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Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Where Homeric singers appoint their successors in dreams

posted by Robert Moss

Kyrgyz manaschy singing the epic – photo by SiGarb

How you know a dream matters among the Kyrgyz

One of the markers of the dream that is also ayan, an omen, is that sensory impressions are unusually strong, including the sense of smell or taste, and that these impressions linger after waking. The great bardic storytellers of this culture are often called to their vocations in dream visions in which they are given the food of a legendary hero to eat, and wake with the taste – and the song – on their lips.

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I won’t flunk you if you can’t place Kyrgyzstan on a map without a little help. It is a poor, landlocked, Turkic-speaking country that was once part of the Soviet Union. Islam is the dominant religion today, but the contending influences of Soviet secularism and the old shamanic ways of a people of horsemen and sheep herders still run strong.

An epic known as the Manas is still central to the national identity of the Kyrgyz people. It runs to 500,000 lines. It recounts the story of a hero khan who fought off his people’s enemies and unified tribes to make a nation, and of his son and grandson. The epic is studded with dreams, which are often “omens” containing prophecies. The Manas is transmitted through oral narration, by a special type of master singer, known as the manaschy, who recites the verses and is sustained and reinforced by the lively responses of his audience. He is not simply performing an extraordinary feat of memory, though years of memorization are involved; each performance of the Manas will introduce fresh words, because this is a living entity, not something frozen in a canonical text.

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Taking on the obligations of a manaschy, a singer or teller of this longer-than-Homeric epic, is clearly only for a few. I was interested to learn that typically, the singers-t0-be are called to their vocation by dreams in which a great manaschy of the past, or a character from the epic, appears to them. Some of those who receive dream visitations of this kind are reluctant to take on the arduous apprenticeship and demanding duties of the role; they may receive successive visitations, developing into an offer they can’t refuse. For example, they may be told they will fall ill or lose the use of their limbs or their voice if they do not carry the immense and ancient song.

One of the most famous manaschys, Sayakbay Karalaev (1894-1971) received his calling in a big dream involving an encounter with the hero of the epic, Manas, and his wife and companions.  In his early twenties, traveling on the road to Orto-Tokay, he was stunned to see an old black boulder transformed into a great white yurt. He heard a loud noise coming from the sky and fainted with terror. When he woke – inside his dream vision – he entered the yurt, and was offered food by the wife of Manas.. When he left the yurt he was greeted by a man who told him, “We are happy to meet you.” The man introduced himself as another of the heroes of the epic: “”I am Bakai,who finds the way in the dark and words of wisdom when necessary.” He offered the singer-to-be the special food of Manas. As he swallowed the food, Sayakbay took into himself the gift of singing and of memory required to take up his new work.

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A manaschy in action: Sayakbay Karalaev (1894-1971),

Danish anthropologist Maria Elisabeth Louw interviewed contemporary Kyrgyz about their dreams and reports a continuing widespread belief that the ancestors appear to us in dreams and that dreams can provide foreknowledge of the future. She reports in an article in History and Anthropology that dreams are widely regarded – even in relatively secular Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan – as the main way God keeps in touch with people. “Certain dreams are seen as ayan, omens or direct signs sent by the ancestors, and ultimately by God, which can help people to make the right decisions and choices in life – if they know how to interpret the omens.”

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One of the markers of the dream that is ayan, an omen, is that sensory impressions are unusually strong, including the sense of smell or taste, and that these impressions linger after waking.

Dream visitations by an arbak –  the ghost” or “spirit” of  a deceased relative or ancestor – are commonplace, and may infleunce family decisions.  Thursdays and Fridays are regarded as favorite visiting days for the ancestors, who like to check on how the family is doing; in Muslim households, verses of the Koran are often recited on these evenings.

 

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In the dream kitchen

posted by Robert Moss

- kitchen RMIn my night dreams, the place of creation is often a kitchen. I don’t do a lot of cooking, but I love the image of the kitchen — where we are fed and nourished and we mix things together and cook things up — as the creative center.

I especially like to think of the creative process as being similar to baking. You get together your startup dough, then you knead it — you stretch it and pull it apart and bring it together again. Then you stand back and let it rise (if it will). Then you get hot, and expose your project to the fire. And finally comes the test: how does it taste?

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I know, from the state of my dream kitchen, how a creative project is coming (or not coming) along. Once, when working on a book, I dreamed that a splendid meal was being delivered, but that there was no place in the kitchen to set it down, since every surface was covered with papers or dishes. The dream gave me a clear message to eliminate clutter, push aside old drafts and research files, and make space for the main dish to be served up fresh and hot.

The state of the dream kitchen may reflect the family situation. A woman once came to me with a troubling dream in which her kitchen was so messy that she could not tell the difference between the groceries and the trash. She insisted that she was a tidy person who would never allow her kitchen to get into that state. Could the dream be played out in the future? She was reluctant to accept that idea. We briefly discussed whether the mess in the kitchen could be a metaphor for the state of her marriage and family relations. She allowed that there might be some “cleaning up” to do on that front. Two weeks later, she came home to find that the mess from her dream had spilled over into her literal kitchen. Her husband and teen boys had done such a number on the kitchen that she literally could not tell the difference between the groceries and the trash. This prompted her to have a tough sit-down conversation with her husband, at the end of which they agreed that the mess in their relationship couldn’t be cleaned up by anything less than a separation.

In that kitchen dream, be it noted, we see how a quite literal precognitive dream can point us to a situation in ordinary life that is richly symbolic. We need to take dreams more literally, and waking life more symbolically.

What’s going on in your dream kitchen?

 

photo (c) RobertMoss

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Seven Open Secrets of Imagination

posted by Robert Moss

- Tree Miroir AnnickThe greatest crisis in our lives is a crisis of imagination. We get stuck and set ourselves up for failure because we buy into a limited or self-defeating version of reality, and refuse to see our situation differently.

The answer lies within us, in the power of imagination. We are ruled by images; they are the “facts of the mind” (as the poet Coleridge called them) that turn us on and turn us off and program our bodies for wellness or disease. To live richer and more creative lives, we want to learn to choose the images to which we give energy and belief. We can do this by learning and harnessing the seven open secrets of imagination:

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  1. If we can picture our blocks, we can move beyond them 

Mandy was terrified of speaking in public, even in front of two or three people. I asked her if she could feel what was blocking her. She could; it felt like a choke collar. I asked if she could see that collar. She saw it as antique lace of the kind her grandmother used to wear. Once she had that image, she was able to work successfully to release herself from the choke-hold of a family tradition that held that it is the role of women to suffer in silence. When she found an image of her block, Mandy moved beyond it and claimed her voice.

 

  1. The body believes in images and they can help it to heal and stay well

An image sends electrical sparks through your whole body. This shows up when brainwaves are recorded by an EEG. At the same time, an image sends a stream of chemicals washing through you. If you dwell on images of grief and failure, you are manufacturing “downers”. If you can shift your mind to a relaxing scene you produce a natural tranquilizer.  In its internal workings, the body does not seem to distinguish between a strong image and a physical event. There is immense potential for healing here – as is increasingly recognized in the healthcare community, if we choose to give our focus to positive  images that are right for us. Where do we get those images? From happy life memories, and from our dreams, which are a great factory of customized imagery for self-healing.

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  1. If you can see your destination, you are better than halfway there

We want to practice seeing and sensing ourselves enjoying the fulfillment of our heart’s desires, in our dream home, or our dream job, or with our dream partner or community. If we can grow a vision strongly enough in our inner senses – and if it is guided by the heart and the gut and not merely the head – then that vision has traction. It helps to pull us towards our destination.

 

  1. The Big Story is hunting us

The Big story – the one that can give us the courage to get through whatever life throws at us – is hunting us. It makes itself known in dreams and through the play of coincidence. We allow it to find us by making a date, preferably seven days a week, with the most important book we’ll ever own: our personal journal.Writing a journal is taking a walk in the bush. The longer you write, the further you get away from safe places and much-traveled roads. You’re now in the wild. And you’re in that state of alert relaxation that is going to encourage something large and powerful that lives in the wild to leap at you from hiding and claim you.

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  1. There is a place of imagination, and it is entirely real

For each of us, there is a place of imagination – maybe many places – that are altogether real. One of these, for me, is a magical library of which I never tire. Any book in this library opens another world, and master teachers are accessible here. Spend a few minutes, any day you can, building your own home in the imagination – a place where you can rest and relax and get creative ideas or receive healing or have fun with your favorite people. You’ll find this wonderfully restorative. You may also find that the stronger you build your dream place in your mind, the greater the chance that it will manifest in the world.

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  1. We can transfer a vision to someone in need of a vision

We have the ability to grow a vision for someone who needs a vision. After her hysterectomy, Dawn told me she felt “gutted.” I helped her to picture herself inside the blackened, hollowed-out core of an immense Californiaredwood that had survived a forest fire. Despite the gutting, the great tree was vigorously alive, hurling its green spray towards the sky. Dawn made the redwood image part of her daily meditation, and it took on spontaneous life. She entered the blackened core one day to find it had become the nest of the phoenix, and felt herself rise, on shining wings, from the ashes of her pain and loss.

 

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        7. The stronger the imagination, the less imaginary the results

I have borrowed the words from the poet Rabindranath Tagore. To live the fullest and juiciest life, we need to develop poetic consciousness.

Imagine that you can make yourself incredibly small and travel inside the body and repair its cells structure and balance its flows from within.

Imagine you can travel across time and visit a younger self and provide the counsel and mentorship that younger self needed in a time of ordeal.

Imagine you can communicate with your self on a higher level, and get a wiser perspective on all your issues – and return with a road map that will get you where you need to go.

Imagine that you can reduce pain with your mind, and can develop this ability to the point where you can dispense with meds even when undergoing root canal work.

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Imagine you can go to a place where you can review your soul’s contract – the set of lessons and tasks you may have agreed to undertake before you came into your present life experience – so you can now remember and complete your true life mission.

Imagine a workplace that is no longer toxic or stressed out because people make space every morning to share dreams and check whether an innovative solution or a fun idea has come to someone in the night.

I have seen all these things accomplished, through the power of imagination.

What we can imagine has a tendency to become real in our bodies and our world. Once again: “The stronger the imagination, the less imaginary the results.”

 

 Related workshops and trainings with Robert Moss:

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The Temple of Dream Healing, Kalani Retreat Center, Hawaii, March 16-21, 2015
The Temple of Dream Healing, Esalen Institute, Big Sur CA April 26-May 1, 2015
Imaginal Healing Training, Hameau de l’Etoile, near Montpellier, France, June 1-4, 2015
Imaginal Healing Training, Black Sea Coast, Romania, October 1-4, 2015

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Text adapted from  The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: “Arbre-Miroir” by French dream artist Annick Bougerolle

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As Lady Sarashina crossed a bridge of dreams

posted by Robert Moss

“Reflected moon on paddy fields at Sarashina”, woodblock by Ando Hiroshige

From a thousand years ago, in a slim autobiographical novel gusting with moonlight and desire, we have a dozen dreams of an anonymous Japanese woman who was born in Kyoto in 1008. The book itself is untitled; sometimes it is called the Sarashina Nikki (literally, “The Day-Record of Sarashina”). The translator of the Penguin edition, Ivan Morris, decided to import a title from an even older work, a poem titled, “As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams.”

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The author, whose name is unknown, belonged to a remarkable group of Japanese women writers of the tenth and eleventh centuries. We know almost nothing of their lives, not even their names. A modern editor suggests that their extraordinary accomplishments “produced an unconscious resentment among male scholars, with the result that these talented ladies were permanently condemned to anonymity.” One of them was this author’s aunt, who wrote a searing tale of jealousy, Kagero Nikki (“Gossamer Years”).

By convention, the anonymous author of Bridge of Dreams is called Lady Sarashina,  a name borrowed from a mountainous area she probably never visited. The daughter of a minor provincial governor who resented being posted outside the capital, she led a secluded life, mostly behind garden walls inKyoto, until she became a lady-in-waiting to a princess at thirty-one. Her court connection may have helped her to marry at thirty-six, very late in her day; she had children. Her prose style was lovely; the poems that punctuate her recollections (an epistolary mode of the time) are mostly forgettable.

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She told no one her dreams, and failed to take actions suggested by the early dreams in the series. She later regrets failing to act on her dreams, realizing that they could have steered her life on a better course.

She loved stories and romances, and the first dreams she records – one features a “handsome priest” – came in the midst of her binge reading of women’s writing like the  Tales of Genji. Some dreams were experienced at temples, to which she journeyed on pilgrimages that were sometimes cherry-blossom tours, sometimes belated efforts to honor dream directions. Japanese classical scholar Ikeda Kikan says: “The author of Sarashina Nikki can be regarded as the first person in Japanese literature to have discovered dreams…Her dreams are not fortuitous interludes but are consciously grasped as having a definite, inevitable meaning.”  This is the first Japanese book in which dreams play a central role. Life itself has the quality of dream, a flimsy bridge between different shores.

Her book resembles the modern Japanese genre known as the sh-shosetsu, the “I-novel”, in which the author weaves facts of his life together with imagination.

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Where Homeric singers appoint their successors in dreams
How you know a dream matters among the Kyrgyz One of the markers of the dream that is also ayan, an omen, is that sensory impressions are unusually strong, including the s

posted 5:16:22am Apr. 02, 2015 | read full post »

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In my night dreams, the place of creation is often a kitchen. I don’t do a lot of cooking, but I love the image of the kitchen — where we are fed and nourished and we mix things together and cook things up — as the creative center. I especially like to think of the creative process as being

posted 4:55:30am Mar. 29, 2015 | read full post »

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posted 11:34:19am Mar. 07, 2015 | read full post »

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