What Dreams Mean

M1, To ask what dreams mean is to imbue them with a credibility and a function that I believe many people also think they deserve.

But dreams are personal, so I can only really tell you about my personal experiences, and then I can only tell you what I can remember when I have recently woken up from a dream. The waking experience itself can be a jolt as I re-emerge back into reality, so looking back on a dream is already with the knowledge that I am no longer dreaming.

Of course, I can know I am dreaming within a dream too, but I can only report that fact when I have woken up. And who knows, I may have simply dreamed it all, including the moment of realization that I was dreaming, and dreamed too that I had some element of control over the rest of that dream.

But I think I am not alone in my experiences.

These thoughts follow on from my post on Is Lucid Dreaming Real?

Long, Long Ago

Even back over two thousand years ago, people were wondering what was more real, dream or reality. For example, in China did the philosopher Chuang Tzu dream that he was a butterfly or did the butterfly dream he was Chuang Tzu? Even worse, when he was dreaming that he was a butterfly, he was certain, but when he awoke as Chuang Tzu, he was uncertain and questioned his experiences.

For Me

What I want to say is that we generate everything in a dream by ourselves. In fact, a dream is distinct from waking reality in that when we are awake we are receiving inputs from the real world all the time.

So I would like to say that we are only who we truly are when we are unfettered as we are in a dream.

In real life, we can always say that we thought this or did that because the outside world impacted on us. But in a dream only we are responsible for everything we see or do. So look to your dreams if you want to know who you truly are. And whether acceptable or not, try to accept the responsibility for all your dream actions and thoughts, because they can come from nowhere else except ourselves.

As Nietzsche says about what dreams mean in his book The Dawn of the Day:

“Nothing contains more of your own work than your dreams!  Nothing belongs to you as much!  Substance, form, duration, actor, spectator—in these comedies you yourself are the actors! “

This does not change in a lucid dream either, where we are aware that we are dreaming and take some control of our dream. Again we are responsible for all that we do or think whether consciously or unconsciously.

Perhaps in the dream state, it is the only time we are truly responsible. This realization alone will help you to think of dreams very differently because we all do very strange things in our dreams. Getting to know our dreams is truly getting to know ourselves.

States of Dream

If you want to know what dreams mean then I also need to mention Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. In this text, Nietzsche says that when we are dreaming we are experiencing an aspect of ourselves that is the source of our creativity. He also acknowledges that we are always aware that we are dreaming in order to experience the dream, but if not lucid, we may be caught up in our dreams what he calls a Dionysian ecstasy. This is where we are at our most irrational and bordering on a state of drunkenness. Here the distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’ dissolves in the way of the dewdrop melting into the ocean. This is also called the state of primordial unity.

He also acknowledges that we are always aware that we are dreaming in order to experience the dream, but if not lucid, we may be caught up in our dreams what he calls a Dionysian ecstasy. This is where we are at our most irrational and bordering on a state of drunkenness. Here the distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’ dissolves in the way of the dewdrop melting into the ocean. This is also called the state of primordial unity.

Here the distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’ dissolves in the way of the dewdrop melting into the ocean. This is also called the state of primordial unity.

He also acknowledges that we are always aware that we are dreaming in order to experience the dream, but if not lucid, we may be caught up in our dreams what he calls a Dionysian ecstasy.

This is where we are at our most irrational and bordering on a state of drunkenness. Here the distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’ dissolves in the way of the dewdrop melting into the ocean. This is also called the state of primordial unity.

At the other end of the spectrum, there can also be the state of Apollonian beauty, where there is often the first light of an awakening consciousness. For Nietzsche, this is the state of beautiful forms and of symbolism. This is like a rebirth where we sometimes see a bright light followed by a beautiful goddess or maybe an Apollonian god. This can be a heavenly experience.

In between these states, there can also be the state of the nightmare, where there is fear, terror, a chase, and violence combined with pain and suffering. These can be more Hellish experiences.

Likewise, any attempts to mix these Dionysian and Apollonian moods are toxic. Dionysus came as destroyer and creator without the cultural safeguards. Apollo brings high ideals and cultural rules. But as individuals, Dionysus and Apollo are both welcomed and admitted together into the pantheon of the Greek gods, just as waking and dreaming work together but separately in our lives.

Here lucid dreams need a fine balance of the two, which is why a lucid dream is a skittish state for most of us.

The Impact of Dreams

These dream experiences can often underlie the whole life-moods of people and color the way they see the world so much that they form the very bedrock of their core beliefs. These beliefs then guide and control people’s attitudes to their entire lives.

See more on Dream Meaning

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One thought on “What Dreams Mean

  1. Pingback: The Meaning of Your Dream – Dream4fun

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