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Dreams As Part of the Spiritual Journey

by Ken Kaplan

In all of the previous columns I have written, I have concentrated on the psychological aspects of dreams and dream work. This includes my worldview, shared by other esteemed dream workers, of the manner in which dreams function to assist the conscious mind in clarifying feelings and personal issues, bring forth pressing issues for integration, and provide pathways for solutions for growth and empowerment.

I want to concentrate now on dreams as a highly significant tool for the spiritual journey, (which includes the personal and psychological), a mechanism within self that literally is omniscient in terms of individual issues and directions of growth. (Omniscient means “all seeing”). This mechanism is connected deeply to the unlimited wisdom of the unconscious wherein we access what is termed God, Source energy, or Higher Self. This omniscience, and it is a term I do not use lightly, means that the dreaming mind knows everything about us and our lives. Its ability to collate information and create a symbolic tableau that shares that information for integration and progress is nearly unfathomable in its brilliance, precision, and what can only be termed, genius.

But, if we have this amazing and profound tool at our disposal, especially as a spiritual tool, why do we not only not use it, but more importantly, why are most of us seemingly unaware of its nature and purposeful existence?

Dreams have perplexed and confounded humanity since the dawn of time. There have been some indigenous cultures that appreciated and used appropriately the power and importance of dreams. And dreams have played a highly significant role in many non-indigenous cultures. The Oracle at Delphi is a prime example. But I would say that it is only recently, in the last 50-100 years, have we truly begun to understand the intricacies of the dream world, and mapped authentically their secrets. Even Freud, for example, the father of modern psychology and dream work, for all his breakthroughs, went horribly awry in many of his core misperceptions about dreams, to the detriment of society.

A great part of the problem for those of us in the West has been the rise of empiricism and material rationalism, the reliance on rational thought and the world of the senses. This worldview rejects much of what would be called the intuitive self, along with the paranormal. In my spiritual life of forty years I have experienced a continual individual and collective reclamation and reemergence of that intuitive, mystical side (channeling, psychic ability, astrology, energy healing, meditation, etc) in what loosely may be termed the holistic-New Age movement. This very magazine is a child of that reclamation. But why has the world of dreams not been more universally included in it?

My perception is that the reasons for this “blind spot” in the collective consciousness are due to a number of factors. The first is that for decades, dreams have been the sole province of the psychological and professional therapeutic community. If one wants to work with dreams, one must find a therapist who does so. Although the last twenty to forty years have legitimized psychics, channels, mediums, readers and a plethora of healers, the emergence of dream workers outside the psychology profession is beyond rare.

Secondly, the world of the “rational intellect” has so dominated the currency of thought in Western Civilization, that a method or vehicle such as dreams that lie completely outside the arena of this currency, by its nature, is inherently devalued. This has also been the case for the other modalities mentioned above, but with two important caveats. In nearly all forms of intuitive counseling or information/energy sharing (mediumship, psychic and card readings, etc.), the conscious mind plays the role of the intermediary. There is a safety in the processing of substance from the inner life that is translated directly to our own conscious minds.

With dreams, however, there is no such immediate mediation. More importantly, dreams have their own unique language, a language that not only is metaphorical, visual, and symbolic, (the antithesis of modern rational thought) but one that has no universal consensus as to methodology and in many cases, meaning of content. Its as if someone gave you a book that said, “In this book are the answers to every issue in your life you have asked or will ask, and much, much more, but you have to learn Greek to read it. And by the way, there are really few good Greek teachers around.” Talk about similarities to years ago when to find a teacher and pursue the spiritual quest was challenging beyond our imagination. Also, a great many people do not remember their dreams and are unaware of how to reclaim them. I also suspect the work involved in learning to engage our dreams, as opposed to having information conveyed by the psychic, channel, reader or medium may also feel daunting.

Because of this lack of awareness, and other factors cited above, there has not been enough consciousness aroused by most of society and even “New Age thought”, to devote effort to entering, learning, about, and using the dream world. We understand, for example, the value of the time it takes to practice and learn meditation, and have an inner map as to the benefit we will gain by applying ourselves to it. But we have no real similar cultural map for dreams. That is part of why I started writing this column.

Returning to the direct application of dreams as a formal spiritual asset, the conduit to the unconscious, Higher Self and wisdom aspect of self takes many forms. Because the Universe is so complex and diverse, the appearance in dreams is nearly unlimited as to how it will occur. One aspect is what we would call a “revelation dream”. An archetype of this would be Jacob’s dream of the ladder to heaven in the Old Testament. Another form is the visitation dream, where we actually contact those who have passed on. A third is the “precognitive dream” or prophetic dream. These will be dealt with in subsequent columns. (“Lucid Dreaming” which can also be a spiritual phenomenon, lies outside my arena of expertise.)

The “wisdom” dream usually will contain elements of Higher Self connection and knowledge relayed in the dream. The dream can be long or short, but usually the subconscious, linked to the unconscious, will select a person or vehicle that has significance to be the messenger of that information. An example of this is a fragment that came to me quickly about four years ago. A woman I know who is the head and center of a rather advanced “New Age” church in our area came to me suddenly while I was sleeping and proclaimed strongly, ‘You want love, but you crave power!” This was an extremely pertinent message and important piece of information for me. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but her energy was unusually vivid. At the time, I had a habit of getting into online fights with political columnists from our local paper and engaging in contentious chat rooms. This dominated much of my time and thinking. My belief is my Higher Self decided and felt it was time to disrupt this pattern to offer assistance in healing it: directly. The person my mind selected was someone who I had the utmost respect and admiration for. One could say, “Why not an angel, or some other ‘spiritual’ figure.’ “ It all depends on the individual, their needs, and how their minds contextualize the relay of the message. There certainly was an angelic and special energy surrounding her appearance. The fact that it came in female form reinforced the power that this had to do with self-nurturing and would fit Jung’s archetype of the anima, or female side of self.

I knew that a deep, penetrating piece had been given to me, one to take seriously. I was being admonished that my repression of my need for love, which I was not in touch with, was being displaced by inappropriate power needs, the need to fight, to be right. However, my deeper self knew what I consciously did not, and was willing in no uncertain terms to communicate that knowledge. I was being asked to look at what was underneath my behavior. That message began a process that has taken time, but because it was so forceful and direct, one I could not turn away from. It sat in me like a Zen koan, or touchstone, and would not go away. How could it? I used it to contemplate, evaluate, and look at my behavior. Slowly I began to deal with the underlying issues. This has, as I said, taken time and I still have the tendency, but it has been reduced greatly. As I have let go of the need to engage in this manner, I have more honestly been able to address the real need for connection to others and the heart that lay beneath and seek supports to strengthen that connection. Always, and still today, the power of the message has resonated within me, a truth I could not escape.

One could easily say, ‘You could get that information from a therapist, friend, or psychic”. True enough. But one would first have to be in therapy or consult a psychic or close friend to get it. **And either be open or looking for it.** But more importantly, when the message comes from within one’s own self, with self’s own decision and timing about it, there is a power, authority, and synchronicity that is different than when delivered by an outside source. And in addition, there already is a twenty-four-seven psychic consultant already within, waiting to be utilized. This is NOT to minimize the importance of our connections and feedback from friends and other professionals, but only to reinforce the power and connection we have already within as a resource.

One last point. Whenever wisdom or information comes, and as I have stated before, every dream, no matter how inconsequential it seems carries valuable information, it must be processed and integrated by the conscious mind. Sometimes there is a misconception that if messages or knowledge appear in a dream, we will integrate or “get it” just by dreaming it. This is a great fallacy, one among many. If you do not involve yourself in a process whereby the waking mind understands and incorporates the messages of dreams consciously, any message will be lost. This is why dream work is of such profound importance.

We will continue this discussion next column with more examples, especially less direct but no less potent ones, to illuminate this point about the overt “spiritual-wisdom” aspect of dreams, and more completely deal with how they aid us as an invaluable tool on our spiritual journey. I will also provide some resources I trust so that readers of this column can begin to explore the world of dreams in even more depth.

Note: Several people have written me asking for help with dreams and do not understand how I work. They submit written material or expect me to communicate or “interpret” by email. I feel for their distress but when I explain how I work, often they “melt away”. My style is Shamanic and I work by phone with the person as the terrain of the dream and its symbols are unique to you. Also, I have changed policy since my first columns. I am a professional and I cannot give away my talents and time for free. My fees are extremely reasonable but I do charge. If you feel strongly as to how a dream has affected you, and are moved to contact me, please respect that. I guarantee my work. Thanks.

Correction: Last issue I thanked authors of Windows of the Soul for illuminating the four stages of the dream, (which I will cover in a future column). After, this credit, I suspected they were not the originators of this perception. I thank then for introducing me to it, but the discovery belongs to Carl Jung. My experience with dream facilitation has led me to believe this was one of Jung’s more important observations. Allusions to it can be seen in my column in the January issue of 2009.

Ken Kaplan is a dream specialist, intuitive counselor, and presenter on spiritual topics. If you wish to inquire about his services, or especially if you desire to work with him on a dream you have had, he can be contacted at kenstories@comcast.net

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