Your “dreaming” psyche seems to be dreaming only because you do not recognize that particular state of awareness as your own. The “dreaming” psyche is actually as awake as you are in your normal waking life. The organization of wakefulness is different, however. You come into dreaming from a different angle, so to speak.
The “off-center” quality sensed in dream activity, the different viewpoints, the perspective alterations, all can add to a chaotic picture when the dream state is viewed from the waking one.
Centuries ago, in your terms, words and images had a closer relationship – now somewhat tarnished – and this older relationship appears in the dream fabric. We will use English here as an example. The great descriptive nature of names, for instance, can give you an indication of the unity of image and word as they appear in your dreams. Once, a man who tailored clothes was named “Tailor”. A man who was a robber was called “Robber”. If you were the son of a man with a certain name, then “son of” was simply added so you had “Robberson”. Each reader can think of many such examples.
Now, names are not as descriptive. You may have a dream, however, in which you see a tailor shop. The tailor may be dancing or dying or getting married. Later, in waking life, you may discover that a friend of yours, a Mr Taylor, has a party, or dies, or gets married, whatever the case may be; yet you might never connect the dream with the later event because you did not understand the way that words and images can be united in your dreams.
Your waking life is the result of the most precise kind of organization, held competently and with amazing clarity. While each person views that reality from a slightly different focus, still it occurs within certain ranges or frequencies. You bring it into clear focus in almost the same way that you adjust your television picture, only in this case not only sound and images are synchronized, but phenomena of far greater complexity. Following this analogy, everyone sees a slightly different picture of reality, and follows his or her own program – yet all of the “sets” are the same.
When you dream, however, you are to some extent experiencing reality from a different “set” entirely. Now, when you try to adjust your dreaming set in the same way that you would the waking one, you end up with static and blurred images. The set itself, however, is quite as effective as the one you use when you are awake, and it has a far greater range. It can bring in many programs. When you watch your ordinary television program, perhaps on a Saturday afternoon, you view the program as an observer. Let me give you an example.
Ruburt and Joseph often watch old Star Trek reruns as they eat their evening meal. They sit quite comfortably on their living room couch, with dinner on the coffee table, surrounded by all of the dear homey paraphernalia that is familiar to your society.
As they sit thus comfortably ensconced, they observe dramas in which planets explode, and otherworld intelligences rise to challenge or to help the dauntless captain of the good ship Enterprise and the fearless “Spock” – but none of this threatens our friends, Ruburt and Joseph. They drink their coffee and eat their dessert.
Now: Your normal waking reality can be compared to a kind of television drama in which you participate directly in all of the dramas presented. You create them to begin with. You form your private and joint adventures, and bring them into experience by using your physical apparatus – your body – in a particular way, tuned in to a large programming area in which, however, there are many different stations. In your terms, these stations come alive. You are the drama that you experience, and all of your activities seem to revolve about you. You are also the perceiver.
In the dream state, it is as if you have a still-different television set that is, however, connected with your own. Using it, you can perceive events not only from your own viewpoint, but from other focuses. Using that set, you can leap from station to station, so to speak – not simply perceiving, but experiencing what is happening in other times and places.
Events, then, are organized in a different fashion. Not only can you experience dramas in which you are intimately involved, as in waking life, but your range of activities is multiplied so that you can view events, “from outside” your own usual context. You can look down at a drama on the one hand, for example, and participate in it as well.
When you are dealing with normal waking reality, you are operating at one level of the many that are native to your psyche. When you are dreaming, from your viewpoint you are entering other levels of reality quite as native to your psyche, but usually you are still experiencing those events through your current “waking station”. The dreams that you remember are colored or altered or even censored to a certain extent. There is no inherent psychological or biological necessity for this. Your ideas and beliefs, however, about the nature of reality, and sanity, have resulted in such a schism.
Let us return to our friends, Ruburt and Joseph, watching Star Trek as each of you watch your own favorite programs.
Ruburt and Joseph know that Star Trek is not “real”. Planets can explode on the television screen, and Ruburt will not spill one drop of coffee. The cozy living room is quite safe from the imaginary catastrophes that are occurring just a few feet from the couch. Yet in a way the program reflects certain beliefs of your society in general, and so it is like a specialized mass waking dream – real but not real. For a moment, though, let us change the program to your favorite cops-and-robbers show. A woman is shot down in the street. Now this drama becomes “more real”, more immediately probable, and less comfortable. So watching such a program, you may feel slightly threatened yourself, yet still largely unconcerned.
Some of my friends may not watch such programs at all, but instead look at wholesome sagas, or religious dramas. A preacher may stand golden-faced, earnest-eyed, extolling the merits of goodness and damning the legions of the devil – and to some of my readers that devil, unseen, never appearing, may nevertheless seem quite real.
You form certain focuses, then. You will blithely ignore certain televised dangers and sheer good adventure, while others may strike you to the heart as “too real”. So in your waking and dreaming experiences, you will make the same kind of distinctions. You will be touched or untouched by waking or dreaming events according to the significance you place upon them.
If you do not like a television program, you can switch to another with a mere flick of the wrist. If you do not like your own physical experience, you can also change to another, more beneficial station – but only if you recognize the fact that you are the producer.
In the dream state, many people have learned to escape from a bad dream by waking up, or altering the focus of consciousness. Ruburt and Joseph do not feel threatened, again, by Star Trek. The program does not make them feel less safe. When you are in the middle of a frightening physical experience, however, or caught in the throes of a nightmare, then you wish you knew how to “change the station”.
You can often get carried away by a television drama, so that for a moment you forget that it is “not real”, and in your concentration upon it you can momentarily ignore the greater reality about you.
Sometimes you are deliciously frightened by a horror program, for example. You may feel compelled to see how it comes out, and find yourself unable to go to bed until the horrendous situation is resolved. All the time you know that salvation is nearby: You can always switch off the program. If someone watching a gory midnight special suddenly screams or shouts or leaps up from the chair, how comical this seems, because the action is appropriate not to the “real” situation, but geared instead to a pseudo drama. The yelling and screaming will have absolutely no effect upon the program’s actors, and will alter the drama not one whit. The appropriate action would be to turn the station off.
In this case, the frightened perceiver knows full well that the terrible events on the screen will not suddenly explode into the living room. When you become caught in frightening physical events, however, it is equally foolhardy to yell or shout or stamp your feet, because that is not where the action is. Again, you have only to change the station. But often you become so engrossed in your life situation that you do not realize the inappropriateness of your response.
In this case you are yourself the programmer, and the true action is not where it appears to be – in the exterior events – but instead in the psyche, where you are writing and performing the drama. In the dream state, you are writing and performing many such dramas.