Dream sleep — How to understand it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

dreamPeople have random eye movements under closed eyelids (REM) from time to time when they are asleep and if wakened at these times they report  dreaming. In this way sleep researchers found that most people dream for about a fifth of their sleeping time. A person of age seventy-five will not only have  slept twenty-five years, but will have spent five years dreaming! We need this  for, if deprived of REM sleep for a while, we become disturbed and even psychotic. Although occasionally there is speech in dreams, it is mostly composed of dramatic visual representations. There are no proven scientific theories to explain the experience. So why is it important? How can we understand it?

Why your dream is not easy to understand

Clinical psychologist Wilson Van Dusen, wrote that dreams tend to deal with a wide range of present-life concerns of the person. The precise meaning of any one  however is unclear, even though it makes use of people, situations and objects familiar to the sleeper.

Because of familiarity with the content, it isn’t immediately apparent that the dream uses things and people in a symbolic manner. In this way whilst getting an inkling of what is going on — we are protected from a blunt expression of those inner concerns and desires we would rather keep from daytime awareness.

Dreaming is thus a personal process that need to be understood in a personal way. And so a book offering a general meaning of dream symbols is probably not valid.

If you haven’t worked with your own dreams, they can easily seem to be a mishmash of elements into which one could read almost anything.

How to understand a dream

  • When you next wake up after the dream, jot down a phrase or two about it in order to jog your memory later.
  • The next day try to get back into the dream, reliving it. Slowly tell the dream to yourself. What were you feeling at different points. Ask yourself, ‘What did it feel like when …. ?’ ‘How is that like my life?’
  • Pretend to be a person you dreamed of, and tell the dream story from this perspective. You may get clues as to what the individual figure represents in you.
  • Assume everything in the dream is you. Your most conscious day-time  feelings and thoughts are shown by you in the dream. Less conscious aspects are represented by others eg one’s future potential, choice points, what is hoped for. See what you associate with each person, place or thing in the dream.
  • Summarise the dream and listen to the summary for its meaning.
  • Reflect a little on the rest of the dream’s connections during the day and you may find the remaining meanings.
  • The only valid interpretation of a dream is that which you, the dreamer, give to it.

Revelatory nature of dreams

In using images in a symbolic way it is as if the dream is allowing you, the dreamer, to remain in freedom to listen or ignore its message. If your dream simply said you boast too much or waste too much money, it would not only would be a distressing insult but one you could not fail to see. Instead it offers an intriguing drama you can try to remember and work out only if you wish.

Carl Gustav Jung suggested that dreams come from a level more objective than one’s subjective point of view. Dream images are not from the dreamer’s usual subjective sphere of thought and language. It is as if what the dream is saying goes beyond our daytime conscious understanding to reveal something true about the inner quality of our life. It possesses a higher wisdom and knowledge about all our memories, hopes and fears.

The reality of our inner mind

In his books The Natural Depth In Man and The Presence Of Other Worlds, Van Dusen gives a clear picture of the hidden reality of our inner world. His understanding not only comes from his own experience as a psychotherapist working with his patients dreams but also his study of Eastern and Western philosophy, particularly the extraordinary insights and often frightening experiences of Emanuel Swedenborg. Van Dusen concludes that in a wide range of states of consciousness (including that of dreaming) an inner world is revealed as precisely Swedenborg describes.

This is a hidden realm of spirit which will become fully conscious to us all following our bodily death: a spiritual world which permeates all our human minds, whilst we still live on earth, with inflow of high and low desires, pure and corrupt thoughts, as well as beneficial and harmful impulses; an influx of good and bad influences that are perfectly balanced to preserve our inner human freedom.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on18th December 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags, , , , , , , , ,, , , , Leave a comment

Evidence of life after death – Is there any?

We have all heard about so-called communications purportedly from a spirit world through mediums. However, less well known are those where no medium is involved. These have been called ‘after death communications’ (ADCs) and might  be seen as evidence of life after death. An ADC is defined as a spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a deceased family member or friend.

Is Marian’s ADC evidence of life after death?

For example Marian aged 71 years who lives in Florida was in bed reading one evening. Her father had been dead for 33 years but she suddenly  heard his voice urgently telling her to get out of the bed. She walked into the  family room and sat down for 3 minutes wondering. She then felt the whole house shuddering with things rattling in cupboards and falling off shelves. Going outside she saw why. A heavy branch from her neighbour’s tree had fallen on her  roof; a totally unexpected event as it had been a windless night.  In her bedroom she discovered three enormous holes in the ceiling and her bed covered with lumber, plaster, and debris.

Are such reports about what dead loved ones say, just the wish fulfilling fantasies and dreams of grieving people as most professional social care and health workers say, or are they genuine communication from the  dead and thus evidence of life after death? It is difficult to argue that Marian was grieving for her late father,  given the length of time since her bereavement.

The Guggenheim’s evidence of life after death

evidence of life after death
Judy Guggenheim

According to research by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, ADCs happen surprisingly often and many first-hand accounts are reported in their book Hello from Heaven.

They point out that, since many religions specifically warn against summoning ‘spirits’, all experiences that involved seances, Ouija boards, crystal balls etc., were excluded from  their study. They advertised for first-hand accounts of after death communications and spoke with 2,000 people in North America filling more than 10,000 pages of interview transcripts.

Perhaps it is only in reading these that one can make an informed judgment about their credibility as evidence of life after death. Confidence about this is increased when the receiver is not in a state of grief and when unknown information is received.

Is Millinda’s ADC evidence of life after death?

Another example is that of Millinda. She and Tom grew up together as next-door neighbours. She lost contact with him after she moved to  Texas. Ten years later she woke up one night and saw him standing at the bottom of her bed in a Navy uniform. She had thought he was intending to become a Catholic priest. He said, “Good-bye, Melinda, I’m leaving now.” And he disappeared. After three days she received a letter from her mother saying Tom had been killed in action serving as a chaplain in the Navy. More evidence of life after death?

Are Swedenborg’s ADCs evidence of life after death?

Most people who have an ADC do so only once. However Emanuel Swedenborg was someone who reported having many ADCs from the spirits of dead people. These were not loved ones for whom he had had any sense of loss or grief.

According to his testimony, he did occasionally experience the after-life in a dream or vision, but nearly always it was in a state of full wakefulness so that he could retain his full freedom and exercise his human judgment. He wrote up these extraordinary experiences in meticulous detail and included reports of these in his theological and philosophical books.

The reason people today who experience an ADC is often specific – to warn them of some danger, to prepare them for the shock of a sudden bereavement, to provide them with needed help, and to reassure them about the well-being of a love one who has died. However in the case of Swedenborg the purpose was to provide a comprehensive description of the after-life.

He describes what he calls ‘the spiritual world’ as similar to the life with which we are familiar. He says, however, it does not follow physical laws but rather reflects human feeling and thought.

For all that, it is just as real as our world and in fact he emphasises the solidity of what is seen there and the individual spirit body of each inhabitant.

“After death, we enjoy every sense, memory, thought, and affection we had in the world: we leave nothing behind  except our earthly body. Repeated experience has witnessed to me that when we move from the natural world into the spiritual, which happens when we die, we take with us everything that pertains to our character except our earthly body. In fact, when we enter the spiritual world or our life after death, we are in a body as we were in this world. There seems to be no difference, since we do not feel or see any difference. This body is spiritual, though, so it has been separated or purified from earthly matter. Further, when anything spiritual touches and sees something spiritual, it is just like something natural touching and seeing something natural. So when we have become a spirit, we have no sense that we are not in the body we inhabited in the world, and therefore do not realize that we have died.” (Swedenborg Heaven and Hell section 461)

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on3rd February 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags,, , , ,, , , , ,, , , , , , Leave a comment

Ley lines dowsing – Are they valid entities?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

ley lines

 

Review of The Sun and the Serpentine by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller.

Some matters talked about in new age circles are attractive for those who have a sense that there is a mystery to life. Two examples of topics that resonate are ley lines and dowsing – and they come together in this book. But do ley lines exist and does dowsing work?

Ley lines are alleged alignments of such places as ancient monuments and megaliths, ridge-tops and water-fords. It is claimed that these lines have spiritual power and that their intersection points resonate a special psychic or mystical energy. Some people think they were selected in earlier times for the spiritual benefits and revelations bestowed by nature. Others however suggest finding straight lines that “connect” sites, should be put down to coincidence given the high density of historic and prehistoric places in Britain.

The authors are firmly in the first camp. They claim that ley lines do exist and that a  general ley line runs right across southern Britain for 300 miles from the far west of Cornwall to a point on the east coast of Norfolk. It is called the St Michael’s line which takes in many historic places such as at Glastonbury, Avebury and Bury St Edmunds. It is claimed dowsing reveals two specific ley lines of enigmatic flows of energy meandering around its course.

To dowse is to search, with the aid of a simple hand held tool. For example this can consist of two rods simply and quickly made for example from a pair of metal coat hangers cut appropriately and bent into a right angle. What is sought is otherwise hidden from view or knowledge. Dowsing has been used to look for underground water, archaeological remains, cavities and tunnels, oil, and veins of mineral ore. It is also claimed to detect subtle energies that surround certain things.

Dowsing apparatus has no power of its own but merely amplifies slight movements of the hands. The subconscious mind may influence the body without the dowser consciously deciding to take action. Dowsers maintain that they are intuitively perceiving a mystical force through divination. Scientists are more likely to explain dowsing in terms of firstly physical cues that the dowser senses without realising it, secondly what the dowser expects to find, and thirdly what is probable given the specific situation.

For some people, reading this book may be an exasperating experience. There is little or no attempt to accommodate to the reader who might not share the authors’ instincts and intuitions. We get speculation often voiced as faith, theory presented as fact.  This is not a book that addresses questions about the methods used. Nothing about the expectations of the dowsers. Could they have independently confirmed each others results without prior knowledge? We do not know. Neither does it address the level of statistical probability for ley lines and confidence one can place on the patterns found.

On the other hand perhaps we should take into account what has been called ‘the common feeling background’. The researches of philosopher and psychology teacher James Pratt have revealed a mild form of mystic experience which is the sense of the presence of a reality through other means than the ordinary perceptive processes or the reason. This feeling is said to be often overlooked although common place. The reason he gives is that those acquainted with it are frequently hesitant or ill prepared to describe it.

I can sympathise with the view that earth is a mother that gives us life and that industrialisation has progressively created a situation where humanity works against nature instead of with it. However, whilst realising our present way of understanding and treating the earth is wrong, I do wonder whether this talk of ley lines as an alignment of sacred sites and the earth as a living creature might just be a wishful expression of this realisation?

In his account of the spiritual dimension to life, Emanuel Swedenborg does not mention ley lines or dowsing but does writes that there is an  energy that flows into the natural world via a hidden spiritual realm. According to this view, the earth is not alive in itself but receives a flow of energy originating from its divine creative source.

Swedenborg writes about how spiritual enlightenment is needed if we are to perceive reality clearly. We need to intuitively tap into the mystery of life because our physical senses cannot tell us all there is to know. At the same time we need to use our physical senses and thinking ability to confirm and understand what we intuitively perceive. In his spiritual philosophy he tries to write about his own deeper perceptions in a rational form as possible. At the same time he knows only too well that what is deeply true transcends even the rational degree of the mind.

So what to make of ley lines, dowsing and the book The Sun and the Serpent ? I still don’t know!

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on 29th September 2011Categories Consciousness, Mystical experienceTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment

Tell the future – Is this possible?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

tell the futureOne perfectly natural desire is to want to tell the future. We pick up our ears when we hear of foretold events. Who would not want a few days foreknowledge of the stock market for example?

Swedenborg could tell the future

A few incidents in the life of Emanuel Swedenborg suggest he had precognition.

Swedenborg wrote to John Wesley accurately predicting the time of his own death. The clinical psychologist Wilson van Dusen describes other examples of his psychic powers. (Chapter 7 Presence of Other Worlds).

Yet Swedenborg himself considered his gift of being able to tell the future of remarkable little importance and we are reliant more on the reports of others amazed at this phenomena than from his own pen. More common today is the idea that a dream — which usually portraits unconscious central life concerns in a symbolic way — can be precognitive by representing their future implications.

Some of Swedenborg’s dreams tell the future

Some of the dreams of Emanuel Swedenborg have been called precognitive. His Journal of Dreams is probably the oldest and longest series of recorded dreams in existence. It reports dreams and visions occurring in a critical formative period in the life of this gifted scholar. His dreams tended to be symbolic although he did venture his own interpretations.

“That which had been represented to me in a dream some days before happened to me; for in one day I was exposed to two deadly perils; this indeed happened to me, so that had not God then been my protector, I should have given away my life in two places. The particulars I will not describe.” (Dream 200)

In another dream he described dining with a priest and taking away from the table two silver cups. These he said symbolized what he had learned about the spiritual life. He wasn’t giving credit to himself for this valuable knowledge.

“I learned much about spiritual things; which is meant by the silver cups which I wished to send back to the priest; that is to say, to the glory of God I would again give to the church universal in some manner.”(Dream 63)

The dream was revealing something about his future role as a theologian. At that time he was far from knowing he would later produce 33 volumes of theology.

He described how he saw the church of the Moravian Brethren in a previous dream recognizing it when he came upon it in real life.

“Their church was represented to me three months before, just as I have since seen it, and all there were clad like priests.” (Dream 202)

How can anyone tell the future if it hasn’t yet happened?

The way I see it is that dreams show our unconscious feelings and insights. The event depicted in a dream sometimes actually takes place.  If things in a dream later turn out as predicted, had this been inevitable all along? Or do they actually happen in waking consciousness because a dream message, such as an unconsciously expressed warning, went unheeded?

Parapsychological research (reported by Harvey Irwin and Caroline Watt) has unearthed some instances in which the event not only was avoided or prevented but seemed bound to have occurred had the person perceiving the future not intervened.

Boundary between the material and psychic realms

For many people, God, alone can tell the future. If so, perhaps God might see fit to tell the future  to a person. Also possibly anyone who feels close to God may be more intuitively in tune with what the divine foresees. Is there a boundary between our wanting to tell the future and the higher knowledge of the spiritual world which transcends space and time?  I agree with the view that these worlds were meant to be separate. Only for special reasons can the knowledge of one show in the other.

Swedenborg’s views on future knowledge.

In general Swedenborg himself felt knowledge of the future would threaten one’s  humanity. He said the essence of being human is to be able to act from freedom according to reason. He argued as follows: if each of us knew for certain what will happen then we would no longer think interiorly how we should act or how we  should live: our rationality and liberty would be diminished; rationality to understand what is right and good and liberty to think what is right and do what is good if we are able.

So for him in order to have happiness we must not know what the future holds. It would involve many things which would upset us. Religious people tend to believe that true happiness comes from trusting that God looks ahead and provides for one’s timeless spiritual needs.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6)

For those of faith, the future will be happy if they go with the flow trusting in the stream of providence.

“Every smallest fraction of a moment of a person’s life entails a chain of consequences extending into eternity. Indeed every one is like a new beginning to those that follow, and so every single moment of the life both of his understanding and of his will is a new beginning. And since the Lord foresaw from eternity what man was going to be like in the future and even into eternity it is clear that providence is present in the smallest individual things.

(Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia section 3854)

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

13th July 2011CategoriesConsciousness, Mystical experienceTags, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , Leave a comment

Is Science Proving Swedenborg’s ideas?

A physicist friend recently sent me a link to a New York Times article called Abstract Thoughts? The Body Takes Them Literally. You can access it at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02science/02angier.html

Recent scientific research seems to validate the amazing discoveries of the 18th Century scientist/theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg claimed that there was a causal link between physical and spiritual realities. He called this link correspondences. The essential idea of correspondences is that the natural world is a physical analog (metaphor) of the spiritual world. Since an individual’s heart and mind is a man or woman’s spiritual reality, the physical body is lawfully designed to respond to one’s feelings, thoughts and mental abstractions (higher order realities) in a corresponding (embodied) way.

Apparently, this topic is part of a growing and highly popular field in Psychological Science called embodied cognition. I will share several examples from the article.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen discovered that when participants were asked to contemplate future or past events, their bodies had measurable and corresponding reactions. Those who thought of the future leaned slightly forward while those thinking of the past leaned slightly backward. In other words, an abstract concept such as time found its physical equivalent in body posture.

At Yale, a test was conducted where participants were each given a packet of information concerning an imaginary person. Group A was given a warm cup of coffee with this packet and Group B received iced coffee with the packet. You guessed it. Group A had warmer feelings towards the imagined individual while Group B’s impression was frosty. Furthermore, at the University of Toronto, participants who were asked to recall memories of times when they felt socially snubbed seemed on average to believe that the room they were in was five degrees cooler than those who were asked to recall times of feeling social acceptance.

Swedenborg claimed, two centuries earlier, that psychological love corresponded to physical heat. We even use this similitude in our language—such as experiencing a “warming of the heart” or feeling the “heat of passion.”

This psycho-physical parallelism even extends into issues of morality. Another study showed that participants who dwelled on personal bad behavior such as adultery were more likely to ask for an antiseptic cloth afterwards (to cleanse themselves) than those who dwelled on their good deeds.

Swedenborg took the idea of embodied cognition (correspondences) into theology and biblical interpretation (exegesis). He claimed that the sacred rite of Baptism was a symbolic language for depicting a cleansing of one’s negative inner qualities. In fact, the entire Holy Word had this symbolic language of correspondences incorporated into the structured scaffolding of its narratives.

In another experiment researchers determined that the sensation of “weightiness” influenced the importance participants placed on certain issues. Those holding heavier objects placed more importance to the issues that their minds were being associated with. It is a common lexicon that things we perceive as important carry more “weight.” Weight and importance correspond. Powerful ideas affect the human spirit just as natural objects—with lots of mass—can affect the physical body.

Similarly we can feel miles apart from people who are physically close and very near to those who are miles away. What this means is that the body and mind are aware of another reality that makes use of an entirely different kind of metrics (standard of measurement). Swedenborg boldly stated that the spiritual world contained these non-physical metrics—measurements, boundaries and parameters that represent the quality of one’s love and its derivative thoughts (non-material trajectories).

My first book Sermon From The Compost Pile shows the reader how to employ this symbolic language of embodied cognition or correspondence to all things in the physical world of nature so that one can find spiritual wisdom right in their own garden or backyard.

My second book Proving God offers further insights to where this new science of embodied cognition can take us. It is the lawful and rational means by which science and theology will be ultimately unified!

http://www.innergardening.net

http://www.provinggod.com

 

Posted in love, psychology, Reality, religion, science, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Chapter XVI. The Limbus Retained After Death

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THIS diagram illustrates the limbus surrounding the whole spirit of man after death and serving as a cutaneous envelop to hold the spirit securely in form to eternity.

F is the gross material body now rejected, the spirit being separated from it and risen into conscious life in the spiritual world.

The natural or external memory of man in the world is seated in the limbus the extreme ultimate of the natural mind. This memory consisting of the states impressed upon the limbus during life in the world, remains after death but is quiescent.

If this diagram be taken to represent the whole angelic heaven, E is their aggregate limbus. Extending the view, E represents the limbus of the spirits of this earth and all earths in the universe regenerate or unregenerate.


Previous: Chapter XV. The Limbus. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XVII. All the Degrees in Trines.

 

Spiritual Substance and Material Reality

Spiritual substance, in particular, is hard for our material minds to grasp. We’re so used to thinking of everything solid as being material, and of everything non-material (thoughts, feelings, etc.) as being wispy and insubstantial. But dreams show us a world that is non-material, and yet solid when we’re in it. Dreams are more like spiritual “movies,” so they’re not quite at the level of reality of being fully conscious in the spiritual world. But they do give us some inkling of its reality.

I recently watched the movie Matrix (the original one, on video, not the subsequent movies), and it plays with this idea of a whole different world that is non-material (in this case, a constructed reality piped directly into people’s brains), and yet very real for those in it. The funny thing is, while I was watching it, I was thinking of this world as the illusion, gripping and mesmerizing people with its sensory pleasures and material satisfactions, all while the people are completely unconscious of a world far more real than this one. Swedenborg interprets “sleeping” in the Bible as being unconscious of spiritual reality, and completely absorbed in material reality. And many prophets and mystics, including Swedenborg, speak of having their “eyes opened” when they see into the spiritual world.

In the movie Matrix the constructed world that people live in looks and feels exactly like the world we actually live in. The “real” world, on the other hand, is a dark, blasted, and destroyed place. I like Swedenborg’s vision better: of the real world (for those who choose heaven) as incomparably brighter and more living than this material world–which is a mere shadow of the greater spiritual realities.

There is also a reversal that takes place in the minds of those who are moving from being materialistic to being spiritually-minded. When we are materialistic, we think of the material world as the most real thing there is, and things get progressively more unreal to us as our thoughts move to spiritual things, and finally to God–whom we see as a non-existent illusion believed in only by simple-minded and gullible people.

But as we move away from materialism and toward spiritual life, our perceptions of reality are turned the other way, and we more and more begin to think of God as the ultimate reality, and spirit as the “real world” for human beings, while seeing the material world as relatively unreal, and its pleasures and privileges as temporary, and even as illusory compared to spiritual pleasures. Yes, this world is real. But the spiritual world is much more real, and God is the most real of all.

Copyright 2012 Lee Woofenden

Reprinted from Who Is The God Of Heaven website

Lee Woofenden is a pastor in New England and may be contacted through information@swedenborg.ca