Rosicrucian Writings Online
DREAMS, PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES
THE SPECIFIC DIFFERENCES
[From The Rosicrucian Digest June 1932]MOST intriguing of all the states of the human mind and consciousness, is the dream state. Its fascination is not alone for the lowly or primitive mind, but it has an allure even for the highly technical and scientific personage. Both derive a degree of pleasure from the theories they form about it,--the first, in their belief of its prophetic significance; the second, in their attempts to explain its psychological and physiological origin in lengthy treatises.
Dreams in all eras of history have played a prominent part. They form a vital part of our inherited literature. They have inspired to interpretation the greatest poets of all ages. They have been factors in the creation of empires; the fate of men and nations have changed with a dream. Learned councils with bated breath have awaited the defining of the idiosyncrasies of the dream of a certain seer or oracle. Dreams have further been enhanced in their prophetic sense by being incorporated in systems of pseudo science which tend to justify the faith vested in them. Religious creeds and sects and multi-systems of philosophy, owe their origin, if not in their entirety, at least in part, to dreams. As the early forms of magic took on a deeper significance and evolved into a recognition of the duality of man, we find dreams the greatest contributing factor.
The earliest form of religion considered is animism, and even today, it is extensively prevalent, notwithstanding all of our advanced creeds of spirituality. Animism, as its name implies, is the concept that all matter, all that is, is alive. This is not meant in the philosophical sense that there is motion or energy in all matter, but with the implication that there is a spirit, a consciousness of being in all matter. Thus, from this view, a tree is alive and has an inner being or consciousness, such as is more commonly termed soul. Inanimate matter, such as stones, was thought to also be of dual existence. It can readily be seen that the doctrine of duality is essential to the belief in Immortality. So essential is it that if we remove duality, every religious structure founded on Immortality falls. Therefore, before man even in his earliest state could conceive of animism or duality as pertaining to the world about him, he must have, of necessity, conceived himself first as a dual being.
This thought was inspired by some cause. E. P. Tyler logically presents the theory of the cause for the conception of animism in his work "Primitive Culture." Therein he shows the dream as responsible for the conception of duality. He prettily pictures primitive man huddled on the ground in the protective shelter of a crevice in the rocks in a deep sleep. Primitive man dreams. He is forcing his way through dense thickets in pursuit of game. He eventually encounters and kills his prey. While feasting he is attacked by an enemy whom he slays.
He awakens to find it dawn, that he is still lying in the same place where he went to sleep, and that physically he had not journeyed. What could it mean? Was there another self, a being within, that crept out of some aperture in his body while he slept, and roamed about, later to return? It must be so, for was he not asleep here, and yet he recalls being elsewhere? Furthermore, this inner being journeyed great distances in short spaces of time, which the physical man required many days to accomplish. This, then, attributed to the spirit life energy, the faculty of being free from material obstacles, and this inner self, this inner being that roamed about while he slept, must indeed be Supreme to the physical man, because of its accomplishments.
We find, however, that the philosophical mind also has found a field for conjecture and speculation in dreams. Early thinkers propounded the question, "Who may say which is the dream state and which the awakened?" By what do we measure either? To declare the unreality of one by the reality of the other, is merely to examine them one at a time. A state of reality is one of consciousness, a realization of one's surroundings and dependence upon them. When we are in a dream state, the subjects of the dream and the environment of which we are conscious, are real to us. We realize and appreciate conditions as they are. We have no cognizance of any other state of reality. All there is is but what we realize in the dream consciousness. When we are awake, we are conscious through our senses of ourselves and our environment, and that state alone is the one we realize. Are the sounds we hear or the scents we smell in an awakened state more impressive than those we are conscious of in a dream state?
If both worlds are worlds of reality; that is, the dream or the awakened states, then which is the proper state? That is the ancient philosophical question. These early thinkers further contended that which was actual was not to be considered. It was the state of reality that was important. That which we realize a thing to be in an awakened state through our senses may not be what it is in actuality and they further cite the illusions of the senses--that to man life is only what he realizes it to be, and its actuality to him is immaterial.
We may, perhaps, easily or not refute this abstract hypothesis, yet it goes to support our statements of the consideration given by profound thinkers to dreams and the dream state. With the attaching of importance to dreams, there early came into existence a classification of types of dreams. Since dreams were associated with the spirit being of man, all dreams were thought to be of a psychic nature. Every dream was interpreted as the projection of the spirit of the being into the astral world where it was guided in the heavenly realm or mingled with the demons, or perhaps the dreamer was visited by the entities of these supernatural worlds who instructed him as to the conduct of man in the mundane world, and he then became a prophet, a seer, or an oracle.
The faith in the supernatural origin of dreams and the conception of them as actual experiences of the spirit consciousness (psychic self) lent them an authenticity that was undisputed at the time. Explicit dependency upon all of these prophetic or visionary experiences eventually brought about the realization that in some instances events followed dreams, which substantiated the reliance placed in them as good or bad omens. Other dreams, however, never had associated with them any circumstances which would cause reliance to be placed upon them, and a classification of dreams immediately went into effect. The classification consisted of the segregation of dreams into the class expected to be productive of actual events, and those not.
The fact that dreams became classified, was the first indication of the skepticism of all dreams, as having Divine origin. Doubt began to creep in. We may use the analogy of a farmer purchasing a white cow with black spots that gave large quantities of milk, and assuming, therefore, that all cows with black spots were better milk givers. Eventually, upon purchasing a black cow, and discovering it gave even greater quantities of milk, doubt would enter into the theory of the milk-giving propensities of black cows with white spots. Immediately, a classification of milk-producing cows by color would take place. Doubt of the entire theory of determining the value of cows by color would come about by the observation that the colors did not run true to classification. This, of course, would result in confusion, yet hesitancy to discard the entire theory would prevail. This was the position of the acceptance of dreams up until what we call our modern era, the 19th and 20th centuries.
A determined effort was made in the early part of the 18th century to ascertain the physiological and psychological origin of dreams. This effort took no cognizance of the theory of Divine origin of dreams, but placed them all in a physical category, as the result of some functioning of the mind. Centuries prior, the encyclopedic philosopher, Aristotle, sought an explanation for dreams. He arrived at conclusions at that early time which modern science cannot refute with actual fact.
First, he made two distinct classifications of dreams--those which were psychic, and those which were of psychological and physiological origin. The latter, he definitely associated with sleep. He further observed that dreams were not possible except when the senses of presentation (the five objective faculties) were dormant. The logical analysis of the origin of dreams by Aristotle is startling to the individual who conceives of knowledge of the human mind as an accomplishment of the present era only. Of outstanding importance for us to remember is that Aristotle recognized that dreams were not all of mental origin. We will note that this distinction is not made by modern psychologists and the explanations and hypotheses offered to explain away evident psychic experiences are not complimentary to the science.
The first experiments were conducted by subjecting a sleeper to certain external stimuli. A normal subject, unaware as to the nature of the experiment, when in sound sleep, had portions of his body exposed to varying degrees of temperature. For an example: A foot or leg was exposed to severe cold or extreme heat, the stimulus being gradual and not intense enough to awaken the subject. Further experiments consisted of playing soft lights on the eyelids, so as to affect the optic nerve. Careful observation was made of the subject during sleep and precise notations made of the recited dreams. It was noted that dreams caused by external stimuli were always closely related to the sensation produced. In the instance of the exposure of the foot to cold and moisture, the theme of the dream was related to an experience the subject may have had in walking in ice water or tramping in snow, further involving the illusion of severe illness, the result of the exposure.
In the theory propounded for dreams the result of external stimuli is this: The impulses received through the sense of feeling were registered in the objective consciousness. The stimuli and sensations were sufficient to release from the memory experiences being of the same nature and involving the same sensation which in this instance might have been an actual experience of some time in life tramping through the snow with bare feet. There would further be released in memory attendant experiences as the result of the former, such as illness, hospitals, physicians.
Since thinking, whether it be of the future as in imagination or recollection or rational appreciation of the present, is dependent upon reason, the memory impressions, therefore, would be confused, and not in order of sequence. The objective mind, the intelligence, being dormant or at least abnormal, due to sleep, no precise arrangement of the impressions through reason in the consciousness would be made. It was further found that dreams occurred, which, from their nature appeared to be caused by stimuli of one of the senses, yet the subject was not disturbed externally. Reasoning developed the theory that since the nervous system extended throughout the entire body, internally as well as externally, stimuli could be set up within and that those internal stimuli would also find their seat in the central consciousness, or the brain. Therefore, if that be true, dreams could be the result of organic disturbances also. The improper functioning of any organ resulting in the disturbance of the physical harmonium would give the sensation of pain. These stimuli would then be the cause of the release of memory impressions founded upon similar sensations of pain. Intestinal disorders causing sharp pains in the region of the abdomen, not sufficient to break the sleep of the subject, produced dreams of being pierced in the abdomen with a stiletto. Additional external research by the injection of serums into the blood stream and the application of solutions internally to artificially induce organic disturbances confirmed a theory of dreams by organic excitation.
Why would not this theory of dreams be true? Is not the human objective consciousness like unto a screen stretched taut before the objective mind? Upon it is bombarded from within and without myriads of impressions. Some are flashed upon it so quickly the mind cannot be cognizant of them. Others remain of sufficient duration of time for the reason to make patterns of the impressions, correlate them, form opinions, conclusions, conceptions. Other combinations of impressions are fixed by the will upon the screen of consciousness and held there as one holds a fixed thought or series of thoughts, until some purpose of the reason is satisfied. The external bombardment of impressions during the awakened state received through the objective senses is more intense and completely occupies the objective mind.
During sleep, with the complete cessation of the senses, the internal impressions occupy the screen of consciousness. They neither are, however, marshalled by the reason, nor focussed by the will and the resulting kaleidoscopic mental pattern is the weird stuff of which dreams are made. Such scientific and exacting experimentation did not contribute results which were all in absolute conformity with the above theory, however. There was the recitation by some subjects, of dreams which were proven to be prophetic and veridical. The most exhaustive examination of the subject brought forth the fact that events dreamed of were not the result of hallucination, illusion, or delirium psychosis. The integrity and sanity of the subject could not be questioned. Such dreams, for example, consisted of a vision while in sleep, of the illness and immediate death of a friend or relative living at a great distance, and not having been communicated with for years, and which were proven to be facts.
A. Lang, in a technical treatise relates a number of veridical dreams of many persons and offers in part explanation the following: "Moreover, even if a dream, later fulfilled, is recorded contemporaneously, or impels to action taken on the moment, the theory of mere fortuitous coincidence is applied; while everyone knows that in telling a dream they almost inevitably give rational shaping to what was not rational, and, generally, decorate the anecdote." This is an obvious endeavor to stretch the theory of physiological cause of dreams to envelop all experiences of the dream state. The stretching is so great that rends appear. The rends do not show faults in the theory as applied to dreams, but as pertaining to psychic experiences and contacts. There are those who have had prophetic, veridical dreams, who are so sincerely concerned with the cause of them as to not deceive themselves by the rationalizing of a dream which was irrational. Therefore, to infer the decoration of dreams, when they were veridical, is presumptuous, and not offering a sound solution to the perplexing problem.
Since we have no biases or prejudices and need not conform to the rules of a school of specialization, we are privileged to reason contrary to orthodoxy. Let us admit of a class of dreams as differentiated from those produced by external or internal stimuli. To further define the general nature of these dreams, we will call them psychic as being of the soul or spirit, in contrast to that of the mortal mind. A further subdivision of this class gives us psychic experiences and contacts. Without entering into the finer distinctions of theology as to the nature of Divinity in man and the terminology for same, we must, of necessity, recognize an operative force existent in man. This force is apart from the reason, and will of man, as it functions without his volition. Moreover this force is concurrent with an intelligence for it is in accordance with order.
We have an appreciation of this intelligence by virtue of its direction of our organism,--the circulation of our blood, the process of metabolism, organic functioning, such as of the heart, kidneys, lungs. To say that the Infinite Intelligence is not resident in the body, but that the body functions as the result of an intelligence apart from it, and governing it, is not an adequate answer. Even if the Intelligence be not infused in the most minute or larger parts of the body, it must at least contact it. The contact of the Intelligence is necessary for the continuation of the body's functioning.
May we use an analogy: An electrical engineer who devises a most elaborate electrical mechanism, which is to operate according to the fundamental principles of electricity, must keep in contact either directly or through a trained aid or assistant with the device, or it will not continue to function. The Intelligence which brings together matter and has it function according to principles, is obliged to keep it in harmony with those principles. We have examples of the failure to do this in the effort to invent perpetual motion machines. An intelligence assembles them, but when the intelligence deserts them, they disintegrate. Therefore, an Intelligence, other than that of the brain of man, is in contact with him.
To dispute this contention, it is necessary to offer an explanation for the involuntary action of man's organs. That this subtle Intelligence is identical in every human displaying its unity, is not difficult of proof. The nature of an object thrown into the air and returning to the earth's surface in Holland, may differ from one in Japan, yet one would not dispute the sameness of the nature of the source of gravity in both places. Is it not plausible that entities, human beings, for instance, who are dependent upon a common source, this Infinite Intelligence, may be bound together by it psychically? Thoughts are generated in the objective mind and are projected outwardly; that is, made manifest by the faculty of speech, or retained in the objective consciousness.
A process of introversion, of turning the objective consciousness inward, penetrating the subjective realm would be to super-impose one's thoughts on this Infinite Intelligence. The chain of Infinite Intelligence linking all beings together would carry upon it these thought impulses; distance or time would be inconsequential and this form of contact would greatly supercede our attempts at external contact, such as through speech or its amplifications, writing, radio, telegraph, telephone. If I may resort to a humble analogy--on either side of the city, there are erected, let us say, two towers, both containing electrical beacons. It is possible to flash, alternately dimming and brightening the lights, messages from one tower across the city to another. Both of these beacons derive their electrical power for illumination from the same source, thus are united by a common electrical system. On certain occasions, weather permitting, the light flashes are easily visible; on others, fog or smoke-laden atmosphere interferes and the light flashes are hardly discernible, the communication is unreliable. Does it not stand to reason that a device which would make and break (series of interruptions such as by a telegraph key), the electrical current between the two towers and with which they are definitely connected, acting as a telegraph code, would be more dependable? Or perhaps super-imposing sound impulses of the human voice upon the electrical current? In other words, having an established, absolute medium of contact such as the electrical circuit, why resort to the uncertain light flashes for inter-contact? Since humans possess this inter-psychic relationship, it appears inappropriate to always attempt an exchange of thought through the outer consciousness to the outer consciousness of another. Through introversion communication of thought by psychic contact is possible. This psychic contact needs the response of the recipient, as well as the transmitter. The one receiving is required to turn his consciousness inward and contact the united Infinite Intelligence conveying the thought impulses. In most instances where psychic contact is made, it is done accidentally, unintentionally, because its practice is little understood and very few employ the right method. These psychic contacts of the thoughts of others, whether the contact is prearranged or accidental, are not to be confused with psychic experiences, which we will discuss. One may see, however, how accurate a psychic contact may be, if it be mutually arranged and properly and rationally conducted. These accurate psychic contacts have been, as we have seen, classed as dreams of a physiological nature. That they have been erroneously so classed is evident, by the feeble explanation of the authority earlier cited.
Psychic experiences are the recollection of experiences of the soul as distinguished from psychic contacts. From the concept of Rosicrucian metaphysics, the soul is the influx into the body of this Infinite Intelligence. The appreciation of this soul in the being by the objective mind is the personality. The personality is the sympathetic understanding of the soul by the outer mind. In other words, our response to certain Cosmic urges of the soul in our being is the moulding of our character or our personality. Allow me to cite an analogy--What makes a musician--what stamps him as such? It is his response to music, his sense of its symphonic accord, his value of its finer harmony not realized nor appreciated by others. This character or personality of the human, leaves its impression in the Infinite Intelligence. The memory of the personality is swept along on the tide of the Infinite Intelligence, and this gives rise to the doctrine of reincarnation.
However, in the formation of personality or character, which I use as synonymous, the objective mind plays a prominent part. It reasons, it persuades, it commands through will and attempts to suppress the Cosmic urges. Through the entire life, the personality is being formed. Thus, major, worldly experiences we have, which tend to radically affect our personality, are naturally impressed in the memory of the Infinite Intelligence. Is it not logical to say that if the personality is perpetuated in the Infinite Intelligence, or in other words, reincarnated, the memory of incidents contributing to the formation of that personality would also be reincarnated? Accepting that premise, then the origin of psychic experiences is not difficult of explanation. What occurs when in our daily life we witness an incident similar to one previously observed? Do not the impressions received release from memory for re-assembly the previous ones? Do we not immediately recall identical or relatively similar incidents? This, then, is what a psychic experience consists of. The recollection of experiences of the personality retained in the memory of the soul or Infinite Intelligence.
When we confront in life parallel experiences, not in detail but in principle, to those had in past times, and deposited in the archives of the Infinite Intelligence, the past ones are released because of the similarity of impressions. Just as we cannot readily recall from memory an incident without first holding in our consciousness a thought composed of an element of the previous incident, neither can we recall from Infinite memory a psychic experience without an association of ideas.
Psychic experiences, unlike psychic contacts, are not, therefore, as frequent. They come to us when perplexed, puzzled, and dealing with a serious problem of life, which will vitally affect us. If the actual experience is one that is apt to influence our character, our personality, by its effect on our life, we are most certain to have a psychic experience. Thousands, in fact millions, have had them, but they know them instead as a hunch, intuition, an uncanny impression, a flash, an idea, a clear concept. These psychic experiences are always logical with a definite cause, and a rational ending. The events of the experience progress step by step in an ordered sequence, like an experience of your daily life. They are never fantastic, frightening, or not understood. A psychic experience leaves in the objective mind a helpful suggestion that can be applied to the solution of the parallel actual experience you are confronting. These intuitive flashes as they are commonly called, if followed, are never unsuccessful in the results they bring about.
Two outstanding things may be commented upon at this point: First, one does not need to be asleep to be the recipient of a psychic experience, as commonly believed. One in a quiet state of introspection may receive an enlightening, psychic experience. This point alone, removes psychic experiences from dreams, the psychological origin which we have discussed. The next point is that the significance of the experience is clear to you. Its importance is appreciated. Certainly you have never heard anyone retort, "There has flashed into my mind a most wonderful idea. It is a complete picture, yet I cannot understand it or appreciate its value to myself." If you feel you are obliged to ask another what your psychic experiences mean, because they are confusing and seemingly without purpose--it is not psychic--and if had while asleep undoubtedly it is a dream.
As concerns the physiological effects on the individual: There are certain marked characteristics between dreams and psychic experiences. Dreams caused by organic disturbances, setting up internal stimuli or caused by external sensations, excite the emotions. The emotions being the sensations of the subjective mind are excited by the sensations received in the brain. The noticeable effects are produced by these emotions, fear, hatred, anger and their attendant bodily responses, perspiration, rapid breathing, rigidity of muscles, etc., whereas psychic experiences merely increase (not to an alarming rate) palpitation of the heart and induce a feeling of exhilaration not accompanied by any predominant emotional responses. He who doubts psychic contact and experience, doubts the unity of Infinite Intelligence in man. If he admits Infinite Intelligence as being resident in all men, why deny man relationship with it?
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