A common misconception among lucid dreamers involves the issue of “control.” In my book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, I explain that the lucid dreamer directs his or her self within the dreaming; the lucid dreamer does not control the dream. I write: “No sailor controls the sea. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing. Similarly, no lucid dreamer controls the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming.” Lucid dreamers notice this via many unexpected developments within the lucid dream, such as “independent agents,” i.e., dream figures who act independently and often in contradiction to the lucid dreamer. When considered rationally, lucid dreamers realize they do not completely “control” the lucid dream.
Further support for this realization comes from lucid dreamers who use intent when consciously aware in the dream state. For example, artists have become lucidly aware and intended to discover new works of art when they enter the next room. Strolling into the next room, many see their request realized with a fantastic creative painting hanging there. The question is, who answered the intent? The lucid dreamer only intended it; he or she did not consciously imagine it (the subject, colors, placement, size, etc.) into being.
From such examples, we confront a question Carl Jung wrestled with: Does dreaming simply reflect a “psychic mirror world” reacting to the contents of our conscious mind, or does it show more? If more, how do we explain it? The above example suggests that the subconscious responds, and shows many qualities associated with consciousness: responsiveness, creativity, affect, and so on. Moreover, the response does not seem archaic, instinctual, random, or chaotic; rather, it seems many degrees more creative than the conscious self.
Experienced lucid dreamers can experiment with this question of creativity’s origin. In my case, certain unusual lucid dreams led to the realization that a larger, more creative awareness existed “behind the dream.” To test this, I developed a counter-intuitive lucid dreaming technique in which I ignored all of the dream figures, objects, and setting (assumed to represent aspects of the dreamer), and simply shouted my requests and questions to the “awareness behind the dream.”
Using this counter-intuitive technique, most lucid dreamers routinely receive a creative and helpful response. Sometimes the response is completely unexpected. In one example, the response was a direct refutation of the questioner’s errant assumption. In another case, the response was an analysis of the lucid dreamer’s inability to handle the magnitude of the request’s manifestation. The apparent awareness behind the dream exhibited more than creativity and responsiveness, it demonstrated the qualities that Carl Jung identified as suggestive of an inner awareness: perception, apperception, affectivity, memory, imagination, reflection, judgment, etc. By all appearances, lucid dreaming may be the tool for science to confirm the existence of a “second psychic system” or inner self, which Jung called “revolutionary in its significance."
I’ll be addressing the issue of control and inner self at this summer’s International Association for the Study of Dreams conference in Kerkrade, Netherlands (June 24–29, 2011). I hope to see you there!