Saturday 16 October 2021

Why my tedious, mundane, materialistic bad-dreams?

I enjoy sleeping, and generally do plenty of it; but I do find myself irritated by the propensity of my subconscious mind to torment me with dreary dreams - so dreary that they are a significant factor in making me an 'early bird' who tends to rise a couple of hours before most people. 

Getting-up before dawn is a lot better than suffering the tedium of such mundane, materialistic and repetitive dreams as I frequently experience - particularly at the beginning and the end of the night. 

(Because, if I do go back to sleep after such a dream, I will almost invariably take up the same dreary dream much at the same point I left-off before surfacing.)

There is a resentment that I am having these experiences when I might instead (perhaps ought instead to) be experiencing magical and ecstatic - or, at least, pleasurable and interesting - dreams. 

(Note: I do sometimes, quite often, have such good dreams - but they don't seem to need explaining.)

What is the purpose of one part of my mind torturing the other part? And torture not with anything spectacular and terrible, but merely with the kind of dreariness of location and events with which CS Lewis depicts Hell in The Great Divorce.

I seemed to be standing in a bus queue by the side of a long, mean street. Evening was just closing in and it was raining. I had been wandering for hours in similar mean streets, always in the rain and always in evening twilight. Time seemed to have paused on that dismal moment when only a few shops have lit up and it is not yet dark enough for their windows to look cheering. And just as the evening never advanced to night, so my walking had never brought me to the better parts of the town. However far I went I found only dingy lodging houses, small tobacconists, hoardings from which posters hung in rags, windowless warehouses, goods stations without trains...

With me it is likely to be seedy rented flats; dirty, leaking, insecure. Loud and intrusive people crowding in. 

Tiring journeys with inevitable repeated delays; cramped, slow disintegrating vehicles; and when I wander in a state of perplexed dementia - forgetting where I am going and why, but insisting that I keeping-going anyway...

And my dream self is no better than the setting - I am peevish, petty, spiteful and dishonest. Altogether as mundane and materialistic as the places I inhabit. 

What is interesting about these dreams is that they are an exaggerated caricature of everything I have always most disliked In Real Life; living in a context where all is trivial, superficial and sordid - and yet where the people around me insist upon keeping things that way; refusing to think or speak deeply, truthfully, from the heart. Where people strive to conform to a world without purpose, meaning or love. 

My general perspective about this mortal life is that its experiences are for us to learn from; and I believe that this applies to our dreams - including those of which we remember nothing. Our dream experiences are an opportunity for us to learn lessons, and to make good choices and benefit spiritually from them - or suffer the consequences of bad choices.  

Overall; it seems likely that these tedious dreams are trying to teach me that we should choose Not to live like that - and when we do live like that should notice and repent the fact. 

These dreams are indeed a negative of Heaven (that is - Hell); and remind me what it is that I so much desire to escape from - forever - by salvation... Noting that Heaven is as much about escaping from the many bad aspects of myself, as from bad environments.  

It really is an educative shock to bemoan the miserableness of the dream that I have just had, and then to reflect that the whole thing was my doing; either coming direct from my own invention, or maybe as a consequence of my inviting dark spirits into the dream.

It is - at any rate - All My Fault. 

And, if I don't like that sort of thing - then I know what I must do.


Bruce Charlton said...

Ron Tomlinson has left a new comment:

There does seem to be some recent evidence consistent with Sigmund Freud's theory of dreams that their purpose is to keep one asleep, because sleep is so biologically valuable: [last ten minutes or so]

The content of the dreams is then designed to fulfil or to 'explain away' residual feelings in order to prevent one from waking up and acting on them. Obviously it only works up to a point which is a good thing if there's a burglar nearby or the baby is crying.

...I don't want to be too materialistic about this because I recognise that I've had tremendous spiritual value from dreams. I think perhaps because certain thoughts are only possible if one is sufficiently relaxed and this state isn't possible for some during wakefulness, particularly if like me they are prone to over-excitement.

I've wondered a few times whether this is something C.S.Lewis was thinking of when he wrote The Silver Chair. Prince Rillian was only in his right mind briefly during the 'night'.

Doktor Jeep said...

I have observed that the brain will "try out" strong emotions in dreams. As if it were lifting weights or stretching.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DJ - Yes, that's how it often seems. And perhaps this compensates for what is missing from our waking lives? If so, those with miserable lives might expect bas dreams and vice versa.

I recall that CS Lewis was plagued by nightmares throughout his adult life - .

Pletho's Ghost said...

I used to follow the teachings of a modern neoplatonist named Pierre Grimes who teaches that all dreams (And idle fantasies/daydreams) are just the psyche or soul communicating with itself in an attempt to help one correct the false beliefs and conclusions one has drawn. A nightmare, for Instance, is one's soul trying to show one what one has mistaken about the nature of reality by providing one with images and feelings which can be ultimately traced back to their origin and resolved for good. According to Grimes, if you trace it back far enough, you'll end up at moment in childhood (usually early childhood) when the false belief was transmitted to you by a loved one or family member. According to Grimes, once you have traced this false belief back to its ur moment and have seen it clearly and come to understand it completely it thereafter will never arise in one's consciousness again.

However, I have had undeniably prophetic dreams and also dreams in which I encountered entities which were no mere projections of my psyche. Indeed I once encountered my grandpa in a dream, 3 years after his death (God rest his soul). In this dream I was standing in the living room of my grandparent's home and suddenly I saw very strange Humanoid Being, naked and perfectly white standing by the door. I knew beyond all doubt that this was my grandfather, though it looked nothing like he did while he was incarnate. He looked at me and something profound and indescribable passed between us. He opened the door and disappeared. Then the dream ended.

So Grimes is mostly right but sometimes dreams are more than just a dramatic medium the psyche uses to convey information to itself.

The Holy Bible is full of instances in which God uses dreams to communicate and convey messages to men.

I sometimes have nightmares nowadays but they are not nearly as bad and intense as they used to be, Thanks be to Christ.