Waking Dream, Lucid Dream and Jung’s Active Imagination

In 1981, I published a book called Waking Dream Therapy. It was written for the therapeutic community, not intended for a general readership (although many have told me that it is a wonderful read for that audience). It was then, and still is, the best work done on the subject of waking dream (to be distinguished from lucid dreaming, as I’ll get to shortly). This visionary experience was first exposited in writing in the first 28 lines of the book of the prophet Ezekiel some 3000 years ago. In my book I spoke of the history of this process including that of Carl Jung who called his work “active imagination.”

In the magazine section of the Sunday New York Times, Sept. 20, 2009, appeared a long article on the Red Book of Jung’s, kept secret for many decades by his family. This book has seemed to become an object of adoration ⁄ worship by devoted Jung followers. It is now to be published amidst excitement and eagerness.

The book details Jung’s waking dream experiences of which he kept copious notes and made illustrations. In those notes he details some of the darkness into which he descended, the consequence of which was a psychotic or psychotic–like episode for which he was hospitalized in a psychiatric center for a period of time. In his autobiography Memories, Dreams & Reflections, he describes his descent into apparent madness.

Unfortunately, because Jung’s experience, which was waking dream – either of prophetic nature or shaman’s trip (they are different) – was unguided, as were those of the prophets such as Moses, Ezekiel, Elijah, Daniel (Jung was certainly not among that elite group), he suffered a consequence not uncommon amongst those who have entered into the sea of change ⁄ consciousness unguided, usually from taking sacred hallucinogens (mushrooms, vines, herbs, etc.)

Jung is to be admired for his bravery and courage to have undertaken this journey alone, willing to take the risk, which in the long run eventually influenced a great change or changes in his life. For, unlike Ezekiel who went and came back utterly changed and knowing, he went somewhere else and returned entirely changed but not mad, Jung could not return sane for some time.

This transcendent experience of waking dream became for Jung the basis for the active imagination method. He didn’t organize it into a coherent system as I have under the tutelage of my deceased teacher Mme. Colette Aboulker–Muscat of Jerusalem, who was the master of this process in the 20th century. For those who are not prophets this process must be done with a guide, at first, who takes you safely into this experience where you make a descent into the depths of self to discover who you are and are not. The latter is then cleared away and you are readied for the ascent to the heights through waking dream all the way to and through illumination to reach, perhaps, union with One.

Mention was made earlier of lucid dreams. In Wikipedia this definition appeared: “A lucid dream is a dream in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming. When the dreamer is lucid he or she can actively participate in and often manipulate the imaginary experiences in the dream environment. Lucid dreams can seem extremely real and vivid depending on a person’s level of self–awareness during the lucid dream.”

Waking dream differs markedly from lucid dreaming as it does from mindfulness meditation and self–hypnosis. I’ve underlined certain words in the above definition, which appears in Wikipedia. Waking dream is done by an awake person, not a sleeper, in a hypnopompic state – that which exists between sleeping and waking. It is actively participated in by the journeyer who is embarking on an exploration of consciousness to make discoveries, not to manipulate, but to freely find under the aegis of a guide at the beginning of such experiences. These experiences are not imaginary – in the conventional usage of the term as unreal – but what is discovered are levels of reality and beings who may dwell in them. These events do not seem real, they are real.

There is much more to say about these two diverse experiences, but not needed to be done here. I do recommend that you look at my book Waking Dream Therapy and my article on Phenomenological Differences between Waking Dream, Mindfulness Meditation & Self Hypnosis.

Demetra Monocrusso

Professional Coach and Mental Imagery Clinician

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