Cover Story: Web Feature: Dream On

Writer says dreams are a window on larger reality

Jan 18, 2001 at 2:06 pm
Dream journeyer Robert Moss

Robert Moss is an explorer and journalist. And that's not even counting the work he does when he's awake.

Moss, you see, is a dream journeyer, and his dream life plays an integral part of his waking world. In his latest book, Dreaming True: How to Dream Your Future and Change Your Life for the Better, he encourages readers not only to pay attention to their dreams but to become active participants in them. The information we gather in dreams, he says, can help us make choices and shape the future for the better.

CityBeat recently spoke with Moss, who will be in Cincinnati on Feb. 2 to host the first of several monthly dream seminars.

CityBeat: Here's a broad question: What are dreams?

Robert Moss: Dreams are experiences of a larger reality. Of course, there are big dreams and little dreams. My new book provides a new typology of dreams, ranging from spicy pizza dreams — caused by what we shoveled into our face the night before — all the way up to the psychic and sacred dreams.

CityBeat: Do dreams consist of more than our own neurological impulses? Is there a spiritual connection or communication that occurs in dreaming?

RM: Absolutely. In dreams we get into the realm of the mind beyond the brain. And the mind might be infinite. In dreams we have transpersonal experiences. We meet other people, and we meet the departed. I've told many stories about this in my book, and I've helped people to understand that it's quite natural to have conversations with the departed in our dreams. And this can be life supporting and healing for everybody involved.

We see into the future in our dreams. We travel through time. We see things that haven't happened on the roads of life yet. And if we wake up to the fact that we are all psychics in our dreams, we can make better choices.

CityBeat: I notice that you say departed instead of dead. Do you make that distinction euphemistically, or is there some other significance?

RM: Well, I have no theology about this, but I would say if you become an active dreamer, you will cease to have any personal doubts about life after death. And if you believe there is life beyond physical death, then you don't regard dead people as dead. Yes, the body is dead, the body is buried or cremated, but something else — consciousness, spirit — is living on. So to refer to the departed as dead is a limited way of talking about them.

CityBeat: Cross-culturally, from a spiritual perspective, do you find a lot of similar ideas about dreams?

RM: First of all, dreaming is something human beings have in common. However we were raised, whatever culture we were raised in, we all dream. It's part of what makes us human. But when it comes to approaches toward dreams and attitudes toward dreaming, cultures are very different.

Modern Western culture, until recently anyway, has tended to dismiss and devalue dreams. To the extent that we have a rational discussion about dreams, we're told that they are the result of random neurological firing in the brain, or chemical hallucinatory wash during sleep, or they're simply recycling of events of the day before or other reductionist theories about dreams.

The ancient understanding of dreams — I think we can talk cross-culturally now — believes two things about dreams that Western culture has tended to forget. The first is that in dreams we travel. We go somewhere. We meet people. We meet beings other than human, and we come back from our dreams with a memory of an experience.

And the second thing about dreaming that traditional people say is that dreams show us the wishes of the soul. Dreams put us in touch with soul, with our larger identity, with our larger self, with our larger purpose. They take us beyond the confusion and the limited understanding of the ego. Western psychology would acknowledge this, too, although it might use a different language.

CityBeat: It does sound a little Freudian.

RM: Well, there is a common link. I mean, Freud wasn't a bad guy. He was just subject to his own cultural prejudices. He was a great liberator in the West in terms of validating dreaming as an important function. When he told us that dreams put us in touch with things that go beyond waking consciousness, he was on the right track. Where Freud went wrong is that he came up with such limited definitions of what dreams are putting us in touch with.

CityBeat: Is there a darker side to dream journeying?

RM: If you don't pay much attention to your dreams and you don't tend to remember very many dreams, chances are the dreams you remember will seem dark or even nightmarish, because those are the dreams that are screaming to get your attention. A nightmare is actually an unfinished dream: Something scares us, we run away from it, we don't want to face it, we slam the door and say, "Thank God, it was only a dream." This is a very foolish strategy.

These scary dreams are offering us messages and guidance, if we can just brave up and face what's going on in the dream and harness that information. Dreams take us into dark areas, but so does waking life. One of the reasons that dreams take us into dark areas, frankly, is sometimes to rehearse us for challenges in our waking life.

CityBeat: In Dreaming True, you speak of becoming a conscious dream journeyer. Is it possible to make choices in and about what you dream?

RM: We can learn to dream consciously, in the sense that when you go to sleep at night you can enter a conscious dream experience. You can program yourself to enter a conscious dream state in which you're aware that you're dreaming. You're aware that you can make choices inside the dream and you can choose the roads of adventure you will follow.

One of the core techniques I teach in the books and in the workshops is dream re-entry. You have a memory of a dream. It might be a short memory. You can learn to go back into the dream through that memory and journey consciously inside that dream space.

This is a fascinating way to learn to become a conscious dream traveler. And once you learn these techniques, you can go to places where you can find insight and healing and guidance for you life and for other people.

ROBERT MOSS hosts an dream workshop at the Cincinnati Yoga School, xxxxxxxxxx, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2.