According to P. R. Sarkar “true dreams” emanate from a “surging vibrational flow which comes out of the fountainhead of the unconscious mind and vibrates the subconscious mind”. These dreams represent unfulfilled samskaras or unfinished business related to urgent matters that are at the center of our current emotional life. The more prevalent and less meaningful dreams consist of the disjointed thoughts of everyday life that are the results of agitated nerves or overeating. Carl Jung had referred to the former as “big dreams” full of meaningful symbols and the latter as “little dreams”. Sarkar states that the all-knowing causal or unconscious mind “can awaken in the calm conscious and subconscious minds of a person in deep slumber those visions and premonitions of past, present or future events which may deeply involve or overwhelm the person.” Dreams that come from this source are referred to by Sarkar as “supramental vision”. These dreams of supramental vision occur rarely in the average individual but more often in the calm mind of a spiritual aspirant. Sarkar suggests that allowing the pranendriya, the yogic psycho-physical sixth sense and source of subtle discrimination located in the center of the heart, to pause with our breath (pranayama) allows the mind to join with the ocean of consciousness to experience the “supramental stratum”. It is perhaps in this paused state during sleep that the pranendriya serves to connect us with the supramental dream and to discriminate for us the happiness, sorrow and divine nature reflected therein. This article will explore how Sarkar’s intuitional science of biopsychology serves to transform our dreams into higher consciousness.
“Realizing our dreams” is a commonly stated desire for all of us. Perhaps if we take this more literally understanding not only our day dreams but mining the meaning of our night dreams could bring us closer to following our bliss – a kind of awakening from slumber. What follows is a plunge into individuals’ dream work transformed through the lens of biopsychology integrated with Gestalt therapy dialogue. This approach gives us insight into how our passions and devotional sentiments serve us and the world simultaneously. There is a modern trend of yoga therapy to heal individuals’ physical and emotional imbalances. While biopsychology heals at a physical and psychological level, it serves to unite us with the universal in the ordinary and ultimately with our divine nature.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”- Howard Thurman
Fundamentals of Biopsychology and Gestalt Dream Work
Sarkar created biopsychology, which integrates the Eastern kundalinii yoga of ancient Tantric and intuitional science with modern western sciences of anatomy and physiology. This synthetic science of biopsychology provides basic knowledge and practices of the path of kundalinii yoga psychology. These practices involve raising the latent spiritual force in the first cakra at the base of the spine to the crown cakra, uniting the individual soul with the cosmic soul.
For an introduction to the fundamentals of this biopsychology read Yoga Psychology, a collection of P. R. Sarkar’s writings on biopsychology and dreams. This article will focus on dream work which is based on biopsychology integrated with Gestalt therapy dream work.
Gestalt dream work involves creating a dialogue among all elements of the dream, animate and inanimate, seen as projections of aspects of the dreamer. The dialogue may also include parts of the dreamer’s body (fast breathing or tension in a muscle group) and significant others related to the themes that emerge using the “empty chair technique” (alternating role playing self and other). This Gestalt dialogue approach helps promote the individual’s re-ownership of what has been projected onto others. Gestalt work bears a resemblance to the concept of brahmacarya, seeing all things as an expression of the divine and feeling that the divine is the voice speaking to us through all of our experiences.
People by nature are attracted to the Great. The first cakra in biopsychology is the seat of physical, psychic, psycho-spiritual and spiritual desires. The dharma or true nature of human life is to goad all these desires towards union with the Great, our own true selves. Astaunga yoga, eight limbed yoga, entails the systematic methods that transform all the qualities of the individual towards the Great or Cosmic Consciousness.
This article tells the story of how individuals accessing their dreams tread this journey towards the heights of spirituality. While the higher cakras reflect more subtle spiritual qualities, the lower cakras provide the juice of motivation, creativity and conflicts resulting in the dynamism for change and positive transformation to a higher level of consciousness. As biological and social evolution is dependent on this dialectical process of clash and cohesion of positive and negative forces, so goes the psychic and spiritual transformation of dreams. As Sarkar reminds us, “Obstacles are our friends”. Va’dha’ sa’ yus’ama’na’ shaktih sevyam’ stha’payati laks’ye: Obstacles are the helping forces that establish one in the goal.
Levels of the Mind
The windows of opportunity for individual growth can be entered on different levels of the mind, referred to as kosas in biopsychology. The five kosas of the mind are operating at the first five cakras associated with different anatomical and neurophysiological sites in the body. Dreams of deeper symbolic meaning occur when strong positive and negative energies (images and emotions) flowing from the unconscious mind of the atimanas kosa (navel cakra) vibrate the subconscious in the manomaya kosa of the svadhisthana cakra (second cakras). These psycho-physical centers, referred to as cakras, are defined by mental and emotional qualities at the psychic level and a plexus of endocrine glands at the physical level. Long before dissection of the body and the identification of our anatomical and physiological workings, sages of old identified these qualities of the body-mind as associated with 50 sounds emanating from different parts of the body. These 50 sounds became the basis for the Sanskrit alphabet. These sounds are associated with the qualities that corresponded to the different kosas or levels of the mind. Mantras for meditation and chanting utilize these sounds to help raise the kundalinii or spiritual force to higher cakras.
The access and expression of these different kosas is affected by an individual’s inherited samskaras or qualities of the mind that are results of previous lives’ actions. There are also acquired samskaras brought about as a consequence of our volitional actions in the present life. The third category is the imposed samskaras resulting from association with family and culture. When our conscious defenses are loosened as we sleep, dreams become windows to view samskaras and their allied emotions that are most currently active in our lives. Sarkar states that, “the seeds of reactions (unserved samskaras) remain accumulated in the unconscious mind. Just at the end of sleep the subconscious mind, and almost with the conscious mind, get awakened through the influence of mutative principle. This we call waking up from sleep, the subconscious mind gets awakened but the conscious mind does not, the unit dreams according to his or her samskaras. Such a dream, generally not being due to any physical disturbance or disease, and its preceding state being immersed in the unconscious mind, is often found to come true. That is why people say, “True comes the dream that takes place in the last portion of the night.”
v Our work while on this brief sojourn on earth is to attain liberation from the attachments that result from these samskaras. Tantric yoga, reflected in biopsychology, is the science of intuition that provides the methodical practices and speed to attain liberation. Whether individuals are conscious or not they are moving on this path of attaining liberation and uniting with the Divine. Dreams, when explored through journaling, asanas, cakras, meditation and a dialogue of images, body and meaning, serve to make us more conscious in facilitating the burning of our samskaras. When we adopt these practices we accelerate the speed of our journey towards greater self knowledge revealed in our dreams and waking positive intentions. Sarkar in his treatise on dreams confirms that “to have prescience of truth through the medium of dreams, it is necessary to have some control over one’s conscious and subconscious minds.” Besides the benevolence of our thoughts, words and deeds, the degree of control over our conscious and subconscious mind is greatly affected by what we do with our sensory and motor organs in a waking state. If we over-indulge in longing for the physical and mundane objects then we create crude psychic projections that become reflected in superficial and sensual dreams. We come to realize that life is short and requires moral courage to make maximum spiritual utilization of our moments waking, sleeping and dreaming.
One must not forget that while the range of self knowledge of dreams is greater than wakefulness, and the range of sleep, though static-like in nature, is greater than dreams, that these three states are relative truths. Only the fourth state of turiiya represents the absolute truth of spiritual truth of non-duality, attained by the sadhana (meditation and service) of total self surrender.
Dreams: Windows to Passion and Devotion
What follows are examples of individuals identifying and serving the “voice” of their intuition guided by the illumination of their dreams through the science of biopsychology and Gestalt dialogue.
Jill, 45 year old mother/yogiini: Jill shared a dream in which she saw herself outside around the deck and yard of her home associating with neighbors on the patio. She sees these large cats in her yard. She was asked to close her eyes and enter the dream recounting it as though it was happening in the present; speaking in the present tense. “There is this big cat, carnivorous cat. I am very afraid. As I look up, Oh no! There was a big cat finding its way into our backyard and it’s going to eat someone; I look up and there is a whole line of carnivorous cats, like in Africa, some striped. One comes up to me with his nostrils and sniffs my left hand. I want to pet that soft space on his nose – no fear, maybe a moderate amount of fear. The other cats are short, tall, fat, thin, different shapes, exotic. I feel vulnerable. Wow! It is really cool that this cat can be here sharing this space but not harming me. They say nothing to me. Their demeanor is full of dignity. They don’t need to say anything.” What do you say in your mind to the big cat? “When the big cat nuzzles my hand, I say, ‘That is far enough. This is good’.” “Implying what”, I ask? She says, “Good boundaries; I am happy with my territory; my home and family. I don’t need to go beyond here to find happiness.”
She was then asked to repeat the image in the present tense and observe what she felt in her body when she first saw the cats. She related that she felt tension and fear mostly in her chest and slightly in her stomach, not knowing whether she would be eaten or not. As she was asked to give a voice to what the cat was saying to her she said the cat was saying “You are OK, I’m just curious about you”. When asked what she felt in response to this message from the cat, she said she became more relaxed and less fearful. When asked what she wanted to say to the cat, she replied instantly, “That is far enough,” (laughing nervously). Asked what she felt in her body at that moment, she replied, “Breathing more easily, curiosity and wonderment about this cat.” “Curious like the cat”, I observed. “Yes, we are both curious but it is about good boundaries, safe boundaries.”
Jill reasoned that fear, anxiety and good boundaries in relationships were part of this dream’s messages and the voices were coming from within her, in that all parts of the dream were her creation and under her direction. She acknowledged that she overcame her fear when she set good boundaries and re-owned the power she had projected onto the cat. She identified with the cat’s curiosity and power to let her actions speak louder than her words. The cat she thought represented the path of self reflection, the power and the fear of self discovery, the divine inside that we don’t own.
To further balance the emotions of fear and anxiety, (adrenalin and breath control issues) surrounding her boundaries in relationships she agreed to practice heart cakra asanas (padahastasana, cobra, camel, bow, and brave pose) and explore meditative affirmations of the capacity to love others in a sensitive manner with good boundaries even in the most challenging of relationships. To deal with the nihilistic fears of being devoured (“eaten”) by forces within her or from without, she was asked to practice second cakra asanas – yoga mudra, cows head and head to knee. It was also suggested that she journal and create a dialogue among all the animate and inanimate entities in her dream; i.e. the patio, the backyard, the neighbor, her left hand that was sniffed by the cat, her chest (dialogue with her hand to chest/chest to hand); extending this dialogue to her closest relationships around unfinished business; first with journaling then direct conversations that practiced satya (benevolent truthfulness) and ahimsa (non-harmfulness). For owning her own voice and balancing the thyroid output associated with nervousness and sleep issues brought up, she was instructed to practice the shoulder stand and fish mudra.
Ramesh, 55 year old sadhaka (spiritual aspirant)/writer: Ramesh shares a dramatic transformational dream. “I am bitten by a large, dark snake on my right hand while lying in bed. I sit up and realize I’ve been bitten and see these two holes on the fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and forefinger. I fear having been bitten by a poisonous snake; then realize that it may not be a poisonous snake; it may be a non-poisonous black snake; I calm down and try to look around to see what kind of snake it was. Then I see a large, shining silvery snake, like a cobra standing up high. This powerful king of snakes is surrounded by many other small black snakes. I first have the emotions of fear and concern; then realize the snake probably is not poisonous. When I see the shiny, silvery color of the large snake, the feeling of fear gives way to a feeling of fascination and awe.”
Ramesh recalls the dream and speaks the voice of the large snake in the present tense: “I am my creativity, innate power, kundalinii, fearlessness; there’s always been an element of not following your dream or creative process; going from danger to fascination; idea of following your bliss, the creative process; shining silvery color represents rising of kundalini and fulfillment.” Black snakes represent doubts, fears and dispersion of energy.
Let the right hand with two holes speak. The hand says: “I have been bitten. I have two holes in my hand. I may lose my hand, die, not be creative anymore; not use this hand anymore. I see that there is no blood on this hand. It may not be a poisonous snake; it is painful but I can survive this time.”
“I have been asleep. This snake is saying: “I bit you because you have been asleep with your creative power, your writing. You need to wake up. You need to be more disciplined with your creative activity, your writing. It is not a dangerous bite. It is a wakeup call! I had to do this.”
“It is my deeper I, deeper spiritual self. There has to be oneness between thinking, feeling and action. I have to put all my creative dreams into action.” Ramesh smiles the smile of calm closure and completion.
He then thanks the facilitator for guidance in this dream work and as if compelled to share, recalls a lucid dream (aware of dreaming while in the dream) of being with his guru, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti:
“I am in a room with other meditators with my Guru giving a discourse. I think to myself, I don’t care what others feel, I am going to touch his feet. I rush forward and do sastaunga pranama (prostration pose) taking his feet in my hands, and I hear this sweet male and female voice from above me singing, “We love you, we love you, we love you”. It feels as if Shiva and Shakti, the primal forces of the universe are singing. Then Baba, (affectionate name for his Guru) puts His hand on my head, and I feel and see this golden light going through my spine and whole being; a psycho-spiritual explosion occurs from within. As soon as it happens, I am awake and sit up doing sadhana (meditation). This experience of kundalini continues as I’m doing sadhana; there is no effort, no mantra, no attempt at meditation, complete flow, lasting for a long time; the alarm clock goes off, breaks this energy; I get up to take a shower. I am staying in a friend’s house; walked out in the yard, sat under a cherry tree–everywhere is translucent; with eyes closed I see cherry tree; when eyes open everything is translucent; I have deep desire to always remain in this state; I close my eyes and meditate with a mantra; I meditate for several hours; for the next few days I remain in a telepathic state of mind; I return to my friend’s house and my friend proudly introduces me to his girlfriend, and I immediately know they are going to break up; later that afternoon she slips a note under the door saying she wants to break up because she can’t deal with his new spiritual practices, his new lifestyle.” He relates; “All of this lucid dreaming and waking flow state was in part influenced by the fact that my friend and I had stayed up telling stories of our spiritual master hour after hour that night before going to bed.”
The elements of biopsychology utilized above to elucidate the meaning of the shared dreams involved imparting an understanding of cakra’s psycho-physical nature connected with different parts of the body, meditative visualization on the spontaneous images of the dream, concentration on cakras, layers of the mind (kosas) and related body parts, living in the present in recreating the dream in the present tense and dialogue within aspects of the dream guided by a facilitator well versed in biopsychology and guidance of emotional work. It is the pause of the breath in pranayama that allows the yogic sixth sense, the pranendriya to deliver the content and meaning of the dream in both the sleep and waking states. The facilitator encourages the recall of the dream in the present tense in slow motion images (slow breathing with pauses) to support this sixth sense revealing the deeper meaning of the dream. The practice of pranayama increases the frequency of occurrence and the understanding of our true dreams.
With dreams that involve re-living intense trauma, more guidance is required to incrementally assimilate and transform the emotional nature of the material into friendly and palatable obstacles. These examples of dream work involve two individuals who are consciously on the spiritual path. Those with less calm minds may exhibit more chaotic dreams and may require more structured guidance. However the mind is insistent on healing itself and finding the guidance of the Beloved within. We are mediums becoming translucent vessels for universal love to fill us and pour this light into the world.
This dream work is inspired by the contributions of Fritz Perls Gestalt dream work in Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, Akhter Ahsen’s Eidetic Imagery, Carl Jung’s individual psychology and largely by P. R. Sarkar’s Biopsychology in Subhasita Samgraha Part 2, Idea and Ideology and Yoga Psychology. The space for this article limits discussing many details of the therapeutic process and psychophysiology foundations of the work. The author is available for further exchange with those interested in pursuing the content and process.
Sid Vishvamitra Jordan Ph.D. has combined a career as a licensed clinical psychologist and meditation and yoga teacher since 1971. As a clinical psychologist he taught psychotherapy and community psychology in the department of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC for 25 years. Since 1994 he has been working with others to develop a green intentional community on 140 acres north of Asheville, NC. He received training as an Ananda Marga yoga and meditation teacher (Family Acarya) in 1998 in India and is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. Presently he is the Executive Director of the Prama Institute, a seminar and retreat in Asheville NC, a Center of Neohumanist Studies, an affiliate of Ananda Marga Gurukula (AMGK). He teaches workshops on Tantric Psychology internationally. He is on the faculty of the University of North Carolina where he teaches yoga and meditation in the Department of Health and Wellness. He currently serves as the president of the board of AMGK Inc. in the US. He may be contacted at: Sid Jordan, Prama Institute, 310 Panhandle Rd, Marshall, NC 28753; email: sid.jordan1gmail.com
Shrii P. R. Sarkar
I exist, my Lord exists, and my search for His glamour, my search for His grandeur, is never-ending. I am moving unto Him, moving along a never-ending path. This search for the Great by the little is called mysticism. The fundamental point of spirituality depends on this mysticism. And when this mysticism, this outward existence of mysticism, coincides with the inner spirit of mysticism, the goal is reached: the unit becomes Cosmic.
And for the attainment of this status we have come here. We have come to this world, so our lives are not meaningless. Our everything is meaningful; and by our knowledge, by our action and by our sincerity, we will be increasing our meaningfulness from unit to Infinite.
2 June 1990, Anandanagar, Published in: Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 30