Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shamanic Dreams - part 1

The realm of dreams and the practice of dream interpretation have, since ancient times, been interwoven with the spiritual realm of humanity. The world’s oldest book of dreams, a compilation of dream symbols and their meaning, comes from Sumerian Mesopotamia, circa 5,000 BCE. The Egyptians took many ideas from the Sumerians; they viewed dreams as messages from gods. The dreams of the Pharaohs attracted the most attention, as they were revered as gods themselves.

Around 335 BC Greek philosopher Aristotle said that human beings are capable of achieving the pure form of wisdom only during sleep, when our minds are liberated.  His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama said: "Tibetan Buddhism considers sleep to be a form of nourishment, like food, that restores and refreshes the body."

"The creative potential of dreams is unquestionably valued in traditional Tibetan culture. Within Tibetan Buddhism there is a class of dreams labeled Milam Ter or “dream treasure.” These treasures are teachings that are considered to be the creations of enlightened beings. The teachings were purposefully hidden or stored in order to benefit future generations.
Buddhist and Bonpo systems for dream awareness training appear to be thousands of years old, according to Norbu Rinpoche. Dream awareness training is discussed extensively in the text of the inconceivably ancient Mahamaya Tantra, whose author is unknown. Many millennia before the historical Buddha Shakyamuni lived, the tantras were taught by the buddhas of past eras to both human and non-human beings."

- Michael Katz – from Dream Yoga & the practice of natural light

In the Americas, the Kagwahiv, a Tupi speaking Amazonian group of peoples have a saying… “Everyone who dreams has a little bit of the shaman in them.”

In early 2011, I had a series of transformative dreams, the ramifications of which are still unfolding. The nature of the dreams was such that upon retrospect, they might be classified as “lucid dreams,” with one caveat. Although I “woke up” or became aware that I was in a dream state, I did not consider that what I was experiencing was a dream. More precisely, although I became conscious during this series of dreams, I didn’t perceive them as less real or consequential than my normal waking state. If anything, the dreams felt more real.

The dreams followed a common thread in which I invariably found myself immersed (entangled) in a psychedelic search for the miraculous. The set and setting of each dream varied greatly and often dealt with widely different cultures or subcultures in which inner exploration played a central role. Of this series of dreams, there are two which I shall relate here.

The first dream occurred on the evening of March 10th, 2011.

As I became conscious within the dream, I found myself in what appeared to be a twilit tropical grotto or what I came to think of as a “sacred grove.” Diffuse light filtered trough the canopy above me in luminous, smoky beams. The darker encompassing vegetation contrasted the beams of light to produce a soft, warm, otherworldly effect. The awareness of being in a dream state underscored my experience that the colors, although of earthy tones, were extremely vivid… to the point of being psychedelic. There was also an aspect of communication or conveyance from the surroundings, to me, as to what was about to transpire.

I was part of a group of two-dozen or so individuals. As my consciousness focused, it became clear that we were waiting for something… a decision to be made. At this realization, it also became clear that a circle of ayahuasqueros, or shamans were in counsel nearby but concealed from our view. This indigenous circle of elders was fifteen in number (the significance of 15 elders was unclear within the dream).

Awareness of the counsel and it’s deliberation brought about the realization that the waiting group, of which I was part, were being individually considered for either initiation into the mysteries of this shamanic circle… or perhaps a ceremony that was about to be performed. My desire to participate was clear. Recognition of this desire brought with it the knowledge that each aspirant in the group was accompanied by a helper or guide. The role of our guide was to act as an advocate for each of us in our bid to partake in what was apparently about to happen… in what was being decided by the counsel.

At this point, it is important to mention that at the moment I became aware of myself within the dream… of my surroundings and my situation (predicament)… it was clear that I was at a critical juncture of events of magnitude. I was not aware of the circumstances that had brought me to this decisive crossroad... of how I came to be in the middle of a primordial rainforest… of how I became a candidate for some arcane ritual… or even how I had come to be associated with my guide, let alone the ayahuasqueros. What was clear was that whatever obscure series of events had brought me here… this was a nexus point of consequence. This was the culmination… the intersection of possibility.

Abruptly, the elders made their decision and I was out. I hadn’t been picked and the proceedings and preparations were being carried out without me. As this new development permeated my consciousness, or perhaps because of it, multiple occurrences transpired… my dream guide simultaneously communicated with the elders, received information from them and relayed that information to me. One of the selected candidates could not fulfill their commitment to the event and my guide was successful in securing my place as a participant. I was back in.

I was thrilled and slightly apprehensive at the developments as they unfolded. I prepared myself for the… initiation?... ceremony?... psychedelic journey? It was not altogether clear what was about to occur. The surroundings began to communicate anew. Complex strata of information began to flow into and through me. It was as if the very fabric of the realm became a vast data-structure that was suddenly made available to me... that I was suddenly in tune with. Along with my guide, I made my way to the threshold of the grotto where the elders awaited. I steadied myself as we entered the sacred space…

Of course at this moment the dream transformed itself into some other realm… some other space. Where I went from there, I cannot say. I had and have no memory of any further dream travels that night. I awoke with those golden moments reverberating in my mind. What combination of events lead to and spark our awakening while in dreamtime, remain a mystery. Where we were prior to and where we go hence remain in the realm of dreams. We can only proceed in wonder.

To be continued…