

Posted on October 2, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.

Dream #4: Mr. Hyde at Family Dollar, Hanging with the bad kids

Thinking Aloud Maybe it's better that in the dream log I just offer dreams without any ruminations. More mysterious that way, no?

 

 

Mr. Hyde at Family Dollar

I'm milling around Family Dollar, writing on a notebook in pink lipstick -- except I haven't bought either the notebook or the lipstick yet. I have a big pile of stuff in a cart that I don't really want to buy.  I start putting some of it in my purse.  Then I have this moment of clarity like-- hey, wait a minute-- what am I doing?  Then somehow the knowledge comes to me that I've been on a spree of stealing and other questionable activity for days and days, but totally blacked out and taken over by some other personality-- a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. I drop the notebook and the lipstick, leave the other stuff in the cart and exit the store.

 

The Bad Kids

Next thing I know I'm all wrapped up with a group of people who reminded me of the ne'er do-well art students I hung out with right after high school.  They dress in black leather.  They always have very tough dogs and very improbably tender little woodland animals (bunnies and squirrels) on leashes with them.  They roll up into my house with their little bunnies on leashes; put on pounding electronic music, then set up cameras to film themselves and me sleeping and having sex.  They regard this not as pornography exactly but as an especially important art project.  There's a sense of family around them, as if they all belong to each other.  I have the feeling that whether I'm okay with it or not, they've adopted me into this family and consider me one of them.  There's a big to-do about setting up the cameras just right on the tripods.  I feel like I love them and I want them but I'm afraid of them and what they might end up doing to me as they carry an aura of violence.

Posted on September 29, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.

Dream #3: The urgent message, the botanical argument, the dirt floor of ancient China

The Dreams In a rush this morning, so just three parts of a dream, with no commentary.

 

 

The Urgent Message

I'm on a bicycle. I have a mission to be somewhere, very fast. I'm riding along the tops of walls, through dense crowds. I'm carrying a package.  I have a sense that I'm on a college campus. Lots of young people are resting along one wall that I need to travel. They have cell phones in their hands, on top of the wall-- they're texting. I have to ride over their hands as they text.  I'm yelling at them as I'm zooming along-- "Coming through! Coming through! Move your hands! I don't want to hurt you! Move!"

 

The Botanical Argument

Next, I see a young man out in the wilderness with two other men.  The young man is carrying a package in the form of a long tube, and I have the sense that I'm seeing myself (whoever I just was as I rode the bicycle through the crowd).  The men I'm with start threatening me.  I open the cylinder I'm carrying and draw from it a large sheaf of rolled-up posters-- exquisitely beautiful photographic posters depicting all kinds of botanical and geological wonders.  I'm shouting at the men.   I'm showing them image after image on my posters, making some kind of very emphatic point.  I start to notice, though, that half the posters I'm supposed to have are missing.

 

The Dirt Floor of Ancient China

Next, I'm a little toddler girl crawling on a dirt floor under a table which is part of an exhibit at a museum.  I feel the dirt floor with my hands and say to my mother, who is hovering above me, that I want to learn all about women and feminism in ancient China. Somehow the dirt floor is an exhibit on ancient China, which teaches me its truths as I run my hands over its bumpy dirt.

 

Love,

Carolyn

Dream #2: The Red Velvet Room with Two Sisters, The Urine-Soaked Sweater, and the Spiritual Conspiracy

The Dreams  

A red velvet room.  I'm interacting with and watching two teenaged girls who are a chubby and so distressed by it-- they feel left out of all social happenings, scorned, inferior.  Both of the girls have long dark hair.  They're sisters.  The younger one is thinner than the older one, but the younger one is more distressed and more self-conscious.

 

 

I'm getting ready to clean a broken toilet and the sleeve of my favorite sweater, the one with the fur collar, drops in and gets soaked with urine.  I'm momentarily repulsed but I decide to clean it in the sink by letting it soak in water with soft detergent. I feel a kind of pride in this simple hands-on laundry action. My mother is in the background, working on her own stuff.

 

There's a kind of conspiracy plot going on which looks shady but which is actually designed to help me.  I'm a young, male high school athlete who gets coerced into going out to the wrong side of the rail road tracks late at night to meet up with a gang of thugs who have something I really want.  I show up there and have a kind of tense confrontation-- after I leave, a figure steps out of the shadows and pays the thugs big piles of cash for going through the whole drama with me-- the figure paying the thugs is talking to them about my spiritual growth and his hopes for my future, explaining to them about how hard it is for me to have to talk to and work with disreputable characters like themselves.

 

The Feelings, the Associations

 

So, first off the red velvet room reminded me immediately of Twin Peaks. Except my dream was a lot less freaky, sadly.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXRC9bMzRUU

 

I get a sense that the two dark-haired sisters who are self-conscious about chubbiness might represent my present and past self-- when I was younger I was thinner than I am now and also a lot more hung-up about it.  Today, I'm working on losing some pounds, but I'm doing it all crazy-healthy like, via a nutritarian diet. Seemed like the dream was speaking to me about lingering anxieties that I have in that arena.

 

My beautiful sweater getting soaked in urine -- a frustrating result of my own carelessness (why did I have the sweater with me in the bathroom to begin with?)-- this felt like a very daily, unsurprising misfortune that might happen to me-- but there was something about this object which is so sleek, sexy and nice getting all messed up in the toilet which was particularly gross. To get a little Freudian, I think it make have something to do with feeling like my sexuality is being dirtied or lowered.

 

My pride in the simple solution of soaking the thing in soapy water -- a feeling of resourcefulness, of joy in knowing how to do slight house-wifey type stuff.  My mother's presence-- seem to suggest her own hard work, her own sexual issues mirroring mine.

 

Finally, the conspiracy between the figure and the hoodlums might be the most interesting dream of the night.  It gives me some hope-- like maybe some of the scary and difficult things going on for me right now might all really just be agents of a force who's working for my higher good.  Wouldn't that be sweet?

 

The Mystery

The mystery of the dirtied sweater is the plaintive song of a dead crooner.

 

Your Response to Me

As perpetually, I'm open to hearing your thoughts about what any of these dreams mean-- and I'm also interested to hear what you've been dreaming about lately?

 

Love!

Carolyn

The Start of My Dream Journal - Dream #1: The Pet Store

The Decision I've decided to start keeping a public dream journal.  I'm always going on and on to my students online and offline about the importance of keeping a dream journal in their commonplace books, and I fully believe in being the example for those I'm working with, but it's sort of hard to let them see me walking my walk when my dream journal is a secret little thing I keep under my pillow.

 

 

 

But laying out the contents of my subconscious mind for all to see is a rather radical thing to do, isn't it?

 

It is, but my heart tells me to "be a transparent rose" so that's what I'm doing this morning and all mornings for the next 7 weeks. I'm lacing myself together with rosy-fingered dawn in order to tell you some tales straight outta my subconscious.

 

So here's a bit of what happened in dreamworld last night.  It's the tale end of a dream.  I woke up at 6:00 am, my alarm going off, with my most urgent thought being "I have to quiet that alarm before it disturbs my partner" rather than "I have to remember my dream."  Having an urgent thought like that, I notice, disrupts my dream-memory process. So I only remembered the last little bit of what I sense was a much larger dream.

 

The Dream

Here's what I remember: I see an elderly man, homeless.  He wants to get into a pet store to use the rest room.  The door to the pet store is locked even though there are employees inside. The employees won't let him in.  The elderly man enlists the help of a little boy to trick the door open.  Somehow, the boy is able to open the door.  He props the door open with a little trash basket which has magical door-propping properties.  The elderly homeless man goes in and uses the rest room.  I wake up.

 

The Feelings, The Associations

I felt identified with the elderly homeless man. Earlier in the day, when driving out of a shopping center, Dey and I saw a man standing on a traffic island, holding a sign around his neck that said "Homeless."  Also earlier in the day, I'd been getting angry about income disparity in the US, thinking about Occupy Wall Street and had posted this Thomas Jefferson quote to facebook:

‎"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs".

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

So Thomas Jefferson is talking about homelessness engendered by corporations and financial institutions that are threatening our American liberties.  And I'm seeing homeless people. And the folks occupying Wall Street are camping out in a park, without a roof. And I feel identified with them, too.

 

Why was it a pet store? Well, I'm in love with a little pomeranian named Sparkle who lives in the window of a pawn shop on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.  She's always alone in there at night with the DVDs and funky old electronics, behind the half-shattered window.  I can't get to her.  No one is loving her and cuddling her at night. I feel like she's homeless, too.  So the pawn shop isn't exactly a pet store, but it holds a pet (Sparkle).

 

So the old man in my dream was homeless and breaking in to a place that I associate with homelessness (the pawn shop / pet store).  I feel afraid of homelessness, poverty, the condition of the outcast.

 

The wily little boy is a mystery to me. Who's he?

 

The Mystery

This is something I like to do for my dreams-- to make a metaphor out of a mystery in them-- so as to deepen and extend the mystery. The metaphor pattern goes like this: The mystery of ___________ is _____________."

 

So, the mystery of the little boy who props open the door is an attack at the feet of the rich.

 

Your Response to Me

Want to offer any insight about what you think my dream means? Post in the comments below.

 

What to tell me what you dreamed last night? I would love to hear about it and discuss it with you.

 

Love, Carolyn

Posted on September 26, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.