Have you ever become lucid in a dream only to have the characters around you stop acting their roles and try killing you? I’ve talked and written elsewhere about how this has happened to me numerous times and how stunned I was to see it play out in the movie Inception. I’ve toyed with different reasons for this hostile, seemingly foreign reaction to me in my own mind—the standard answers one comes up with. For example, it could be that waking up and calling attention to the unreality of the situation makes the dream a superfluous exercise, so my unconscious mind tries to snap me out of it by waking me up. Or it could be that dreams are me talking to myself in the language of the unconscious and when I break the 4th wall, so to speak, the lesson of the dream gets lost, and so the dream wants to start anew. Or maybe lucid dreaming is one step shy of mystically “breaking through” to another level of reality, which is guarded by an intelligence who keeps lucid people like me from spilling out of personal mind into mind at large.
There is another reason, one you have not heard before. One as mundane as it is incredible, and it is this: egoic brain-self has no place awake in a dream because brain-self as the governing principle is an unhealthy imbalance. When I, as a lucid dreamer, ask the questions I want answers to, they are the same questions I want answered in waking life. I assume that because I’ve got this rare access to my unconscious mind I should use it to tell me what I may be keeping from myself. And when I attempt to perform great physical feats of strength–flying, walking through solid objects, or fighting others like a superhero—these are all the fantasy abilities of a conscious mind. In other words, when I wake into a dream, I try to achieve my conscious desires.
And not innocently, either. There’s always this tinge of arrogance that I’ve beaten the system by waking up in the dream in the first place. This is when I am put in my place by hostile dream characters.
Meanwhile, heart-oriented peoples incorporate dreamtime into their cultures as a natural and important extension of themselves. They have less repressed personal issues to talk to themselves about, so they are able to freely explore dreamtime and tinker with it. For example, Hawaiians didn’t have a word for depression until the Western world sunk its fangs into them. Unlike brain folks, heart folks do not act out egoically in lucid dreams simply because they are free to try. Lucid dreams are not a novelty act, they are a means to gaining vital understandings. Perhaps we don’t hear of dream characters morphing into demonic jailers and forcing heart people to snap awake because even in lucid dreamtime they aren’t self-obsessed. They’ve got places to be and reasons to be there. Lucid dreaming isn’t a rare and misunderstood occasion to them, it’s a normality.
Isn’t this abuse of freedom in dreamtime how we brain people handle freedom in waking life, also? First, as discoverers and conquerors. When Europeans had freedom from the kingdom, what did they do with it? Plundered. Set up another ruling class. Now we have freedom to speak our minds anonymously on the internet, and what has become of that? Trolling. Bullying in ways we’d never do in person.
When we get drunk or otherwise intoxicated to let loose, doesn’t that often give us permission to say and do things aggressively, brutally, to hurt others in ways we wouldn’t normally and must later apologize for? “I wasn’t myself. I’m sorry.” No, you were absolutely your self.
And doesn’t it also happen at work when we hold a position ranked above others in a hierarchy? Doesn’t it happen with gurus who repress their rage then take it out on their followers? Doesn’t it happen when people who consider themselves deeply religious, or deeply spiritual but not religious, only associate with “like-minded” people who affirm them? Everyone else on the planet is an object in the way, deserving of condemnation or the cold shoulder.
You can only hurt another when you see an other. Inherent in this view is the longing to brutalize, to dominate, that other. The best a brain-self society can do is treat this as a lowly impulse of what they erroneously label human nature, and label it taboo behavior. Taboo or not, we will gain our permission to lash out. If not personally and physically against people, then mentally, politically, and/or through entertainment. And certainly against our environment and the other beings living here, which we tell ourselves we have god-given domain over.
When we have a feeling of freedom but are still living in brain world, that freedom is corrupting, so long as one does not transform with it. This can be freedom in a dream, freedom granted on paper, or freedom felt in a moment of internal absolution. If that taste of freedom does not become you but instead gets translated, gets incorporated into you, you may feel great for a while, but that feeling becomes as an addiction, with you constantly searching for the next great feeling and/or isolating yourself from those who have not felt it the way that you have. Capturing freedom as memory can delude you into believing that you have achieved an eternal state of mind. What’s actually happened is that you so desperately wish to identify as that memory that you’ve put it on a pedestal and claim to still be living in that state of freedom as a means of repressing the fact that you are not.
The real is gone. Freedom was but a taste. And you are here. Reacting. Reacting to the memory. Reacting from the memory. Re-acting to that which you re-live like a ghost caught in the loop of your own feel-good memory.
Seeing all of this, really seeing it, without denying it or running away from the fact—without condemning or agreeing, just seeing it–is freedom. Not the dream of freedom, freedom.
And not freeing in the hours of sleep, freeing of time.