Lucid Dreams

The following is from a letter to a friend. (When I was a teenager I had the experience of dreaming lucidly for about two years.)

A little more about lucid dreaming. “What should I make of this experience?” I wondered as a youngster. I had no name for it. The first place I turned was to Freud’s “Interpretation of Dreams.” I felt cheated. Nor was there any light on the matter in my surroundings. Dreams and dreaming were simply not discussed. So I resigned myself to being alone in this. Still, I had been given a glimpse of a part of reality I simply could not ignore. I wasn’t interested in interpreting dreams, though I had the advantage of remembering them. Nor did I wish to ‘program’ them for pleasurable experiences. The most important thing was the sense of Self which seemed to result from being able to watch my mind from a little distance, moment by moment.

Nothing is forever, now I simply sleep. And my sense of self-mastery in the daytime is diminished. Still, I know what is possible and cannot, hard as it is to stay awake, turn back to the somnambulistic life. (End of letter.)

Another friend once explained to me that at some point fairly early in life each of us is given a glimpse of what he or she may one day, with effort, become. For me lucid dreaming was a glimpse of  “turiya”;

“In the works of the Vedanta the witness-consiousness is, significantly, referred to as the “fourth” (*turiya*), because it is held to transcend the three “states” of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. This witnessing consciousness is said to continually apperceive the mental contents of all three states.” – George Feurstein “Structures of Consciousness” page 36.)

This experience is, I believe, what explains my ongoing interest in consciousness etc.

Little Dialogue On Consciousness

A-Consciousness is our intuition of the continuity of the self.

B-There isn’t a part of that I don’t need explained.

A-It raises more question than it answers, And it’s only part of the picture. But it’s workable. Anyway – an observation – death cannot be an experience.

B-Okay, because, how can you know you’re dead? You have to exist in order to know something.

A-Yes. On the other end you can have no direct knowledge of coming into being.

B-Because… that would imply that at some point you knew that you didn’t exist, which is impossible, or absurd.

A-Now you can see where the continuity comes in.Let me go back. Intuition means direct knowledge. Continuity means without a break. We can have no direct knowledge of birth or death, of a break in our own existence.

B-If you went out of existence, then came back a million years later, it would be like pausing a movie. The sense of self picks up right where it left off. It’s continuous.

A-Okay. So now I want to ask; is this intuition correct? Is there something in us that can neither be created nor destroyed? Now I cheated with that question. The answer is yes, and that thing is called energy. But what does that have to do with the self? I don’t know. We’re mixing physics with psychology or philosophy of mind and it’s a muddle.

B-We? But seriously, let’s take a break or a walk or something.

[they walk and talk]

B-I’m thinking of unicorns. This concerns imagination instead of intuition but it seems like the same kind of thing. We don’t think of our ability to imagine unicorns as proof of their existence. We don’t need to see our inability to experience our own creation or destruction as proof that we were not created or that we cannot be destroyed.

A-Yes! That would be arguing from ignorance, saying that because we can’t know that a thing is impossible that it must therefore be possible. It’s a bridge too far.

B-So what about the axiological side of it all?

A-What is the value of this self? What is it’s value if what our intuitions tell us about it is true, or not?

B-Don’t we need more to make that judgment? Suppose we do go on and on. Do we go on suffering and suffering? Even mixed with joy that’s not something I’d look forward to.

A-Me neither. Then if it’s an illusion; is it valuable in itself? We value fiction if for no more than entertainment. Or does it have instrumental, value? Many theories later proven false have nevertheless guided the development of some very valuable things, technologies.

[the conversation continues out of earshot]]