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My Journey Into Life

Background, Ideas, Dreams & Conclusions

  • I BACKGROUND
  • II IDEAS
  • III DREAMS
  • IV CONCLUSIONS
  • The Great Hall

    Come with me
    into the great hall of my heart.

    I will light the candle
    of my thoughts and
    I invite you to light yours.

    With these flames dancing together
    we will explore the deep shadows
    of our grief until the light of morning
    fills this sacred space with joy
    and songs of our praise.

    Donald W. Mathews

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    I BACKGROUND

    Childhood

    As a child I frequently lived in a world of imagination, creating cities and towns in the back yard for my toy cars, or in school, instead of learning the day's lesson, drawing futuristic places where great battles occurred between space ships. Buck Rogers and Prince Valiant were my favorite heroes. Soon I was making model airplanes and dreaming of flying. In my earliest reoccurring dream, standing beside an evergreen tree, I could levitate when I flapped my arms hard enough. Perhaps this showed an early tendency for imagination and the realms of the mind. Years later when I dreamed this dream on, I found myself on a stage in the center of a large stadium filled with people. I was elated with the recognition I felt. By the sixth grade I excelled in drawing and various craft projects earning me recognition as the class artist. I was also chosen to sing solo musical parts in class and played violin in the school orchestra.

    Turning away from artistic endeavors, I decided by the seventh grade I would become an engineer even though I had no idea what it really entailed. Unconsciously, I think I was following the path of my stepfather Tom Mathews, an engineer and mystic whom I admired, and my birth father, Bill Chamberlain who I later found out was a train engineer. Tom's hobby of antique automobiles also contributed to this inclination as I earned my first automobile at age 12, a 1909 one cylinder Brush, by taking apart the engine and reassembling it successfully.

    In high school, I successfully discovered further flights of imagination through studies in literature and mathematics. In my senior year I worked on the yearbook and participated in the class play enjoying social recognition. Upon graduation, I was identified by my classmates as "The Dreamer."

    Adulthood

    Continuing my studies in Community College and by taking on various jobs at service stations and later as a draftsman at a structural engineering firm, I entered adulthood. I also joined the California Air National Guard working on the flight line. I had my first airplane ride in a F-80 jet from the squadron. As President of the Engineering Club, I helped design a float where I danced with the Homecoming Queen to the tune of Stardust. I spent three years preparing for upper division engineering classes before receiving a Navy scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley. Fortunately, I was released from the squadron for my navy scholarship as they were activated for duty and shipped out to the Korean War.

    At Berkeley, beside designing bridges for my engineering major, my college creative efforts were limited to my fraternity—making illustrations for the party book and helping design more homecoming floats. It was a wonderful social time for me. However, the most important occurrence of my senior year was meeting my future wife, Lou, a fraternity brother's date. After taking a rain check for our shortened first dance, it took me several months to look her up at San Jose State. We were married before I left on my last Midshipman cruise after graduation in 1953.

    Career & Family

    Originally upon commissioning, I thought I would practice engineering with Navy Seabees, but flight training suddenly became an available choice. Lucky for me, I was ordered to Pensacola, Florida where I learned to fly. Lou and I arrived in the middle of the night during the heart of a hurricane. Again an unseen hand seemed to be guiding and protecting our way. Later, I learned to fly multi-engine planes in advanced training at Hutchenson, Kansas during the summer of 1954. Lou was then pregnant with our first child, Robin.

    My serious journey into self discovery and dreams began eleven years later in 1965 at age 35. After duty in several squadrons flying long range patrols on four deployments in Japan and Alaska, and finishing graduate school in Monterey and at Stanford, I was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown as a part of ship's company. Lou and I had been blessed with two more daughters by this time, Carol and Jennifer. As one of only three qualified to run the ship on the bridge for the Captain, I was away from my family for most of the time on long operational deployments to Vietnam. Consequently, my relationship with family rapidly deteriorated with the long separations.

    Searching for answers, Lou started therapy and I checked out Freud's book on dreams from the library. Thus began my critical search for meaning and a new direction for my life. For the first time, I also realized I could make important choices and take a stand regarding my relationships, profession and unexamined personal life. With this new outlook, I also gained stature as a more effective Naval Officer. But more importantly, my relationship with Lou and my family entered a new phase where we began to consciously deepen our love. My priorities where changing rapidly.

    Abruptly, I turned down orders for another career enhancing deployment aboard ship and received orders to the Armed Forces Staff College where I joined the evening wives oil painting class. Then I turned down an offer to command a squadron and instead became an Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officer teaching Aeronautics at the Naval Academy and later working in Washington as a Project Manager. I was finding my inner directed voice of authority! As a part of the sixties phenomenon, I was also examining my spiritual beliefs and long dormant creativity by taking further art classes at Saint John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. The Ecumenical Movement was in full swing making it a great time to explore.

    Some nine years later in 1974, while stationed on the staff of the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, I attended a Mathematics Department Seminar on Hypnotherapy given by Dr. Emmett Miller, MD, which eventually led to a week exploring at Esalen Institute with him and cofounder Dick Price. There, to begin with, the group received an induction to remember our dreams and a wide door opened to my unconscious! It was time for discovery of my emotional side. I was presented with a series of dreams pointing to my unexpressed grief over the death of both of my parents during the prior year. They had died within six months of each other under very difficult and deteriorating circumstances.

    The dream imagery included my oldest daughter, who looked like my mother, dragging a chair across the hardwood floor of my family home creating a deep scar and a moonscape with a large crane holding a sheet of steel with two wrapped bundles beside it as bait for a mysterious dragon. As I did some Gestalt work with Dick Price, in great sobs I discovered it was the dragon of grief as the steel plate ripped in two! Since that time, I have been in good relationship with my dreams filling many journals with their stories and often recording several a night.

    Come Mourn With Me

    There is a secret chamber
    in the darkness of my heart
    where grief and sorrow
    have their start.

    When I have
    the strength to share
    my pain and
    private demons there,

    My soul reveals
    a hidden spring
    that in its cleansing flow
    heals everything.

    Donald W. Mathews

    Meanwhile, I continued to explore my creativity through painting and sculpture entering various local art competitives. My Navy career successfully continued with promotion to Captain. My next assignment would be to command a weapons project or major facility, but I recognized it was time for another personal change. At age 45 it was time to put down roots in the beautiful town of Monterey where I designed two different homes.

    Retirement

    A couple of years later after my Navy retirement in 1975, while formally studying art and psychology, I connected with the Association of Transpersonal Psychology. I was particularly taken with their inclusion of the spiritual dimension with a humanistic psychological approach. While studying art, I explored as many different approaches and techniques as possible from ceramics to print making, finally ending up in a Master's Program at San Jose State University.

    While studying for my Masters in painting, I became stuck in the process unable to progress—I was in a creative crises. As I sat in conference with my five advisors, they began to share stories of when they too were stuck with their studies in art. One advisor had visited my home where I was building a new solar system for my house when ever I finished my "painting home work." He told me, "Your art is where your heart is—it is on the roof!"

    I discovered I had set aside my engineering background as "not applicable to art." It was a distorted perception. Soon I was building very successful sculpture based on engineering principles and dream imagery! It was my sculpture that earned the degree and competitive awards. I was also accepted into the advanced MFA program. However, after a year of classes, I decided I had enough school for a while and needed to get on with my life.

    Initially upon receiving various Community College Teaching Credentials, I started offering studio art classes at Fort Ord for Monterey Peninsula College. My claim to fame was bringing the nude model on to the base for my classes. After work, men and women dressed in army fatigues would draw with other civilian students.

    Shortly thereafter I met Dr. Brugh Joy, MD while continuing my own inner work with Ed Ross, a local psychologist. I had also started dream work again, participating in group workshops in Monterey and at Esalen Institute. Eventually, this led me to Zurich in 1988 for an intensive program with Dr. Arnold Mindell, Ph.D., a Jungian Analyst who was the founder of Dreambody Work and Process Oriented Psychology now based in Portland, Oregon.

    The Creative Edge

    In 1985 while visiting sacred sites in Greece with my spiritual mentor, Jungian therapist Edith Sullwold, it came to me to start my own learning center sometime in the future. It was my first inkling of a deeper calling. Meanwhile, funding dried up for part time Community College classes and I started offering private art lessons at home. While on retreat at the 1988 Brugh Joy Year End Conference, the impulse for formulation of The Creative Edge: The Way Of The Arts was solidified with poet David Whyte agreeing to be the first workshop presenter. It was formally incorporated in California as a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1989 with the following charge:

      "... to sponsor nonprofit public benefit educational programs that introduce and develop for individuals the inner creative process used by experienced artists of various fine arts disciplines. In particular, these programs are based on the belief that artistic expression consciously based on material from the psyche supports healthy development of both the individual and the society. Further, it is believed that by learning creative expression in several disciplines of the arts, this process is significantly enhanced. Fundamental principles from Jungian, Transpersonal, and Process Oriented psychology's form a conceptual basis for this approach."

    During the following years, I arranged for poets, storytellers, singers and many other creative people beside myself to lead workshops and make public presentations. Like myself, many reach mid-life yearning for a deeper connection with their creativity and life's purpose as well as learning the various expressive arts. The Creative Edge provides an ongoing way for many to participate in small safe intimate groups as well as a place to share their emerging creative projects.

    Creative Edge has also provided support for other community creative projects. Completing the Community Labyrinth Project—a permanent labyrinth open to everyone located on the grounds of The Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula—is one example taking approximately eleven years to raise funds and complete.

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    II IDEAS

    Teachers

    Both Brugh Joy and Arnie Mindell are wizards with dreams and inner work. I have learned much from them sitting in their circles with other seekers doing "the work." I recommend Brugh's book Avalanche and Arnie's first of many books, Dreambody. Carl Jung's book Man and his Symbols also provides a great beginning understanding of psychology and dreams. Two other psychologists whose work has influenced me significantly are Abraham Maslow (Toward a Psychology of Being) and Carl Rogers (On Becoming A Person). For me, the understanding of human behavior and the mysteries of the psyche provide the necessary bridge into the human spirit, spirituality and the deeper meaning of life. Let me share some ideas and understandings I adopted from them and helped form my emerging world view.

    Divine Nature

    Carl Jung called the ego "self," with a small s, differing from the "Self," the unconscious mysterious core drive feeding the psyche and providing clues to healthy growth and development. Often what comes from the unconscious feels foreign as if it doesn't belong to us—it is not what we ordinarily identify with. However, I feel this mysterious deep inner resource is our Divine or God like nature providing a special creative resource for life experience. The psyche in our unconscious develops a cast of characters and stories found in our dreams, imagination or day dreams representing emerging or potential energies or aspects of our unique being. Some dream characters are in relationship and others quite at war with each other. Some show themselves as an animal or some kind of instinctive creature. By creating relationship with all of them, we expand our human potential.

    Beside personal images or characters, there are universal or collective patterns or motifs that often show up in dreams. Jung called them Archetypes. All these psychic energies have a potentially useful place as we attempt to live our lives. It is up to us to interpret when they are appropriate and apply their energies consciously with our choices for specific action. Otherwise, we limit our growth and contribution to life.

    Projective Process

    Emotionally or symbolically, what is hidden within us reflects on the outer face of life or on others, sometimes as a fault, other times as an attribute we do not yet identify with or own for ourselves. The power of the projective process and our subtle undirected or intuitive attention both provide additional clues to a mysterious hidden resource and content within us. This relates to Jung's concept of Synchronicity, a meaningful coincidence of outer and inner events that are themselves not causally connected. Often in dreams are found collective symbols with special meaning when we connect them to our lives.

    The simple act of noticing what has our attention provides clues to the inner mysteries. Also, ancient oracles with powerful images or meanings like the I Ching or Taro cards may be used to activate this projective process. By trusting these processes and activating imagination, it is like pulling a fine thread from the unconscious until some specific meaningful hidden content reveals itself. Once the content is identified, we are able to rationally question our own relationship with it or its value to us.

    Realizing this, the projective process is particularly useful in expanding consciousness with shadow or disowned material we have not yet integrated into our psyche. The judgment of the pointy finger—when one finger points, there are three more aimed back at us. This allows us to reclaim what is the true focus in a projection. Finding our own participation in some important way. All we have to do is challenge how we personally relate to it.

    Self Actualization

    Abraham Maslow studied the most well adjusted and developed people searching for common characteristics of successful maturity. Previously, psychologists typically limited their study to people's ills and their healing processes. Maslow called the target of this healthiest psychological development self-actualization—a state of Being usually found only in later life, rather than Becoming, associated with the earlier developmental process of individuation as Jung called it. With self-actualization is found a freedom for a rich and creative life centered on a deep inner source for direction with an inclusive attitude toward others and life's surprises, including finally, death itself.

    According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, our emotional development and current needs first build on physiological factors (need for air, water, food, shelter, sleep, sex); then, safety & security; third, love &belongingness or relationship; fourth, esteem or ego needs; and finally, meta needs or needs of the spirit. Meta needs or values encompass elements of: truth, goodness, beauty, aliveness, individuality, perfection, necessity, completion, justice, order, simplicity, richness, playfulness, effortlessness, self sufficiency and meaningfulness—all characteristics of self-actualization. If any levels are not satisfied or blocked however, our development is arrested and our efforts easily revert to satisfying lower level needs. Consequently, because of arrested development or unavoidable circumstances, many never reach their human potential levels of self-actualization. However, like salmon returning to spawn, we are unconsciously driven to find our way through life's maze toward this goal.

    Perceptions

    As we grow, we can only perceive life filtered and limited by interpretation of our experiences, ideas and emotional needs. Perceptions of life are hopefully ever growing and expanding as we learn and experience new situations. Sometimes strongly held or distorted perceptions sink into the unconscious and become limiting prejudices ruling or guiding our conscious life and keeping us from seeing and responding to life clearly or fully. Early on in life, this filtered masking or distortion of life may protect us until we are emotionally ready to face more difficult or complex interpretations and choices. This is the protective task of a developing ego in the process of individuation. However, at various times in our lives, as we are able, it is vitally important to re-examine our perceptions for appropriateness in our present life stage. This is particularly true with expanding consciousness when some old ideas or values no longer fit. This is where friends or therapy can be helpful. During a time of crisis, a door to the unconscious is often opened for change and re-examination of perceptions.

    Therapy

    When development is thwarted, symptoms may emerge that may lead to healing or alternative possibilities for continued growth. Carl Jung believed symptoms indicated the way to health and growth rather than what must be cured or fixed. Therefore, one must be careful to consider the positive possibilities associated with symptoms before attempting to cure them! Dreams often show this pathway through their revealing psychic characters and dramas. Psychotherapy is often helpful with this when we feel stuck. A good therapist becomes a guide and teacher for the ways of the inner worlds. As we intimately share perceptions with others, we gain insight to the reality of being fully human and having truly expanded consciousness. For me, sitting in many therapeutic circles sharing and listening to the stories of other seekers has been an insightful gift. It has also brought me down to earth with understanding my own humanness.

    Carl Rogers' "Client Centered Therapy" explained that clues to healing are often best found within the individual's process rather than in the therapist's or society's standards about health or well-being. Roger's also believed we must have total positive regard for each other's process for the necessary therapeutic trust to develop at an intimate level.

    We go through many stages of development to reach maturity or self-actualization—a life long task. Only in my sixties did I begin to feel the security of my growing maturity. As we grow in consciousness in our society, both individually and collectively, we make choices. Some choices contribute to evolution, others do not. There is no blame for those choices that turn out to be wrong. What is important is to risk participation. As I previously discussed, in the ground of our being or Self, at what I would call the soul level, is the hidden creative source or resource to help guide us in our struggle to make right choices from interpretation of both inner and outer resources.

    Growing in Spirit

    He who hopes to grow in spirit
    will have to transcend obedience and respect.

    He'll hold to some laws but he'll mostly violate
    both law and custom, and go beyond the established inadequate norm.

    Sensual pleasure will have much to teach him.

    He won't be afraid of the destructive act:
    half the house will have to come down.

    This way he'll grow virtuously into wisdom.

    C. P. Cavafy

    Inclusiveness

    As we grow and mature with expanding consciousness, it is important to clear old distortions and get to know and integrate our various hidden characters or personal aspects. Nothing under the sun is neglected in consideration for responsible action. This is an inclusive approach to life. However, only we are responsible for our final choices!

    Ecclesiastes brings this application of inclusiveness into focus.

      For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
      a time to be born, and a time to die;
      a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
      a time to kill, and a time to heal;
      a time to break down, and a time to build up;
      a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
      a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
      a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
      a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
      a time to seek, and a time to lose;
      a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
      a time to rent, and a time to sew;
      a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
      a time to love, and a time to hate;
      a time for war, and a time for peace.

      Ecclesiastes (3: 1-8)—Revised Standard Version

    Creative Process

    Many in our culture disown or disregard their creativity since most people are not trained in the craft of art. However, since application of the craft is the last step in the creative process, we may all benefit from this special natural gift regardless of our artistic training. It readily becomes the basis for a new way of life—the creative way! Perhaps this process is best recognized by most of us as intuition—a sixth sense, knowing without reason or rational processes. It is what becomes conscious from the unconscious. We are all gifted with this amazing ability connected to imagination! We must learn how to use it in our every day lives!

    Artists use the most important four step creative process in their work to access the inner world and its creative resource—intuitive inspiration. First one begins with a conscious idea, focus, or what ever has our attention, then a break from the subject is necessary allowing it to disappear into the unconscious where a creative synthesis takes place bringing inspiration back to consciousness in a third step. This may not happen immediately, and as has happened for many, it may come later in the form of a dream. What comes into focus from the unconscious with regard to the subject provides new expanded possibilities for the last conscious step—bringing the inspiration into reality through application of craft or decision to take action. There are usually many cycles leading to completion of a project. The important second step of opening or letting go of conscious connection is vital and often over looked in our busy society!

    The ancient Greeks identified nine Divine Muses providing inspiration to both artists and scientists. In mythology, the Muses were daughters of the Goddess Mnemosyne or Memory. I believe this includes both the deep personal and collective memory found in the unconscious. Hence, meditating, relaxing the mind or "musing" tends to activate this creative process and imagination from deep within. Sometimes the feedback from the unconscious is delayed or seems to come unbidden. For example we have all had the experience as we are going out the door, something causes us to pause. When we think back looking for what it is about, we remember we forgot to turn off the stove or lock the door. As if from a guardian angel, we are gifted with what is needed at the time! However, it is essential to be open to the subtle call that causes us to pause, then seek meaning for the message. And finally, we must decide how to use what comes.

    What comes through from the unconscious may be in the form of a thought, image or idea, but it provides a creative moment and possibility ready for translation or application to the original focus, subject or our lives. The process is iterative and may be cycled as often as necessary. Often it is like fishing where several insights are caught and saved or released until the right one, the one that feels just right, is recognized and kept. Many times, our dreams or day-dreams provide a channel for inspiration's flow. Many important discoveries or inventions have come to people in this way.

    Carl Rogers presented important ideas on the nature and conditions necessary for creativity and the creative process in his paper Toward a Theory of Creativity.

    Fear

    It is essential to overcome fears evoked at the creative edge—the boundary past which the outcome is no longer assured. Fear is often a governing factor affecting our life choices and constricting our participation in it. Fear prevents us from digging deeper into our psyche to discover who we really are beyond our conditioned edges. Life being what it is, we often face fearful or risky situations, but we must not be ruled by our fears. We must risk failure by trying the new and exploring what is gifted uniquely to us from the unconscious to find what is truly viable in our quest. Ultimately, we must over come our fears and find a trust in something. I believe this is our true spiritual calling, where faith overcomes fear and we are free to live life fully making our particular contribution to life from the deepest core of our being.

    Calling

    Unmasking our deepest personal drive is finding our calling. Some find it early in life, some later and others not at all. Some will continue to follow the calling of others without ever looking inside for their own! And, our calling may continue to change as our life unfolds. However, a major task for each of us is to continue our personal growth and development until we connect to this deep inner source and find our particular life calling—ultimately the calling that gives our life meaning as we follow it even in the face of our relatively short lives and death. Making this contribution from each of us is terribly important to all of life. As we change, the world around us changes. I believe life and evolution depend on us to make this deeply personal contribution to it.

    Self-portrait

    It doesn't interest me if there is one God
    or many gods.
    I want to know if you belong or feel
    abandoned.
    If you know despair or can see it in others.
    I want to know
    if you are prepared to live in the world
    with its harsh need
    to change you. If you can look back
    with firm eyes
    saying this is where I stand. I want to know
    if you know
    how to melt into that fierce heat of living
    falling toward
    the center of your longing. I want to know
    if you are willing
    to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
    and the bitter
    unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

    I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even
    the gods speak of God.

    David Whyte—Fire in the Earth

    Our calling is buried under various layers of necessary early conditioning guiding our human development. First family, then society or culture, religion, education and other sources provide orientation and protection until we reach a sufficient level of experience to shift to our inner resources for primary guidance without fear. Often this occurs near mid-life when the urge to find meaning in life and look inward arises naturally—the so called mid life crises period. Either deep self examination starts or for some, there is a regression to replay the first half of life again by looking outside ourselves for the answers. A good crises often literally opens us up for possible self discovery and change. Death of a parent or loved one may also provide the painful stimulus.

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    III DREAMS

    Dream Work

    Our dreams and fantasies carry the most intimate reflections of the deep truth of who we are and who we could become, including desirable as well as dark undesirable traits found in the human psyche. Dreams carry the song of our soul, and ultimately reflect our inner possibilities—our calling, our divinity. Inclusively, they show the truest expression of our deeper mysteries and the cast of characters that live in our psyche governing our lives. Some characters we know and acknowledge and others are yet to be discovered and integrated. However, dreams are expressed in a strange language—the story teller's language of metaphor and imagination needing to be interpreted for content applying to each of us personally and the world in general.

    Dreams are evoked mysteriously from our psyche with image and story without normal boundaries of reason and tight rules of social conformity of ordinary consciousness. They reflect both personal and collective themes—often with historical roots and providing future possibilities. Most importantly, they unflinchingly reflect our personal patterns, stories and myths, often coming with great emotional power.

    All dream characters represent parts of our selves or energies we carry when we look at the underlying content. We have the choice to consciously relate or reject with what we see. Remember, we all are potentially capable of all human behavior and responsible for how it is expressed. How it is used determines whether the behavior is good or bad. When a characteristic is adopted as potentially ours, we may then choose how, or if, it is to be expressed. Otherwise, in denial, it is often unconsciously projected only on others.

    Actors in a dream have been creatively selected by the psyche to represent important figures carrying selective characteristics or energies for the drama. As we relate to characters and actions within the dream, we begin to get a feel for our relationship to the underlying energies—attracted or repulsed by varying degrees. It is important to have a sense of curiosity rather than judgment as we search for meaningful content and understanding in a dream or story. However, it is often difficult to overcome the projective tendency and bring the dream home as our own. It requires relationship work!

    Some dreams are uplifting and others appear as nightmares. Sometimes their energies are as we expect and other times quite different—some characters or behaviors may be personally so embarrassing we try to keep them locked in a closet or try to kill them off! However, there seems to be a natural regulation process that reveals them to us when we are ready to face them as our own. Remember, dreams in their own way are all gifts from our heart to be revealed to us as a true source for our healing, growth and expanded consciousness. Sharing the dream with another often helps. However, it is important for others not to force an early acceptance of the dream material on the dreamer.

    By learning the metaphoric language of dreams and developing conscious relationship with their energies, we facilitate our consciousness with expanded capability and are able to express choice in how the energies are actually expressed in our lives with deep meaning.

    Learning to remember our dreams is like developing a friendship. The characters of our dreams may be very shy about revealing themselves—others are quite angry about how they have been disowned as meaningful psychic family members. So to begin, we must set intention and make a commitment to the new relationship. Being creative and patient in our approach helps. Buying and using a journal is also useful. Condition the mind to remember a dream just before sleep and upon awakening and before movement. Find someone you trust to listen to your dream. Do it with highest priority and with integrity.

    As we develop our creative abilities for dream work, intuition and subtle emotional hits, they will direct our attention to specific important aspects of the drama to explore. Trust that our attention is emotionally directed. It is often helpful to relax and let memories or associations of similar experiences come to mind. Look for a theme or marque phrase that summarizes the dream. Again, it's like fishing. Catch several thoughts or associations—one will stand out as the one to be saved and explored. However, stay open to other possibilities. The mind is then free to explore associations of the underlying dynamics. Others sharing a dream can be invited to share memories of similar situations that come to mind with their own personal associations as they reflect on the dream. In some cases their associations will resonate, other times not. This is more helpful I believe than having others interpret your dream.

    When there are known personalities, identify characteristics that would uniquely differentiate them from another. Ask how you relate to their traits and the quality of your own relationship with the characteristics. Can you own each one or not? The age of a character is often important. Check what possibility the age or number in a dream carries—does it reflect time's passage in an occurrence from your own life?

    Sharing

    Sharing our dreams makes us vulnerable to really being known by others. This step takes courage and loving support. It requires acceptance of dreams as rich and meaningful to mainly the DREAMER'S personal process, regardless of subject matter or content. By risking sharing our dreams in a supportive environment, we begin to claim the fullness of who we really are. This is particularly true in mid-life where the inner journey to maturity often begins and unexamined dark shadowy material is revealed.

    A dream's content, like any story, touches each of us in a unique way. It can carry universal themes. Jung called them archetypes. And, a dream can also reflect very personal psychic energies or patterns only relevant to the dreamer. Although we may have insight into an other's dream, we must be careful not to assume we understand the dreamer's relationship with the material or content of the dream. However, because of shared humanness, an other's dream may uniquely become our own to explore as if we were the original dreamer.

    When we look at an other's dream as our own, sharing personal insights from our own experience and point of view that are evoked, it reveals the rich collection of possibilities of interpretation for all dreams. Importantly, we each must test an insight emotionally to see if it resonates for us. The dream sharing process requires unconditional or loving acceptance of each other recognizing our personal differences. When this shared trust is established, we become "members one of another" in the constructive work of the spirit. This level of intimacy can be highly rewarding. As a teacher once told me, "It is like getting into the bathtub together!"

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    IV CONCLUSIONS

    Evolutionary Process

    In the larger sense I believe what I have been talking about is an evolutionary process and it favors and supports life! Our lives! For me, it provides a divine spiritual essence to life. Uniquely within each of us is also this powerful unconscious creative spirit and drive toward personal development and participation in life. It is buried deep within our own personal nature with a subtle drive for healthy growth to our fullest potential. Thus we may come to know and have faith in all of it!

    When we finally realize this and feel our unique life journey as our greatest personal gift within a supportive environment, we are freed from many fears and are able to participate more fully in it even with life's inherent difficulties. Our goal is simply to be ever more conscious and present in life! This is true even though in the short run, our particular path or calling may seem counter productive or even destructive to the prevailing order at times. This brings deep faith in the process of life its self as a Divine mystery we need not fear. I feel this process of the human spirit is deeply spiritual although not necessarily religious.

    Revelation

    What was before the beginning of time remains a mystery. But out of the void something moved or exploded into what we now call Creation! It was both tangibly material and unfathomably spiritual, extending the mystery into our time and beyond. Life is an act of pure faith. Its deepest meaning is found in the fulfillment of our own hidden essence while feeling embraced by life's goodness in the face of all its adversity and affliction. In May of 1992 I awoke from deep sleep with this transforming insight that became a poem.

    Night Harvest

    Slowly,
    in deep stillness,
    in deep stillness of early morning darkness,
    ghostly forms begin to stir.

    Slowly in deep stillness
    of early morning darkness
    ghostly forms begin to stir
    and haunt the empty chambers of my mind.

    There is no image.
    There is no dream.
    There is no light.
    There is no God!

    I am alone.
    I am alone on the edge.
    I am alone on the edge of life.
    I am alone on the edge of life with all life.

    We are seeds.
    We are seeds alone.
    We are seeds awakening to light.
    We are seeds awakening to light with all light.

    We are traveling.
    We are traveling forward in time.
    We are traveling forward on the edge of darkness.
    We are carrying the divine light of all creation for an instant.

    We are the seeds of God.
    We are the seeds of God for an instant.
    We are the seeds of God and all creation for an instant.
    Then we are gone—while the light of all creation continues on.

    Donald W. Mathews

    Somehow, this revelation freed me from fear of death and the many difficulties life always presents. I was gifted with the realization: life is a gift, and simply, its purpose is to fully celebrate it! In the complexity of being fully human and the realization that we are all in this thing called life together, we must each dive into the core of our being to find who we are and our unique calling that brings us into relationship with those around us. It doesn't happen over night. We must faithfully commit to the struggles and joys of each unfolding phase of our lives and honor the creative effort we each bring to the moment.

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