By Mary Zeimer © 2014
Let the eye of your heart be opened that you may see the spirit and behold invisible things.—Ahmad Hatif (1198)
I have experienced lucid dreaming in large part as a pathway to knowledge of ‘the essence behind existence,’ a knowledge of the Self and a more Celestial consciousness. The following lucid dream illustrates my fundamental attitude towards lucidity (2007):
In the dream, my dream teacher in waking life, Nigel Hamilton, sits down opposite me, and, as I look up at him, it feels as if a metal band about four inches wide snaps open across my chest. Suddenly, I have the sensation that my being, now free of both dream and physical bodies, hovers in the air over my bed. I remember what my teacher had said in a recent seminar on lucidity: ‘….If you‘re up out of your body you can fly around and see the world’, but I‘ve done all that in the waking world. I want to learn something new in lucidity.
In fact, I‘d really like to find him here, in the lucid dream, and have him guide me. I call out his name two or three times. As I do this, a clear, five-pointed star appears in each of my eyes filling me with a powerful light. I think my eyes must be open as white light fills the room, but then I realize I haven‘t woken up.
When I do awake, my chest hurts. I remain in bed for an hour just taking in the feeling from the lucid dream. I feel regret that I hadn‘t realized that by just ‘being’ in lucidity one can learn, and I realize that the yearning doesn‘t seem for knowledge in the sense of earthly sciences, but rather for knowledge of the ‘Spiritual Science’1 .
As this dream and my reflections on it suggest, in lucidity, I have felt conscious of a relationship between sensory, ’empirical’ or exoteric knowledge and hidden, esoteric knowledge. Such gnosis feels more received, than gained; more an alignment of our will with a Higher Will, than a knowledge we use to exert our own will. In short, this represents an attitude to lucidity that I call ‘Lucid Surrender’2 .
After hundreds of Lucid Surrender dreams, I feel that the willingness to take the inner stance of surrender has deepened and intensified the lucid experiences, a feeling echoed in the dreams as in this one:
After an intense, formless lucid dream in which I feel I‘ve ‘taken a bath in God’, ‘I find myself deposited in a ‘normal’ dreamscape curled up on a braided rug before a cottage fireplace. I reflect on the lucid experience as I rest at the feet of a matronly woman who sits rocking in front of the fire. She seems very puzzled and almost impatient as she asks me, ‘What kind of lucid dreams are those when you let yourself be taken to God in this way?’ I tell her, ‘Surrender, the Path of Surrender.’
Rather than providing a lucid-dreaming ‘method’, Lucid Surrender seems more an inner attitude of heart and mind that not only acknowledges the Transpersonal but also expresses a deep longing akin to that sung of by the Biblical Psalmist: ‘Like the deer that yearns for running springs, so my soul yearns for you, O God.’ (Psalm 42:1).
From the outset, I have found my best entry point to Lucid Surrender experiences through meditation on the Lord‘s Prayer, a sacred song or holy name in tandem with the breath before falling asleep. At the moment of lucidity, the alignment of the heart with the Transpersonal often takes place through simple expressions of surrender: a meditative stillness, kneeling, bowing the head, bringing the hands together in prayer and/or through inwardly or outwardly expressing a longing to know a deeper level of feeling and consciousness.
In lucidity, I have called out to have an esoterically veiled truth—such as the nature of Divine— revealed. And, I’ve often felt surprised to hear myself cry out spontaneously, ‘Take me to you, God!’—a rather more prosaic version of what the 12th century Sufi mystic Ahmad Hatif more poetically expressed as: ‘To Thee we surrender both heart and life and cast down both this and that before Thee.
The heart is surrendered to Thee, since Thou art the ravisher of hearts….’3 But, whatever form the longing takes, it feels to me that the response depends not only on the intensity of the desire held within the request but also on my own capacity to hold a revelatory experience.
Given the nature of Lucid Surrender, I sometimes hesitate to say, ‘I dream’ because I tend to feel that I become dreamed into new states of awareness and understanding. Dream beings have also reflected on this process (November 2010):
After one lucid experience in which I become afraid and so pop out of lucidity into a semi-lucid dream, I feel rather down about not having contained my fears. At this point, a male dream being, a spiritual teacher, comes up to me.
He says that Tibetan Buddhists believe dreams unfold according to our capacity and what we bring to them. A person will experience what they can receive and no more until they seem ready. But a person can build up their capacity for the dreams—both to give and receive. His words encourage me.
Over time, the dreams themselves have acknowledged the effectiveness of taking a Lucid Surrender stance. Following on from a lucid experience in which I’d believed I may have died in Waking Physical Reality, my consciousness moves through an expanse of red light back into a ‘normal’ dreamscape.
At this moment, I realize I had not actually physically died. A man embraces me and says, ‘I have been reading your… dreams. They are quite unusual.’ Similarly, a dream entity once observed of the lucid dreams that have come to me: ‘It‘s quite unusual because [Mary] has those dreams in the course of everyday, not just on retreat.’
In a like manner, dream beings have reflected back to me the dimensions that my dreaming-mind has experienced in lucidity (November 24, 2012):
In one such dream, I recognize that the dreamscape around me has taken the form of the lecture room where my dream guide from waking life gives a teaching. Feeling very tired, I fall asleep as I listen, and, in my dream-sleep, become lucid. The dream-within-a-dreamscape parts like a veil. And I find myself lucid standing at the edge of a beautiful, vast hall. A fiery-colored Persian carpet covers the floor.
Surprisingly, numerous babies crawl around on the rug quite happily like little miracles of light. At the far end of the hall there spins a black and white structure that opens up to infinity. I recognize this form as the deeper space in which my being experiences Lucid Surrender dreams—the expanse of black light and the forms, worlds, and knowledge that emerge out of the black luminosity.
As I stand observing the scene before me, I perceive different dimensions of being at once:
- the mysterious infinity of the abstract, spinning light form
- the vast hall full of ‘children of light’ in which my lucid-dream-body appears
- the dreamsleep within the original dream framing the lucid experience
- the lecture room in which the initial dream took place and
- the waking world in which I now sleep. In the dream, the awareness of five key levels of consciousness at one time, held in various forms in this way, strikes me as unusual.
With this realization, my dream-body collapses to the floor as the hall falls away to black light and I ‘wake up’ lucid in the dreamscape of the original lecture room. I wonder how I must have appeared to those who remained in the room while ‘I’ had entered the lucid reality. A young man tells me, ‘You were sitting there in a kind of trance speaking all the time about the how all the five dimensions fit together.’ He mimics how I moved my hands to show the dimensions. To me, his observations affirmed my own perception of the various levels of consciousness recognized in the dream.4
Intriguingly, another lucid dream entity has described to me how consciousness moves in lucidity (November 27, 2013):
In that dream, I find myself in a field of golden grasses with a dream entity I identify as ‘Karla’, my best friend from childhood. She says we all have a ‘light body’ we don‘t have to be asleep to access. I watch as someone leaves their dream-body and darts about above us like a golden comet of pure consciousness. I so long for this familiar sensation, especially as I feel weary. When my turn comes, I eagerly curl up on the grasses as instructed. In doing so, a snuggly feeling envelops me like when I first tuck under the covers in bed. Immediately, it feels as if my being slips out of body.
Someone cries out, ‘Ah, there she goes!’ A feeling of release and joy moves through my being, now awash with the most amazing radiance that comes through me as a hymn to Jesus. All thoughts of Waking Physical Reality have gone and it seems enough to simply BE in the beauty that goes on and on through a white, diamond sea of light. Just when waking reality feels worlds and lifetimes away, I hear ‘Karla’ call out my childhood nick name three times. Suddenly I know where I still belong – this awareness pulls my being back into the dream-body, and I open my eyes to find myself resting on the golden grasses of the initial dream.
Curiously, at times when, as a result of a loss of focus, I’ve apparently ‘lost steam’ on the black winds and light, an invisible force or being has gently pushed my apparently subtle ‘hands’ together as if in prayer. Doing so generally serves to re-align my mental focus with a more heartfelt, sacred awareness; and, it would seem, causes the journey on the black winds to resume as in the following experience (August 2012):
I find myself in a dream carrying lots of stuff and feeling annoyed about this, but then I realize that I dream this! With a sense of great release, I drop all that fills my hands and open my arms to the black winds. Although I now have no visible dream-body, the winds push my ‘hands’ together in a prayerful gesture that focuses my mind and moves my being through the winds at an incredible speed. I delve into the blackness like a deep-sea diver….
In line with my own lucid experiences, the observations and actions of various dream beings suggest that lucid dreams do not easily fit one definition or experience. And even my own dream-ego/persona has commented on the nature of Lucid Surrender. I recall one pre-lucid dream in which I talk to some friends who, in waking life, had presented the day before at a conference on Near Death Experiences (February 2012):
In the dream, I say that we don‘t have to go through a near death experience to have a taste of life beyond death—we can have this in our dreams. I explain that falling asleep, as the Tibetan Buddhists and Sufis point out, seems a mini death, and dreams, a preparation for life after death. In dreams we enter the astral realms and planes of consciousness and as alchemy teaches have the opportunity to ‘Awake in sleep’ or ‘While sleeping, watch!’
In waking life, at the actual conference, one of my friends had briefly mentioned a lucid dream he‘d had. In the dream, I refer to his comment on his lucid dream, explaining that just as in life, in lucid dreams, our attitude and intention towards the dream may shape the situation. But I add that it may not always seem just ‘more of me’ in a dream, as he‘d suggested, because the lucid dream can also put us in contact with the Transpersonal, especially if we surrender to a Transpersonal awareness by expressing a heart-longing. Then there may be a ‘death of the four elements’—an ego-death, a death that allows new dimensions of experience to be born…. My friends seem very interested in Lucid Surrender. Here, the dream ends and I awake somewhat surprised at how clear and lifelike the conversation felt.
Although the standard, popular definition given for lucid dreaming generally goes: ‘Any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming,’5 I note that this definition describes the moment of lucidity and fails to communicate the continuum of consciousness that one can experience within the lucid state.6 Nor does this definition convey the transformative effect lucid dreaming experiences can have upon dreamers in their waking lives.
Perhaps the time has come for the lucid dreaming community to put forward a more comprehensive definition of a lucid dream such as: ‘A dream in which one becomes cognizant of the dream state thus releasing the transformative potential to experience dimensions of the Self, Consciousness, and the unity of existence with awareness.’
Such a definition acknowledges the following potentialities:
- The lucid experience possesses its own ‘reality’ or ‘realities’ ranging across a continuum of awareness from sensory to suprasensory, from ‘reality: with a small ‘r’ to ‘Reality’ with a capital ‘R’ (giving room for Jung‘s observation that ‘anything that acts is actual’).
- Dreamscapes and beings may possess an ontological status that moves ‘reality’ and our perception of it beyond space-time constraints, freeing us to experience realms of consciousness and embodied states that apparently encompass and yet transcend our own.
- Our consciousness has the capacity to both experience and know what apparently ‘transcends’ it.
- The dream may know more than the dreamer.
- Human consciousness can know Unity-consciousness.
- As a result of lucidity, our consciousness may expand and transform.
- In conjunction with this inner transformation, our experience of waking physical reality may transform as well.
Keeping such an understanding of lucidity potentialities in mind, we can note how Ahmad Hatif‘s description of a mystical state reflects the possibilities held within a deeper understanding of lucidity. Describing the opening of ‘the eye of the heart’ that heralds the ‘vision of spirit’ and ‘invisible things’, Hatif advises:
Give all that you possess to Love. If your spirit is dissolved in the flames of Love, you will see that Love is the alchemy for spirit….[y]ou will journey beyond the narrow limitations of time and place and will pass into the infinite spaces of the Divine World….Finally you shall be brought to that high Abode, where you will see One only, beyond the world and all worldly creatures….7
Given such perceptions, the working definition of lucidity that I suggest also raises questions about the assumptions present in saying, ‘I had a dream’ or describing a dream as ‘mine’ or even saying, ‘my dream’. Doing so makes me think of explorers or scientists who say that they have ‘discovered’ a new territory or properties.
Does the new-foundland or element feel new to itself? Yet, in my experience, Lucid Surrender dreams have intimated that perhaps the ‘new’ dreamscapes may feel ‘new’ as experienced through the perception of a fresh arrival. As a case in point, consider one of many lucid dreams in which I felt that a dreamscape did, in fact, know itself anew through my perception of it (December 2009):
In the dream, what I experience as black light and winds carry my being to a place where I ‘see’ cubes of bluish-white light interlaced in infinite helix spirals. The light form looks very strange and beautiful and mysterious to me. I feel that each cube represents a very basic building block of life as well as an individual human life—all intertwined. The pattern suggests both individuality and wholeness.
From my left and right the infinite, interlaced cubes radiate out and I sense that I myself am part of this chain of linked cubes of light. In that moment, I become aware of both the expansiveness of this awareness and the exhaustion of my actual earthly being. It seems strange to me that both feel true and that this beautiful expansiveness should in any way require awareness of my limited, exhausted physical self. It feels a wonder and very humbling as well as inspiring and encouraging. I intuit this for some time until I find myself back in a dream and eventually awake.
On other occasions, I have had the impression that a ‘newly discovered’ dream being has experienced an invigorating reciprocity through our lucid encounter as in this exchange (February 24, 2014):
I drift off to sleep and find myself in a lucid experience….ecstatic black winds take hold of my being and carry me a long, long, way. When it feels I have reached the edge of the universe where all moves towards a vanishing point… I become curious about what carries me in such a loving way, and, as in other lucid dreams, I yearn to ‘see’ this unseen entity. I seem just about ready to give up on this when my ‘head’ feels turned by an invisible hand and I ‘see’ that my being appears in the embrace of what my mind at first comprehends as an angel, a very powerful being of golden, misty, light.
This light both holds me and infuses me. For a time, I rest in the strange wonder and familiarity of the being‘s light and the feeling of deep, unutterable love between us. It feels as though we have become one, as though I form a book about this light of being that the very same light holds, reads, and is. In this way, I share in the being‘s essence and intelligence.
Its regal nature dominates, yet the feeling between us seems intimate. Neither the form, nor my own being possesses physicality in an earthly sense and yet we experience a shared presence that touches me with deep joy and ecstatic pleasure. For some reason, this time, the being has revealed itself to me as fully as I have been revealed to it. …at once, Lord, Lover, Friend.
The mutuality of our awareness of each other as both one and separate suffuses our beings with deep pleasure…. I become aware this light fills me for the service I have yet to complete in waking life. Then I think, ‘Where to?’ But it has become hard to breathe. A voice says, ‘Breathe through your mouth.’ By then, however, the effort of breathing has taken all my focus and distracted me from the experience. I awake breathing hard and deep.
This lucid dream experience shares many resonances with the ‘myth’ of Psyche and Eros in which Psyche meets her husband Eros in darkness every night and longs to see him.
Often, in lucidity, I have found that I have received understanding and knowledge non-verbally through an internal, intuited form of communication that may come through the touch of a dream being, through light or breath. The following dream serves as a good illustration of such an encounter (July 2007):
I recall a lucid dream when, after a transit on the black light, my being ends up deposited in a still place on the blackness. A lovely Indian woman wearing a delicate blue silk sari holds a staff in her right hand and, lifting the staff, draws my attention to a dark-skinned man who has now appeared in the blackness before me.
The man wears a sky blue cloak over a white inner garment with a smaller white cape around his shoulders that is trimmed with a band of reddish-orange an inch or two above the hem. A single large feather curves up and inward above his head. He emits a holy wisdom…. The woman silently communicates to me that he and I should embrace, not speak. I feel unworthy of this. But the instruction comes clear so I open what feel like the energies of my arms and hands.
The moment my ‘hands’ touch his shoulders and his mine, there erupts a nuclear burst of energy that rushes into me and sends my being catapulting back onto the black winds in an endless, arching backflip…. My pliant being bends with the motion like a feather carried on the winds, and I understand that what happens seems part of a containment process and that the encounter has continued in this way. The winds rush through, around and in me…. I realize that the energy in this being and in the light I‘ve encountered in lucid dreams come from a similar source. With this realization, a deep ecstasy takes hold of my being.
It feels terribly hard to focus enough to move through it. As I relax into it, the ecstasy subsides and my being falls into the vortex of the familiar grey-black whirling cloud from other dreams. The cloud comforts me and helps me to contain the power rushing like wind through my being. I sense the cloud experiences my feelings deeply. As ever, I admire the cloud‘s immensity and the beauty of its presence, and again a deep ecstasy takes hold of me….
In this instance, the touch and winds feel associated ‘Spiritual Science’, comprised of heart and will rather than facts and concepts, a ‘science’ suffused with a light that may then illuminate Waking Physical Reality.
Given my experiences of Lucid Surrender, it appears that we may not define lucidity as much as lucidity defines us. In fact, when we let go of limiting definitions, the possibilities within lucidity open up.
At the same time, the definition and refinement of our awareness, attention, intention, deep feeling, receptivity, self-control and surrender within lucidity can potentially carry our individual consciousness on a continuum experienced both through forms and formlessness, through our dreams and into our waking lives.
Lucid dreams can change our lives because they change our realizations, as well as our perceptions, about life. Fundamentally, such dreams serve as a crucible for psycho-spiritual transformation within and without.
Through opening ‘the eye of the heart’ and illuminating our ‘inner sight’, such dreams can:
- reveal to us how our thinking may limit or negatively impact our souls, thus providing us with insights into ourselves and others
- Release healing capacities within us
- Free our consciousness from the limits of time and space bound perception
- Increase our awareness of our psicapacities
- Provide us with guidance
- Give us a profound experience of love that spills over into our waking world actions and relationships
- Enlarge our capacity to hold life‘s paradoxes with more equanimity
- Reacquaint us with our true Selves
- Awaken our awareness of the unity of existence
- Align our consciousness with a Higher Will, transforming the question ‘Who am I?’ into ‘How can I best serve?’
- Imbue us with knowledge of the ‘Spiritual Science’
- Deepen our feeling capacity and our sense of wonder. Any of these results can profoundly transform our waking lives.
Speaking from my own experience, I note that truly realizing the dreams in our lives may take a lifetime (and/or many life times) to accomplish on the earth plane. Doing so may require life changes that create paradoxical conflicts as our external existence comes more into alignment with our inner world.
Gnostics believe that whether or not we recall it, each night our souls become released from our bodies, taken up, and, effectively, washed in the spirit, rejuvenated and refilled for the next day. Without this nightly filling of spiritual soulsustenance, our being could not exist on the physical plane. Usually we don‘t remember the experience, though echoes of it may appear in a soulful dream or waking world encounter. In lucid dreams, I believe that we have the possibility of experiencing this nightly revitalization with awareness.
Happily, it seems, lucidity defies definition. While we may perceive and experience the lucid dream reality, that reality remains beyond our attempts to consider it as simply an extension or creation of our own minds or to examine it based on the criteria of waking physical reality. Indeed, I would venture to say that even our ability to perceive a Lucid Reality originates in what Sufi‘s call ‘The Lord of our Being’ rather than out of our own perceptual powers. Let me conclude this article with a dream I call ‘The Heart’ that illustrates what I have attempted to express herein (December 12, 2012).
This dream occurred as I responded to questions put to me by Robert Waggoner and Ed Kellogg for a Lucid Dream Experience ‘DreamSpeak Interview’ (March 2013): In this interview I shared for the first time – in a public forum – my personal experience of Lucid Surrender, and, I struggled with how to language the dreams and how to respond in a forthright way to the interview questions.
The questions Robert and Ed asked of me—like those of a good Socratic Method–helped me to go more deeply into the experiences and put me into touch with a very deep heart-longing to bring the dreams and the learning therein into manifestation. For me, the dream indicated a dissolving of ego positions and fears so that I could more clearly access the essence of Lucid Surrender:
In this dream, my dream teacher in waking life, Nigel Hamilton, and I discuss lucid dreams with two dream beings, who I relate to as Robert Waggoner and Ed Kellogg. Semi-lucid, I perceive these two as lucid dreamers who ask me questions about Lucid Surrender in order to help me express my thoughts more fully on the subject for an interview in waking physical reality….
Suddenly, I find myself standing against a wall with those who question me standing opposite me a room‘s width away…They ask me questions about the lucid dreams, and, when they feel I could answer yet more fully, drench me with a stream of cold water… This reminds me of the way quanta of light have hit my third eye and chest in lucid dreams, and I think of the water as Spirit. But, I don‘t become fully lucid, as I feel too caught up in the dream. I do, however, keep responding.
Finally, I‘ve answered all I can. Feeling exhausted, I walk towards one of these beings who now sits with his back to the scene. I put my hand on his left shoulder and in doing so feel touched by a deep feeling and begin to cry. Moved by the feelings, I bend down and rest my head on his knees. My heart feels wide open as the feelings course through me. The being rests his hand on my back to comfort me…. As I kneel there weeping, Nigel walks up and, in his characteristic quiet manner says, ‘Now look, you can do all you want to understand Mary‘s dreams with your minds, use formulas, mathematics, but you won‘t get the correlations because it has to do with her heart.’
1 Henri Corbin. Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam: Comparative Spiritual Hermeneutics. Trans. Leonard Fox. (West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Studies, 1995) 103. The term ‘Spiritual Science’ refers to a celestial, subtle knowledge of esoteric, internal understanding of symbols and spiritual reality.
2 For more on Lucid Surrender see the Lucid Dream Experience Magazine issues listed at http:// www.luciddreamalchemy.com/page/resources
3 Ahmad Hatif. In Essential Sufism. James Fadiman & Robert Frager, eds. (New York: HarperCollins, 1995) 123.
4 For more on dream-sleep states within lucidity see the chapter ‘Shaman’s Drum’ in Not for Innocent Ears: Traditions of a Desert Cahuilla Medicine Woman by Ruby Modesto and Guy Mount, published in 1986 by Sweetlight Books, and Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light by Chogayal Namkhai Norbu, edited by Michael Katz. Snow Lion Publications.
6 For more on this topic see, Kellogg, E. W. III. ‘The Lucidity Contiuum.’ Paper presented at the eighth annual conference of the Lucidity Association, Santa Cruz, June 28, 1992. The paper is available at The Dream Research Institute, London. ‘Research.’http://www.driccpe.org.uk/portfolio-view/the-luciditycontinuum-ed-kellogg
7 Hatif, 123.