Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Traveling dream souls of indigenous peoples

posted by Robert Moss

- ChiquitosIndigenous peoples recognize multiple aspects of soul, with different destinies after death and different degrees of mobility during life.

Thus the Chiquitano believe a human has three souls, called the shadow soul, the blood soul and the breath soul. During dreams the blood soul (otor) can wander a little, but must stay close to the body.

The shadow soul (ausipis) can make longer journeys, leaving the body and the blood soul far behind. In the morning, it returns and give the other two souls an account of its adventures. It’s these long journeys of the shadow souls that account for big dreams in which the dreamer enters other realms and other times; they may visit the future, or go to the plane where souls that have not yet been born gather and prepare for their descent into bodies.

There is danger in these long journeys, because hostile non-human beings called obois try to catch the shadow soul in invisible threads and coax or force it to consume a drink that will trap it in another domain. The light and smoke of a cigar are believed to be helpful in defeating these attackers.

“Chiquitano” – derived from Chiquitos, Little Ones  – was a name imposed by the Conquistadores on a number of peoples of eastern Bolivia and Mato Grosso amalgamated by the Jesuit missions in the seventeenth century.

Source: JürgenRiester, “Curanderos y brujois de los indios chiquitanos” in Revista de la Universidad Boliviana “Gabriel René Moreno” vol, 16, nos 31-32 (1972).

Image: Alcides d’Orbigny (1831). Public Domain.

Rumi-nation

posted by Robert Moss

- Rumi angelA quick way of getting a message for any day is to open a book at random and see what is in front of you. The fancy name for this process is bibliomancy. The favorite book that has been used for such purposes in the West, for as long as we have had printed books, is the Bible. Abraham Lincoln used his family Bible – the one on which Barack Obama took his oath of office – to get messages in this way, including second opinions on his dreams.

On the Connecticut shore, leading a training for teachers of Active Dreaming, and enjoying the gentle waters of Long Island Sound, one of my travel companions was Coleman Barks’ exquisite edition of The Essential Rumi. The poems here are not literal or near-literal translations. They are versions of translations by scholars from the great 13th century Persian poet of visionary experience and direct encounter with the Beloved of the soul. I was looking to Rumi, as mediated by Coleman Barks, for my morning messages.

When I opened the book at random, I got Rumi’s parable poem of “The Three Fish”.

Your real country is where you’re heading, not where you are.

There’s also this excellent counsel for the spiritual road traveler:

When you’re traveling, ask a traveler for advice,
not someone whose lameness keeps him stuck in one place

The next morning, I turned to Rumi again, and was thrilled by his evocation of the nearness of the Guide, the one who is never hidden from us except by the many ways in which we hide ourselves from him.

We’ve come to the presence of the one who was never apart from us

Then we begin to feel the afflux of a greater power. We are more than we are, in our little everyday selves, stuck in the grooves of habit and self-limiting beliefs:

When the water-bag is filling, you know the water carrier’s here.

Encouragement for any day to open to the presence of  a greater power and to take the creative risks that draw the Greater Self closer.

 

Art: Seated Angel, Iran, 1575-1600, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. From the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Lent by the Art and History Trust LTS1995.2.72

Enter lucid dreaming like a sleeping tiger

posted by Robert Moss

- sleeping tigerChen Tuan (871-989) was a celebrated Taoist sage who lived a secluded life in mountain caves in China, where he created kung fu and a method of conscious dreaming. He was an ardent student of I Ching. He reputedly wandered the country in disguise, and sometimes provided warnings of impending events such as the flooding of the Yellow River.

Legend has it that Chen Tuan, won Mount Hua  – sacred to the goddess, and a center of Taoist practice up to the present day – at a chess game. Chen Tuan, beat Zhao Kuangyin, who later made good on his promise to deliver the mountain if he became emperor of the Tang dynasty Emperor, which he did in 960-976. Chen Tuan presided over a revival of Taoist practices, and is especially famous for his dream practice. There is a cave at the Jade Clear Spring Monastery where he lived his later years, and today it is a shrine with a statue of him in the classical dream practice pose (lying on right side, right hand supporting the head, like a sleeping tiger). His followers claimed he would lie in this position for days or even months while he flew about  in his dream body.

He taught that to dream well, we want to develop the practice of shifting attention from the physical to the subtle.  For neophytes, this is best attempted when you are not so tired you’ll just crash. Preparation includes releasing negative thoughts and  emotions and bodily complaints. There is a Taoist technique for that which centers on directing an “inner smile” to complaining parts of the body.

When we dream, the Taoist master taught, we enter realities beyond the physical. The core practice is to remain conscious as you relax your body in sleep position. You issue yourself a “sleep command” directing where you intend to go and what you intend to do. And you arrange your body in bed in the posture of a sleeping tiger.

The instructions for that can be given as follows:

Lie on your right side. Extend your left arm along your left leg. Your right hand may be cupped over your right ear, or tucked under the pillow. Bend your right knee. Leave your left leg  loosely extended. This posture shifts breathing to the left nostril and this is believed to activate right brain activity, facilitating strong visual and intuitive experiences and smoothing the way to states of brainwave activity associated with dreaming or meditation.

This posture is not unique to Taoists; it has been widely adopted and recommended in many dreaming traditions, sometimes as an ideal posture for entering death. The Buddha, at the moment of death, is depicted in Asian art as lying in the posture of the sleeping tiger.

Like tigers, a dream master may take plenty of “power naps” in the course of an day. This was a preferred technique of Chen Tuan. He would keep visitors waiting while he grabbed fifteen minutes in the sleeping tiger mode.  Chen Tuan is revered in Taoist tradition as “Ancestral Teacher”. He liked to call himself  Fuyao Zi, which means “one who soars high through the sky”, like a dragon or flying tiger.

 

Sleeping tiger posture.

Smellie’s school of dreams

posted by Robert Moss

- Wiliam Smellie National GalleryHe was the first editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and his racy style and talent for aphorisms made it an immediate popular success. He was a friend of the poet Robert Burns, who described him as “that old Veteran in Genius, Wit and Bawdry.”

Scientist, writer, master printer, natural philosopher, encyclopedist, bon vivant, William Smellie (1740-1795) was a man of many parts with very definite ideas about dreams. He was a Scot who wanted to rescue the study of dreams from the “dark theological horror” of the Calvinist imagination that had taken hold of many of his countryman.

Smellie (wonderful name!) insisted that dreams are neither escapist fantasies nor wiles of the devil, but a mirror in which we see the true shape of our desires. We may deceive ourselves, but dreams do not lie. In his article on dreams in the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he declared that “the imaginary transactions of the dreamer always bear some relation to his particular character in the world, his habits of action, and the circumstances of his life.” Therefore, “a person whose habits of life are virtuous does not in his dreams plunge into a series of crimes; nor are the vicious reformed when they pass into this imaginary world.”

Smellie took this argument further in The Philosophy of Natural History:

The vice which is most frequently and luxuriously indulged in our dreams, may safely be esteemed our predominant passion. Though motives of interest, decency, and the opinions of our friends, may have restrained us from actual gratification, and created a delusive belief that we are no longer subject to its solicitations; yet, if the imaginary gratification constitutes an agreeable dream…we may freely conclude..that those motives which deter from actual indulgence are not the genuine motives which virtue inspires…We should reflect that, during sleep, the mind is more ingenuous, less inclined to palliate its real motives, less influenced by public opinion, and in general, more open and candid, than when the sense are awake.

Let’s notice that this philosophy of dreams implies that we are responsible for our actions in dreams, just as in waking life. We should compare our behavior in dreams to our behavior in regular life and use the dream mirror to correct our performance.

 

Image: Portrait of William Smellie by George Watson in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Previous Posts

Traveling dream souls of indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples recognize multiple aspects of soul, with different destinies after death and different degrees of mobility during life. Thus the Chiquitano believe a human has three souls, called the shadow soul, the blood soul and the breath soul. During dreams the blood soul (otor) can wande

posted 4:16:01am Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Rumi-nation
A quick way of getting a message for any day is to open a book at random and see what is in front of you. The fancy name for this process is bibliomancy. The favorite book that has been used for such purposes in the West, for as long as we have had printed books, is the Bible. Abraham Lincoln used h

posted 4:58:36pm Aug. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Enter lucid dreaming like a sleeping tiger
Chen Tuan (871-989) was a celebrated Taoist sage who lived a secluded life in mountain caves in China, where he created kung fu and a method of conscious dreaming. He was an ardent student of I Ching. He reputedly wandered the country in disguise, and sometimes provided warnings of impending events

posted 12:21:15am Aug. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Smellie's school of dreams
He was the first editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and his racy style and talent for aphorisms made it an immediate popular success. He was a friend of the poet Robert Burns, who described him as "that old Veteran in Genius, Wit and Bawdry.” Scientist, writer, master printer, natural phil

posted 10:50:13am Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Walking Your Dreams
Janice likes to walk dreams, as you or I might walk the dog. Sometimes she walks her own dreams. As a teacher of Active Dreaming who plays guide for others, she often walks other people’s dreams, like one of those professional dog-walkers you see with half a dozen canines of all sizes on a fistful

posted 11:32:50pm Aug. 17, 2014 | read full post »


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