Self-Identification and Lucid Dreaming
By Mark Stavish
Edited by Alfred DeStefano, III
12 April 2017
Last week we suggested that you practice relaxing into the basic nature of your mind – the state of Being – through meditation on the statement “I am” and then resting in the silence that follows. By now you know that this practice – as simple as it seems – is not easy. Our minds want to constantly “fill in the blank” following the statement “I am” with a qualifier of some sort – e.g., we end up mentally saying “I am John” or “I am a parent.” These qualifiers reflect how we most strongly feel about ourselves and, over time, may turn negative; we may find ourselves saying “I am,” but hearing in our mind “I am stupid” or “I am poor.” All of these responses are important indications regarding where we need to direct our attention. This negative self-talk is destructive and limiting, yet it gives us insight into how we really feel about ourselves, others, and our life as a whole. The very obstacles we need to transform are thus clearly presented to us – given as a gift, if you will, by our own mind.
As we have mentioned previously, there are four basic approaches to the Path. They are not separate, and all can lead to Illumination (insight into the nature of reality) and Salvation (freedom from suffering). Many people will start on one and, over time, progress into one or more approaches. The approaches interrelate, so it is not as if a person must completely abandon one for the others. In fact, if done well, they will neatly build upon each other.
The stages or approaches are:
- Exoteric (outer) – collective worship – morality – duality – the Path of Negation.
- Esoteric (inner) – personal mysticism – understanding of scriptures – duality – the Path of Action.
- Initiatic (inner) – identification with forces – reenactment of the scriptures/myths – duality – the Path of Transformation.
- Secret or Supreme (inner) – self-realization – direct perception of reality as it is – non-duality – the Path of Being – the aim realized in the immediate moment and not as a far-off goal.
During the day, when you are going about your work, if an intruding thought, feeling, or emotion arises, simply relax and say, “I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.” You can even be more specific, e.g., “I have feelings of frustration, but I am not my frustration.” Then, to seal the work, always end it with the statement “I am” or “I am I.” So: say, slowly and just loudly enough to hear your own voice, “I have feelings of frustration, but I am not my feelings. (pause) I have feelings of frustration, but I am not my feelings. (pause) I have feelings of frustration, but I am not my feelings. (pause) I am. I am I. (pause)”
Now, the final statement “I am” is the key to our self-identity, and therefore the key to mastery of our lives.
Training ourselves to slow down and pause, to widen the gap between stimulus and response, is foundational to esoteric practices of any sort. Learning how to control our own mind, to experience a wide-ranging field of emotions and thoughts without being swept away by them is essential – particularly if we wish to enter into the domain of magical evocation, astral projection, or various forms of spiritual or psychic healing. It also provides us with an essential foundation for daily living, as we will be more relaxed, focused, and less easily disturbed by events and people around us.
At night, as we are preparing to fall asleep, it is critical that we undertake dream practices. It is through dreams that our initial journeys into the inner dimensions of our own mind take place. It is also here that we then begin to experience various collective psychic phenomena often called “planes” or “worlds.” Traditionally, these have also had names such as the “Empyrean World” or “heavenly realms.” Our dreams are our personal bridge between the physical and the spiritual, and ultimately between duality and unity. Just as meditation allows us to willfully enter into our unconscious during the day, so does dreaming allow us to do it naturally at night. By combining our daily meditations with our nighttime practices we begin to recognize the wholeness of our awareness.
Many people have stated that either they do not dream or that they do not remember their dreams, and feel frustrated when this topic is brought up. However, if you have been following the directions in Between the Gates: Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism (Llewellyn Publishing), you should have no trouble in this area. In fact, one of the easiest ways to induce dreams can also be used for meditation, and was introduced into several schools of traditional esotericism.
After you are relaxed, direct your attention to the back of your head, at the nape of the neck, or where the medulla oblongata is at the base of the brain. You do not need to visualize anything other than a simple clear sphere of luminous light at that point; it is even better if you imagine your consciousness to be within the sphere. Then say the following several times: “Tonight I will dream. I will know that I am dreaming, and will remember my dreams upon awakening.”
This practice will strengthen your meditative abilities, dreaming, recall, and general well-being. As such, it is no surprise that this area is often considered very important for both physical health and occult practices, as well as a point of vulnerability to psychic obsession and possession. It is very common for amulets, tattoos, and ritual clothing to cover this spot. Many of you may recall that the purple stole worn by Roman Catholic priests when they perform the Rite of Exorcism has a gold equal-armed cross that covers this area of the priest’s neck. This is mentioned not in order to scare you, but rather to reinforce for you the importance of this area in our psychic anatomy. In some schools of yoga, it is considered to be a psychic center ruled by the moon, and thus connected to dreaming and psychic visions – it is sometimes known as the “Talu” or “Lalaha” Chakra. A chakra of this same name is also ascribed to the palate, and is the center of “divine nectar” and the experience of vast spaciousness conferring the “Eight Siddhis” or esoteric accomplishments. These “siddhis” or accomplishments are an encapsulation of the totality of occult achievement, and are seen as foundational for the Four Greater Accomplishments which culminate in the creation or realization of the “Adamantine Body” or Rainbow Body in Vajrayana.
By performing the given practice, you will be creating an inner state of awareness that will also have a protective quality to it, so that there is no need to worry about any external psychic influences. This is important to mention because, if done correctly, at some point you will experience (to some degree) nightmares or even night terrors. This is actually a very good sign, and it means that you are becoming aware of deeper and more powerful aspects of your psyche. You may even experience them and yet NOT BE AT ALL EMOTIONALLY CONCERNED. This will be a result of your practice of the Dis-Identification exercise. You will be unmoved by what you see or experience in the depths of your own mind. This is very important for those who wish to go on to perform astral projection, Rising on the Planes, or ceremonial evocation.
As you practice the above technique, it is important to record your dreams and begin to decipher their meanings, so that you can learn to know what themes dominate your life. In the beginning this will typically be difficult and confusing, but it can be made to be clear, concise, and direct – that is, by taking the attitude of having a “conversation with ourselves,” we thereby speed up the process of self-revelation.
You may also practice the method during the day as a brief meditation. Relax and focus your attention at the nape of your neck; again, affirm that “Tonight I will dream, etc.” In doing so, we program our consciousness for future activity that is beneficial and desirable to us, and this begins to “thin the Veil” between mind and matter so that we may get a glimpse of the interconnectedness of things. Our daily experiences often generate the contents of our dreams, and our dreams in turn attempt to integrate our experiences so that we can function more consistently with our CHOSEN IDEALS. By consciously and attentively recognizing this link between our daytime and sleep experiences, we begin to integrate our inner and outer worlds.
Over the next few weeks we will continue our discussion of “self-identity” with a look at the Generation and Completion Stages of Tantric Yoga, Assumption of the Godform, and the Ideal Model in Psychosynthesis. But before that, we will explore the “Fall,” or the purpose of life itself, along with the liberating nature of sin and its incredible value on the Path of Return.