Thoughts on the Evolution of a Dream Cherishing Culture

“...Confident of new creation which your dreaming strokes will paint, radiant in its truth and beauty...”

Excerpted from the Evening Hymn of Wonder, text and music by Steven R. Janco

Some readers may know of my awakening to the power of dreams when as a young chemist, an experimental rocket fuel exploded in my laboratory, and I was saved from burning to death by a friend and coworker, Ed Butler. He’d dreamt of the mishap several times before it occurred, and in these nightmares, he pulled me from the fiery scene by one foot, the only part of me that wasn’t burning. When he performed this same rescue in waking reality, he cited his dream “rehearsals” as the impetus behind his actions.

That wake-up call led me to many years of studying dreams and learning how to use them practically, both for myself and in service to others. I used to say that I was a convert from outer space to inner space, but have discovered I’m really hooked on both areas of research, for heretical as it might seem to my aerospace colleagues, I believe that both are interconnected, as is all of life.

In the last issue of Dream Network, (Vol. 22, No.1) several articles sketched views of the evolution of the dream movement, mentioning the scarcity of books, materials, and opportunities available back in the 60’s for those who were interested in dreams personally, not professionally. The 70’s brought books for the personal dream appreciator, with Montague Ullman opening up group dreamwork for individual dreamers and the grassroots dream movement finding fertile ground.

Because there were no dream groups in my area, some friends joined me to start the Metro D.C. Dream Community (MDCDC) in late 1983. This group has been meeting continuously since then. MDCDC is open to anyone who wishes to share dreams in a safe environment, no fuss, no fees, just loving support and respect for dreamers and dreams.

In 1984, a dedicated group of California authors and dreamworkers masterminded the first international conference of The Association for the Study of Dreams which I read about in an early edition of Dream Network Bulletin. I attended the conference as a founding life member and became active in the association, filling many roles through the years. These two affiliations, MDCDC and ASD, provided me with my richest learning and an extended dream family.

In the nearly two decades since, dream doors have been opening everywhere, such as burgeoning dream groups throughout the world, including some online, graduate and undergraduate schools offering courses in dream studies, and even more specialized schools granting certificates in dream studies.

We’ve learned that dreams come in service of wholeness and healing at all levels of life and that using them for ourselves or clients are rewarding and commendable occupations, but what’s next? How can we share our knowledge and skills in practical and ethical ways for the good of those individuals who are unaware of the gift of their dreams and of their potential impact upon our current cultural paradigms, as well as upon our suffering planet?

My personal projections and hopes for the evolution of a dream cherishing culture are many and as varied as the skills, talents, and passions individual dreamers bring to light and life. Just as dreams have many levels and are not fully understood unless all are explored, it is my greatest wish that dreams will become honored through all phases of life, from womb to tomb, from nursery schools to nursing homes.

I believe it all begins with education. You know the saying, "Our children are our promise of the future", so beginning with them seems wise. If we teach them at home from their earliest years to share their dreams and to appreciate their creativity, whether through relating, writing or drawing their dreams, our youth will carry these skills through life and to future generations as an heirloom gift that can be opened every night.

Continuing from this early homeschooling, it would my ideal that dream courses be enlarged and enhanced in public and private schools, from the elementary level on up to graduate school, as part of development and enrichment programs, not just courses for psychology majors. As children and young adults garner dreaming skills, we’ll hear more about the use of dream guidance in just about any career or endeavor, for dream life parallels waking life, and a day’s work problem or project will evoke a nighttime response.

Another of my hopes would be to see a renaissance of the use of dreams in spiritual practices within our churches, synagogues, temples, and other spiritual centers. Our materialistic culture has lost sight of its soul and reconnecting with the spiritual power of dreams can only lead to new dimensions of Golden Rule love and caring within society, in turn leading to universal change.

We must not forget that the human soul however independently created our philosophy represents it as being inseparable in its birth and in its growth from the universe into which it is born.

  • Teilhard de Chardin

Bringing dreams as sources of intuition and creativity into our working worlds would change the current scientific paradigm which sorely undervalues exceptional dreams, such as those evidencing clairvoyance, telepathy, or precognition. If we could learn to fine-tune these abilities of the dreaming mind, normalizing the so-called paranormal, “Dreaming True” as Robert Moss so brilliantly teaches in his book of the same title, what wonders could be accomplished, what disasters avoided, at work, at home, and in the world at large!

Change may begin with the young, but also could have far reaching consequences for our aging baby boomers and those who care for them. Getting to be on the shady side of sixty, I’ve been asked more frequently to lecture to classes of senior citizens, to those in assisted living centers, and to their caregivers, including HOSPICE workers. Their enthusiasm for working with their dreams is infectious for though they come from generations which didn’t as a rule value dreams, they delight in recounting theirs and finding that they are able to heal past hurts and relive happy memories. Learning to confront the inevitability of death prepares them for a peaceful end-of-life passage. Wouldn’t it be a tremendous service to have a DREAM CORPS of volunteers willing to go into schools, senior centers, nursing homes, and hospitals to talk about and listen to dreams? All it takes is for one person to step out and volunteer, and then another, and another...

...God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.

Each note is a need coming through one of us,

a passion, a longing-pain.

Remember the lips where the wind-breath originated,

and let your note be clear.

Don’t try to end it.

Be your note.

I’ll show you how it’s enough.

Go up on the roof at night in this city of the soul.

Let everyone climb on their roofs and sing their notes!

Sing loud!

From Each Note by Rumi

Massood, an artist with a website displaying magnificent mandalas, writes:

“This site is dedicated to the inherent wholeness, unity and interdependence of all things. With the realization that we share life together as a whole and any isolation or separation is superficial. Mandalas symbolize this archetype of wholeness and tend to appear as a reoccurring theme throughout our lives. For me, their recognition whether in the form of a flower or a galaxy, in my dreams or in various religious or historical sites, has always brought a reassuring feeling of connectedness; that I am part of a whole and one with it.”

As for me, these mandalas are visual metaphors of individual dreamworkers in communion with each other, each playing a unique and colorful part in the overall creation of healing and wholeness, encircling each other and our globe in harmony, unity and beauty. (visit www.massoodworks.com)

An evolving dream cherishing society will certainly be helped along by the Internet explosion which has joined dreamers in active online groups that cross international boundaries and cultural barriers as they share dreams and life experiences. Dreaming consciousness is dipping into the collective unconscious to form links at night, connecting us all in the soft, sweet web of dreams, unraveling our cares and reweaving us as friends and citizens of the dream world, and changing how we perceive waking reality as well.

In the last issue of Dream Network, ASD’s web guru Richard Wilkerson gave us challenging predictions about the future of the dream movement, looking beyond the current state of networking in virtual territory to take a peek at the Next Generation. Inroads have been made into this new territory with highly successful results, such as last fall’s ASD PsiberDreaming Conference, the brainchild of PSI wizard, Ed Kellogg. Many volunteer presenters and participants from all over the world convened in virtual reality for a two-week conference, an easy access low-cost interchange of information with opportunities to participate in experiments and to share experiences. The huge success of this premier conference paves the way for future ones on other dream topics, and will undoubtedly bring more dreamworkers into the community which ASD’s past president Robert Van de Castle dubbed the Rainbow Coalition.

A dream cherishing culture will also arise from the groups which are dreaming together for specific purposes to aid our planet and its peoples. For example, following 9/11, dream pioneer Jean Campbell was inspired to create the World Peace Dreams Bridge. In this large diverse group, dreamers have become friends and truly care about each other, fostering projects for peace and creating positive energy through a variety of activities.

Similarly, at the 2002 ASD conference in Boston, Rosemary Ellen Guiley and I led a workshop called, “Dream Activism: Making a Difference in Our World”, based upon our belief that although dreams are personal, for and about ourselves, they are also interpersonal, and provide the power to connect with others in collectively influencing the course of global life.

Though the members of the workshop agreed that there were many ways in which to make the world better, such as fostering peace, ending poverty, ensuring equal rights, etc. , they deliberately formulated a generalized affirmation that would unite them in dreaming for improved world conditions, yet allow them freedom to focus on their own ideas as to how to effect the changes:

“Tonight I dream the awakened heart; tomorrow I awaken the dreaming heart.”

The dream activists join for incubation each month on the night of 10-11th and share their dreams online at www.asd-dream-activism@yahoogroups.com. Scribe Janice Ryalls weaves the dreams into a monthly report and dreamers make further connections. We are convinced that we can make positive change with concrete actions which will raise social consciousness and collective consciousness, promoting shifts in physical reality. Any dreamer who wishes to make a difference in our world is welcome to join us.

Cultural change comes slowly until a critical mass is reached, and if we each do our part, then Teilhard de Chardin’s theory of evolution will be played out with humankind moving towards the “Omega point” of unity. He also believed that love is the most powerful force in the universe. I personally believe that a dream cherishing culture will flourish not just because of advances in technology, but rather through the union of human hearts and dreaming minds.

When we look into our own hearts and begin to discover

What is confused and what is brilliant,

What is bitter and what is sweet,

It isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering.

We’re discovering the universe.

Pema Chodon

The School of Metaphysics in Missouri has for the last few decades been researching the role dreaming plays in altering and in reflecting changes in humankind’s consciousness. They state that dreams are an evolutionary gauge for humanity. Let’s rev up the dial, starting tonight!