Dream Gates

Dream Gates

At the junction of waking and sleeping

Looking over old journals as I cull experiential material for a new book, I am reminded just how many of my big experiences of inner and other worlds have taken place in a liminal state of consciousness, on the cusp between sleep and waking. We have all been there, though often we rush through it too fast. Spending more time in the twilight zone between sleep and waking is the easiest way to become a conscious or lucid dreamer. It is a space where creative connections are made, and has been the source of so many breakthroughs in science and literature that in my Secret History of Dreaming I call it “the solution state”.


Active dreamers tend to spend a lot of time in the twilight zone, even whole nights. In everyday life, the easiest way to embark on conscious dream journeys is to practice maintaining full awareness as dream images rise and fall during twilight states. The twilight zone offers optimum conditions to develop your ability to make intentional journeys beyond the physical body to learn the nature and conditions of other orders of reality.

In the language of the sleep scientists, the twilight zone is the realm of hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences. Hypnagogic literally means “leading toward sleep”; hypnopompic means “leading away from sleep.” But these terms do not take us to the heart of the matter. You may enter the twilight zone before and after sleep, but you may also enter it wide awake, with no intention of sleeping. It is not the relationship to sleep that defines the twilight zone; it is its character as a border county. It is the junction between sleep and waking, certainly. But more than this, as Mary Watkins writes beautifully, it is “the plane of coexistence of the two worlds.”


In this borderland, you will find the gates to other worlds opening smoothly and fluidly — if you let them and are prepared for what may follow. When I allow myself to drift through this frontier region with no fixed agenda, I have the sense of leaning through a window or a doorway in space. Sometimes this feels like hanging out of the open hatch of an airplane. I have come to recognize this as the opening of a dreamgate. Depending on circumstances and intention, I can step forward into the next dimension or haul myself back into physical focus.

From this departure lobby, the great explorers of the imaginal realm have used many gates and flight paths. This is why the twilight state has such vital significance in dream yoga, in shamanic training, in the Western Mystery traditions, in the “science if mirrors” of the medieval Persian philosophers, and in other schools of active spirituality.


According to Tantric teachings, it is by learning to prolong this “intermediate state” and to operate with full awareness within it that you achieve dream mastery and, beyond this, the highest level of consciousness attainable for an embodied human. The Spandakarika of Vasagupta, which dates from the tenth century, recommends the use of breathing exercises to focus and maintain awareness as you move from waking into the twilight state. The dreamer is urged to place himself “at the junction between inhaled and exhaled breaths, at the very point where he enters into contact with energy in the pure state.” This is the entry into conscious dreaming, whose gifts (according to Tantric text) could be immense: “The Lord of necessity grants him during dreams the ends he pursues, providing that he is profoundly contemplative and places himself at the junction between waking and sleeping.”


The aim of the practice is to achieve continuity of consciousness through sleeping, waking, and the intermediate state. When this is attained, the practitioner has ascended to the mystical Fourth State — the turiya of the Upanishads. This is the highly evolved consciousness of a person who has awakened to the reality of the Self; it now infuses his awareness at all times.

Salvador Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranata

Adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life After Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    I guess all of us learn and obtain a bit diverse gifts from lingering in state between sleeping and waking. It probably depends on disposition of individual people and on their momentary needs and aims.
    In my home library I have a book called Letters from Saints to Sinners (ed. John Cumming) and it contains lots of literary and heart jewells as well. There is also included a letter by Don Bosco. On the one hand, it can serve as a great document of his love and care for the spiritual wellfare and growth of his students and colleagues. On the other, it´s a compelling evidence of his talent to make the most of this “between state” for his work. In the opening of the letter, Don Bosco describes how one day he returned to his room and wanted to go to sleep. He was praying as his dear mother taught him, when at once – he didn´t know if it wasn´t only apparition – he saw two former pupils of the oratory in front of him. One of them greeted him cordially, asked him if he remembered him and if he could show him other boys from their oratory. Seeing various scenes, Don Bosco could compare the old happy days of the oratory with a contemporary unfavourable change. As the whole story unfolds in details, he takes in what is going wrong between students and teachers in his absence and in a in-depth discussion with his boys he is given excellent advice which he passes on to his brothers in Turin in the letter.
    Thank you a lot for all posts. Your marvellous writings, along with Don Bosco´s simple affectionate letters create a nice mosaic for further contemplation and work.

    • Robert Moss

      Nina – Interesting to know that Don Bosco had this visitation in the hypnagogic zone, which was recommended by the ancients as the state of consciousness in which it is easiest to have authentic transpersonal encounters of this type. In this state, for example, the Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus used to confer with Plutarch, who lived centuries before him.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cathy

    I appreciated reading this posting, especially the part about entering the solution state wide awake. I’ve noticed that a couple of times recently, and wondered what it could mean. Looking forward to your new book!

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