Imagine a distant garden, far away from the world´s ups and downs, a place where you really can rest, sleep and heal, such as The Garden of Epicurus, Wang Hsichih´s The Orchid Pavilion, or The Last Homely House in Rivendell.
In order to understand the nature of dreams you must simplify your life. In old days this meant to become a nun or monk. Today you can do this through the philosophy of idleness.
Dreams are a continuation in the sleep of the thinking in the awaken state. The awaken state´s thinking is primarily characterized by words, while the thinking in the dream state primarily is characterized by images. When you fall asleep the thinking in other words dissolves in images.
The thinking´s structure is the personal, collective and universal images in time. So, in dreams you experience the thinking´s structure. The personal and collective images work in past and future, while the universal images work in synchronicity with the Now.
The collective images are the area of primordial images, archetypes, religious images, symbols, teachers, higher worlds, other dimensions etc. They are form-formations of energy, creative up-tensions, a kind of matter, though on a highly abstract plane. These images exist in other words in the actual movement of the matter, and therefore not only in your mental activity, but also outside you in nature. They reflect themselves in your personal images, more or less vaguely.
Only you yourself know what your personal images are, but usually you don´t understand the conflicts. Due to the challenges of the Now the Ego is created. The Ego is the source of your conflicts. The Ego makes resistant against the Now, and therefore in fact against reality. This resistance consists of problematizing the Now by evaluating, saying yes and now, accepting and denying, comparing with earlier and hoping, desiring or fearing something else.
In this way the Ego creates a line of thought distortions of reality.
Feelings arise where the mind and the body meet. They are reflections of the mind in the body. Feelings can also be a reflection of a whole thought-pattern. A thought-pattern can create an enlarged and energy-charged reflection of itself in the form of a feeling. This means, that the whole of the thought´s past also can create a reflection of itself in the body. And if this past is filled with pain, this can show itself as a negative energy-field in the body. This is the emotional painbody.
In the concrete dream-content, which can be personal or collective, the universal images work in form of symbols. The symbol is a telescopying, a representing quintessence of the informationquantities, which the wholeness of the universal images contain. In this way the symbol-function of the dreams has a developmental function, which works with the person´s developmental level (the level of realization-work and ethical practice). This means, that dreams seek to put together, to synthesize and join, what the Ego in the awaken state has divided.
The developmental function tries to show you the map of your spiritual history, the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your spiritual life – your progressive karma.
But therefore it is also impossible for the Ego in the awaken state to understand the dreams. It can well be, that the Ego finds that the dreams cost identitical clarity, but the Ego can logical seen not understand their function. Much dream interpretation is therefore completely deceptive. The Ego must let go of its desire after control.
Furthermore the dream state is connected with the body. When you fall asleep the energy flows away from the head and down into the body – you can feel it when you become sleepy, and your feet´s becoming warm. And therefore dreams are more characterized by feelings than by thoughts. The typical feelings in dreams are characterized by the five existential categories of suffering: unreality, division, stagnation, anxiety and meaninglessness. These are in Mediation as an Art of Life inextricable linked with the painbody.
Feelings are the body´s reaction on the thoughts. Feelings arise where the thoughts and the body meet. They are a reflection of the thoughts in the body. The thoughts create a build-up of energy in the body. It is this energy, which is the feeling, and it is in this energy the images of the dreams show themselves. In order to understand a dream you therefore have to try to feel it rather than to think it. And if there is conflict between a positive thought (all of your desires and longings) and a negative feeling, then the thought is a lie and the feeling is a truth.
The five existential categories of suffering are a part of your life-situation. In this way suffering has a past and a future. The past and the future form an unbroken continuum, unless the Now´s releasing power is activated through your aware presence, which is the goal with Meditation as an Art of Life. Behind all the different circumstances which constitute your life-situation, and which exist in time, there in other words exists something deeper, more essential: life itself, your being in the timeless Now itself.
If you activate this deeper dimension you will get the opposite categories: reality, cooperation, movement, safety and meaning.
The Ego-weakening, and the dreams´ connection with the body, causes that the energy-laws of life work much better in the dream state. In other words: dreams balance the energetical swings of the thoughts. And dreams seek to finish unfinished situations.
If you follow your dreams you will see, that wherever and whenever the Ego´s awake life - on the background of evaluations using opposites - has slipped out in one extreme, then the dream-process seeks to balance this imbalance by insisting on the opposite extreme. If you awake were too gentle, the dreams depict the more stubborn and unfriendly sides in your personality. If you were too negative, the dreams seek to bring the positive aspect into light. And each and every time the Ego in the awake life reacts on the challenges of the various situations, by using the past, an unfinished situation is left behind. The dreams seek to finish this as good as possible. As you know you are cursed to re-live the same dreaming themes again and again – until you begin to examine yourself, and change and restructure your thought-patterns, so that you can let go of the situations.
So, firstly the dreams have a developmental function through their symbol-function (progressive karma). Secondly the dreams function with reference to bodily and energetical balancing and regulation of the swings of the thoughts (compensatory karma). This, the self-regulating system of the dream-process, is a Sisyphean task though, as long as you in the awake life don't help.
This help is Meditation as an Art of Life.
Your dreams, and the five existential categories of suffering, will typical revolve around three of four themes (it can be less or more). The themes are due to particular painful/problematic events in your life. The first step in Dream Yoga is to be clarified over what kind of themes your dreams typical revolve around. Therefore you must begin a process of remembering your dreams. You can do this by writing your dreams down in the moment you awake. Later you won´t need that.
The states of dreams can be grey, lucid and astral, which again correspond to the personal, collective and universal images in time. In the grey state you don´t know you are dreaming. In the lucid state you know you are dreaming, but you don´t know you are lying here in this bed and are and sleeping. In this state the creativity of the consciousness is set free in a fascinating degree.
In the astral state you know all this, and your consciousness can so to speak follow the dissolvement of the thoughts out into the astral worlds of the collective and universal images of time. In this state you can leave your body and use your dreambody to travel elsewhere, meet other astral travelers, and receive teaching from dream masters. In this state you´re like Peter Pan.
But the area of the collective images of time are a dangerous place full of pitfalls.
Central in Dream Yoga is the discrimination between subject and object, dream and reality - and what is lie or illusion, and reality. All original wisdom traditions have knowledge about this. The Dominican mystics call this step discriminatio, the ability to discriminate between how the energy is used temporal or religious. And despite that magical thinking actually can create something magical, then in true spirituality it is still something temporal, or relatively (black magic/occultism), which will create negative karma if practiced. The Orientals call it viveka, discrimination, the ability to use your will on that part of the energy, you can steer yourself, and steer it towards exercises, prayer, mantras, meditation, instead of towards career, worldliness, self-unfolding, as for example the New Thought movement wrongly preaches. Hereafter you let the process work by itself.
So, in spiritual practice it is of vital importance, that you begin to practice Harameditation (or other supporting religious/spiritual exercises), if there should occur lucid and/or astral states. This consists quite simple in stopping the fascination of the anti-spiritual (ego-based) experiences and temptations, and instead focus the awareness in Hara, and therewith lead the awareness in towards the source of consciousness. This will lead the consciousness towards the more universal images of time, which work in synchronism with the Now.
If you remain in, or explore the astral worlds of the collective time, which the astral state gives access to, then you in other words distract your awareness in past or future. This can cost awakenness and life energy, if you aren´t under guidance of an enlightened master. In addition it can cause Ego-inflation and other spiritual crises.
It is in other words very important that you do not move accent from awake day to dreams and sleep, do not use drugs or one-sided development techniques, which promise you great experiences concerning either lucidity or astrality.
You have to have patience. Even for people with a regular and well-ordered practice (2-3 hours every day) there can pass weeks, months or years between the reflections into the processes of dreams and sleep. However if practice is appropriate, the spiritual consciousness will with time automatically penetrate the nightlife´s vegetative forms of consciousness.
The nature of dreams is equivalent to the nature of death.
1) Let the dreams work by themselves as flowers.
2) Don´t interfere in their self-regulating system.
3) If you interfere they will get more distorted.
Dream Yoga is about fertilizing the nightlife´s vegative forms of consciousness.
Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection with Mystical Experiences (this article is about the nature of symbols).