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The Dream-conscious State - Introduction

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Bruce G. Marcot

"What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet."

    - Woody Allen


     I know that rationalist skeptics often deny the reality of lucid dreaming -- how can one be conscious yet dreaming and asleep? I suspect that most people have never had this experience. Not having had it, one would certainly think it bizarre and impossible. Or if they have experienced it, it was momentary and fleeting and unique, and probably mostly forgotten. I suspect that the vast majority of people do not realize that dreams can be directed and controlled, and made vivid with sounds and colors, and made lucid to the conscious mind, to a startlingly high degree.

On the other side of the spectrum, many parapsychologists and new-ageists tout that lucid dreaming is cognate with out-of-body experience, astral projection, nightly flights to Saturn, and lord know what else. For me, these are unnecessary filigrees on a phenomenon quite startling and amazing in its own right.

     I can easily reject the rationalist skeptics' denial of the existence of the phenomena, for I have experienced and even greatly cultivated it myself over many years. I also reject the new-agist approaches as popular distortions and simplifications, and unnecessary amplifications or fabrications, of the real experience, which is far odder than these rather unimaginative explanations describe.

     What remains is my own long embarkation of an internal journey of experience and experiments with lucid dreaming and dream control.

     I have long deliberately avoided reading much (pseudo-)psychological treatises on lucid dreaming or dream control (sometimes called "directed dreaming," I believe, as used in psychoanalysis, although I am deliberately not much familiar with that literature). I avoided these readings because I did not want to take the chance of being unconsciously swayed by others' concepts or alleged experiences and explanations.

     I like what Edison had said ... with little formal training, he did not know the "formal" bounds of science, so he simply experimented and surpassed the limits without knowing they had been breached. In some ways, I felt I have followed similar tracks with lucid dreaming. I have, however, recently extensively reviewed an Internet e-mail newsgroup on lucid dreaming, and read a couple of (quasi-psychology) books on the topic, and it struck me how even the most experienced of the lot seemed to not have even taken some of the basic steps I have taken so many years ago.

     My approach has been entirely empirical and in a sense self-skeptical. I assert no astral projection, no Kurlian auras, no out-of-body experiences. In fact, I profess no phenomenon until I have experienced it (although I do not call myself a strict empiricist), and even then I do not want to launch toward unnecessary explanation and mystical interpretation. Instead, I have progressed in step-wise experience and experiments with the lucid dreaming state and report them herein as clinical, rational, and honest a matter as I can.

     One translator of the Tibetan Book of the Dead referred to the early Tibetan monks who had dedicated their lives to meditation and mental empowerment, as "psychonauts" or mental astronauts. These sages explored uncharted territories, including the Bardo, and returned to recount the experiences. In a way, I wish to follow this tradition, even if rooted in a more modern scientific appraisal.


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- Picture by Salvador Dali "Sleep" -

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