Dream Sociometry, Dream Yoga, Integral, and World Views

The following is the introduction to Dream Sociometry by Joseph Dillard, published by Routledge, 2018.

Dream Sociometry is an integral life practice and yoga based on the sociometric methodologies created by psychiatrist J. L. Moreno, creator of psychodrama and multiple experiential forms of psychotherapy. Dream Sociometry interviews multiple dream characters or elements in a waking circumstance, such as 9/11, or personal issues, such as cancer, a career change, or divorce.[i] This work has since been elaborated into a broader transmutational practice called “Integral Deep Listening” (IDL).[ii]

Since Dream  was created in 1980, the world of research has witnessed a monumental turn toward inter-disciplinary studies, most powerfully and effectively represented by Ken Wilber’s Integral AQAL. “AQAL,” which stands for “all quadrants, stages, states, lines and types,” summarizes a broad and deep cognitive multi-perspectival map that has generated multidisciplinary approaches to medicine, law, anthropology, physics, language, ecology, religion, spirituality, and, of course, psychology. This has in turn generated an enormously fertile depth of connectivity, not only among ideas, but among people on the cutting edge of a wide variety of professions.

This preface is intended to be an orientating overview of where the body of this text, which involves instruction in an injunctive methodology, lies in the context of first Wilber’s AQAL and, more particularly, current integral thought, using the latter to also locate Dream Sociometry in the broad field of dream investigation.

Dream Sociometry is multi-perspectival

Dream Sociometry extends the concept of multi-perspectival in ways that initially may appear as outrageous, irreverent, profane, and irrelevant as Freud’s Id-based theories of dreaming did to the Victorian English at the turn of the 20th century. Looking for meaning, much less transmutation, in spit or a blender and in their relationships to say, cartwheels or chimpanzees initially appears not only to be an exercise in self-centered projection, but a waste of time. However, integral has reaffirmed an ancient truth, that all points, all instances, all relationships, are worm-holes to, into, and, as Buzz Lightyear reminds us, even beyond the infinite, once we are armed with clear intention and a wise methodology. Clearly, a movement from a cognitive multi-perspectivalism to an experiential multi-perspectivalism, which is the purpose and function of Dream Sociometry, has to be undertaken from the outside in as well as from the inside out. As such, it is an enactment of the principle of non-exclusion, of anekantavada. Such an approach generates not only an introspective phenomenology in the upper right as a vehicle for practicing integral deep listening with intrasocial collectives, such as Sanghas of dream elements, in the lower left, cultural quadrant of holons, but also, through deep empathy, transmutes “Its” in the lower right, or social quadrant, of humanity, into “We” and “Us” and beyond that, into a non-dual “I” which enfolds both self and other as alternative framings of infinitely-faced Shivas at a Halloween party gone amuck.

Any child who has played “mommy” or “soldier” all the way up and through Dzogchen masters can use Dream Sociometry, or, its shortened forms, the IDL interviewing protocols and Dream Sociodrama, to get unstuck by first objectifying their blind spots and then marrying them with a life-transforming action plan. [iii]  Far broader than shadow work, and even the honored psychotherapeutic excursions of Gestalt, Dream Sociometry draws down fire from heaven and interweaves it with savory delights from the depths of Plato’s Cave. Due to its integral nature, Dream Sociometry is a psychospiritual practice that can be applied to move forward on any developmental line and integrated into waking, meditative, dream, deep sleep, and mystical states. It is equally applicable to different styles, whether culturally scripted, gender-based, or professionally framed, because its basic structures and functions are as universal as dreaming, imagery, and empathy, as a core developmental unfolding.

We can view the current, ongoing and accelerating interdisciplinary thrust within and among multiple fields of knowledge as a breaking down of various cognitive dualisms. Traditionally, the work of deconstructing both cognitive and experiential dualisms has been left to the interior quadrant fields of mysticism, values, reframing interpretations and world views, and the generation of new paradigms. While interior quadrant approaches are essential, they are only half the picture, and Wilber has acknowledged same by identifying integral life practices in the major areas of body (nine practices), mind (six), spirit (eight), and shadow (seven) and the auxiliary areas of ethics (seven), sex (five), work (seven), emotions (six), and relationships (seven).[iv]

Dream Sociometry extends this experiential emphasis within multi-perspectivalism into each of the four quadrants in order to deconstruct fundamental dualisms, including self vs. other, reality vs. fantasy, objective vs subjective, good vs. evil, secure vs. endangered, comfortable vs. stressed, life vs. death, sober vs. addicted, victim vs. persecutor/rescuer, loving/compassionate vs. selfish, conscience vs. immorality, Heaven vs. Earth, divine vs. profane, sacred vs. secular, God vs. self, Divine will vs. Sin, freedom vs. bondage, ultimate vs. conditioned truth, and clarity vs. delusion.[v] It does so in the interior individual (UL) quadrant of intention, private thoughts, and feelings by phenomenologically redefining the self as including but transcending the particular duality under consideration; in the interior collective (LL) quadrant of culture, value, interpretation, and world view, by identification with alternative perspectives, interpretations, and values that redefine our own perspective, interpretations, and values as including but transcending the duality; in the exterior individual (UR) quadrant of observable behavior by practicing a yoga, or integral life practice, that transcends and directs personal goal setting regarding both integral life practices and behavior in general; and in the exterior collective (LR) inter-objective quadrant of relationship, systems and society, by creating structures that are embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended.[vi] This identification can be approached as a form of co-presence (), “the mutual in-dwelling of each being by all other beings, and their co-participation on the cosmic envelope: a holographic or nondual form of relatedness.”[vii] Instead of this co-presence generating a non-dual self, it creates an open-ended, expansive, ability to dance without attachment from one identity to another.

Dream Sociometry is a dream yoga

As a yoga that involves dreams and dreaming, Dream Sociometry represents broader, more encompassing definitions of both “dream” and “yoga.” It is neither a physical, hatha yoga, nor is it a jnana. maya, bhakti, kundalini, or raja yoga. It is instead a multi-perspectival transpersonal discipline, a behavior in the UR quadrant, that is meant to integrate not only other UR behaviors and integral life practices, but the realms and activities of the other three quadrants as well, using a trans-rational framework, that is, a methodology that is rational but which transcends rationality in significant ways. For example, when you interview a drunken octopus that is sitting on your head and quoting Einstein, although it appears preposterously irrational and pre-rational, you are hardly doing something that can be considered irrational, because it assumes a thoroughly rational methodology, but yields perspectives, beingness, and life processes that transcend and include both the prepersonal and the personal. Consequently, the relationships among both transcendent consciousness and social holons can be recognized, transformed and transmuted.[viii] As such, it is also intended to provide context for directing and improving the quality of whatever other yogas and integral life practices one takes up through their organization and prioritization via triangulation.[ix]

While state differences are real and significant enough from a psychologically geocentric perspective, these disappear from the perspectives of interviewed dream characters and the personifications of life issues, together referred to as “emerging potentials.” Consequently, Dream Sociometry deconstructs the artificial state dualism between dreaming and waking life. Life itself does not appear to discriminate between dreaming and waking states, meaning that dreaming is as “real” as waking while we are dreaming or lucid dreaming, and waking is as illusory and delusionary as dreaming, when viewed from perspectives embedded in dream contexts. Dream Sociometry is a dream yoga in the sense that it an organizing and structuring discipline for all four quadrants in many states at most levels, from multiple perspectives that more accurately and inclusively personify the priorities not primarily of self, but rather, personifications of the priorities life itself.

Disidentification and identification, two processes that are fundamental to any intrasocial experiential multi-perspectivalism, are not only the polarities of manifested life, as evolution and involution, but are two faces of the “withdrawn” virtual described by Shaviro, Deleuze, and others, which enters into manifestation as emerging potentials.[x] We take this process of element identification, or inhabiting another perspective, for granted, because it is as familiar, profane, and immediate as breathing; it was the play-work of our childhood. However, as Wilber points out, disidentification-identification is the twin process by which we objectify our proximal self as distal selves, a process fundamental to growth on any and every developmental line. In addition, identification-disidentification is the developmental dialectic itself, in that identification is the stable, thesis “translative” phase, in which we spend most of our time, generating balance and homeostasis. Disidentification is the antithetical disrupter, yet capable of generating both transformation and transmutation if anticipated and approached with both creative enthusiasm and as upstream prevention. However, if antithesis is feared, rejected, ignored, or fought, as is often the case, then this disrupter generates what IDL terms “wake-up calls,” first in the form of dream whispers, then repetitive dreams, then nightmares, then objectified waking dream-dramas, such as relationship issues, health problems, and “accidents.” Obviously, diseases and life misfortunes are due to multiple factors; however, by welcoming antithesis through chosen disidentification and identification with personifications of such wake-up calls, Dream Sociometry can make higher-order synthesis more likely. This is a claim that you are not only invited to validate for yourself through the application of both cognitive and transpersonal epistemologies to Dream Sociometry, what Wilber calls the “eyes” of mind and spirit, but are required to do. For, as with any injunctive method, to become a peer, that is, someone whose feedback has validation, one has to follow the three injunctions of any empirical method: follow the instructions, do the experiments, and submit your results to peers in the method.

Bruce Alderman’s grammatical philosophemes as applied to Dream Sociometry

Much of what follows in this preface is an application of an integral grammar of philosophy, as magnificently elaborated by Bruce Alderman in Sophia Speaks, to Dream Sociometry and to IDL in general. While Wilber has stated that experience is essentially perspectival, Alderman notes that this approach prejudices a pronounal context, one of six basic grammatical philosophemes, all of which disclose fundamental and essential characteristics of ontology (being) and thereby clarify the uses and limits of epistemology (knowing). The others are nounal, adjectival, verbal or processual, adverbial, and prepositional. Each of these contextualize the identification-disidentification process in important, expressive ways. What the following framings, based on some of the newest and most promising thinking in integral, attempt to provide, is a pluralist ontological typology of dreaming in particular and more generally of imagery and, macrocosmically, of socio-cultural experience. From an integral mapping, each approach is true but partial; each is important in that it provides powerful, genuine, and useful understandings and approaches for advances in each of these three domains.

Pronoun-based approaches

A pronounal approach to Dream Sociometry, following thinkers such as Buber, Rosenszweig, Peirce, Habermas, and Wilber, views interviewed dream characters and personifications of life issues as perspectives that are ontological realities. Following Peirce, Wilber notes that nouns depend on a prior experience of the hearer with the object of the noun, while the pronouns “I,” “You,” “We,” “It,” “Its,” and so forth are experientially immediate, meaning that they require no previous familiarity with their object. “Others,” often perceived as “its” or even “heaps” or “artifacts,” not worthy of holonic attribution, such as dirty socks or the asteroid belt are, with Dream Sociometry, not transformed, but transmuted into first “We” and “Us,” as we respectfully and empathetically listen, in a deep and integral way, to their values and perspectives, and then into “I,” as we internalize, expand, and grow into identities that include yet transcends our own. As such, we are not simply disclosing an epistemology or way of knowing or of “looking at,” but becoming a broader ontological presence, both expressed and withdrawn.

Each and every perspective is indeed partially a self-aspect, sub-personality, personal fantasy, or subjective delusion in that it is part of and party to our thoughts, feelings, and experience. Unless it is in some way dissociated, which is atypical, a dream crocodile or an imaginary turnip is both a self-aspect, yet unknown or recognized as such, and therefore generally perceived as an “it” in the lower right (LR) quadrant of systems and relationships. [xii] For example, a thief in a nightmare is an aggressive “other;” he or she is an “it” in the LR quadrant, which we understand to personify parts of ourselves with which we are in conflict. This is the understanding of “shadow” approaches based on Jung and advocated by Wilber. However, in addition to being a self-aspect, these perspectives can and do express significant degrees of autonomy, while providing world views that are not our own. As such, their authenticity is violated, through an act of reductionism, when we view them solely as self-aspects, “shadow,” or frame them as denizens of a personal or collective unconscious.

Dream Sociometry demonstrates that the perceptual reality, as well as conclusions derived from interviewing a vampire bat are as rational and useful as those derived from the same interviewed vampire bat viewing you as an artifact of its personal or collective unconscious, in shades of Chuang Tzu.[xiii] Throughout the interviewing process and even after identification, interviewed emerging potentials remain ontologically discrete, “other,” and autonomous. As such, when Dream Sociometry is approached via a pronomial framing, “Its” in the LR become both “We’s” and “Us” in the LL collective quadrant, while our sense of self in the UL quadrant expands to include both. We become them as much as they become us.

Application of recommendations in the UR through the integral life practice of dream yoga objectifies a phenomenological process, making it accountable to the global commons. This has far-ranging implications for integral ethics, which requires significantly increased grounding in the LR quadrant.[xiv] Therefore, pronomial framings of imaginative processes of all sorts, including conscious visual cognition, is powerful, effective, and useful, in that the ability to co-exist with multiple perspectives not only represents a higher-order tolerance of ambiguity, but both invites and incorporates multiple emerging potentials for problem-solving while avoiding epistemological reductionism.

Pronomial aspects of AQAL include its emphasis on perspectives. For example, AQAL is itself a form of cognitive multi-perspectivalism, a world view that incorporates and integrates multiple world views which are themselves perspectives. When AQAL approaches the four quadrants of holons as “Its,” “We’s,” and “Is,” it is framing holons from a pronomial perspective.

Types of dreamwork that take a primarily pronomial approach include all interpretive approaches in the tradition of ancient Egyptian dream interpretation, Artimidorus, Freud, and Jung, that is, that view dream contents as symbols, or representative perspectives, rather than as things in themselves, processes, or modes of being.

Such approaches emphasize transforming “Its” into “We” or “Us,” and then to “I.” This is observed in the assumption that “others” are psychological projections of self-aspects, to be re-owned through the taking of responsibility for their creation, beingness and meaning. This is essentially an interior collective quadrant focus because it emphasizes interpretation. It represents a psychologically geocentric world view in that these interpretations are made by the self, the locus of identity of the dreamer, whether asleep and dreaming or awake, and only secondarily by others.

Substantive, or noun-based, approaches

This same critique applies to nounal approaches, only the emphasis is more strongly placed on the ontological or substantial reality of interviewed elements. Cognitive linguistics views dream and imaginative images as radial or metaphorical extensions of discrete objects or experiences previously encountered in waking life. In harmony with Object Oriented Ontology, which follows the philosophy of such thinkers as Democritus, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton, Harmon, Bryant, and Wilber, objects of our awareness are ontologically real substances. Similarly, Dream Sociometry notes that phenomenologically perceived entities, whether encountered during a dream, a lucid dream, or when interviewed, are bounded things as well as authentic, objectively experienced others, with the same unquestioned otherness as objects in the external reality you are experiencing at this moment.

For example, when you fully allow yourself to become a dragon with heartburn from a nightmare, whether during the dream or later, during an interview or later, during sadhana, its underlying reality provides an undeniably authentic context for its responses during the interview.

Nounal approaches to dreamwork are substantive and ontologically real. They involve encounter with entities that are intrinsically and fundamentally “other.”

Nounal dreamwork approaches include shamanism, which is reflective of waking, concrete naïve realism that does not question the reality of that which presents itself as objectively “other.” It also includes lucid dreaming, in which the lucid dreamer assumes that his or her experience is as real (or delusional) as waking, even though the dream is perceived to be a self-created reality. The thinking is something like this:

While this porcupine is a self-created figment of my imagination, I have the power to turn it into a seductive soul mate and make passionate love to it. Therefore, I still experience it as an objective and real “other,” only one that is self-generated and subject to my control.

Nounal approaches provide perhaps the best bridging between dreaming, whether non-lucid or lucid, and waking experience, in that both commonly assume naïve realism.

Mystical experience, whether in dreams, meditation or some other state are essentially nounal, because the experiencer returns quite convinced that they have not only experienced reality, but Reality, that is, not only personal truth, but collective, universal Truth that applies equally to everyone.

Near death experience is also primarily a nounal approach to experience for similar reasons.

Nounal approaches to Dream Sociometry view the being of each interviewed entity as individual, meaning that the universe is flooded with an unlimited number of authentic beings. However, this is not a shamanistic approach because shamanism assumes, in the concrete mode of naïve realism, that whatever is perceived in any state is alive in some other plane or dimension. While this is indeed a nounal approach to dream, mystical or other imagery, Dream Sociometry tables such assumptions in favor of simple phenomenalistic respect. Instead of presuming the reality or non-reality of the immediateness of this beingness, a form of projective mind-reading, we simply get out of the way as best we can and listen to its response to the questions in the interviewing protocol in a deeply respectful and integral way. Therefore, a nounal approach to Dream Sociometry approaches interviewed elements as authentic, real, and individual entities and holons, each with four quadrants, but does not impart a reality to them beyond their own remarks, while not taking these remarks at face value either. We are not dealing here with gods, but neither are we dealing with shadow. Instead, it is both/and, and, as with Nagarjuna and his tetralemma, the excluded middle. Doubt, analysis, and interpretation are tabled during the interview in order to give a priority to respectful listening. However, after the interview, interpretations are invited and re-employed.

Dream Sociometry does not make these interviewed elements into secondary substances, as Aristotle did and as followers of Freud and Jung do when they turn them into symbols. To do so deprives them of their substantiality by making their beingness dependent on some referent, rather than hearing, seeing, being and respecting each in its own right, for what and who it proclaims itself to be. Therefore, to take a nounal approach to Dream Sociometry is to not insist that these interviewed elements refer to anything or to associate them with any life issue or realm of personal meaning, at least not during the interview or later, when we return to a full identification with this or that element. However, at other times, when we return to our normal waking “I” as reference point, it is not only inevitable but helpful to create such references and generate such associations. It is a matter of timing: there is a time for full identification and phenomenological suspension of our assumptions, preferences, and expectations, and there is a time for using LL interpretations to incorporate what we have experienced into an expanded world view, an UL sense of self, UR behavior, and LR relationships.

Many metaphysical systems, ancient and modern, dismiss ordinary objects as unsophisticated and unworthy of philosophical attention and thereby generate a metaphysical dualism where none exists, is necessary, or helpful. This has been all the more so for dream elements and personifications of waking life issues, such as a fire that one might experience “burning” in their spinal prolapse. In this regard, we can borrow two concepts, Undermining and Overmining that Grahm Harman, the founder of modern object-oriented , originated (Harman, 2011a). Undermining refers to one of two types of reductionism, the above-mentioned dismissing of dream and imaginary elements as unsophisticated and unworthy. Undermining makes the assumption that at least some categories of dream elements and waking fantasies are simply surface, superficial representations of some substantial referent reality “beneath” or “within.” Viewing dream elements as symbols is an example of such undermining. An overmining reductionism commits the epistemological fallacy, that is, it contends that dream elements or personifications of life issues do not exist outside of perception, so that reality does not exist within these “others,” but instead within the flow of experience itself.

Dream Sociometry avoids both of these approaches by first dropping such assumptions in a clear and simple phenomenological reduction and, secondly, by identifying with the “other” as completely as possible, in a way that might be reminiscent of possession by a Greek muse. This is somewhat of a threatening approach to many Westerners, who have been brought up to maintain self-control and individuality, while viewing the surrendering of self-control and the self as a regressive descent into decompensation and chaos. The methodology that you will learn here, when followed, demonstrates that myth for what it is: a scripted cultural bias that entombs the self in a rigid chrysalis from which it cannot escape and which slowly smothers it to death. The abandonment of these twin reductions allows Dream Sociometry to be viewed through the lens of “a democracy of objects,” a concept that Harman and other object-oriented philosophers, such as Levi Bryant (2011a), Tim ), and Ian Bogost (2012) embrace, and that Bryant coined (Bryant, 2011a).

In this regard, Dream Sociometry accepts the idea that we partially construct or “translate” the objects of our perception, say, when we interview a character and “become” it, either during the interview or later, while rejecting the idea that these elements are nothing more or could be anything other than human constructions. The reason why, besides obvious reductionism, is that it closes us off to negentropic aspects of life that are attempting to be born within us and through us. When we dismiss or minimize the ontology of an interviewed element, we are turning a presence that has sacred, kratophonic, and transcendent elements into something profane and secular before we have even given it a chance to disclose itself. Such dismissal discredits a basic principle of reciprocity: we are thereby so treating these elements in a way that we do not want to be treated ourselves.

Dream Sociometry also reflects ontological realism, the thesis that “objects are irreducible to our representations of them” (Bryant, 2011b). This principle seems obvious when elements are interviewed using Dream Sociometry. For example, the unique individuality and autonomy of a cyclops and peanut butter cup far transcends their relationship with each other, as depicted in the Dream Sociogram.[xvii] In that they often interpret the intention or meaning of their beingness in ways that we do not, it is manifestly obvious that they are not reducible to our representations of them.

While the application of principles of ontological realism to dreams and fantasies may seem quite strange and even bizarre to both philosophers and psychologists, it provides an important and significant validation of the autonomy and dignity of collectives in quadrants of both culture and society. It becomes impossible to dismiss the other as “Its” and thereby exploit or abuse them, or to dismiss the other as a figment of one’s imagination and disregard or disrespect it. Both of these responses represent a failure of empathy, a fundamental therapeutic capacity that Dream Sociometry enlarges and entriches. Abstract philosophical principles are employed in tandem with a thanatomimetic methodology that generates a higher-order ethic in both the interior and exterior collective quadrants. In a very real sense, Dream Sociometry takes nounal philosophy to its necessary conclusion: the sacrilization of the delusional, illusory, and profane. However, it does not make the determination that an interviewed element is either an object or a thing, both or neither. A slab of butter or crayon can make that determination for itself, if it wants to.

Adjectival approaches

When a dream image is assumed to be a symbol, it often functions adjectivally, in that it personifies or represents qualities that modify what is the center of experience, generally, the substantial reality of the dreamer. For example, a storm cloud is assumed to personify the “stormy” temperament of the dreamer. In an adjectival ontology, such modifiers are reality; images do not stand for, represent, or modify some underlying substance or reality. The storminess is what is real, not some individual with some temperament.

When an adjectival, instead of a pronounal or nounal approach to interviewing elements is used, the result is rather Buddhist. Like the Buddhism of the Dhammapada, adjectival approaches note that things can only be known through their qualities – what they say and do, because their beingness is forever undisclosable. Because the beingness of a dream element cannot be directly experienced, its qualities are what are real. In the case of Buddhism, there is no self, or underlying ontological substance, only the five qualities, called skandhaswhich interdependently co-originate to conjure up the delusion of a permanent self. However, against this position, it can be argued that the act of identification in Dream Sociometry involves becoming the beingness of the element itself, rather than simply knowing it indirectly through its qualities. Still, in so doing, while we encounter the fullness of beingness in the here and now, an objective assessment shows that this presence is ad hoc, flickering in and out of existence, based purely upon the attention that we give it. The temptation is therefore to reduce images to epistemological artifacts, holonic “heaps,” products of our own “looking at” or knowing.

Dream Sociometry recognizes the legitimacy of this position by noting that it is not the form of this or that image that matters, but the intention behind, within, or beneath the qualities by which it is known. Is the ground toward which you are falling in a dream, hard, giving; does it transform into a feather bed, or does it disappear? If the quality itself is interviewed, rather than the ground itself, what does it have to say about itself?

An adjectival approach to dreamwork emphasizes the nature and interpretation of adjectival modifiers. Rather than focusing on the reality or non-reality of an element, or what perspective it takes, an adjectival approach attempts to enact or get to the meaning of “threatening,” “confused,” “ashamed,” or “nauseated.” Gestalt and psychodramatic approaches often take this approach, when they ask a client or auxiliary to take an “ashamed” position or act out the role of “threatening.”

Verbal approaches

While a pronoun-based approach views being as perspective, a noun-based approach views being as substance, and an adjective-based approach views being as the appearance of its qualities, verbal-based approaches view being as process. Dreams are not about the dreamer but about whatever is going on in the dream or imagery – flying, walking, running, swimming. These actions, or lack of them, such as a dream rock sitting on a shore for eons, involve any dream element, not just the dreamer. Heraclitus, Plotinus, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, Hartshorne, Rescher, and Roy are some of the luminaries that have advocated the view that being is process. In this view, processes are ontologically more fundamental than substances or things because beings exist due to dynamic processes. For example, weather is a process, not a thing. Lightening, thunder, wind, rain, and snow are manifestations of underlying processes rather than real existent beings in their own right. According to Whitehead, what would be real about a dream buffalo is that it is an actual occasion which “prehends” its relation to other natural occasions – the other objects and elements in the dream, including the dreamer. Such an approach leans heavily, following Maturana and Luhmann, on an autopoietic, or self-generating process, but without their assumption that a self, object, or holon organizes or carries out that process.

The term IDL uses for dream elements and the personifications of waking life issues, “emerging potentials,” resonates with a verbal or process-oriented approach to dreaming. Just as Whitehead’s “actual occasions” relationally prehend the past and the future and thereby generate novel and emergent features in the process of actualization, so imagery appears to autopoietically self-create in interdependent relationship to its dream, mystical, drug-induced or waking context.[xviii] By so doing, it manifests in an emergent, or awakening form, possibilities, intentions, and potentials that are themselves processes. While creative emergence is transformational, when we take it forward by becoming the image in sadhana, it can be transmutational, in that what is emerging and potential can become actualized in the actual occasion we call ourselves. As we become what it is, who we are becomes identified with the emerging potentials inherent in those actual occasions that are being born not only into our awareness, but into our identity, our sense of who we are.[xix]

Whitehead describes this process as concrescence, “the process by which entities become what they are through their relationships to other entities, while also contributing novelty through the unique ways in which those relations are integrated.”[xx] Concrescence is therefore an excellent way to understand how Dream Sociometry and IDL understand the autopoietic self-generation of imagery and their interdependent relationships to both other images and waking realities. The amazing variety of these relationships are elaborated in the sequel to Dream SociometryUnderstanding the Dream Sociogram. For Whitehead, and for verbally-based process approaches in general, nothing stands behind the connectivity of relationship. There is no one “doing” or “having” or “in” relationship. There is simply the co-arising of relationships among actual occasions. Again, this is a very Buddhist concept, in which pratityasammupadaor interdependent co-origination, replaces a self seeking salvation (as in Christianity), or the obedient self (as in Judaism and Islam), or a self seeking ahimsa (freedom) (as in Hinduism), or as a self seeking harmony and freedom from chaos (as in Chinese culture), as the central conception upon which its further premises and injunctions depend.

Dream Sociometry resembles in some regards Bonnitta Roy’s processual thesis of direct perception as adequate participation. She writes,

Because perspectives are shaped by “look for,” as distinguished from the perception of “seeing,” they too are part of the epistemological domain and are subject to persistent error, illusion and confusion and thus, persistently advance into higher and higher orders of complexity . . .[xxi]

While elements that are interviewed in Dream Sociometry are indeed perspectives shaped by “look for,” when we become this or that perspective, say, a skunk, we shift from “look for” to “seeing,” or direct phenomenological encounter and identification with that skunk. We are looking out at the world through its skunky eyes. By so doing, we are accessing a frame of information that we would normally not call our own and that most people would consider a perspective. This is the difference between a 2nd, or even 3rd-person perspective, and its transformation/transmutation into 1st person. We are becoming, or directly identifying, with that perspective, no longer “looking at,” or objectively encountering it. Consequently, Dream Sociometry, and IDL interviewing in general, may qualify for what Roy would call “knowing as direct perception,” or “knowing in the sense of Gnostic knowing.” It is in this sense that identification with a perspective becomes transcendent of the ontological/epistemological dualism. Impermanence is the underlying reality; permanently existing things are constructs of processes that, given enough time, are shown to not be permanent or substantial at all. This is also a highly Buddhist view; it attributes the illusion of selves to the speed at which processes occur, creating the illusion of solidity and reality, as in a film; to the ability of the mind to recollect past experiences and therefore create causal chains of ownership; and to a lack of observational discrimination in the untrained mind.

Psychodrama and Gestalt therapy are approaches to dreamwork that emphasize a processual orientation, in that they are more interested in investigating the meaning and function of some dream or waking action in one’s life rather than attributing it to someone or viewing it as a perspective. A psychodramatist might have the subject and auxiliaries run around the room to explore the meaning of “running,” or they might give voice to “burning,” “digesting,” “drinking,” or “smoking.” What then becomes important in the understanding of the dream or life issue is the meaning of some action, not its attribution or the discovery of some one “right” meaning.

Adverbial approaches

In an adverbial approach to Dream Sociometry and the therapeutic identification with imagery in general, like adjectival approaches, images symbolically or metaphorically represent, stand in for, depict, or modify an underlying reality, such as a bodhisattva, ghost, or larvae, as these can be seen as the embodiment of a mode of becoming. When we become them we are pulled into their own distinct field of becoming: Maitreya is going to take us places that Padmasambhava or Avalokitesvara will not; a ghost will take you places an Uber driver will not; a larvae will have you experience a unique unfolding, depending on whether you embody the process of becoming a fly or food for SkyNet in the Matrix.

Adverbial approaches explore the various ways that images function as processes. Examples of such relational modes, according to Heidegger, include space, world, self, others, possibility, matter, function, meaning, and time. For Whitehead, such relational modes include color, form, pattern, number, space, time, and gravity, and these describe, adverbally, how actual occasions emerge prehensively into existence. From an adverbial standpoint, dream images, which are processes, not substances or perspectives, are actualizing themselves through this or that adverbial pathway or “modal expression.” Is its spatial relationship what is emphasized by a waterfall when interviewed, or is it its size, function, its meaning, or when its water crashes into the pool below in the dream? All these are adverbial modes of expression, and any interviewed element is going to emphasize some more than others, and these will be vital to understanding its autopoietic self-generation in terms of process, or what it does in the dream or life context that it embodied.

Where, as in the case of image as adjective, the underlying reality “symbolized” is a substance, in the case of image as adverb, the underlying reality “symbolized” is a process, whether some other modifier, such as an adjective, another adverb, or a verb itself, such as the growing into some embodiment.[xxii] Instead of asserting its reality apart from what it modifies, as adjectival approaches do when they depict the way that the dreamer feels and what she thinks when she is crying as being the reality, adverbial approaches do not generally claim to replace or substitute for the underlying reality of the process at hand. Crying itself is the reality. Instead, they complement or add descriptive depth to what is basically a verbal approach to understanding what is going on when we dream and when we identify with some metal image.

An adverbial approach to dreamwork will emphasize the way in which this or that element embodies some process of becoming. Is it being done out of some role in the Drama Triangle? Is the element speaking or acting in a persecuting, victimized, or rescuing manner? Is becoming being fought, welcomed, or ignored?

Eastern approaches that see life as a dream can be viewed as adverbial, in that all states are not only processes, but experiential modes, lacking any intrinsic reality. The underlying “reality” not only lacks bhava, “own being”; it is delusional. Dreaming is the mode of becoming that modifies the action of living. However, note that Eastern approaches are not consistent in this stance in the same way that post-modernism is, in that both Vedanta and Madhyamika take refuge in fundamental dualisms of relative and absolute truths, or realms that are finally substantive and nounal.

Whether images as complementing modes of verbal processes are conceived in pluralistic (Heidegger), monistic (Spinoza), or non-dual framings (Whitehead, Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen, or Kashmiri Shaivism), they all emphasize the importance of how an image manifests itself in relationship to other things, which are all equally substantial or insubstantial images, depending on which position you take. Indeed, these various approaches apply equally to “real” and “imaginary” “things” or “beings,” as noted by Rescher (1996), Object Oriented Ontology, and Actor Network Theory, as described by Harman in The Prince of Networks (2009).

Interestingly, Buddhism and Hinduism are not consistent in their application of this perspective to dreaming. They regress to an essentially nounal psychological geocentrism, in which the self does the interpretation of experiences that are either sacred and real or profane and illusory.

Prepositional approaches

A common thread in all these approaches is the question, “Is there something beneath, behind or within images that creates them or do they create themselves?” Is their essence derivative of an underlying substantial ontology or are surfaces the ontology itself? Notice that the key words in these questions, “beneath,” “behind,” “within,” and “underlying” are prepositions: they are not things or objects in themselves but describe types of relationships. These are bridging concepts, that connect one something with another. When you focus on relationship or bridge itself, as the source of meaning, substance and being, you create a prepositional ontology. Thinkers who have done so include Latour, Souriau, Nancy, Serres, and Sloterdijk, indicating the post-modern and contemporary arising of this latest approach to the framing of reality.

Prepositions may modify both nouns and verbs, functioning as both adjectives and adverbs, while being neither. Consequently, they are perhaps the most encompassing or multi-perspectival (what Latour calls “plurimodal”) of the various approaches to imagery that have preoccupied humanity to this point. They do not attempt to restrict humanity to the metaphysical deadlock of one mode of being or another. However, they are also the most abstract.

From the perspective of IDL, prepositional approaches attempt to transcend dualities by emphasizing the underlying reality of interdependent relationship. For example, in a dream where you are attacked by a man with a knife, there is an obvious duality. However, when you interview the knife, the duality is likely to disappear, replaced by an awareness of an interdependent, co-created relationship, what Nancy (2000) refers to as the “with” of “being singular plural.” By emphasizing “with,” Nancy is indicating the primacy of equivalency of relationship among beingness as individually or collectively constructed. It becomes obvious that the man, the knife and “you” are not the underlying realities, objects or functions of the drama, but rather modes depicting multi-perspectival relationships, the fabric of which can be expressed by various means, including the interdependent constellations explored in Dream Sociograms. Note that exactly the same processes of encounter apply to say, a terrorist attacking a group of people in waking life; life itself makes no differentiation, and the same “with,” that is, “being singular plural,” applies to it as well, and, likewise, a similar “coessentiality” can be depicted interdependently in a Dream Sociogram.

From a prepositional framing, “subjects and verbs are derivative and verbs must follow the flows that prepositions make available.”[xxiii] The result for Dream Sociometry is that relationship and interaction is primary, and these are determined by subtle, inferred connective intentionalities that point out a type of relationship, but then leave it to specific dream elements and waking images and processes in both realms to enact. Such an approach doesn’t care who or what character is represented in waking life or dreaming, or even what they are doing; what matters are the underlying intentions that are depicted by arbitrary relationships and actions. Depicted elements are arbitrary in that other relationships, characters, and actions could make the same point just as well. Dream Sociometry can be viewed as a highly prepositional approach in that its Dream Sociograms emphasize the depiction of relationships and the intentionalities that they personify. For example, are characters, actions, and feelings in opposition or agreement? Is the intention of the group united in the embodiment of growth, or do intrasocial dynamics depict antithetical relationships?

Prepositional windows on reality therefore force a non-dualistic, relational perception of experience, moving non-dualism from the realm of the mystical and transpersonal into the domain of mundane, everyday experience. This breaks down the classical distinction between “sacred” and “profane,” “meaningful” and “meaningless” “day residue” imagery.

While Nancy and the other prepositionalist philosophers make a case for relational non-dualism on a cognitive level, Dream Sociometry takes a phenomenalistic and experiential, multi-perspectival approach that takes into account not only approaches that are biased toward perspectives, such as pronounal ones, but which attempt to honor and include the contributions of each of these various grammatically based approaches to understanding reality. We are invited to think of all four quadrants at once instead of dividing reality into individual and collective ontologies that occupy interior or exterior spaces in possessive or non-possessive ways.[xxiv]

As I write this in the fall of 2017, almost 40 years after developing Dream Sociometry, in the spectacular lake-filled countryside of Brandenburg in northeastern Germany, as the fall equinox once again approaches, I observe a rising desire to take the vast cognitive multi-perspectival map of integral and ground it experientially in ways that affirm life in the world, in order to address the underlying issues of selfishness, greed, inequality, and discrimination that continue to largely rule both individuals and humanity as a whole. Both metanoia, or transformation, as the changing of suffering into transcendence, and transmutation are not only possible, but increasingly recognized to be essential, if we are to address the multiple causes of the equally multiple catastrophes that humanity has visited upon itself and the planet. A hymn familiar in New Age circles famously begins, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” The intention is to affirm personal responsibility for recognizing and ameliorating the interior, or microcosmic, etiological factors that are projected outward onto the other in forms of life problems, interpersonal conflicts, economic exploitation, discrimination, and the deconstruction of living systems. However, personal responsibility can be taken too far; reality creates us as much as we create it. The macrocosm, in the form of issues of public policy, terraforming, governance, public health, and many other issues, is equally important and demand equal emphasis. Dream Sociometry, as a collective approach to owning the macrocosm by expanding our self-definition to encompass it, embraces an integral methodological pluralism not simply as a cognitive mapping, but as a personally enacted commitment to humanity and life itself.



Alderman, B. (2012). Opening space for translineage practice: Some ontological speculations. Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 7(2), 49–71.

Bhaskar, R. (2008). A realist theory of science. New York: Routledge.

Bogost, I. (2012). Alien phenomenology, or what it’s like to be a thing. Minneapolis, MN: The University of Minnesota Press.

Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the implicate order. New York: Routledge.

Browne, CG. (1951) Study of executive leadership in business. Psycnet.apa.org/record71951-07151-001

Bryant, L. (2008). Correlationism and the fate of philosophy. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/correlationism-and-the-fate-of-philosophy/

Bryant, L. (2010a, June 27). Whitehead’s prehensions and onticology. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/whiteheads-prehensions-and-onticology/

Bryant, L. (2010b, July 1). Even more Vitale: Translations, perspectives, and truth. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/even-more-vitale-translations-perspectives-and-truth/

Bryant, L. (2011a). The democracy of objects. Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing.

Bryant, L. (2011b, April 12). OOO realism and epistemology. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/ooo-realism-and-epistemology/

Bryant, L. (2011c). The ontic principle: Outline of an object-oriented philosophy. In L. Bryant, N. Srnicek, & G. Harman (Eds.), The speculative turn: Continental materialism and realism. Melbourne, Australia: re.press. 81.

Bryant, L. (2011d, February 2). The time of the object: Toward the ontological grounds of withdrawal. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/timeofobject-10- tex-1.pdf

Bryant, L. (2012, March 14). Alethetics. Retrieved from http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/alethetics/

Harman, G. (2005). Guerilla metaphysics: Phenomenology and the carpentry of things. Chicago: Open Court.

Harman, G. (2009). Prince of networks: Bruno Latour and metaphysics. Melbourne, Australia: Re.Press.

Harman, G. (2011a). The quadruple object. Winchester, UK: Zero Books.

Harman, G. (2011b). On the undermining of objects: Grant, Bruno, and radical philosophy. In L. Bryant, N. Srnicek, & G. Harman (Eds.), The speculative turn: Continental materialism and realism. Melbourne, Australia: re.press.

Harman, G. (2011c). Response to Shaviro. In L. Bryant, N. Srnicek, & G. Harman (Eds.), The speculative turn: Continental materialism and realism. Melbourne, Australia: re.press.

Harman, G. (2011d). The road to objects. Continent, 1(3), 171–179.

Hartshorne, C. (1979). Whitehead’s revolutionary concept of prehension. International Philosophical Quarterly, 19(3), 253–263.

Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, T. W. (2002). The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science, 298(5598), 1569–1579.

Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time. (J. MacQuarrie & E. Robinson, Trans.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh. NY: Basic Books.

Latour, B. (2011). Reflections on Etienne Souriau’s Les differents modes d’existence. (S. Muecke, Trans.). In L. Bryant, N. Srnicek, & G. Harman (Eds.), The speculative turn: Continental materialism and realism. Melbourne, Australia: re.press.

Morton, T. (2011). Here comes everything: The promise of object-oriented ontology. Qui parle, 19(2), 163-190.

Nancy, J. (2000). Being singular plural. (R.D. Richardson & A.E. O’Byrne, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford Unity Press.

Rescher, N. (1996). Process metaphysics: An introduction to process philosophy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Robinson, H. (2004). Substance. In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. (Winter 2009 Ed.). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2009/entries/substance/.

Rogers, CG., (1946)  Significant aspects of client-centered therapy.Chicago: Univ. of Chicago.

Roy, B. (2006). A process model of integral theory. Integral Review, 3, 118–152. Retrieved March 1, 2012, from http://integral-review.org/back_issues/backissue3/index.htm, 84.

Roy, B. (2010, July). AQAL 2210: A tentative cartology of the future, or how do we get from AQAL to a-perspectival? Paper presented at the biannual Integral Theory Conference, Pleasant Hill, CA. Retrieved from http://integraltheoryconference.org/sites/default/files/itc-2010-papers/Roy_ITC%202010.doc.pdf

Roy, B., & Trudel, J. (2011, August). Leading the 21st century: The conception-aware, object- oriented organization. Integral Leadership Review. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://integralleadershipreview.com/3199-leading-the-21stcentury-the-conception-aware-object- orientedorganization

Shaviro, S. (2009). Without criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Shaviro, S. (2010, August 1). Whitehead vs. Spinoza & Deleuze on the virtual. Retrieved from www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=909

Van Zelst., (1952) Sociometrically selected work teams increase production. Personnel Psychology. Vol.5, Issue 3. Sept. 1952.

Varela, F. J. (2000). Steps to a science of inter-being: Unfolding the dharma implicit in modern cognitive science. In G. Watson, S. Batchelor, & G. Claxton (Eds.), The psychology of awakening: Buddhism, science, and our day-to-day lives (pp. 71–89). York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Whitehead, A. N. (1967). Adventures of ideas. New York: The Free Press.

Whitehead, A. N. (1978). Process and reality. New York: The Free

[i] An example of Dream Sociometry with 9/11 as well as examples with dreams and life issues are found at IntegralDeepListening.Com, “Examples.”

[ii] See DreamYoga.Com and IntegralDeepListening.Com.

[iii] For examples of the protocols and Dream Sociodrama see http://www.integraldeeplistening.com/questionnaires/ Many examples of single element interviews, both of dreams and life issues, are available at the blog of IntegralDeepListening.Com.

[iv] Wilber, K., Patten, T., Leonard, A., & Morelli, M. (2008). Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity and Spiritual Awakening.

[v] An explanation of how Dream Sociometry and more broadly, IDL deconstruct these dualities is in Dillard, J. Healing Integral, Pt 2: Transformations for the Future, pp. 27–36.

[vi] Thompson, Evan. (2015b). “Context matters: Steps to an embodied cognitive science of mindfulness.” UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain research summit “Perspectives on Mindfulness: the Complex Role of Scientific Research.”

[vii] Alderman, B., Integral in-Dwelling, p. 9.

[viii] For example, see Lex Neale’s AQAL Cube.

[ix] Dillard, J. (2015). Waking Up, Deep Listening Press, Berlin. Also: http://integraldeeplistening.com/triangulation-a-superior-approach-to-problem-solving/

[x] (Shaviro, 2010)

[xi] Alderman, B. Sophia Speaks: An Integral Grammar of Philosophy. Alderman_ITC2013.pdf

[xii]  In Wilber’s integral theory, humans and entities, including dream characters, are “holons,” consisting of four major “quadrants.” These are the interior individual upper left (UL) phenomenological quadrant of largely undisclosed feelings, thoughts, and intentions; the interior collective lower left (LL) inter-subjective quadrant of values, interpretations, world views and culture; the exterior individual upper right (UR) behavioral quadrant of observable and measurable structures and processes; and the exterior collective lower right (LR) inter-objective quadrant of interaction, systems, and society..

[xiii] “I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly or am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man?” Zhuangzi.

[xiv] See Dillard, J. (2017). Healing Integral. Berlin: Deep Listening Press.

[xv] (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999)

[xvi] (Robinson, 2004; Bryant, 2011a; Harman, 2011c)

[xvii] The Dream Sociogram provides a visual representation of the patterns of interdependent co-arising of intrasocial collectives, whether originating in dreams, life issues, mystical states, or drug trips. Examples are associated with the Dream Sociomatrices noted above, and an exegesis of their patterns of relationship is a topic of Understanding the Dream Sociogram.

[xviii] Emergence and autopoiesis are two of five generative processes that Roy and Trudel (2011) have identified. The other three are construction, development, and evolution.

[xix] This is not unlike the Tibetan Buddhist practice of yidam, discussed by Bezin, A., in What Is the Difference Between Visualizing Ourselves as a Buddhist Deity and a Deluded Person Imagining They Are Mickey Mouse? and answered in Dillard, J., Tibetan Yoga and Integral Deep Listening.

[xx] Alderman, B. Sophia Speaks, p. 45.

[xxi] Roy, B. Gnostic Revival.

[xxii] “Smbolized” is placed in quotes to indicate that this is an assumption and projection by waking identity that is not typically made by interviewed elements.

[xxiii] Alderman, B. Sophia Speaks, p. 70.

[xxiv] “Possessive and non-possessive” is a reference to Lex Neale’s third dimension in his AQAL Cube expansion of holons.

Added the following: Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh. NY: Basic Books.

Added to Bibliography: Robinson, H. (2004). Substance. In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. (Winter 2009 Ed.). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2009/entries/substance/.

Added: Morton, T. (2011). Here comes everything: The promise of object-oriented ontology. Qui parle, 19(2), 163-190.

Leave a Comment