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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

by Brad Jensen

Copyright 1996 All Rights Reserved


I dreamed I was a butterfly. Now that I am awake I wonder, am I a man who dreamed he was a butterfly or am I butterfly dreaming that I am a man? - Lao Tsu

Everyone in the world believes that dreams are real, solid, and meaningful... while they are dreaming.

Isn't it funny that some people think dreams are either random or meaningless? When you stop to think about it, there is a larger life that your dreams and your waking life are each a part of. With the proper tools, you can start to integrate your understanding of your whole life.

A person who thinks his dreams are meaningless often feels the same way about his waking life. Many are wanderers, who ramble from one situation to another without ever understanding the connections between them. Others are pinballs, constantly bouncing from one crisis to another.

My observation is that physical, waking life never forms a rational and comprehensive unit by itself. If you keep all of your attention in the physical, you will always be missing a part of the total picture. Your life will not make sense, and you will be the victim of accident and circumstance.

It is too easy to respond to what we don't understand by ignoring it. For most people, this is their reaction to the total self. Anything that is not immediately obvious does not exist to them, and the results are continual chaos.

To begin to understand your dreams, it is important to form a clear picture of the internal structure of your mind.

Besides your physical, conscious mind, you have two other parts to your self. The nearest to the conscious mind is the subconscious mind, what many religions call the soul.

Beyond that is the superconscious mind, or spirit. It contains the originating impulses or plan for your life.

The entire life of a person consists in continual, coordinated activity by all three parts of the mind. To understand yourself, you must learn to use and be aware of the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious minds.

All of these parts of mind are working together constantly. They are communicating and transferring energy every moment.

Normally you are not aware of anything but the physical mind while you are awake, unless you have learned to use and trust your intuition.

But when you are asleep, a whole different situation occurs. Your awareness and attention submerges into the subconscious mind. There it is instructed by your inner teacher, the superconscious mind. The superconscious mind uses the language that all men know, the symbols of the subconscious mind.

When you wake, you remember this instruction as dreams.

This book will teach you how to relate the inner symbols of dreams to your outward, waking, physical existence. You can use this interpretation to change what you think, how you live, how you feel about yourself and others.

You can interpret the dreams of others, which will help you to see them and yourself more honestly.

The journey of a thousand miles begins in front of your feet.

As you begin to learn your dream symbols, use what you are learning in your everyday life. Your dreams will become more detailed, meaningful, and real to you as you do.

Dreams and Universal Law

Throughout the three divisions of your mind, spirit, soul, and body, you have one thread of identity that reaches from the I AM consciousness to your conscious ego. This is the real you, and it is continuous and unbreakable. This is why Jesus reminds us, "I and the Father are one". It makes sense that if the three parts of your mind are constantly working together, there must be principles of operation or cause and effect that are true in all three divisions.

These principles are commonly called universal laws, and they represent our purest understanding of the operation of the total mind.

If there really are such universal laws, why aren't they immediately and intuitively obvious to all of us? If they truly operate at all times and in all situations, why don't we understand them without doubt or question?

Isaac Newton faced the same sort of questions when he developed his famous three laws of motion. Sir Isaac revolutionized the world when he brought the heavens down to Earth. In his day, Galileo had already studied gravity on Earth by rolling balls down inclined planes to measure their acceleration. Galileo had also observed the motion of the moons of Jupiter by studying them through a telescope.

Newton somehow realized that the same forces at work in the heavens were also at work here on Earth. He deduced three laws of motion. First, something that is not moving tends to stay still. Something that is moving tends to keep moving. And when you push something in one direction, you are pushed by the same force in the opposite direction.

These laws are not obvious on Earth, because friction, air resistance, and gravity constantly interact to spoil the pure effect of the law. The laws of motion are still operating, but the principles are far from obvious.

Of course, once you get in orbit around the Earth, say in the Space Shuttle or on a space station, the Newtonian laws of motion are obvious. If you are standing in your spacesuit in the open cargo bay of the Shuttle, and you let go of a wrench, it will 'float' where it is. If you throw the wrench out away from you, it will keep on going forever without slowing down. You will also float in the direction opposite to your throw, if you aren't holding on to anything.

The only problem is that in order to get a Shuttle into space, you already have to understand Newton's laws of motion!

We are in a similar position with respect to the universal laws. We see their operation on Earth in our physical existence, but because of the interaction of our many different thoughts, it is difficult to see their effects purely and clearly.

In order to move our conscious awareness into the world of spirit where the laws function more simply and obviously, we must use the very laws we are trying to discover!

The universal laws exist as principles, but they are set into motion by thought. No one sees where the wind blows from or to, but we see and feel its effects and know that we live in a sea of air.

By concentrating our thought through meditation and prayer, we can bring the universal laws into both purer and quicker expression. But we can also observe the laws more directly through dreams.

In dreams, we see all the laws in effect. As a matter of fact, dreams even correspond to the weightlessness and friction-free environment of space in some ways.

In our dreams, we visit the mental "inner space" where the laws can be perceived more directly and clearly.

This is why, with all due respect to "Star Trek" and Captain Kirk, mind is and always will be the final frontier.

You may have noticed in your dreams, that when you think of someone, they are immediately there in your dream. Whatever you concentrate on, develops and grows. As soon as you begin to have a suspicion about something, it becomes reality.

These happenings all correspond to universal laws. As you investigate dreams you will begin to see universal laws in their more direct action. By practicing your understanding of these laws, you will create greater peace of mind and satisfaction in your waking life.

If you know which way the wind is blowing (and why it is blowing so hard) you can set your sails towards greater health, happiness, and prosperity.

Why Interpret Your Dreams

Many people are fascinated by dreams, but few interpret them. You may be asking yourself what you can expect to gain by practicing dream interpretation.

Interpreting your own and other people's dreams will teach you many useful things. First of all, you will have a constant barometer of what changes are occurring within yourself. You will see things coming, often long before they happen in your waking world.

Since the changes you choose for yourself always begin on the inside, within the subconscious mind, and dreams are a communication from the subconscious levels of mind, you will begin to see what is happening from the inside out.

You will gain confidence in your own ability to prepare for and deal with your problems and challenges. You will see that the subconscious mind is already considering the problems that you may not yet be consciously aware of.

Your dreams will often show you the consequences of a choice you are considering. You can see where you are heading if you don't change your habitual patterns of thought. In your dreaming you can explore different alternatives without having to follow through on the physical changes until you decide which course of action is best.

You will start to take a larger view of yourself and your relation to the world. It is easy to feel swept up in the events that happen to you. From the dream state, you will begin to see that you are causing each and every event that happens in your life.

We all seek control of our lives. Most of us are only aware of half of what is happening because we do not understand our dreams. You will have a new advantage that you have not had before, in understanding the inner workings of your mind as well as the outer. As you develop greater understanding of yourself, you will develop greater control.

Interpreting dreams will help you develop greater objectivity about yourself and other people. Your conscious mind is capable of lying to you about yourself. Your subconscious mind will not ever lie to you. It presents the truth as you see it, without adding to or taking away anything.

Because you are revealing honestly the inner self of the person you are reading a dream for, they may think you are very wise. This doesn't always happen on the first reading of a dream for someone. Sometimes they need time for it to sink in, or for the dream to manifest in their life. Sometimes they are dishonest with themselves, and just absolutely do not want to know the truth about themselves.

However, if you read dreams for a number of people, you can count on getting a reputation for wisdom that you may not feel you have earned. Be sure that you always ask people for their permission to read a dream for them. Do it for them, don't do it to them.

Along with greater respect from others will come greater respect for yourself. We are each and every one of us completely valuable beings. You are the greatest miracle in a totally miraculous world. As you see the incredible complexity as well as order in your life, you will certainly develop a new respect for your own creative ability.

When you focus conscious attention on the subconscious mind, you build a bridge or pathway for communication and energy flow. You will find that the pace of your creativity speeds up. You may find yourself taking on greater challenges than ever before in your life.

'Infant' comes from a Latin term meaning "unable to speak". When you learn the language of the soul, you come out of spiritual infancy. You can then learn to create your own dream images, and use them to reply to your dreams, through meditation or prayer.

If you do not learn to interpret your dreams, you will constantly be out of touch with a wealth of understanding about yourself and your opportunities. You will miss many chances to avoid errors, you will be unable to take advantage of choices you may only dimly realize are there.

If you do not learn to interpret your dreams, you will be only half awake!

  Principles of Dream Interpretation

Dream interpretation is very simple and straightforward if you will learn the fundamental principles and apply them in all cases.

The first and foremost principle is that each and every dream is about the dreamer. The inner self follows the principle "to thine own self be true". Your own development and understanding is the most important thing in the world to your inner self. No other person, place, or thing matters at all.

This attitude of "sacred selfishness" is misunderstood by some people. It does not imply indifference to the problems of others, or a sense of irresponsibility. Far from it. But the inner self is completely and totally aware that each person causes his own experience, and each person will directand control his own life. Mastery over others is an illusion. Being dependent on others is an illusion.

Taking care of your own self, and responding to your own challenges, is a full time, 24 hour a day proposition. You are the center of your own universe. No one else has the same spiritual, mental, or physical makeup as you. This is how God made you in his image - as a creator of your own life.

The second principle is that every person, place, and thing in the dream is also the dreamer. When you dream about your spouse, children, house, car, a dog or cat, a road, you are dreaming about some part of yourself.

The first question that people raise in response to this, is what if I dream about some future event, and it comes true? The answer I have found to be true in every case, is that the dream can still be interpreted as a dream about you.

Indeed, you may find as I have that every dream is about your future, and every dream comes true.

These two principles are all there is to dream interpretation. If you look at them a certain way, they really become one rule: all your dream is about is you!

Now if I just stopped this discussion right here, and left you to figure out the rest yourself, you could probably do so in a relatively short period of time with diligence and a little mental elbow grease.

However, through analyzing thousands of dreams, dream researchers have developed a 'dictionary' of dream symbol meanings that you can use to understand your dreams.

None of what follows is as important as understanding and accepting the two principles stated above. I do not expect you to accept these on blind faith, of course. I think you can prove them to yourself very easily by applying the method which follows to some of your dreams.

I take as absolute your own inner authority. No one can ever prove anything to you. You can only discover something to be true by trying it out yourself over and over again..

I do suggest that when you apply this dream interpretation method, you suspend your disbelief temporarily, and apply the method fully. The results may astonish you.

The Method

In applying the principles of dream interpretation stated above, it became clear very rapidly that dreams could be read as a string of symbols, similar to the words in a story. Each symbol represented some part of the person the dream was about (the dreamer).

To begin interpreting dreams, it helps to develop a process of saving them each day. If dreams are not used, they rapidly fade away. So a simple way to record them helps a great deal.

Take a page of a notebook or a piece of paper, and draw a straight line down the middle of the page from top to bottom. At night, before going to sleep, write the next day's date at the top of the page, and place a pen on or next to the paper, within your reach as you lie in bed.

When you wake up in the middle of the night, or in the morning, write down your dream on the left side of the line, leaving the right side blank for interpretation. If it is the middle of the night, you may only want to scribble down a few key symbols. They will help you remember the whole dream in the morning.

Do this every night, and you will soon have lots of dreams to interpret.

If you think you do not dream, it may take extra effort on your part. Everyone dreams every night, but not everyone remembers their dreams when they wake. If you do not remember all of your dream, write down any fragment you can think of. You will soon discover more of your dream revealing itself.

You might also try drinking a glass of water before you go to bed (to help you wake up in the middle of the night). Youmight go to the extreme of having someone else wake you at a prearranged time about three hours after you go to sleep. If you absolutely refuse to remember your dreams, chances are you are afraid of what you think about yourself.

Your dreams never lie. Imagine having a friend who would always tell you the truth about yourself, and always had your best interests at heart. That is where your dreams are coming from.

In the morning, after you have written down the dream, you write the interpretation down on the right side of the page. If you do not have time in the morning, you can wait until later in the day.

The understanding that comes from learning to read your dreams is worth far more than the little bit of effort it takes to record and interpret them.

Once you have written down the dream on the left side of the page, begin writing down the translation of the symbols on the right side. Read the translated symbols one after the other, and apply a little intuition to complete the picture.

If your dream does not seem to make sense after you have translated it, try telling the dream and the translation to someone who knows you fairly well. Often times what seems vague, contradictory, or inappropriate to you will seem absolutely clear-cut, honest, and accurate to your friend. The things we try to hide even from ourselves are often the most obvious features about us to others.

You can also leave a difficult dream, and come back to it later in the day or even one or more days later.

Your dreams will often point out what is really happening in your life, and what choices you really face. Rather than looking for answers in dreams, you will usually find questions. Your dream may ask you, do you see how you are holding yourself back from succeeding? Do you recognize how you could profit now by being more honest with yourself and others.?

The following symbols of dreams are collected from the experience of thousands of dreamers. While your Aunt Mary may mean something completely different to you in a dream than she means to your Uncle Ed in his dream, a horse will always mean will power to everyone.

Some people think that everyone's symbols are different. From my experience of personally interpreting thousands of dreams given to me by hundreds of people from all over the country who had nothing in common but the fact that they inhabited human bodies, I have found dream symbols to be universal. Perhaps an Indian (of the Asian subcontinental type, not Amerindian) might dream of an elephant in place of a horse, but even in that case I would expect the differences to be minor.

You can convince yourself by trying the dream symbols that follow on your own and other people's dreams.

As an added note, it is helpful to interpret other peoples' dreams for them for three reasons. First, it is often easier to be objective about someone else, rather than yourself. As you practice dream interpretation, you will become more objective about yourself. You will certainly discover that there is nothing about yourself to be frightened of or ashamed of. Every part of yourself exists for a reason and has value.

Second, he who teaches learns. You will never completely understand anything until you teach it to someone else. Until you give it freely to someone, you will not receive it completely into yourself. Until you bring it out and express it physically, you will not know how much you really know about the subject.

Third, the more practice you get with the process of interpretation, the more confidence and facility you will develop, and the greater skill you will possess. Dream reading will increase your conscious use of your intuition. You are building the skill of using the conscious and subconscious minds together to accomplish a goal. This will help you in a lot more than dream interpretation.

You might think to start a dream interpretation study group, meeting one night a week to share dreams. This can be a good starting point for metaphysical studies in general. I still get help with my dream interpretation from my wife Jeloria. We have found that by sharing our dreams, we both get more value out of them.

When you do interpret dreams for others, let them know they can learn the method for themselves. Of course I would love to have them buy a copy of this book, but in a pinch you can teach them the method yourself. As you will see as you practice it, it is not difficult to do or remember.

After the listing of dream symbols, you will find a discussion of further uses of dream interpretation, and other topics relating to dreams.

Dream Symbols

Everything in the dream represents the dreamer in some way. All the events the dream are referring to the dreamer, no matter who they seem to be about.

People in the dream refer to aspects of yourself. These aspects are ways you behave both inwardly and outwardly in particular types of situations. Think of an aspect as the embodiment of an attitude.

If the person is a person of authority, such as a doctor, judge, or political leader, or your parents, the aspect refers to the superconscious mind..

Other people in your dream refer to conscious or subconscious aspects of yourself. If the person in the dream is the same sex as you, it is a conscious aspect, something you use in your waking life, in expressing outwardly to other people. If the person in your dream is of the opposite sex, it is a subconscious aspect, something you use to express inwardly, through your thoughts and emotions.

If you are a man, a man in your dream is a conscious aspect, a woman is a subconscious aspect. If you are a woman, a woman in a dream is a conscious aspect, a man in a dream is a subconscious aspect.

The type of aspect is determined by what that person represents to you. Whatever the characteristic attitude of that person is, your dream is referring to that in you.

Ask yourself what the first thing you think about is when you see this person or hear their name? This is the part of you that they symbolize.

Suppose you are a man, and you have a cousin Henry who lacks self-confidence. When you dream about Henry, since he is the same sex as you he will represent a conscious aspect or way of expressing yourself where you lack self assurance.

If it is someone that you do not know, you are not yet aware of the aspect consciously.

If the person is a baby or child, it is a new idea or new aspect of yourself that you are dealing with. If it is a teenager, it is a partially developed or immature aspect of yourself. If it is an adult, it is a completely developed aspect.

If a person in your dream dies, the aspect is changing. Death in a dream always means change.

Animals in dreams represent habitual patterns of thought. A ferocious animal is a ferocious habit.

Certain animals have specific additional meanings. A horse represents will, it is an animal that does work for you.

Birds are mental thoughts.

A snake refers to the conscious ego.

Fish represent spiritual awareness, because they live and breathe comfortably in water.

Water represents conscious awareness.

Wind is the power of thought.

A house is your mind, where you live. The levels of the house represent the divisions of mind, the ground floor is the conscious mind. The next floor up is the subconscious, and the third floor up or attic is the superconscious mind. The basement is the unconscious mind, where you store your doubts and fears, and the things you do not yet understand.

A car represents your physical body. It is your vehicle.

A motorcycle or bicycle shows the need for balance.

A boat is also your vehicle. The same with a small airplane.

A large boat, plane, bus, or truck represents an organization such as your school or the job where you work.

Trees or bushes represent growth of an idea within the subconscious mind.

A road or path is a way to a goal that you seek.

Guns, knives, and other weapons are tools for change. If you have a dream where you are killing people, it means you are changing aspects of yourself.

The army or police or other uniformed officials represent discipline.

Furniture is tools for thought. It is what you rest on in your house. It may represent attitudes or strongly held opinions or ideas., or ways of thinking.

Food represents knowledge you take in. Wine is understandings.

Blood represents truth.

Dirt is mind substance. A hill is an obstacle. Stone represents will power.

A telegram, letter, or phone call represents communication between parts of your mind.

A TV show, radio, or movie represents use of your imagination.

People of different races represents aspects you have not decided about.

Snow or ice represents a conscious restriction or fear.

Different parts of your body each have a meaning. Your feet are your foundation, your basic understandings and beliefs, what you stand on. Your hands represent your purpose. Your throat represents your use of your will. Your face represents your identity or sense of self. Your hair represents your conscious thoughts.

Your clothes represent your outward expression. If you are naked in a dream it suggests you are becoming more honest with yourself and others. Your left represents your receptive side, your right is your assertive or aggressive side.

Sex in a dream shows a greater harmony or working together of the conscious and subconscious minds.

Money or jewels in a dream represent the value you place on yourself.

Storms represent confusion or feeling out of control.

Sample Dream Interpretations

Bill dreams he learned to ride a horse. Since a horse represents will power, this dream would point out a new way he is using his will, or following through on a decision. For example, he may have begun a new hobby that requires concentration.

Mary dreams she is being attacked by a lion. After running for a while, she decides she can't escape from it. When she turns and confronts it, the lion becomes a pussycat, then disappears.

This dream could reflect the fear of an overwhelming habit, such as smoking. The person may fear that they can not control the habit. The dream is saying that if Mary confronts the habit, it will have no control over her.

Mike dreams he is shooting hundreds of people one after the other. His dream represents the fact that he is making fundamental changes in the way he relates to others. These changes are affecting every aspect of himself.

Jerry dreams he is naked, exploring the second storey of a large and beautiful old house. This dream suggests that he is becoming more honest with himself (nudity) and that he is beginning to explore the subconscious part of his mind as a result (second storey).

Other Things to Interpret

As you work with dreams, you may catch yourself interpreting what happens to you when you are awake with dream symbols. The subconscious mind is always at work. It's hard to believe the results until you experience them personally. That's why we're all here.

Any creative work, such as a fairy tale, play, novel, song, or picture, may be interpreted in dream symbols. Some times the artist is aware of the symbolism they are putting into their work. Sometimes the symbolism is unconscious.

Understanding dream symbolism can help make life more three-dimensional. Instead of a flat progression of unrelated coincidences, you become aware of your life as a single integrated whole.

Dreams and the Bible

Any spiritual work comes alive when interpreted in dream symbols. Reading the New Testament in dream symbols will reveal a whole new level of meaning. These works were written by people who understood mind, and of course they understood dreams. They wrote them such that they would withstand translation into different human languages without diluting the meaning, and so they would teach the mind within as well as the physical, conscious thinker.

It is a common fallacy to assume that because our ancestors were less technologically sophisticated than we are, they they were either childlike, naive, or unintelligent. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

These people were as quick-witted as you or I. Turn the idea around for a moment and think of your descendants. Since technological change is still accelerating, they will certainly live in a world that would seem fantastic and even magical to us today. Does that make us slow-witted or dense? Of course not.

The people who wrote the Bible lived in an area that had regularly been invaded and generally been conquered at least once in each lifetime. They knew their own history. Their spoken language had already changed significantly from their written spiritual texts. They were wise enough to know it would be changed more.

Those who had direct experience of the inner parts of self knew the language of mind. These teachers purposefully crafted the stories to hold that awareness, pass it down to the students who "had an ear". To those who had not been taught the dream language, the parables still held the ring of truth. And the inner self can be taught just as the outer one is, by concentration and repetition.

Even as the spiritual works were translated from language to language, even as the language became archaic (such as the King James version of the Bible), the meaning remained because overall, the pictures remained clear. The dream symbols do not become washed out because a few words are changed or misunderstood.

The Old Testament tells the story of man developing outward into physical expression. The New Testament tells the story of man returning his attention to the inner self.

For example, the first chapter of Genesis tells the story of the days of creation. Each day is actually the creation of a new level of consciousness, seven in all. The seventh is the level of physical, conscious experience. It is on this day that the Lord rested. The reason that the Lord can rest is because he has given free will to man, who can make conscious decisions at this level.

The dome that is mentioned on the second day is the major separation between the superconscious (first two levels) and the subconscious (next four levels). The separation of the waters by the dome represents the separation of awarenessof the self between the two regions.

In defining each day, the Biblical author relates something of the quality of each level of consciousness.

In the second part of the creation story, where the woman is created from the rib of the man, we can again read in dream symbols. The story then becomes that the conscious mind (woman) is created from the structure of the subconscious mind (man).

You can always understand mind from three viewpoints, substance, energy, and thought. The different levels of the mind are separate because in each one the relation or "recipe" consists of different combinations of substance, energy, and thought.

There are certain rules of how the mind works that function on all levels. These rules are commonly called "universal laws" because they work universally in all areas of mind, at all times.

The ten commandments given to Moses are ten of these universal laws. Try reading them in dream symbols.

The remainder of the Old Testament is the expanded version of the story that is told in the first two chapters.

At the other end of the Bible is the book of Revelation. In dream symbols this is the story of the man who has learned to put his complete and undivided attention on his Creator within. The story tells what happens to you as an individual when you begin this journey inward.

The seven churches in Asia refer to the seven energy transformers that pass energy from level to level of mind. In eastern philosophy these are called chakras, which means wheels.

The opening of the seven seals represents the conscious use of each energy transformer, and the resulting changes that occur in your mind. The four horsemen represent the development of will power on each of the four levels of the subconscious mind.

Whatever else it may be, the book of Revelation is a complete and accurate description of what goes on in the mind of an individual at the time of his spiritual awakening.

A complete exposition of the Bible is at least a book in itself. With these symbols, you can begin the interpretationfor yourself.

Things to Remember

First and foremost, remember that they are your dreams! You are the one who lives with them. Your dreams mean what they mean to you. Don't let anyone tell you what your life means. It is your divine birthright to choose your life situations and the meaning of those experiences. If you let someone else choose for you, you just put off gaining the understandings you really need.

It is a constant temptation to relate the husband in the dream to the husband in your waking life. Remember always that each actor in the dream is your own creation, and you are responsible for it. Your dreams can be a constant reminder of your creativity and your responsibility.

Although dreams and wakefulness seem very different, it is one reality. Have you ever asked yourself how awake you really are? Think upon the fact that dreams are where you wake up from reality.

You can learn to move and act willfully in your dreams. A good book on the technique is Lucid Dreaming by Steven LaBerge. I disagree with his conclusions on astral projection, but I find his techniques to be very effective.

Keep going back to adding to your dream log. It is easy to let it slide. Putting the ideas on paper gets them out of your head, where you can see them and learn from them. We learn differently through our hands, eyes, and ears. Say your dreams out loud and see what you learn from them.

Remember the dream belongs to the dreamer. When you interpret dreams for other people, resist the temptation to tell them that the dream has to be a certain way. The final determination of what the dream means is always in the hands of the dreamer.

Finally, remember that dreams are real. As you work with your dreams you may begin to discover that you too are made of the stuff that dreams are made of.


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