Dreams and the Soul
Westerners do not fully understand the realm of the psyche, the soul or the transcendent; to many it is a deep, dark chasm that is best maintained with a padlock. It is better to sweep it under the rug, to not delve into it and understand it. It may rear its head in dreams, but because Westerners are not sensitized to their dreams, it will be quickly discarded.
Many traditional cultures look to their dreams for guidance, to help them shape the lives of their people. Central to the practices of many traditional cultures is the pre-dawn ritual of dream sharing. Dreams are shared and used by the entire community and individuals dream not only for themselves but also for the community as a whole. In their dreams they will find access to forces that are not revealed in everyday awareness. They believe that something akin to a soul-body leaves their physical body to travel within a parallel world.
Traditional cultures use their dreams to develop both individually and collectively, whereas Westerners have no similar protocol, as the dreams of Westerners don’t develop with age; instead their dreams stay at the level of a child. One member of an Amazon tribe said about Westerners, “I didn’t know people in the north dreamed.”
And to traditional cultures, it is understood that people are not the only ones who dream. The Bugi, who have inhabited the coasts of Sulawesi since before recorded time, sail in large wooden-hulled schooners with enormous black sails. These ships are called prahu. Prahus have no motors, navigational equipment, nor modern technology of any kind, yet they sail great distances. Their belief is that every prahu has a dream and that this dream exists before the ship is built. The prahu builders will enter the dream of the prahu to see where it will sail and what storms it will encounter, so they know how to focus their work and what parts of the prahu will need special attention.
Westerners consider the waking state the only reality and dreams to be unreal and unimportant. Traditional cultures believe the dream state to have greater potential for understanding and spiritual progress than the so-called waking state, and both states to be equally real or unreal.
In Tibetan Buddhism there is a form of yoga called Tibetan dream yoga. It consists of four stages:
1. Comprehending the nature of the dream (i.e., that it is a dream and thus, a construction of the mind)
2. Practicing the transformation of dream content until one experientially understands that all of the contents of dreaming consciousness can be changed by will and that dreams are essentially unstable
3. Realizing that the sensory experiences of waking consciousness are just as illusory as dreams and that, in a sense, “it’s all a dream.”
4. Meditating on the “thatness” of the dream state, which results in union with a “clear light.”
The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science
Within Western society there are certain precepts, which we can call metaphysical foundations. These are assumptions of the way the world operates that are based not on research or scientific theory, yet are neither articulated nor brought into question during the course of modern research. These assumptions do not reside within the material world as such, nor can they be proven by empirical experiments, but they form the ground out of which all our conceptual ideas about the physical world reside.
Like Ken Wilber’s Flatland, which you read about in Part 1, these metaphysical foundations are based on the premise that if you can’t experience it with your senses, it doesn’t exist.
The most important of the metaphysical foundations are objectivism, positivism and reductionism. These lead to the assumption of logical empiricism, which is the belief in the premise that the basic stuff of the universe is what physicists study: namely, matter and physical energy – ultimately, “fundamental particles,” their associated fields and interrelationships.
Yet as science studies things large and small, from the depths of the submicroscopic to the infinite expanse of the cosmos (and everything in between), there are areas that do not easily fit into these metaphysical assumptions. These are such concepts as non-local causality, self-organizing systems, nonlinear dynamics, turbulence, consciousness, synchronicity, superpositioning, and more. There is even some evidence that the speed of light is capable of going faster than what Einstein has postulated to be an absolute.
Some would point to all these areas as anomalies, statistical warts that fall outside the normal purview. But the reality is that these so-called anomalies are not so much demonstrations of shortfalls in our knowledge of mechanisms as much as indicators of the inadequacy of the present day scientific approach and the metaphysical foundations and principles it adheres to.
The Incorporation of Quantum Thought
When we extend our borders of everyday reality to include quantum thought, much of the anomalous areas then begin to make sense and can be explained through scientific terms. Science can then be used to help us probe deeper, to question, to analyze, to criticize, to synthesize. Instead of a science that thinks in an exclusionary manner, quick to dismiss that which doesn’t fit into its narrow paradigm, we can have a science that can think in an inclusive manner, that can help to explain things which seem to be beyond comprehension.
For instance, in the country of Haiti, in the year 1962, a man by the name of Clairvius Narcisse died. Eighteen years later, in 1980, Narcisse was found walking in a marketplace, claiming to be a zombie. There was no doubt that he had died, nor was there any doubt that he was who he said he was. Because of the publicity surrounding Narcisse, other Haitians surfaced with similar tales, also claiming to be zombies.
Scientists from the U.S. researched the matter and determined that Voodoo priests and sorcerers created herbal decoctions that could paralyze a person’s central nervous system; after the person was buried the priest would come and give them the antidote, which would revive them, yet keep them in a drugged state. The priest then would give periodic doses of the decoction to the person to maintain the drugged state. Thus the person perceived of themselves as zombies, controlled by someone they considered being their master.
Not all scenarios can be explained so readily; yet there can still be open-minded scientific discussions on them. As long as science starts with the assumption that reality goes far beyond our senses, then our metaphysical foundations can be much broader. With the understandings of superpositioning, coherence and decoherence, non-local causality, and nonlinear dynamics, the scope, depth and breadth of science can virtually cover all areas considered anomalous.
What these modern sciences tell us is that true reality exhibits a 360-degree nature. What this means is that reality exists twofold: both in a linear fashion, neatly laid out from past to present to future; and in a nonlinear fashion, with the past, present and future all around us, occurring at all times, in many dimensions.
Superpositioning has shown us that in the quantum realm, electrons exist in all possible states at all times and communicate to one another about their positions. Although in our macroscopic world the electron takes just one position of density, the communication continues, non-locally, between the electrons of the macroscopic world and the quantum world.
The electrons of the quantum world inform the electrons of the macroscopic world that it is possible to continue to move and be in many places at once.
Gravity and thermodynamics offset this information by informing the macroscopic electrons that they cannot move and that they are dense and absolute. Yet what the macroscopic electrons do, in its attempt to mirror the quantum electrons, is follow a path of nonlinear dynamics, of creating fractals and strange attractors.
In this way, the electrons of our everyday world open the floodgates of uncertainty, to show that even in our everyday reality there are movements that happen that are beyond linear mathematical formulation. Thus, all around us, at all times, exists a world of each and every possibility.
Electrons talk in an indigenous language of wavelengths and frequencies in the superpositioned state. And as I said above, the communication continues even when electrons transition into density. The ability for electrons to communicate across boundaries of space and time is considered non-local causality.
Even consciousness follows these rules. It is a quantum system that decoheres into density. Each of us has our own mind, with its own level of consciousness – this is the result of quantum decoherence into density. At this level we experience ourselves as separate from others.
Yet at the root of our individual consciousness is a non-local mind, a universal consciousness, in which our thoughts are ultimately connected into a universal mind. It is most probable that the electrons of local and non-local consciousness, or individual and universal mind, communicate in the same indigenous language as all other electrons.
As physicist Arthur Eddington said, “The stuff of the world is mind-stuff…The mind-stuff is not spread in space and time…Recognizing that the physical world is entirely abstract and without ‘actuality’ apart from its linkage to consciousness, we restore consciousness to the fundamental position.”
To be continued next time…