A book review by Doug Marman
If you are familiar with this web site and the discussions here on Spiritual Dialogues, you have probably heard about “waking dreams.” David Rivinus has just published a new book that tells the rest of the story.
“Suppose life could be taken at more than face value. Imagine seeing the individual events of our waking world metaphorically—like symbols in a dream. How would that affect how we live, what decisions we make, who we associate with? This intriguing idea was one I began to ponder in earnest…”
Hearing David tell the story is like discovering the origins of the idea of the waking dream, since he was the one who introduced it to Eckankar. Few ECKists realize the role that David Rivinus played in spreading the concept. He led workshops on waking dreams around the world, in many different languages. His new book takes the subject to far greater depth.
It began in the 1970’s, after David graduated from college. He started working in a clinic with children who had emotional problems and brain disorders. At the same time, he was exploring the writings of Paul Twitchell and other new ideas that were being sparked by psychologists in those days. In particular, he became fascinated by Fritz Perls and his role-playing approach as a way of getting inside the experience of dreams.
The more David studied his own nighttime excursions, the more he realized that there must be an easier way to understand them. He began developing a simpler, more effective approach. That’s when a new thought hit him:
“It is the idea that there is essentially no difference between the dream world and the world of our waking lives. Through my own work and experimentation…I discovered that when one understands one’s waking life as if it were a dream and then acts upon the personal insights that are revealed by that understanding, the world takes on a whole new meaning.”
He began helping others use his new techniques and immediately saw the transformational impact it has. The idea that the world around us is a reflection of who we are and that we create our own universe isn’t new. Countless spiritual teachers have taught this down through time. But once we see the way our outer lives speak in the language of dreams, it changes how way we interact with our daily events.
If we can see that all the truly bizarre events in our lives have a deeper meaning, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that we are unconsciously shaping the world around us. The same problems keep happening to us over and over again for the same reason that we have recurring dreams: Life is trying to show us something. The experiences are telling us that we have an unfinished story. There’s an important lesson we need to learn.
How is this possible? The idea that the outer world can act like a dream seems to defy science. But this isn’t true, as David spends a whole chapter explaining. The scientific process of cause and effect is logical, but the hidden meanings of life’s events are not. Logic will never explain them fully. If we reject the dreamlike quality of life, then we’re missing half of what it means to live in this world.
David writes his book for readers who want to understand the waking dreams in their lives, as well as their nighttime dreams. He also writes for those who want to teach and help others learn how to do this. He offers pointers on what works and what doesn’t. It is filled with real life stories and amazing examples of how waking dreams have changed people’s lives.
The stories come from the many workshops he has led on waking dreams in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico and throughout the US. His conclusion is that dream symbols are the vocabulary of a universal language, while at the same time they are highly personal. This, in itself, makes the idea of waking dreams a valuable message for our times.
However, I believe the importance of David’s work is that he shows us a way to move dreaming from an unconscious process to a conscious one. When the messages behind the personal events in our lives sink home, we can consciously take the reins of the seemingly wild subconscious forces within us. If we act on this new understanding, it changes us. We are then no longer the character in some drama. We become the author of the play.
If we’re interested in learning mastership of our selves, we need to master the language of our dreams. That’s when the unfinished story of our lives becomes finished. And in many ways, reading David’s book is like discovering the unfinished story about waking dreams.
David’s book, Always Dreaming: Gaining insights from the Metaphors of our Sleeping and Waking Lives, is available through Amazon and other booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/Always-Dreaming
David continues to lead workshops, give radio interviews, and help others understand dreams. You can get more information from his web site: http://www.teacherofdreams.com/