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  • 2004
  • Lesser-Known Byways of the Dream Zone (Astral Plane)

Lesser-Known Byways of the Dream Zone (Astral Plane)

AC 238: September 21, 2004 (Boston)

I’m in a food court with a close friend. We’re looking over the items offered for breakfast. We sit down at a table and a waitress comes to take our order.

I already have a loaf of bread. I order juice. The waitress asks if that’s all I want. There doesn’t seem to be anything else I need.

I’ve been working on my relationship with this friend in recent dreams. The present dream seems to be saying that I don’t need to do any more work here.

The dream suggests that I’m loafing around (the loaf of bread), exploring the Dream Zone. In a food court, it’s possible to pick up anything I might need for physical sustenance. In a similar way, the Dream Zone provides anything I might need for spiritual sustenance.

The dream appears to be telling me that I’m browsing for dreams to take with me into the waking world to “have” for breakfast. (I ordinarily spend about an hour after breakfast writing down and interpreting my dreams.)

I could use some information on how to keep my energy level up during the present period of great busyness. So, I place an order for juice (energy or life force).

I’m a little restless in the dream and tell my friend that there’s a place further back in the food court that’s more likely to have what I need. We leave before the order comes. My friend disappears at this point, since he’s no longer required as a focal point for the dream.

I head farther back into the food court (deeper into the Dream Zone). Soon, I arrive at the café that I mentioned earlier to my friend. This café resembles one in Harvard Square called Café Paradiso. It has black and white tiles on the floor and serves Italian ices.

This café represents a portion of the Dream Zone that has to do with the emotional volatility that results from seeing things in black and white terms (the floor tile). The Italian decor refers to the stereotype of Italians as having fiery tempers. The name of the café represents the paradisal state that can result when we’re able to free ourselves from such thinking.

I look around the café, but don’t see anything I need there. I begin to head for the men’s room. In my dreams, the men’s room is often a symbol of the need to release pent-up anger (the feeling of being pissed off at something or someone). Because I don’t seem to need anything from the Italian café, with its black and white tile, it appears that the anger I need to release is not the result of black and white thinking.

On my way to the men’s room, I find myself in a busier area of the food court (or Dream Zone). The many people passing through in a hurry are getting breakfast foods to go.

I see a woman waiting at a table with a bag of donuts in front of her. Writing on the bag says “A Gift from Eknath Easwaran.”  The woman ignores the gift, apparently not believing that it’s for her. Meanwhile, she waits for her order to come. I pass her, on my way to the bathroom.

Spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran writes about an eight-point meditation program that has the potential to provide people with all the energy they’ll need to get through a busy day. So, this dream is a response to my order for juice in the previous one.

I’m currently reading a book by Easwaran on the Beatitudes called Original Goodness . Donuts are breakfast food, a symbol of dream information to chew on over breakfast. The word is also a pun, meaning information on what not to do (donuts equals do nots) in order to maintain a the highest possible level of energy throughout the day.

The busyness of this area of the food court suggests both that busyness is the overall subject of this area of the Dream Zone, and that lots of people (Dreamers) are taking in information on this subject before they awaken to begin their day.

The woman waiting for her order is dressed like a wealthy socialite. She has put a lot of time and energy into how she dresses, her coiffure and makeup. She doesn’t look to me like the type who would be interested in meditation. Indeed, she ignores the bag of donuts with Easwaran’s name on it.

Easwaran makes the point that we’re taught to identify ourselves with our bodies, rather than the deeper self or soul within. One symptom of over-identification with the body is paying too much attention to one’s appearance. I occasionally fall into this habit when I become concerned about gaining weight.

I don’t eat donuts, but I do have a sweet tooth. Perhaps the dream is teasing me. If I didn’t eat sweets, I wouldn’t be worried about my weight, and that would reduce a certain amount of mental and emotional traffic (busyness), creating a quieter, more meditative consciousness.

In Easwaran’s books, in particular Take Your Time, I’ve read about things not to do, so that the mind slows down, creating  a clearer consciousness and a higher level of energy. But the dream suggests that I’ve been ignoring his advice.

On the way to the men’s room, I pass a side room that’s different from the largely open area of the food court. This room is a cube with white walls, hardwood floors, and no furnishings--except for mirrors on the walls, as in a dance studio, and a few potted plants.

A Tibetan Buddhist teacher is sitting on the floor with a small circle of eight students. He’s dressed in white robes, rather than the saffron-colored ones that I associated with Tibetan lamas. I join the group.

The teacher is working with a woman, using her as an example for the benefit of others in the group. The woman seems to be a highly emotional type, quick to anger, extremely reactive, and not aware of the effect that her discharges have on other people.

Once this anger has been discharged, she seems to forget that she ever felt it. But the people whom she discharges this anger on, and who have suffered from it, often want to speak to her about it. When they approach her and say something about her behavior, she doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

“So, what’s the problem, here?” the teacher asks, looking directly at me.

“You could say that she’s full of spirits,” I explain. “But I don’t mean the spirits of people who have passed on. In her interactions with other people, her energy field is too open. It takes on bits and pieces of what other people think about her, which act as constant sources of irritation.

“Just as the friction between dust particles in a cloud can lead to a buildup of static electricity that will eventually be discharged in a bolt of lightning, so do other people’s opinions about her rub against her opinions about herself. The result is that irritation builds up into anger and eventually discharges itself in some form of acting out.

“She’s not aware of the cause of the buildup, since it may not have its origin in a particular incident or problematic relationship. This is why she can’t talk about it afterwards.”

“Very good,” the Tibetan teacher said. “And what’s a better way of discharging such anger, so that it doesn’t have a negative effect on the people in one’s family, work, or love life?

“Well,” I respond, “the most important thing is to prevent such charges from building up in the first place. That requires closing the energy field when you’re in emotionally volatile situations. You also need to place yourself beyond being affected by what other people think of you.

“In most cases, what other people think about you has nothing to do with who you are. Rather, it has to do with who they need you to be as a reflection of their own growth issues.”

[Clearly, this dream lesson is about reflections, hence the mirrors on the wall. The potted plants symbolize the ways in which other people’s opinions of us can limit our growth, just as pots can bind the roots of plants and limit their growth.]

“The best way to discharge such friction when it has built up,” I continued, “is to create a dream situation in which it’s possible to release it. There’s usually no harm in mistreating dream characters.

“Or, if you’re a lucid dreamer, you can allow a discharge of this nature to take place simply by asking for it. In that way, you do no harm to anyone alive in the world, and no damage to any aspect of yourself that might be represented by a dream character.”

I demonstrated by raising my right arm high in the air, imitating a lightning rod. Suddenly, a wave of emotional intensity passed through my physical body, lying in bed. I felt a jolt and my body flopped on the bed in response, which woke me up.

After using the bathroom and checking the clock--it was 4:30 A.M.--I returned to bed. The next dream developed immediately. Once again, I seemed to be unusually aware of my presence in the Dream Zone. A voice was speaking to me, interpreting symbols from the previous dream.

“The individual you saw as a Tibetan Buddhist teacher was actually a Facilitator in the Dream Zone. You saw him as a Tibetan because he teaches what could be called ‘Dream Yoga,’ a discipline taught by some branches of Tibetan Buddhism.

“You were in a Dream Yoga studio. The purpose of Dream Yoga is to help people who really want to learn in the dream state master the skills necessary to do so. The class was small because few people in your busy world are interested in mastering the dream learning process.

“The teacher is what you could call a Human Resources Facilitator. By ‘human resources,’ we mean the resources that are available to you as human beings to aid your growth--especially the less understood ones that are available in the Dream Zone.

At this point, I found myself on a low mountain. In the distance, I could see a university campus that resembled the University of Illinois. The U of I straddles the towns of Champaign and Urbana. I could see that, in a similar way, the Dream Zone straddles two other zones, waking life (the physical plane) on one side, and the Afterlife (the mental plane) on the other.

The Dream Zone, like the U of I campus, abuts a major thoroughfare. In the case of the U of I, this thoroughfare is called Green Street. In a similar way, passage through the Dream Zone involves growth, which is commonly symbolized in my dreams by the color green.

I turned to look in the other direction and saw a radio tower. It was next to a fire tower on the summit of the hill. A  road wound down the opposite side, past clusters of pine trees and open areas of grass. The grass was a peculiar shade of light green, such as I’ve sometimes seen in mountainous areas. The voice continued.

“We want your next book to be about such Human Resources. The book will involve exploring lesser known byways of the Dream Zone. Hence, it will be a field guide to the scenes, dwellers, and phenomena of the Dream Zone; just as your other two books primarily dealt with the scenes, dwellers, and phenomena of the Afterdeath Zone.

“The Dream Zone is a vast nonphysical plane whose purpose is to support the growth of human consciousness, both individually, and en masse. Most people travel within it on well-known routes that give them little or nor awareness of the vastness of this zone and the ways that it can support their growth. They’re like people who drive through the vast national parks of the western United States but never venture beyond the road into the back country. You’ll be exploring the back country.”

I was now on the back side of the hill, which must have represented the back country. The voice continued.

“In the Dream Zone, the environment is entirely shaped by your level of lucidity. The most basic level of lucidity in dreams is represented by the Food Court that you recently experienced.

“In this level of lucidity, people’s daily life and their reactions to it order up and produce dreams that help them process it. The procedure is often so automatic that most people fall asleep, dream, and wake up with no awareness of the Dream Zone environment, even if they make a point of remembering their dreams.

“The rare individuals who begin to pay serious attention to their dreams become aware of this portion of the Dream Zone as a school or university, a place of higher learning, a cinema complex or convention center full of seminars, or a workshop or retreat center. You’ve seen it both as a university and as a food court because you’re becoming aware of how you order up your own dreams, based on what could be called the spiritual food of insight.

“In the lesser known areas of the Dream Zone, you may be able to receive broadcasts such as this one that are both general and specific. They’re general in that they represent a need of humanity as a whole to become more aware of, and able to use, the resources of its spiritual heritage. Many of these resources have been forgotten because of the ever-increasing pace of life and the amount of science-based information that floods your waking consciousness.

“Anyone who achieves a certain level of knowledge about dreams and lucidity within the Dream Zone may tune in and respond to such a broadcast, as you’re doing now. Doing so can fire you up, inspire you to make educating others about the Dream Zone a part of your life purpose.”

At this point, I was passing the radio and fire towers. Then I headed down the winding road. After a short interval, I came to a small settlement that reminded me of a village in Switzerland. Several years ago, I stayed there in a four-hundred-year-old chalet. The broadcast continued.

“At one time, when humanity was less mobile, there were villages in the Dream Zone, replicas of the communities in which people lived. These villages allowed a community to dream together how they would respond to communal issues, including threats and opportunities for growth. Disasters and tragedies that developed within such communities could be processed there, both individually and en masse.”

“At one time,” the voice had said. I began to wonder whether the four-hundred-year-old chalets I was seeing indicated that the kind of village dreaming the voice was speaking about fell out of favor as long ago as that.

Now I was further down the road, passing a lone outpost--a combination of post office and general store, such as one might see in a rural area in Alaska. The voice continued.

“Now, only remote communities are connected in the Dream Zone in this way. Most communities are too broken up. The people in your neighborhood just don’t know who you are anymore, and can’t use the Dream Zone in this way. Occasionally, someone gets a dream message intended for the mass consciousness of an area, but there’s no one to take it to and share it with.

“This village-oriented aspect of the Dream Zone keeps churning out messages about how each family unit, community, region, nation, and the world at large, should deal with events such as war, hurricanes, senseless deaths, and so on. But, in most cases, no one is skilled enough as a Dreamer to get beyond the personal issues that come up in the Food Court variety of dreaming. So these messages about living, learning, and growing in harmony and cooperation with other human beings--not to mention the other creatures who inhabit your world--simply don’t get through.

“Sad to say, regional and national disasters and tragedies more or less force people to work and think together for a while --but only until the difficulties on the physical or emotional plane are no longer seen as urgent as those deriving from one’s quest for personal happiness. Few people seem to hear and respond to the call of community building from the Overseers when no threat to their pursuit of personal happiness is perceived.”

Still farther along the road, I came to a point where it ended at a strange house at the base of a cliff. Next to the cliff there was a deep pool of water, so dark as to be almost black. It reminded me of ponds I’ve seen at New England granite quarries.

The house was large, one-story, built in ranch style, with two wings on either side of a large central living room that seemed to be outfitted for a workshop. But the place was empty.

The front wall of the room, which contained a large picture window, was constantly rotating like the huge revolving door at the entrance of a Boston hospital I’ve visited. The hospital door consisted of two large bays for people to walk through, and two display areas full of freshly cut and beautifully arranged flowers. There were display mounts for flowers in the door to the dream house, but they were empty.

Just as I arrived at the house, I saw a man throw some fishing tackle into the back of a station wagon parked on the other side of the house. He drove off along a deeply rutted driveway while the voice continued to speak.

“On the subject of the personal pursuit of happiness: There are areas of the Dream Zone designed to enable the growth, flowering, and appropriate display of any conceivable talent. Such areas of the Dream Zone would immediately welcome anyone who sought them out. Their purpose is provide people with whatever information might be needed at any stage of realizing their abilities.”

I understood that the speaker was referring to the house, workshop room, and revolving entrance display.

“But these areas of the Dream Zone go almost entirely unused. They remain fresh, despite their apparent abandonment. Yet the depths of depression encountered in so much of the population of America, and other industrialized nations, is a sign of how little known and understood these portions of the Dream Zone are.”

I understood that the speaker was now referring to the deep quarry-like pond with its nearly black water.

“In many cases, depression is the result of not knowing what your talents are, or how to realize them, or not understanding how important it is to do so--because of values that rate sensual pleasure over spiritual satisfaction.

“The fact is, for every conceivable rut [the deeply rutted driveway] that you might find yourself in, there’s a portion of the Dream Zone that specializes in helping you get beyond it--if only you would realize that this is true.

“So, we would like your next book to be about the ways that your fellow human beings can tap into the vast resources of the Dream Zone to help them realize their full potential in every area. There’s only one thing that might stand between people and using the Dream Zone in this way.

“Most people have an idea of what will make them happy and stubbornly hold onto it--even if, from the soul’s perspective, what they think will make them happy lies in the opposite direction from their true growth needs. All sorts of problems develop in their lives to force them to let go of this fixed idea about what will make them happy. But, often, only a life-threatening crisis will get them to question this idea of happiness and consider other alternatives.

“This obsession with happiness causes many people to forget their dreams, which are often about the need to let go of it. Most people will only remember dreams that seem to support their obsession or that are outrageously bizarre--a sign of the soul’s desperate attempts to get their attention.

“If your readers want to avail themselves of the adventures in consciousness that are possible in the Dream Zone, the first thing they’ll need to do is stop fishing for evidence that the soul supports them in activities and opinions of themselves that may block their growth.

“Your readers must be willing to take the risk of seeing their lives form the soul’s perspective, no matter the degree to which the soul’s perspective may seem to differ from their own. Then, and only then, are the vast human resources of the Dream Zone likely to become available to them.

“The more willing you are to be guided by your dreams, the deeper you’ll be able to go into the Dream Zone. But you’ll have to leave your ideas about who and what you are at the Boundary between waking life [the physical plane] and the Dream Zone [the astral plane]. What you learn in the Dream Zone will absolutely transform these ideas.

“Dreams are riskier than you think. They support your growth, but often at the expense of personal comfort. Just remember, comfort is the enemy of growth. No true adventure is ever comfortable.”

A couple of weeks after I had this projection experience, I came across a Seattle Times news item posted on the Internet. A seventeen-year-old girl who had been missing for eight days was discovered, still alive, in her crashed car, about a hundred and fifty feet down a heavily wooded ravine on a remote rural road. At the time of her discovery, after days of fruitless searching, her family nearly believed that she was dead. The police called her a runaway.

The young woman, Laura Hatch, had a friend, whose mother dreamed several times of the wooded area, while hearing a voice that said “Keep going, keep going.” The mother and daughter drove along back roads in the area until they found a place that felt right, spotting the car after scrambling over a concrete barrier and inching down a steep, heavily overgrown slope.

The woman who had the dream and made the discovery was part of a church group that had held several prayer vigils for Laura Hatch, also a member of the church. Some Internet commentaries saw the discovery as a sign of the power of prayer, which it no doubt was. But, as a result of my adventure in the Dream Zone, I also saw it as an example of village dreaming. There was enough community connection and belief in dreams, at least on the part of the woman who made the discovery, for Laura Hatch’s life to be miraculously saved, despite her family’s loss of hope and the sheriff office’s misdiagnosis of the problem.

Think how different life would be if we were all part of communities working for the common good of each member, full of people who pay attention to, share, and act on our dreams.