Why do humans dream?
October is a time to eat, drink be scared for many. The focus is often on the stuff of nightmares, haunted houses, Halloween and lighter fare such as the comparison of candy hauls. Horror themed offerings are often popular during this time. Death can come at any moment for the characters in these films. However, I often prefer some comedy, sci-fi or psychological aspects mixed in to make it more entertaining.
When watching it all unfold on the screen, it may be plain to see the mistakes being made that ultimately hasten their demise. As terrifying or spine tingling as these films can be, I am more horrified by the languid pace of human development across generations.
Watching a movie of yourself so you could be shown how your failures were actually learning opportunities could be beneficial. Such a theater exists in the mind but many never get all the way to the conclusion. Dreams are intangible and such unknowns are often feared even when they don’t become nightmares. When not a matter of fear, there is apathy about the intangible which can be a barrier too.
Bravery, courage and valor are often conflated in today’s world. They’re not really synonymous though and none of these are simply about fearlessness. Bravery is a fast, instinctual reaction to fight than than flee from any perceived physical danger. Courage is not about facing predetermined conditions such as in a haunted house, horror movie or any other paid thrill seeking venue where the conditions are controlled. Many individuals would choose to face all these than to delve into the abyss of their inner shadow through introspection or experience a nightmare while inhabiting the dream world.
Courage is a slower, conscious decision to face uncontrolled chaos of the unknown and accept the inherent uncertainty that lies within. Courage draws upon one’s existing inner strength and resilience rather any physical attributes. Valor requires courage rather bravery, honor and so much more that it won’t be covered here.
To put it simply, the superficial nature of bravery is insufficient and without courage there can be no valor. An individual can be all three and truthfully none are these three are superior to the others unless judged by the ego. For example, it is a gross understatement to call those that have been on an actual battlefield and have survived merely brave. One might ask why are these conflations and oversimplifications so pervasive in society?
Much world is still stuck in the firm grip of the either/or and materialist mindsets. Compared to the length of time humans have lived in ignorance of the intangible world, the tangible world is less scary and much more familiar. One way forward may be through the adoption of the both/and paradigm. It offers a way to exist in both the realm of the tangible and intangible. This isn’t a new age way of thinking or a new paradigm. While having been around for centuries, its perception as inefficient in busy lives has meant it isn’t taught in the mainstream.
An either/or society makes individuals easier to manipulate, control and instill an us vs them mentality. The majority of media programming made available for consumption do these in ways that are so subtle that people might even deny that such consumption has any effect on their psyche. Trends and causes of collective groups during a particular time period are the mass market targets. Rather than jump to any conclusions of a conspiracy though let’s consider a more rational answer. Those that think differently are a minority and often aren’t the ones doing the programming which is why the status quo so rarely changes.
In this twenty first century world, it is time to accept that the intangible realm is just as real as the tangible, material realm. The both/and paradigm offer a way to accept the masculine and feminine energies as simultaneously existing in all humans. Both/and is how the head, heart and gut already collaborate via the vagus nerve.
However, holding space for two diametrically opposed concepts in a mind that that operates in terms of either/or has often resulted in explosive bouts of emotional reactivity especially in politically charged situations. The world wars were a polarizing catalyst for this change. The prevalence of the either/or mindset continues to encourages the war of women against men long after the important battles have already been won.
The either/or mindset often perceives reality through rigid dichotomies such as right / wrong or fair / unfair. One may even conclude that a single group or individual is deserving of blame. This is because the either/or mindset is only able to see sides rather than the whole.
For example, the patriarchy was never the all male oppressor that it was made out to be. For as long as women have been keeping other women down, they have helped ensure this myth stays alive in minds of many. As certain women flocked to embrace their masculine energy over the years at the expense of their feminine energy, they have paradoxically continued to play their supporting role in the patriarchy they’ve fighting against. Both energies are powerful in their own way and there is no need to choose to embrace one over the other. This epiphany came to me in a dream.
However, this ongoing battle still plays out in our modern times. Dreams aren't accepted as instruments of healing they can be. It is perhaps due to the indoctrination into the either/or mindset until one has matured to the point where the realization that this mental no longer serves us occurs. When this happens, one can stop fighting themselves or in other words get out of their own way.
Even the scientists of today still don’t know what the purpose of dreaming is or where consciousness comes from when we’re awake. If the benefit of something isn’t readily apparent then it may get automatically classified as useless due to the autopilot’s ignorance. Unless one consciously chooses to override this default, one’s opinion of useless things can even be projected outward onto people. Without any awareness of this, children may internalize this.
When I was a boy, I was a dreamer. By this, I am not referring to the disingenuous and co-opted term DACA Dreamer or the materialistic desires that have since become synonymous with the American Dream. The message I received both in my primary custodial home and school was to focus, pay attention, stop wasting time dreaming and gain employment. I am not the first nor will I likely be the last to receive this well-intentioned but antiquated advice. Dreams whether they occur at day or night are there moreto help us rather than just be a distraction.
Being naive, I eventually listened too well those who claimed dreams were purposeless and a waste of time. It wasn’t long after that I stopped being able to remember my dreams. The dreamer inside me got lost and eventually became shrouded in shadow. The dreamer became a doer only. Dreamers who don’t do never bring their dreams to fruition.
Doers that don’t dream rarely do anything that different that the status quo. The either/or mindset doesn’t work here while the both/and does. You need both to be the dreamer and the doer to bring something desired to fruition. The dreaming comes from the feminine energy and the doing comes from the masculine energy. Together, they’re a powerful, collaborative team.
Just as learning shouldn’t stop after one exits school, maturation is intended to be a lifelong process as well. Cognitive bias serves to reinforce beliefs that we already hold and may have served us well in the past. Dreams are there to show us the limiting beliefs that we’re ready to outgrow as we mature.
Dreams only seem random when examined with the rational mind. They communicate in signs, symbols, metaphors and synchronicity instead of any language one might expect. Trying to interpret them is the first mistake and doing so can be like playing a game of charades with the subconscious.
The cognitive mind expects order but dreams are chaotic, non-linear and timeless. Dreams must be experienced layer by layer. Curiosity allows one to go deep into the dream layers rather than the superficial message that logic may reduce the experience down to in order to make sense of it. Dreams can offer us the balance we didn’t know we needed in a dictatorial world of thought. Dreaming and thinking are both important. It’s not choice of either/or but both/and.