Tuesday 24 January 2017

Progress in understanding dreams

The content of dream images has no great significance. But the drama, the flow, is of great significance...

Whether there is anticipation, whether the anticipation leads to resolution, whether the anticipation leads to crisis. All the relationships of feeling become transposed into the life of the dream.

Anyone who is familiar with dreams knows that ten or even more people may tell of dreams with utterly different contents, yet the underlying state of affairs is the same in all of them.

One man will say that in his dream he was climbing a mountain and on reaching the top had a delightful surprise; another says that he was walking through a dark passage and came to a door which opened quite unexpectedly; a third will speak of something else. 

In the course they take, the dreams have no outer resemblance whatever, yet they originate from an identical experience, namely tension and relaxation which are symbolised in different pictures at different times.

What is of essential importance, therefore, is not the factual reality of the dream, but its inner dramatic action. 

From the sequence of the meaningless pictures we must be able to recognise this dramatic action, for that is the reality in which the soul with its spiritual core of being is living while it dreams. 

This is an entirely different reality from what is expressed in the pictures presented in the dream. 

With the dramatic action you have the gist of the matter. The dream points to deep subconscious and unconscious grounds of the life of soul. But the pictures unfolded by the dream are only a clothing of what is actually being experienced in the course of it.

--- Two passages combined and edited from Sleep and Dreams by Rudolf Steiner - a selection edited by Michael Lipson, 2003---


NOTE: I have found the above insight, combined with a renewed  conviction that dreams are meaningful and significant, to be a key which has had immediate effect on my own dreaming experience.

I have suddenly, and for the first time, been aware of my dreaming on wakening (or beginning to awaken) and remembered that I wanted to understand the dream...

I have then (while still hardly awake) easily been able to recall some of the dream and understanding it in the way described by Steiner above - in terms of a dramatic flow.

The process of recall and dramatic interpretation did not (so far) leave behind much in the way of specific 'knowledge' but does leave a sense of satisfaction, and an awareness of profundity of dreaming (whereas my usual experience of dreaming - 19 times out of 20, is of boring or annoying triviality).

The test of experience is therefore that it is the dream structure which matters, not the specific content; it is the structure expressed in terms of a dramatic flow of emotions or convictions akin to the emotional sequence induced by an effective story (e.g. in a novel, play or movie).

The significance of the dream needs to be 'reverse engineered' from one's sequential pattern of emotional responses to the dream...

This feels like progress!