(Reprinted by permission: Volume 2 (1990), Issue 2 of Night
Of course, the war is unreal for us here.
...dreamed I was in school, in college. A group of us stood outside near
long, low maybe white buildings. Flatlands all around. Then we see a mammoth
army-green airship. It looks like a bomb and I know it is loaded with bombs. We
are afraid. Then we see it gradually lift off, but just barely, and realize it's
our own bombs on the way to the enemy. After a while, another takes off. This
one too, so awkward and heavy, barely gets turned right and gets off. A third
one takes off, turns over, and falls to the ground. No one is concerned because
it's so far away and, anyway, it's one of ours. Then I say, "No, we should
run a little further. It could blow up."
So begins a long, nonlucid dream mirroring perhaps what I perceive as a
singular short-sightedness if not outright lack of awareness about our presence
in the Persian Gulf. Like many dreams lately, this one seems to be sticking its
tongue out at me, jeering: this is a dream! This is a dream! And still I don't
get it. Airships which are bombs which are as rotund as skyscrapers taunt me
with their unrealness, their dreaminess, waiting for me to awaken.
I can't help feeling I'm missing a possibility here. I want to rewrite this
experience as if it had been lucid. I want it to be a dream from which I will
awaken, from which we will awaken, and say, "This is a dream."
The green airship will shrink to normal size. And it shrinks.
The army-green will turn to plant-green. And it does.
The bombs will turn into flowers as they fall. And it is Easter in the Persian
Gulf. The lion lays down with the lamb.
The war is unreal for us here.
And, waking and sleeping in this great country of ours, nonlucidity abounds. Yet
the Gigantic Airship dream leaves me with an unexpected feeling of well-being,
like a seed planted in the springtime. There is a new possibility for awareness.
War is the nightmare in which our fears can awaken us and we will say,
"This is a dream. No action has to follow the course which it seems to be
taking. We are free in this dream to try something new. We are free to pursue
peace, to love."
Perhaps in lucid dreaming there exists a possibility which we rarely seize in
waking life. Lucidity is often characterized by its intensity of emotion and
clarity of thought. I fly in a lucid dream and I am inebriated with the feeling
of flight. But all the while there are new worlds to explore and I must not lose
sight of my destination as I fly. I am lucid. It is a precious moment, like life
itself, and I must not waste it. I remember a saying of Mother Teresa's I saw
the other day. It seemed to speak to me about life in the lucid dream. It was,
for me, in an unexpected place -- at the base of s tick shift in a car I was
borrowing, impressing me as a dream sign in this world of maya. Mother Teresa
said, "A life not lived for others is not worth living."
In a lucid dream, unfettered, unencumbered by the requirements of daily
living, I am given this little jewel, consciousness. How shall I use it? What is
Lucid dreaming is a relatively new area in Western psychology and in my
psychology also. (I am a novice lucid dreamer.) Lucidity certainly is a subject
not much addressed by the philosophy branch known as Ethics. In the East, of
course, there are other traditions: states of samadhi not even imagined by our
understanding of consciousness, techniques for controlling dreams so ancient
among the Tibetans that our experiments look like Kindergarten work. Yet, if we
look closely at the mysteries within our own traditions, often glossed over
through familiarity, we may find there is also a direction for lucidity. In
Christianity there is a saying, "Pray without ceasing."
What does it mean? For me it means that it is not "just
imagination" when I change a dream scene from falling to flying. It is not
"just imagination" when I want to change an army-green airship to
flowers. It is my prayer for peace.
In the lucid dream we are given a moment of intense consciousness. How shall
we use it?
I can see quite plainly the use which comes from following the promptings of
my dreaming self and the sometimes more elevated intentions of my waking self.
These two rare dreams point to two possibilities: the world of adventure and
exploration and the world of inner work or yoga.
Flying to Tibet: I was dreaming I was reading an article about the high
sierras. The top of the snow covered peaks were crisscrossed with skier tracks.
I was disgusted. Suddenly, I was there and as I was looking over the edge of the
mountain, I slipped and fell.
I thought, "I don't have to worry about this too much because it's a
dream and I can turn myself around in the air so I don't get hurt." Then I
thought, "Well, heck, if it's a dream I can just fly back to the top."
That proved easy. I flew to the top and thought, "I'll just keep on
flying. I'll fly to Tibet."
I had a little trouble with this one. I kept losing altitude and had to push
myself through the air with swimming strokes. I wasn't stroking very well and
was having trouble. I saw my husband in a room below and knew he'd have some
advice on how to make my swimming stroke better (he's a more accomplished lucid
dreamer) but I just went on doing it the way I was -- as I was making progress.
Then I saw some houses at the foot of a mountain and as long as I looked at
them and aimed at them, I kept flying.
"But I don't want to get to some houses in California," I thought.
So I closed my eyes and flew with my eyes closed. I said to myself that when
I opened them I would be to the houses, only they would be houses in Tibet. When
I opened my eyes I was in Tibet and I was approaching some houses at the base of
a mountain. I went in one of the buildings. It was an inn. It was very quaint
and clean and was, surprisingly, build with a lot of wood. There were two or
three women in the inn and a girl. One of the women spoke perfect English and
the other one spoke English fairly well, too. I told them I'd like to see the
mountain. They took me to a back room that was built almost right into the
mountain and had a big window facing it. I looked out. Part of the mountain
overhung the house. This was the end of the trail for the pilgrimage to the
mountain and there was even a flight of small steps in wood coming off the
mountain toward the inn. I told the women I wanted to walk up the mountain. This
seemed to please them. I also thought, "I will write myself a post card and
see if it gets home, then I'll know if I was really here." I thought I
would do that even though it might not work because I must be in my astral body.
In addition to this dream of an outer adventure in which physical-seeming
worlds can be explored, there are also dreams in which the true adventure seems
to happen in the inner worlds of feeling, thinking, or, as in the following
Power of Speech: I had dropped my friend off to play some sport in a field. I
was supposed to have a class at the College of Santa For example, . I went there
and it was all dark. I went back to the car by the field and my friend wasn't
there. I was starting to feel a little upset. At first, I couldn't find my car
keys, then I felt them in my pocket. I opened the car door and there were lots
of keys on the seat. Everything seemed a little bizarre and I was afraid. I
realized, though, that I didn't have to be afraid because I was dreaming. So I
got in the car to drive away. I had to pay close attention to driving because
there were about eight inches of snow on the road. I did remember my waking
resolution to pray for healing for my friend if I became lucid. I couldn't
remember the prayer I had been saying immediately so I just said aloud,
"__, I love you." It took a tremendous effort to speak. The sound of
the words when spoken aloud seemed to shake the whole dream scene, myself
included. It was as if some positive and dangerously beautiful energy, like a
lightning bolt, was being released and shaking the elements of the dream.
Then I remember the prayer and I believe I got all the way through it at
least once even though it was so hard to speak. By that time I'd come to a place
on the street where the rest of my family was. I got out and my husband and I
were hanging up laundry on a rack.
I slapped him playfully and said, "Wake up. This is a dream." He
didn't believe it was a dream so I said, "I'll prove it to you." I
jumped up intending to fly, but couldn't. When I came down, though, I started
sinking down into the earth. "See!" I said.
But I kept going down. I looked up. There above me on ground level I saw a
batman symbol. That frightened me. I would have preferred to see Christ up
there. So I started refocusing, saying, "I love you, __." Again, it
was hard to speak and an unusual intensity accompanied the words.
I was awakened by my husband saying, "Wake up. You're dreaming." He
woke me because in my effort to speak I sounded distressed.
Both of these dreams, that of adventure and that of inner work or discipline
(the resolution to pray for healing for my friend) are, of course valid -- one
perhaps with no greater possibilities than the other. My waking self
("ego" might be a more descriptive word in this instance) tends to
want to value more highly the dream in which there is some effort made, some use
of discipline or will, to control the dream by focusing on some prescribed
prayer, mantra, or chant. But perhaps that which is so strictly controlled by my
dreaming self is also limited by it. Perhaps there were hidden temples within
that dream mountain in Tibet or profound beings unknown to the confines of my
education or acquaintance with whom I could have conversed. Perhaps there were
halls of learning or seas of song and I could have opened their books or joined
in their choruses. This brings to mind a question our culture advises we should
not ask. What if there are whole worlds, kingdoms, and existences unexplored by
most of us and yet quite as real as this our waking worlds? In his famous
_Chronicles of Narnia_, CS Lewis says of such a thought, "Nothing is more
likely." And what if lucid dreaming is a door we can open to these
That is to say, what if dreams are not only the product of our neurological
make-ups or of our psychological complexities? What if we exist within a greater
reality of which dreams are a part instead of dreams just existing within our
Supposing the ancients were right. Supposing when we fall to sleep at night
we have a spirit which leaves our body and joins other spirits in the spirit
world? Supposing the whole premise for modern Western technological thought, in
which reality to be real must have weight and breadth and depth, is an
aberration, an overcorrection for a more superstitious age?
Supposing we are really free beings and when we become lucid we can really
and truly walk through the door to another reality, perhaps to a greater
reality? And supposing we change things in those other words, will that change
things here? Is there commerce between these lands? Supposing there's a healing
in one of those other words, there will be some reflection of it here (IU have
heard such stories and they are well worth the telling.) And supposing there is
a bomb stopped there or a peace table filled with men and women of goodwill,
will we see some reflection of it here in the land of solid stuff? What is our
choice in this lucid land? If we can sit down with Ghandi with his passion for
nonviolence and Mother Teresa with her passion for service, what would we choose
to do? What are our possibilities?