Dream Gates

Dream Gates


Compassionate dreaming: living inside somebody else’s skin

posted by Robert Moss

Frederick Buechner once said, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

Dreaming can be a school for this kind of compassion, because in certain dreams we seem to find ourselves living inside somebody else’s skin. A woman I’ll call Norma shared a remarkable experience of this kind with me, in which she dreamed herself inside the body and situation of someone of a different race and a different gender.

As she entered the dream, she found herself flying around inside what she thought was a cell, inspecting its molecular structure.

“When I expand to fill a whole body, I find my legs are different. They seem longer. I reach down and examine the long, muscular calves of this body I am in. My skin is black.

“The shock of realizing I am in a black man’s body makes me conscious I am dreaming. Now lucid, I stay with the dream, eager to explore what is going on. I am fascinated by discovering what it feels like to have your genitals outside your body.

“Now I’m walking down the street, in this black man’s body. The city could be New Orleans. I smell delicious food aromas wafting from a restaurant. I want to go inside and eat. Two white men at the door tell me with jeering contempt, “Sure you can come in, boy. You can eat watermelon.’

“I walk away. I feel boiling anger rising inside me. An inner presence tells me, Leave before you succumb to his rage. I pull out of the dream.”

I asked Norma how she felt about this dream adventure inside a black man’s body. “I felt exhilarated,” she told me without hesitation. “I felt sad about the racism that black man had to contend with, yet grateful that I could share a part of his life.”

We find ourselves in the situations, the perspectives and even the skins of other people in dreams for many reasons. One of them is that dreaming in this way can expand our humanity. As Norma told me, “If only all of us could have this experience of being inside other people’s skins, we could get rid of a lot of our prejudices and social problems.”

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Don

    I wish that everyone could have a dream like Norma had. Back in the civil rughts days of the 1960′s I wondered how it would feel to be a victim of prejudice. I found out! I had a dream similar to Norma’s. I changed race but I did not change gender.
    Norma’s conclusion was correct. Thank you for posting this.

Previous Posts

"Nothing happens until it is dreamed"
The memory of a dream is the memory of a journey. It may have been a short visit to a neighbor's place or a date with the lover you will meet three years from now. It may have been a journey to the spirits on the moon, or into a universe inside a stone that is as big as the universe out there. Wh

posted 12:28:30am Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Questioning dreams in ancient Mesopotamia
Our earliest records of the work of a dream interpreter come from ancient Mesopotamia. Here the person you asked for help with your dream was called the “questioner”. On clay tablets from Assur and Nineveh, the “questioner” is usually a woman. The title suggests that she will put questions t

posted 9:02:55am Jul. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Rabbi Zalman joins the Dream Assembly
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi related a wonderful teaching story about interactive dreaming in The Dream Assembly.  A bunch of Hasidic rabbis are discussing the goals of prayer. Instead of joining the debate, Zalman says, “I would like all of you to join me in a dream tonight.” Then he immerse

posted 12:30:35pm Jul. 09, 2014 | read full post »

The Pauli Effect on the Pauli Effect
“Pauli Effect” is a term used for the mysterious malfunctioning of equipment in the presence of a certain person. We all know someone who has this effect, stopping watches, crashing computers, blowing out light bulbs. Often the phenomenon looks like a kind of adult (or not-so-grown-up) poltergei

posted 7:12:51am Jul. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Reading "what is behind"; Divination in Imperial Japan
In imperial Japan, one-third of the officials in the Ministry of Religious Affairs — the Jingi-kan — were assigned to one department, the Department of Divination. Their job was to read patterns of coincidence and advise the emperor accordingly. They had many techniques for provoking a sign from

posted 4:43:19am Jun. 30, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.