Earth Dreaming, World Awakening
by Lee Irwin
We live in a time of change and great challenge, a time between dreams and paradigms, a time of contestation and emergence. The ground where we stand is not the same, it holds the quality of the abyss; each dreamer perceives only a portion of what is emerging. But this shifting ground is also a time of opportunity, a phase of creative intersection with what is possible for the sacred human. We each hold within us a visionary depth, a prophetic capacity, within which our unrealized spiritual potential can spontaneously foster a new wholeness. What inhibits us is our fears, alienation, skepticism, and denials that we can, as conscious and dedicated agents, actualize our deep spiritual capacities. In a time of great change and contestation, it is inevitable that the harsh or destructive aspects stand forth as illustrating our lack of care or concern, our indifference toward the well-being of the earth and all its inhabitants. And yet, if we have any hope of attaining to the sacred human, it is visions that heal that are most needed, visions of hope whose actualization is possible and necessary for the health of all.
Are these healing visions based in individual capacity or is it possible that our visionary ability, our creative intentions, require the creativity of others? We are not each an island, but we do inhabit unique ecologies of mind and spirit. What we shape and what shapes us is not only the immediate, shared mentalities of local island culture but also the deep surrounding currents of our time as they circulate through the global ocean of cross-cultural intersections, spiritual alternatives, and scientific challenges. Our creativity as individuals is inseparable from these currents and from the influences of others as they impact our thinking, imagining, and dreaming. The transformation is not just personal, but also deeply shared and global; our creativity emerges from our individual ability to participate in shared dreaming and to offer our psychic support for those themes and concerns that best reflect the ideals we hope to realize. While our dreams are shared, they are not simply determined by a collective mentality, but emerge through the interactive media of dreaming and visionary perception as they contribute to collective transformation.
If we envision the collective as a psychonoetic field, that is as constituted by psychic and emotional capacities infused with reflective thought, then such a field must be highly dynamic as we ourselves our engaged in constant processes of feeling and reflection. In so far as this field is dynamic, its psychonoetic contents are interactive, that is, my thoughts and feelings impinge on and are impinged on by the thoughts and feelings of others. If I read a book that is 300 years old, written by an esoteric master, through a careful, attentive reading I may find psychonoetic resonance with specific ideas or beliefs in the book. Those ideas or beliefs are then taken in, processed, and reconstituted through a visionary process, one that is also influenced by the current dreaming and envisioning of others in my own time. This reconstitution is not only done in a waking state, but also in imaginative day dreaming, in night dreams, and in the spontaneous processes of syntegration – that is, on the boundary and through the abyssal ground – where psychic influences are not limited to individual mentality. The shared psychonoetic field is alive with the currents of past and present and may well include within it, future influences that exceed the normative boundaries of the current temporal order. Dr. Lee Irwin is a full Professor in the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston where he teaches world religions with an emphasis on Native American traditions, western esotericism, hermeticism, contemporary spirituality, mystical cosmology, and transpersonal religious experience as related to dreams and visions. He is the Vice President of the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE) and a board member of the Sophia Institute; he is also a Guiding Voice for the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom (Sufi Inayati Order) program. He is the author of nine books and over 60 scholarly articles.
Dr. Lee Irwin is a full Professor in the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston where he teaches world religions with an emphasis on Native American traditions, western esotericism, hermeticism, contemporary spirituality, mystical cosmology, and transpersonal religious experience as related to dreams and visions. He is the Vice President of the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE) and a board member of the Sophia Institute; he is also a Guiding Voice for the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom (Sufi Inayati Order) program. He is the author of nine books and over 60 scholarly articles.
The dynamic processes of atemporal dreaming must be anchored in the stability of committed actions meant to realize the dream potential and embody the dream in waking manifestations. As we all dream this dream of our future earth differently, the convergence is not simply imitation or a recursive reduction. Each visionary has the opportunity to contribute to the dreaming processes, adding the quantum of his or her own visionary perceptions to the actualization of the whole. We may hear the music of the spheres, the vibrant melodies of Earth awakening as we, the dreamers awaken with Her. Our own awakenings to this visionary call are crucial in determining the form and contents of the shared reality, the conscious enactment of the dance, the partnered relationships that can hold the necessary energies of a full realization of that potential. No one person can hold this energy because it is not meant for one, but for many, if not all – thus, many or all must hold the energies together. This holding arises through our willing consent to shared global awakening, to be responsible creators whose ethical and spiritual concerns rise above pragmatism, party affiliations, and individual desires. The burden of this awakening is the “energy of openness” – a capacity to resist closure and subcollective identity that might result in only partial realization of depth. It is a time for a redefinition of the sacred human, a reconstitution of what the human mentality can fully become, through an awakened illumination on a global scale.
It is a time for a redefinition of the sacred human, a reconstitution of what the human mentality can fully become, through an awakened illumination on a global scale.
To hold this openness requires discipline and not simply “letting go” that only seeks to attain an individual realization. In the shared tasks of psychonoetic dreaming, we can each offer the unique gifts of our individual understanding but those gifts are contributory to the greater gift of world integration. The dreaming earth is now is a stage of profound pregnancy, she is bursting with the life potential of a stimulated consciousness whose climactic birth-giving ecstasy will be the simultaneous awakening (or rebirth) of all her embodied children. The vision is one of lucid, shared psychonoetic awakening, where the field is no longer a subconscious influence but a conscious matrix of shared mentalities. It is a time for a redefinition of the sacred human, a reconstitution of what the human mentality can fully become, as an awakened illumination on a global scale. We have to imagine that Earth Dreaming is in a fore stage, a time of ferment, in which dreams collide, intersect, counter influence, transmogrify, and splinter into a thousand diversities only to be gathered in the dreams of others.
In this vital, alchemical process, the Earth Consciousness is dawning through the intersected mentalities of all living beings – human, animal, plant or mineral – in order to reach a new stage of planetary evolution. And we are the dreamers of the dream, the mediums through which the realization of the imaginal becomes actual. If we cannot imagine it, cannot accept it, cannot embody it, then resistance will become the wall against which the ocean of consciousness crashes. Do we embrace the change and take on the necessary responsibility to form the conduits for the change or do we resist and block the possible inflow? Every person is a potential medium for this change and the Earth Dream is active in the psyche of each person to the degree by which they embrace the potential for the sacred human. This for me is the crux of the matter, how we each embody the sacred human as a medium for spiritual transformation on a global scale. In this sense, we are tasked with the challenge of formulating the sacred human as a viable image of our deepest capacities. And this image is archetypal for each person, as a formative aspiration whose power is also reflection of the Awakened Earth.
What then, is the sacred human? This question is a spiritual challenge to each individual; it is not simply a summary of ideas or beliefs. Thus more precisely, what is the sacred human for you? How might you live your life as emblematic of the ideal that best expresses what we as human beings might become? In the dreaming of the earth consciousness, our individual answers to this question, are best expressed in how we live and act. Our ideas, as abstract notions, may be lucid and valuable but how we live within the Earth Dream is what will produce the fruit of our beliefs. Do we live with love and heart-centered concern for the well-being of others? Can we make sacrifices to improve the quality of life for all? Can we give up attachments in order to provide abundance for others? Can we accept the limitations of shared life and not lose our individual value? Can we dream the creative dream and make it real while honoring the dreams of others? Can we hold the creative energy necessary for the transformation or will we be only dreamers who never awaken? These are only a few of the questions that are integral to any concept of the sacred human. The sacred human, as I see it, is a dreaming being, a creative, imaginative, visionary individual whose practical skills are well developed and whose moral sense of concern for others is a leading aspect of that creativity. The sacred human is “sacred” because there is a heart-centered perception that is fully awakened to the lunar-solar consciousness that pervades and stimulates our growth.
As we reflect on the sacred human, we have models of spirituality across a multitude of traditions to help inform our ideals. However, we are not constrained to that which has been and that which is becoming may well surpass what tradition has held as irrefutable. I do not see the sacred human as a fixed image in the eye of God; instead I see the evolutionary potential of both God and the sacred human as a part of a process of a rich, shared, co-evolution whose goals will no longer be determined by traditional beliefs or exclusivity in conception. The future before us is rich beyond imagining, it cannot be constrained to what has been – but it can honor what is valuable and good in the formation of the sacred human over a thousand or ten thousand generations. The roots of the sacred human are in the past; the tree and branch is in the present; and the fruit in is the future – what is blossoming now is the flower, nourished by the root and branch. The sap of this Tree is the vital force and energy that permeated the Earth Consciousness, seeking to nourish the sacred in all possible forms so that it might live and be fruitful. Our role as dreamers is to access the vision and make it real, to embody the perfume of the flower, to create an atmosphere of joy, love, and shared health for the good of all.
In the processes of co-evolution, there is emergence, recapitulation, and refinement. This is a non-lineal process, one consisting of cycles that overlap and contribute to a deepening maturation. What is realized is reincorporated; what is limited is refined and given new possible expressions; what once failed, might succeed in a more benevolent context. What was destructive, violent, and atrocious must be abandoned. What denied and repressed the rights of others reflects the shadow of the dream, when conquest was the medium of a mentality that no longer serves the possibility of shared awakening. War is not part of the dream, but it is part of our history and collective action. An Awakened Earth mentality cannot thrive on war or violence because these are forces of repression and denial; fear, hostility, and suspicion are the storms we brew for the purpose of domination. The dream of world peace is inseparable from the Earth Awakening, and the enactment of that dream requires more than tolerance. Each dreamer is an ambassador of the ideal, to promote peace by living in peace means embodying the dream in real life relations with others. The stranger and the “other” are all part of the dream; in awakening, repression cannot be the means for the realization of the shared vision. Forgiveness balanced with honest reconciliation, a genuine realization of wrong-doing overcome by dialogue and deep regret for the harm done to others, is a basis for this awakened transformation.
There is a deep cry in the Earth Dreaming, a cry for honesty and shame at violations committed in thoughtless greed or in trampling the fruitfulness of earth or the rights of others. Indifference and excuses are not part of the dream, those only create resistance. To embrace the Earth Dream is to honor the diversity of every natural and cultural ecology that is fruitful and generative and to strive to maintain each unique diversity as a way of honoring the rich potential of what is already part of the Earth Awakened. Every loss diminished us all, every healthy ecology saved enriches us. The sacred human in the context of the living Earth is one whose wisdom is guided by a celebration of plurality, who nurtures life in all its diversity and beauty. The Awakened Earth is a bounty whose nature is full to overflowing with all creatures honored, all life protected, all beings balanced, with a recognition of limits and actions based in compassion. The dream is the ideal, the actuality will be earned through conscientious relations whose co-evolutionary potential will form and reform according to circumstances. As agents, we are only partially aware, far from the realization of our full spiritual capacities whose impact on the whole has yet to be fully imagined.
It is not only the current problems and challenges we face, but also the profound discovery of our potential as creators in a universe of mystery not yet grasped or comprehended. We do not know the full scope of our deep spiritual capacities in the Earth Awakened; it is not a rationalized extension of what-is but a leap to a new being-with whose capacity is greater than the imaginal. In the visionary depths of the Abyss lies the unformed potential for knowledge and expression far exceeding our current abilities or awareness. In science, art, literature, in psychology and philosophy, in spiritual teachings and revelations, lies the red gold, the dawning aurora of the psychonoetic field extending through and beyond Earth Awakened into the living cosmos. The ur-forms of the sacred human, now unfolding, have only begun to express the variety and diversity of our possible spiritual accomplishments. Our psychonoetic capacities, like the mind’s ability to facilitate healing or to receive subtle psychic impressions, to commune across distances or to create geometries of artistic and mathematical brilliance, are only tentative signs of the Earth Dream awakening. As the dream unfolds, many abilities now dormant will become active and expressive.
What might the conscious collective mentality, a shared global consciousness, inspire in all areas of creative expression? Will human psychic ability expand into commonplace interactions through paranormal perceptions, such that the “normal” becomes what is only now “supernatural”? Will our expansive development reach other mentalities still hidden from our current knowledge? Will the domains of earth ecology, their multiple inhabitants, have speech and teach us what is now known only in monologue? Will we ground our visions in the fluid energies of embodied living or will we only create fantasies that never give birth? The unknown potential is stirred in the dreams of a water filled world, luminous with life and vitality, not stained or impure by human indifference but reconstituted through a shared vision in which health and well-being take precedence over aggression, lazy indifference, and rational denials. Together, we can recreate and refine what we have allowed to evolve chaotically because there was no guiding dream and old dreams cannot hold the energies for the reconstruction of the future. The dream itself, of the Awakened Earth, is based in a multitude of psychic influences that merge into a dynamic interconnectedness forming the tentative structures for new emergence. Can we find the courage and humility necessary to hold the dream for its full enactment?
Another aspect of the Dreaming Earth is the ways in which our future envisioning challenges us to grow beyond the habitual limitations we set on our own actions and thoughts. In dreaming potential into form, the dreamer must hold openness and also a still point of depth that remains undefined. The Abyssal ground, as the ontological source of our inspirations, does not seek closure in form but expressiveness through an abundance of manifestations. The dreamer’s task is thus to remain a center of elaborations, with continuity, but also, with a self-transcending acceptance that allows for the birth of novelty and discovery. We are not seeking “the answer” – such seeking reflects an older and less fluid mentality – but the possibilities that will allow for integration on a global scale across multiple time and cultures. There is no “one answer” just as there is no “one way” to this integration. The still point that remains undefined is a “god-point” or a touch of “infinity” in the heart of every creature. Out of this mystery, comes a realization that what is created or formed or discovered and amplified, is not the answer but only a possibility for development. We can build on our discoveries, we can merge our disciplinary insights into paradigms of wholeness that will then be transformed and surpassed.
In the dynamics of cosmic creation, both in the long term evolutions of stellar matter and energy as well as in the lesser evolutions of measurable temporal, cultural understanding, the process is self-surpassing. And dreaming is the medium through which what is coming-to-be manifests in the minds of those embodied in temporal order. As dreamers engage the deep dreaming, the “big” dreams, the revelatory intuitions of what may become, the prophetic self is stimulated to construct forms and structures that will hold the dream contents for possible enactment. Sometimes, that holding is an act of mental clarity – that is, what we see in the revelatory dream, vision, or intuition, must be held in mind, nurtured, sustained as a possible template for actions, remembered and not forgotten. Every forgotten big dream is a lost possibility; every remembered big dream, held with positive regard, is a source of possible growth. And we grow beyond our dreams, as we embody the possible, thereby creating in the process a new ground for revelation. The cycles of revelation, informing the prophetic self, take us through the labyrinth of our collective life as well as into intersections with the dreams of others. As we embrace the dream and actualize it, we surpass our own limits and we meet our co-dreamers, those seeking a similarity in prophetic insight. What the prophetic self seeks is… not a dominant worldview but a shared vision of diverse, cooperative communities whose ethical perspective promotes life and creativity without resort to threat or violence. The prophetic dreamer is the one who can envision how this transformation can be attained.
What the prophetic self seeks is… not a dominant worldview but a shared vision of diverse, cooperative communities whose ethical perspective promotes life and creativity without resort to threat or violence. The prophetic dreamer is the one who can envision how this transformation can be attained.
The prophetic self is an emergent identity. Where the core of self awareness is shaped by the psychonoetic history of each individual, the prophetic self accesses the emergent horizon of the possible. Every individual can carry the dream of Earth Awakening through the development of the prophetic self. And this is a moral development because at the very root of the process is a profound concern for the propagation of life and an honoring of its diversity, value, and contribution to the health of the whole. The moral concern is expressed through the protection and fostering of life. Such a prophetic self is not aligned with exclusivity or a denial of alternative prophetic visions; the emergent prophetic self is not a “prophet” of religious dogma, but a visionary self working in concert with others to sustain creative dialogues that will foster cooperation and a just way of life for every creature. The prophetic self is an awakening consciousness within each person able to dream the possible as a source for creative actualization.
This does not mean that all prophetic dreams are positive or ideal – in fact, many prophetic dreams are negative, frightening, and carry disturbing collective energies. The deep prophetic self accesses what must be transformed; it is confronted by the turbulence and trauma of old dreams of power, domination, and control. The dream of the Awakened Earth requires courage and inner determination to seek new resolution of the contested dreams of the past that will not accept compromise nor deny the value of alternative visions that do not claim sovereignty or mandate conformity. The collapse of visionary authority as an exclusive domain for a global worldview is the very terrain of recreation for the prophetic self. What we seek is not a dominant worldview but a shared vision of diverse, cooperative communities whose ethical perspective promotes life and creativity without resort to threat or violence. The prophetic dreamer is the one who can envision how this transformation can be attained; what must be given up, renounced, or reconstructed are attitudes of denial or dismissal of the healing dreams of others. If we want to embrace the Earth Awakened, then we need new dreams and visions to show us the way.
Finally, we need to think about the consequences of a failed dream. This is why I emphasize action over interpretation. We can envision two aspects of the dream that are interactive and provide perspective on how the dream can be enacted. One aspect is what I would call “participatory knowing” – that is the dream itself is a kind of knowing based on the dreamer’s ability to recognize her or him self as the agent that holds the dream (whatever its “sources” may be). This kind of knowing requires memory and lucidity in dream recall, an ability to hold the emergent insight. A dream or vision to be enacted must be remembered, with detail and clarity; memory must be cultivated to reproduce the psychic content as exactly as possible, sustaining the dream event. The self as “participatory” in the dream is a self awakened to the dream, able to hold the dream, and to represent it for conscious reflection. The “I” of the dreamer is not always the “I” of the dream, but the awakened dreamer can hold the distinctiveness of the dream as a source of reflection for exploring the difference between the “I” that dreams and the “I” that remembers and reflects.
In turn, this leads to the second aspect, which I call “reflective knowing” – that is, an ability to regard the dream, its psychonoetic contents, as a source of insight for possible action. I do not regard “reflection” as necessarily a form of interpretation. The dream is more than a text, more than an account for analysis, and much more than a medium to be shaped by an ideology or psychological theory. The dream is a living expression of the psychonoetic field, far more than a text. Reflections on the dream, holding it within the mind’s “I” allows the richness of its contents to act psychically on the dreamer in ways that are often unpredictable and not necessarily rational or pragmatic. Carrying the dream means remembering and allow the dream to inform our reflections upon it; it means allowing the dream to be remembered in a waking context other than in therapy or in writing thoughts in a dream journal. Participatory knowing is a knowing of the dream in the waking context of everyday life – as I drive to work or walk in the city or talk with a friend, the dream comes back to me, it impinges into a context that also invokes the dream content. Participatory knowing is to take note of this dream presence, of a dream or visionary image or of a feeling or mood, that can then be a source of reflection. Thus the two aspects work together through participation in the dream in waking states and in using that participatory knowing as a source for reflection and insights.
From this synthesis of participatory reflection, comes action. If the dreamer stops with only knowing, the dream remains as potential unrealized. By “action” I do not mean any specific type of action, but refer to the creative challenge of discovering a method for action. Perhaps the action is more mental or emotional than physical; perhaps it is a smile rather than a frown, a state of receptivity rather than defensive closure, a condition of inner reflection rather than a habitual response to stimulation from others. Perhaps it is a drawing, a song, a walk by the sea or a discussion long held at bay. What does the dream suggest? What does reflection on the dream, in participatory knowing, indicate as a possible strategy for action? In Earth Dreaming, our participatory knowing, arising out of visionary intuitions, comes home to each person as what he or she carries of that dream. The challenge is to live with the dream and, though reflection, to find strategies for enactment. The dream of Earth Awakening is not a passive dream but a creative context for embodiment through celebratory action, through meaningful intentions, to give form and birth to a cooperative building of a visionary future.
The failure of the dream, its lack of embodiment in practice, the inability to create a context that supports emergence, means a failed possibility. This does not mean all dreams need to be enacted, but rather that we must choose wisely the dream we do seek to enact. Dreaming is a vast process, impinging on all aspects of human life. Among this plethora of dreaming activity, it is the “big dreams” that call to us, stir us, even frighten us, that require enactment. The big dream of Earth Awakening, is a shared dream, an event of cosmological proportion, whose enactment covers an extensive panorama of embodied practices. The basis for that action is love, respect, creative and critical reflection, and a willingness to adapt in concert with positive and compassionate values. Our evolution as a species depends on our dreaming capacities; our failed dreams are what will mark us in terms of our limitations. To succeed as dreamers and as participants in a creative Earth Dreaming and Earth Awakening, will require enduring commitment to enactment, reflection, and participatory knowing. Not only through dreams and visions, but also through a lucid clarity of mind and purpose in carrying out the shaping of the world. Our success then, depends on our cooperation in the dreaming and waking context. Our challenge is to wake up and not deny the role of dreams and visions in the process.
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