Monday 16 April 2018

Dreaming Sleep and Death/ Hades/ Sheol

It strikes me that dreaming sleep (of the usual, broadly nightmarish or bewildering kind) is often like the 'underworld' death as envisaged by the Ancient Greeks (Hades) and Ancient Hebrews (Sheol) - that is a 'demented', passive state of very partial awareness - with perplexity as the dominant emotion.

In sleep; life happens-to-us and we strive, and fail, to make sense of it, and to cope with it. Our minds are porous and connected with the dream environment - we are like the 'gibbering ghosts' of the underworld.

In dreams the environment affects our mind - and our mind affects the environment in a reciprocal causality. We are acted-upon rather than acting: there is no freedom in a dream...

The gift of Jesus is to be born-again, to waken from this unending nightmare - awaken to resurrected eternal life - that is by incarnation to be separate from the environment and act to act in free agency from it; to be alert and conscious and creative in relation to the environment rather than swept-along passively, uncomprehendingly, in perpetual bewilderment.

Dreaming sleep is a temporary death - although modern Man assumes that death is a non-being much like deep sleep: unconsciousness and oblivion, rather than the underworld, nightmare state of dreaming sleep. But by dreaming sleep, of the nightmarish/ bizarre/ confusing/ helpless kind... we can know what it is we are being rescued-from.

Jesus came to rescue Man from the inevitability of the underworld nightmare of death - by resurrection; and with the offer of a gift of life eternal, which is a creative state of divine being.

(But death is necessary: to be reborn we must die; and death is bitter vinegar, as well as purifying hyssop.)


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

As you probably know, Dunne theorized that what happens to the mind after death is in fact precisely the same as what happens to it during dreaming, and that the primary purpose of sleep is to prepare us for death, lest we find ourselves lost upon death in a wholly unfamiliar mode of existence.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I have forgotten that aspect of Dunne. I can't be bothered, these days, with anything along the lines of simultaneous time/ all times at once etc...

I tried to accept this for fair while (because so many other people have claimed to believe it for such a long time), but in the end I conclude that it 'explains' by reference to something utterly incomprehensible and never-experienced.

So it is no kind of explanation at all - more like an anaesthetic (or a blow to the skull).

BTW Geoffrey Ashe's The Book of Prophecy would be of interest to you, I think. His general approach to this kind of thing seems similar to yours. He discusses, and critiques, Dunne among other things. Ashe's basic model for many kinds of genuine prophecy is that somebody in the future communicates (with, typically, only partial success) with somebody in the past - he got the basic idea from Olaf Stapeldon's Last and First Men.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I think "simultanous time / all times at once" is a very serious misreading of Dunne, whose whole theory is built on a determination to take seriously the fact that time is fundamentally something sequential, something that passes, and to work out the ramifications of that. This does lead him to conclude that there is an "eternity" of sorts, a realm in which "a rose that blooms once blooms forever," but his eternity is never a timeless one, never anything along the lines of Boethius.

Granted, nearly everyone who reads Dunne does seem to misunderstand him. One could never accuse him of being a particularly clear writer, and unfortunately the theoretical portions of An Experiment with Time show him at his most opaque. His later books (the even-more-opaque Serial Universe excepted) step back from all the graphs and algebra, and even from the idea of "dimensions," and try to present his core insight from a variety of other angles in the hope of getting through to the average reader -- with, in my opinion, a considerable degree of success. (At least, they helped me a great deal.) But I suppose most readers start with Experiment, find it incomprehensible, and are thereafter disinclined to sample the rest of his oeuvre.

Reformulating Dunne in a way that I hope will be more readily understandable (one can dream, right?) is an ongoing, very long-term, project of mine. I may be posting bits of it from time to time.

Lucinda said...

I had the chance to have a dream recently where I was non-passive and acted courageously. There was still a lot of confusion dimensionally, but there was no mistake that I was going against the social pressure that I usually just bow to in my normal nightmares. Bad guys came after me because of my good actions. It was scary. I almost never have dreams where my life is threatened, because I usually just go along with people in my dreams, and this was the first time I'd ever had people after me because of something I'd done, as opposed to just being in an inherently threatening situation.

After that, I had a dream that showed me something important about how to move forward with a particular decision for my children. I had already made the decision, but the dream was like a confirmation, encouraging patience and signaling what to look forward to.

I bring it up here because it was from this blog that I began to think there might be something significant to learn about myself in dreams. And I appreciate it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Ok, in that case I had indeed misunderstood Dunne!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - Dreams are of increasing interest to me with age` - although my actual dreams are often extremely boring and frustrating! I have almost no influence over what I dream, which gives me the feeling that the content is important to waking thought in a complementary fashion (i.e. the things that need thinking through/ experiencing, but are being neglected).