Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Dream Seminar with Jeremy Taylor

Instead of posting a dream today I’m going comment on a dream seminar I attended last weekend, lead by Jeremy Taylor and attended by 17 very knowledgeable and experienced dreamers whose life experiences run the gamut from analyst, event planner and musician to  priest, accountant and artist. Our topic was “Transpersonal Dreams and Dreams of the Divine.”  Simply put, Jeremy explains transpersonal dreams as those with material that includes the personal, but also has meaning for the rest of us.

Jeremy lectured, and we learned much from his invaluable store of dream wisdom, gleaned over a lifetime of work in the field. We also learned from each other. I hope that other attendees will post to this blog, so I am going to limit myself to commenting on the core lesson of the meeting, for me.  I expect it will be different for each. In my case, it was Jeremy’s emphasis on the crucial role of paradox in our dreams. For example, let’s say I dream of a dung beetle. In trying to puzzle out what the beetle means in my dream I think first that it is a disgusting insect, and then I’m reminded of the Egyptian scarab, a beautiful symbol of creative divinity. Which understanding of the beetle applies to my dream?  Is it disgusting, or is it divine? As Jung explains, when we are trying to bring something counter to our usual understanding to consciousness, “it is never a question of ‘this or that,’ but of ‘this and that.”1 Or, as Jeremy puts it, “all of the above.”

One of Jung’s best known concepts is that of synchronicity (things happening at the same time that may or may not be related but that strike us as if they were). So—the morning after the seminar as I opened my Sunday paper and turned to the book section, I was struck by a review of two books by Hans Keilson that spoke directly to the inner paradoxes we attempt to uncover through our dream work. The reviewer said that “. . . . Keilson performs the difficult trick of showing how a single psyche can embrace many contradictory thoughts, and how naturally extreme intelligence and sensitivity can coexist with obtuseness, denial and self-deception.”2

1 C.G.Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, translated by W.S.Dell and Cary F. Baynes, (San Diego, New York, London: A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 1933), 21.

2 Francine Prose, “As Darkness Falls,” The New York Times Book Review (August 8, 2010): 8.

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