WHEN our thick brains get all heated up worrying about life’s complexities, that’s often the best time to kick off our shoes and give it a rest.
Faced with a critical decision, or stuck on a complex problem, researchers have discovered that sleeping or napping on them often lead to a right direction or decision.
“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die,” Lewis Carroll wrote of children:
“Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?”
As adults, the notes of a song, the smell of burning leaves, the babbling of a mountain brook, a day-dream — all may open doors to another realm of the poetic mind. They also arouse unexpected emotions and reminiscences.
In Wordsworth’s haunting poem “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” reveries opened for him an unexpected awareness of past lives, the realization he had lived before.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.
There is “a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy,” the poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote in Marginalia, “which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language.”
Dream within a Dream
Researchers are finding that “zoning out may be the most fruitful type of mind wandering,” reports Carl Zimmer (“Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State.”)
The wandering mind, they find, “allows us to work through some important thinking.”
When meeting someone for the first time, why is it we sometimes have an overpowering feeling we’ve met before? The mind really can work in mysterious ways.
Rector of the Dijon Academy and noted French psychical researcher, Émile Boirac, coined the term déjà vu, denoting such feelings as memories of our past.
But are they all explainable in terms of lost memory, of fragments from the past?
Or are they only strange feelings caused by glitches in the brain’s neurochemical network, as many skeptics insist?
Daydreamers are often judged as lazy and impractical misfits, who are doomed to failure. Now it has been shown that…
A report in ScienceDaily reports that daydreamers end up being smarter that those that don’t indulge in fantasy:
“… a new University of British Columbia study finds that our brains are much more active when we daydream than previously thought.”
“Mind wandering is typically associated with negative things like laziness or inattentiveness,” says lead author, Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology.
Above are fMRI brain scans from UBC Mind Wandering Study. (Courtesy of Kalina Christoff)
“But this study shows our brains are very active when we daydream — much more active than when we focus on routine tasks.”
“This is a surprising finding,” Professor Christoff says about the result.
Many famous daydreamers have gone on to make revolutionary contributions to society. Einstein was one. Einstein’s “train ride on a beam of light” taught him–and us–his theories of relativity, which revolutionized physics.
Unconscious at Work
“A dream led Elias Howe to beat Singer to the patent for the sewing machine,” writes Sandra Weintraub in “Cultivate Your Dreams to Find New Solutions.”
“In the dream, Howe was in a jungle surrounded by natives holding spears, with holes near their tips, Ms. Wintraub recounts.
“When he woke, he realized that putting the hole near the tip of the needle would make a working sewing machine.”
“If you’ve ever awakened in the morning and suddenly found the answer to a question you’d been pondering, perhaps your dreams worked out the problem.”
“You may not remember dreaming, but your unconscious was actively at work while you slept,” she says.
In her article, Ms. Wintraub, the principal of a company called Management Resources, goes on to list numerous other astounding discoveries resulting from dreams.
The Creative Impulse
“There is an archetypal creative impulse
woven into the fabric of every dream.”
The Harry Potter Dream
Our friend Reggie Atkinson comments: “Some years ago, JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was on a train ride when she drifted off to sleep. When she awoke, she had the Harry Potter story in mind.
“Though the review here doesn’t mention falling asleep, in a TV interview JK said that’s how and when Harry et al came to be.”
The Train Ride
“She says she doesn’t really know where Harry Potter came from, but that the stories came ‘fully formed’ into her head, during a train journey in 1990 from Manchester to London.”
Having just spent the weekend apartment-hunting in Manchester, Rowling came up with the concept for Harry Potter.
The idea, she says,
“simply fell into my head.”
Having nothing to write with, and too shy to ask, Rowling spent the remainder of the ride day-dreaming about the story, and began to write it down as soon as she arrived home. (Click for: JK Rowling’s Website)
“Our truest life is when we are
in our dreams awake.”
“Those who might have distinguished themselves in medicine or literature, would probably have signally failed in any occupation outside of what I will call their lucid zone,” Blavatsky says in her article The Negators of Science.
“…. by comparison with the action of those reflectors, which, during night, throw their light into a zone of luminous rays, outside of which all is gloomy shadow and uncertainty.
“Every human being has his own lucid zone, the extension, range and degree of luminosity of which, varies with each individual.”
Given such discoveries, might there something more we need to understand about the fundamental nature of consciousness? “There are many stories in the history of science of great discoveries occurring to people out of the blue,” notes Carl Zimmer in his fascinating Discovery article:
“The French mathematician Henri Poincaré once wrote,” Zimmer recounts, “about how he struggled for two weeks with a difficult mathematical proof.”
“He set it aside to take a bus to a geology conference, and the moment he stepped on the bus, the solution came to him.”
“Neuroscientists are investigating this paradox by searching for the signatures of mind wandering in the brain,” Zimmer concludes.
Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz discovered the Benzene molecule while dreaming:
“I was sitting writing on my textbook,”Kekulé wrote, “the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes.
“This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion.”
“But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes.”
“As if by a flash of lightning I awoke — and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis.”
& Time Symmetry
Distracted mental states are often discouraged by our parents and teachers. ‘Use your head,’ we are told, and ‘think before you act.’ There seems to be a natural tendency for us to daydream. But dreaming and reminiscing is not always an individual matter.
And, human beings seems to be attracted to group states. This shared dreaming Blavatsky called “floating reminiscences,” (The Secret Doctrine 1:293), which “unite the broken links of the chain of time.” And these form, she wrote intriguingly:-
“… the mysterious, dream foundation of our collective consciousness.”
Row Your Boat
These nursery rhyme lyrics, says Wikipedia, “have often been used as a metaphor for life’s difficult choices, and many see the boat as referring to one’s self or a group with which one identifies.”
The final line, “life is but a dream”, the writer says, “is perhaps the most meaningful. From a religious point of view, life and the physical plane
… may be regarded as having equivalent value as that of a dream, such that troubles are seen in the context of a lesser reality once one has awakened.”
“Row Your Boat”
“Whatever you can do or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The term ‘psychic’ was first used by renowned chemist William Crookes to describe the famous medium and magician Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886).
In 1871, Crookes attended a Fox sisters séance and came away convinced that the rapping noises they produced were genuine spirits.
Crookes’ psychic investigations were largely ignored by his contemporaries, but frequently quoted by H. P. Blavatsky. Blavatsky herself witnessed the Fox sisters’ performances — and also the Eddy farmhouse manifestations.
While at the Fox home, Blavatsky met newspaper correspondent Henry Steel Olcott, who was to remain a lifelong friend. Together with the young lawyer William Quan Judge, they founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.
The Astral World
“The only difficulty,” in explaining such phenomenon (spiritualism), Blavatsky said in Isis Unveiled 1:116, her ground-breaking first work, “is to realize the fact that surrounding space is not an empty void:-
“… but a reservoir filled to repletion with the models of all things that ever were, that are, and that will be; and with beings of countless races, unlike our own.”
“Our minds are much more extensive than our brains,” says Rupert Sheldrake in this audio clip. Dr. Sheldrake first popularized the term ‘morphic fields.’ Our minds, he says: “stretch out far beyond the surface of our bodies.”
An Eternal Now
If all this is true, then there is no real separation between past, present and future, and everything represents an “eternal now.” The recovery of what was, or will be, requires only that we tune into its information frequency.
Tuning in is the same way we tune into a particular program on radio or TV, by turning the dial. Only in human life, both the dial and the dialer are within ourselves.
Theosophy asserts that we are swimming in an interactive, impeccably accurate, microfiched universe — which also happens to be identical to the substrate essence of our own being — an intangible substance that ancient teachers called the Akâsa (Sanskrit) — this is “the subtle,
“supersensuous spiritual essence
which pervades all space.”
This seems to suggest that déjà vu, clairvoyance, paranormal phenomena, remote viewing — or even remembering a past life — are no different than locating a film or book at a library.
It is roughly analogous to invisible matter, akin to what science today refers to as dark matter. This is also what might be called ‘The God Principle’ — it is within and around, interpenetrating and interblended with everything, everywhere, the planet itself included.
We are as inseparable from it, Theosophy says, as the fish is the ocean in which it swims.
The nearest realms, or layers, of this noetic ocean, is termed the “Astral Light“— “the invisible region that surrounds our globe.”
In addition to images and other records, there exist in it “beings of countless races, unlike our own,” Blavatsky says — remarking that it is also the confusing realm of mediums and psychics.
She describes this astral, as being just-below-the-surface level of physical existence, Transactions (64), calling it a “phosphorescent radiation,” and
“…the medium between it
and man’s thought faculties.”
If our thoughts were “inspired and illumined” only by our highest, altruistic Self, she says, “there would be little sin in this world.”
Universe of Duality
Just like thoughts, swarms of bacteria, viruses and other creatures, good and bad, invisibly inhabit our physical world. We take probiotics to support the billions of beneficial bacteria that live in our gut, and antibiotics to rid ourselves of their harmful cousins — yet, science knows very little about either.
There is no separation between
the astral world and this one.
The astral field is the source of memory, dreams and déjà vu, but it can also be the origin of our nightmares, depending on our mental and moral states.