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The Evolution of Consciousness Through Dreams

By   /  January 1, 2011  /  No Comments

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Anonymous Gnostic Illuminati

Humans currently have two basic types of consciousness: waking consciousness and sleeping (dream) consciousness. But imagine that thousands of years ago these were actually mixed. Ancient humans were neither awake nor asleep but in a liminal state in between, a hybrid state – a kind of waking dream. Wouldn’t that explain why humans were so religious back in the day? If you dreamt of a god or an angel, and this then mixed in with your waking consciousness, you would naturally be convinced gods and angels were real, wouldn’t you? Imagine that humans were “word-suggestible”, i.e. to suggest something to them was to immediately make them think of it and to picture it and reify it.

Thus hallucinated content was not distinguished from “real” content but always blended with it, and taken to be on a par with it and every bit as real. After all, what means was there to differentiate the one from the other? So, Moses – looking at a burning bush – started to have auditory hallucinations and deemed they were originating from the bush. He took the bush to be a manifestation of God. But all of this was happening in his head, not in reality. However, he told others and they, being as suggestible as he was, immediately believed him. To put it another way, “lies” were much more ambiguous in the ancient world. If anyone reported a vision, no one accused them of lying. They took it as an authentic message from the gods which had to be interpreted.

Nietzsche wrote, “Either one does not dream, or one does so interestingly. One should learn to spend one’s waking life in the same way: not at all, or interestingly.” It’s time the mediocre followed this advice. Being mediocre is unacceptable. Every human must strive to be exceptional, optimized, of the highest possible quality.

Nietzsche wrote, “In the dream … we have the source of all metaphysics. Without the dream, men would never have been incited to an analysis of the world. Even the distinction between soul and body is wholly due to the primitive conception of the dream, as also the hypothesis of the embodied soul, whence the development of all superstition, and also, probably, the belief in God. ‘The dead still live: for they appear to the living in dreams.’ So reasoned mankind at one time, and through many thousands of years.”

If dreams and waking were once merged in a single state then to see the dead in a dream was to see them in real life too. This would certainly have fostered a religious and spiritual outlook.

Nietzsche regarded the dreaming self as modern man’s link to primitive humanity, as a suggestible, irrational, hallucinatory, atavistic remnant of the pre-rational human mind.

We can imagine four scenarios: 1) Waking and Dreaming separated; 2) Waking and Dreaming merged; 3) Waking-only consciousness; 4) Dream-only consciousness.

Today, people belong to category 1). In the past, they belonged to category 2). Insane people are those in category 4). As for category 3), there is a condition called aphantasia where a sufferer does not possess a functioning “mind’s eye”, meaning that a person cannot visualize imagery.

One sufferer of aphantasia wrote, “Generally people who cannot visualize don’t dream visually either. I probably have the worst aphantasia – absolutely no visual experience, but I still dream, just without any visuals. I describe it as dreaming in concepts, I know what’s happening, I just can’t see any of it occurring.”

Isn’t that extraordinary? – dreaming without visuals, dreaming in concepts. Such a way of dreaming could be a path to the very highest conceptual knowledge – pure mathematical concepts, pure reasoning, pure absorption by the Principle of Sufficient Reason itself.

As a counterpoint, another sufferer of aphantasia wrote, “So when I close my eyes nothing happens. Imagining most things is very difficult and I feel a bit stupid sometimes when I simply am stumped at recalling all sorts of stuff. How is it then that my dreams are so realistic and fully formed that I have to remind myself in the dream that it’s not actually happening? I make worlds appear, characters come to life, detailed spaceships as big as cities slowly crashing into planets, stories that shock me and some stuff so detailed that, again, I stop in the dream and look up thinking ‘my brain is making this up, it must be fucking amazing to be able to do this.’ And not just once in a while either: every week at least. How does my sleeping brain manage this so spectacularly yet I can’t visualize a sunset with my eyes closed when I’m awake? Anyone else have this and some tips on getting some of the subconscious stuff into my waking state?”

Isn’t that amazing? Everything is a spectrum condition, and we are all somewhere on the dreaming and visualization spectrum.

If we associate the dreaming mind with intuition and the waking mind with its opposite (sensing), then we can imagine that autistics have poor quality dreams or no dreams at all, since they are so geared up for seeing external sensory images generated by “the world” rather than internal intuitive images generated by the unconscious.

The first commentator said to the second, “So if you have visual dreams but no waking imagination, perhaps practice a little with imagining shapes, etc. and see if you actually can. … If you can do it in your dreams, you must be able to do it in your wakeful state. So it must be a matter of practice. For me, without visual dreams or waking state, I feel like I couldn’t do it no matter how much practice I had. But the thing is, I don’t think anyone knows for sure. This stuff needs to be studied so we can have definitive answers.”

A third person wrote, “My dad doesn’t have aphantasia but he cannot visualize in color but he can visualize colors in his dreams, so I have come to the assumption that maybe that part of our brain works better while asleep.”

Some people – intuitives – have a strong mind’s eye. Others – sensing types – are likely to have a much weaker mind’s eye and, in some cases, even a non-existent mind’s eye, hence cannot visualize anything. They need external sense organs to have sensory experiments whereas intuitives have potent internal sense organs, i.e. they can vividly perceive internally generated content rather than external content created by the world at large. Aphantasia is often linked to autistic spectrum disorder.

Nietzsche wrote, “The function of the brain which is most encroached upon in slumber is the memory; not that it is wholly suspended, but it is reduced to a state of imperfection as, in primitive ages of mankind, was probably the case with everyone, whether waking or sleeping. Uncontrolled and entangled as it is, it perpetually confuses things as a result of the most trifling similarities, yet in the same mental confusion and lack of control the nations invented their mythologies, while nowadays travelers habitually observe how prone the savage is to forgetfulness, how his mind, after the least exertion of memory, begins to wander and lose itself until finally he utters falsehood and nonsense from sheer exhaustion. Yet, in dreams, we all resemble this savage. Inadequacy of distinction and error of comparison are the basis of the preposterous things we do and say in dreams, so that when we clearly recall a dream we are startled that so much idiocy lurks within us. The absolute distinctness of all dream-images, due to implicit faith in their substantial reality, recalls the conditions in which earlier mankind were placed, for whom hallucinations had extraordinary vividness, entire communities and even entire nations laboring simultaneously under them. Therefore: in sleep and in dream we make the pilgrimage of early mankind over again.”

So, for Nietzsche, dreams are a time machine, a portal that takes us back to our primitive roots when we were much less good at separating dreams and reality.

The waking mind is shaped by external content, by materialism. The dreaming mind is shaped by internal content, by idealism. Materialists see the world as a lifeless machine, or cosmic casino. The ancients saw it as a living organism, full of minds and spirits (animism). That is consistent with dream content being accepted as real. In a dream, you could easily imagine talking to a bush, but not in waking reality. A dream mind invariably puts mind into everything, hence is animistic. A waking, sensory mind – such as that of an autistic scientist – can’t even begin to comprehend animism. For them, everything is lifeless matter with no mental content. They even end up applying that belief to themselves and portray themselves as mere biological material machines, devoid of free will. Animism is all about choice. Autistic scientism denies that choice exists at all.

Imagine people with no mind’s eye telling people with a mind’s eye that the mind’s eye does not exist, that there is no evidence for it, hence there is evidence of its absence. That’s what autistic followers of scientism are effectively telling the world. The truth is that these people are mentally impaired. They have defective brains. Never listen to them.

An animistic worldview is sure to be the origin of superstition and religious mythologies. Yet this same worldview, when transformed into mathematics, can reveal the mental secrets of mental existence.

Nietzsche wrote, “Everyone knows from experience how a dreamer will transform one piercing sound, for example, that of a bell, into another of quite a different nature, say, the report of cannon. In his dream he becomes aware first of the effects, which he explains by a subsequent hypothesis and becomes persuaded of the purely conjectural nature of the sound. But how comes it that the mind of the dreamer goes so far astray when the same mind, awake, is habitually cautious, careful, and so conservative in its dealings with hypotheses? Why does the first plausible hypothesis of the cause of a sensation gain credit in the dreaming state? (For in a dream we look upon that dream as reality, that is, we accept our hypotheses as fully established). I have no doubt that as men argue in their dreams to-day, mankind argued, even in their waking moments, for thousands of years: the first causa, that occurred to the mind with reference to anything that stood in need of explanation, was accepted as the true explanation and served as such… In the dream this atavistic relic of humanity manifests its existence within us, for it is the foundation upon which the higher rational faculty developed itself and still develops itself in every individual. Dreams carry us back to the earlier stages of human culture and afford us a means of understanding it more clearly.”

When we dream, we can bring back any episode in our life. In other words, our dreaming self contains vestiges of every self we’ve inhabited since being born. Any of these can be resurrected in sleep. And people we knew but are now no longer part of our life, or are even dead, can be resurrected in our dreams.

The dreaming mind thinks differently from the waking mind, which means it offers an alternative route to knowledge, which can often be much more powerful. Many people have gone to sleep with a difficult problem rattling around in their head, then woken up in the morning with the answer, as clear as day. It certainly wasn’t their waking consciousness that worked through the problem.

Nietzsche had a dismissive attitude towards the dreaming mind (as the “conscious aspect” of the unconscious mind). He thought it was a primitive problem-solver, disconnected from critical thinking. He saw it as being mired in emotion, superstition, irrationalism and animism. In fact, it can go both ways. It can serve as both a Higher Self, with vastly superior thinking abilities, or a Lower Self, little better than a caveman or animal.

Nietzsche wrote, “If we close our eyes the brain immediately conjures up a medley of impressions of light and color, apparently a sort of imitation and echo of the impressions forced in upon the brain during its waking moments. And now the mind, in co-operation with the imagination, transforms this formless play of light and color into definite figures, moving groups, landscapes. What really takes place is a sort of reasoning from effect back to cause. …

“The imagination is continually interposing its images inasmuch as it participates in the production of the impressions made through the senses day by day: and the dream-fancy does exactly the same thing – that is, the presumed cause is determined from the effect and after the effect: all this, too, with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this matter, as in a matter of jugglery or sleight-of-hand, a confusion of the mind is produced and an after-effect is made to appear a simultaneous action, an inverted succession of events, even. From these considerations we can see how late strict, logical thought, the true notion of cause and effect must have been in developing, since our intellectual and rational faculties to this very day revert to these primitive processes of deduction, while practically half our lifetime is spent in the super-inducing conditions

The problem is that humanity has mostly not moved on to strict, logical thought. Only rationalists have become Logos thinkers. Most of humanity – the feeling, sensing and intuitive types – have remained mired in dreamy, Mythos thinking, inventing all sorts of false causes, or even claiming that there are no causes at all.

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