Posted by Ben Koch, M.Ed.
I’ve kept a detailed dream journal off and on over the last 10 years, and it’s a process that can provide tremendous psychological and spiritual insights. Much of the content you find yourself examining in the recording/journaling process is no doubt personal mental composting—half-sensical fragments of people, images and feelings being stirred up by the cosmic sandman. Great artists, of course, have learned to use this rich mental compost as nutrients for the imagination and creation of art and literature. Some schools of art–the surrealists–for example, have very explicitly tried to capture that trans-rational hodge-podge that makes up our dreamscape.
But journaling brings out another, less trivial aspect of the dreaming mind—its clairvoyant nature. The reason these instances might not be recognized without a dream journal is because of the lag time of up to several months I’ve noticed between vivid, symbolic insights in a dream, and the resulting manifestation in the waking world. Let’s say, for example, you have a very vivid dream of your uncle Joe in which a dark black liquid is coming out of his ears. You wake feeling rattled and startled, with a pretty intense emotional reaction. As you get through your morning routine, the strength of your reaction gradually fades, though you do make a mental note to check on Uncle Joe and see how he’s doing. By lunch the mundane world has pretty much swept the dark dream from your mind, and since you don’t hear a thing about anything befalling Uncle Joe (your Mom has even spoken to him—he’s happy with a new girlfriend, etc.) you toss away any remaining memory of the dream as a glitch. Five months later, however, when news arrives that Uncle Joe has cancer, the awareness created by journaling the dream would have immediately revealed the link between it and the current situation. Since the dream had been “reabsorbed” into the compost bin, however, there’s only a weak, subconscious sense that can’t be pinned down.
And yet another level of dream seems to emerge with careful journaling. While the Uncle Joe dreams are remarkable enough, they are still quite personal, and well within the fabric of one’s own familiar and direct world. What of those dreams that seem to have a more global relevance? Several months before the invasion of Iraq, for example, I had an extremely vivid dream of standing in my backyard while hundreds of warplanes flew overhead, all moving in the same direction. Some kind of voice or intuition was telling me, “Bush is sending them to Iraq.” This was when the official public stance of the administration was very, very far from a declaration of war—in fact an invasion still seemed a little far-fetched to a dove like me. Many months later, however, the dream would prove to be spot on.
In another dream shortly after the invasion had actually begun, I was at a giant picnic in Iraq for American troops and other allies, hosted by Sadam himself. It was a victory picnic! Yet Sadam walked from table to table with a knowing smirk only I seemed to notice. Again, a voice or intuition told me that Sadam had an ambush in store for this “picnic.” Something unexpected was going to befall the troops who had been “lured” into this picnic.
Now, aside from a grandfather who fought in WWII, I have no personal connection to the armed forces. Unlike the case of Uncle Joe, I had no real direct interpersonal connection at stake. So where did these “messages” come from? What was the point of their “precognitive” nature? After all, there is nothing I could have personally done to alter the events. After my dream of Bush’s warplanes, for example, could I have called the New York Times and said, “Hey, I had this dream that the invasion of Iraq is underway in the backrooms…”?
Some argue dreams of this nature are evidence of a collective unconscious, famously articulated by Carl Jung as a “dynamic psychic substratum,
common to all humanity.” He posited that level of mind below the surface contained “in potenctia the entire psychic heritage of mankind.” Jung himself was first inspired to this idea as just a child, when he realized that his own dreams came from somewhere beyond himself. Could it be that no single mind has the capacity to ingest a message of global proportions, that it can only process a piece of the totality, much like a single node on a network? If we had the ability to cross-check global level dreams across diverse individuals might we be able to piece together a larger message?
The Institute of Noetic Sciences is taking this idea seriously, and have initiated an internet-based experiment called Gaia’s Dreams. The objective of the project is to gather dream data from individuals across the globe and synthesize and analyze them for trends that may reveal a bigger picture that no single individual dream might capture. The program is in its infancy, but thus far nearly 400 registered participants have reported over 200 dreams to the data pool.
If you are open-minded about the concept of the collective unconscious and skeptical that our “selves” have finite boundaries which end where our bodies do, consider participating in this ground-breaking project.
Have you had a dream that seemed to show precognition of a global event?