A Precognitive Dream & Meeting An Extra-Ordinary Human Being

It was summer of 1985 when I met Stanley Krippner in the hallway lounge of the University of Charlottesville, Virginia at the second conference of the Association for the study of Dreams (ASD). A few months prior to the conference I had a very disturbing precognitive dream that needed serious attention. I was in my mid-twenties, a graduate student conducting research on insomnia and apnea at the University of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

I called Stanley in California and asked if I could meet with him at the conference in Charlottesville to work on my dream. He agreed immediately and we set a time and a place. The dream was about my father and it was a matter of life and death. I was familiar with Stanley’s research from my training in parapsychology. I thought he would be the best person to help me work with this kind of dream. But I had no idea that this simple request of having him work with my dream was to be the beginning of a life-long collegial and personal friendship.

With his openness and gentle manner, he asked me to tell him the dream. I was emotional while I recited the short dream. He asked “How do you know this is a precognitive dream?” I gave him examples of my past precognitive dreams and their particular felt sense. Without hesitation, he confirmed my intuition and replied “O.K. Let’s see how we can work with this dream and do something about it!” I was so relieved with his reply. Others with whom I shared the dream only looked at the symbolic and psychological implications and did not even know how to approach the precognitive aspect. It took us over two hours, looking into the details of the situation, to create a plan to prevent the dream from happening. This solution was complicated, but we drafted a plan and I followed it step-by-step. Likewise, I asked that my family also follow it step-by-step. As a result, my father’s life was saved.

What most touched me about Stanley in that very first meeting was his quality of presence. He listened, had empathy and absolute compassion. Although he is always busy, in that moment he gave me/my dream all of his attention. His openness, brilliance, his humanity and wisdom shined through his humility. At the end of our meeting, I knew I was in the presence of an extraordinary human being.

With his encouragement, a few months later I moved to San Francisco. I attended his monthly dream training group for number of years at the Family Mediation Center and watched his approach with dreams; in particular, Personal Mythology and Ullman’s Dream Appreciation group process. In the latter approach, every member takes the dream as if that is his/her own. When Stanley owned the dream, his creative mind would connect the metaphors and narrative of the dream into hyper-reality, filled them with psychological reflections and insights to the amazement of everyone in the group. Not repeating anyone else but acknowledging everyone’s contribution, he always had a fresh perspective to lend the dream. His mastery is also evident in the last part of the technique in Ullman’s approach, “Synthesis.” In this ‘closure’ part of Ullman’s suggested process, we watched Stanley’s brilliant mind at work. A master synthesizer and a true composer, he would weave together everyone’s input and interpretation of the dream, together with the life of the dreamer. Then he would give an entirely new and holistic narrative with reflection and great insight that would not only help the dreamer but everyone in the group. A complex networking of metaphors, ideas, psychological observations, personal narrative woven into an elegant synthesis creating a spatial and imaginal realm for whomever was present. Everyone was transfixed at his exceptional skill in dreamwork. When Stanley is working with dreams he is a shamanic practitioner. His model of working with dreams as a form of service was a great influence on my process of working with dreams.

Stanley is known for accomplishing so much in one lifetime. One day in 1986, I asked him “But how do you manage to do so many things?” He could not explain but he encouraged me to come to his office and watch how he worked. So I did. I went to his office a few times, I sat behind a desk making illustrations for his new book Dreamworking and graphics for some of his articles for parapsychology handbooks while watching him work. In a middle size office there were several desks each with different projects, quite orderly; he attended notes to each piece of paper at hand, each mail he opened, he replied to immediately. There was no such thing as taking care of it later. That is the reason he still responds to inquiries immediately. He works as if he had six hands and several brains! He deals with different topics, different types of inquiries and his mind had to keep switching from one to another. But he always concentrated at the task at hand. He was extremely focused and attentive. A ‘multitasker’ par excellence!

That was my learning ground. I really don’t know anyone who has accomplished as much as he has in so many areas.

As someone from another culture and who at times has suffered from discrimination — even in my own field — I’ve found Stanley to be a genuine lover of cultural diversity. He embraces people from many other nationalities. His work and on-going research with South Americans, Russian, East Europeans, Native Americans, Africans now Middle Easterners has given him a much larger perspective, openness and compassion towards the common places in humanity as well as an appreciation for cultural diversity. He indeed has become an extraordinary multidimensional being.

One of our meaningful collaborative efforts was bringing this diversity as program co-chairs for the IASD conference in 1991, which was hosted by another dear colleague Robert van de Castle. Ironically the conference was held on the same campus where we first met — in Charlottesville! We dedicate the conference to diversity and interdisciplinary studies and I was impressed with the number of researchers who have become close friends of his from such diverse groups. We invited keynote speakers from Native American, Afro-American, Spanish and a North American cultures. This was the first time such diverse keynote speakers were introduced into the program and ever since then diversity has become an integral and important part of IASD. Our message in that conference was that dreams belong to every culture, every religion. In other words, dreams belong to the people of the world.

Our collaboration with the book Extraordinary Dreams (SUNY, 2002) brought us ever so closer. This was another diverse collaboration with his colleague André Percia de Carvalho, a Brazilian psychologist. Challenging as it was to bring three voices from different cultures, the results were rich and rewarding. In that process, I learned how important it is for Stanley to see that others be properly acknowledged, sometimes at the expense of not acknowledging himself. He does not seek competition but true collaboration and contribution. What makes Stanley stand out as an extraordinary human being is his nonegoic, non-judgmental, ever encouraging and generous attitude and spirit. He has opened doors for many young scholars internationally. His total commitment, dedication and service for transformation of consciousness is absolutely admirable. It was the inspiration of having a mentor like Stanley who works so consistently and diligently that gave me the courage and strength—against all odds—to create the dream studies program at John F. Kennedy U.

Stanley has a keen sense of perception and I always trust his insights. Although he is internationally known as a serious scholar, author and teacher, he also has a very eccentric and creative side. He is a lover of theater, music and the arts. He loves to dance and always without fail shows up at the IASD Dream Ball costumed up as a dream character. His insights to my artworks and performances have been invaluable, original and profound. I am always curious about his comments. Having known and worked with Stanley for almost twenty-five years now, I know he evolves with modern life and at the same time has the wisdom of the ancient world. He is one of those special beings on earth who is mortal yet immortal. His stories, influences, contributions to humanity will be passed on for many generations, making him eternal.

Stanley, I am ever so grateful to you for being my mentor, colleague and friend. You have been a pillar of strength in every community you have been involved. I feel privileged to know you and I am looking forward to many years of stimulating collaboration and creation with you.

Note: I want to thank Roberta Ossana for inviting me to write this personal essay about Stan Krippner.