By Melinda Ziemer ©2016
For this issue of the Lucid Dream Experience (LDE), the editors have invited us to share lucid experiences in which we have asked “the Awareness behind the dream” to reveal a truth to us.
This request reminds me of lines in a poem by St. Thomas Aquinas in which he relates:
In this context, the question “When?” suggests a longing and readiness to be in relationship with the Divine. This question can also be understood as asking, “Can I be with you now?”
The question When?‘ comes from surrendering not to what is known rationally or cognitively with our minds but to the Mystery we know intuitively and feelingly with our hearts. The question “When?” gives voice to a deep, abiding trust in the belief that the universe originates in infinite love. This trust requires true faith both in our waking life and our dreams.
How do we open ourselves to surrender in lucidity? Over the past ten years, I have had the chance to explore the response to this question experientially in more than a thousand lucid dreams. As a result, I have written at some length about Lucid Surrender in other LDE articles as well as other publications and have given a number of talks on the subject. None of this means I have arrived any closer to a method or definitive understanding of surrender in lucidity. On the contrary, the more I think I know, the more the knowing recedes from the horizon line of the lucid dreams. In this short piece, I will simply offer up some questions to highlight paradigms we may unknowingly or knowingly bring to lucidity. Then I will give two dreams in response.
From my own experience of lucidity, I would say that although our conceptualisation of surrender may be culturally bound (and rather static), surrendering actually goes beyond definition and involves ecstasy, understood in the word‘s original meaning of “coming out of stasis”, and into a more fluid relationship with the richness of the inner world.
In the English language, when a person says, “I surrender”, this implies both agency and will, setting up a paradox in which one willfully surrenders! However, an approach of this kind creates a paradoxical intent: the more I willfully attempt to surrender, the less I can do so. A Romance language like French suggests a more mysterious understanding of surrender by structuring the grammatical relationship in such a way that a more literal translation would be, “I am surrendered” or “I surrender to myself.”
Our response to such questions shapes our engagement with the Awareness behind the dream. This leads me to ask the following questions: If the Awareness behind the dream exists, does it need us to ask questions of it and, if so, why? And, assuming Awareness awaits “the collapse of the wave function” through our questioning, then which matters more: the question itself or the place in us from which the question arises — the mind or heart? And does the question shape an expectation that, in turn, shapes what follows? Can we ask a question without asking? What happens if we remain silent or simply wait and see what happens?
Now consider the above paragraph again, this time replacing the word “question” with “surrender”:
Our response to surrender shapes our engagement with the Awareness behind the dream. If the Awareness behind the dream exists, does it need us to surrender to it, and, if so, why? And, assuming Awareness awaits “the collapse of the wave function” through our surrender, then which matters more: the question itself or the place in us from which the question arises—the mind or heart? And does the form of surrender shape an expectation that, in turn, shapes what follows? Can we surrender without surrendering? What happens if we remain silent or simply wait and see what happens?
To these questions‘, I will add a final one: What takes place in lucidity if, like St. Aquinas, we ask “When?”
Ultimately, as I have come to experience surrender, it means asking “When?” and trusting that the response will be “Now!” The moment of asking requires a willingness to die in the sense of losing your life to find it. Given the numinous rebirth that follows, this death‘ can be met with gratitude, humility and joy, though we may have to learn through the dreams how to develop such an attitude and trust in the dream.
In other articles, I have shared Lucid Surrender encounters in which I have been taken to worlds of light replete with life and learning, but in this short piece, I would like to share two recent dreams that, although essentially empty of forms of light, in very direct and simple ways convey the power and nature of surrender.
In each dream, the question of “When?” seems to come not only from myself but also from the Awareness behind the dream. And the answer to “When?” is invariably “Now!”
Both dreams came during a very difficult period of decision-making in my life that resulted in tremendous change. Over the preceding years, I had been working very hard directing a charity, writing, and setting up a dream research institute as well as going through divorce and moving on into a new life. Before each dream, I spent time in contemplation and prayer.
Both of these dreams feature the presence of what I experience as the holy sands of the Divine Ground. Very often in lucidity, after a transit on the black light or through a wormhole, there comes a stunning downward movement that slows as my invisible, subtle feet gently touch an unseen “ground”. The moment I touch this heavenly earth, it feels as if all the stones, plants, animals, and beings of this holy place rise in me, as if my being has touched the source of Life itself surging upwards. From this Ground of Being, visions of light and exaltation appear. The sands in lucidity herald numinous revelations of beauty, wonder, power, mystery and love.
Given the presence of holy sands in the lucid dreams, I was interested to learn subsequently that in the Sufi tradition, the 12th century mystic, Ibn Arabi describes “the sixth realm of the Sand Dune”, a hill of white sand and musk that he calls a station before the “Garden of Eden” wherein one finds the Presence and Qualities of the “King” — the Divine.
The dream that follows, which I have named “Eternal Sands”, felt like an invitation to delight in pure, Absolute Being. But, as you will see, my mind (ego) needed to be confronted before I could surrender to the idea:
With lucidity, the dreamscape and my dreambody immediately fall away and my being is taken into the lucid space of black light and winds. “I” remain a stationary point of consciousness on the sparkling blackness until I sing a prayer. Then my being feels carried at a tremendous speed across the black light a great distance, as if I ride a magic carpet woven from the words and music of the prayer. I pass through filaments of white light against the shining black. After this comes another infinite expanse of dazzling blackness. At some point, I think, “What would you have me see Lord?”
Eventually I find myself gently deposited belly first onto a sand covered expanse, surrounded by the black light. My subtle body now appears visible to me. Although this sandy space feels familiar from other lucid dreams, normally, I end up set down feet first, and awaiting whatever comes next. This time, I lie there moving my hands like rakes through the sands, aware of the raw silkiness of the sand between my fingers.
Apart from the dome of black light around me, I see nothing else beyond the rounded ring of sand. I notice that the sand looks similar in colour to the sand dunes of the Mojave Desert that I knew as a child on Earth—a warm, golden color alight from within. I feel expectant, as the sands in lucid dreams generally set the stage for a profound, numinous encounter, but this time “nothing” appears.
My mind gets caught up in wondering about all this and what it might mean. But as I let the sand play through my fingers, I begin to feel in touch with eternity and time, the spiritual and earth planes, as if an eternal hourglass cups my being.
As my mind relaxes with the flow of the sand, I become aware of a deep, still Presence pervading the space. Even so, I wonder, “What would you have me do?” and I struggle to get up. With this, a powerful, magnetic force pulls me back down irresistibly, and so I give in thinking, “Ok, I‘ll just rest here.”
I tuck my right hand under my head and finally surrender to the experience. It feels divine to at last do nothing but finger the sand and the very fine, smooth, obsidian-like rocks that hide within it. Doing so assuages not only my own soul, but also, I sense, that of the Spirit alive in the sands. The sands feel elemental to existence.
After some time, my being feels lovingly lifted and returned to waking consciousness. On the way, my mind kicks in again and tells me I ought to have done more but the dream says, “Rest in me.”
The next dream, which I have called “Sand Angels” came a few weeks after the preceding dream and echoes the theme of surrendering to Beingness.
I wake up in the night and sing, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me”. Because I feel so weary, I ask for a dream of replenishment and for a sign that I am on the right path. Then, I dream I walk by the sea. At first, I feel rather desultory but then realise joyfully that I am dreaming.
With lucidity, I again find my being on the black light and winds as the dreamscape falls away. For a moment, I feel at a loss but the winds rock me lovingly on the black light. They carry me on and on at an incredible velocity. I feel too tired to pray or to worry. I simply submit.
After some time, the winds again deposit me belly first on the golden sands. This time. I extend my subtle arms out on either side and make the wings of sand angels. I feel grateful, happy to rest as I run my fingers through the grains of sand. I try to rise but this time it feels as if an unseen hand pushes me down between my shoulder blades. My face rests against the sands. I give into the delight of resting.
Suddenly, I am lifted and taken into an immense hall and quickly whisked around and shown all the contents—a whimsical array of very fine and intricate imaginative figurines carved in a white translucent substance like ivory. I realize these figurines can come to life and that they have a connection to my own life on earth.
I feel inspired, as though I have been washed through with creative sparks. After being whirled around the hall, I am carried back across the black light and re-enter my body. I awake feeling profoundly encouraged by the dream.
These dreams, of “the sands of Lucid Surrender”, bring me a new and deeper understanding of the holy vision of William Blake:
The two dreams highlight that in Lucid Surrender the answer to the question “When?” is “Now!”
They also reveal to me that the Awareness behind the dream asks the same response of me. Surrendering in lucidity has taught me to celebrate the epiphany of the everyday in the eternal sands of time.