J. Gary Sparks
A woman dreams that a man is viciously hurting her. The man is a person from her past, twenty years previous, a man who in fact did her no physical harm, and she sets about trying to find him to understand why he is in her dream. She comes up empty-handed. No one who knew him from those early years had seen or heard from him for two decades. Then, the next week, the man calls her from his home two thousand miles away and simply says, "We have some things to talk about." An event in the material world echoes the woman's dream.
Another woman dreams of bear claws. A few days later she is at a fabric store and looks over the shoulder of the woman in front of her who has a handful of buttons the woman is waiting to pay for—all embossed with the image of bear claws. The buttons in front of her that day at the fabric store shock her into the importance of the bear claws in her own dream a few days previous.
A student in training at a European psychoanalytic institute is having a rough time of it. He's out of money and is depressed in general. He seriously considers quitting ... when he dreams a little fox comes to him and exhorts him to pluck up his courage and not succumb to despair. He's in the habit of jogging in the evening down a secluded farmer's lane covered on both side with luxuriant brush. The next evening, as he starts down the lane, a fox peaks its head out from the foliage and then snaps back out of view. The fox, he could see from the rustle in the bushes, follows him down the lane to the gate of the farmer's garden; soon, rustle along the bushes once more tells him the fox is there following his jog back to the street, whereupon the little critter peaks out again. This continues for nearly two weeks. Every evening, for nearly two weeks. The fox is there, first inside and then outside. He doesn't give up.
Carl Jung called a event in which a happening in the outer world replays or mirrors an image or state of mind in the inner world a synchronicity. In synchronistic moments the material world takes on the same symbolic significance that dream images can be shown to convey.
A man who is a work-a-holic needs to learn to relax, really to preserve his own sanity. He develops a melanoma in the shape of the state of Florida—the imagined Shangri-La of Midwesterners. His body gives him an image of what he needs to understand to get his life back on track: take time to relax!
A boy with a nasty case of eczema is brought to a psychologically trained dermatologist. The eczema runs in a small band along his upper lip and then descends down both sides of his mouth, painting a frown around the boy's mouth. The dermatologist explores the emotional condition of his family and discovers the presence of overpowering but unacknowledged sadness. The boy's body knew of that grief.
A woman dreams she has an arthritic wrist keeping her from serving a meal to a whole group of assembled people, thus preventing her, in the dream, from continuing the pattern of subservient behavior which is in fact dominating her life. The catch? The dream occurs while the woman is in reality being medically treated for arthritis of just that wrist. It's as if her wrist and the dream were in league together, her real arthritis communicating to her the message of the dream: stop this life of compulsive servitude.
As in a synchronicity, the material world expresses an inner image, in this case in the form of a particular disease or malady. Once again, matter (our body) provides the same guidance in the form of a symbolic message that dream images embody.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist who investigated the importance of dreams in psychological healing. In the Jungian psychology he developed, it is axiomatic that dreams, when interpreted, provide the information and point of view we need in order to get past specific blocks in our lives and in order to live a full life in general. Initially a student of Sigmund Freud, Jung quickly recognized that dreams have a much larger and creative role in our lives than just "fulfilling wishes," as Freud consistently held. Initially Jung took dreams, in the spirit of Freud, as something that happens "inside" us. Toward the end of his life, however, facts forced him to expand this view. Synchronicities, such as those first three examples above, led him to realize that dreams also "happen" in the material world since in certain moments dream images appear in the material world: a phone call, a handful of buttons, a friendly fox, in the instances I cited.
Still, the plot thickens. It also became clear that the body, particular maladies and diseases in our bodies, can likewise disclose a symbolic message utterly consistent with our dream life—as is illustrated in the three other instances above. Apparently our physiology also can fulfill the same function as guiding dream images that we know from the stories in our night's sleep. Our bodies, our matter—just like synchronicities, can assume the psychological function of dream images and reveal the insights we require for full living.
Welcome to my website! In the pages here I have presented lectures and seminars dealing with Jung's observation that dreams don't only occur inside. The video interview introduces the parameters we'll be considering. There are selections of three lectures I've given on the subject. Then the audio of several extensive seminars which touch on the same. Some information on the basics of Jungian psychology is also included, for those who want to know more of the concepts on which much of the discussion here is based. I am also interested in how our inner images and the events of history dovetail. Hence the reference to Arnold J. Toynbee, the British historian.
The observation of the guiding power of matter will be central to our mindset. A reexamination of religion, of science, of time, of reality itself will follow from the insight that the material world can communicate symbols, i.e., that there is a spiritual, or guiding, power in matter.
We'll return to this wider realm of themes in the postscript. Quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli, one of a handful of scientists who developed the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (mechanics = the physics of motion), valuably contributes to our discussion and, along with Jung, he will figure large in it.