Showing posts with label Metaphysics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Metaphysics. Show all posts

Mediumship and Psychic Mediums


Mediums, unique individuals considered to be especially open to the subtler realities of the world and therefore particularly capable of interacting with spirit beings, have historically been central to the Spiritualist movement. “A Spiritualist is one who believes, as the foundation of his or her faith, in the communication between this and the spirit world through mediumship, and who endeavors to mold his or her character and actions in conformity with the highest teachings devised by such communion,” the National Spiritualist Association of Churches declares in its Declaration of Principles.

The radio, which operates by receiving waves of energy that vibrate at different frequencies, has been used to explain mediumship. As a result, a medium was described as someone who was receptive to the spirit world's higher vibrations. As a result, mediums may function as a conduit for spirits that spoke with or through them. Any mediums relayed material they perceived from their interaction with the spirit world while in a slightly disturbed state of consciousness.

Others worked in a deep coma, allowing what they thought were spirit beings to gain hold of their bodies and communicate through their vocal cords. When trance mediums went into trance, it was normal for one or more control spirits to arise first, then serve as master of ceremonies for other spirits to appear and communicate.

AUTOMATIC WRITING is a type of mediumship in which the medium allows the spirit agent to regulate his or her motor activity to write messages with pen and paper. Spiritualism arose from the very primitive mediumship of the young Fox sisters, Kate and Margaret, who encountered rappings in their home, but the trend advanced quickly with Andrew Jackson Davis' full-trance mediumship.

He not only served as a conduit for people to collect fleeting messages from departed loved ones, but he also provided extensive treatises on divine teachings from reputedly advanced spirit beings, a phenomenon now known as channeling. Materialization was a particularly contentious concept applied to mediums.

During the last decades of the nineteenth century, scores of mediums appeared, claiming to be able to not only interact with the deceased, but also to enable them to manifest in a ghostly state for a fleeting period. Mediums mediated several tangible embodiments of ghosts, including the materialization of spirit beings at small meetings for spirit contact known as séances.

Other mediums, for example, used cameras to photograph those that visited them. Mediums can also perform a series of “impossible” physical feats, such as the levitation of items held in the séance room's core or the teleportation of tiny objects from other places to the séance room.

Overwhelmingly, the physical phenomena associated with mediumship has been shown to have been produced by fraud, a fact that has called appropriate reprobation on the movement. Today, with few exceptions, Spiritualism has been content to fall back on the basic verbal communications from the spirit world that gave the movement birth. Mediumship is a phenomenon by no means limited to the Spiritualist movement. Analogous religious functionaries, special people who have access to information and contact with different spirit entities, operate in a variety of religious traditions, and include shamans from indigenous religions and those who speak with angels in modern Christian churches.

Mediumship itself expanded in the last generation because of the New Age movement. Spiritualists did not positively relate to the New Age movement, but integral to the New Age were channelers. Through the 1980s literally thousands of channelers emerged, offering New Age believers the information they received from a variety of spiritual beings. That Spiritualism tended to distance itself from the New Age accounts in large part for its lack of growth while related movements were rapidly expanding during the 1980s and 1990s.

The majority of the physical manifestations associated with mediumship have been shown to be the product of deception and has brought appropriate condemnation upon the movement as a whole. Spiritualism has been content, with few exceptions, to rely on the simple verbal messages from the spirit world that gave rise to the movement. The phenomenon of mediumship is not confined to the Spiritualist movement. Similar ritual functionaries, such as shamans from indigenous faiths and others who communicate with angels in western churches, practice in several religious practices and have access to wisdom and communication with various spirit beings.

Astral Senses


The crass person who adopts the cheap cynical approach toward occult matters, which he reveals in his would-be "wise" comment that he "believes only in what his senses perceive," is well-known to the student of occultism. 
He seems to conclude that his cheap wit has put an end to the situation, implying that the occultist is a credulous, "simple" guy who believes in the presence of objects that defy the facts of the senses.

While the opinion or beliefs of people in this class are obviously unimportant to any genuine student of occultism, their mental mindset is worth noting insofar as it acts as an object lesson in the childlike attitude of the ordinary so-called "practical" individual when it comes to the matter of the facts of the senses. These ostensibly practical people have a lot to say about their senses.

They want to talk about "the facts of my senses." They still talk a lot about possessing "solid sense" and "sound common sense," and they often boast about having "horse sense," which they seem to think is an asset. Except, alas, for the greed of this group of people. They are often seen to be very credulous in matters outside of their ordinary work and thinking, following without doubt the most ludicrous teachings and dogmas given to them by the voice of some supposed authority, while scoffing at some sophisticated instruction that their minds are incapable of comprehending.

Anything that looks out of the ordinary to them is considered "flighty," and deficient in their cherished "horse sense." However, I have no intention of devoting time to these meaningless half-penny brains. I've included them to draw your attention to the fact that the concepts of "meaning" and "senses" are very closely linked in the minds of many people. They treat all awareness and wisdom as "meaning," with all such sense deriving directly from their five senses.

They almost entirely disregard the mind's intuitional stages and are oblivious of many of the higher thought mechanisms. Such people believe what their senses tell them to be so. They believe it is heresy to doubt a sensory analysis. "It almost makes me question my senses," one of their favorite lines goes. They are oblivious to the fact that their senses are, at best, faulty devices, and that the mind is continually engaged in correcting the erroneous reports of the usual five senses.

Not to mention the widespread occurrence of color blindness, in which one color seems to be another, our perceptions are far from precise. We can be led to believe that we smell or taste things that don't exist, and hypnotic subjects can be led to believe that they see things that don't exist except in the person's imagination. The well-known experiment of crossing one's first two fingers and positioning them on a small point, such as a pea or the tip of a lead pencil, demonstrates how "mixed" one's sense of feeling can get.

The several well-known examples of optical illusions illustrate that even our keen eyes may be deceived—every conjuror knows how simple it is to deceive the eye with persuasion and misleading gestures. The most well-known example of erroneous sense-reports is that of the earth's rotation. The world is a set, immovable entity, and the sun, moon, planets, and stars pass through it every twenty-four hours, according to a person's senses.

Only when one accepts the reasoning faculties' reports does one realize that the earth not only spins on its axis every twenty-four hours, but also circles around the sun every three hundred and sixty-five days; and that the sun, carrying the earth and other planets, moves around space, moving toward or through some unknown point far away.

If there is one sense report that seems to be without doubt or challenge, it is this basic sense report of the fixedness of the planet under our feet and the motions of the celestial bodies surrounding it—but we realize that this is only an illusion, and that the details of the case are very different.

Again, how many people are aware that the eye perceives something backwards and that the subconscious eventually learns to change the impression? I'm not going to convince any of you to question the results of your five senses.

That would be unintelligent, for we all depend on these five senses in our daily lives, and we would easily come to grief if we dismissed their reports. Instead, I'm attempting to familiarize you with the true nature of these five senses, so that you can recognize what they aren't as well as what they are; and so that you can see that it's not absurd to believe that the ego, or soul, of a person, has access to more channels of information than these commonly used five senses.

Once you have a correct empirical understanding of the true nature of the five ordinary senses, you will be able to comprehend the existence of the higher psychic faculties or senses intelligently, and therefore be well equipped to use them. So, let us take a few moments to get this basic wisdom firmly embedded in our heads. What precisely are the five senses? "Feeling, seeing, listening, eating, and smelling" would be the first response.

But that's a list of the various types of sensing. When it comes down to it, what is a "sense"? A sensation is a "faculty, possessed by creatures, of perceiving foreign objects by means of observations made upon the organs of the body," according to the dictionary. When we get down to the basics, we discover that man's five senses are the channels by which he becomes aware or conscious of knowledge about things outside of himself. These senses, however, are not limited to the sensory organs.

Back of the organs is a strange configuration of the nervous system, or brain centers, which carry up the signals obtained from the organs; and back of it is the ego, or spirit, or mind, which, at the end of the day, is the true KNOWER.

The eye is merely a camera; the ear, merely a sound-wave receiver; the nose, merely a sensitive mucous membrane arrangement; the mouth and tongue, merely a reservoir of taste-buds; the nervous system, merely a sensitive device built to send signals to the brain and other centers—all are merely part of the physical machinery, and all are susceptible to impairment or destruction. The true Knower who makes use of all this apparatus is at the heart of it all. Science tells us that of all the five senses, that of Touch or Feeling was the original—the fundamental sense.

All the others are thought to be variations and advanced versions of this initial sense of emotion. I'm telling you this not only because it's fascinating and instructive scientific knowledge, but also because knowing this truth will help you understand what I'll have to say about the higher faculties or senses more clearly. Many of the most primitive and simplistic types of animal life have only this one meaning, which is mostly underdeveloped.

The basic life type "feels" the touch of its food or other items that might meet it. Plants have a meaning like this, which in certain situations, such as the Sensitive Plant, is very established. We find signs of taste and anything akin to primitive hearing or sensitivity to sounds long before the sense of sight or light sensitivity existed in animal life. Smell evolved from the sense of taste, with which it is now closely associated.

The sense of smell of certain lower animal life forms is much more evolved than in humans. Hearing developed over time from the primitive sensation of sounds. The strongest of the senses, sight, came last and evolved from the basic sensitivity to light. Although, as you can see, both senses are just variations on the initial sense of touch or sensation. The touch or sensation of light waves striking the eye is registered. The touch or sensation of sound waves or air movements that enter the ear is registered.

The chemical touch of food particles or other compounds meeting the taste buds is recorded by the tongue and other taste seats. The chemical touch of gases or fine particles of material that meet the mucous membrane of the nose is registered. Sensory nerves detect the presence of external stimuli that meet nerve ends in different areas of the body's skin. Both of these senses merely document the interaction or "touch" of external objects, as you can see. The sense organs, on the other hand, are not responsible for detecting the presence of objects. They're all fragile bits of devices used to capture or collect primary impressions from the outside world.

As wonderful as they are, they have human predecessors, such as the camera, which is an artificial eye; the phonograph, which is an artificial ear; the delicate chemical apparatus, which is an artificial taster and smeller; and the telegraph, which is an artificial nerve. Not just that, but nerve telegraph wires are still there, carrying signals from the eye, ear, nose, and tongue to the brain, informing something in the brain of what has been sensed at the other end of the line.

If you cut the nerves that connect to the eye, even if the eye continues to register correctly, no message can enter the brain. And the brain will be rendered blind, with no messages from the nerves supplying the eye, ear, nose, tongue, or any other part of the body reaching it. You know, there's a lot more to getting meaning signals than you would imagine at first. All of this implies that the self, or spirit, or consciousness, as you like to call it, is the true Knower who becomes mindful of the outer world through the senses' signals.

When the mind is cut off from these texts, it becomes almost blank in terms of external objects. Any one of the senses would be diminished or cut off, implying that a portion of the ego's universe would be diminished or cut off. Similarly, each new meaning applied to the list continues to broaden and expand the ego's universe. In certain cases, we are unaware of this. Instead, we have the propensity of believing that the universe is made up of a finite number of objects and truth, and that we are aware of every single one of them.

This is a child's way of thinking. Remember how much smaller the world of a person born blind or deaf is relative to the world of the normal person! Consider how much bigger, broader, and more wonderful our planet would become if any of us were unexpectedly given a different meaning! How much more will we be able to perceive? What a difference it will make. How much more can we learn? How much more will we have to discuss?

Why, we're in the same boat as the unfortunate blind girl who said that the color scarlet must be similar to the sound of a trumpet. She had no idea of color because she had never seen a beam of light, so she could only see and talk in terms of touch, sound, taste, and scent. She would have been deprived of even more of her world if she had already been mute. Consider these points for a moment.

Assume, on the other hand, that we developed a new sense that enabled us to detect electrical waves. Under that scenario, we'd be able to "see" what was going on in another location—perhaps on the other side of the globe, maybe on another planet entirely. Imagine having the ability to see through a stone wall and into the rooms of a building if we had an X Ray sense. We might see what is going on Mars and transmit and receive emails from others who live there if our view was enhanced by the inclusion of a telescopic adjustment.

Or, if we could see all the mysteries of a drop of water with a microscopic adjustment—perhaps it's for the best that we can't. In the other side, if we have a well-developed telepathic sense, we would be mindful of others' thought-waves to the point that no secrets would be kept concealed from anyone—wouldn't it drastically change existence and human interaction? Many will be no more amazing than the evolution of our senses. We can do any of these stuff with devices built by man's brain—because man is nothing more than a natural imitator and adaptor.

Perhaps there are people on other worlds or planets that have seven, nine, or fifteen senses instead of the five we have. Who knows what will happen! However, it is not appropriate to use one's imagination to conjure up images of creatures on other worlds that possess more senses than humans. Although occult teachings affirm that there are entities on other worlds with senses as far higher than those of the earth-man as the latter's are higher than those of the oyster, we don't have to go far to find evidence of beings with far higher and more powerful faculties than those used by the average man.

We just need to understand man's higher psychical faculties right now to see what new worlds are available to him. When you have a scientific view of these things, you'll find so much of the overwhelming body of marvelous encounters of men throughout history, which the "horse sense" man dismisses as "queer" and "contrary to sense," is simply nothing mystical. You'll find that these interactions are almost as normal as those affecting the five senses—even though they are super-physical. You must understand that there is a significant distinction between supernatural and super-physical.

Both occultists are aware that man has additional senses beyond his five senses, but few men have learned them enough to use them effectively. Occultists refer to these extrasensory perceptions as "the astral senses." The name "Astral" is taken from the Greek word "astra," which means "star," which is used by both occultists, ancient and modern. It's used to define the planes that are directly above the physical plane. The astral senses are man's parallels to his earthly senses, and they are linked to the person's astral body in the same way as the physical senses are linked to the physical body.

The aim of these astral senses is to allow a person to obtain sensations on the astral plane in the same way as his physical senses allow him to do so on the physical plane. The consciousness of man experiences only the sense sensations of the actual organs of sense on the physical world; but, as the mind acts and vibrates on the astral plane, it needs astral senses to receive the impressions of that plane, which are present, as we shall see. Any of man's physical senses has a corresponding astral equivalent.

Thus, in latency, man can see, sound, taste, smell, and hear on the astral plane through his five astral senses. Furthermore, the strongest occultists understand that man has seven physical senses rather than only five, but these two extra senses are not activated in the normal human (though occultists who have reached a certain stage are able to use them effectively). In the astral plane, these two additional physical senses have equivalents.

People who have evolved their astral senses can receive astral plane sense sensations almost as clearly as they can receive actual plane sense impressions using their physical senses. For example, the individual can sense events on the astral plane; read the Akashic Records of the past; see events in other areas of the world; see past events; and, in unusual situations, catch glimpses of the future, though this is much rarer than the other types of astral sight. Again, using clairaudience, a person can hear sounds from the astral plane, both past and present, and in rare cases, hear things from the afterlife.

In either case, the explanation is the same: impulses are received on the astral plane rather than the actual plane. The astral sensations of hearing, taste, and sensing function in the same way. However, although we sometimes experience astral sensing, we scarcely experience astral smelling or tasting during those processes of psychic phenomena, because the astral senses are available and ready to be used. Only while moving in the astral body do the last two described astral senses, namely scent and taste, come into action.

Telepathy, also known as mind transference, is a phenomenon that exists on both the physical and emotional planes. On the physical world, it manifests randomly, while on the astral plane, it is as transparent, consistent, and receptive to demand as astral perception, for example. The average person experiences only sporadic bursts of astral sensing and is rarely able to witness the phenomena at will. In the other hand, a learned occultist will move from one set of senses to the other with a simple act or effort of will anytime he wishes.

Advanced occultists will also work on both the physical and astral realms simultaneously, but they don't often want to. To see astrally, the educated occultist literally changes his visual mechanism from actual to astral, or vice versa, in the same way that a typewriter operator shifts from small letter to capital form by pressing the shift key on his keyboard. Many people believe that to use the astral senses, they must fly on the astral plane and in the astral body. This is a blunder.

In cases of clairvoyance, astral visioning, psychometry, and other practices, the occultist resides in his own body and experiences the phenomenon of the astral plane very quickly by the astral senses, just as he can perceive the phenomena of the physical plane through the physical organs—in certain cases, much more easily. In most instances, the occultist does not even need to reach the trance state. Travel in the astral body is quite another phase of occult phenomena and is far more difficult to manifest.

Under the supervision of a qualified tutor, the pupil can never try to fly in the astral body. In Crystal Gazing, the occultist simply uses the crystal to harness his influence to put his astral vision into view. The crystal itself has no mystical qualities; it is merely an instrument for achieving a purpose, a piece of valuable equipment to help in the development of such phenomena. In psychometry, an entity is used to put the occultist "in tune" with the person or item with which it is associated.

However, the astral senses are used to describe the thing's past environment, as well as the current and past behavior of the individual in question, and so on. In other words, the entity is simply the unwound end of the psychic ball of twine that the psychometrist winds and unwinds at will. Psychometry, like crystal gazing, is just one form of astral seeing. Telekinesis, or movement at a distance, requires the use of both astral sensing and astral will motion, which is also followed by the actual projection of a part of the astral body's material.

We have an example of the simplest method of astral seeing in Clairvoyance, which does not include the "linked entity" in psychometry or the focal point of the crystal in crystal gazing. This is true not only to regular clairvoyance, in which the occultist sees astrally the happenings and doings at some remote stage, at the time of observation; it is also true of historical clairvoyance, or astral seeing of past events; and future clairvoyance, as in prophetic vision, etc. All of these are just various variations of the same thing.

"These phenomena are supernatural, way beyond the domain of common law," some of you might suggest, "and yet this guy will have us think otherwise." Dear reader, please don't leap to conclusions too quickly. What do you know about natural law and phenomena's limits? What gives you the freedom to declare that something outside the normal spectrum of sensory perception is outside of Nature? If you know you're attempting to put a cap on Existence, which is basically limitless?

If a man from a previous century had been told that the wonders of wireless telegraphy could be manifested, he would have been similarly justified in asserting that they were mystical. Going back even more, the man's father would have said the same thing about the telephone if someone had been so brave as to predict it. Imagine the response of some of the old men of the time to the telegraph if we go back another century.

These objects, though, are merely the discovery and deployment of some of Nature's amazing powers and energies. Is it any more implausible to believe that Nature already has a mine of undiscovered treasure in both man's mind and constitution and in inorganic nature? These phenomena are as normal as the physical senses, and not a smidgeon more miraculous. It is perhaps that we are used to one and not the other that the astral senses seem to be more wonderful than the real senses. Nature's workings are all amazing, and none are more so than the others. When we come down to the heart of it, they are all beyond our comprehension. So, let's keep our minds open!

Collective Dreams


The personal is political and a free society necessitates a shift in the interpersonal power structures that govern our daily lives. Since we need power to govern our lives, politics is personal. Another charge levelled against dream work by well-intentioned men and women is that it is "navel gazing," or just another way to avoid the demanding reality of waking life through a "dream realm" of reckless, self-centered withdrawal. We are living in dangerous days.

A list of our mutual ills and woes will fill a book several times the size of this essay. We are on the verge of extinction, not only of the human race, but also of the vast majority of the other diverse animals with which we share the earth, and we have purposefully created these awful dangers for ourselves. We live in the shadow of nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare, technological incompetence and planning failure, industrial ecocide, economic ruin, civil unrest, and the mental and emotional attitudes that allow those horrors.

Indeed, our common conditions are so ominous that most people would rather suppress their anxiety and feeling of helplessness in the face of these issues by not thinking about them at all, however we must think about them. We must summon the courage to investigate them objectively and devote our brightest and most imaginative efforts to their transformation and resolution. Let me suggest a quick mental experiment to begin this necessary endeavor of gazing intentionally at our deepest and most wicked individual and collective potentialities: Imagine the world as it is, but condensed, without a human intervention.

Imagine the night and day rhythms, the sky, clouds, and changing weather, the endless ebb and flow of the tides, the changing seasons, and the myriad of creatures and organisms living in the sea, on land, and in the air—all existing together in a web of intricate, subtle, invisible, impartial natural forces—creating a single, delicate, evolving ecosystem, this wholistic ecosystem. Both suffering and death lose their terrifying and "evil" characteristics in this imaginary world.

The cycle of life and death, the drama of predator and prey, the pain of human animals, and even the disappearance of whole species are all accidental and normal, completely innocent because they are completely unaware and therefore incapable of premeditation or guilt. We are standing in a metaphorical "Garden of Eden" as well as the biological environments that current research indicates contributed to the evolution of human life. It's ironic that amid such broad metaphorical consensus, the discussion between "evolutionists" and "creationists" is so acrimonious.

When he studied the various evidences of evolution, Teilhard de Chardin tried his whole life to be faithful to both the rigorous demands of scientific inquiry and his own profound intuitions of theological significance. He came to the conclusion (as had Hindus and Buddhists before him) that time is a useful illusion, and that “God” is the ultimate end toward which evolution is groping (but, since time is ultimately illusory, it is possible to think of all events as occurring simultaneously, and in this sense, God can be understood as existing always, in the fullness of time, drawing evolution toward itself).

The endless debates about "evolutionism" vs. "creationism" can be seen for what they are in the face of those ideas: the products of prematurely closed processes of thinking and belief. Consider the world as it is now, but without the influence of humans. Anything that is genuinely “evil” (including all the horrifying prospects of environmental catastrophe and personal suffering that we have wrought for ourselves) is the product of human consciousness and human interference in the “natural order,” according to this “thought experiment” (as Einstein called such efforts of mind and imagination).

In this essential context, it is possible to understand that human consciousness is the "true sin," the root of all our anguish and pain, metaphorically speaking. “Separation from God” has been described as “sin” by all world religions. Separation from God can be interpreted metaphorically as a blueprint for the separation of individual human consciousness from the overwhelming universal unconsciousness of the natural universe. This is the species' and all conscious human beings' initial existential state.

Indeed, consciousness is the one element that “separates” us from the spontaneous, universal cosmos, though consciousness is still our main way of knowing and reconnecting with it. When Judaism, Christianity, and Islam both argue that humanity's predicament is the inherent product of original sin, this is merely a summary of the obvious divergence of individual human consciousness from the universal unconscious on one basis. At all, our dreaming, lucid, "objective" human experience is fragmented and transient.

Our perception vanishes into realms of "unconsciousness" in all ways at once, even though we are mentally clear and emotionally elevated. Allow me to suggest another mental exercise. Try to be as conscious of the whole experience in this moment as possible. Try to be aware of all the unconscious bodily processes, such as your breathing, the food digesting in your stomach and intestinal tract, the blood coursing through your veins, the various states of tension in your musculature, your thoughts, your emotions, your visual perceptions of this page and the scene beyond, the sounds in the air around you, the meanings of these perceptions, and the constant tug of a constant tug.

At the same time, try to keep everything within the field of conscious awareness. There will always be a feeling at the edge of consciousness that there is more, no matter where the mind is focused. We have the impression of being "separate," of being "once separated" from the harmonious movement and rhythm of the natural world only because our consciousness is still partial. Our first human ancestors (the "Adam and Eve" of Near Eastern tradition) were "once separated" from the "Garden" of socially unconscious natural existence in this way.

The "expulsion from the Garden" often represents the birth trauma on another, similar metaphoric level. - of us was ejected from the Garden of the Maternal Womb into the experience of independent, "sinful" life and toil at some stage. It's important to note that we're all exiled from the Garden, into the Garden in this sense of biological metaphor. The natural world's natural order, harmony, power, subtlety, elegance, and unification is the religious imagery of the Garden of Eden's root metaphor. In this essential context, consciousness is the initial detachment from unconsciousness that enables one to look about and understand that we are closely linked in a self-aware way.

The entire body of contemporary physics data confirms this ultimate interconnectedness. Our own atoms were first formed in the furnaces of the "Big Bang," in the pure energetic cores of the stars, as Carl Sagan points out, and our ultimate and personal relations with all life stretch far beyond the universe, out into the vastness of inter-galactic space. Despite the fact that all of the challenges we encounter are the consequence of our own actions, we humans interfere in the natural world in ways that are both good and poor, harmful and constructive, aggressive and altruistic, knowledgeable and dumb, imaginative and habitually uninspired.

In this way, I've come to see cultivating the artistic instinct to self-expression, development, and transformation as a morally valuable and important practice, one without which evil will still threaten to consume us. (At the same time, that's far too serious and foreboding—nurturing the artistic instinct is, at its heart, a metaphor for play, an action done for its own sake, for pleasure.) We believe that we "know it all" as we prematurely close our minds and memories, as we attempt to draw utter and final lines between "our own best interests" and the needs of everyone and all else.

When Yeats talks of the horrors of everyday life, he specifically means this kind of premature closure: “...the best lack all conviction/while the worst are packed with a passionate intensity...” Both “the passionate intensity” of the wrong we do—the bigotry and hypocrisy, the stupidities and cruelties—is characterized by this simple mindset of premature closing.

The attitude of openness to new thinking and practice, as well as as-yet-unconceived potential, which is at the center of all artistic endeavor, stands in contrast to the premature closing from which these evils arise (including dream work). We indulge in the delusion that we have it all worked out, that we can draw absolute comparisons between our own desires and the interests of "others" and the world in our less imaginative moments.

We act or, more often, fail to act on the basis of these prematurely closed notions, then flee with astonishment and horror as the consequences of these actions/inactions reverberate in ironic metaphors of self-destruction, as they always do, for all is interconnected in both obvious and subtle chains of cause-and-effect, structural interdependence, association, and causality.

This is known as "the Law of Irony": irony is unavoidable if consciousness is partial (so one might as well cultivate a taste for it). The Rule of Irony is at work in our collective lives, as demonstrated by our present global perils. We are the ones that have brought these horrors upon ourselves, and we are the ones who must work out how to disarm and reconnect with our environmental neighbors and the ecological realities of our utter interdependence. Only by opening our minds and hearts to new experiences and opportunities will we be able to respond in ways that will prevent us from destroying ourselves.

The acts we take can only be fruitful if we grasp the real essence of our predicament, our "original sin" in being conscious human beings in the first place. In the same way as our partial consciousness triggers all of our personal and social challenges, the best way to fix them is to widen our spectrum of consciousness and take innovative, creative steps.

The growth of this growing self-awareness is the first step toward the change we must affect—both in our own lives and in the face of our mutual dangers. Dreams can be very illuminating in this kind of attempt to cultivate the artistic impulse and create practical methods for saving human life on the earth.

When I first came to dream work, we began sharing our dreams for the sake of curiosity and enjoyment many years ago. We learned that dreams caused tremendous energies of development and transformation in us. As we worked to conquer sexism's oppressions, our aspirations were more useful and valuable in exposing the self-deceptions and hidden agendas that rendered the fight more challenging, and that made the improvements and development more satisfying until they were accomplished.

During a racism-awareness lecture, I had the opportunity to suggest that we all share our visions in which black people appeared and center our attention on them. Even I was astounded by the amount of energy released by this work for personal development and change, as well as latent attitudes and fears. Since each of us was compelled to “own” both the negative and positive depictions of black people in our visions as manifestations of facets of our own identities, the dream work was successful in bringing deep-seated latent ambivalences to light, and the work was further effective in changing them.

In this way, dream work had the potential to be much more critical than just one tool among many for raising racism awareness. It became clear that dreams could be used to enhance self-awareness and consciousness around any subject, and that dream work could also be useful in releasing dramatic energies for personal development and transformation. As this process progressed, it became apparent that one of the other outcomes of this work was the formation of strong and enduring ties of trust, reciprocal love, and admiration among those who shared the experience of collaborating with dreams.

Dream work could bring people together from all walks of life to participate in the work of transforming society, regardless of color, age, sex, or class. Dream work has the ability to be profoundly "extreme," not just in the original sense of radix, which refers to going to the "source" of things, but also in the political and social sense of dramatically changing mutual fears, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

I've had the opportunity to observe the longer-term effects of dream work in people who are personally engaged in social and political action over the years after this initial encounter. I've seen dreamers' intracollective support networks evolve, and their coordinating efforts' efficacy, ingenuity, and maturity expand and deepen. Overall, I've seen dream work strengthen people's determination and resolve to progress, both individually and collectively. I've seen dream work help people resolve the unavoidable depression and sense of desperation that comes with wanting to bring about change in a society that hates and opposes change.

Person imagination and confidence, which are essential for collective transformation, are sustained and nurtured by the strong sense of identity that group dream work fosters. Dream work has also opened previously closed political and strategic ideas. I've seen "religious" people becoming more conscious of the importance of political and social activism, as well as "atheist" activists become more aware of a metaphysical component to their lives and jobs. I've seen the understanding that "the personal is national" evolve into more creative modes of action and conversation, awakening consciousness, and bravery in a growing number of people.

During dream work, I've seen people who thought they were "uncreative" discover their own imaginative and expressive abilities, transforming their lives and emotions. These experiences have kept me focused on visions and dream work ever since, while continuing to work toward social justice, healing, unity, and creative, nonviolent reform, which have always been at the forefront of my life. Dreams often come with the intention of encouraging wholeness. They have an underlying opening impact, bringing to consciousness facets of our own being that we had previously shut out of our waking experience.

All those theological and metaphysical practices that emblazon dream work (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Freudian psychology, and so on) have all but forgotten the practical activity of paying careful attention to dreams, despite their recognized conventional significance. Even where dreams is the original catalyst for such beliefs and ideologies, sustained dream work often brings into question the set beliefs and ideologies of prematurely closed experience and thinking.

The continuing critique and artistic creativity presented by dream work becomes "heresy," and dreams themselves become suspicious, persecuted, and inevitably repressed and forgotten until a concept or theological intuition is frozen in a hierarchical structure.

The underlying challenges of human and collective existence have remained unchanged throughout history. The challenges we face in the twenty-first century may seem to be different from those of previous centuries at first glance, but a close inspection shows that they are merely the age-old problems of human consciousness itself—greed, malice, and stupidity—exaggerated to world-shattering proportions by the increasing strength and efficiency of our modern technology and social organization. We are the "sorcerer's apprentices," summoning forces beyond our control—the forces of consciousness itself.

One unavoidable, constructive outcome of our "sorcerer's apprenticeship" in consciousness so far is that we can no longer deny that our internal lives and external conditions are inextricably linked—that environmental ecology and psychology are inextricably linked—and that the answers to our personal and social dilemmas must be found simultaneously. The dream has been a key medium for the emergence and unfolding of human consciousness and growing self-awareness during our species' history.

We can no longer afford to disregard the imaginative capacity inherent in each individual—a potential reflected in our dreams and unleashed actively when we remember and work with our dreams—in the contemporary fight to develop ourselves, in this "battle between education and tragedy," as Bertrand Russell put it.

Our mutual dangers are true and immediate. We created them for ourselves, and we must examine them consciously and objectively to disarm ourselves, change our systems, and reconcile ourselves to our planetary neighbors and the ecological interconnectedness of all beings. By cracking down our prematurely closed biases, beliefs, philosophies, and world views, dream work will reinforce and energize these efforts.

Group dream work will also foster a sense of cooperation and empathy, which will help us persevere in our attempts to remake global civilization in a smarter, more compassionate, and just manner, as well as provide concrete new perspectives and ideas for achieving this critical goal.

Read more about Dreams here.