If any of you have ever dreamed, as I have, and at the same time been aware that in the dream you were both awake and walking through a glass door, feeling your molecules and the molecules of the door form and reform, then you already have an idea of the magic potential of lucid living.
In the dream, we can do many things impossible to us in ordinary waking life; yet the lucid dreamer recognizes the connection between the dream and waking life in a very particular way. If I can be awake in the dream, aware that I’m dreaming, can I not be aware in waking life that this might be a dream? And if this is a dream, might not the impossible be possible here as well?
I have no particular desire to walk through walls in waking life, but I have a very real desire to live in peace. I desire a world in which children are free to dream, rather than living in fear that the next gunshot might kill them or their father or mother. I desire a world in which conflict, though it certainly will continue to exist, might be resolved by peaceful means; and I desire a world in which the incessant greed of a few does not lead the many to lose sight of the fact that our dreams promise endless abundance.
Because of these desires of mine, in October 2001, not long after the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Centers in New York, I invited a group of friends from around the world to join me on The World Dreams Peace Bridge, in what has proven to be a grand experiment in what I define as lucid living.
Now, the group of dreamers who make up the Peace Bridge, some of whom are here in this room, have many different backgrounds. They come from sixteen different countries around the globe; they are of different faiths; they are as young as twenty-one and as old as seventy-five. But they share one thing in common, a belief in the power of the dream. And out of this belief has come a hope—that by utilizing the power of the dream we might, in some way, begin to attain the second goal all of the dreamers on the bridge share: a world filled with peace and abundance.
The World Dreams Peace Bridge has an active discussion group of around sixty-five people. Unlike some online discussion groups, where months go by without a post, on the Peace Bridge there are always a dozen or more posts each day. It is probably of interest to note that the majority of dreamers in this discussion group, whether they be from Australia, Japan, the United States, Germany or Holland, are fairly practiced lucid dreamers. I believe this fact, this shared experience of lucidity, is the glue which holds the group together. Many members of the group have other types of psi dreams: precognitive dreams, telepathic dreams, shared dreams, giving them a common belief about the flexible nature of time and space. But the experience of lucidity may be the commonality which gives birth to the hope that global change is possible.
The Peace Bridge is a freewheeling place, in which dreams, ideas, creativity, and longing for community are all expressed. There are no rules, past that of kindness and respect for one another, yet out of this multitude of voices have evolved several clear and distinct ways to promote and foster lucid living. All of this has been, to me, a rather magical result of the fact that three years ago I sent an e-mail to some people asking if they wouldn’t like to join me in an attempt to dream up some peace. It is these tools for lucid living, which have grown spontaneously out of the Peace Bridge, that I would like to share with you today, along with examples of where use of these tools might lead us.
Honoring the Dream
Peace Bridge member, Sandy Ginsberg, who is also a member of ASD, has written for ASD’s magazine Dream Time about honoring the dream. She was doing this before she ever joined the Peace Bridge, but her work inspired both some of the early art exchanges on the Bridge, and ultimately an entire dream art gallery on the Peace Bridge web site. Here is what she says in an article published on the World Dreams site:
“We run the risk of postponing the gift from the dream when we fail to take action. By honoring the dream creatively, we allow the dream’s message an opportunity to be delivered to us. By honoring the dream, I am referring to the conscious effort to manifest a part of the dream in the waking world. This creative act can take form as visual art, earthwork, food preparation, music, interaction with another or an activity or journey that is calling to you.”
In the context of a group of dreamers, communicating with one another online, this idea of honoring the dream has taken on new dimensions. Here is just one example:
On July 26,2002, Jeremy Seligson from South Korea had a dream about a peace train. “Our long black locomotive travels across the country to Washington, D.C.,” he said in his dream report to the group. “A large white banner around the smokestack reads, ‘PEACE TRAIN.’ This makes me joyful.”
What we soon discovered was that other members of the Peace bridge began to dream about trains too, and before long there was a discussion about creating Peace Trains around the world. Of course, the result has been not just an honoring of Jeremy’s dream, but an honoring of the dream all of us have for peace on Earth. The first of the Peace Trains was created by children in South Korea, but since then trains have been created in Australia, in Israel, in Turkey, in the United States and several other countries in the world. In Australia, Peace Bridge members Nick Cumbo and Victoria Quinton have facilitated Peace Train workshops, and Nick has designed a web site, www.PeaceTraining.org.
One teacher from the United States plans to take the Lorikeet Peace Train, which began in Australia and traveled to schools in Washington state and Virginia, to Trinidad this summer. And most recently we received the first of the pictures drawn by children in Iraq for the Iraq Peace Train.
As Jeremy writes in his “Call for Peace Trains”:
“Whereas our planet is in jeopardy—children live in poverty; violence is everywhere; the air is filthy; and ice caps are melting—we call upon ordinary people of the world to join us in a cry for peace by reaching out with your hands and building a carriage for a Peace Train, or even an entire train.
“A Peace Train is an art form—with an engine, carriages and caboose….”
You can view some of the Peace Train art created by children around the world at Jeremy Seligson’s presentation during this conference. And you are welcome to join us in the creation of trains as they begin to link people to one another the world over.
Setting the Intent
The second approach to lucid living discovered by the members of the World Dreams Peace Bridge is known among dreamers as setting the intent for the dream. When we speak of lucid living though, we are also speaking of setting an intention or focus for waking life.
From the beginning of the Peace Bridge, people often asked for dreamers to dream on a particular date for a particular purpose, which might be for an individual healing or for the children of Afghanistan, or any number of other things. Not infrequently, dreamers would share similar dreams themes or dream about one another during these times.
Finally last year in April, Kathy Turner from Australia asked, “Is there a name for this type of focused, intense peace dreaming we are doing?” And a conversation began about this on the discussion list.
Before long, the group came up with a name; one which like the group is multilingual. It’s a combination of Japanese, Chinese and English that we call DaFuMu Dreaming, or Big Dream of Good Fortune. So if you would like to do a little world dreaming with someone, just ask them to DaFuMu.
I’d like to give you just one example among the many available, of how this type of dreaming interacts with waking life to create greater shared lucidity.
On November 20,2003, I woke before five a.m. and went directly to my computer. Because the World Dreams Peace Bridge spans the world, someone is always awake. I found a message from Ilkin Sungu in Istanbul saying that bombs were exploding again. Earlier that day, four terrorist bombs had exploded in populated areas of the city. Immediately I sent a request to the Peace Bridge and other online dream groups like the ASD Dream Activism group, for DaFuMu Dreaming for the people of Istanbul.
There were several dreams reported to the Bridge the next day, but I am going to start with one of my own, because it involves all of us here in ASD.
When the dream begins, I am sitting in the dining room of a big house where ASD is having a workshop. Yvonne Baez from Mexico and I are sitting cross-legged on the floor, facing one another. I am explaining to her about permeable and impermeable boundaries in dreams. Then later all of the people in the house lie down on the floor to go to sleep.
We are awakened not long after that by Alan Siegel and Bob Hoss coming in the front door. Soon everyone is awake and up again.
In the next scene in the dream, I am flying in a helicopter that Bob is piloting. We are flying across a bay spanned by the Bosporous Bridge.
I look to my right. Ahead of us is a convoy of helicopters. I am worried that they are US helicopters getting ready to bomb someone. Then I look to my left and see a winged figure backwinging to alight on the land below. At first I think it is an eagle, the US eagle, and I’m afraid again. But then I realize that it is an angel. Bob smiles.
There were many other shared images which came from this night of DaFuMu dreaming, but the one which most closely connected with mine came from a dream sent by Yvonne Baez, who was present in my dream. Yvonne wrote that she forgot to set her intention for the DaFuMu dreaming before she fell asleep, but two hours later something woke her up. “I felt Jean’s presence right in front of me,” she said “and immediately began to send peace and love around the world.”
Yvonne also sent a dream in which she is in a swimming pool with a friend who is having a crisis of faith. Suddenly, in the dream, Yvonne says, the clouds start taking on the shapes of big angels all around. “I tell my friend, ‘Look up to the sky! There are many angels above us,’” Yvonne told us. “She looks up, but sees nothing.”
In her message thanking the group for the DaFuMu dreaming, Ilkin wrote that on that night each year Turkey celebrates the feast of Qudar: “It is believed in Islam that tonight is the sacred night on which God sends all his angels to the world to listen to the prayers and forgive sins,” Ilkin said.
When I announced my intention to write this paper to members of the Peace Bridge, Kathy Turner again spoke about DaFuMu dreaming to the group. Her words summarize far better than mine what DaFuMu dreaming is really all about.
“I think the DaFuMu is a real tool of lucid living,” Kathy wrote. “A DaFuMu enters by conscious intention into the collective consciousness, and seeks to shift the possibilities held there. It seems to me it is a practical application of the ideas inherent in Jung’s collective unconscious and the Eastern idea of universal awareness. But what is revolutionary, and perhaps even evolutionary, is that rather than merely seeking to experience the collective Unconscious (as in the traditional Jungian view of dreams) or seeking to align our consciousness with universal consciousness (as in the Eastern view), the DaFuMu actually uses the conscious intent to shift the possibilities held within the collective consciousness. Now clearly the shift cannot be dramatic and won’t deliver “what we want,” as I feel the field we are reaching is one of possibilities rather than actualities. But it will shift possibilities, and that opens up something new.
“Unlike the traditional means of shifting possibilities (e.g. prayers to God—understood by me as another name for this field of collective consciousness) the DaFuMu actually uses one of the Prime Means by which the collective consciousness is more or less directly available to us. I suspect that makes our conscious intent more powerful in effect. To me, all this means the DaFuMu is a revolutionary tool of Lucid Living.”
“Second,” Kathy goes on, “the DaFuMu also creates the possibility of new ways for the individual dreamer of relating to the world. I have not forgotten the DaFuMu dreams from before the Iraq invasion. I’ve read them over many times to see what it is about them I find so interesting. What I notice is that almost every dream is either an experience of peace or displays ways to find peace. Now that means we were able to lay down in our minds the possibility of a new pattern, that of peaceful relating, or to confirm that pattern within us, giving it more strength.”
There were several responses on the Bridge to what Kathy had to say about DaFuMu dreaming, but I think one of the most insightful came from Ralf, who said, “I dream peaceful solutions more often since I am on the Bridge.” But additionally he made this comment: “We don’t know much for now of how the thing works, but information may be an important part of the psychodynamic (in the sense of energy). So it may be that new thoughts, ideas, solutions may have a unique power. This is an important factor in homeopathy too. The system changes when the right information is applied.”
Ralf is not only a nurse, but a healing practitioner who uses homeopathy. He has also studied and practiced lucid dreaming techniques.
An interesting note to this discussion of DaFuMu dreaming came from Pam, who teaches college students in Washington, D.C. “I am always behind with e-mails, so frequently I don’t have conscious awareness of when we are doing group DaFuMus, but when I check my journal I almost always dream of friendly groups and have vivid recall during those days.”
Those of you who are familiar with some of my earlier work with dreams know that I have spent quite a lot of time researching group dreaming, or mutual and shared dreams in the group setting. It has not been surprising to me to see the number of mutual dreams which arise from the dreamers on the World Dreams Peace Bridge, since I believe that groups of people often share dreams spontaneously.
However, there is an element of what happens on the Bridge which I think is very pertinent to lucid living, and that is the conscious attempt to cultivate community. Rather than being a six-week class or an eight-week experiment, the World Dreams Peace Bridge is an ongoing activity, week after week and month after month, for members from all over the world. As we say in our logo: “There can never be too many people dreaming of Peace.” The result of this type of ongoing dreaming, combined with ongoing discussion of dreams, ideas, thoughts, and reflections on daily life has been that not only have dreams been shared but profound changes have occurred for many of us, particularly in the realm of understanding people from other cultures.
Let me tell you about an incident of shared dreaming which relates directly to this ASD conference.
When the bombing of Iraq first began, despite the protest of millions around the world, we people from the Peace Bridge held DaFuMu dreaming for the children of Iraq. It is sobering to know that over seventy percent of the population of that small country is under the age of eighteen.
The first night of the DaFuMu, I dreamed of a young Iraqi girl, maybe five or six years old, running to greet me with her arms outstretched and a big smile on her face. Her image has stayed in my mind and heart.
Then starting in March of this year, almost a year to the day from when bombs began dropping on Baghdad, I began dreaming about this ASD conference. Night after night I was dreaming about working in the kitchen to provide food for all the people at the conference. I was often accompanied by this same little Iraqi girl. In fact, these dreams prompted my final decision to come to this conference, even though I could ill afford it, because they spoke to me about the importance, at the world level of what we are doing here.
Now you understand this was not DaFuMu dreaming, only my own compulsive personal dreams. Nonetheless, two other members of the Peace Bridge shared my kitchen dreams, Rita Dwyer and Jody Grundy. Both of these wonderful ladies suggested that I take a break from the work, go out and sit in the yard and have a cup of tea.
This is the type of community I feel is built with endeavors like the World Dreams Peace Bridge: loving, caring, sharing and compassionate—a real example of lucid living.
There are also deeper and even more important issues that I feel are addressed within the context of the Peace Bridge community, when I think about lucid living. Many times, I feel that our dreams, even our lucid dreams, and our work with them, is quite insular. What I mean is that we tend to believe that even the language of dreaming is the language of my native tongue, whether it be English or German, Dutch or Japanese. We believe that the culture represented by dreams is mine, my own familiar world.
To some extent this attitude is perfect as a background for people to learn about lucid dreaming and lucid living. But if we are truly considering living lucidly in the world, as citizens of the world, then it may be necessary to confront the other: that is to confront the deepest, most culturally ingrained beliefs and feelings about otherness and separation. Particularly in a time of war, it may be necessary to confront the question of just who is the enemy.
Naturally, if people share their lives with one another daily, as we do on the World Dreams Peace Bridge, there is ample opportunity for this type of confrontation, and often with remarkable results.
A most recent example of what can result from this sharing, as it’s done on the Bridge, arose from a post from Jeremy Seligson entitled: “My Mother Died in Hiroshima.” In this e-mail, he detailed the cause of his mother’s death, which happened when Jeremy was five, as proceeding from the fact that his father was at the time Manager of Budget for the Atomic Energy Commission and the family lived at the US Nuclear Testing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Breast cancer, from which Jeremy’s mother died, was found to be the most common cause of death from cancer to result from the type of nuclear bomb tested at Oak Ridge, and also dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War II.
The response to Jeremy’s post was enormous within a group with active members from China, from Japan, from Germany, Australia and the United States. In fact, the issue touched us all, in terms of histories in the cultures in which we grew up. I will not tell the entire story here, since it was used as the April, 2004, “View From The Bridge”, which is published as a monthly column in Richard Wilkerson’s E-Zine, Electric Dreams and as a monthly update on the World Dreams Peace bridge web site. (You can read it there at either www.dreamgate.com or www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org/april2004 )
But I would like to share one or two of the results of discussion around Jeremy’s post. As people began to realize the implications of what Jeremy was saying, May Tung wrote from San Francisco: “Don’t forget the Chinese when we talk about Hiroshima. I grew up in World War II, remember the fear and hatred we had for the Japanese. Through my family was fortunate enough to move to the safe region, the Japanese were pushing closer and closer. That kind of fear and panic, feeling your back is against the wall with no more ground to retreat…. We CELEBRATED when the bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered.”
When Kotaro wrote a response from Japan, he mentioned how as a young man he had often thought about what he would have done if he had been asked to fight for his country during World War II. “There is no ‘if’ in the history,” he wrote, “but I think I would be certainly one of them if I was born in those years. I would try to be a good soldier for Hirohito and God blessed country. This imagination always terrified me.”
“Dearest Kotaro,” May wrote back. “Here we are, a Japanese and a Chinese, with genuine affection for each other. As a matter of fact, dear friend, you alone have made more basic difference in my feelings toward the Japanese than any other single factor. I have felt close to you, respected you, since the beginning.” She added to this: “How do we promote peace? By posts like these on the Bridge. Right, everybody? Non of our hands are totally without blood.”
In answer, not long after this Ralf had a dream which he told the group. In this dream, Ralf is an agent whose job is to kill Hitler, who is speaking in front of a group of people. After much difficulty, Ralf is finally able to kill Hitler. Not long after that in the dream, just as if a computer had been rebooted, Hitler appeared again, doing exactly what he’d been doing before.
In his commentary on the dream, Ralf wrote: “I see that we need to fight for democracy itself all over the world, even in the so-called ‘democratic countries’ like the US and Germany. We need to fight for democracy and peace in our personal relations and we need to fight for a peaceful way of living together globally and locally. We can’t wait for any administration to do that…. We need to modify the operating system. Any killing of dictators seems to be no use in the long run. Global Windows XP needs an update, urgently.”
As we have found on the Bridge, the Internet provides a kind of communication particularly suited to lucid living. There is something about the immediacy of the Internet communication and something about the isolation of that communication to just our written words, that seems to focus our connectedness. A plea for support, whether it be from Jody with her son's friends in the army; or Anna with her son, or Stephen with his father's death is met immediately with a flow of love from around the world. And as time is no longer a definer of communication, the love flows literally "around the clock". In turn the support generates its own momentum in waking life. As Anna said after a DaFuMu dreaming for her and her son, "I feel so humbled in the face of this. If that (support) is there for the asking, then it follows so naturally that my heart opens and desires to pour out too!"
The Internet also enables an easy linking with other peace groups around the globe. Just an email message is sufficient for us to become aware of the strength and vitality of another desire for peace. Chayim, a resident of Israel, entered our group seeking to spread knowledge of his Hands Across Jordan project to help peace in the Middle East. We are now working with Chayim, cheering him on in his own peace activity.
Just as with dreaming, even lucid dreaming, the particular quality of focus and immediacy the Internet provides, is no substitute for the far more messy, rich waking life connections. We all meet in a cyberspace and dreamtime, yet there is a pull to waking life connection. Some of us have translated that into waking life meetings. There is growing awareness of the joy of "hearing" a voice on the phone or meeting someone who exists only in written form. Recently Stephen is welcomed Chayim from Israel, to his home in Virginia, in the US. Chayim has mentioned flying members of the Bridge to Israel for the Hands Across the Jordan date in November. Such world connections, made at the level of the individual, create the groundwork for peace.
Taking Action on the Dream
What Ralf says about the need to reboot the Global XP may sound amusing, but certainly one of the things that dreamers on the Peace Bridge have discovered about lucid living is the need to take action on our dreams. That means listening to our dreams, whether they are lucid or non lucid, listening to the advice and suggestions of the wise dreamer, and carrying these actions forward into the waking world with some sense that dreams do come true, can come true, that the reality of the dream with all its vast improbabilities can become the reality of the waking world.
As soon as the bombs began dropping on Baghdad, many of us were impelled by our dreams to reach out in some way to the people of Iraq, particularly the children of Iraq, to demonstrate a dream of solidarity and peace.
Ever the wise woman of the group, May Tung counseled this: “We are not a large group,” she said, “but we can do something small and personal. We can provide toys and art supplies for the traumatized children of Iraq.” And that is how the Aid for Traumatized Children Project was begun.
For the first nine months of its existence, the group within the Peace Bridge who chose to participate in this project collected funds while looking for some way to send packages and to make contact with therapists and others who were working with children in war-torn Iraq. Even though we were turned back time and again by UNICEF and other organizations, who told us that our project was too small, too insignificant, we began to establish a network of contacts within that country—again thanks to the Internet, which allows for e-mail to travel even though there may be bombing in the next town or the next block.
Finally, in January of this year, through the help of Nobel Prize nominee Kathy Kelly and her organization, Voices in the Wilderness, we were able to make contact with the Season Arts School in Baghdad, and the group of university graduate students who were running a program for children designed to deal with the trauma of war. In January, the first of our packages were purchased in Istanbul, including musical instruments like a guitar and an aud, drums, jumping ropes and soft, cuddly toys.
Ilkin Sungu from Turkey, a country which forms a natural bridge between Europe and the Middle East, ahs been our point person on this project, devoting endless hours to shopping, shipping and writing e-mails to our friends in Iraq and elsewhere.
I wish you could see the expressions on the faces of the children who have been touched by the generosity of the people on the Bridge—and their friends, for of course we have sent letters and e-mails to other people we know, asking them to contribute. We have made four shipments now, and plan more. Through the magic again of the Internet, we were able to receive photographs of the children receiving the toys from the Peace Bridge. These photos can be seen on the World Dreams web site. We are still carrying on this dream-inspired action of lucid living, and you are welcome to contribute if you’d like.
We discovered in the process of the Aid for Traumatized Children Project that much of what we were doing with this project was very similar to what we were already doing on the Peace Bridge: making connections, one person at a time, one moment at a time, with other dreamers around the world, and especially reaching out to the children. A most inspiring result of this work came to us not long ago from the children in Baghdad, photographs of the first drawings, for the first cars on the Iraq Children’s Peace Train. These are truly some incredible drawings. And they are part of the display of Peace Train art, which Jeremy is showing in his presentation here at the conference. And so we have come full circle, in a way, have we not?
The primary goal of lucid living is to awaken the dreamer to the fact that waking life and dreaming life may be one and the same, that we can erase the barriers between the two. If waking life informs the dream, then so certainly does the dream inform waking life. The dreams of children in Iraq, translated into art, into drawings for a Peace Train, send us all a powerful message, a message about our common humanity and our common need for peace.
Can we become lucid in our waking lives? I believe so.
Before ending today, I would like to thank all of the Peace bridge dreamers for their contribution to this paper, whether they were quoted or not, because they are the people who make this work possible. And I would like to thank Rosemary Guiley, who devoted half of the Dream Activism chapter in her new book, The Dreamer’s Way, to the work of the Peace Bridge. Thank you all for listening too, and if you would like to become a peace dreamer, there are directions for joining the discussion group at www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org/joingroup.htm