Dream Network Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 6-7. Spring 2003.
Where Is The Dream Movement Going?
I’d like to tell a bit of the untold story of what happened when I set out to found the Dream Network. I need to tell about the disillusion I suffered, the changes I went through, and what came out as a result. My real message has to be connected with this because, “Where is the dream movement going?” can’t be a real question unless it also includes these questions: Why and how is a movement — any movement — co-opted by the very society it sets out to enlighten? How come things can’t change? What kinds of changes are, in fact, possible? How can we, as individuals, make these changes? And finally, In what way(s) is this wide-spread transformation of many separate and individual hearts more powerful a “movement” than any organized movement ever possibly could be?
In this month's Utne Reader I found a quote that really hit me: "Anything that's been successfully institutionalized, however rebellious it may seem or however virtuous, is stifling."
This morning I woke up with what I call "dream words" in my mind. It's a dream that's in words, not pictures. I've had this before, and written about it. Always it's singular, a little amazing, because it seems as if the waking cognitive agency has dipped down under the surface, like one of those diving fish, and come up with something in its mouth that shows it knows how to navigate the depths, if just left alone, allowed to revert to its 'primitive' shamanic mechanisms. My dream words this morning were "Who will, of their real mind, make this sacred?" This, to me, is the issue.
We live in societies and cultures, and in relationships, sexual and otherwise, that have proceeded apace to make everything secular. For good reason! When the religions became institutionalized they became spiritually stifling. But the situation we have now is that the institutions of our secular society have become stifling and soul-destroying. Our institutions, in a very deep sense, are no more good -- except to the extent there can arise from amongst us individuals capable of reinventing them in such a way as to make them meaningful once again to the full spectrum of the human heart.
This is where the "dream movement" comes in. I don't mean the movement in the sense of an organized network or professional association, but in the sense of that assemblage of individuals and groups struggling along haphazardly on their own, dream by dream, day by day, crisis by crisis, joy by joy -- and asking of themselves, "Who will, of their real mind, make this sacred?" The answer, of course: "Me. Only I can do it. Nobody else can do it for me.” There's no credential to get. There's no next level to rise to. There's no important professional organization to belong to. This is it. Just exactly the way things are.
THIS is sacred. THIS is perfect. The moment I am in my "real mind" I am in sacred time, sacred space. Every small movement is a sacrament. Chief Seattle -- his words, those kinds of sentiments, are my innermost feelings.
We go to dreams, like Jung said, to find what's missing, what's been left out of the equation we're living our lives by. We're living by rules we've been taught, we're behaving in ways that work in our societies. The only problem is that since Neolithic times, human society has embarked upon a journey of discovery and improvement that has effectively left behind something quintessentially human -- the capacity to be infused, inspired and informed by the "beyond", the transcendental, which is really the deepest and most essential inner consciousness. We call it divine but it is who we are. We call it God but it is our own inner heart -- our real mind.
Having exploited and exterminated the indigenous cultures, we're now effectively exploiting and exterminating our own real inner life. Increasingly we relate to our own most spontaneous processes -- even our dreams -- not in the sacred manner of "I to Thou", but according to the secular "I to It" formula. "What can I get from this?" and "How can I use it?" We try to control our dreams, use them, manipulate them. Perhaps it's natural that having exploited our external environment to the brink we should turn inward upon ourselves and do the same.
It's equally natural that such a disequilibrium as this will bring into play, from the deepest realms, a healing force. And so the question that came from my dream, "Who will, of their real mind, make this sacred?" is the question we must carry to our dreams and to our work with dreams. It is also the question that must govern our relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the physical environment. We must live this question every moment of our lives, and live the answer to it.
For it is only to the extent we can be rejoined to the full spectrum of what it is to be human that we can be revisited with the kinds of information we need in order to understand one another and live together in peace, not just one society with the other, but all societies with the planet and all its species and environments. This is the hope, this is the dream, that spawned the "dream movement" in all our hearts decades ago. What I've discovered since then is that this doesn't happen as a "movement" or "profession" or "organization" thing. It happens "bird by bird," "beetle by beetle." Moment by moment. Day by day. Dream by dream. It's not something big we have to attain to, but rather something very small we must needs return to. When life beats us down it's doing us a favor. It's returning us to the richest ground. Dreamwork isn't about becoming some big important person who writes books and goes around giving workshops. Dreamwork is about becoming authentic, which means becoming smaller and smaller until we begin to glow with an authenticity that seeps out to all those around us, infusing their lives with greatness, importance and magic. The end result is not in what we become, but in what we become capable of giving to others.
We go to dreams to make the world around us become alive and our relationship with it once again a sacred, holy affair.
This work with dreams can no more be institutionalized or professionalized than love can, or religion. It's a wild fire that runs through the heart, out of control.
Some decades ago I burned myself out and almost destroyed my life trying to network dreamwork. Now I realize the work with dreams cannot be networked either. There is a network, yes. But it completely changes instant by instant. Always it's alive, always it's happening, but we ourselves never know quite where it is or what it is doing. We think we have it, then lose it. When we find it again, it's popped up in the strangest of places. Always it's more real than we could have suspected. We know we're in the network when the work we're doing with our own dreams is real and when it transforms our life and the lives of those around us. So much of the rest, that seems to be going on, is fake -- an illusion, a fancy facade with nothing whatsoever behind it. This is what I've found out after twenty some years.