Electric Dreams

 Spirituality in Dreams

Jean Campbell

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 Campbell, Jean (1999 December). Spirituality in Dreams. Electric Dreams 6(12). Retrieved July 13, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

When I first heard that the word *yoga* and the word for joy came both from the same Sanskrit root, meaning "to yoke", or to join with the Universe, I nodded my head. Yes, that seems right.

Sometimes, I believe, we mistake religion for spirituality. And though it's true that religion can be spiritual, or lead to spiritual experience, the two are not the same.

Instead, I think, the spirit is our connection with the greater universe, the ineffable, the unknowable; and dreams, like some yoga practices, can open this connection, join us to our joy.

When I began to dream lucidly, back in the early seventies, my dreams many times involved the sound of bells--

*It is dawn, I rise from my straw pallet on the floor of a bare, stone room, go out to the still-warm tiles of the church roof overlooking the plaza, and pull the enormous wheel attached to the deep-voiced bell in the belfry. Bbongg, bbongg. I ring in the day with joy.*

In another dream, I am floating at the ceiling of my apartment living room, riding the sound of a dozen different bells. "Bells, bells, bells, bells," I chant, laughing and flying.

In both of these dreams, the sound of the bells filled me with joy which surely touched my soul.

The sound of the bell has been used world over, and throughout time, from Tibetan monasteries to Catholic cathedrals, not just to summon the pious to prayer, but also to signify "pay attention," and to lift our hearts. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord," the scriptures say.

Another time my dreams involved the bells, I was traveling in Switzerland where, led by a dream, I recorded the sound of a Sunday drive across the Alps to Salzburg.

This trip actually began with a dream, when Jungian philosopher, Dr. Marian Pauson, announced a class trip to Switzerland. Of course I couldn't go, I thought. I had a full time job and no extra cash.

A week or so before the registration deadline, I dreamed that I went to Marian's office. One entire wall of this office in the dream was covered by an enormous metal sculpture, a copper sunburst which chimed like a gong when touched.

Touching the sculpture, sending a thrill of sound down my dream spine, Marian told me I would be going to Switzerland. And then an old friend offered to give me a check to cover half the trip, but only if I promised to go.

A few weeks later, at sunset, I was on my way up the mountain from Montreaux to the inn at Caux where the class would be held. My friend, June, was at the wheel of the little red Renault rental car. I turned my head to take one last look at Lake Geneva before it was lost in the curve of the mountains. Suddenly time stopped.

I remembered my dreams, one in particular, from my teenage years. In this particular dream, I am part of a line of young women, dressed in peasant garb of long stockings, mid-calf skirts, and embroidered woolen vests over long-sleeved white blouses, making my way down toward a shining lake and a group of young men. We are all happy and laughing. The language we speak is French.

I realized at some point in my life that, prior to my meager college studies of the language, in many dreams I had been speaking in French.

What an oddity, I had thought. Maybe I had a lifetime in France. Then, quite suddenly, as I looked at Lake Geneva, I was aware of *being* the young woman in the dream. I *remembered* going down to the lake, and I remembered the convent life which followed.

The paper assigned for this class in Switzerland was to take a symbol from a dream during the class and analyze it deeply, examining the hermeneutics of the symbol. I knew before leaving that I would take the symbol of the bell.

On the last evening of the class, filled with a spirit of nostalgia for all that we were about to leave, we students solemnly circled the inside of the tiny chapel next to the inn, each bearing a long, white taper. At breakfast that morning, Dr. Marian had sat down wearing a puzzled expression. "I was dreaming hymns all night," she had said. "I wish I could remember the words."

Hum the tune, we told her. We had gathered around her at the circular table on the patio, listening as she hummed.

"Oh, that's easy," June, the musician, had said. "I know it." So did others of us.

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation," we sang.

Now, marching twice around the chapel, holding our candles against the twilight, we sang, "Oh my soul praise Him, for He is our strength and salvation."

The old German hymn spilled easily from our lips, a paean to all the creative joy we had experienced.

"All ye who hear, now to the altar draw near. Praise in profound adoration."

The King of Creation seemed to grace this Jungian effort at understanding creativity. Like specks of creativity thrown off by the light of the larger flame, we stood in the twilight door of the chapel, the sky outside the doorway fading from blue to purple against the fire of sunset on snow capped peaks.

The next day, after saying goodbye to our friends, June and I left to drive across Switzerland, across Austria to Vienna, where we would spend a few days before our return to the United States.

That was Saturday. On Sunday I woke with a smile. Now is the time, I told June, to begin recording the bells.

Almost the minute I pulled the tape recorder from my pack, church bells began to ring from near and far, echoing against the mountain. Nearby, the clank of a cow bell joined the cacophony.

In Salzburg we visited the upstairs apartment in which Mozart began his life. It was easy to understand from here why the music of bells was so important to Mozart since nearby, close enough to see and hear, is the famous Salzburg Carillon, rising above a cobbled square.

We went to the square and sat on the edge of the fountain there, waiting to hear the bells. Now, this is a world famous instrument, on which it is possible to play any tune. A crowd gathered to hear it play. On the stroke of one, the bells rang out: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation...."

June and I looked at each other in disbelief. Wow, wouldn't Marian be impressed when we told her this. Talk about synchronicity. We elbowed each other and laughed.

The mighty Carillon finished the hymn, paused for a moment and began again. Like an echo of our earlier walk around the candlelit chapel, the bells began to play, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty...."

And again, a third time, the carillon played the same tune. By this time, June and I were howling with laughter, tears streaming from our eyes, weakly holding onto each other, much to the concern of some others in the crowd at the base of the bell tower. Crazy Americans.

The final mystery of this trip came not long after I returned home. I was awakened early one morning from a dream. All that remained in my consciousness was a voice saying to me, "The monastery is gone now."

Whether or not this series of dreams had to do with another life, and whether or not they had to do with a Christian life, I feel that the *gestalt* of the experience is clear. In order to reach our joy, in order to connect with our spirit, no particular religion is necessary: no monastery, no church, no building or physical location. Only a willing heart, and a spirit ready to en-joy the world, to listen to our dreams.


Jean Campbell is the author of _Dreams Beyond Dreaming_ and one of the first members of ASD and one of its first conference presenters. At that time she was the director of a consciousness research organization, Poseidia Institute, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where, among other things, she conducted dream research. After pursuing doctoral studies at The American University in Washington, D.C., . she is now working on her second book about dreams _Group Dreaming: Dreams to the Tenth Power_. Jean also has interests in teaching people how to utilize body consciousness while working with dreams and conducts sessions and workshops in DreamWork/BodyWork. You can also find Jean hosting the Bulletin Board as the Association for the Study of Dreams: