From Transformational Dreamwork
Dream Creation from the Perspective of Each of the Four Quadrants
This is another approach to answering the question, “How do dream characters and scenarios come to be?” Obviously, there are multiple answers to this question, and they partially represent developmental levels. For example, the chaotic attractor model is most closely associated with an early transpersonal nature mysticism context. However, any and all theories will fall into one or more of four basic perspectives or orientation. The first is relatively external and collective, involving society, systems and relationships; the second is interior and individual, involving your thoughts, feelings and the level of overall development of your sense of self; the third is internal and collective and deals with your values, world view and interpretations of your experience, whether awake, dreaming or in an altered state. The fourth is the exterior and individual realm of your behavior. Therefore, a coherent and full explanation of the origin of dreams will take into account stages of development and all four of these quadrants of life experience.
The External Collective Quadrant
From an external collective perspective, IDL views a dream character or event as well as an event of waking life as a presentation of the intrasocial dynamics of a particular gathering of emerging potentials who personify life issues in which they share a common investment. This is true whether the gathering is of dream characters, humans, or yourself and the environment that surrounds you at the moment. Each personifies a particular perspective. These might be regarded as roles as long as we don’t associate a role as belonging to anyone. Due to this common implication, IDL more commonly uses the terms “perspective” or “emerging potential” rather than role to refer to dream or waking fantasy or real characters or events. However, it is certainly true that we assume roles and that these comprise subsets or sub-routines of our identity that commonly take turns moving into the foreground and running the show, as we shall see. The study of Dream Sociograms is an external collective approach to consciously integrating multiple perspectives that have an investment in a particular dream or waking life issue.
An external collective response to the question of dream creation emphasizes how thoughts, feelings, intentions, images and sensory experience manifest both as interacting dream characters, say dream self and a burning house, and habitual patterns of waking thought, feeling, and interaction, like loss of temper. Internal agendas are externalized, whether in dreams or waking, in relationships and patterns of interaction. If you have a fever and you are preoccupied with regaining homeostasis, the relationship between your body and the illness may be depicted in dreams, say as a fire or a flood. If such internal conflicts are not resolved, they may be mirrored back more forcefully by the body or perhaps by dreamlike relationships that are enveloped in drama or by accidents. If some waking competency, such as meditation, improves the functioning of internal systems, the harmonious relationships are depicted in dreams as reduced conflict. A friend who appears in a dream may be a personification of those qualities and issues which are evoked when we are in the presence of our friend. Of course, that friend has an existence independent of our own in a way that our thoughts and feelings and day-to-day roles do not.
How are dream and waking reality generated?
Dream Consciousness precipitates dream characters and scenarios according to interacting probabilities of several chaotic attractor basins. Fundamental among these are your feeling attractor basin, which addresses your emotional imbalances, your intentions, largely determined by your world view, and the priorities of life itself, as personified by some the priorities of interviewed emerging potentials. The result is a hall of mirrors that reflects back onto you the interaction of competing microcosmic priorities. This same analogy applies to waking life. Microcosmic attractor basins, such as your preferences, addictions and emotional reactions combine with your assumptions about reality and beneficial conduct. To these are added socio-cultural and life contexts that include yet transcend your own generating a macrocosmic hall of mirrors that we attempt to deal with by either externalizing and disowning, on the one hand, or making all about ourselves, on the other.
Roles are constellations of actions, feelings, and thoughts that serve a particular function. As mentioned above, roles then to be ascribed to a central actor or self. Therefore, the use of “roles” to describe interviewed emerging potentials is problematic for IDL, since these can express large amounts of autonomy. It is more realistic to speak of a role continuum made up of characteristics and perspectives that relatively belong to “you,” reflected by your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and those that relatively do not belong to you, represented by feelings, thoughts and behaviors that are relatively atypical and autonomous of your normal sense of self. Because roles are defined in relationship to one another they have external collective characteristics.
On the higher prepersonal and personal levels, roles generally define who we are. We think we are our gender, race, and cultural identity. In later personal development and thereafter, roles are more like clothes or tools which we wear for functional purposes. They become optional and therefore less real. However, the effectiveness of roles to metaphorically reflect internal relationships, conflicts, life issues, and problem solving strategies is apparently never outgrown. Enlightened masters still take on waking roles to relate to and teach others. They also dream, which means they produce dream images which are in relationship with one another and which functionally personify roles.
Roles related to your recent waking life – parent, lover, employee — are readily accessible and therefore likely to be taken up by your dreaming consciousness. While you might expect that previously experienced developmental roles such as rejected daughter or acting out son are more likely to be present than are less experienced potential roles, such as confident business person, almost every emerging potential conveys potential in some way. Thinking of emerging potentials as muses who are running the drama of your everyday life may be helpful. Every emerging potential has characteristics of prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal levels of development, but remarkably enough, their “center of gravity” tends to cluster around a point somewhere above and beyond your average developmental level. This is another hypothesis that you can test through your own encounter with IDL.
What sorts of intentions might precipitate as dreams? One example might be an inconsistency between friendliness toward customers and impatience and irritability toward family. Another might be the inconsistency between personal and business or work ethics. You may teach your kids to be honest and still cheat your customers, the government, or accept the stealing of the secrets of other nations in the name of national security. If you are a soldier, perhaps you believe killing citizens is murder while killing foreign enemies of the state is justified. These attitudes, intentions, and purposes may not appear to be inconsistent, because different environments call for different responses. However, on a psychological level, these intentions are inconsistent in that they express conflicting values. These inconsistencies are generally unconscious because we experience them in linear time when we are awake, in different life settings and while in different life roles, each with their own state-dependent consciousness. When time and space are collapsed as they are in dreams, dissimilar roles are thrown together in a way that expresses the inconsistency of their underlying intentions in terms of conflicting actions. While you may not experience them as inconsistent, once you eliminate space and time, inconsistent expressions come into direct conflict. Because dreaming collapses space and time relative to waking, these inconsistencies are externalized as dream conflict and dream group members personifying your friendliness toward your customers come into conflict with dream group members personifying your impatience and irritability toward your family. Your respect for the life of your fellow citizen clashes with your dehumanization of national enemies. The shared life issue here might be learning not to let your environment determine how you express your feelings or learning how to be consistent in the expression of your values across all the social and personal roles with which you identify.
Every part of yourself that is reflected back to you as a dream character or a waking “other” tends to be seen in one or another of three emotional and functional roles. These are rescuer, abuser, and victim.
These roles are responsible for the majority of the drama of human existence. By “drama,” we mean the unconscious games that fill our lives with excitement, “meaning” and yes, even purpose, but purpose that doesn’t contribute much to our development. Both your dream characters and other people will tend to fall into one or another of these three roles until you have learned to detach from them. Those emerging potentials with which you dialogue and which are least caught up in these roles are most likely to be able to show you, through your identification with them, the way out of the dramas that bring noise and pain but not much peace to your life.
One lady dreamed that she was in a cave being chased by a witch that wanted to strangle her and kill her. She threw the witch down a bottomless shaft. She shattered into countless pieces of ice. As soon as she did the client knew that it was her grandmother. When she interviewed the cave, it said that it was her chronic depression. The witch was her self-critical thoughts and feelings. She had been blaming herself for not spending time with her grandmother in the year before she died. Here we see the client as the victim becoming the abuser when she kills the witch, who is also her grandmother. Such internal conflicts and interactional patterns are examples of the external collective quadrant of dream holons.
The Internal Individual Quadrant
From an internal individual perspective, IDL approaches life as the manifestation of your intention and purposes. These are based on your level of development as well as which lines of development are being emphasized, and the particular life issues which are being confronted at the time. Whether you have a typical dream, a nightmare, a lucid dream, or a psychic opening will depend on what is happening in this quadrant. Whether you have a typical day, a highly stressful one, a highly detached and aware one, or one in which you access untapped higher potentials, will depend on what is happening in this quadrant.
Your emerging potentials manifest in patterns of dynamic interaction that depict or personify one or more life issue of concern to Dream Consciousness, as creator of your dreams, and your soul, as the ultimate source of your particular waking agenda. The life issues addressed by your dream characters may or may not be important to your waking awareness. Life and dream events are not meant to conform to your waking interests or preferences. They are more likely to reflect the conflict between your conscious intentions, your childhood scripting and your spiritual potentials.
One lady thought the following dream was about her health. She dreamed, “I am in this hospital bed under this plastic canopy that is so close that I can’t move. It wakes me up.” The plastic canopy said, “My purpose is to be rigid, to confine and close things in. I personify her strong-headedness, her will, and her blinders. I am very balanced. I have no health problems. If she were me she would be crisp and new and shiny, able to breathe, balanced. No health problems. No health issues. No work concerns. She will benefit from identifying with me when she feels dissatisfied with work, feeling out of balance with health, family, work, & school.”
This dream provides a rather typical example of how waking awareness often completely misperceives the nature and intent of emerging potentials. Far from being menacing, this canopy personified both important weaknesses and strengths. This is a common indication of waking identification with personal levels of development because what we think the meaning of a dream — or of life – is what we assume is important.
Dreaming is not a subset of waking experience. It is easy to think that it is, since correlates for any and perhaps all dream events may be found in waking experience. However, dreaming is much more than this. Waking experience can be and often is a subset of dream experience! As Dream Self, waking identity is subsumed as part of a greater dreaming identity. That is to say, the characters in the dream are aspects of a greater sense of self, of which your dream identity is only one aspect. The hierarchy reverses; what was part during waking life (your thoughts and feelings) now becomes the whole; what was whole during waking life (your waking sense of self that contains your thoughts and feelings) now becomes a part.
Dreaming arguably manifests transformational aspects of ourselves more frequently than does waking awareness. This seems to conclusively demonstrate that dreaming is not a subordinate holon to waking identity. Does that mean that perhaps waking identity is a subordinate holon to dreaming? Hindu and Buddhist traditions are ambiguous about this. They state that dreaming is a more illusory state than waking, yet they often state that waking experience is itself a dream, or like a dream, in that it is fundamentally illusory. Which whole contains the other? Both approaches reflect a state-dependent bias. Whatever state we are identified with at the time is the real, prior, and executive state by which the value of other states is judged! If we are awake, that is what is real; if we are dreaming, that is what is real! The only way to escape this inevitable state-dependent self-centeredness is to learn to identify with that “state” that generates all possible states or, to put it in a mathematical way, with that set of which all other sets are subsets! This is called Dream Consciousness in IDL. It is the formless consciousness out of which dreams precipitate. It is the state out of which the dream of life precipitates. It is not itself a dream or dreaming. Transcending all forms and all possible dreams, it is, by definition, awake.
A Metaphysical Explanation
Ishvara is the Sanskrit term for God as creative manifestation in maya and illusion. Ishvara is a word for the God that we pray to and can have a personal relationship to. This is contrasted with Brahman, which is the essence of all things and is beyond both definition and personal relationships. We might say that the divine within each emerging potentialemerging potential is Ishvara, in that we can have a personal relationship with it. While an
emerging potential may be associated with any level, the divine within it will at best be associated with subtle level consciousness. Dream Consciousness, which is not a character in a dream but the organizing and creative force out of which dreams manifest, is analogous to Brahman, in that it is impersonal and embraces all individual dream forms. It is roughly equivalent to causal level consciousness.
If dreaming, like life, is about maya and illusion, then how does Brahman create this wonderful illusion? Following Plato, Wilber thinks that creation or involution is a forgetfulness. For him, it is a forgetfulness of formless non-duality, which is beyond Brahman. To the extent that awareness or consciousness forgets its non-duality it represses its non-duality. Brahman, or Dream Consciousness, then projects that non-duality as Ishvara, or personal divinity, in multiplicity. “Dualism-Repression-Projection; this is the threefold process of maya.”
The perception of separation is an act of creation, since figure and ground exist interdependently, as one. So dreaming the dream of life is a type of narrowed and selective attention which separates objects, called dream images or dream group members, from their non-dual existence as absolute subject. This separation is a dualism that represses the nonduality of the figure/ground gestalt and projects it as form. In fact, image and ground are united in consciousness and separated in thought only.
When you separate figure from ground, things happen. If you don’t separate figure from ground, no “thing” happens. Everything simply is but no “thing” exists. On this level, there is no difference in the creation of dream imagery, on the one hand, and the creation of experience while awake.
When you separate figure from ground, things happen.
Two ladies, one young, one old.
Which do you see?
Now it is one thing to be aware of this principle intellectually and quite a different one to practice non-dual awareness, as any meditator will tell you. Dreams testify to the unconscious nature of the creative process of separating figure from ground by repressing ground and projecting it as a dreamscape with distinct elements. Does this mean that if you stop repressing ground and stop projecting it that dreaming will stop? Some say yes. Absolute Nirvana, as complete cessation, means the end of manifestation, because creation assumes illusion and delusion. But the ideal of the magician fares much better than that of the hermit. In the final analysis, is there really any reasonable alternative to working on “being in the world but not of it?” Of course, this position is itself a dualism of the worst type, separating us, as creator, from our creation, yet it is essentially the stance of lucid dreaming, of vipassana meditation, of the entire concept of witnessing ourselves. Our only option is to witness with as much compassion as we can possibly muster, which brings us to the Bodhisattva ideal.
Wilber quotes Hubert Benoit, the French psychoanalyst and student of Zen, at length regarding how the non-dual becomes dual in consciousness.
Non-dual energy disintegrates into images and their corresponding bodily emotions according to intent or purpose. But it is because images are not localized in dreams to the extent that they are in waking awareness that the laws of space and time give way to glimpses of an underlying undifferentiated organismic consciousness. In a very real sense, in dreaming, we are more closely attuned to the ground of existence than to its individual facts, while in waking, we are more closely identified with figure, with individual facts.
Here, in summary, is the process of emerging potential creation in dreams that follows from these assumptions:
• Disidentification with non-dual spirit expresses itself as dualisms and in the arising of image.
• Dream Self forgets that it is asleep and dreaming and that dream images are self-created. This forgetfulness is repression.
• Particular dream group member roles, actions, feelings, and relationships are projected. This is called “objectification” or “externalization.”
To this we might add a fourth and final step:
• Unresolved life issues are further externalized as personal and work relationships or as accidents and diseases. This is worldly objectification.
The Internal Collective Quadrant
From an internal collective perspective, IDL emphasizes how your various emerging potentials interpret their own experience, that of their fellows, your waking life, and their unique relationship to it. Every comment that a emerging potential makes is an interpretation! These interpretations are more likely to accurately depict some aspect of your subjective reality than do your waking interpretations. They are most certainly superior to those of others because the interpretations of emerging potentials are innate expressions of your subjective reality.
It is not a matter of having to choose between either emerging potential interpretations or waking interpretations, but choosing both by supplementing internal interpretations with waking and objective ones. The client who was being chased in the cave discovered that she did not have to choose to have an adversarial relationship with the cave. She could respect it and its needs without thereby being obligated to spend her life in it.
Precedence is given to intrasocial interpretations because deeply listening first to the source of our experience is both wise and respectful. For example, the client under the hospital canopy found much of practical value when she did not dismiss its perspective out of hand. However, the interpretations that finally matter are those chosen by your waking identity. This is why emerging potential identification becomes so important. By doing so, the interpretations chosen by your waking identity become more and more a reflection of the agenda of your intrasocial community as a whole. This is because identification with your emerging potentials inevitably broadens your sense of self to include their perspectives.
The External Individual Quadrant
From an external individual perspective, dreams are precipitated or condensed out of objectified thoughts and actions of which you are generally not aware. These may be sensations, desires, social roles, and constellations of social roles, systems of thought, energy, or patterning form. Physically, precipitation is materialization as a result of condensation. In chemistry, precipitation is the formation of a suspension of an insoluble compound by mixing two solutions. In dreaming, the two solutions that are mixed (to create a manifesting dualism) are self as subject (proximal self) and the disowned or objectified (distal) self.
This creates an entity, called a emerging potential, which acts in accordance with certain generally unrecognized intentions in relation to its fellows. The word “entity” is chosen advisedly, because emerging potentials are generally experienced as substantial, insoluble compounds, just as we experience ourselves and others in waking life.
Condensation in the physical world is the process by which a vapor loses heat and changes into a liquid. It can also refer to the bonding of molecules of a substance to form a larger, denser substance, usually with the release of simpler substances, such as water. Both of these definitions have relevance for helping us understand how dream group members come to be from an external individual perspective. If we think of energy as heat, we might conclude that there is more energy in a unity or synthesis than there is in disunity and antithesis. Although we may observe more energy in the form of conflict between divided parts of a greater whole, this is the externalization of an energy which exists to the same degree, if not greater, in a unity without internal conflict. We see this in vapor, which has more energy (as heat) than it does when it condenses and takes form.
Regarding the second definition, involving the bonding of molecules of a substance to form a larger, denser substance, a chemical bond is a fundamental attractive force that binds atoms and ions in a molecule. The attractive force that creates dreams involves intent, at least when we apply bonding in a metaphorical way to help explain unconscious psychological dynamics. Shared life issues attract and “bond” related life intentions, attitudes, and purposes that are normally separated by time and space. These intentions then precipitate as dreams.
To create and maintain your sense of self you must distinguish yourself from that which is not you. This begins at birth, if not before, and is done naturally, habitually, and unconsciously. That which is seen as “not self” could be anything: the bottle, the floor, mother. What is not self changes as you develop. You differentiate your identity first from matter, then successively from body, feelings, simple social roles, more sophisticated social roles, your sense of self in society, your thoughts, the energy that generates your thoughts, the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic forms that personify the energy that generates all your internal and external reality, and finally from your bare and simple sense of self. What happens to those things from which you distinguish yourself as not you? They are externalized, both while awake and while you dream. No longer experienced as “you,” these aspects of yourself are experienced as “it,” or “them,” or “the other.”
Your Dreams are Organic
Like trees, dirt, flowers, stars, animals, and the wind in nature, your dream groups are an innate component of who you naturally are, springing spontaneously from the wellsprings of your consciousness. To think of your dreams as organic emphasizes their pre-rational yet intrinsically organized nature. This is true even when artificial settings like parking lots, and superficial feelings and actions, like passivity and watching, are central to the action of the dream. The organic nature of your dream groups makes them an outstanding way to learn who you are not – your social roles, for example.
In Dream Sociometry you will learn how to create a “Dreamage,” which is a repicturing of your dream based on the consensus recommendations of your dream group members. This creates a visual metaphor of internal conflict resolution. If such a creation is acceptable to all your dream group members, the result is not a product of your conscious mind so much as it is an expression of a common, broader, and organic will. Consequently, it reflects a pattern of integration that is intrinsic and a vibration that evokes harmony and health among those different aspects of yourself that are invested in the particular life issue. For example the cave, glass, witch and client in the dream mentioned above had no problem with expanding the cave, making it darker, putting a clear stream through it, and basically enjoying its serenity. The cave and witch accepted the client as no threat. This Dreamage metaphorically stated in the client’s own organic language a therapeutic direction out of her depression.
Psychological Origin of Dream Group Members
As we have seen, dream group members are aspects of yourself that you have externalized or separated from yourself in the normal process of developing a sense of self which is distinct, separate, and different. This is why dream group members may seem confusing or threatening—you have objectified them and so made them “not self.” Something that is, by definition, “not you,” is going to seem different at best and horrible at worst! The dream group members that show up in your dreams are determined by the particular life issues from which you are differentiated at the time. For example, if you are angry with yourself for pretending to be more capable than you really think you are in your work, emerging potentials are externalized that objectify that split in your own self-sense. If you want the approval of others and feel insecure, these issues will be objectified in your dreams so as to “externalize” the conflict. It is only when this internal objectification fails to be understood and healed that these issues begin to externally objectify. This, of course, is what man has historically tended to do, and so life tends to be experienced as karmic, or as a process of victimization by the other, whether in the form of illness, accident, boss, spouse, parent, war, or natural disaster.
Integral Deep Listening to the Objectification of Life Issues in Dreams
Reduces the Waking Karmic Externalization of Those Issues
For instance, if I am a government official and I am chronically lying to myself, rationalizing that lying to the press and congress is not unethical, because it serves the ends of the Administration, I will first have dreams that will express this issue in different ways. If I ignore or repress this feedback, then the discrepancy between my actions and how I would want to be treated myself will begin to externalize in my waking life as distrust shown to me by others. If these relatively low-grade warnings are ignored, the wake-up calls will grow louder and louder, eventually resulting in a catastrophic loss of integrity in the eyes of others, as commonly happens with government officials. In this sense, dreaming offers an opportunity to understand and neutralize unhealthy ways that you create conflict, first within yourself and then within your personal and public lives. To the extent that it accomplishes this end, IDL functions as grace, in that it both minimizes and avoids the karma of waking externalization.
Not Control, but Power Sharing
Unlike many approaches to dreaming, IDL does not attempt to control dreams. It does not attempt to get rid of “bad” dreams and increase the frequency of “good” dreams. It does not emphasize waking control of dreaming. It does not attempt to focus on “spiritual” dreams and repress “mundane” dreams. IDL does not attempt to bend dreams and dreaming to the purposes of waking identity. As we have discussed above, the history of human consciousness has largely been a story of the progressive bending of the “other,” whether nature, technology, the mind, or other people to the will of waking identity. IDL believes that this one-sided emphasis is inherently destructive. Just like an armadillo doesn’t fly, the ego does not belong in the dimensions of the soul, called the transpersonal realms. When waking identity attempts to take control over dreaming or develop psychic abilities, it’s like a child playing with matches. A part of ourselves that is only one small part of the whole is attempting to control the whole. This is generally disastrous for development. Balance is restored when your waking identity shares power with the organic “other” within, the many aspects of yourself that you have unconsciously disowned, thereby becoming a stranger to yourself.
In some ways, dream experience mirrors the perceptual matrix of waking identity. Because we see ourselves as separate entities we find ourselves surrounded by other identities, some of them people, some of them objects. Because they are “not us,” they pose a potential threat, and this creates unconscious conflict that is expressed as dream conflict. Our assumption that we are separately existing beings creates fear that we will lose our separateness, that we will be engulfed by the other, fragmented, and die. The perceived need to defend against this fear creates various defensive strategies: avoidance, aggression, anger, negotiation strategies, projection, conversion, displacement, and repression. IDL provides us with direct experience of the arbitrariness of objectifying ourselves, whether as dream characters or as unrealistic expectations about others and the world. This is not a hard-wired and arbitrary given. When we take away fear the perception of duality, the attachment to a sense of a separate self lessens and dissolves. Power sharing with other aspects of yourself discloses both the harmful and the optional nature of this illusion.
If you take away the experience that Dream Self exists separately from other dream group members, your sense of the reality of these conflicting dualisms vanishes. IDL uses the “back door” of seeing life as a dream to dismantle your attachment to your sense of self, without which neither fear nor your attachment to dualism exists. This is, of course, what happens in meditation as well. With successive non-identification with the objects of consciousness – the dharmas – you deconstruct your identity. Your sense of existing as an independent, separate being first becomes unimportant; it then becomes nothing to fear losing and consequently, nothing to defend. Your attachment to it withers and dies.
Three Paths in One Method
As we have seen, when you identify with other emerging potentials you expand your identity while “thinning” your attachment to waking identity. This is the via positiva in which you identify with the object of your attention,
so immersing yourself within it that you become it; you both expand and lose yourself. You die and are reborn. In this fundamental regard, the ends of IDL and meditation are the same, and when used this way, IDL is indeed a methodology for psychospiritual transformation.
In IDL you also practice the via negativa, in which you disidentify with any and all things perceived. You disidentify first from your waking identity when you become another emerging potential. This is not an easy or natural process for most people, as is seen from the difficulty in staying in role that most people have at first. It is also difficult, in that most students find resistance to remembering to let go of their normal waking awareness and become other emerging potentials in the circumstances that they recommend in the course of a day. By looking at dreams from the perspective of other emerging potentialsyou are also disidentifying from your dream self, which is your unconscious sense of self when you are dreaming. It generally reflects your waking perspectives. In IDL you also detach from each of your emerging potentials, relativizing even those perspectives that seem divine. By continuing, successive, repetitive disidentification from proximate, distal, and potential definitions of yourself, you die to conflict, to fear, and to separateness. You let go. By becoming nothing, you become everything! This is similar to approaches to meditation that employ neti, neti (“not this; not this”). The power of this process is not to be underestimated.
As you follow the injunctions of IDL and then test them against the experiences of other Practitioners, you will employ the eye of flesh, the eye of mind, and the eye of spirit to validate the truths that you experience. This is similar to approaches to spiritual development that emphasize the third, or injunctive, strand to seek truth. What is unusual about the injunctive method of IDL is that it teaches, encourages, and supports internal validation and cross-validation at least as much as it encourages external validation with peers in the method.
The fundamental recurring “myth” that your emerging potentials “de-mythologize” is of a false self, broken off from a false other. In waking life, the false self is your waking identity which is experienced as separate from objects and other people. This is a perceptual myth. In dream life, the false self is your dream self, which is experienced as separate from dream objects and characters. Both “self” and “other,” whether in waking or dreaming experience, are false in that they are equally illusory externalizations of a false duality. However, both are real in that they deserve and require respect, acceptance, and their appropriate, timely expression. It is to the lasting credit of Dream Consciousness that it is in dreaming, more than in any other state, that this false dualism breaks down and you discover that your ego emperor has no clothes. The “other” (emerging potentials) is transparently self and self is transparently the other! This is an experientially based truth; it becomes clear as soon as we become the dream monster that scares us or the homosexual partner that threatens us in our love for it. This experientially-based truth is not a proposition to be accepted a priori, prior to experience. It is not based on reason or intuition but on testable, repeatable personal experience. Consequently, IDL is fundamentally an empirical rather than a rational or intuitively based method. And, while empiricism is traditionally associated with sense data, it applies to the method of study of any data that is given, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual in origin and nature, as we have seen above. It is also a fundamental reason why IDL is a transformational practice. By amplifying this basic feature of dream experience there is an undercutting of whatever dualisms that arise in your life.
The split between who you think you are and all that you believe yourself not to be is depicted in dream groups as unresolved life issues or internal conflicts. As these are resolved, dream groups address more and more subtle levels of dualism. However, dream groups do not have to depict unresolved life issues or internal conflicts. Every emerging potential in every dream and every life circumstance is not addressing a conflict. Some dream group members double, and thereby amplify or strengthen, your waking identity when it takes steps to incorporate disowned parts of itself. In IDL these are called synthesis dream groups. These emerging potentials undercut dualism because they reinforce those perspectives that integrate rather than differentiate in a disempowering way.
Of course, not all differentiations are disempowering. Perhaps you dream that you are sitting in a chair and it begins to rise into the sky. You discover that you can control it by leaning and by directing it with your mind. You may hypothesize that this dream is about rising above your daily concerns, learning to control your thoughts in meditation, or avoiding daily problems. Which is it? How are you going to know if you do not ask the various dream group members? When you talk to the chair and the sky, perhaps you discover that these dream group members are applauding your efforts to calm your thoughts when you meditate. Therefore, based on their testimony, this dream does not depict disempowering differentiations. It addresses a life issue (learning to witness the contents of your mind) that involves learning to accept a broader definition of who you are.
Can You Ever Know What You Really Need?
“Freud built his entire psychoanalytic system around…the insight that man has needs or motivations of which he is unconscious…Man doesn’t know what he wants; his real desires are unconscious and therefore never adequately satisfied.”
This viewpoint is an expression of Freud’s pessimism, a stance he readily confessed to holding. IDL does not share such pessimism because it does not believe that man’s real desires are predetermined to remain unconscious. Any unconscious desire can be made conscious, understood and addressed in therapeutic, regulative, and transformative ways. Consequently, it becomes realistic to expect that your deepest wants and desires can be adequately expressed. It is in their expression that these wants and desires are seen to either support or detract from the core qualities of spirit. Dream group members, by means of their expression of their preferences, tell you what they want and don’t want, or, we should say, what different parts of you want and don’t want at different times and in different situations. They go beyond this, however, to compare what you want with what you need. What you need is certainly more than sex and survival, which was Freud’s first formulation. It is certainly more than love and aggression, which was Freud’s intermediate position. It is more than life and death, Freud’s final hypothesis. What we need is that which is good, wise, and harmonious for our entire holarchy, with the understanding that this inevitably reaches out to encompass everyone and everything else, both intrasocially and macrosocially. In short, what we need is confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, equanimity, and witnessing – core qualities of spirit. When we have these, we do not even need a sense of self! Dream groups can take us beyond needing; they can and do take us beyond the separation between a self who needs and the other which is needed.
What Does Dream Group Integration Look Like?
There are at least three scenarios in which higher-level integration is found in dream groups. First, it may be that integration pre-exists in the dream. In this scenario, you recall a dream. When you work it up you see that the dream group members have produced a synthesis sociogram. Another way of saying this is that the creative template out of which the dream manifests happens to produce patterns of higher order integration, rather than balancing or conflictual patterns. Secondly, IDL can change conflictual patterns into highly integrative relationships simply through identification, listening, and internalization of the perspectives of other aspects of yourself during the interviewing process. Perhaps you dream of a giant black bat in a dream, as one student did. When it was asked what it would be, if it could become anything that it wanted, it chose to transform into an angel that scored 10s in the six core spiritual qualities. Third, waking identification with integrative dream group members brings integration, as witnessed by the resolution of related waking conflicts and the testimony of subsequently interviewed dream sangha members.
I dreamed of driving by and over buried Roman ruins with my daughter. When I became the ruins they recommended that I become them when I found myself procrastinating about preparing to present IDL to professional groups for continuing education units or The object in all cases is to integrate dissociated emerging potentials into an expanded and balanced sense of self.
• Think of an example from your dreams of each of the following quadrants: external individual (behavior), external collective (interaction), internal individual (intention), and internal collective (values).
• What do you think of the explanations of dream character creation presented here? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• How do the three paths, via positiva, via negativa, and injunctive show up in your life?
• Explanations of dream origination need to take into account the level, line, quadrant, state of consciousness, and dialectical stage of the client.
• Waking identity must share power with prepersonal and transpersonal emerging potentials if it is to stabilize in transpersonal consciousness.