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

Dreamwork, the antidote to the League of Fear and Contempt
Why do so many adults in Western society deny that they dream or insist that dreams do not matter? These attitudes are partly the work of societal pressures, and of the authority we have assigned to two kinds of authority: those who have aspired to control our inner lives and those who have sugge

posted 6:10:51pm Sep. 24, 2014 | read full post »

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 »




Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.