‘Dreams and Spirituality’ : a triple 10 minutes interview with the editors

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep" William Shakespeare

In a time not too long ago, dreams were regarded as messages from God. Now society has become much more rational dreams are regarded as random neurological chatter of the brain. ‘Dreams and Spirituality’ a handbook for ministry, spiritual direction and counseling is a skeleton for anybody working with dreams. In the first place it is aimed at ministers and spiritual counsellors. But it is also a very useful guidebook for anyone who has encountered a dream about spirituality. Mindfunda talked with the three editors: Kate Adams, Bart Koet and Barbara Koning.

 

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Dr. Kate Adams is Reader at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, Lincolnshire.
Dr. Bart Koet is Ordinary Professor of New Testament and Extraordinary Professor of Early Christian Literature at the University of Tilburg.
Dr. Barbara Koning is a clinical psychologist of religion and spiritual director in the Netherlands. Her website is dreampilgrims.com.

“Explain all that” said Mock the Turtle. “No, no! The adventures first” said the Gryphon in an impatient tone: “explanation take such a dreadful time“.
Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

This book is an outstanding attempt to analyse and categorize spirituality in dreams. But everyone who has ever had a Big Dream, a confrontation with his own spirituality, knows that the most important thing in such dreams is the adventure. To drift away in another realm of being, to reach beyond the limits of what you thought was possible. My own spiritual dreams, especially the lucid ones where I was researching God, or my concept of God are of such intensity that I am afraid of writing about them. Afraid because I can not find the right words to paint you the picture. So the best way to read this excellent book is to interpret it as an invitation into your own realm of spirituality.

The book is divided into three parts, with dream narratives used as an interlude . In that way, the book reads like a poem, or a symphony. Part one gives an outline of the multi-disciplinary points of departure. Part two dives into empirical data. Part three serves as a more practical guideline for pastoral workers.

Each part consists of a number of chapters written by authors like Bob Haden of the Haden Institute, Robert Hoss, the man who put colors in dreams back on the map, anthropologist Charles Laughlin, Rev. Geoff Nelson. it is an impressive set of names. This structure takes care that every aspect of spirituality is covered. In this Mindfunda I will jump through the book, cherry picking the best quotes.

Dreams and Spirituality – part one:

In the first part of the book: Multi-disciplinary points of departure  Bart Koet is one of the contributors. He outlines the view on dreams in the bible. Religious ministers are often inclined to neglect the dreams of their flock. In the western world, since Freud published his ideas, the interpretation of dreams has been considered to belong to the psychological realm and maybe to the adherents of New Age movements. However, Bart Koet shows that  in Biblical traditions dreams and visions can be signposts. They stimulate people to look for new roads. . Biblical stories of dreams are also being used to wake the reader. At that moment the reader knows: ‘Be alert, wake up and listen carefully to this dream’. This approach does not stop with the Bible for there have always been people who have experienced some of their dreams as divine revelations, such as a lady like Perpetua in the third century, Saint Francis and also, for example, Don Bosco.

Charles Laughlin, author of ‘Communing with the Gods’ shares a chapter about the different cultural outlooks on dreams. “Human experience seems to be distributed across a range of states, from those concerned primarily with adaptions to extramental reality to those oriented towards internal relations within the being
Charles distinguishes between the Western Monophasic culture were dreams are disregarded and the eastern Polyphasic cultures where dreams are perceived as a form of reality.
When one does a cross cultural study, like Vincenza Tiberia did in 1981, there is across cultures the same distinction between common dreams and big dreams. Tiberia used the data from roughly 300 societies and collected 62 archetypical dreams from 43 different cultures. She found six archetypes: ‘the Archetypical Feminine’, (anima, Great Mother), ‘the Self’, ‘the Marriage’, ‘the Ancestor Archetype’, and ‘Loosing teeth’. In “The spirit of Psychology” Jung refers to archetypes as “the holy”.

The interview with Bart Koet makes clear that his work in prisons, probably the least spiritual environment possible, can bring about very deep spiritual experiences and dreams. Being in a situation of despair can help people to face and accept dark parts about themselves. Like the man who murdered his “brother”:

Dreams and Spirituality – part two

In the second part of this book: Dreams and religion: empirical data, theory and reflection Barbara Koning writes about varieties of religious dreaming. This chapter is a way for counsellors and pastors to categorize the content of dreams shared with them. The Hall and van de Castle system of content analysis is mentioned.

I am sitting in a circle of people around my minister who is leading a celebration. Suddenly he is giving me a kind of musical instrument: I understand I will have to accompany the worship. The instrument is broken and it does not work properly. I can’t fulfill the task given to me and I feel embarrassed about that”.

Such beautiful dreams we can all recognize are shared in the book. Barbara uses them to illustrate how pastoral workers can give a dream shared with them more depth and perspective.

The religion you believe in also influences the content of your dream. It is a pity that neither science nor atheism is considered a religion by the editors because that would have given the book an extra boost for me. Maybe the editors can consider it for the second edition of this book.

In the interview Barbara shares her vision on how science and spirituality can be united while working with spiritual dreams:

Dreams and Spirituality – part three:

In the third and final part of this book: Dreams and the practice of pastoral care Kate Adams and Peter Green share their chapter about the spirituality of children: “Out of the mouths of babes”.

Neither Christian pastors nor teachers are trained to respond to children’s dream narratives“. Being the mother of two teenage boys I can confirm that my children would be terrified if they would have to share dreams at school. They could consider it humiliating, even though they share their dreams at home. Charles Laughlin pointed out in part one that we live in a monophasic culture. And it is a shame because children dream often.
Both Peter and Kate stress the importance of listening to and accepting the dreams without interpreting them. Spirituality in dreams is an innate quality of dreaming:

“I was on a cloud and God was there. I was crying and God told me not to be upset. When I woke up I felt better”.

This dream was told by a nine-year old from a secular background. He only told his cat because “my cat always listens and never talks back to me”.

In the interview Kate shares her vision on the importance of spirituality and children. So many times the subject of children’s dreams are disregarded in literature:

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Please sign up for my YouTube channel to enjoy all the beautiful Mindfunda interviews with inspiring people. People like Jean Benedict Raffa, Anne Baring, Connie Kaplan, Ralph Metzner, Stanley Krippner and P.M.H. Atwater, Catherine Wikholm about her book the Buddha Pill and Justina Lasley about her book Wake Up to Your Dreams: Transform Your Relationships, Career, and Health While You Sleep , Evan Thompson about his book ‘Waking Sleeping Being‘. and Barbara Koning, Bart Koet and Kate Adams editors of ‘Dreams and Spirituality‘.

An interview with Wanda Burch about her book She who dreams will be published in November, so sign up and don’t miss out on some interesting new interviews.

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God in dreams: 4 steps to defining your god image trough dreams

God used to speak to people in dreams. Being the son of a preacher, Jung had to search for his own religion. The Red Book is a journal of this experience.

This is Mindfunda's presentation for the Dream Weekend organized by the Dutch society for dreamers: Vereninging voor de Studie van Dromen (VSD) . Unfortunately influenza payed me an uninvited visit. I was not able to attend the weekend. Aad van Ouwerkerk, author and dream worker read my presentation to the visitors. I thank him for doing that.

This is a series of blogs about my proces of dreaming my way through the Red Book. I have divided it into five steps:
Carl Jung
Psychic Power and dreams
Animus/anima dreams
God
the Self.

 

 

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God in dreams tip #1: search for the feeling

God is often referred to as “the Father.” If you ever dream of your father, be sure to explore if he is not a symbol of your inner religion.

One of the things Jung aimed at when he started to explore his visions and dreams in detail was to re-define religion.

He was disappointed in his father Paul, a preacher who seemed only interested in religion as a sum of rules.

He was disappointed in his second father Freud, for dismissing the spiritual side of psychiatry. Only in his dreams after his father died did Jung get the spiritual guidence he needed from his father. In the Red book he says:

If you do not know what divine madness is, suspend judgment and wait for the fruits. But know that there is a divine madness, which is nothing other than the overpowering of the spirit of this time through the spirit of the depths. Speak then of sick delusion when the spirit of the depths can no longer stay down and forces a man to speak in tongues instead of in human speech, and makes him believe that he himself is the spirit of the depths. But also speak of sick delusion when the spirit of this time does not leave a man and forces him to see only the surface, to deny the spirit of the depths and to take himself for the spirit of the times.” (“Decent Into Hell in the Future,” Cap. V).

god

 

On the site of Susan Olsen I found those two dreams Jung had about his father after his father died:

In the first dream, Jung is exploring a large wing of his house that he has never seen before. He finds a laboratory with shelves full of bottles containing “every imaginable sort of fish” and realizes that it is his father’s workroom. (MDR, p. 240f.) Next door is his mother’s room, in which she has set up beds for “ghostly married couples” to sleep. In his comments on the dream, Jung interpreted the fish as a Christ symbol and the beds as a “somewhat farcical” symbol of the coniunctio, the sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine principles. Although his parents were not seen in the dream, he felt their presence strongly and understood the dream to mean that “something had remained unfinished and was still with my parents; that is to say, it was still latent in the unconscious and hence reserved for the future.” Again Jung’s father (and in this case his mother) appeared “from within” as guiding figures who led him to his work on Christian symbolism in Aion (1951) and his study of alchemy and the sacred marriage in Mysterium Conjunction

In the next dream, Jung’s father is living in a large house in the country and working as the custodian of the tombs of several famous people. To his son’s great surprise, he is now a distinguished Biblical scholar. In his study he opens a large Bible bound in shiny fishskin and begins a learned exege- sis of an Old Testament passage. Then he leads Jung up a narrow staircase to a mandala-shaped room and points to an- other flight of stairs and a small door leading to the chamber of “the highest presence.” (MDR, p. 245f.) As his father kneels and touches his forehead to the ground in a gesture of rever- ence, Jung imitates him but confesses that he “could not bring my forehead quite down to the floor—there was perhaps a millimeter to spare.”

I had a fish dream concerning religion when I started my training at the Jungian institute. This dream was the first of many that would re-shape my idea of God.

I am at a party and I walk outside. There is a little lake in the garden. I walk towards it. Near the lake sits my grandmother Sophie, whom I never knew. She snatches a fish out of the water and smashes his head hard onto the ground. The eye of the fish flies up in the air. I am very mad at her for doing that. I try to revive the fish by putting it back in the water. But it is death and gone.

Sophie is the ancient mother Goddess that was kept away from the bible. The goddess of wisdom. She decided that it was time for me to break away from those catholic ideas about a male god with a beard.

Maria shared this dream:

No More Death God Names

god

I have a boy Beagle puppy. I am training him. I love him so much; he brings me so much joy. I am trying to come up with a fitting name and think “Pluto” like the God/planet and the Disney dog; but then I think how I named my Rottweiler puppy “Anubis” who was also a God connected to Death, and he died young (about 4 or 5 years old in WPR) of bone cancer and decide to stay away from Death God names. I eventually name him, but couldn’t recall on waking.

I bring him everywhere I go; everyone thinks he is adorable. Mom says, “You’re never going to be able to leave him alone if you keep bringing him with you everywhere you go.” I think to myself, “Then I won’t leave him alone.” I am petting his belly – all white fur on his underside. I hold him in my arms while he sleeps soundly. I bring him to work with me – filming on location somewhere outdoors – I have a makeup artistry gig. People watch him for me while I apply makeup / work

Christian pointed out that there could be a word pun involved here: Dog and God are the same written backwards. If you look at the dream of Maria her god image is something adorable, vulnarble that never leaves her side.

Dreams were the bridge between god and people for a long time. is this still true in your life? has your concept of god changed because of your dreams?

> Read on in the last part, about: The Self.

< Jumped in from elsewhere? Start at part 1 

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Please sign up for my YouTube channel to enjoy all the beautiful Mindfunda interviews with inspiring people. People like Jean Benedict Raffa, Anne Baring, Connie Kaplan, Ralph Metzner, Stanley Krippner and P.M.H. Atwater, Catherine Wikholm about her book the Buddha Pill and Justina Lasley about her book Wake Up to Your Dreams: Transform Your Relationships, Career, and Health While You Sleep! Evan Thompson about his book Waking Sleeping Being.

GRAB YOURSELF A FREE E-BOOK AND LEARN ALL ABOUT MUTUAL DREAMING USING THIS LINK
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Twitter @susannevandoorn