As a natural result of this process of unfolding, and as the person works through deeper and deeper psychological issues, then you feel a person will naturally have more lucid dreams, right? Why would working through psychological issues naturally lead to lucid dreams?
Of course it is quite possible to induce a lucid dream using a mental technique or by some technical means. However, for me, the phenomenon of lucidity represents a stage of consciousness which can potentially awaken us to our inner light. In my experience, this inner light lies beyond the imaginal interworld of our dream images and our thoughts.
By working on our psychological issues we are doing two things: firstly, we are removing the barriers between waking and sleeping so as to enter the subtler inner worlds, thereby expanding our viewpoint and our perspective and secondly, we are releasing that part of our ‘spirit energy‘ that is trapped in a psychological complex. The form of the complex could be represented by a dream image which, when its gross form dissolves, releases the trapped energy to be reintegrated as part of a newer subtler consciousness.
Indeed I see many of our dream images as reflections of the way we perceive our problems in everyday life. By dissolving the image lucidly in the dream or by working through our attachment to a particular way of thinking/ feeling in the waking state, the energy contained within the image (complex) is released, our perception is changed.
This released ‘spirit energy‘ is free to revert back to its original pure condition, and in doing so our essence is enhanced, we feel revivified. We begin to emit or radiate light (like an excited sub-atomic particle that has been released from its fixed orbital). To sum up, we became more conscious of our inner life, such that the initial lucidity and subsequent increased lucidity follows quite naturally.
When we have done sufficient work on ourselves, the accumulation of emitted light (released energy) begins to manifest in our waking and dream states – it has the effect of ‘waking us up‘ in both. This light becomes increasingly subtle and brilliant as we continue to clear up ‘our stuff‘. Ultimately we begin to see that light underpins every subtle, gross or angelic realm in the dream state.
So what common dream or lucid dream experiences would emerge, as a person works through their issues? How might that express itself?
To begin with, psychological problems often emerge in dreams symbolising the conflict between different parts of the psyche, showing us we are identifying consciously with one side only.
Later, when a balance has been achieved between these opposites, we are released from the psychological complex, freeing up the stuck energy.
As a result, our spirit is re-energised, our perception and awareness becomes more subtle. Usually, symmetrical images/symbols such as a square, a cube, a triangle, a sphere etc. appear (along with numbers such as 2, 3, 4, 5 (and multiples of the same) signifying the balancing of opposites in the psyche.
These geometrical shapes can manifest through various forms such as food, a house, a landscape etc.
Light and clear colours start to appear in the dreams/ lucid dreams. Of course there are many opposites in us that need to be united, but as the process proceeds, more and more light appears in our dreams until eventually there is more light than imagery.
To sum up, once the conflict is resolved, the dreamscapes start to show purer, clearer colours. The appearance of verdant green is significant as it relates to the archetypal ‘Tree of Life‘, the rebirth of spirit.
Do you have an example of a lucid dream that exemplifies this? What happens?
A woman in her forties had for many years struggled with painful past experiences, which had affected her self-esteem and caused feelings of depression from time to time. After working in therapy for some time with her dreams, in particular, using the waking dream technique, she began to break the grip of negativity.
One night, after being awake for several hours and feeling negative, she had the following dream with a markedly different quality:
“I am moving through various human environments inside a large building (some positive, some negative) and am aware of my self-determination as I move through. Then by conscious (lucid) choice I go into a long black tunnel and travel very fast and powerfully (able to alter the force with which I travel at will) towards a light at the end. I come out to a very green place and see in the distance below me a man crossing with a few cattle. One of the cattle has a red saddle or bag on its back.
Through the tunnel again I emerge into a beautiful (symmetrical) garden. There are other people there but they don’t see me. I am completely naked and walking around but it feels very different to normal waking. I am still lucid. I have an incredible sense of freedom – to go anywhere in this pure state. It is exhilarating”. (A few days later I have a kundalini experience in my dream.)
Some lucid dreamers may realize that Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, has a deep history with lucid dreaming, dating back to teachers like Ibn el Arabi. As the UK head of the Sufi Order International, can you help us understand the significance of dreams and lucid dreams for those on the Sufi path?
For the Sufis, our dreams/lucid dreams show us how the state of our inner (interworld) world has been influenced by the external physical world. However, the whole point of meditation, prayer and dream practice on the Sufi spiritual path is to transmute the grosser (distorted) mental images of one‘s interworld, which has been influenced by our material conditioning, into their pure archetypal state – which clearly reflects/mediates the Divine light (our spirit) in/into humanised images. These archetypal forms inhabit a resurrected inner world (interworld) which the Sufis call Hurqalya, the Celestial Earth, the realm of light forms and beings.
Paradoxically, it is both Divine, eternal and yet it has also been created by us during our spiritual journey. We perceive it via our subtlised imagination (mirror of our mind/heart). The realisation of Hurqalya represents the culmination of our human/spiritual potential, before we experience the absolute state of fana, Oneness with God.
Thus, through the practice of lucid dreaming, we can progressively dissolve the worldly or psychological influences of our mind, to reach a resurrected world of light forms – archetypal lights, which the mystic actively participates in (whilst still in the physical world).
Besides dreams and lucid dreams, the imagination can also play a role in connecting the person with the Divine, right? I seem to recall that the term, ‘albarzakh’ suggests this.
As our Imagination becomes less conditional and more creative, archetypal images come spontaneously to our consciousness from this interworld or ‘bazarkh‘. These images are the carriers of archetypal vibrations, soul qualities, aspects of our essence, the Divine light that seeks to be known through and by us.
From your perspective, if someone sought to use lucid dreaming for spiritual growth, then what basic principles should they follow? For example, I have a personal rule to ‘attend to’ the area of greatest emotion or energy in the lucid dream. By doing this (and not flying away, etc.), I often learned things and resolved issues quickly. I even felt that I was being shown things, in the hope that I would resolve them.
Try to get a sense not only of what the dream is about but, what it is trying to tell us. Certain images, or areas of the dream contain the emotional energy or motive of the dream. Also remember the dream is always showing you the limits of your thinking. The more we are able to let go of our personal perspective, the deeper we penetrate into the inner self until we reach a point of freedom from our perspective. This is the dawning of the light of our true Being.
Do you have a personal example of a lucid dream along your path that gave you insight, or touched you deeply? What did you take from it?
Day 28, Sunday 6th September 1998
“Drifted off to sleep and began dreaming. Then I became conscious I was dreaming and saw an angeliclike landscape of light around me. At this point I woke up and continued focusing. This was more than a visionary experience where you see a visionary landscape but you are not actually in it – a sense of remoteness like interacting with virtual reality. Instead, I was actively participating in the landscape. It became real. It was unbelievable in its heavenliness.
Seeing the porousness of the landscape i.e. seeing sky through the landscape was amazing. Then I saw beautiful lakes with islands in them. It was a most beautiful, remote scene. Untouched until my eyes had fallen on it. Then I began to move, not by walking but by „driving’ as though I was in a car – but there was no car.
I descended down into the forests, working my way through. As I „drove’ through I was aware of the colours. Reddish purple earth, no grass, very green trees, leaves, bushes. Shortly I was descending further through this thick greenery when it became a little darker and it felt dangerous. I didn’t like the feeling and as this place was unknown to me I decided instinctively to withdraw. I ascended up an incredibly steep incline, up and up. Finally, I was able to look down to see a vast descending mountainous slope.
The top was covered with a cloud that was filled with light. I again felt anxious as I did not know where I was or where to go – not down again – and I couldn’t see further ahead. Immediately a huge light appeared on my top right (perhaps my guiding light) and I turned towards it and I was lifted, soaring up into this angelic light – slightly pale, brilliant green. From there I soared upwards on and on but by now I was conscious of my physical body again and at the same time was able to see this beautiful, subtle light.
I realised that we exist on several levels of reality at the same time, i.e. I was aware of my body lying on the bed, and yet I was simultaneously conscious of and participating in a completely different world. Not only that, but I was then transported by light into another, even subtler world of light, beyond the imaginal forms, whilst still being aware of my body lying on the bed. I concluded that I had several bodies, gross (physical), subtle and very subtle (light).”
From reading this, it seems that deeper and deeper ‘integration’ appears as a primary goal of the transformative process. Where does this integration lead?
Integrating the multiple levels of consciousness of the inner world leads to a state of illumination, what the Buddhists call ‘Luminous Mind‘ in which we not only see the lights of each level of consciousness, but we see the Divine light as the underlying Oneness behind everything.
If people want to learn more about your book, and the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education in London, where should they go?
To find my book, contact Karnac Books in the United Kingdom at www.karnacbooks.com. They have an American publisher/distributor.
To read about the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (CCPE) go to www.ccpe.org.uk.