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Excerpt from Dreams

Primary Rule of Dream Interpretation (p. 276)

From chapter "Ablaze With Meaning"

For me, the primary rule of dream (and life, and reality) interpretation is that rules aren’t primary. Direct experience is. In part this is because dreams are living, willful beings, as alive as you or I or a cat or a dog or a bird or a fire or a river or a flash of lightning or a song or a kiss. As living beings, dreams act with, to use a phrase I mentioned early in this book, willful unpredictability. They are not machines. They cannot be managed, only denied, and they can only be denied temporarily, and then to our own poverty and at our own peril. They are not bound by laws, and will be constrained neither by scientific equations nor other holy texts. They, more than most, maybe more than almost any others, will not be enslaved. Dreams can be messengers, as can you or I or any of these others, but they cannot be domesticated. They are proud, and they are free. This freedom doesn’t mean they’re not constrained; they are, just as you or I are constrained (we cannot live for two thousand years, cannot grow roots, cannot breathe water, cannot digest cellulose), just as rivers, rocks, stars, caterpillars, canyons, condors, sharks, salamanders, chimpanzees, stories, breaths of fresh air are all constrained in their own ways, all needing others to survive, to be complete, to be.

Dreams cannot truly be explained, any more than life or reality can truly be explained, any more than a chickadee or a firefly or the soothing shape of a smooth, slightly incurvated stone can truly be explained.

Another rule of dream (and life, and reality) interpretation is that beneath it all, dreams (and life, and reality) cannot be fully interpreted or described. Central to dream (and life, and reality) interpretation is the understanding that dreams (and life, and reality) are older than you, and they are wiser than you. Dreams (and other living beings) cannot without consequence be summoned, detained, enslaved, or forced to serve. They can be approached, greeted, welcomed, honored, respected, loved, feared, cherished, lived, and lived with. They can and will— acknowledged or not—be entered into relationships with. They may or may not be taught: I do not know. They may be learned from. They may be listened to. They may be spoken with. They can love you, fiercely, honestly, protectively, and can save you sometimes even from everything you have been taught.

Above all else, dreams (and life, and reality) must be given all that is their due.

And what is their due? Everything. Certainly your life. Not only because wisdom—and it’s not really possible to talk about dream (or life, or reality) interpretation without talking about wisdom—takes time, and giving time is certainly giving of your life, whether you are giving your time to a job, a computer game, a landbase, resistance against this culture, getting to know a dreamscape, or so on; but also because—willing or no, acknowledged or no—you will give your life to life, you will give your life to reality. Your life and everyone else’s lives are a good part of what (or who) make up reality (and life, and dreams). One of the reasons this culture is killing the planet is that we believe we can take the lives of others but we somehow, strangely, believe we do not owe our lives—and everything else—in return.