Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality
Working With Dream Themes: The Appearance of Deities in Dreams
One of the eye-opening experiences about dreams is that we may see a visitor from the divine realms in our nocturnal reveries. I think this happens more commonly that most people would let on, being reluctant to say in casual conversation something like, “I had a dream about Jesus last night.” Actually, this happened to me several times over the many years that I have been recording dreams and I am sure something similar can be said by anyone else who has been keeping a life-long dream journal.
Example: Two Dreams
In my case, long ago I had a dream about Jesus sitting by himself on center stage in an auditorium. The lighting was focused on him and he was looking out to the audience. That was all there was to the dream. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the dream meant. While I have always been a believing Christian, I was raised Catholic where there was a whole host of spiritual beings that were held in high regard starting from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the angels and archangels and then the Blessed Virgin and saints for every day of the week! Being named Frances, I even had my own guardian saint with about seven saints I could choose from who had the same name. While I loved the richness of the stories and traditions told about these figures, I didn’t have a special connection to anyone of these beings.
I fell away from practicing Catholicism due to that church’s stand on women in leadership positions. I continued to do “my own thing” by praying and meditating. As the years passed, however, I noticed that the energy I held around the figure of Jesus continued to increase. I started to pray more frequently to him. Later, I came to see that for me, Jesus was becoming “center stage” not only as a deity to believe in but as an avatar of a purposeful and loving life which would well be worth emulating.
A number of years afterwards, this spiritual trend in my life seemed to be confirmed by another dream I had of Jesus riding by on a donkey, going from the left to the right. Again, the dream did not have much other meaning at the time; however, when I felt called to the priesthood and was accepted in the training program of the Episcopal Church, I began to see the dream as pointing the way to my new career: priests are supposed to be the embodiment of Christ on earth. They go through life simply and lovingly, and usually don’t drive flashy cars.
For me, then, these two dreams of a divine being represented the growth of a spiritual energy within myself. I do believe that inside each one of us are avatars of energy reflecting the transforming values and beliefs we hold most dearly. We only need to nurture these energies in ourselves so that we too can go in the wonderful directions they are leading us. Who is your divine nocturnal visitor and where is that being leading you?
The Emergence of Lao Tzu, the Old Child
From my own experience, I believe the Inner Child is often rediscovered, acknowledged and healed under challenging and often frustrating conditions. It happens when something much greater than the ego, call it Soul or the Self with a capital “S,” is aroused itself like an enraged dragon, finding its very being questioned. Any catastrophe such as the loss of a dearly loved friend or relative, natural disaster, or major health issue has the power to awaken and shift deeper energies at the essential energy level of the person. This awakened energy creates irrevocable change. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy summed it up perfectly after being sucked up into the tornado, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The Kansas of the inner home is no longer there or is so badly damaged that any repair will only be a facsimile or the original. One is left with only the force and consequences of a new power which can be experienced in various ways such as profound emptiness or a terrible energy.
This force, aware that its constraining ego cage has been weakened, yearns for freedom. It begins to arouse itself, sometimes roaring and shaking to further tear the already incapacitated ego prison apart. The force initially manifests itself through its own growing pains as it breaks down the shallow sense of self that once had confined it and lulled it to sleep. The dying old self is filled with acute anxiety, anger or depression. What is ending; what is beginning?
If old age isn’t for sissies, then this process that makes one become like a child definitely is not for sissies. Unlike old age, it is a form of weakening deterioration which strikes at the core of how we view and process reality. Some may experience this suffering more acutely than others because everyone’s view and experience of the catastrophe is different. But bad as it is, it is nonetheless the blessing/wounding that can lead to the rediscovery, and recovery of the inner child, and can come as an fitting completion after life changing events.
Working With Dream Themes: Being Led Somewhere
One of the more common themes we find in dreams is being led somewhere by a dream guide. It may be a person we know, a spiritual being, an old man or an old woman or perhaps it is an animal such as a dog or a dolphin. For the most part, I personally find these dreams rather comforting because they usually come at a time of transition or just prior to transition, when I am feeling rather lost. A key to working with this kind of dream is to ask what the person or animal doing the leading means to me. What do I associate with this person or animal? What are their qualities or attributes? Why would they be leading me somewhere? What in my waking life would have prompted this person or animal to lead you?
Being Led by Thomas Merton
Fairly recently, I had a dream of being led somewhere by Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was an inspiration to many Catholics in my generation during the 60’s for his writings on spirituality, Buddhism and peace. He died an early death in 1968 while visiting in Thailand to dialogue with Buddhist monks. A great fan of his, I think I have read just about everything he ever wrote, and around 1980 even considered entering Trappist convent! Then, life took me in other directions and it was a long time before I even thought about Thomas Merton. So when I had this dream, it aroused my curiosity. However, even after some reflection, the dream didn’t seem to make much sense.
It was not until I planned to enter the priesthood training program sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii that meanings to this dream began to surface. While reflecting on what I could bring to the Episcopal priesthood in terms of experience and interest, my strong background in Buddhist studies and my interest in cross-cultural communication and inspiration suddenly came to mind. This is exactly what Thomas Merton was trying to do: bring the wisdom of Asian to Christianity so that we might learn ways to more profoundly experience spiritual truths for ourselves. I began to see this as something I might be called to do—especially working with average people who are not in monasteries to explore their own deep inner resources such as through intuitive meditation techniques and dreamwork. That I felt called to priesthood was just another common ground I shared with Thomas Merton. Now, I would like to think he is smiling down on me and guiding me as I continue on this fascinating and challenging journey! He knew a lot about being lost on journeys.
So I would ask you to think about the people and animals that have led you in dreams. Where are they taking you?
To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.
Opening a Path to the Personal Experience of God in Christianity
Traditionally, and very generally speaking, one of the major differences between Asian and Western religions is that Asian religions emphasized inner development as the way to spiritual growth and the Western religions emphasized the need for social action such as giving to and standing on the side of the poor. That is not to say the opposite wasn’t true; but in the West you usually would have to go to a monastery or nunnery to get real guidance on the interior path and in the East there were socially minded activists but they tended to be revolutionaries rather than religious leaders.
The lack of an interior path to spirituality that was readily available to the average person and didn’t include going into a highly structured monastic environment, was one reason why many Westerners stopped going to church and were drawn to the New Age Movement which is open to a variety of spiritual paths emphasizing personal inner development through the Asian methods of meditation, yoga and healthy eating practices. It is ironic that one of the persons who helped sparked the New Age Movement was Edgar Cayce who emphasized that each person had to find his own way. A devout Christian himself, he said that Christ was the model for all human kind and that each soul in its own way was seeking this ideal. But he also said that all religions would lead people to this end and that certain practices would greatly facilitate the process. Among these practices he advocated were the importance of:
- Being in a small spiritual reflection group where all were equals and that each person could support each other in an environment of respect. In such a group people could help each other to find their own unique paths. A religious leader would not be there to impose a doctrine or a set way, as is usually the case in Bible classes. Individuals would arrive at their own conclusions from materials read and discussed.
- Consistent and on-going dreamwork and intuitive meditation to understand the nature of one’s soul and its expression.
- Exercise and healthy food in the right combinations and portions as the best medicine.
I personally think that mainline Christian religions would be wise to incorporate these practices into their religious education classes, appropriately modified for the age group of the persons involved. What is sorely needed is an approach that entails the development of an interior spiritual life that anybody can do. These methods work; and they bring a personal experience of God at the profoundest levels. Unfortunately, and as a result of how religious instruction is done emphasizing textual knowledge and an intellectual understanding of the bible, many Christians have to face a personal crisis that knocks them off their horse before they have this kind of personal experience of the divine.
The Bible, Dreams and Spirituality
In Dreams: A Way to Listen to God Morton Kelsey says, “…the Church has developed no theory that can bring the spiritual world closer to human beings.” This is a powerful statement. One would think that it would be a primary function of Christian religions to do this. Instead, the mainline Christian churches have traditionally offered biblical and theological studies which provide intellectual and cultural understandings of Christianity, but have moved away from experiential forms of spirituality which might let us personally “taste and see” the glory of God. I think this is one reason so many people have left mainstream Christianity to explore yoga, meditation and other experiential approaches to connecting to something greater. Yet, as Kelsey points out in his book, dreams have always been part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and he heartily recommends using them as a spiritual methodology to bring the spiritual world closer to us.
It’s not like the spiritual world isn’t trying to contact us. It does so nightly in our dreams! But how few people make an attempt to remember their dreams, and of those who do, how few make it a practice to honor, record, reflect and learn from their dreams?
One only has to pick up a Bible and see the frequent references to dreams and the important role they played in shaping people’s lives. People who could interpret dreams, like Joseph and Daniel, were held in high esteem because it was thought that God spoke through dreams. In the Bible, the information received in dreams is shown to be very important such as in predicting times of flood or famine or helping a person in need. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was one of many who received an important message in a dream. He was told to not worry in taking Mary as his wife since the child she had conceived came in a most unusual way. All these characters in the Bible worked with and let dreams shape their lives—even when their lives depended upon it.
Perhaps, if we let God into our lives through our dreams, our lives would take on a much greater meaning and significance compared to the trivial and myopic views we hold in an uninformed waking life that is often driven by the demands of others as well as egoistic and material needs.
Visions: A Form of Healing Intuitive Awareness
These phenomena can be thought of as expressions of pure intuition, healing energy that breaks through when the veil between this world and other realities is made thin by the magnitude of a mind-bending reality a person is facing. The reality to be encountered can be traumatic such as life threatening surgery, a sexual assault, or death of a loved one. However, it may not necessarily be negative. It could be something profoundly wonderful such as the gifting of a special and life changing calling as Mary experienced with the visit of the Archangel Gabriel who heralded her role to be the mother of Jesus.
At these times, visions come to tell the distraught person that the overwhelming reality encountered is not all there is and will not have to be born alone—that something more abides giving comfort, love and insight. In Mary’s case, she was told she had found favor with God and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her.
Intuition Helps Us Plumb the Depths of Spiritual Paradox
To Take Either Side is to Miss the Mark
If we take the view that God alone saves and our part doesn’t mean much, we miss the point of the Deuteronomy 18:13 which enjoins, “You shall be perfect with the LORD your God,” and Matthew 5:48 which commands “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We open ourselves up to childish, narcissist thinking which entails the rules don’t apply to me so I don’t have to follow them. God becomes the big all-powerful parent who we can blame when things go wrong instead of owning the blame and power that rightly belongs to each of us as children of God made in the image of God. We humans have a tendency to blame God or the devil when we refuse to acknowledge our own power or responsibility to fix things. We need to grow up.
If we take the view that it is by our good works we are saved, as many good church-going people of all creeds do, then we open ourselves up to “do-goodism” that only has selfish benefits, we become prey to scrupulous thinking that doesn’t allow for spontaneous and genuine decision-making, and we begin to think we are better than other people because we do good. We need to be reborn as innocent children who don’t know the rules of right and wrong, who can’t read the sign that says “Don’t Walk on the Grass” and who really don’t care, knowing only they are loved by devoted and protecting parents.
The Center Point Holds the Power and the Tension
Real power lies at the center point of this continuum. I must act as if it all depends on me with the goal of not being perfect—because that is impossible and who is to say what perfection is—but with the goal of trying most perfectly to meet the needs of that person or situation as a responsible adult would do. It is a 100% effort full of humility and sincerity, with no game playing that seeks to “win,” unless it is a “win/win” for all. On the other hand, I must 100% let go of my attachments to my efforts. I must leave it all to God, trusting that it all depends on divine power. This is no easy task. It is a test to live so faithfully in paradoxical mystery; however, to act any less demeans our human dignity.
Lao Tzu: The Old Child
Intuition tells us these two truths must be held together. We have to be old and young at the same time like the ancient sage of China, Lao Tzu whose name means Old Child. It takes a lifetime of growing up and growing down to reach this level of understanding.
Class: Working With Healing Dreams and Intuition in the Tradition of Edgar Cayce
Edgar Cayce is considered by many to be the father of holistic medicine. This course will explore how Edgar Cayce intuitively diagnosed and healed, viewed dreams and intuition and show how his tradition continues today in the methods developed by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies.
Sponsored by the Osher Life Lifelong Learning Institute, Univ. of Hawaii
Instructor: Fran Kramer, Intuitive Heart™ Trainer, certified by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies. (2011)
Dates: June 12, 19 and 26, 2014
Time: 10:30 AM to Noon
Place: Honolulu, Hawaii. For specifics, inquire on registration.
To register call:
Rebecca Goodman, Director
Phone: (808) 956-8224
Luke 11: The Lord’s Prayer as a Chakra Visualization Meditation
Luke 11 begins with the Lord’s Prayer. Edgar Cayce, Dana Williams and Philip St. Romain, among others, have commented on the correlation of the seven chakras of Hinduism to phrases in the Lord’s Prayer. Here is my version of an extended Lord’s Prayer which makes a reasonable correlation to the seven chakras, perhaps in a different way suggested by others. The words in bold are either the original words to the Lord’s Prayer as it is often said in Christian communities or a close proximity with more added to show a correlation to a chakra. The words in italics suggest the chakra indicated with the suggested correlation in bold following.
Our Father Who Art In Heaven, help us to see that the greatest service we can give to others is to continually transform ourselves into clearer images made in your likeness. When we feel the emptiness inside, it is so tempting to seek without for the wealth, power, and recognition needed to help us feel more assured in our service to others. Instead, help us to see ourselves as we truly are: beings of light and energy already complete with our own God-given power, creativity and blessings which only need to be lit up brightly by Your love—and appreciated by ourselves.
(7th Chakra: Center for Spiritual Purpose)
In hallowing and making holy Your name we allow the fullness of Your grace to flood into us from Your home above into the top of our heads, making space for
(6th Chakra: Center for Spiritual Vision)
Thy kingdom to come inside our minds, and then…
(5th Chakra: Center for Decision Making and Communication)
Delightfully invade our throats so that we can commit to and make the most courageous proclamation possible: Thy Will Be Done, which is only to make us ever more like the impossibly loving, powerful and wise You.
(4th Chakra: Center for Joining the Energies Above and Below to Heal and Relate)
At this point You have gone further into us, invading our hearts like an insistent lover, truly commingling the divine with the human so we can truly say, “On earth as it is in heaven!”
(3rd Chakra: Center for Managing Power and Structure)
But because we need earthly bread and other good things as well as heavenly bread, we can now ask freely and confidently of you, “Give us our daily bread” to fill the aching stomach and other earthly wants and needs. As a lover, it is Your joy to grant our wishes.
(2nd Chakra: Center for Creativity within Boundaries)
Still your loving does not stop. It reaches further into our most creative places where we give life and make love prosper in our relationships. Here, the loving comes easy, but the temptation to trespass on others’ boundaries is great and the experience of being trespassed and betrayed is all too frequent, making us need to ask for the grace of forgiveness for ourselves and others.
(1st Chakra: Center for Security and Survival)
By now, You have thoroughly penetrated our innermost recesses even to the very bottom of our spines where Your loving presence seeks to cast out any remnant of temptation so that you may deliver us from all evil, and let us know the most blessed peace and well-being.
Now that You are so thoroughly within us, we are ablaze with light. Let us shine our light on each other and the world in our work and in our relationships with others. Let us send light and loving energy to all who are sick, lonely, and hurt by war. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever amen.
To learn more about methods of healing imagery, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.