Thomas Wilson

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Dreams: Insights into the Shadow

In response to a friend who had a horrific dream and felt disgusted:

You should not feel disgusted. When people have horrific dreams, they are humbling for two reasons: 1) The mind never ceases to show us how powerful it is 2) Despite the violence in the dream, it is likely that something even worse has Actually happened to somebody at some point. Those things are humbling. 

This person was particularly disgusted at the fact that it was them, in the dream, that committed the act. This person feels they couldn’t ever do such a thing, and having the thought was enough to feel evil: 

Humans committed the atrocities at Auschwitz. If you don’t think you are capable of that then think again because you are one of them, and so am I. We are humans too. That’s the Jungian Shadow and it is a truly dark place. However, it is important to make peace with the darkest aspects of ourselves. In the exact way in which one cannot know happy unless you know sad, one cannot be good unless one realizes their evil. In my mind this is part of being human, Adam and Eve, the knowledge of good and evil.

I try to analyze my dreams every day and I have gotten pretty good at it. I have noticed patterns and they correlate to how I feel, things that have happened, things that I want to have happen. I have learned a lot, especially when I analyze the horrific ones and attempt to objectively decipher what they mean. I have found may answers and sometimes they mean nothing, but they are anything but random. Dreams are not random because nature is smarter than humans. They correlate to something; a dream might mean that you like the color purple and the dream instantiates that in you. Liking the color purple is quite meaningless, but it is not random. Dreams instantiate things within your perceptions such as disliking your class, that is meaningful, change your major, do what you enjoy not what you dislike. Dreams deepen our connections to our perceptions, the way we feel about things grow both stronger and weaker simultaneously because when you weaken one thing, the opposite becomes stronger. Then try to conceptualize this multi-dimensionally, your brain is making these connections at every turn, this manifests as dreams. Dreams are complex pattern instantiators with the ultimate goal of having us navigate our world more effectively. They subconsciously convey to us: do this, avoid that, leave those, date them. The amazing aspect of this process is that we have almost no conception that it is even occurring unless we pay astute attention to our dreams, realities, feelings, and environment, then connect them all together. Your subconscious mind is parsing this all together every time you dream, it is the thing that IS paying astute attention to these factors and incorporating them into your persons. 

She ponders: Do I need to engage in self-exploration more?

Everyone does, all the time. Why wouldn’t we? This is our life and it is important to know ourselves, both the darkness and the light. Once we know all facets of these, it is quite difficult to willingly decide a path of darkness. Those of us who follow the path of darkness can be said to not understand the road they travel. The illusion of clarity and purpose from traversing darkness is seductive.

Our dreams have a pre-programed set of parameters which make up how one should conduct themselves. Chronic nightmares can be understood as a path not well traversed. Our dreams try to reconcile our actions with how we ought to be acting, nightmares are when these do not line up. Something is off and your mind is trying to tell you, to guide you to where you should go or what you should do. Dreams guide us abstractly, we must determine the correct path to take on our own but dreams allow us a critical resource in finding that out.

So far what I have found is that I have no other real purpose in my life than to aim for the good in all things I do, to aim for the best that I can create. I fall short often but I aim and I push and I am a flawed individual, and that is good.

She cannot reckon why the disturbance may be necessary: I would never do what I did in my dream. Having my subconscious push me toward the light through horrible scenes is not something I need:

On occasion I will have flashes of obscenely dark things, things that I would never do that are absolutely horrible. When these happen, I am conscious, I am fully awake! At some time in the past, these flashes would have disturbed me greatly, but I am not disturbed by them because I know full well that I am capable of those horrible things. Being aware that I could commit those atrocities sets me free because despite being fully capable, I wouldn’t. But I could, and that’s freedom. This idea is the counterpart to the idea that pushing to prevent something inevitably causes to occur. Here we see that submitting fully to the possibility of an occurrence without attempting to step in its way ends up preventing the occurrence entirely. This is peace. It is a love-like connection, quite powerful. 

It is of crucial importance to know one’s self, when you know yourself then you know 80% of how others work. Then you discover that nobody really knows what is going on with existence, that’s power. But the goal is not power, ever. The goal is aiming toward making things better at every turn. Doing this at one’s own expense is beautiful and sacrificial as it should be. Sacrificing the present for the future, aiming up, that’s the goal. When we submit to eventuality and act within the flow, things often do not turn out how we would expect. As it turns out, humans are really bad at predicting the future. When we think we know how future events will unfold, especially as they pertain to the actions of others, and we attempt to do something about these imaginary events, we cause the exact thing we were trying to prevent, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To bring full circle:

We often dream about the things that we know we must do or change. The catch is that we delude ourselves, we may as well not know what we must change, but we do! We always do. Dreams attempt to alter our behavior subtly and unconsciously with the ultimate goal being what is conducive to our success. Drugs will have effects on this mechanism, opiates specifically, they re-enforce that something that feels so good must be necessary, this is why they are particularly dangerous. But if you know what you need to change and you are open and willing to do what will make you a better person even if it is difficult, then Godspeed. What we discover to that end is that the number of things that we can do to make things better increases with the knowledge of how much we don’t know. Hence, we also discover that what we may need to change now is simply a catalyst for what we need to change in the future. Our actions compound on each other, when aimed at something greater than ourselves our actions become clearer.

Finding peace is a direct path through the valley of the shadow, then surrendering to it. Understanding that we do not have control over all things, but at the same token we have more control than we thought. The shadow shows you how to surrender to circumstance, knowing full well that things may go wrong but having faith that they will not. Faith. A word that I never imagined I would have such a relationship with as I do now.