Dream Interpretation and Metaphysics Term Paper

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Dream Interpretation and Metaphysics

M.Msc. thesis for the degree of Master of Metaphysical Science

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Every person dreams. Whether the dreamer remembers those dreams, or believes they drift into a dark see of absolute nothingness in sleep, the fact is that all people demonstrate the brain and eye activity that researchers know is associated with dreams. However, given that so many people fail to remember their dreams, it is clear that not all dreaming is memorable and productive. Even those dreamers who remember the majority of their dreams may find most of them to be insignificant and inconsequential. Likewise, even those people who find most of their dreams to be absolutely unmemorable occasionally have a dream that they believe reveals something significant. This leads the dreamer to question what it is about dreams that makes them so significant. Are dreams separate from reality, or do they exist in their own dreamscape, a separate reality, but not less real for their separateness? What is the physical nature of dreams? Are they a random firing of synapses as the brain rejuvenates itself and recuperates for the day, or are they a way for the metaphysical world to communicate with the dreamer? Finally, what do dreams mean? Understanding the archetypes that present themselves repeatedly in dreams, do those archetypes mean the same things to different people, and, if not, what makes one dreamer perceive an archetype differently from another dreamer? Policoff (1997: xvi) explains the complicated relationship that people have with dreams; "The twisted stories, images, and relationships we see in our sleep have been both feared and ridiculed; they have been thought of as a disgusting by-product of the mind and as the secret pathway to self-understanding."

Understanding these questions is essential to an understanding, not only of the self, but also of the dreams themselves and the unique role that dreams play as mediators between existence, being, and the metaphysical.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Dream Interpretation and Metaphysics Assignment

The first challenge that students of metaphysics face is defining the term itself. It has been used to define a whole range of things, including systems of philosophy, belief, and religion. Strictly construed, the term is derived from Aristotle's philosophy, refers to those things that are beyond the physical, and is applied to that branch of philosophy involved in discussing the essence of being. However, the term has gained a broader meaning in modern times and is used outside of philosophy to describe those things that are beyond the physical, such as imagination, spirituality, and even the occult and the paranormal. The modern study of metaphysics, like Aristotle's original musings, has the goal of determining what, if anything, exists beyond the confines of the physical world. The difference is that modern metaphysicists have rebelled against traditional philosophy, by trying to make their thoughts and musings readily accessible to the average individual. After all, universal experiences should be able to be described in terms that are universally understandable. The logical conclusion of this change in the approach metaphysics is that the very essence of the discussion must focus on those elements common to all of mankind, which makes the study of dreams an indispensable element in any metaphysical philosophy.

All men dream. Even more importantly, the fascination with dreams transcends cultural and temporal boundaries. Throughout history, dreams have been given an elevated status and dreamers have sometimes been labeled oracles and prophets. However, the power of dreams and dreamers has not always been viewed in a positive manner, and dreamers have also been viewed as madmen and lunatics. The fascination with dreams is both simple and profound, because dreams, themselves, can be both simple and profound. Regardless of the complexity of the dream, dreams are insightful, and, because they are insightful, they can be extremely helpful to the dreamer. According to Gifford (2007), "Dreams have a salutary effect (they promote good health) even when they are not interpreted. Dreams provide information about the dreamer that often is not available by other means. They provide the dreamer with information about one's current physical, psychological and spiritual condition."

While few who interpret dreams would disagree with Gifford's assertion that dreams provide information about individuals, what they might disagree about is what information is provided by a particular dream.

For example, according to the Jungian tradition, there are certain archetypes, which are consistent across human experience. Raffa (1999) believes that archetypes are "the ancient, unconscious source of much that we think, do, and say as human beings. They are the 'givens' in our psychological makeup, the patterns that shape our perceptions of the world, the furnishings that are present in our psychological home from the moment of birth. We inherit the same forms, but each of us fills in the content by the way we experience our lives. Thus, Father might be a positive archetype to one person, but it might be filled with negative meaning for another." According to Raffa (1999), the archetypes include the Male, the Female, God, the Devil, the Goddess, the Witch, the Father, the Brother, the Mother, the Sister, the Dragon, the Lion, the Priest, the Lover, the Hero, the Tree, and the Snake. The archetypes themselves have neutral meanings; it is the context of the dream that gives the archetypes their meaning. Raffa (1999) believes that "we humans automatically inherit the outlines of these archetypes, fill them in with colors and details of our individual experiences, attach meaning to them, and project them into the outer world."

Given that archetypes and dream types are consistent, but their meanings vary with personal experience, it seems logical that archetypes in dreams would have different meanings, depending on one's cultural context. Surprisingly little research has been done regarding how cultural upbringing impacts the interpretation of archetypes as they are presented within dreams. In fact, where cultural differences have been noticed, those differences are often compounded by differences in life circumstances and not just culture. For example, the day-to-day experiences of a modern middle-class American differ so dramatically from the experience of a modern Sudanese, that it might be inaccurate and unfair to describe the different representations of the archetypes in dreams as a result of cultural difference. However, given the cultural differences that exist across middle-class America, an investigation into how different cultural groups view archetypes within dreams can help reveal how cultural background provides the context for dreams. In addition, this information may help determine how dreams actually help shape the cultural context itself.

In fact, culture can have an even more dramatic impact on dreams. At its core, metaphysics is concerned about being. Therefore, understanding the relationship between the body and the soul is essential to the understanding of metaphysics. Many people believe that dreams can provide this link between the mind and the soul. However, others have gone so far as to hypothesize that dreams are not a connection between the mind and the body. In fact, some authors like Bosnak (1996:13) seem unable or unwilling to relegate dreams to the imagination. On the contrary, they envision a lively and active dreamscape, with inhabitants and dwellers that exist in something akin to an alternate reality. To Bosnak, it is the dreamer's inability to truly know those dreamscapes that makes dreams so alluring and so intimidating. He says, "A profound not-knowing is hard to bear. We wake up and try to get a grip on our dreams. We tame them with interpretations. We try to make them into pets, to render them relatively harmless, not like the unpredictable wild creatures they really are. We tell our dreams that they are our dreams, that we created them."

In addition to archetypes, there are other consistencies across dreamscapes. For example, grief is a central element of dreams. According to Wray and Price (2005), grief dreams are dreams that are centered on the death of a loved one and come in four major types: the visitation dream, the message dream, the reassurance dream, and the trauma dream. However, their discussion of grief dreams did not address differing cultural backgrounds; and, it is unclear whether cultural background can alter the nature and tone of grief dreams.

In fact, grief dreams may provide the answers to some of the most profound issues in metaphysics, such as when being and existence end, and whether there is something beyond physical existence. This is because grief dreams, perhaps more than any other aspect of human existence, transcend death, and, by doing so, can serve a very real and practical purpose. For example, according to Wray and Price (2005:2), "Grief dreams allow us to reconnect with our deceased loved ones, to return to that place where nothing has changed- a place where our loved one is still alive- a place where grief does not exist." In this way, dreams alter the fabric of reality, if only for the moment of the dream. On the other hand, grief dreams reinforce the notion of reality by highlighting an important fact: death does not end a person's connection to the living world. On… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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