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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: