(From Dream Yoga)
How Do We Know What We Know?
The Johari Window breaks knowledge down into four categories:
“Known to Self”
“Not Known to Self”
“Known to Others”
“Not Known to Others”
When you put these four together in a grid their intersections create four different types of knowledge:
Developed in 1955 by Luft and Ingham, the Johari Window has usually been used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships in self-help groups and corporate settings. What if we were to apply it to understanding how we know what we know in dreams?
The result is a three level epistemology:
What we know in our normal waking state. This is based on our personal experience with dreams and our knowledge of the experiences and views of others regarding dreaming.
What we know when we are dreaming. We take our waking knowledge and level of development into our dreams, but with several important limitations. We normally do not know that we are dreaming or that the things that we see are actually aspects of ourselves.
What other dream characters know. This may be known because they tell us in a dream or it is inferred from their actions. It may also be known because we interview them.
While one could do a Johari Window on each of these three levels of dream knowing, the last part of the third way of knowing is of particular concern to us here. That is because it is the only perspective that is not biased toward waking identity. Instead, it is biased toward the “knower” that is being interviewed at the moment, whether an elephant, a tree, or a baby’s high chair. The question that is asked is, “What is known/not known to me/others as this self-aspect?”
Doesn’t the Johari Window break down if the “other” is another part of ourselves? How can we talk about something that is known to ourselves yet unknown by other parts of ourselves? In Integral Deep Listening we often meet self aspects that do not share our assumptions, perspectives, and world views. Our life orientation is foreign to their way of being and in that regard, unknown to them.
The reason it is important to use a method that is not biased toward waking identity is because your waking identity will always validate its assumptions, hopes, and fears. Whatever world view, whatever understanding of dreams, whatever level of development waking self has, will be the context in which answers are discovered and understood. Consequently, dreamwork becomes an exercise in narcissistic self-validation. This is the trap most approaches to dreamwork fall into.
Of course, there is information that is not known to us that does not come from our dreams or from others in our environment. We access that information in Integral Deep Listening when we interview the personifications of feelings associated with life issues. The result is a growing understanding of how our life is a self-generated dream, illusion, and delusion which is conditioned by social, cultural, environmental, biological, and developmental contexts. This is not to say that there is no reality, only that our contexts determine what of it is knowable to us. Therefore, dream narratives are not only night time story narratives. They can be life narratives too.
What is called the dream narrative is the version of a dream known to your waking identity.
If that same narrative is reported by other interviewed dream characters then the content of the dream is “public.” You know what your inner self knows. This is as ideal as it is rare.
If parts of your dream narrative are not reported by other self-aspects then those parts have either been forgotten, ignored, de-emphasized, or repressed by those other aspects. This reflects your waking biases and prejudices that keep you stuck. The proper response is to recognize them and to consider why other self-aspects do not emphasize them.
If an aspect of the narrative is reported by dream characters that you did not report, then you have a “blind spot.” This reflects the biases, prejudices, and world views of other aspects of yourself. The proper response is to consider why other aspects of yourself see things differently.
Aspects of the dream that are not known to yourself or the characters in the dream. This reflects the possibility of real growth accessible through meta contexts that emerge only through combining what you and other self-aspects only partially know, as is done in the Dream Sociomatrix and Sociogram, by submitting combined findings to objective others. There are at least two categories of these. The first are entities external to the dream, whether people or “channeled” entities. The second is Dream Consciousness: the perspective that created the dream.
Here is a more detailed version of the Johari Window:
School of Health and Social Care Website, University of the West of England
When we interview our self-aspects we are asking questions of parts of ourselves that are unknown to us. Before our lack of motivation turns into a tiger, that aspect of ourself was unknown to us. It is an unknown area. As we interview it we engage in self-discovery. If we ask other self-aspects questions about the tiger, we rely on the observations of others. Together, this is shared discovery. As a result, what was previously blind, in that it was unknown to us, is seen. What was previously hidden, in that it was unknown by other aspects of ourselves, is exposed. Feedback from self-aspects increases those parts of ourselves that are known to us. Self-disclosure from self-aspects increases those parts of ourselves that are acceptable to us. Together, the result is that unknown parts of ourselves do not feel as threatening because our experience involves success at both feedback and self-disclosure in dealing with the unknown.
Traditionally, in organizational training exercises involving the Johari Window, lists of self- describing positive and/or negative adjectives are selected about him by both the participant and by his or her peers. Adjectives selected only by the participant are placed in the facade quadrant. The challenge for the participant is self-disclosure. Adjectives selected only by peers are placed in the blind quadrant. The challenge for the participant is to accept and integrate the assessments of others. Adjectives not selected by either the participant or their peers are placed in the unknown quadrant. The challenge for the participant is to assess the possible usefulness of these qualities for them. Adjectives selected by both the participant and their peers are public characteristics. The challenge for the participant is to grow beyond a comfortable and socially validated self-definition.
A similar, yet different approach is used with Integral Deep Listening. The list of adjectives is very short. There are only six, but since they are polar qualities, there are actually six positive and six negative adjectives:
Subjects are not normally asked to self-score themselves in these qualities, although they could. This is because the emphasis of IDL is on self-disclosure and feedback rather than on the current state of waking identity, which is already well known to oneself and presumably to most self-aspects. In addition, the self-scoring of waking identity is subjective and relative, and until the experience of these qualities by other self-aspects during the interview occurs, the answers have little meaning. For instance, someone might score themselves as a “10” in self-confidence, then meet a self-aspect that has considerable more (or more genuine) self-confidence than they do. The scale does not reflect that difference.
Because the nature of the interviewing process invites self-aspects to transform, they generally score higher than waking identity in most, if not all of these qualities, implying that there exist real internal potentials not previously recognized or owned by waking identity. These were first unknown, then recognized as previously blind or hidden before entering the public arena of consciousness. The education process is not merely one of increasing the quantity of a quality existing within youself. The meaning of the qualities themselves expands. For example, most people use love and compassion as synonyms. When they experience self-aspects that do not, they re-define both love and compassion for themselves. Many people think they know how to meditate or what a successful meditation is. When they personally experience self-aspects who score ten in inner peace and witnessing their understanding of meditation often broadens radically.
What is Truth in Integral Deep Listening?
In The Eye of Spirit describes three types of truth, sensory, interpretive, and spiritual. Each explores its own realm and makes its own truth claims that are subject to similar empirical processes for validation. In each case a truth statement is made and steps are provided to prove or disprove it. Those steps are replicated by peers in the knowledge. Successful replication by peers means validation. A truth claim for the senses would be, “Colds are caused by viruses.” One of the steps of the proof would involve looking at a saliva sample under a microscope. If a virus is consistently found in those with upper respiratory infections, that would constitute validation. A truth claim for the realm of the mind would be, “International finance is controlled by the Rothchilds.” The steps by which this conclusion is reached would be followed by other, independent peers, such as economists. They would have to come up with a similar interpretation to validate this truth claim. A truth claim for the realm of spirit would be, “If you follow the recommendations of self-aspects that score high in the six core qualities you will find that you score yourself higher in those qualities as well.” To test this truth claim those trained in the IDL protocol would apply the recommendations of their high scoring self-aspects in their life and see if their own subjective scoring in the six core qualities is higher or not. In this regard, Integral Deep Listening claims to be a valid, verifiable transpersonal methodology that both predicts and explains the world.
IDL is not a prepersonal approach to spirituality. Prepersonal truth claims boil down to belief. They make statements like, “Jesus was the Son of God.” “I believe Quetzalcoatl was the Messiah.” “I believe the money I deposit in my bank is safe.” “I believe if I live right I’ll go to heaven.” Beliefs are mythological stories we tell ourselves that are pre-rational and generally based on unquestioned authority, whether it be the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Personal truth claims transcend and include belief. They are belief plus reason. Here are three examples. “I believe everyone is entitled to certain freedoms because I want them and reason tells me that the freedoms I want will probably be desired by others as well.” “I believe the economy will eventually recover because it has every other time.” “I believe in the theories of evolution and global warming because scientists have amassed huge amounts of consistent evidence in support of both.” Unlike prepersonal beliefs, personal truths are based on skepticism. Only those beliefs are accepted that are rationally supported. Truth claims that aren’t rational do not rise to the level of personal truth claims, much less transpersonal truth claims. This is the way you can differentiate between prepersonal and transpersonal truth claims. If a belief system is anecdotal, like astrology and reiki, it does not rise to the level of rational truth. It is prepersonal truth because when it is subjected to predictive tests by peers there is no statistical validation. This does not mean that astrology or reiki cannot be very helpful, meaningful and transformative. It just means that, like most love, it does not rise to a level of rationality, much less transrational truth. Therefore, when people claim that their methodology is transpersonally spiritual, ask, “Will it pass rational tests of duplicatable results?” If it won’t or can’t, then it is prepersonal, regardless of the claims that are made for it.
Transpersonal truth claims are belief plus reason plus personal experience. This is tricky, because prepersonal and personal truth also involve personal experience. The difference is that these personal experiences include the first two types of truth and more. This is not something that prepersonal or personal truth claims do. Let us take lucid dreaming for an example. It certainly rises to the level of personal truth, in that Stephen LaBerge has demonstrated in the laboratory methods to prove that lucid dreaming is taking place and these methods have been duplicated by many others. This does not, however, mean that lucid dreaming is a transpersonal experience. To be so it must meet yet another truth claim that has to do with experiencing generally agreed upon characteristics of the sacred. Some of these are the non-dual, bliss, radical freedom, higher level witnessing, compassion, inner peace, wisdom, and acceptance. Most people who perform the experiment and lucid dream would agree that it provides an experience of radical freedom, at the very least. Therefore, lucid dreaming meets truth claims as a transpersonal experience. This is, however, less than meets the eye. It means that lucid dreaming is a bona fide transpersonal state; it does not mean that lucid dreamers are enlightened or spiritual beings. It does not imply that those who can lucid dream have evolved to a transpersonal level of development.
Valid transpersonal truth claims are verifiable and have repeatable instructions. For example, for meditation: “Observe your breath and imagine a fire in your breath and you will develop Tummo. (Tibetan bodily warming.)” IDL provides such instructions. Those instructions are transpersonal because they access states that are transrational and transpersonal but are based on a rational method. Truth claims that are belief plus personal experience are not transpersonal; they are prepersonal. An example would be Pauline Christianity, which is prepersonal faith based on a personal experience. Similarly, Shamanism is prepersonal belief plus personal experience of altered states. Shamanism is duplicatable but it is not rational; it does not make rational claims. Same with Filipino and Brazilian faith healers. If I believe everyone is entitled to certain freedoms because I want them and reason tells me that the freedoms I want will probably be desired by others as well and I empathize compassionately with both the presence and absence of those freedoms in others, then I am approaching a transpersonal experience of what is true. My empathy is not prepersonal sympathy or personal understanding. It begins to be higher order identification with the core beingness of others.
Three Approaches to Dream Truth
Dreaming falls into the category of “imaginative” symbolic elaboration for Wilber, which he contrasts with “linear” symbolic elaboration. Linear is one-dimensional, analytical, usually logical and found in books and most verbal communication. Imaginative is “a pictorial and multi-dimensional symbolic elaboration, and it lies at the heart of artistic expression, of myth, of poetry, of the imagination, of dreams. It is not logical–at least in the strict sense of the word “logic” — but it frequently carries a meaning, and can be usually surveyed in a glance, such as a painting or icon; in this sense it is quite unlike the first or linear type of elaboration.”
Wilber states that both types of elaboration can be used to point to Spirit. They do so in three ways. These ways address both how a dream is described and our criteria by which we determine its truth. If a dream group member such as Ice says it is dormant, unevolved, prepersonal consciousness, it is saying what it is like. It is naming characteristics of itself. We are learning what the Ice is, from its own perspective. This is called the analogical approach to elaboration, or the via affirmativa (the affirmative path) and the statement is a linear elaboration (a verbal description) about an imaginative elaboration (a dream image). We are being told something about the beingness of a thing; we are saying what a self-aspect is; we are making positive statements about the nature or reality of someone, something, spirit, or God. We use this approach whenever we make a positive statement about what a dream is: “A dream is a personal-individual production of the symbolic level of the Spectrum,” or “A dream is an attempt to organize meanings in ways that most closely correspond to the magical and mythic rungs of the Spectrum as manifested within individuals but as a reflection of external social meanings.” (The meaning, interior collective, Buddha face.), Or, “Dreams are visual products of randomly firing neurons in the pons region of the brain stem.” (The concrete, exterior individual, form Buddha face.) Or, “A dream is the collective creation of various subidentities sharing a common investment in some life issue or issues.” (The social, exterior collective, Buddha face.)
A second type of elaboration occurs if Ice says, “I am the absence of all color.” Ice is telling us what it is not, not what it is. It is very hard to grasp the absence of all color, which is the very idea of the via negativa. It forces us beyond linear elaboration without substituting another linear elaboration or some imaginative elaboration. What is left at first seems like a vacuum, but with closer observation is found to be a plenum full of both nothing and everything. When we say a dream is not a creation of a dreamer, or that a dream group member is not a symbol, we are using the via negativa. Basically it serves to force us out of comfortable identification with some Buddha face: “If a dream is not my creation, then maybe it isn’t a manifestation of my consciousness.” “I am now out of the knower consciousness face but unsure where to turn. Do I then look at the dream from outside my own consciousness? If so, how in the world am I supposed to do that?”
In response to these questions we often simply return to analogical thinking. While positive statements can help us to think a problem through, they also have a tendency to substitute one thought for another and with it one identification with duality for another, instead of taking us beyond our dualities to Spirit. For instance, we can talk about God as love, grace, or truth, but such statements are not the same as directly experiencing what these words stand for and point to. They keep us trapped in our mental signifiers. Another choice, which many find rather uncomfortable, is to stay in the via negativa, successively discarding whatever dream explanations and meanings come along as being other than That beyond explanations and meanings. This is what meditation is intended to do and it is what a thorough-going neti-neti (“not this, not this…) approach is intended to do. Yet another possibility is to embark upon the third type of elaboration, which is injunctive, in that it sets forth a set of instructions for conducting a life experiment designed to provide an experience of the answer one seeks. Dream Sociometry and the interviewing protocols of Integral Deep Listening is one set of such instructions in the realm of dream yoga. To the question, ‘What am I to make of this dream?’ it answers, ‘Listen to the dream characters by becoming them and following the protocols, either by yourself, or with others. Then apply the recommended life changes that make sense to you in your waking life and see what happens.” While the analogical tells us what Reality is like, the negative tells us what it is not. The injunctive tells us what we need to do to experience that reality.
All three of these approaches to describing a dream can be used in all four of the quadrants by all three of the eyes of knowing. We can and should use criteria of truth, intersubjective fit, and efficacy of application in the realms of flesh, mind, and spirit. We can apply those standards not only to our waking holon, but to our dreaming holon as well.
Myth, Truth, and the Analogical Approach
For Wilber, myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words. “To the extent that we form any positive mental conception of God, that conception must be a myth….But to the extent we insist on trying to form images about the Imageless, myth becomes an important tool, provided that we do not confuse the myth with the actuality.” Of course, confusing the myth with the actuality is what much of dreaming is about and what much of life is about, as maya, as lila, as samsara, as dukkha. Nature inherently forms images to express the Imageless, whether as the natural world or as a dreamscape. This is the essence of creation, and creation entails illusion when it represents the Non-Dual as duality.
We may conclude that creation is therefore bad or evil, in that it is inherently deceptive, as have many mainstream Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians. We may conclude that it is acceptable to be deceived and live in illusion, which, when taken to an extreme, is the position of the hedonists, on the one hand, and the masochists, on the other. When we occupy the middle ground we maintain an uneasy truce with illusion, freely admitting to ourselves that we are deluded and deceived, sleepwalking through life and for the most part comfortable with being deluded, yet all the while working on waking up and seeing through the illusion without thereby discounting it. If this sounds like a fool’s game, we could do worse than to maintain a certain compassionate disattachment while we joust with our windmills as fervently as we can.
Illusion is not optional. As maya, manifested reality is illusory. When we argue about which is more real, waking or dreaming, we are quibbling about degrees of illusion. We have yet to begin talking about waking up in whichever realm of consciousness we are currently experiencing. Whether we are enlightened or deluded by either a waking or dream experience is optional. This is a necessary consequence of being deluded into thinking that there is a self. An internal fiction produces external fictions — illusions.
Three Realms of Truth
Dreaming has typically been viewed as a realm of relative illusion, called parikalpita by the Yogacarins, an early form of northern Indian Mahayana Buddhism. This type of knowledge mistakes a rope for a serpent or sees a stick half out of the water and thinks that it is bent. It is relatively false. This type of truth is compared with paratantra, what we would call objective truth, which correctly calls a rope a rope and is not deceived by refraction of the image of the stick by the water. Both of these together form what Madhyamika called samvritti, or dualistic, sensory-mediated knowledge. Much dream research attempts to determine the objective laws of dreaming, or principles of paratantra truth, to bring it into the realm of scientific knowledge and the relatively true. “Western intellectual pursuits such as science and philosophy have wandered in the land of samvritti, of symbolic-map knowledge, and their primary aim has been to separate the relatively false knowledge of parikalpita (snake) from the relatively true knowledge of paratantra (rope). Reality for the West has been paratantra. But although scientific knowledge is relatively true, it is still a form of dualistic knowledge, of samvritti, and from the absolute point of view it is as illusory as any other form of dualistic knowledge.”
Dreaming blurs the dualism of self-non-self, objectivity/subjectivity that we commonly experience in our daily lives. While it is much easier to make the connection that the other in a dream is an aspect of ourselves than it is to do the same in waking life, it is still shocking for people to wake up to the realization that when they have a nightmare they are scaring themselves.
Four Approaches to Dreamwork
Following Wilber, people, cells, galaxies, tables, porpoises and indeed all things have at least four aspects: an inside and an outside, singular and collective aspects. The singular aspect involves how a thing relates to itself; the collective aspect involves how a thing relates to its environment. Inner combines with individual to form the interior individual quadrant of a holon. A holon is a whole “something” that is part of some larger “something.” The interior individual quadrant deals with consciousness, the private thoughts and feelings of an individual. Inner combines with collective to form the interior collective quadrant, which deals with culture, the meanings and values that we give our experience. Outer combines with individual to form the exterior individual quadrant, the behaviors of cells, organs, beings, and solar systems. Outer combines with collective to form the exterior collective quadrant, which deals with the interactions of groups or social structures.
Interior individual approaches to dreamwork are phenomenalistic and focus on the consciousness of the dream state itself. Is the dream prepersonal, personal, or transpersonal? How do we know? Gestalt, Dream Sociometry, and other methods that use identification with dream elements and dream consciousness are represented by this quadrant. Through identification with some aspect of consciousness personified by a dream tree or burglar we are supposed to get in touch with metaphorically depicted, analogous characteristics within ourselves. Approaches that look at the impact or application of dreaming on consciousness, conflict resolution, creativity, and other psychological variables fall into this category. In this respect, Jungian and Freudian approaches are at home in the interior individual quadrant.
In the knower quadrant (internal individual) we can talk about what we know about dreams, what we don’t know, and what steps we need to take to know more completely and fundamentally.
Interior collective approaches to dreamwork are interpretive and focus on the meaning of dreams, dream content, and the cultural context in which dreams occur. We look to our waking associations or those of supposed experts to tell us what the dream means. Dream dictionaries, and the interpretations of the Edgar Cayce readings, which approach dreaming as a language to be deciphered, are examples of this quadrant of the dreamwork holon. This approach focuses on the cultural context in which dream events occur. It may look at the external cultural correlates, such as archetypes or day residues, as they shape and are shaped by an interior experience. Approaches that look at the cultural implications of dreaming fall into this quadrant. Integral Deep Listening emphasizes interpretation not by external others but by internal others – the self-aspects which are interviewed. The cultural correlates are the values espoused by these self-aspects, as self-rated on a zero to ten scale on six core qualities.
In the judging quadrant (internal collective) we can talk about what meaning a dream has for us, what a dream says when we free it of all our projected meanings, and what steps we need to take to move first to a clearer meaning and eventually beyond meaning to Spirit.
Exterior individual approaches to dreamwork emphasize the physiological correlates of dreaming. We are interested in observable behaviors. How many dreams do I recall? Am I more likely to become lucid at night or during a daytime nap? What’s happening in my brain when I dream? Is dopamine increasing? When is acetylcholine jumping the synapses the most? What variations in EEG and REM are associated with what dream events? Is dreaming an ongoing state of brain activation that is drowned out by waking awareness? Hobson’s neurobiological approach is an example of individual exterior approach focusing on observable empirical behaviors. We can also do the same about dream character behaviors themselves. What is done in the dream? Who shoots who? How many times? When do we find ourselves searching for something? When do we find that we try to escape but can’t move? Although they are interior to the individual, these concrete events are objective dream occurrences that can be collected, tabulated, and correlated through such methods as content analysis. We can then draw conclusions about the psychological and social function of dreaming.
In the objective form face (external individual) we can stipulate what the elements of an individual dream are or discuss a specific type of dream, such as a dream of a pregnant woman. We can talk about what we see and what we experience. We can also talk about what we haven’t seen and haven’t experienced — what we find when we step outside of our identification with our waking identity or with some particular dream group member. The via negativa is as much the path of disidentification as the analogical is the path of identification, or becoming one with the other. We can also describe what we need to do to get the answers to these questions: we do content analysis or active imagination or role play or free association in a group. To describe these methods is analogical. It is the doing of the methods which is injunctive.
Exterior collective approaches to dreamwork emphasize the social system that is expressed in a dream. Who is in the dream group? Who is excluded? How do the characters interact? What do they do? How do they not interact? What sorts of relationships do the various dream group members have? What sort of technology is in evidence? What are the geographical locations? What are the rules of group interaction? What is the group structure? What is the group process? Why? This is an intrasocial approach to dreaming.
In the group face (external collective) we can talk about how dream group members interact, or the relationships among the dreams of a dream series, or within a particular type of repetitive dream, such as a nightmare. We can identify characteristics of certain groups of dream group members. This is the analogical approach as applied to the group quadrant of dreaming holons. In addition, we can explore what we find when we disidentify with one of these groups. When we accept and follow life-change instructions given by groups of dream group members we are manifesting the injunctive approach in the external collective or social quadrant of a dreaming holon.
Whichever option we choose of these four will determine what we make of a dream. It will also say something about where we are as an identity in the holarchy, as viewed from each quadrant.
It will be evident to most dream workers that they routinely come upon dream group members that appear to be comfortable on different levels of the spectrum. A rock appears to be bad because it falls on Dream Self (judgment), part of the Gaia system (group), molecular (objective form) and not yet prehensive (knowing) while a seal appears to be swimming (judgment), a member of a pinniped society with a division of labor (group), manifesting limbic neural capabilities (objective form), and capable of emotion (knowing). This for the moment ignores the issue of where the rock and the seal place themselves in the holarchy or where the group of their fellow dream group members as a whole place them, or where a group of dreamers might place them.
If you have a flying dream, an interior individual approach will explore what happens in your consciousness while you are flying. Are you thinking about how high you can get? Are you afraid of falling? An interior collective approach will focus on what flying in a dream means. Are you expressing a desire for freedom? Is it escapism? An exterior individual approach will look at waking behavioral correlates of flying, such as the great meditation you had last night, or maybe it was that drug trip or that great sex you had. An exterior collective approach will look at the functional fit of your flying with your social system. If you are flying alone, what does that say about your interpersonal experience in relationship to an experience of flying with others?
Seven Approaches to Dreaming
The experience of dreaming itself is a holon, in that there exist these four same distinct perspectives within the context of the dream itself. There is the consciousness of the dreamer, Dream Self, the interpretations and meanings he brings to the experience, his individual behaviors, and his interactions with others. Therefore, in addition to the human holon and the holon of waking experience (specific waking identities), there exists the holon of the experience of dreaming itself. Within that holon there exists the individual holons of different self-aspects that appear in the dream. These are generally not disclosed in any depth until a self-aspect is interviewed, with the exception of the holon of Dream Self. In addition to these, there is the set that includes all of the above as subsets. Here are the seven holons:
The Holon of Waking Identity: your holon at a specific moment or as an average
The Human Holon: humanity in general The Life Dream Holon: the holon that includes all of the following holons as subholons.
The Holon of Dream Self: the four quadrants of your dream perspective
The Dream Holon: dreaming in general
Self-Aspect Holons: inaccessible unless interviewed
The Waking Holon: the set that contains all possible perspectives accessible from waking
The Life Dream Holon: includes all the prior holons as subholons.
Understanding the differences among these holons deepens our appreciation of the relative insignificance of our habitual sense of self, when considered in the context of an extraordinary multitude of alternative legitimate perspectives.
The Holon of Waking Identity
How can I attain salvation? This is the central question of spiritual development, whether Christian or Buddhist, Jewish or Islamic, Chinese or Hindu. This salvation may be from sin, dukkha or suffering, from chaos or from avidya or ignorance. It may be delivered by sons of God, Buddhas, Bodhisatvas, God, priests, avatars, or the White Brotherhood. We may even have to deliver it to ourselves. In any case, salvation is, at its core, rescuing, causing enlightenment to occur within the context of the drama triangle. What this means is that man’s search for enlightenment has been doomed to failure. Rescuing by salvation requires a victim and victims require persecutors. Not only has man’s quest for enlightenment been hopelessly entangled in the drama triangle, it has also been about the glorification of one small aspect of consciousness at the expense of all others. The self-sense that seeks enlightenment is waking identity. It does not include many other significant self-aspects, ignored and neglected as insignificant by our self-sense. It does not include Dream Consciousness. It does not include the waking holon or the life dream holon. It rarely takes into consideration the holon of humanity. Consequently, it is a very narrow enterprise. Because enlightenment of one part of self at the expense of others is no enlightenment at all, it is doomed to failure. It is therefore in our own best interest to understand and respect the interests of other holons that make up our larger identity if we are to ever hope to wake up.
Waking identity generally thinks that it is being all inclusive when it vows to love everyone or to not seek enlightenment until all sentient beings are enlightened. There are, however, contents of consciousness which are neither beings nor sentient, at least not in our usual understanding of these words. If you are driving in a car in a dream you are not accustomed to thinking about the road you are on as either sentient or a being. It is there for its instrumental value, a mere prop to give the dream realism. However, this is merely the assumption of Dream Self – your waking identity as it manifests in your dreams, as well as that of your waking identity, after you awaken. If you take the time to suspend such assumptions and become the road, you will discover something different: that it is both sentient, in that it has thoughts and feelings, and that it is a “being,” in that it expresses preferences that are in some ways significantly autonomous from your own. Therefore, it is a device of habitual self-absorption and grandiosity to insist that the road is a part of yourself because you dreamed it. It is definitely not a part of who you normally think you are, and to say that it is a part of who you “really” are is disingenuous, as practically speaking, that means nothing at all. We might as well claim that the crazed yet princely Sea Worms of the planet Mongo are part of who we really are. Dream Self, then, is normally as oblivious as waking identity of the majority of its larger identity. As a result, it routinely misperceives the intentions of other self-aspects and therefore draws completely incorrect conclusions about not only dreams but about life.
The holon of Waking Identity is your holon at specific moments and as an average. It is the holon that is normally accessed when you do life, create an Integral Life Practice, psychograph,
or think about who you are in terms of each of the four quadrants. What is your consciousness right now? What are your thoughts and feelings? What is important to you right now? What are you doing? How are you interacting with the world? Your answers to these questions create your sense of who you are right now; your typical answers over time create an average profile of your waking identity, including your average level of development, your average level of development in the self, cognitive, ethical, relationship, empathetic, and other developmental lines. This is the holon that most efforts at enlightenment attempt to liberate. This is the holon people try to wake up. This is the holon that seeks to be free of suffering, generally without consideration of most of the other holons discussed below. It is the focus of concern for the vast majority of spiritual traditions of the history of mankind.
The Human Holon
The Human Holon is different from the Holon of Waking Identity, in that the first is general and common to all humanity while the latter is specific to each individual. Just as individuals have an average level of development in each of the four quadrants, so our species has an average level of development in each of these areas. The human holon tends to pull children and individuals up to its level by creating the cultural norms and social structures that support, direct, and reward “appropriate” behavior while denying, ignoring, and punishing “inappropriate” behavior. The human holon also hinders the evolution of individuals past its level. It provides the context which limits awakening and enlightenment by denying higher levels through assuming the pre-trans fallacy,
that because society is “normal” and everything that deviates from normalcy must be “abnormal” and therefore primitive and prepersonal. So society inherently and inevitably supports reductionism, at least until it learns about the pre-trans fallacy and takes steps to guard against it. The result is a mostly silent repression of the evolution of the human holon by cultural norms. The caste system in India, the doctrinal structure of Christianity, the power of shame within Chinese society, and the power of lobbyists in contemporary American governance are obvious examples. This pattern is a species manifestation of the psychological tendency by individuals, at least up to mid-personal levels of development, to do the same: to react to, repress, and deny what they do not understand or regard as different. The Human Holon dreams cultural dreams and nightmares, such as famine, war, and terrorism.
The Holon of Dream Self
The preferences of Dream Self generally mirror those of waking identity; it is the surrogate for your waking identity within the changed experiential, perceptual, and value structures of the Dream Holon. The Holon of Dream Self is essentially that of waking identity, in that Dream Self assumes it is waking identity, even when lucid, and therefore carries into the dream state the assumptions, perspectives, level of consciousness, misconceptions, delusions, and misperceptions, emotions, and reactivity of the current waking level of development. As Dream Self becomes increasingly lucid, the distinction between Dream Self and waking identity disappears. If you were lucid all the time, the question would be how lucid your waking identity is in the dream, as there is a continuum within lucidity. The implications of this are significant, and they are very rarely considered. It is the psychological equivalent of Jared Diamond’s demonstration of the historical propensity for humanity to exploit all environmental resources until its entire social structure collapses.
The holon of Dream Self also refers to the four quadrants of your dream perspective. What is your level of consciousness while you are dreaming? Do you think you are awake or do you think that you are dreaming? Are your dream thoughts and feelings reflective of prepersonal, personal, or transpersonal levels of consciousness? Are your values and interpretations of your dream experiences premodern, modern, or postmodern? Are your behaviors concrete or abstract? Are your interactions expressions of the drama triangle or the Socratic triad?
What is your typical level of empathy in your dreams?
The four quadrants that express who you are in your dreams generally reflect the quadrant preferences of your waking identity. That is to say, the thoughts, feelings, judgments, behaviors, and interactions of Dream Self are largely similar to those you would take in your waking life if experiencing similar circumstances. What both challenges and disturbs Dream Self are those circumstances that arise in dreams that are unlike anything that is experienced in waking life. It never swallows hairbrushes, flies, changes gender, or interacts with dragons.
What differentiates Dream Self from waking identity is Dream Self’s natural tendency to suspend common assumptions that waking identity does not, within a context of waking impossibilities. For example, Dream Self might not question when a dog has wings, while waking self most certainly will. This is probably most parsimoniously explained as the resurrection of two-year old thought processes. While Waking Identity tends to regress in its role of Dream Self, neither are the same as the Dream Holon itself, and it is important to remember this distinction, as we shall see.
If we are to use the term “self-sense,” which Wilber uses to refer to the line of development that most centrally involves identity, then there are significant differences between waking self-sense, which remains relatively stable in lucid dreaming and lucid deep sleep, and dreaming self-sense. There are other aspects of our self-sense that can be so autonomous as to bring into question any stable or reliable definition of self-sense without consideration of multiple selves with multiple definitions of self-sense that they themselves hold.
The Dream Holon
Although the holon of dreaming appears to be a subset of the Human Holon, it is fundamentally different from it. While death, embodied existence, and the reality of objective sensory facts are fundamental limiting factors of the Human Holon, they are not for the dreaming holon, since it cannot die, has no physical body, and is not as likely to be limited by relatively unchangeable external realities, like printed words on a page, walls, and gravity. The Dream Holon refers to the four quadrants of dreaming in general. It includes the perspectives of Dream Self, all dream characters, and Dream Consciousness as an interviewed self-aspect, but not as the context of all self-aspects. The Dream Sociogram
depicts a sampling of a Dream Holon. Through its evaluation one can access considerable information about the consciousness, judgments, behaviors, and interactional dynamics of a particular Dream Holon and about Dream Holons in general. The exploration of intrasocial reality is most centrally a study of the nature of the Dream Holon. Every individual has a typical or average level of expression in each of the four Dream Holon quadrants, and the implication is that humanity has a typical or average level of Dream Holon expression as well.
Four Approaches to Dream Holons
Interior individual approaches to dream holons focus on the consciousness of individual dream group members. This includes how lucid Dream Self is in a dream. It also includes the level of consciousness of all other dream group members. What level is this or that dream character functioning at? How do you know? Is the judgment that of your waking identity? Your Dream Self? Is it based on the testimony of the dream character itself? Is that testimony verbal or behavioral or both? Is it given during the dream or afterward, in an interview? If it comes in a dream, is it during a dream interview or not? What is the level of functioning? How healthy is the level? A healthy early prepersonal stage is supportive of healing, balance, and transformation in a way that an unhealthy transpersonal level is not.
Interior collective approaches to Dream Holons focus on the cultural context in which dream events occur. What are the values of the dream group? Do they reflect drama or inner peace? Do they emphasize fear or trust? Chaos or balance? Self or others? The dream group culture may support fear, fighting, or lovemaking. How does the intrasocial culture shape waking experience? Integral Deep Listening evaluates interior collective aspects of Dream Holons by assessing the statements of interviewed dream group members in relationship to the orientation of waking identity, experiential shifts when becoming this or that character, and the results when recommendations of the dream group member are followed.
Exterior individual approaches to Dream Holons emphasize the behaviors of dream groups as dream groups, not as human holons or from the perspective of waking holons. Here we might study the differences in dream reality and waking reality and why “objective” dream reality is so malleable. Why do numbers on a watch change? Why do words on a page change? The behaviors of Dream Holons as a whole cannot be adequately assessed unless a sampling of its Self-Aspect Holons are interviewed.
Exterior collective approaches to dream holons emphasize the group dynamics of dream characters as members of dream groups and how those are similar to or differ from waking groups. For example, dream groups generally lack temporal stability; they change or dissolve over time in ways that waking groups do not. These are observed in the interactional patterns in the Dream Sociogram.
The holon of each individual self-aspect. While Self-Aspect Holons exist in both waking and dreaming experience, this distinction basically evaporates when most Self-Aspect Holons are interviewed. There is no survival value, no adaptational advantage for self-aspects to differentiate between dream and waking states of experience. Therefore, we must conclude that while these distinctions are vital for waking identity, they are basically meaningless for the majority of who we really are.
Self-Aspect Holons are inaccessible unless interviewed. This means that any statement that you make about any self-aspect prior to interviewing it is a projection by your waking identity. Your statement has nothing to do with the identity of the self-aspect itself. The common and habitual insistance of humans to confound the two is a convenient and comfortable delusion designed to reinforce the Atman project,
or our sense of self in the face of death.
It is impressive how almost everyone is sure that they know themselves and know what they think, what they feel, who they are, when they never ever, not even once, interviewed one other self-aspect to see if this most common of all assumptions was true or not. It is obviously better to sleep and die in glorious self-delusion than to risk the possibility that we may not, after all, know who we are. Interviewing self-aspects is not optional if we are to grow into and maintain stable development in the transpersonal. While meditation is unsurpassed for the development of the self-line and cultivation of the ability to witness, it does not imply or require equivalent development in other major developmental lines, such as cognition, interpersonal communication skills, or ethics. The development of such lines is absolutely required if stable maintenance of any transpersonal developmental level is to be attained. Self-aspect interviewing goes a long way toward making up for deficiencies in other important lines, such as ethical sense and empathy. Phenomenological identification with self-aspects indicates significant empathy, which deepens as the depth of identification increases.
People can draw any number of conclusions about who you are and why you do what you do by observing your behavior. However, if they want to know what you think and feel about such things they will have to ask you. Furthermore, if they think they are psychic and can read your mind, all they have to do is predict what you will say about why you feel and think what you do. This tests the assumptions of waking identity. It serves to establish the reality and the authenticity of Self-Aspect Dream Holons. Dream self-aspect interior individual holon quadrants focus on the consciousness of individual dream group members. What is the dream garbage can thinking? How does it feel? Does it like itself or not? Do its remarks reflect a prepersonal, personal, or transpersonal level of development? Is it healthy or not in its particular level of development? The only way such questions can be answered with any certainty is to ask the garbage can. Anything less is projection. Neither dream dictionaries, psychics, nor your waking identity can accurately predict the responses of other self-aspects to such questions. The same holds true for the other self-aspect quadrants.
The interior collective quadrant of self-aspects address what meanings and values hold true for them. While dream group member preferences collected in the Dream Sociogram reflect interior individual awareness, their elaborations, which are explanations of those preferences, are largely interior collective interpretations. I may report a dream with a deep, dark, and dangerous hole in my back yard. The hole itself may report that it is full of precious gemstones and serves as an entrance to a world of unrecognized potentials. Is the hole a self-aspect or not? In the sense that I accept it as a portion of who I am, it is. When I identify with it, I incorporate it, at least for the moment, into my self-sense. Previously those potentials were unrecognized or unacknowledged by my waking self. Perhaps my waking self simply did not see them as priorities. In what sense, then, can they previously legitimately be called part of my sense of self? In what sense are they part of my waking identity?
The exterior individual quadrant of self-aspects involve their descriptions of their behavior, which often differs in important respects from Dream Self descriptions. For example, in a dream I once saw a fish dying in the desert, picked it up, and put it in the water. The fish, when interviewed later, said it wasn’t dying. It said it was a lungfish and was doing just fine out of the water. This difference involves more than a wrong interpretation of a behavior; it involves not seeing a behavior. In such an instance, which is usually the case, Dream Self does not share the perspective of another self-aspect. When it wakes up to that new perspective the result can be transformational. Another example would be to see a plane flying upside down in a dream but to learn from the airplane itself that it was right side up. Which report is correct? Which is incorrect? All we can say is that one perspective is partial and that more perspectives, particularly including those of the self-aspect under consideration, are extremely important, because they may completely change our awareness of what is happening.
The exterior collective quadrant of dream self-aspects provide their descriptions of their interactions with other self-aspects. A common dream report is that a monster is chasing the dreamer. However, the monster itself may not report that it is chasing the dreamer at all. It may be running to catch a train, be in a race, or running from something itself. It may not be acting in a threatening way toward the dreamer; it may instead be trying to give the dreamer a message, a hug, or ask a question. It is impossible to accurately describe the dynamics of intrasocial relationships unless those involved in the interactions are interviewed. Just as the statements of European explorers and pioneers about their relationships with Amerindian peoples served to justify their own biases, so the statements of Dream Self and later of waking identity about their relationships with other self-aspects serve to confirm and validate their own biases.
The Waking Holon
In Integral Deep Listening we also deal with self-aspect holons that are not dream characters. These self-aspects are generally components of the Waking Holon, which transcends and includes the human holon. The Waking Holon is the set that contains all possible perspectives accessible from waking consciousness. This includes the ability to “become” others and any object of the imagination while in the waking state. It includes interviewing any non-dream self-aspect. Examples are Integral Deep Listening interviewing protocols of life issues, interviewing people and events, and physical symptoms. Therefore, the Waking Holon transcends and includes the Holon of Waking Identity, which is our self-sense in relationship to the “other.” The Waking Holon is distinct from the Life Dream Holon because it involves identification with discrete other perspectives rather than the context which transcends and includes all possible perspectives.
The Human Holon includes those experiences that are common to all humans that are nevertheless human-centric. That means that they are experiences that reflect human understandings and experiences of consciousness, culture, behavior, and society. But what of non-human perspectives? What of the perspective of the sky? It is not part of the Human Holon, although it is experienced by humans and is very much part of the experience of almost every human. When we experience reality from the perspective of the sky we are not approaching life from a human-centric perspective. We are approaching life from the perspective of a non-human self-aspect. Does not the fact that it is a self-aspect mean that the sky is, in final analysis, an aspect of the Human Holon? While human and personal perception of the sky makes our experience of it interdependent, it is also reasonable to assume that the Human Holon is merely one of many valid perspectives, and that the real definition of who we are transcends human perspectives. In order to grow into a self-definition that transcends, yet includes humanity, we must become non-human perspectives. When we do so we see that life is a waking dream and that identity is polyvalent. This is not simply a personal awareness, but rather a transpersonal, phenomenological, experience.
Another more problematic, yet vitally important, example of self-aspects that are part of the Waking Holon, are those generated out of life issues, feelings, and colors. While these are human in terms of origin, they are not when considered from their own perspective, which is what a phenomenological approach provides. Think of a time when you have been sad because you mourned the loss of someone you love. If you give that feeling of loss, which is a very human feeling, a color, and then allow that color to congeal into a shape, you will have created something that is experienced as having objective but not physical reality. It may be a sphere, an apple, a spaceship, or a blue hippopotamus. Whatever it is, you created it and it is a part of your greater identity. We know that it is not a part of your Waking Holon, because you cannot accurately predict what it will say. Is it a part of the Human Holon? While the blue hippopotamus was created by human consciousness and is therefore part of the upper left, or interior individual quadrant of humans, that is not its own perspective. When you interview the blue hippopotamus it will often, but not always, challenge you to expand your sense of self to become something that is trans-human. It will freely say that it personifies a part of you, but its perspective will most likely prove to be autonomous in significant ways. It is part of our waking dream, in that it is part of our waking experience, but that experience is no longer, at the moment of identification, human-centric and much less self-centric. It challenges us to expand our definition of self beyond our inherited, cultural, and personal definitions of what it means to be human. This sixth, waking dream, approach to dreaming is an important part of what makes Integral Deep Listening both more than traditional dreamwork and a genuine transpersonal practice.
The Life Dream Holon
Once we grasp this principle, we understand that many dream characters are trans-human, in that they reflect perspectives that transcend and include not only personal, but human-centric perspectives. We discover that the Dream Holon is, with the Waking Dream Holon, a subset of the Life Dream Holon, or two facets of one dream. The Life Dream Holon precipitates all possible perspectives. It is equivalent to what is referred to in Dream Sociometry as Dream Consciousness.
It is itself formless, containing no perspectives whatsoever. In this regard it is either a causal or non-dual state depending on the degree of conscious integration of all previously mentioned holons.
The Life Dream Holon is the holon that includes all prior holons as subholons. It is also the holon of Dream Consciousness as context, in that it is prior to all possible dream and waking forms, manifestations, thoughts, feelings, awarenesses, and skandhas, with the exception of consciousness itself, which it approximates. As such, the Life Dream holon is pure beingness without identity, pure consciousness as the context or set which contains all data points as subsets. Formless, yet beingness, it is in this regard equivalent to a high subtle transpersonal perspective.
Truth Criteria for Each Quadrant of a Dream Holon
How do I know if I am truthfully reporting dream experiences to myself? The answer is that you cannot, but, like the Blind Men and the Elephant, the more perspectives that you consider the closer you are to a full, and therefore more accurate, picture. Each quadrant perspective has its own truth criteria and each different holon will also provide a radically different perspective. The interior individual perspective for the Holon of Waking Identity will ask, “What am I really feeling when I am lucid dreaming? Am I anxious? Happy?” “What am I really doing when I am lucid in a dream?” “If I were avoiding anything, what would it be?” Emphasis will be on truthfulness, sincerity, and honesty. How well do I know myself?
The same holds true if another dream group member makes a truth claim. Let us suppose that in a dream a pug named Max claims he is lucid. This is a truth claim by one particular Self-Aspect Holon within the Dream Holon. I can choose to accept it or reject it or I can consult with others, whether in person or from books or psychic readings or dream dictionaries. If I do so, I am accessing the interior collective interpretations of the Human Holon. Perhaps as a result I change my opinion of Max’s truth claim. If I do, the interior collective quadrant of my Waking Identity Holon has been expanded, because now I accept an interpretation of experience that I did not accept before. I now can imagine that other aspects of myself besides myself in the dream (Dream Self) can be lucid. If as a result I also change my experience of who I am then I have additionally changed my interior individual quadrant. While a change in one quadrant strongly implies some degree of change in the other three, those other changes are often not significant enough to be noticeable. For example, when children learn to walk, an exterior individual competency, they rarely notice the extraordinary changes that are happening in the other three quadrants. We are exposed to the opinions of others constantly. While most of the time they do not change our own; on some occasions we do change our opinions. However, even then, it is rare for our internal individual experience of ourselves to expand noticeably. Such a change to my interior individual quadrant is more likely if I identify with Max himself and ask him the same questions I asked myself above. I am thereby entering the interior individual quadrant of one aspect of my Self-Aspect Holon. Max’s consciousness becomes my consciousness to the extent that I allow myself to get into role. I have now expanded my interior individual quadrant of my Waking Holon, regardless of whether his truth claim is accepted by me or not. His responses to my questions are interpretations of his interior collective quadrant. I now have the benefit of his perspective, values, and judgments, whether or not I agree with them. Who I am is expanded because I have accepted as legitimate another perspective through becoming it, whether or not I agree with it.
Why seek validation for a truth claim within ourselves? First, this problem normally does not arise, because we are deliberating about external realities such as the opinions of others or whether a certain sort of medical treatment is right for us. But there are occasions when either we are confronted with conflicting interior truth claims, as we are by Max’s, or we are facing a hard decision and aren’t satisfied with the information we have. Should we take the job or not? Should we marry her or not? Should we follow the medical advice or not? In such cases it would be good if we had a clear internal sense of direction. Consulting with other self-aspects can often provide increased clarity and acceptance of the path we choose. This is because we reduce inner conflict, which means reducing both anxiety and confusion about our choice. It may still be a bad choice, but we can be much more at peace with it.
Another reason to seek validation for a truth claim within ourselves has to do with authenticity. If I am lying to myself, I am most certainly lying to you. If I lie to you, sooner or later you will reject me or abandon me. When people get married they promise before family, community, and God that they are going to be loving and kind to each other. Of course, they mean it. Yet within five years fifty percent of those people in the U.S. are divorced. What happened? Either they were lying or, much more likely, they didn’t know their own minds. In a sense, they were deceiving themselves. They were lying to themselves, for any number of reasons. Because they were lying to themselves, they made promises they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep to others. This undermines their credibility and authenticity. If this couple were instead to check out their decision with various members of their individual Self-Aspect Holon and share the results with their future partner, two more favorable outcomes become more likely. First, they are more likely to trust in their own decision and in the decision of the other. Second, because of the depth of authenticity of the commitment, if there is divorce at some point, it is less likely to be viewed as personal betrayal, lying, and selfishness.
While character identification amplifies the interior individual quadrant, character elaborations focus on the meanings and interpretations provided by other aspects of self. This is an interior collective perspective seeking cultural fit. The interior collective perspective asks, “Is lucid dreaming good? Is it right? Is it loving?” “What sort of congruence does lucidity have with the values of other dream group members?” “How does lucidity impact the group culture?” The interior collective seeks truth through understanding how individual dream group members fit together in acts of mutual understanding. Dream group members inhabit not only the same “objective” and empirical dream territory, but also share the same intersubjective space of mutual recognition. How many of your dream group members mutually recognize one another? How would you know if they did? If they didn’t, what would it mean? If you wanted to change things so that they did share in mutual recognition, what would you do? Dream group members, to meet the truth criteria of intersubjective fit, have to coexist in the same ethical, moral, and cultural space. They have to find ways to recognize and respect the rights of each other and of the intrasocial community, and these rights cannot be found in objective matter, nor are they simply a matter of the dreamer’s own individual sincerity, nor are they a matter of functionally fitting together empirical events. They are rather a matter of fitting the minds and hearts of the various aspects of ourselves together in an intersubjective space that allows each to recognize and respect the other without necessarily agreeing with one another. To do otherwise is to be at war with ourselves.
Such intrasocial communication builds intimacy and authenticity with transpersonal self-aspects. The result is a meaningful, ongoing I-Thou relationship that deepens and broadens over time. Through interaction with many faces of divinity you constantly expand your sense of sacred relationship. Your daily life is spiritualized because you have changed previously profane and mundane relationships, like those with a dream lampost or jar into sacred and transformative ones. The motivation for cultivating this perspective is, “If I am in conflict with other aspects of myself, I will, sooner or later, probably find myself in conflict with you. Similarly, if I am at peace, out of the drama triangle, and experiencing the Socratic triad with other aspects of myself, then I am much more likely to do so with you.”
I can also check out the truth claim of Max the pug with my Waking Holon by interviewing the personification of my disbelief. I can also interview Dream Consciousness to check out Max’s truth claim with the Life Dream Holon. I can ask other self-aspects what they think of Max’s claim. The more congruence I find among all of these different holons the more I will experience a sense of inner certainty. If I find a congruence among Self-Aspect, Waking, Dream, and Life Dream Holons but disagreement with Dream Self, waking identity, and Humanity holons, guess which needs to give? Shakespeare said, “First to thine own self be true.” Integral Deep Listening is an empirically-based epistemology. It provides a direct, open response to fear-based attitudes, cultural norms, and rigid social structures because it grounds individuals primarily in their intrasocial holons rather than in their families, nations, affiliations, or religious traditions.
While the phenomenology of dreaming relies on subjective data guided by the yardstick of truthfulness, dreaming physiology relies on objective data guided by the yardstick of propositional truth. The exterior individual asks, “What is the mechanism by which flying occurs in this dream?” “What are the physiological correlates of flying?” “What is the flyer doing and how is he doing it?” It seeks “objective” truth. It looks for correspondence with “reality.” Truth is propositional and representational. It will look at REM and EEG waves, stage of the General Adaptation Syndrome physiological reaction to dream stress and symbolic correspondences to waking behaviors and symptoms. The motivation for this perspective is, “If I can’t establish a correspondence between my interior and exterior lives, how can I possibly get my needs met in the world?”
There is no reason why such questions cannot be asked of members of your own Self-Aspect Holon. Why not ask the air and the ground? You may never arrive at one right answer, but you will arrive at any number of legitimate and authentic perspectives that present creative and novel approaches to answering your concrete questions about the real world. Many dream group members have their own definition of reality and evaluate the objective reality of the actions of its fellows by the criteria of correspondence and representation.
A perspective based on the exterior collective quadrant of the Waking Identity Holon asks, “How does Max interact with other characters in this dream?” “How do the other dream characters view Max’s claim to be lucid in the dream?” “How does Max’s claim affect the other group members?” “What is the functional fit of Max’s truth claim within the intrasocial community?” The exterior collective quadrant of the Waking Identity Holon approaches the community of dream group members from an exterior and objective stance, and attempts to explain the status of the individual dream group members in terms of their functional fit with the objective whole. This approach attempts to situate every element in an objective network that in many ways determines the function of each dream group member. The truth is found in the objective intermeshing of individual parts, so that the objective, empirical whole — the “total intrasocial system” — is the primary reality. It is the objective behavior of the overall intrasocial action system, considered from an empirical stance, that forms the yardstick by which truths in this domain are judged. The motivation for this perspective is, “If my relationships with other aspects of myself aren’t healthy, then sooner or later my relationships with others will hurt me.”
Objectivist and Subjectivist Approaches to Dreaming
Dreamwork is, at least on the surface, a thoroughly subjectivist approach to describing experience. It emphasizes such things as consciousness, awareness, psyche, ideas, idealism, inside, interior, mind, the subjective, idealism, introspection, qualities, hermeneutics. In contrast, objectivist approaches and explanations to describing experience emphasize such things as material, the biophysical, brain, nature, outside, exterior, brain, objective, materialism, positivism, quantities, and empiricism. Dreamwork starts with the immediacy of consciousness itself. Direct, personal experience is the source of data, and “the only genuinely direct experience each of us has is his or her own immediate and interior experience. The primordial data…is that of consciousness, of intentionality, of immediate lived awareness, and everything else, from the existence of electrons to the existence of neuronal pathways, are deductions away from immediate lived awareness. These secondary deductions may be very true and very important, but they are, and will always remain, secondary and derivative to the primary fact of immediate experience.”
Is dream experience about given objects of awareness (brain events), out of which we construct consciousness, or is dream experience about consciousness, out of which we construct meanings? Because most approaches to dreamwork anchor their theories to immediate data they take as their starting point immediately apprehended interior states and direct experiential realities. As a consequence, they are not so much interested in behavior as in the meaning and interpretation of those things and events that are perceived as psychological symbols. Dream data are symbols that must be interpreted. The question becomes, “What is the meaning of dreams?” The objectivist, on the other hand, asks, “What do dreams do?” “How do they work?” “What is their biophysical function?” “As brain phenomena, how are they created?” What is their function within a society and their adaptive function for a mammal?” The objectivist wants to explain dreams as empirical behaviors; the subjectivist usually wants to understand symbolic experience. To side with one group or the other is cut off half of ourselves, to severely limit our means of knowing what dream experience is.
Models of Perceiving a Dream
1) Dream interpretation (Waking Holon Analysis): Dreamer Holon knower looks at the Dream Holon objective form and projects meanings onto it with the assistance of Human Holon dreaming community (social) validity claims.
2) Phenomenalistic role play: Waking Identity Holon knower merges with one or more dream group member knower (Self-Aspect Holon) and experiences the group in relationship and in concrete form. It then reports meanings as commentary elaborations to the Waking Identity Holon, which projects further meanings onto it with the assistance of both intrasocial (self-aspect holon) and social (human holon) dreaming communities and their respective validity claims.
3) Dreaming: Dreamer Holon knower (Dream Self) experiences the Dream Holon as objective form, confusing it with waking experience, and projects meanings onto it.
Lucid Dreaming: Waking Identity Holon experiences the Dream Holon objective form, knowing it as a Dream Holon, and projects meanings onto it. The Waking Holon colonizes the Dream Holon with its interpretations.
Why Don’t We Understand Our Dreams?
If each developmental holon incorporates, embraces, and includes previously traversed holons, why are dreams such an enigma to most of us? If they do indeed represent earlier and more primitive ways of perceiving our experience, shouldn’t we have an intuitive grasp of their meaning? The fact that we do not intuitively grasp most dreams implies that we are either 1) amnestic, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Plato suggest, or 2) chronically repressing, as Freud and Cayce suggest, or 3) dreams do not represent an earlier way of conscious cognition, or 4) we are applying incorrect truth criteria to our dream experience.
Certainly there is some truth to all of these explanations. We have forgotten and no longer identify with many aspects of our former selves. We are estranged from our prepersonal selves, although they remain powerful components of our physical, emotional, and mental natures. Parts of us get left behind along the way through neglect or internal conflict leading to fixation. Most of us are afraid of our dreams: we fear that they will prove to us that we are basically irrational, ignorant, or out of control of our own selves, and fear often leads to repression. Dream cognition is not waking cognition. It probably never has been. In other words, Dreaming is built into mammalian hard-wiring. Dreams are, in and of themselves, a prepersonal, destructuralized, and primal form of cognition that is innate. They did not make more sense to Neanderthals just because there was less difference between their dream and waking mentation. There were as many differences then as there are now.
We do not understand our dreams because our perspective, which does the interpretation, both during the dream as Dream Self, and after awakening as Waking Identity, represents a minority viewpoint, when considered from the perspective of the consciousnesses (the Self-Aspect Holons , Dream Holon, and Life Dream Holon) that created the dream. The part is trying to grok the whole; a subset is trying to comprehend the set which contains it. Because Waking Identity only represents one component, one subset, it cannot, by definition. Its audacity is that it thinks it is one with the whole and therefore understands its contents. This is clearly not the case, because if it did it would be free from suffering and it would be able to predict the workings of all subsets, including the motives of dream characters and the outcome of interviews with the personifications of life issues. This it cannot do.
Dream Sociometry and Each Quadrant
The experience of dreaming itself is interior, individual, and personal. It is with few exceptions a matter of personal consciousness, manifesting personal thoughts, and feelings within a group of self-aspects perceived as the “other.” The content of the dream, however, is relatively exterior to dream group member thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are implied by overt experienced dream events. For instance, we search for our lost keys in a dream. We assume that the keys are inert metal objects. However, when and if we identify with the keys, which is an interior individual experience, we may find that the keys have thoughts and feelings. They may say something like, “We’re not lost. We know exactly where we are. We feel angry when Dream Self takes us for granted.” Character identification, eliciting dream group member preferences and noting their elaborations in the Dream Sociometric commentary are interior individual and collective aspects of the Dream Sociometric process. Tabulating the preferences of self-aspects and Dream Consciousness is an exterior individual, objective component of the process.
Waking associations and correspondences to the dream, as well as related physiological events are all exterior and individual aspects of the Dream Holon, from the perspective of the Dream Holon and Self-Aspect Holons. This is because waking associations and correspondences are exterior relative to interior content. Note that from the perspective of waking identity associations and waking correspondences are interior collective interpretations while physiological events are exterior individual behaviors.
The Dream Commentary also addresses interior individual aspects of the Dream Holon. The Dream Commentary asks these questions from the perspective of each dream group member, “If I could change this dream in any way, would I change it? If so, how?” Answers are subjective statements reflecting some degree of sincerity, truthfulness, integrity, and trustworthiness. However, if the self-aspect says, “Count down one from ten to zero with each exhalation while you meditate,” it is making an external individual recommendation to waking identity.
Statements in these commentaries indicate the values, principles, and relationships various dream group members hold and have toward one another. This is the dream group culture and entails individual collective aspects of the dream group. Dream group member conflict always indicates a clash in values or principles and a problem with cultural fit. The Dreamage is a rewrite of the dream based on a consensus of dream group member recommendations in the Dream Commentary. If dissent exists regarding proposed changes there can be no Dreamage. Dreamages reflect the dream group culture as envisioned by an open sharing of the needs and desires of all dream group members, including Dream Self and Dream Consciousness,
as equals. We are able to evaluate what the cultural fit of the group would be when each is able to affirm and manifest its own aspirations. This presents a metaphorical depiction of our potential for integration, as visualized by one cross-section of our intrasocial community.
The Dreamage is also a description of dream group member, or intrasocial, relationships. As such, it deals with functional fit and is interobjective. The intrasocial structure and functions of dream group members, personal application of the action plan, plotting of sociogram data, evaluation of Dream Sociogram, and individual Dream Sociometric research itself, the social impact of application of the Action Plan, and Dream Sociogram relationships are all exterior collective aspects of a particular Dream Holon, as expressed by a particular Dream Sociometric Commentary and Sociogram. How those dream workers interact who discuss Dream Sociometry is an exterior collective aspect of the Human Holon.
Other exterior individual aspects of Dream Sociometric dreamwork include.
Interior Individual Exterior Individual
Dreaming Recording, telling the recalled dream
Dream Self thoughts and feelings Recalled dream content, behaviors
element thoughts and feelings Associations
Character identification Waking correspondences
Eliciting dream group member preferences Physiological dream events
Noting elaborations in the Writing preferences
Sociometric Commentary Tabulating preferences
Dream commentary Data from various commentaries
Personal application of action plan
Plotting of sociogram data
Evaluation of sociogram data
Evaluation of application of action plan
Individual sociometric research
Interior Collective Exterior Collective
Element thoughts and feelings Dream group social structure
toward one another Dreamage group social structure
Mutual understanding Intrasocial systems mesh
Moral development Social impact of application of action plan
Dreamage Dreamage intrasocial structure
Waking commentary Sociogram relationships
Dream workers discussing dreamwork Social relationships of dream workers
Using Dream Sociometry to Validate Truth Claims in Each of the Four Quadrants
How, then can we use Dream Sociometry to validate truth claims in each of the four quadrants? Let us return to our flying dream. We could have all sorts of theories about it:
Reflection of a buoyant daytime mood.
Compensation for fears the dreamer is attempting to avoid.
A product of occipital stimulation by random neuronal firings.
A gift from God.
A metaphor for a concurrent out-of-the-body experience.
A fifth chakra liberation experience.
An adaptive attempt to maintain vigilance over our environment during sleep.
….and so forth!
We have seen that depending on the quadrant that we approach dreams from we will ask different questions and have different criteria of truth. It is quite possible that an explanation will meet one set of criteria and fail in one or more of the other areas. What then? Is it true or not? Does something have to meet truth criteria in all four areas in order to be valid? Does it matter whether we accurately know the consciousness of a piece of coal is in order for us to heat a building with it? Does the life history of Jesus, his death and resurrection, have to be historically genuine in order for it to have a transformative effect on people’s lives? Is psilocybin morally good because it can expand consciousness? These are the sorts of confusions that we can get in when we apply truth criteria for one quadrant to another.
Each quadrant requires that a methodology fitting for its own truth claim be pursued. In any case, the validity claim must be falsifiable. There has to be some means by which it can be shown to be untrue. For instance, how are you going to be able to prove that your flying dream is not a gift from God? Since that claim is not falsifiable, we are wise not to waste our time trying to prove it true. This is true for all sorts of lovely, satisfying pronouncements, like the one by Leibniz that, “This is the best of all possible worlds” that so outraged Voltaire that he didn’t go to sleep until he had finished writing his biting satire Candide. When someone says, “Things turned out exactly the way they were meant to,” or, “All is in divine order,” or “You can’t trust people,” they are expressing a belief, but that is all. As a truth claim, it ranks right up there with Alice’s encounter with a hooka-smoking caterpillar on a mushroom in her dream.
But are dream events any better? How can one prove or disprove Max the pug’s claim that he is lucid in a dream? How can one prove or disprove anything about the experience of flying in a dream? Isn’t the most one can say is that, “It was real for me at the time?”
First, an experiment has to be performed. In the case of Dream Sociometry, a person has to be willing to recall a dream, write it down, create a Dream Sociomatrix, identify with the various dream group members in the dream, write down their elaborations in Sociometric, Dream, and Waking Commentaries, create an Action Plan, and apply it.
Secondly, we evaluate our data. What do the dream group members say about it in the Commentaries? This is an internal-collective process. What sorts of patterns of preferences do dream groups create when we look at the Dream Sociograms of flying dreams? This is an external-collective process. What is the consequence when we apply some meaning of flying dreams in our waking lives? This is an external individual process. What is my internal experience when I go through this process? Do I score higher than before in the six core transpersonal qualities referenced by IDL? This is an internal individual process.
Thirdly, we compare this data with others who have completed the experiment.
We do this not only when we consult other students and Practitioners of IDL, but also when we ask other dream group members what they think about our findings and our process. We are seeking the council of our intrasocial community, our internal Sangha, or spiritual community. If they are divided, then we can make our own decision and see what happens when we conduct a waking experiment in our lives based on that decision. If we are mistaken we will get cybernetic feedback in the form of dreams and the perspectives of other interviewed self-aspects. Or we can take the same issue to other dream group members from other dreams. Or we can appeal to some external community of experts. Experts in this case are either
1. Dream group members who demonstrate they are wise, good, and peaceful by consistently either highly preferring other dream group members or by total non-attachment in their preferences. Do they score high in the six core transpersonal qualities?
2. Those individuals who have used the Dream Sociometric process with their own dreams and so are qualified to give feedback about the methodology.
Let’s say you have a dream of a plane crash. You have a strong feeling that it’s a literal warning dream and you want to prevent the crash if you can. What do you do?
First, you find out if there are any identifying elements in the dream. Who is the carrier? Where is the plane? Are there any markings on the plane? If you have this sort of information, you might attempt to pursue it as far as you can.
Failing that, you can either give up and wait for the crash, or you can see if you can get more information about the plane and the crash out of the dream. You gather data in the form of elaborations elicited from various dream group members. Do they think there is going to be a crash?
Perhaps they will tell you when and where the crash is going to be. More likely, they will do something similar to what happened for one lady – they will tell you that you’ve been overworking and that if you don’t slow down you are going to crash physically.
You then have to validate this feedback in as many of the four quadrants as you can. Does it feel like a conclusion that is sincere, truthful, honest and trustworthy? Does this meaning have an intersubjective fit and rightness with feedback from both internal and external peers who know your circumstances well? Does it correspond with objective feedback – health warnings you’ve been getting from your body or from feedback you’ve been getting from family and friends? And most importantly, when you apply the conclusion in your waking life, say, by working forty hours a week instead of seventy-five, what happens? Do you feel more truthful to yourself and others in who you are in your life? Does the feedback of dream group members in subsequent dreamwork support and confirm your waking decision? Do those you respect, whether friends, family, or co-workers, applaud your decision? And how is your physical health and your work performance? Are they improved?
The Deceitfulness of Dreams
It is not surprising that dreams are typically viewed with passing fascination and only rarely with lasting relevance by the great majority of humans. In terms of the truth criteria of the internal individual quadrant of our waking identity holon, dreams fail the test. They usually are not sincere, honest, or trustworthy. While they may seem these things for much of our experience when we are dreaming, when we wake up and find that we were asleep when we thought we were awake, how much less sincere and trustworthy do our dreams seem to us? How sincere, honest, and trustworthy is a visual hallucination that is also a delusion? A client dreamed of his dead brother, who assured him that he was alive and would be coming home soon. The client told his brother in the dream, “If you’re lying to me, I’m going to be really pissed.” The brother assured him that he was awake, that he wasn’t dreaming, and that he would be home soon. When the dreamer woke up and realized that he was dreaming he concluded that his dreams were not trustworthy. Is this a problem of the dream being untrustworthy or a problem with the truth criteria of our waking identity?
Dreams also fail the truth criteria of the external individual quadrant of our Waking Identity Holon. They are illusory. Their events do not represent waking reality accurately, nor do they correspond with waking reality. Humans don’t float through the air and fly. People don’t come back from the dead. When my client woke up and found that interior truth did not correspond with external facts – his brother was still dead – he felt betrayed by his inner experience and was angry. But is this a problem of the dream being illusory or a problem with the truth criteria of our waking identity?
Dreams also fail the truth criteria of the internal collective quadrant of our Waking Identity Holon. Nobody agrees whether dreams are good or bad, right or wrong, useful or not. Everybody has their own theory about what they mean and you need to be particularly suspicious when a group of supposed experts get together and agree that your dream means what they all think that it does. Don’t walk, run in the other direction. So what worth is a community of experts when it comes to your own dream experience? There just isn’t any intersubjective fit outside of the cultural expectations that people grow up with that say things like, “Dreams are warnings.” “Dreams are nonsense.” “Dreams are messages from God.” “Dreams are precognitive.”
Dreams also fail the truth criteria of the external collective quadrant of our waking identity holon. I can live my life just fine without doing dreamwork. Nothing bad happens to me when I don’t work on dreams. My friends don’t hate me. I don’t lose a job. On the other hand, if I started doing a lot of dreamwork and talking about it, I would probably lose my interobjective fit in my life. People would think I was strange. People I used to relate to probably wouldn’t feel so comfortable around me. Dreams just don’t have much relevance to my social functioning, so they fail the utilitarian test. They don’t get me better jobs, they don’t find me romance, they don’t make me money.
Dreams give most people the creeps if they pay any attention to them at all. People who pay attention to them are “dreamers,” and we all know what that means. Orthodox psychiatry views dreams as delusions based on random neuronal firings. Enlightened Masters usually view dreams as illusion, makyo, a diversion and a waste of time and energy. Wilber, at least in Spectrum, generally agrees with the Masters. In his later works Wilber sees dreamwork as one form of shadow work, an essential component of any integral life practice.
But troublesome questions remain and refuse to go away. Why is it that something that feels so real, from another perspective, looks so false? Am I supposed to conclude that dreams are therefore false, or that different truth criteria are at work asleep than when I am awake? If different truth criteria are at work, how can I reconcile them with those of the holon of my waking identity? For surely, if I am to become One to myself, to learn to trust myself, and to accept all of myself, I have to come to stop believing in illusions and I have to somehow reconcile these conflicting versions of reality. It will never do for me to simply dismiss dreams as falsehoods and illusions as long as I keep dreaming them and keep experiencing them, again and again, every night, as true. I am telling myself I do not believe in what I very much believe in, much as if a drunkard truthfully states she’s not an alcoholic because she doesn’t have a drink in her hand or a healthy hypochondriac truthfully states that he’s sick because he’s convinced a doctor to put him in the hospital. Lying to ourselves is understandable, but it doesn’t help us wake up.
Many people hold up lucid dreaming, the ability to know that we are dreaming while we are dreaming, as the state of consciousness toward which we should move while dreaming, because there is no longer any delusion. Dreams may remain illusions, but at least we know them as such. Dreams then become on par with waking; we know that waking is an illusion as well, another dream state, but we are no longer under the delusion that it has own being, permanence, substance, or reality in and of itself.
Dream lucidity represents an outcome or a fulfilling of the truth claims of the internal individual quadrant of experience in a Dreaming Holon for Dream Self. There is no longer a confusion of waking truth claims (external individual) with dream reality (internal individual). Truthfulness, honesty, integrity exist in experience in a way that they did not exist before. This does not, however, resolve truth claims of dream events and elements, which within their own holon have their own individual external reality subject to the propositional truth claims of that holon. The issue is no longer, “How do these events correspond to waking events, which I know to be true?” or, “What in my waking experience do these dream group members represent?” but rather, “What are the objective characteristics of this dream group member that are true?” “What is true about these dream events, when taken for themselves?” Dream lucidity does not necessarily aid in the verification of such external individual truth claims, although it might.
Will dream lucidity help to determine the intersubjective fit between dream group members? Will it create greater mutual understanding? Does it necessarily support goodness? Does the “right” thing necessarily follow just because I am aware that I am dreaming? You remain a dreaming ego, just as a drunk becomes a dead drunk. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you’re better or wiser. Just because you’re lucid in a dream doesn’t mean you are necessarily any more aware of what’s best for the entirety of your intrasocial culture. When the holon of your waking identity fuses completely with your Dream Self Holon you’re simply more free and powerful, and therefore a more potent force for internal and external healing and destruction. Freedom is associated with confidence, one of the six core qualities. Lucid dreaming can create amazing increases in this quality without having any impact whatsoever on the other five, consequently creating imbalances among them. You are now free to colonize the dream state with all of your waking misconceptions while repressing or changing anything about your dreams that don’t conform to your waking truth claims. How do you know that you have not merely expanded the suffering inherent in your stuck Waking Identity Holon more profoundly into your Dream Holon? How do you know that you have not merely succeeded in totally ignoring the legitimate truth claims of the Dream Holon and its self-aspects? How do you not know that you are not simply exploiting your dream reality?
Does dream lucidity result in an appropriate functional fit among your various dream group members? Will you stop having nightmares or conflict in your dreams? If you do, is that a function of the will of the group as a whole or is it happening because that’s what you want? How would you know? Whose group is it, anyway? Who is in charge? Who creates the dream? Who transforms it? Are you sure you are sober enough to take the role of designated driver? Obviously, we need to be heading toward a unified consciousness, an identification with all dream group members so that dream relationships represent the will of the one spirit that animates them all equally. When we become one with the dream group as a whole, what possible meaning could manipulation of the dream group have?
Conjectures on the Consummation of the Truth Claims of Each Quadrant
Perhaps dream lucidity is not the solution to the truth claims for three of the four quadrants. Perhaps it is only partially a solution to the truth claims for the internal individual quadrant. If it is not, what is?
Regarding the internal individual quadrant, what does dream truthfulness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness look like to other dream group members, not just to Dream Self? This is an appeal to truth criteria of the internal individual quadrant of the Self-Aspect Holon. If you were to be able to answer this question you would know yourself as you are known by a continuously evolving series of self aspects. You would not see yourself as a waking or dream identity. What would be real would be a multitude of authentic, legitimate perspectives that coexist. Your job would be to choose among them which ones will most heal, balance, and transform all quadrants of all holons. You are not smart enough to do this alone because your waking identity is a part of the whole. It is the flea on the tail of the dog, thinking it is the dog and controls it. If you want to have any hope of ever outgrowing this delusion you have to be informed by those perspectives. You have to make them who you are. If you did so, because your identity would be totally transparent, it would be extraordinary and growing in authenticity and intimacy. With it your vulnerability would be be profound. This is a different picture from the one we form when we consider lucidity for Dream Self as the criteria for final truth in this quadrant.
Is dream lucidity the end point for the internal individual quadrant of a Dreaming Holon? If it were, then every dream group member would simultaneously be aware that it was in a dream and not in waking experience. In my experience, most other dream group members typically have no problem with this. They do not experience being in a dream state as in any way decreasing their reality, nor are they under any delusion that they are participating in a dream instead of waking experience. It is simply irrelevant to them. To them, they are awake, aware, and alive. They sometimes consider waking to be the dream state. They consider their state to be that which is more real and less illusory. Is it? What would Lao Tze’s famous butterfly have to say about that?
Lucidity is not an issue for other dream group members, on the whole. It is merely an issue for Waking Identity and its surrogates within the dream group, particularly Dream Self. As such, how is it not another manifestation of the Atman Project? Lucidity does not create truthfulness, sincerity, integrity, and trustworthiness for dream group members. That is because a lucid Waking Identity/Dream Self is no more truthful, sincere, integral, or trustworthy than a non-lucid one. Usually, dream group members will state that they desire these characteristics (truthfulness, sincerity, integrity, and trustworthiness) in Dream Self and their fellows. It is assumed that the desired state exists when all of these characteristics occur continuously for all dream group members. That is, all are truthful, sincere, act with integrity, are trustworthy, and when asked, they state that their peers all do too. Then, as far as they are concerned, the dream group meets the truth criteria of the internal individual quadrant. Consequently, the testimony of interviewed self-aspects emphasize expansion of the six core transpersonal qualities rather than dream lucidity.
But the question remains: Could they be fooling themselves? Could their truthfuness be merely relative from the perspective of spirit? Could they still be lacking in sincerity, integrity and trustworthiness? Awareness evolves. Any degree of consistency in maintaining such a state of truthfulness and trustworthiness among dream group members would necessarily create a profound transformation in consciousness and an evolution in form. Murphy has speculated about this in The Future of the Body.
The world has yet to resolve the failure of dreams to satisfy the truth claims of the four quadrants. In the East, with notable exceptions, the answer has been that dreaming is illusory. In the West, the answer has been that dreams are either prepersonal, faith-based magic or they are epiphenomena. In popular traditions, both East and West, dreams have been viewed as divine messages, warnings, the soul leaving the body, or glimpses of life after death. In all traditions, the meanings ascribed by esteemed interpreters have all failed the truth tests of all four quadrants. The dreams in the historical record that are held up as examples of the divine or predictive power of dreams are so atypical as to be exceptions that prove the common rule that the majority of dreams are well worth ignoring. If there exists anything that threatens our hope for personal integration, for uniting in peace as one humanity, for becoming incarnations of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, it is our avoidance of our dream life. As long as our dream life remains an untrustworthy illusion, an irrelevancy to be avoided and forgotten, we cannot be and we will not be whole. If we are unable to be whole to and for ourselves, how is it possible for us to unite as one humanity? Technology cannot and will not save us from the illusions of our self-created dreams. Meditation cannot and will not make dreaming irrelevant. As a species we are not going to get away with simply ignoring and avoiding dreaming, because they tell us how and why we are stuck and what we need to do to get unstuck. To ignore, avoid, repress, or transcend dreaming is to choose to stay stuck in the Atman Project.
The internal collective quadrant of the Dream Holon asks, “What does dream justness look like?” “What is cultural fit in a dream?” “What’s not?” “What is dream ‘rightness?’” “What is dream goodness?” “What is intersubjective harmony?” “Would we know it if we saw it?” “How would we know that it is really what it says it is?”
It would be tempting to posit that the end point, the final cultural fit, would be dream groups comprised of members that consistently not merely prefer one another, but love one another, regardless of who they are and what they do. Such groups create synthesis Dream Sociograms
and do indeed, by their consensual feedback, manifest the truth criteria of the internal collective quadrant. This would be tested by performing an experiment. It would be to do whatever dream group members say they require to consistently create such an intersubjective fit.
The external individual quadrant of the Dream Holon asks, “What is true in a world that does not obey the laws of time and space?” “What is finally objective in a world that lacks objective reality?” “What representations maintain validity in a realm in which transformations of form are common?” “Can there even be any propositional truth in such a state?”
The only things that might be expected to be constantly objective in such circumstances is consciousness, one of the five skandhas, and beyond it, formless emptiness, and beyond that, the non-dual. When we talk about the external, when we talk about manifestation in form, we are trying to find the truth in what is most fundamentally a lie – duality. Keeping these caveats in mind, truth in the external individual Self-Aspect Holon dimension is identification with the non-dual, sacred, and transformative in whatever form manifests at the moment. In other words, if we are to meet the truth criteria of this quadrant, we know that the dream cat or artichoke are dualistic, and therefore untrue, manifestations of something that is not an object — spirit. We see this, we know this, and we relate to it as spirit masquerading as form.
One pathway to this state is to perform empirical experiments such as Dream Sociometry. The object of these experiments is to intend, at all times, in any and all holons, to perceive spirit within form and as the inherent and true nature of form, regardless of what the form is or what it does. It may kill us; it is still spirit. It may transform itself into foul-smelling crap; it is still spirit. We then collect data on what happens when we do this. We submit our findings to our fellow self-aspects, peers in the methodology, and our own common sense.
What is the pathway to coherence and validity within each quadrant? In general, we know that we have a three-step methodology that applies equally well in all four quadrants: 1) Perform an experiment on a falsifiable proposition; 2) Gather data; 3) Submit the data to qualified evaluators for feedback. If you want to hasten your enlightenment, you would be well to learn the truth criteria of those aspects of yourself that score high in those qualities that are associated with enlightenment. It would be well for you to listen to their advice about what you need to do to conform to those truth criteria, and do it.