Robert Moss on Dreaming Your Way Into a Better Future
Robert, how can we dream ourselves into a better future?
What a very interesting question. In a sense, the time is always now. As you become more of a dreamer, you get to know this. As a dreamer you travel across time, you travel into the possible future. You're rehearsed for challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. And you do more than that. You do more than see things that might lie beyond the ordinary horizon.
In a sense, it could be said that in dreaming, you start to create and shape your reality, once you begin to wake up to what is possible. It might be that in dreaming, we actually select out of a quantum soup of possibilities events that will manifest. The observer effect from physics comes into play. You're dreaming something, and in your dreaming mind you're actually choosing, or selecting to some extent, but more manifest. Now, it would be very disturbing to think that that's what's happened on the collective plane, given the terrible situation we were in.
But I can say that as individuals, we can dream ourselves into a better place right now and into the future. And I will say this, where you are right now is going to have a great effect on what the future holds for you. But maybe begin to explain. Let me talk about how very simple practices of dreaming, which have become very important and very relevant right now, might help you in this moment and into your possible future.
Here we are. Some of us are being told to shelter in place. Some of us are being told to stay home in other language. Let's think about making the place we're in a better place, a deeper place right now. You are sheltering in place, right? Most of us are, whether we use that exact phrase or not. Let's make that place deeper and more creative. Let's make it a creative crucible, in which we grow ourselves larger and brighter and deeper and richer in our minds and our imaginations.
Let's allow this place in which we shelter to become the chrysalis, like the chrysalis in which from which the butterfly will emerge with shining wings. Think about that as one way of dreaming a better future. You are right now in a chrysalis, and yes, there are competing feelings and emotions and thoughts. Because in the chrysalis, as you probably know what was until recently a very hungry worm, a very hungry caterpillar, is in a skew, a mush of contending forces and influences.
And the imaginal cells of the emerging butterfly are fighting against the old gnarly resistance that clings to the old order, to prevent something shining from emerging. That might be where you find yourself. What would it mean to dream yourself inside the chrysalis of the shutdown time, in order to emerge on shining wings? Would it mean beginning to understand all sorts of very cool things about dreaming?
Or let me slow down and say, dreaming is not only or fundamentally about what you do in your sleep. What do you do in your sleep can be great. It can be terrifying. It can be shocking. It can be bawdy, it can be fun, it can be Richard entertainment. So I'm not knocking the importance of sleep dreams. But dreaming and sleep has only one aspect of dreaming.
And the most fundamental thing about dreaming for you to understand right now, and it's important, is that dreaming is fundamentally about waking up, waking up to a deeper order of events, waking up to a deeper agenda of possibilities, waking up to a deeper self, going beyond your ordinary mind, into the larger mind, connecting with your divine double, with your greater self. So it's about that.
Dreaming, whether you're doing it in sleep, or whether you're doing in that fertile, liminal space between sleep and awake, do you know what I'm talking about? This is a very important place for you to be dreaming white right now. And probably, on your schedule, you have more time and opportunity to do it. So let's just slow down and talk about an aspect of practice that will help you to dream about it now, and to manifest a better future.
You're awake in the middle of the night. And maybe you're kicking yourself, because you're not asleep, and maybe you're going to go and watch something on TV, or maybe you're divert yourself in some other way. Consider this, in this floating liminal space between sleep and awake, great discoveries, great breakthroughs in all areas, have been made across human history. In science, it's a solution state. It's where new solutions have been found, because the ordinary mind is in abeyance, and creative connections are made that elude the ordinary mind.
This space of hypnagogia, the speed researchers call it, when you're between sleep and awake, middle of the night, maybe. Or you'll, just before you'll rise from bed. You're stirring, you're not ready to get up yet. And you don't have to get up yet, because you don't have to listen to the alarm and rush off to the office, maybe.
In these floaty and drifted states, ideas will come to you, that can give you an open door where doors seem to be closed right now. They can show you opportunities and possibilities you may not have thought about. It's also a time when you are psychically and intuitively very alive. It's a time of encounter with inner and transpersonal teachers. It's a God space, in the sense that often, the emissaries of messengers have a deeper order of understanding become available.
So that's a place for you to dream right now, and that's a place for you to dream deep. And that's a place for you to find the door that will open when others seem to be closed. But let's just get lighter for a moment. And then we'll go very dark and very deep, because we need to do that, too.
Let's go lighter and say this. As a dreamer, you can travel without leaving home. You can travel without buying a plane ticket, right? You can travel without waiting for your bags. I mean, the other day I dreamed I was in Aruba. I knew I was in Aruba because I'd taken my first winter vacation in many, many years on the island of Aruba.
And in my dream, in the middle of the night, I'm on that white sand beach, and under my [inaudible 00:06:04], or I can taste the [inaudible 00:06:05], I can taste the sea salt. It's lovely, lovely, and I come back from the dream and feeling, "Oh, I just had several days of vacation. I feel refreshed."
I did a lot of swimming in the dream space. My body feels toned and better, and I did not have to wait for my bags, and I was not jammed into an airport hotel I didn't want to be in, because of the airport delays coming back on the physical trip.
So you can take vacations in your dreams right now. You can travel, you can go to that fine restaurant in Paris. You can meet your boyfriend or your partner who might be 3,000 miles away from you right now. You can arrange a rendezvous, you can arrange a dream date. That's where thinking about. We're all connecting more online via Zoom and other platforms right now. We're forming groups. We're talking together in interesting ways, because we don't have the physical capacity to get together, but you can do that in dreaming, too.
In dreaming, you can give each other a group hug. You can really do that. I see that in my courses, when people come together in lively communities, enfolding each other in a group hug. You can make dates with other people to meet them in dreaming seriously.
You can say to your friend at a distance, "Hey, let's both make the intention tonight to go to that really nice restaurant we can't go to, right, and have the best meal, and the finest champagne, or whatever we want? Or to be on that mountaintop, or to be on that boat on the ocean. Let's do it."
And in physical reality, you can deepen your acquaintance, and give each other group hugs, and carry the conversation to much more interesting places, by learning how to share your dreams, your stories from the night, and your stories of your dreams of life with each other in a coherent, fun, clear and simple way.
I invented a way of talking about dreams, which actually applies to sharing personal stories of any kind. You do it with a friend ,or you do it with a group of friends, and it goes like this. You each discover you have a story you're ready to tell. It might be a story, fresh from a dream last night. It might be a story of some other episode in life that you're willing to tell. You tell your story and you give it a title. We're talking about a practice here. It's a practice that involves the power of naming.
Dreamers get good at it when they thought of these kinds of methods, recording their dreams in their journals. This is a good time to keep a journal too. That's a practice, which, if you haven't been following it, it's time to do right now. It's engaging. You're writing a dialogue with yourself, with your soul, you're inventing a dictionary of symbols. All sorts of other things will happen.
So in our sharing process, which we call the lightning dreamwork, it starts with hearing each other and encouraging each other to tell a story simply and clearly, to tell it really well. Give it a title. Exercise the power of naming.
And then we ask each other a few questions about the story. How do you feel about this? How do you feel around this? Does this resemble other things in your life? Is this something that could happen again? Is this something that could happen in the future. If it's going to happen in the future, do you like what you see of the future, or don't you?
If you don't like what you see of the future, what can you do to avoid the future you don't want? If you do like the possible future of the [inaudible 00:09:05] in your dream or your story, what can you do, to carry yourself hand over hand, into that desirable or alluring future scenario?
And then, when we talk to each other, we now never tell each other what our dreams or our lives mean. I mean, that's no good. We say to each other, "If it were my dream, or if it were my life, here's something I'd think about." Then as far as possible, we'd encourage each other, to do something with the dream or the story. Make some art. Turn it into a poem. Go show manic shopping. Do some research, dreams set us research assignments. Find out the meaning of that funny word. Pursue the geography from your dream.
So we learn here a way of talking about things centered on our dreams. But it might be centered for you on something else, which grows relations deeper at the level of heart. We communicate from a deeper space. So in these shut up times, we're all making more use of the internet than we did. But let's not forget that there's also an interworld. It is an interworld of dreaming. And when you go into there, you can have ventures with other people.
So one of the things about dreaming right now to get you through, and get you into a more desirable future is, you have a home entertainment system available to you. It's not inside your head. You get your head into it when you open to dreams, because it's about more than what's going on in the sleeping brain. It's about how, when you let go of your left brain cognitive inhibitions, you get into a larger space.
You get into a space of mind, to get into a multidimensional universe, because your dreams will take you there. The wisdom of the ancient dream shamans and a real shaman is a dreamer, a world class streamer who could shift consciousness at will, and go to interesting places, and guide souls in a way where they might need guidance.
The older understanding of the ancient dream shamans, who in all our ancestry and all our ancestral cultures, if we go back, is that dreaming is traveling. Just something coming up from the bargain basement of your subconscious? Yes, there might be some of that, but interesting dreams that are often the experiences of travel. You go somewhere, where do you go? You might go to a place for the dead or alive. Let's talk about that for a moment.
Lots of people in this time of pandemic are dreaming of the departed, and what is really interesting, despite the tragedy of death all around us and people being shuffled off without ritual, without family, without farewells, part of what people are reporting for their dreams of the departing is that these dreams are giving them hope. They're giving them encouragement.
So let's go very deep, and it may be a little bit darker for a moment, into talking about how your dreams can prepare you for death, for yourself or others. Because that is on everybody's mind right now.
Dreaming is central to our preparation for death and dying, and our ability to face our own death with grace and courage, and our ability to help others. I know about this, I've known about it all my life. I was pronounced clinically dead when I was three years old, and again when I was nine years old.
And the gift of that kind of setback, that kind of wounding is maybe an ability to slip in and out of the dream worlds, in and out of different states of reality, more easily than those who haven't been through something like that. Those of you who have been through trauma or grief might know what I'm talking about. There was a gift in the wound.
Well, here we are. People are dying all around us. We don't know what the death numbers will look like. They're probably going to be bigger than anyone has said so far. On that cheerful note, let me go back to the theme of dreaming.
I notice that people right now, and I see hundreds and hundreds of dream reports every day, now that I'm at home and have time to look at them all. I receive hundreds of dream reports every day, of how people are dreaming and the time of pandemic, and I would say the most interesting feature of these reports, surveying the whole scene is, the very large number of dreams in which people are meeting their departed, or meeting their deceased, or meeting their dead.
And they're learning, if they didn't know it already, something you need to know, we all need to know. There's life beyond death. How do you know that for sure? You know that, the best way to know that for sure, is not to take it on faith, but to know through firsthand experience.
How do you get firsthand experience of the fate of the soul or consciousness beyond death? You get it, beyond anything else, through dreaming. Because in dreaming, contact with the departed is easy. They come looking for you, they come visiting.
Or you discover that they're still around, because they haven't moved on, and you travel to realms where they are at home. When you wake up to that thought, you might notice that you've had many dreams of this kind, but you didn't understand. You were in that interesting place. You were in that hotel, that apartment building, that palace, that temple, that postgraduate college, that might be a place of education on the other side.
When I started teaching public dream workshops more than 30 years ago, I asked for a dream, and you can ask for dream on anything that interests you, we'll come back to that amendment. I was for dream on how to be a really good teacher. And I dreamed that I'm leading a crowd of students in a kind of conga line, through electric blue fire, a beautiful blue fire in the corner of some kind of classroom.
We go in this crazy conga lion through the electric blue fire, and then we're out in a magnificent open landscape, and at the top of the green hill, there's something like a very pleasant university, college, and we are greeted by angelic beings of all ages and sizes, dressed in white. They're singing beautiful songs about dreaming, and how what cannot be seen in the dream cannot be seen in its glory. It's all about dreaming.
And we're given a tour of a magnificent canvas, okay? It's a canvas and a campus, with wonderful faculty, and all sorts of subjects available for study, according to our passions and interests. You can go and study astrophysics, you'd go and study reality creation. You can go write your books, and you won't have to go through the effort of taking or typing out all the words.
And I realized in the dream, we've gone through a very special kind of school, and I ask in the dream, "What is the name of this school?" And of course, the name of the school is Alma Mater, but not in the sense that people chant it at football games. Mother's soul, it's a school of Mother's soul. And I led people in journeys to that place later on.
It's a place in the possible afterlife, but it's a place in the larger reality, in the realm of imagination, true imagination. Now there are schools and universities, or places of initiation, healing and transformation, available to you on any night, when you learn how to dream.
So back to this small theme of how we dream, and how we live, and how we cope when death is all around us. And our departed might sometimes need help from us. They might sometimes need, at least did some substitute, for the rituals of farewell and passage that we're unable often to give them in that space, where they die on the ventilator, or recently taken off the ventilator.
We can have closure. We can have healing, we can have love through our dream encounters, but in the dreams that I am seeing often, the departed, at this moment, at this point in the role of teachers and guides and people who come to reassure.
I've seen many dream reports as a very interesting feature of contemporary dreaming in the age of pandemic, in which the department have clearly been preparing places of welcome, places of reception, places of lodging, places of accommodation, places of at least temporary residents, the people they expect to join them.
In a dream of my own, a person I know who loved renovating houses, and was very good at it, was excited because she'd find a couple of new apartments or cottages to add to a family compound, where she expected to receive and welcome, and help family members to adjust, when they pass over. I've seen variations of that dream from many, many people.
It's as if our departed on the other side, who've maybe been trying to talk to us for quite some time, but not been able to get through, now recognizing that more of us are going to be passing unexpectedly, or earlier than we might have wished or understood, are going to need help and reception on the other side. That's interesting.
So when you think about dreaming a better future, let's not shrug off the possibility that the better future might be in another world altogether, in a life beyond this life, and that it's time to brave up. I'll look at this steadily in the face, and understand something I've known all my life, and bring to the heart of my teaching.
The time to meet your death, to be ready to meet your death, is always right now as a great, as the great French essayist Montaigne said, "We do not know where death is waiting for us, so he must be prepared to meet death everywhere." That is our condition right now. How are you ready to meet death? How are you ready to deal with death in your own life, amongst your circle, amongst your family?
Well, dreaming is the best preparation for dying. So let's get this absolutely and fervently clear. The Lakota say the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams. I believe that's absolutely correct. You might say modifying it, expanding it a little, the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams, except that after physical death, you don't come back to the physical body.
The point is, once again, dreaming is traveling. Interesting dreams are experiences of soul or consciousness traveling far beyond the body and brain. You are never confined to the body and brain, except by lack of courage or imagination.
What else shall I say about dreaming as a way of opening a better future, and a way of living a better now? I want to say this to you. Your authentic spiritual guides and teachers will come to you in dreams. They'll come to you when you're available, in a space which is not being controlled by your ego, thoughts, or by your past conditioning. That space might come during sleep. It might come in the kind of liminal in between state, which can become, really, horizontal meditation.
My meditation friends, who are very serious about their procedures, are sometimes aghast when I say, "I do horizontal meditation. I lie in my dad any time that I feel like it, and of course, I have more opportunity to do this, now I don't have to catch planes, or lead-in person workshops. And I'm available to what comes to me. And the most important spiritual encounters and conversations of my life have come in that space, for as far back as I could remember, extraordinary encounters resulting in writing spiritual dialogues."
And one of the people that I meet in that space, who might be available to you and your own version, is my slightly higher self, not the great big higher self with a capital H. But I called him my double on the balcony, and it's like this.
Often when I meet him, he's an impossibly radiant, beautiful double of myself. He usually looks really good, about 30 years old, often dressed in a very elegant kind of white suit, often sitting at a table on a terrace, or a balcony higher above the world. He just shows up.
Sometimes I make it my wish to find him. I picture myself going up to the rooftop of a high building, something like that, looking out, seeing this use of this world from a slightly higher perspective, seeing the spaghetti junctions and the traffic terms of life from a different perspective, this perspective.
And I find up there, it's easier for me to have some kind of witness perspective on the issues of life. It's easier up there, joining a slightly higher double of myself, who's not bound to the body, to have a sense of the divine comedy of it all. So maybe in whatever form it takes, your guide, your angel, your goddess, your higher self, your oversoul, your slightly higher self, is looking for you, waiting for you in dreams.
Because the trick in finding the greater self and the greater powers that will be allies for your life to get you through, is to put yourself in a place where you can be easily found. That means putting yourself outside the tame domesticated plants of the ordinary mind and the ordinary imagination. It means getting a little closer to the wild side of things.
And you do that when you go dreaming. You do that when you go dreaming in the night. You do that when you learn to travel like a dream shaman, which I teach people how to do. You do that in that interesting border space between the tame lands and the wild woods accessible at hypnagogia. You do that when you let synchronicity speak to you, when you recognize it all around you, with your eyes open, is a field of living symbols that are looking at you.
And even if you can't get out and about that much, and find as many of them on the roads of the world as you might ordinarily do, be alert and observant to the fact that the powers behind the curtains of our consensual hallucinations are trying to speak to you, pushing, poking, probing through the veils of understanding, to bring you awake.
And they'll do this when you're dreaming with your eyes wide open. So these are some of the ways I've counted some of the ways in which dreaming will get you through, put you into the chrysalis of creative growth, from which you will rise with shining wings, in various ways, certainly in the context of your personal life, and maybe in the context of our world. And maybe in doing all of this, you'll also contribute to the healing of our kind in the healing of our planet.
Because, as Jung said resoundingly, "Without self knowledge, without self knowledge, and that is a person by person thing, you have to grow your own self knowledge in order to contribute to the collective awake in your consciousness." Without self knowledge, we'll always fall into the dark times. We'll always do it. People without self knowledge will mislead themselves and others. And we see that wherever we look. So this is also a time to go deeper in your practice of knowing yourself.
And dreaming, as I've introduced it to you or reinforced it for you, is an absolutely fundamental way of growing the kind of self knowledge which will make you effortlessly a contributor to the repair of our world, to the recovery of our kind, and the healing of our own nations with every other kind of conscious life on the planet. So may your best dreams come true. And may you remember them.
Robert Moss is the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of modern dreamwork and shamanism. Born in Australia, he survived three near-death experiences as a child, which provided him with early access to other realms. He leads popular seminars all over the world, including a three-year training for teachers of Active Dreaming. A former lecturer in ancient history at the Australian National University, he’s a bestselling novelist, poet, journalist, and independent scholar.
His more than a dozen books on dreaming, shamanism, and imagination include Conscious Dreaming... The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead... Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life Beyond Death... Dreaming the Soul Back Home... Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life... and his spiritual memoir, The Boy Who Died and Came Back. His most recent book is Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler’s Tales from the Imaginal Realm.
Click here to visit Robert’s website.
Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 10: Imagining a Post-Pandemic World