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 Post subject: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 19th, 2016, 11:13 am 
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Hello,

I have recently become interested in exploring the meaning, symbolism, and messages in my own dreams. I have started a dream journal and try to record them every morning.

In most of my reading on the subject, which is not extensive, people generally approach the dream world from a Freudian or Jungian point of view. Obviously their views are not in line with traditional metaphysics, but I wonder whether looking to your dreams for insights about yourself is healthy or productive.

More generally, I am curious what the traditionalists have thought of dreams, lucid dreaming, and astral projection. I know that many individual traditions hold that dreams can be messages from God, and that some Yogic traditions engage in dream yoga, which involves lucid dreaming, but would it be dangerous to explore these sorts of things outside the guidance of a spiritual tradition?

I think that lucid dreaming has the potential to be an opportunity for vice, such as indulging in sexual activity and things of the sort, but if one does not do this sort of indulging, is it useful? Do your dreams reveal anything about yourself worth knowing, or is your subconsious/collective unconscious spoken of by Freudians and Jungians merely your lower, base or demonic self? If this is the case, it would be something to actively avoid.

And finally, what is astral projection? I mean, I know how people describe it, but what is actually going on? Is this something that is bad for you, or is it merely a delusion?

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post. I look forward to any insights you may have, assuming (and hoping!) this forum hasn't been abandoned.

-Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 3:46 am 
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... I wonder whether looking to your dreams for insights about yourself is healthy or productive ... Is [lucid dreaming] useful? ... what is astral projection? ... would it be dangerous to explore these sorts of things outside the guidance of a spiritual tradition?

Dear Brian,

Greetings of Peace. It seems that you have begun to develop a desire to experience phenomena conducive to a breaking through of the illusion of 'ordinary life' and the limitations of corporeal experience. I cannot help but wonder if this is perhaps the result a veiled desire to participate in the spiritual life properly so-called without making the commitments required by a traditional filiation. If I remember correctly, you were raised within a Protestant Church and derive much inspiration from traditional metaphysics and philosophy but are not currently affiliated with any of the world's living traditions.

Dream interpretation, lucid dreaming, astral projection, and other phenomena pertain to the pursuit of psychic powers. On this general topic, Rene Guenon has written rather extensively and in my opinion and experience very accurately. I would be happy to put together a reading list if you are interested in investigating his perspectives.

While all of these phenomena have a basis in reality, their modern pursuit is generally the truncated adaptation of traditional practices such as the traditional science of dream interpretation which is accompanied by strict classifications and rules, or the contemplative interior ascent of which astral projection and 'rising on the planes' are the occult shadows and residues.

It is certainly beneficial to become knowledgable concerning the range and possibilities of ones own being and consciousness, but the psychic domain is particularly hazardous because it contains within its vast scope a multiplicity of manifestations ranging from the subtle energies of the body to the spontaneous productions of fantasy and the objective forms of the imagination. It is very important to be clear about your motives in attempting to traverse this vast intermediate realm. Whereas occultism approaches this domain as a form of experimentation, true spirituality always posits proximity to God as the ultimate goal.

To answer your question concerning astral projection, it is a practice popularized by the theosophists whereby consciousness is separated from the body and made to travel within an imaginary vehicle (the astral body) to explore the subtle traces of the material world and interact with incorporeal entities and environments. This experience is considered something of a goal in and of itself among occultists, but in the context of traditional spiritual practice it is the first of a series of tests on the interior journey to God. The proper response according to Ibn Arabi, for instance is never to become enamored or distracted by these apparitions and knowledges, instead firmly persisting in the practice of invocation until proximity to God is achieved.

In Peace,
Desmond

_________________
Be outwardly on land and inwardly at sea.
~ Shaykh Muhammad al-Būzīdī


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 24th, 2016, 10:53 am 
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Desmond,

Thank you for your reply.

Desmond wrote:
It seems that you have begun to develop a desire to experience phenomena conducive to a breaking through of the illusion of 'ordinary life' and the limitations of corporeal experience. I cannot help but wonder if this is perhaps the result a veiled desire to participate in the spiritual life properly so-called without making the commitments required by a traditional filiation. If I remember correctly, you were raised within a Protestant Church and derive much inspiration from traditional metaphysics and philosophy but are not currently affiliated with any of the world's living traditions.


You are correct about my background. I suspect you are also correct about my lack of willingness to join a living tradition. This is something I have thought about for some time, and recently, I have been dwelling on quite often.

I would like to say that as far as lucid dreaming and astral projection go, I have not tried them, nor do I have any real desire to do so. It appears that the majority of people who engage in lucid dreaming do so merely in order to fulfill carnal fantasies or other base desires, which is not becoming of a mature, self-controlled person. My questions about lucid dreaming and astral projection were thus more on the side of intellectual curiosity.

As far as dream interpretation goes I suppose I have been "practicing" this. More than anything, I have been trying to remember and record my dreams. It occurred to me some time ago (while reading a book about Jung) that dreams are significantly odd. Even dreams that are mundane seem strange in the sense that things don't take place in orderly sequences and often the content itself is bizarre and seemingly symbolic.

I think that if I were to sum up what the practice of philosophy means to me, I would say that it means one is called to fulfill the Oracle at Delphi's command to know thyself, and that exploring a strange part of mind of which I am obviously ignorant is one way in which I can do that. It seems to me that just fostering awareness of the dream world cannot be harmful, but then again, modern man in filled with every sort of hubris. It is also that case that I sometimes try to interpret and analyze my dreams and that this practice, if based on false principles, could be hazardous.

But perhaps you are right, and I am deceiving myself by wanting the fruits of traditional religion (or worse, some sort of psychic power unattached to a valid source) without putting in the proper training. If this is the case, it is intentional. I'm not exactly sure what it is that holds me back from pursuing a proper tradition, although I think there are a lot of factors that go into it. I have recently been reading Evola's book The Doctrine of Awakening, which, in addition to certain personal situations, had gotten me thinking about Buddhism as a viable option. This is another topic though, which I will post in another section shortly.

Anyways, if you wouldn't mind putting together some readings from Guenon, I would be very grateful. As always, if you have any other thoughts on this topic or my comments earlier, I would love to hear them. I greatly value the input of this community in my own reflections.

Thanks,
Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 24th, 2016, 9:31 pm 
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Hello Brian,

I find this subject fascinating and while I concur with many of Desmond's findings and suggestions, I believe dreams can be as significant as anything we experience in the material world. A true, inspired dream may even be a source of guidance, knowledge, and love. The first author I would turn to is Henry Corbin and especially his book Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi. Chittick and others, following Schuon and Nasr, have expressed that Corbin overemphasizes the imaginal world in Ibn 'Arabi's cosmology and metaphysics. I tend to think that Corbin was right to restore the meaning and significance of the imaginal world, and thus dreams and visions, within a greater cosmological and metaphysical worldview wherein the imaginal world is our isthmus between the material world and the higher worlds of the divine archetypes and essence. Without dreams, sleeping and waking, a good portion of our religious traditions and histories would be unimaginable.

To this I will add that, from one point of view, we are always immersed in the imaginal. To see any material object, whether a person or a tree, is to see its imaginal or psychic form, its spiritual or angelic form, its divine archetypes or names, and the divine essence. Each thing is connected to higher worlds and ultimately God and without such a connection things would cease to exist. When we see things clearly while awake or during a lucid dream, we can often see things as they truly are.

Another point to consider, from my experience as a student and educator, is that people learn in different ways. There are a number of theories one can explore concerning "multiple intelligences." Suffice it to say, imagination should play a greater role in education in my view. I know a number of intelligent and virtuous people who do not give their dreams much significance and a number of others of the same quality who do. I have spoken with trustworthy individuals who still have dreams and visions of the prophets and angels, and are guided closer to God and the virtuous life as a result. I'm even inclined to believe that given the state of the world only help from heaven through such channels will bring much needed peace and justice.

Sincerely,
Zachary


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 26th, 2016, 12:48 pm 
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Zachary,

Thank you for your thoughts. The book you mentioned by Henry Corbin looks extremely fascinating. I must admit though, I am woefully ignorant of Islam. I know a little bit about the Prophet Mohammad, and I have read some poems by Rumi, and I have read Leo Strauss on Al Farabi. Other than this I have no real acquaintance with that tradition. Is some knowledge of Sufism or Ibn Arabi requisite to reading Corbin's book?

Is it generally believed by most traditionalists and orthodox people that dreams give one access to the higher realms, and are not just mere fantasy or phantasmagoria? I realize that they obviously do on some occasions, but is this their general nature? I suppose a similar question is this: How are to know when we are imagining and when we are discerning a thing's higher form?

For instance, Aristotle says when we see anything we grasp its nature through our intellect, and that this is sometimes accompanied by phantasmagoria, which sort of represent it. But a thing's nature is ultimately not physical. So ultimately I guess I am asking what is it that we grasp in dreams? How is it that angelic or psychic or spiritual forms are imaginal?

If Plato is right and there is a hierarchy of reality that starts with images at the bottom, then moves upwards to physical things, and up more to the intelligible realm(s), how can images be more real than physical reality?

If my question seems confused, it probably is, and I apologize. Thank you for addressing it though.

Thanks,
Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 26th, 2016, 5:50 pm 
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Brian,

Henry Corbin also looks at Christianity and his understanding of the imaginal can be approached through that tradition and perhaps others. See, for example, his Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam. Corbin can be hard to read at first, but he uses repetition as a didactic method to clarify his main points. Because he wrote in western contexts and originally in French, he tries to clarify the terms and ideas he introduces. I think almost any intelligent reader can benefit from his Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi. I don’t think you would need too much background knowledge, but can always supplement what he discusses with other sources.

Of course, I can’t speak on behalf of all traditionalists or orthodox peoples, but Muslims generally believe that some dreams are inspired and others are not. Traditionally, bad dreams are ignored and inspired dreams can be interpreted by the individual or someone with knowledge of dreams. The classic example is the story of the prophet Joseph from the Quran and some Sufi shaykhs and other wise souls are said to have the gift of interpreting dreams. A true, inspired dream may be infrequent for most of us, but the signs are hard to miss when they do occur. Generally, but not always, they occur before dawn, deal with the revelations, angels, prophets, or saints, and leave one with a sense of meaning. A dream is a lot like a person or suggestion one might encounter in the material world. One always has to use one’s discernment and rely on trusted sources.

I’m not sure I can answer all of your other questions, but I’ll give you my two cents. In Corbin’s understanding the imaginal world is not imaginary, but a real ontological abode. The imaginal is simply the psychic world or the world of images that we inhabit both when we are dreaming and while awake. In his understanding, divine archetypes are communicated through the imaginal where they take on subtle forms. For example, an angel’s true reality may be pure light, but Gabriel takes on the form of a man in many Islamic and Christian traditions. Angels are also frequently associated with birds and the “language of the birds.” Traditions attest that the angels can appear to people in different forms when they are sleeping or while awake. Similarly, a saintly or ordinary person in the material world can embody their spirit or angelic-like essence and one can perceive them as divine light that is not in opposition to the body, but manifests through and as their physical form.

It can be argued that all things, including those in the physical world, are emanations of divine archetypes that take on imaginal forms. I’m not certain that one even needs to dream to appreciate the significance of the imaginal because the beauty and majesty of people and nature can be seen as a theatre for the Imago Dei. One simply has to be aware that things express more than their material or quantitative aspects to use the language of Guénon. All good poets are also aware of this. I’ll add that I’m not sure we need to divide existence into cosmological and metaphysical hierarchies and schemes. In my view, the material world contains all of the other “levels” of being if we are sensitive to them. But the more subtle, which penetrate the material, are considered more real by people like Corbin because divine archetypes like justice, truth, beauty and love are seen as the eternal first principles. There are philosophers who seem to jettison images altogether and apprehend principles as thoughts or concepts that open onto intuitions. I can appreciate different modes of knowing and simply believe that our mind and all of our senses tell us something about who we are.

I hope this is of some help and as with everything I would consult people with different points of view and follow your heart.

Sincerely,
Zachary


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 27th, 2016, 5:34 pm 
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Last edited by Ajna on November 12th, 2016, 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 27th, 2016, 7:26 pm 
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Last edited by Ajna on November 12th, 2016, 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 28th, 2016, 7:46 pm 
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Ajna,

Hello, and thank you for responding.

Ajna wrote:
The Tibetans, Buddhist and Bonpo, have made available/written handy guides into such matters that are definitely worth while, as well as Sufis... Just be careful to err on the side of caution and follow your heart, as Zachary said; one should never, say, jump straight into Dzogchen or Tantric practices without the prerequisite preparations...so to speak ;)


I appreciate the words of warning. Do you have any of these books or guides in mind specifically? I've seen a lot of new-agey looking books written by Westerners about "Dream Yoga" and the likes, but I am highly suspicious of trendy Westerners writing books about trendy Tibetan spirituality.

I'm not sure what it is about dreaming and the dream world that has caught my attention lately, but about two months ago I was reading a book about Jung, and I decided to start dream journaling. Ever since then my awareness and memory recall has improved significantly, and I am continuously amazed at how much is taking place that I have hitherto forgotten or ignored.

I do take into serious consideration the warning you all have given me about not jumping into these things, and I do not intend to attempt any of these practices for fun. As I said, for whatever reason dreaming and the dream world have become somewhat of an intellectual obsession over the last month or so.

There were a lot of thoughts in your post concerning emanation and the unicity of Being, some of which I will have to think more about about before I am able to comprehend them. Thanks for the comments.

I will be sure to check out the article you linked to as well.

Zachary,

Thank you for all of that information. That helped clear things up a bit. I will be sure to check out the Corbin book when time allows. Do you offhand (or perhaps any of the practicing Muslims reading this) know anything more specific about the Sufi gift of interpreting dreams? That sounds very fascinating, and I would be curious to read some accounts of this practice. I am currently reading a book by a Jungian analyst who has done an extensive interview with an Australian Aborigine Spirit Doctor, who cures the members of his tribe by talking them through their dreams and taking on them on healing journeys in their collective dreams. I would be very curious to learn more about the dream-practices that are done in traditional cultures.

Thanks,
Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, and Astral Projection
PostPosted: July 28th, 2016, 8:56 pm 
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Brian,

It is my pleasure to share what I know. In addition to Corbin, who discusses visionary accounts from Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, Ibn 'Arabi and others, you might also benefit from reading the chapter of Joseph or chapter 12 from the Quran. The gifts of the prophets are at times reflected in the saints who inherit from them. Thus, certain Sufis and other Muslim sages are associated with healing like Jesus, understanding the language of the birds like Solomon, or interpreting dreams like Joseph. If I remember correctly, the Turkish Sufi shaykh Muzaffer Ozak wrote about dreams with some insight in the volume, Love is the Wine. I met a shaykh from Senegal who on more than one occasion told me my own dreams that I had not disclosed to anyone. Contrary to manuals of dream interpretation which state that symbol A means such and such, someone who truly has this gift may interpret the same dream differently for different people. It is a living and oral science related to prophecy itself that can aid in our ascent to God and the virtuous life here below. I would continue to write down your significant dreams and consider sharing them with a wise soul with some traditional affiliation. To this I will add that non-Sufi Muslims also of course dream and I have met Sunnis and Shi'a of different backgrounds with dreams of the highest order, including those who have received divine inspiration. I also met a Protestant Christian man once who had the gift of dream interpretation.

I also agree with Ajna and others here on the significance of prayer in general and in relation to this subject in particular, both as a source of protection and inspiration. The imaginal contains both angelic and nefarious influences, and prayer and the virtues can attract the former and shield us from the latter. A wayfarer on the spiritual path once related that he had a dream wherein every time he invoked the name of God he ascended higher through the heavens towards the divine summit. Yet when he stopped invoking he descended back towards the earth. He awoke conscious of the fact that such a spiritual ascension occurs even while awake and the souls of all beings likewise ascend to different heights when they pray, although it is unknown to most which is why we stop praying. The Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace upon him and his family, himself said that "Prayer (al-salat) is the spiritual ascension of the faithful." The alchemy of prayer requires being a decent human being and serving others when possible.

Of course, the path can be viewed from different points of view. It can be seen as an ascension through the heavens, a withdrawal into the heart, living in the moment, and loving God and the neighbor, etc. Those sensitive to dreams, visions, and the imaginal often have no choice in the matter. With that said, I also believe there are saints who do not have significant dreams, yet come to behold the world we usually inhabit and all of its beings with nothing but awe. I wish you all the best in your studies and travels.

Sincerely,
Zachary


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