Reflections on dreams and myth
An enquiry into the archetype of the divine in dreams and myth
A dream in its very essence as a phenomenon that occurs while the body, in its physical sense is at rest, has always fascinated me. In its very nature as something personal, intimate, and without our conscious control has made many curious minds across ages look deeper for meaning. The fact that our minds even possess the capability to imagine after callous external existence is still a wonder. On one hand, we can argue that our dream world is a natural way to reflect the waking state. A mirror that reflects our waking experiences through haphazard images to project inner desires or nightmares.
Personally, to dream is to allow the mind to float into magical worlds and allow oneself to imagine the impossible possibilities. I have always found the non silence of the nights mysterious. There is something exciting about the night that the day never gives me. The thought of the unknown hidden in dark shadows made the child in me wonder. Many a sleepless nights have passed in my want to confront these unknown creatures. So much so that the overpowering beauty of darkness slowly eliminated those construed fears and horrors. As I allowed myself to build these illusionary scenarios I seldom remember the precise moment when I drifted into a dream state. Somehow my adventures of the night helped me deal with my perilous waking hours. The night gave me refuge without the boundaries of time and space, with silence and beauty to dream.
Stories thread magical realms together, allowing a listener to journey imaginative worlds in the waking state. Stories not only have the power to transcend one’s imagination beyond time and space but also connect to one’s present state of mind and being. I have always believed that stories are dreams of other beings narrated by uncanny foretellers. Mythology has that effect on its listeners. Throughout history myths have survived on temple walls, as holy books and as stories from our ancestors. They form the mystical link between the happenings of ‘now, here, the present’ and the past. As Bill Myers puts it, myths are the songs of the universe, music so deeply imbedded in our collective unconscious that we dance to it even when we can’t name a tune.
The innocent caravans of my childhood were filled with stories from Indian mythology. Festivals, special occasions and family events spread across the year were reasons enough for the elders to retell the same story with the same zest as we listened with same wonderment. My grandparents were amazing storytellers. These stories helped two-fold; it helped me cope with school and the shortcomings of a dysfunctional family. After some point these characters I saw in temples were a part of my imagination and I formed a special bond with them. I had conversations with them in my dream state and they were my friends who I visited every night through the stories told by my grandparents.
Lost in the labyrinth and grime of an adult life, I recognize a shift. As the realities in the day broke harsh strokes of disillusionment, my dreams took to those fears and horrors that I had once confronted as a child. I began to doubt those stories. Anger, pain, distrust, anxiety, failure and lack of direction led to disillusionment and my faith dwindled. Those wondrous creatures and magical worlds have disappeared; those impossible possibilities have become just impossible to reach out to. My nights have gotten as miserable as my waking hours.
The arts managed to give some requiem for my sleepless hours before sun broke its delusion. My days pass with a certain sense of heaviness and emptiness. I spent quite a number of years unaware of this disconnect with ‘That’ energy, is that the Divine? I don’t know. ‘That’ energy seemed familiar, friendly and loving. Like a mother to a child. I have had many fleeting incidences of strangers delivering her cryptic messages. An orange clad sage rattled a poetic foretelling of the misfortunes that my family was about to face when I stood at the steps of my childhood home for the last time. Few years later, a woman with knotted hair stopped me on a busy street and demanded me to cleanse my energies. Almost with fierce motherly concern she asked me to connect to her, the Divine. In another, yet bizarre episode that shook my slumber was when a random auto-rickshaw driver, this time in a more djinn like persona demanded me to remove, what he referred to as ‘gandagi’ (dirt or misfortune) within me. Besides the unease from these incidents, I did sense a complete dejection from the world. Almost as if I was not to be where I was, the melancholic lull seeped into my relationships, my practice and my dailiness. It took a while for me to recognize and confront this discomfort. I felt a need to run…but not with a specific destiny. This was very evident in my dream state.
A recurring pattern: As my dreams crafted a very dark, rusted and dry landscape from which I ran, in recurring circles. In those dreams, my dead ancestors come alive and live with a youthful energy. Almost to say, ‘I will live this through you, don’t give up’.
The realization that my insomnia had a lot to do with my faith and my connection to her, the Divine, was something that has struck me now. It was an ‘aha’ moment with a regretful sign for having wasted so many years with a lump stuck in my throat. Was it a required struggle for the ego to realize the negative in me that forced such melancholia to my existence?
In realizing these dark patches of grey within, I got angry with myself. In time I figured the only way was to build a relationship with the worst parts of one. To give in to the feeling and trace its origin, learn from it and heal with it. I do believe that dreams and myth have the power to realize that silent space which allows us to connect to our pure consciousness or Brahman. But for that I first have to conquer doubt, let go of fear and find faith. I chose this topic to reconnect with my faith on ‘That’ energy source, in her, the Divine and un-grow (for lack of a better word) to that child in me that conquered those fears and horrors with wondrous joy and magic.
Theoretical explanation and elucidation
Among psychologists of the west only Carl Gustav Jung has taken a superior view and adopted a different line of interpretation. Dreams, according to him, are not mere embodiment of suppressed wishes and fears, but they convey much more. To quote him:
“Dreams may give expression to ineluctable truths, to philosophical pronouncements, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, anticipation, irrational experiences, even telepathic visions, and heaven knows what besides.”
Dr Mrs. Latha Kuppuswamy ‘Insight into Dreams’
In the Hindu tradition, we don’t agree with western views. We see more meaning in dreams. We look for signs and symbols to interpret the onset of an omen. Hindus have analyzed the status of the mind in nearly all our religious literature as Jagrat (waking) Swapna (dream) Sushupti (deep sleep) and Turiya (an experience of pure consciousness beyond the three stages of sleep). The Vedic literature treated dreams as prophetic- conveying some message of the future. It has references to dreams in the Rig Veda, Kaushitaki Brahmana, Chandogya Upanishad and other classical Sanskrit literature.
Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh explains dreams in a beautiful way in his book The Philosophy of Dreams,
“Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like a letter written in an unknown language. To a man who does not know Chinese, a letter written in that language is a meaningless scroll. But to one who knows that language it is full of most valuable information. It may be the letter calls for immediate action; or it may contain words of consultation to one suffering from dejection. It may be a letter of threat or it may speak of love. These meanings are there only to one who would care to attend to the letter and would try to decipher it. But alas! How few of us try to understand these messages from the deep unseen ocean of our own Consciousness!”
S.Swaminathan –‘Do our dreams have meaning?’
This seemingly inactive activity of ours has not been given much importance in its passive and unconscious state, unless the mind manages to remember a nightmare or the physical memory bears witness to REM. The experience of the dream state is so unique and personal. The ultimate aim is to finally transcend into a state of self revelation into ones inner worlds. Sleep and dreams are not just an ordinary by-product of a hard day's work, but an opportunity for growth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo points out, integral Yoga cannot be suspended when the hour strikes midnight ... no, it must go on he says,
"Sleep changes into an inner mode of consciousness in which the sadhana can continue as much as in the waking state, and at the same time one is able to enter into other planes of consciousness than the physical and command an immense range of informative and utilizable experience."
- Sri Aurobindo
"You can become conscious of your nights and your sleep just as you are conscious of your days. It is a matter of inner development and discipline of consciousness..().. "Sleep can be a very active means of concentration and inner knowledge. Sleep is the school one has to go through, if one knows how to learn his lesson there, so that the inner being may be independent of the physical form, conscious of itself and master of its own life. There are entire parts of the being which need this immobility and semi-consciousness of the outer being, of the body, in order to live their own life, independently."
- The Mother, ‘The Yoga of Sleep and Dreams/ The Night School of Sadhana’
According to the Mother's experience and knowledge one passes from waking through a succession of states of sleep consciousness which are in fact an entry and passage into so many worlds and arrives at pure Sachchidananda state of omplete rest, light and silence, - afterwards one retraces one's way till one reaches the waking physical state. It is this Sachchidananda period that gives sleep all its restorative value. People's ideas of sound sleep are absolutely erroneous. What they call sound sleep is merely a plunge of the outer consciousness into a complete sub-conscience. They call that a dreamless sleep; but it is only a state in which the surface sleep consciousness which is a subtle prolongation of the outer still left active in sleep itself is unable to record the dreams and transmit them to the physical mind. As a matter of fact the whole of sleep is full of dreams. It is only during the brief time in which one is in Brahmaloka that the dreams cease. (Yoga in Everyday Life – series 9, ‘Sleep and Dreams’)
Receiving messages in dreams
Dreams have a way of transcribing messages through signs and symbols, sometimes clumsy, sometimes very frightening and dreadful. The Mother shares a beautiful story of a writer who struggles to complete a chapter he was writing. She says his mind continued the chapter in his dreams. The story phrased and rephrased itself, making it quite obvious that his ideas were not arranged in the most appropriate manner and had to be rearranged. This was conspired in his dream where the writer was in his study with several armchairs. He was arranging and rearranging them in the room, until he found the most suitable place for each one. Finally realizing that his piece of writing required just that, rearrangement.
I remember the story of Andal’s dream. She was the only daughter of a pujari, Vishnuchittan, of the Ranganatha temple. She falls in love with Lord Ranganatha and has several dreams of marrying him. Her friends and family make fun of her but she doesn’t give up. She makes flower garlands for the temple idol and often tries it out herself in complete vain. On one such occasion, one of the strands from her hair gets caught in the garland, not knowing this, her father offers it to the idol, and the idol covers itself with hair. He chastises his daughter for dressing up as a bride with garlands belonging to the Lord Ranganatha. Lord Ranganatha appears in her dream again and summons her to Srirangam. Resplendent in silks, jewels and garlands, Andal sets off in her pearl-encrusted palanquin. At the corner of the Srirangam temple, she sees the Lord in His gem encrusted pallakku (chariot). She gets down, rushes to Him, enters the holy temple and merges with Him. Andal’s dream comes true. She sang about her dream in beautiful Tamil verses known as Varanam Ayiram. This is sung in all Tamil Vaishnavite weddings.
Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan said that he received his inspiration and mathematical solutions in his dreams. He attributed this to the Goddess at Namakkal. He said:
“While asleep I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of results in elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing”
Apparently before great men were born, the women had strange dreams. Bhuvaneswari Devi, mother of Swami Vivekananda dreamt of Siva agreeing to be born as her son. Being a great devotee of Lord Vireswara Siva of Varanasi, she gave the name Vireswara to her son. Later it was changed to Narendra and then to Vivekananda. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s parents experienced supernatural incidents, visions before his birth. His father Khudiram had a dream in Gaya in which Lord Gadadhara said that he would be born as his son. Chandramani Devi is said to have had a vision of light entering her womb from Shiva’s temple. Gauthama Siddhartha’s mother Maya Devi and King Sudhdhodana were trying for a baby for twenty years after their marriage. One day she had a dream of a white elephant with a lotus flower in its trunk going around her three times and entering her womb. Before this she dreamt of bathing in a lake in the Himalayas. She was carried away to the lake by four angels in her dream. Mother of Mahavira Trishala had 16 auspicious dreams before his birth. When King Siddharth consulted his astrologers they told him that there were 72 auspicious dreams according to the books on dreams and the king was going to get a son who will rule a spiritual empire. Trishala saw. (S. Swaminathan –‘Do our dreams have meaning?’)
The interesting aspect of the stories in Indian Mythology, is that they are usually meant to convey subtle facts, rules and maxims to guide our daily lives. The stories in Indian mythology vary from subtle maxim conveying tales of Panchatantra and Jataka-tales to subtle life paradigm defining stories from the Bhagvad-Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata. A key point to note is that there are usually multiple stories explaining the same fact at various occasions, events and festivals. Each version is right in its own merit. This is a result of the natural evolution, where stories might have gone through in the process of being handed over from one generation to another for centuries. The stories have fantastical imagery with characters and scenes that transcend time and space. The imagery of these stories were meant for its listeners to grasp life lessons from its subtleties. These metaphoric signs and symbols in Indian myth and folklore represent the many facets and skills of the many characters portrayed as gods, goddesses, demi-gods and demons.(pic: 4)
For instance, Ravana, the villain of the story of Ramayana, is portrayed as a ‘ten headed’ rakshasa. But one can debate whether he really had ten heads. Ravana, was immensely talented. He was a master of Veena, skilful in politics and an expert in astrology. He had a deep knowledge of the Vedas and Upanishads. He was considered as good as ten scholars and his ten heads was a symbol of his extra-ordinary intellectual ability. One school of thought suggests that his mastery over four Vedas and six Upanishads add up to ten. The image of ten heads was conceived to indicate the multi-faceted personality of Ravana.
Similarly the thousand arms of Karthaveerarjuna, the king of Hehaya, is assumed to indicate his fighting skills. Another example would be the four heads of Brahma which show his ability to see into the future and past. Four hands of Vishnu would point towards his skills in handling multiple weapons.
Another fascinating find was the reason for yagna. I have sat through many of yagnas and I been drawn into the ritual with a certain energy that can only be described as a trace, attune to the subliminal senses. It was through this study that I actually understood the intent behind it. Myth on the yagna offering - In the early days of creation, Devas were suffering from shortage of food. They approached Brahma for a solution. Brahma decided to convert the ‘havissu’ (offering during yagnas) offered by Brahmins into a usable form for Devas. Agni (fire), however did not have the ability to burn (dahanam) the offerings so that it could be used by the Devas.
Brahma meditate, Moola Prakriti (primodial) Goddess appeared and asked Brahma what he desired. He requested the Goddess to co-exist with Agni so that the offerings could be burned. Brahma said that only when havissu is offered with mantras ending with the Goddess’s name could it reach the Devas. The Goddess, Swaha, became Agni’s female counterpart and co-exists with him. Hence, we find all the mantras during yagas/yagnas end with the word Swaha. A havissu offered to fire would be done so with the word Swaha. Agni derives his power to burn (dahana shakthi) from Swaha, his wife.
The journey through the first eight days of the course made me realize a certain need to reconnect with my faith and go back to the stories from Indian mythology that were once familiar earworms. I started with reading Sita’s Ramayana, where Devdutt Patnaik illustrates the book as ‘one of the many maps of the human mind, an open-source document evolved by generation of thinkers, a narration that evokes empathy and affection for the human condition.’
Still in the midst of reading the epic, the many layers within the story lead to the many variations in the sub-stories that have its origin from across the sub-continent. This prevalence proves its deep rooted influence on the minds exposed to its stories. It is somehow in us, within our unconscious consciousness influencing our thoughts and actions. There is, however, a larger need to reclaim its essence from the popular understandings and elucidation of the epic. In recent times the epic is loosely used for political power, defend cultural morals or/and drifts onto the extremes of feminist milieu to denounce patriarchal excuse.(pic: 5)
At the very beginning the epic sets a tone for its readers to contextualize its contents to one’s personal being and behavioral patterns, when Ashtavakra says to Janaka, ‘Animals fight to defend their bodies. Humans curse to defend their imagination of themselves. This imagined notion of who we are, and how others are supposed to see us, is called aham. Aham constantly seeks validation from the external world. When that is not forthcoming it becomes insecure. Aham makes humans accumulate things; through things we hope people will look upon us as we imagine ourselves…Aham yearns to be seen.’ He speaks of the human mind and its need for validation through individualism. This realization leads to fear. And human fear is unique, fuelled by imagination, it seeks value and meaning. Yagnavalkya shared his understanding of manas in the courts of Janaka, ‘Every human creates his own imagined version of the world, and of himself. Every human is therefore Brahma, creator of his own aham. Aham Brahmasmi, I am Brahma. Tat tvam asi, so are you. We knot our imagination with fear to create aham. Tapasya and yagna are two tools that can help us unknot the mind, outgrow fear and discover atma, our true self.’
Another powerful insight was Vaisishtha’s advice to Ram on being a hermit while leading the life of a householder, ‘Conduct your yagna as only a tapasvi can. Ignite the fire, tapa, which needs no fuel, within the mind. Light the outer physical fire, agni, which demands fuel. Tapa will transform you while agni will transform the world around you, Tapasya will burn your hunger. Yagna will feed the hungry. Tapasya will reveal fear that generates aham. Yagna will help you discover love that reveals atma. Tapasya works on the self so that we can focus on the other. Yagna focuses on the other so that we can work on the self. Tapasya helps you understand rules. Yagna helps you impose rules.’ Tapasya enables a human being to determine how he values himself and dictates the way he conducts yagna in society. The epic illustrates this aspect for what seems noble in the beginning as Ram detaches himself from Ayodhya and leaves to the forest becomes horrifying at the end, when he detaches from his wife for society. The epic draws attention to the dark side of detachment.
Another eye opener was the confusion with the varna (mindset) referred to in the Vedas and the jati (community) that shapes Indian society. The possibility that the varnas were initially developed towards psychological aspect of the human mind rather than the social division opens up the idea of personality and type. The depth in understanding personality types rather than birthright seems less constricting. A person of any profession or gender possibly have the mindset of a follower, a trader, a master or a seer and this could change depending on one’s upbringing and choice. With the label of caste, this has had its negative interpretation which has ruled popular imagination over centuries.
Breaking down the messages from myths
The Hero’s journey in ‘A Hero with a Thousand Faces’ by Joseph Campbell were my references in breaking down the symbolism in myths. A hero is someone who has found or achieved or done something beyond the normal range of experience, given his life bigger than himself or other than himself. The hero either undergoes a physical deed – war act or physical act of heroism by sacrificing his life to another or a spiritual deed/ hero learned or found a mode of experiencing super normal range of human spiritual life and come back to communicate it.
The Hero’s Journey:
1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
With the interpretation of Ramayana, Ram’s journey as a hero can be seen as a metaphor for the awakening the human consciousness. His journey into the forest can be interpreted as the undomesticated mind, wild, primal and frightening. In the path towards self-discovery he confronts his own wild nature, primal instincts of desires and fulfillment without boundaries. It is believed that Ram kept his bow between Sita and him at night to stop himself from his sexual instincts. The arrival of sages is the gradual awakening of human potential.
The heroes usually go through tests and trials for transformation of consciousness through Illuminating revelations. It is considered that the hero gets the adventure that he is ready for. The landscape transpires this readiness and is the manifestations of his character. The hero’s initiation process can be seen as connecting to his or her divine or pure consciousness, which Campbell describes as the hero’s spiritual conquests. We see this in all great religions, where the protagonists or heroes have all gone through an initiation process through tests and triumphs. Moses, Buddha, Christ and Prophet Mohammed, in their journey faced what he calls the spiritual hero deeds. Like Prophet Mohammed who belonged to the camel caravan tribe would leave his home to mediate in a cave in the mountains. He finally hears a voice that says ‘write’ and now we have the Quran.
The concept of Sacrifice plays a pivotal role in most myths. These motifs of sacrifice through trials in a hero’s journey are not about reward but renunciation. Campbell says the biggest trial is transformation of the self into one’s consciousness. He says giving up the self; the real problem is thinking of the self and protection of the self and the realization lies in losing oneself and giving the self to another. One must be careful in looking at this aspect as a martyr; it has to be looked at symbolically and selflessly for realization. It could be giving up of one aspect of oneself, a sort of unlearning that comes with awareness and realization. The process is almost like the initiation process, like the rites to passage. For instance, a child growing into an adult moving from infantile psyche with psychological dependency to psychological self responsibility.
Another aspect of the hero’s journey that resonated with my readings was the relation to fragmentation of the mind, character or personality. More to do with the aspect of breaking down one’s ego, Campbell calls this ‘the belly of the whale’ which is a dark space of consciousness – a decent into the dark. Psychologically the whale personifies all that is in the unconscious, water is the unconscious. The creature in the water signifies the dynamism of the unconscious which is dangerous and powerful. And the creature has to be controlled by consciousness. The hero leaves the light (his comfort zone), confronts the monster at the threshold, being his own thoughts. He is either eaten and cut into pieces or fragments and goes into the dragon/ monster or defeats the creature. To assimilate that power is to transcend his humanity and confront the powers of nature.
Looking deeper into the statement of the soul is to find one’s purusha to manifest the mystery of Brahman. So in that sense, all of us have our own journey as the hero. In a given field of time, we must consider it as a privilege, appreciate and honour the Divine’s will for the soul’s journey. As a vehicle for this life in time we must use this body, mind and vital to deal with experiences as though they really are meant to be. Each of us can make a choice on how we want to manifest this mystery of Brahman, the truth of our life.
To detach one’s identity from one’s ego and offering it to the Divine is what our minds restricts us from doing. The mind thinks it runs the show but as Campbell points out it is after all a secondary organ of the total human being and it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.
Messages from Collective dreams and myth
Carl Jung’s definition of archetypes manifests themselves through archetypal images (in all the cultures and religious doctrines), in dreams and visions… The collective unconsciousis a universal datum, that is, every human being is endowed with this psychic archetype-layer since his/her birth. One cannot acquire this strata by education or other conscious effort because it is innate. We may also describe it as a universal library of human knowledge, or the sage in man, the very transcendental wisdom that guides mankind. (From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.)
The act of sharing one’s dreams within a community is real for a tribe in the jungles of the Amazon. For the Achuar Indians, everyday reality is the dream and hallucinations and dreams are the ‘real’ reality. There is continuity between dreaming and waking. Every morning, before sunrise the tribe sits in a circle and tells their dreams of what came up the night before with a cup of special tea, just as we might wake up to our morning coffee and newspaper. Among the tribe no one dreams for the individual. They dream for the collective. It’s only in sharing the content that they get the full picture of what a dream means. And so their dreams are interpreted as a group.
"We dream together. We co-create together. We could move our consciousness from being a conversation about 'me' to being one that's about 'we,' about our experience together. (Schlitz, ‘Amazon Dreaming’)
The universal human journey is one of becoming conscious of our power and how to use that power. Becoming conscious of the responsibility inherent in the power of choice represents the core of this journey. Seen symbolically our life’s crisis tell us that we need to break free of beliefs that no longer serve our personal development. These points at which we must choose to change or to stagnate are our greatest challenges. Every new crossroads means we enter into a new cycle of change. And change inevitably means letting go of familiar people and places and moving on to another stage of life. This has its significance especially in this phase of my life as I realize more and more people moving away from my life and making way for newer connections and experiences. I see a natural progression in the growing distances with certain relationships and the rekindling of another kind. This holds true of certain places and things as well.
When we look at the collective Ego or something Caroline Myss calls tribe consciousness in her book, ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’, she says ‘personal responsibility does not exist in well-defined terms; it is easier to avoid the consequences of personal choices in the tribal milieu. Tribal responsibility extends mainly to the physical areas of our lives, meaning individuals are accountable for their finances, social concerns, relationships and occupations. The tribe does not require members to take personal responsibility for their attitudes they inherit. Spiritually conscious adults however can no longer utilize tribe reasoning.’
My need to work in groups or with someone and my fear of stepping into the world and putting myself out there as an individual stems from this need to identify with a tribe conscious or a group ego. This works for some and does not necessarily need to work for all. I realize I belong to the lot that needs to work individually to realize the individual’s journey and purpose. Breaking away from a tribe has been another realization with initiation process.
Personal Findings and Developments
To know that we spend more than one third of our existence in sleep, it was a revelation on the wonders dreams can create only if we allow it to or should I say allow myself to do so. I found it quite amazing to trace so many philosophers who have found prophesies and prophetic paths in their dreams. This to me is a clear indication of them connecting directly with the Brahmaloka and accepting to carry forth the wishes of the Divine. To begin with these are merely documented history; to imagine the millions of untold stories…
As mentioned in the introduction, I truly believe that myths remind us to connect to our pure consciousness and dreams allow the psyche to get closer to ones’ soul and connect to one’s pure consciousness, in Brahmaloka. I have been noting down my dreams over the last four months, I have done it in the past and its inferences have scared me so much so that I feared doing it again. But I began this attempt - to document my dreams with the intent to heal and re-connect with my faith in my waking state. Beyond that was to reconnect with my soul tribe, my sisterhood, That energy above and within, the Divine. I still struggled with falling into sleep; the moments leading up to it still remained tedious and forceful. Almost as if the Mother herself were telling me, ‘It is not a right method to try to keep awake the whole night’. I found myself making excuses and finding reasons not to sleep, instead I read.
As a pattern I almost always woke up feeling heavy, tired and exhausted. The revelations from the stories I read played its role in my dream state. My ego resisted the awareness that came from being conscious to these learnings and unlearnings. In retrospect I noticed that the more I resisted, often unaware of this resistance, I felt more exhausted waking up and my day remained unsettled. This happened in a cyclic pattern, till I got aware of it. The awareness came from my reactions to people and situations during the unsettled waking hours. I found myself to be edgy, angry and ever questioning. I realized the questions I asked were resentful. It came from a space of resistance, of not letting go and closing myself from exploring beyond my comfort zone. Reading Campbell’s ‘A Hero with a thousand faces’ got me aware of this resistance. I realized I still was in the ‘resistance’ phase or ‘refusal to the call’ phase of the initiation process. It reminded me of the samudra mathan story. The churning that brought out the inner toxins and poisons. And the only way to overcome this was first awareness, acceptance and submitting to the manifestations of the universe, pure consciousness and the Divine. Slowly, my fixed habitual physical pattern, eased up to me and I didn’t have to force myself as much to sleep.
‘The suppression of the needed sleep makes the body tamasic and unfit for necessary concentration during the waking hours. The right way is to transform it and not suppress it, and especially to learn how to become more and more conscious in sleep itself. If that is done, sleep changes into an inner mode of conscious in which the sadhana can continue as much as in the waking state, and at the same time one is able to enter into other planes of consciousness than the physical and command an immense range of informative and utilisiable experience.’
– (The Mother, ’Yoga in Everyday Life: Sleep and Dreams)
I have only begun this journey to work on my sleep. I am aware that I have a rather long way inwards, to really allow myself to experience, accept and follow my journey. Learning from my world of sleep and the world of myth are mere reflections of what I cannot conceive in my waking hours. Somehow the mystery of the unknown path seeps well with the mysteries of dream and myth. I have come to realize that one relates to myths as it is a mirror of one’s ego. We identify ourselves with a myth as it mirrors our inner truths or ego in a very invasive form. Often the same myth reveals different truths about one’s ego at different points in one’s lifetime.
Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from a realization of some kind. And you find expression in a symbolic form. We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble there lies your treasure.
Everybody goes through their fluctuations as an individual - from childhood dependency, adulthood, maturity and through the exit, we all relate to society and some get the privilege of awareness to relate with the cosmos and then the society of the cosmos. As a community we are far regressed from the tribe of the jungles of Amazon. I do agree with the researcher when she thinks of the possibilities in sharing our dreams would fit many pieces of a puzzle. But we are so far messed out that even thinking of a community that seeks to share seems like a privilege.
Mythology across the world speaks a truth that can’t be grasped. It carries a mystery about the source of life, a certain truth that cannot be understood. It is transcendent because it is the mystery of all human research. Mythology is the interface between what can be known and what can never be known. Maybe because if that light is revealed to us when we are not ready we simply cannot handle it. Stories give this mystery out because it is important to live with knowledge of its mystery with your own mystery of the unthreaded path. As Campbell says, ‘It gives life a new zest, new balance a new harmony.’
Going with that mystery of the unknown path, the path of the known holds much need for improvement and change. Personally, the course has opened another layer to my understanding of body, mind and soul. With the knowledge of presence of the pure consciousness, universal soul or the Divine within, I feel like I hold a responsibility to carry out the manifestations of the soul’s journey. In realizing this I do intent to deliver the Divine’s manifestations in this universe with my truest and fullest potential, joyful participation and infinite patience.
“Myths are public dreams and dreams are personal myths”
– Joseph Campbell
In the many findings from various texts, scriptures, Indian philosophers, and to that matter western psychologists; it is certain that the night soul allows for the physical, vital and mental being to connect with Brahma, Brahmaloka. The individual’s surface matter can connect to the intermediate psyche to receive and connect with the pure consciousness of the individualised soul as long as there is the will to do so.
Sri Aruobindo also warns us as he describes this as a plane of experience where a person “enters into a wide range of experiences which are not the limited solid physical truth of things and not yet either the spiritual truth of things. It is borderland where all worlds meet, mental, vital, subtle physical, pseudo-spiritual- but there is no order or firm foothold – a passage between the physical and the true spiritual realms.” (Aurobindo, 1971, p1053) All spiritual traditions warn of the dangers here and advice the aspirant not to get detoured by this sideshow, for the true goal lies beyond.
With consciousness – there are all kinds of consciousness that is in harmony, as an organism – plant consciousness, animal consciousness, we share all of these things – the whole world is conscious. My personal revelations have been multifold and I see its value seeping into my work and practice. Our experiences carry energy that influences our physical, mental and vital planes, which are all connected and interlinked with not just our own individual energy but the energy of the universe. To raise my consciousness with my physical, mental and vital I need to raise my soul’s higher adventure.
I believe I need to be more forgiving of the shortcomings of this instrument, whether it is my mental thoughts or up-heaving vital reactions. The fragments that encompass my physical, mental and vital being need to take care of each other. I realize I have been hard on myself for not living up to the expectations of the society. There was somewhere an awareness that came in with rebellion, few years back when I rejected these superficial demands of the system. But there is a struggle in rejection for swimming against the tide always is much harder. I realize I lost faith. And that made be angry. I have become more aware of my own shortcomings whilst trying to be a observer without reaction or judgments. I realized that I tend to accept people and situation, suppressing my anger which led to more self harm. Fact remains that those emotional experiences encoded itself onto my physical, vital and mental. It remained as memory in the many parts of me and showed itself through behavior and such. I would like to believe that this hard shell is one its course to erode. I am truly grateful for this realization.
I would like to commit to becoming gentler on myself and using the form of meditation to find calmness and silence, to find that place of rest within myself. Whether it is in expression through arts, or healing through therapy I see merit in this influencing my surface instrument to reach its full potential. And in doing so, I believe I will realize my soul’s purpose. I believe I am already on that path – to make meaning as I walk along this untamed forest and its mystical creatures.
I would like to end this report with this beautiful secret shared to Duran by his guru whom he refers to as his root teacher;
‘There has always been a dream. Everything is still the dream. All that we call creation and Creator is the dream. The dream continues to dream us and to dream itself. Before anyone or anything was, there was a dream, and this dream continued to dream itself until the chaos within the dream became aware of itself. Once the awareness knew that it was, there was a perspective for other aspects of the dream to comprehend itself. One of the emerging dream energies, or “complexes,” that came from the chaos of the dream and still remains in the dream as a way for the dream to recognize itself, is called “human beings.” Human beings required a way to have perspective and reference, and because of this, another energy emerged from the dream, and this is known today as “time.” It is from the two energies of dream and time that the third was given birth to, and that third one is known as the “dream time.” Dream time is also known as “mind,” which is by nature luminescent and pure. And the dream time mind is reflected by the emptiness of awareness.’
Eduardo Duran, Psychology as the Study of Soul’s Dream
I would have to say that this project has opened out unthreaded or rather forgotten weeded and dry roads. The ground needs to be shoveled, nursed with lots of water, so that the seeds that were once sown might wake up again. It needs care, love, a bit of stars and much light. I recognize that I am far from realization but definitely on the path to transformation. In retrospect or maybe introspect I reckon that I am probably using my dreams as an indicator to the damage created by my ego. This process has given a whole new definition to the term, ‘stepping back’, ‘silence’, ‘magic’ and ‘compassion’.
In dream Kabir chanced to met God,
Who awakened him from his sleep,
Fearful he does not close his eyes
Lest the dream may remain a dream.
Kabir, Of Origin of Devotion
Papers, articles and talks
- Dr Mrs. Latha Kuppuswamy – article - ‘Insight into Dreams’; http://www.journalofastrology.com/article.php?article_id=151)
- S.Swaminathan –‘Do our dreams have meaning?’;
- From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325; google
- Schlitz, ‘Amazon Dreaming’, http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/may3/schlitz.htm)
- Aurobindo, 1971, p1053; ashram website, google
- Eduardo Duran, Psychology as the Study of Soul’s Dream, pdf document
- Kabir excerpt from ‘Of Origin of Devotion’, google
- Devdutt Pattanaik on TED talk - Youtube
- Joseph Campbell with Bill Myers - Youtube
- ‘Anatomy of the Spirit – The seven stages of power and healing’ Three rivers press, New York by Caroline Myss,
- ‘Sita’ – an illustrated retelling of the Ramayana’Penguin books, Devdutt Pattanaik
- ‘The secret Language of Dreams’ – David Fontana
- ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’, Joseph Campbell
- ‘The Yoga of Sleep and Dreams/ The Night School of Sadhana’ by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
- ‘Sleep and Dreams’ by The Mother – book; Yoga in Everyday Life – series 9
- Cover page painting by Pallavi Chander
- ‘Exit’ by Pallavi Chander
- ‘Escape into the city’ by Pallavi Chander
- ‘Stories’ by Pallavi Chander
- ‘Ram, Lakshman and Sita’ by Raja Ravi Varma