Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Not Seeing too Directly into the Beauty of the Soul

I introduced my lucid dream about the veiled women to raise the question, Why the veiling of their presumed beauty? The first wore a dark mask, the second a blue fabric veil. It reminds me of Robert Johnson's analysis of the myth of Tristan and Isolde in his book We. Johnson argues that the relationship with the anima (or animus) should remain "chaste" and not eroticized. As you may recall, Tristan's fate all turns on whether he will have sex with Isolde the Fair, King Mark's queen. Well, they do, and all hell breaks loose. Until then, the relationship is magical and potent; but afterward war breaks out and Tristan's future is dark.

If the relationship to the inner self becomes eroticized and exploited, then the image of the soul is projected onto the world, and becomes identified with a real person. This is a burdemsome, impossible mission for the carrier of the projection, and she/he will surely fail in living out that expectation. Johnson says that by maintining a chaste relationship with the inner self, and by having a sexual relationship with a "real" person (Isolde the White), the Tristan within us lives out a balanced life in which his soulfulness gets expressed in creativity, feeling, imagination, and the like.

I have found that in my deepest lucid dreams, my feelings for the characters (who are, sometim, esperhaps actual souls) are hard to describe: they are so deep, so timeless. Holding the woman in the black mask gave me a feeling of having "come home." But it was not my home, at least for now. By not being able to see her, some degree of mystery remained, and a necessary distance was preserved. Johnson might say that I was fortunate not to see the face, for I may have overly personalized that moment. The lucid dream in all of its intensity and felt reality could have effectively fixated me on the image of her face. That connection with the soul, while being perhaps the "best thing we have," may also be the rocks upon which our ship goes to ground. In the Odyseus, Ulysses wants to hear the song of the sirens, but he is wise enough to have his men tie him to the mast of the ship. Without that grounding, the relationship with the anima can overwhelm the ego and find its expression in the external world, to our detriment. So it is grace itself that inserts a certain obliqueness into the relationship with the inner self, in order to keep our attention oriented to the real world, and committed to real relationships that can afford us what we need in this world of form and necessary compromise. If Tristan could only have been content with Isolde the White, his wife, it would have been a near-perfect world, but the vision of the anima lured him into thinking it could be a perfect world, and that is always an ill-fated belief.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why Are Some Dreams Veiled?


Freud believed that dreams were purposefully obscure, distorted by an array of defenses that would permit the reprehensible urges of the id to be vented through the avenue of the dream while protecting the dream ego from the stark truth.  This view of dreams has been largely overturned by the "continuity hypothesis," in which research has shown that dreams generally parallel waking state content. But if dreams are, as Jung said, "the message," and not some oblique reference to the truth, then why do some dreams seem to veil the truth? I think we have to turn to Robert Johnson's work to understand the following dream.

As a backdrop, I have been having a series of hour-long lucid dreams during the past couple of months. They are very deep and beautiful, full of darkness and radiance. The following one was particularly memorable and raises the possibility, once again, that the dream protects the dreamer from a direct apprehension of the truth. Here is the dream. Note the "veiling" of the female figures.

I am in darkness. I seem to be on a rocky ledge next to a stone or cement wall. I run my hands up and down the wall, and sense that it curves around to the left, perhaps defining a circular room. I reach up and feel the top of the wall. It’s about a foot wide, and has some loose stones on top. I push some of the loose rubble over the other side, and hear it hit water on the other side. I come down off the ledge and find myself with a woman in the darkness, with whom I immediately feel a profound, resonance. It’s as if we belong together for all eternity. Just being with her brings me unutterable joy and solace. We lie beside each other, holding each other in the dark. As the room becomes brighter, I look at her face and I’m shocked to see that it’s pitch black. I look more closely and see that her face is covered by what appears to be a black leather, close-fitting mask. I think, it doesn’t matter how she looks beneath the mask: I love her anyway. Then I am lucid and exploring a rich nighttime setting. I enter a room full of people, who know that I do not belong there. A woman, who seems to be their leader, challenges me. I decide to prove that I am dreaming, and from another plane, so I manage to levitate after overcoming my mental resistance to believing that I can. As I float up to the ceiling and float back down, the people are impressed, and no longer challenge me. Another woman appears, who says to me that the second woman made a mistake, and didn’t realize who I was. I feel deeply connected to the new woman, but in a different way. She seems to be my guide in this realm, and she begins to lead me through an array of settings. Sometimes she seems to be with me, and sometimes she leaves me for a while. At one point, I am in a room full of brilliant jewels and light sources, so I try to commune with the light. But as before, every time I stare at a light source, it shuts down. So I see a lamp-like light source to my left, so instead of looking directly at it, I get close to it, turn my eyes down and close them. I try to open myself to it, and my vision starts to brighten until my whole visual field is bright white with a subtle pattern throughout. The woman reappears, and I notice that she is shrouded in a blue veil, which is a medium blue with a dark blue thread of subtle design running through it. I ask her how she manages to remain covered. She laughs and says that it’s necessary for now, and that don’t worry--she can kiss and eat! The blue veil is actually very beautiful. I am alone again amid a lot of people. I realize that I’ve been in the lucid dream for a very long time, and wonder when it will come to an end. Suddenly, the people take on a uniform pale appearance and begin to sing a dirge-like song. The woman appears right before my face, and kisses me goodbye. Then I find myself back in bed.

I will comment on this dream in the next couple of days. But in the meantime, you might ask yourself, "why the veiling?" Was it somehow necessary for the dreamer's protection, and further development? Why? I have my own ideas, but since I'm the dreamer, I might be the best judge, not matter what people say about the dreamer being the ultimate authority on the dream. Dreams come to illuminate our blind spots. I am not sure that makes the dreamer the best judge!

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