Mystery of Dreams - Degrees of Reality

I've read Carl's accounts of dreams with a sense of wonderment and delight.  Do most folks remember most of their dreams?  I don't, and never have.  In all my life I can't remember much more than ten or a dozen dreams.  So the ones I do remember were and remain powerful.  Life-changing?  In some cases yes indeed, and probably more than I fully understand. 

Which is more real:  a dream or a shadow?

Some of my dreams take the form of epic fantasies - perhaps if Anne Rice and Carlos Castaneda had collaborated on The Lord Of The Rings.  Two that I can think of had themes of imprisonment and integrity.  It was the integrity part of both of them that bothered me.  There have been at least a couple attempts to turn one into a novel.  I worked on one for almost ten years before giving it up.  I don't have the manuscript anymore, sad to say.  It was the one about Jesus and Judas. 

I know that I dream, frequently if not nightly.  Most of the time it's as if a door slams shut as soon as I wake.  If I remember a dream at all, there's no need to write it down.  I'll always remember it.  I've never had a wet dream.  Occasionally I have dreamed of pretty women that I've known, in situations where they were nude, but the odd thing is that in the dream there was never anything the least bit sexual about it.  I would wake thinking Wow, that was strange...and knowing that just as I thought, the kitchen manager has very, very nice breasts.  And that would be that. I've had dreams with naked women in them, but I have never dreamed about naked women.  I don't think I have ever dreamed about sex.

There's a story that if you dream about falling you always wake before you hit the ground, because if you hit, you'd die from the imaginary trauma.  Well, that may not always be true, and it may never be true.  I dreamed I fell out of an airplane into a lake.  I remember going under and having the wind knocked out of me.  I was perfectly alright when I woke, however - a little out of breath as I recall.  I was about ten.

Dreams are a mystery to me.  Some have given me insights into myself, and some have given me views of alternate universes that seemed every bit as real - and still do, like Carl's indescribable crystal mountain - as my everyday life.  Our brains are as active when we dream as when we are fully engaged in the waking world.  Which side of the veil is more real?  Is that even a question that has meaning?

It is if we're in danger of getting lost in our dreams, of losing touch with reality.  But wait a minute, which reality?  What if we get so mired in this world that we lose our dreams and forget who we are?   What if those places we visit are every bit as real as what we call The Real World?

I find I cannot say that everything about this world is more real or even necessarily as real as any other.  I don't think science can prove anything one way or the other.  I certainly hope not, because I can envision the kind of experiments they would probably conduct trying to find out.  Let them finish defining this reality first.  That should keep them busy for a while.  

There are levels of reality - aren't there?  Consider my words.  I'm not writing, I'm typing.  And I'm not using a typewriter but a computer.  As soon as I hit the button, and as nearly three dozen other souls log on and read my words, they will enter your own thoughts and affect them in some small way.  All of which is unquestionably real.  But where exactly is the reality?  What could I show a stranger to prove I wrote this?  There is no paper and no ink, nothing tangible at all.  If we all unplug, then my words are gone, except for the ghost in our minds.  

Carl's dream changed his life, something my words are unlikely to do.  Which is more real?





fredburks's picture

Dave, thanks for that beautifully thought-provoking piece. I know that I go through training many nights in my dreams. I call it dream school. Many times I can't remember anything upon awakening. Other times I have only glimpses, while occasionally I awaken with vivid clarity of everything I just experienced. I plan to occasionally share here some of the many powerful, mind-boggling dreams I've had. I actually just entered one powerfully expansive experience from last year before coming here. I'd love to hear more about the few transformational dreams you remember, too, Dave. Would you write up the one about Jesus and Judas and any others you think might ispire us? I so love all you share with us, Dave!

With sacred love flowing,

davelambert's picture

It's going to be hard to be brief writing about this but I'll try. Sometime in the early 90s I had the remarkable experience of having consecutive dreams, three nights in a row. That is, each night's dream picked up where the previous one left off. In these dreams, I wrote an opera called The Terrorist that examined the relationship between Jesus and Judas. Phillip Glass wrote the score, and in the third dream I watched the production on stage from beginning to end. I have never thought I could write an opera, but I tried for many years to turn this into a book.

You have to understand a couple of premises for this to make sense:

1. Judas' last name is recorded as Iscariot. The standard interpretation of this is that it's a rendition of the Hebrew ish-kerioth, meaning man of Kerioth. Kerioth is a town in southern Judea. There are suggestions in the gospels that Judas was considered an outsider by the other disciples, and that the fact that he was a southerner while the rest were Galileans is the explanation. I'm intrigued by Isaac Asimov's suggestion that the true rendition should be Sicariot, indicating that he was a member of the Sicarii, a terrorist group. The Sicarii are a big topic in this plot.

2. Judas is portrayed as a thief and a liar in the gospels. My premise is that he was actually the most trusted of the group, the innermost of the inner circle. He was the treasurer. He kept the money. There is an old legend that Jesus and Judas were actually twins. This thread certainly comes from some fact or circumstance that's been buried in time.

3. Jesus was far more political than is generally recognized. He associated with terrorists and extremists (the Zealots and Sicarii), and many of his teachings are veiled references to the authorities that would have been instantly recognized by his listeners although they appear more obscure to us today.

4. Events were orchestrated. As the crucifixion approached, timing and symbolism were everything. Jesus was crucified at Passover in a Jubilee Year. If the timing was right, it would set Jesus apart from the many, many religious leaders, rebels and criminals that were casually crucified by the Romans. It was Judas who worked behind the scenes along with Jesus to set up events such as the availability of the colt and the enthusiastic crowds (no doubt hoping for a repeat of the loaves-and-fishes thing) on Palm Sunday, with less than a week to go.

(Early that Sunday morning, the group walked up the long hill from Jericho to Jerusalem. As they left Jericho, Jesus encountered a blind man named Bartimaeus, whose sight he restored. In many ways this incident crystallizes the nature of Jesus' healing ministry, and his name give a fascinating clue to the man's person. A subject for another essay - it's really my favorite Easter story).

So the scenes in the dream revolved around these things. It went into the relationship between Judas and the other disciples, especially Peter and the Zeb brothers, James and John. The two people that the gospels record resentment from the disciples toward are Judas and Mary Magdalene and to a lesser extent, Matthew because of his occupation and John because of his young age and possible sexual orientation. Although Mary didn't figure much in this dream, she is important for two main reasons. First, as Jesus' wife she gave him status as a rabbi. And second, in the larger sense she balanced the yin and yang of what I call the Jesus events. This presence of the feminine, although coyly allowed and largely suppressed, is crucial to understanding the singularity of Jesus' significance in history. I also believe it illustrates a crucial distinction between the Jewish/Christian awareness and the Muslim approach to religion. But I digress. Again.

It was all about the timing, and some of it got pretty elaborate. God works in mysterious ways, and there are certainly miracles abounding - but most of the time the Divine works in the material world with material hands. The only way for Jesus to accomplish his mission was to have a co-conspirator, to whom he could fully explain the Big Picture in a way that the simple fishermen couldn't grasp. (Another reason for the resentment - Judas was the smartest and most educated).

It's important to understand that Jesus and his band were only one of many religious and social troublemakers. The Romans had their hands full in Judea. All Middle Easterners are passionate, and Jews were as stiff-necked and consumed with hubris then as they are now. Jesus' teachings were radical on a number of levels, but he was just a common criminal as far as Pontius Pilate was concerned, even if some of his followers did think he was the son of God. What is truth? he asked as he washed his hands in salt water. Haven't we all.

Once arrested and in Roman hands, Jesus could count on a fairly speedy trial and public execution. Again, the timing of the crucifixion on THAT PARTICULAR DAY was crucial, not only for the symbolism which would assure his lasting singularity, but also because it offered his only chance of surviving the crucifixion itself. By being crucified Friday morning and taken down before evening, he avoided the agonizing, drawn-out death by suffocation that awaited many on the cross. His injuries, although grievous, were not life-threatening. And certainly I am not suggesting that there was not something star-crossed about this man. I am not saying he orchestrated events in order to synchronize his life with prophecies. I'm saying he was so in tune with the divine intent that he seamlessly integrated those prophecies and understood his role in that process.

The most dramatic scene was the one where Jesus explained privately to Judas what he must do to ensure the timing of his arrest and subsequent execution. Judas learned ahead of time and understood full well what his apparent defection and betrayal meant. He believed in Jesus' mission more deeply than any of the other disciples, and his devotion was such that he allowed himself to become a villain for all history, in order to carry God's mission forward. The conversation took place in the very room where, just 24 hours later as the entire group sat eating what would be their final meal together, Jesus turned to Judas and said, "Friend, it is time to do what you must do." At that moment, Judas sacrificed himself every bit as fully as his master. He got up, left, and entered hell.

He went to the Pharisees, who took him to the Roman authorities in the Antonia fortress, right there on the Temple grounds. He led them to the group's camp outside the walls on Mount Olive. There were thousands of pilgrims in town for the Jubilee and the Passover, and the olive groves were full of dancing shadows from the fires of the many groups camped there. The armed group strode through the trees like the thugs they were, fanning out in the dark to be sure their quarry didn't escape. Judas fully exposed himself to the disciples by identifying Jesus to the soldiers with a kiss. There was a scuffle in which a guard was injured, and Jesus was taken into custody.

Judas, of course, had entered the service and devoted his life to the most sublime and exciting Master one could ever imagine. He found himself part of an inner circle including Jesus, Mary, the teenager John, and himself. Only this group understood the true significance and import of events. Even Judas did not know that Jesus intended to survive the crucifixion. Mary alone carried that secret. After the arrest, Judas was crushed by the import of what he had done. He was nearly driven to madness. When the authorities sneeringly tossed him a couple hundred bucks for his service, he attempted to hang himself from the city walls near Golgotha. The rope snapped and he fell to his death on the rocks.

That in a nutshell is my story of Judas, the reformed terrorist. Ah, I haven't explained who the Sicarii were. Most of the peoples that were conquered and colonized by the Romans underwent a certain about of assimilation. The Jews were the most resistant of all, and they drove the Romans crazy. They demanded and were granted all kinds of special privileges - exemption from military service and genuflecting to most of the Roman gods, for example. Also, most of the standard Roman military banners were removed from Jerusalem, and Pontius Pilate built an aqueduct and other public works to appease the population. All to no avail: the Romans were universally hated. Their situation was not unlike that of the United States in Iraq, and the reasons are similar.

Political turmoil was the order of the day. Remember the 1960s? That was nothing. Some of the Saducees were so extreme in their views that they were known as the Zealots. We know that at least one of these, named Simon, was among Jesus' circle of twelve. The most extreme, the ones who truly became terrorists, were call the Sicarii. This word (according to Isaac Asimov) refers to a kind of knife that was used in that part of the world - sort of a dagger with a curved blade, called a siccum, if my Latin is accurate which it may not be. It's related to the word sickle. This weapon was favored for assassinations and other crimes because it was easily concealable, and could be used to stab as well as drawn across the throat, thus killing a victim silently. Drunken soldiers staggering back to the barracks after hours were always in danger of having one of these siccae appearing from behind - and seconds later a shadowy figure slipped away from the twitching body in a black pool of blood. These were the Sicarii. Judas had been one of these, before his life was changed by the incredible teachings of his Master and guru - which he may have understood better than any of the others, enough to sacrifice himself in a way that few have ever been required to contemplate. To this day, people may name their kids Adolf - but no one ever names a kid Judas, nor ever will.

The others - Peter, in particular, wilingly gave their lives for the Cause in the course of time. But none grasped the transcendental fullness of Jesus' teaching so deeply as to be able to obliterate themselves so fully in service to the Divine, as the amazing and forever spat-upon Judas.

So, that is the story of Judas, the former terrorist. In my dream the music was by Phillip Glass to my libretto. Honestly, I don't remember the music much, and I'm not especially fond of Glass' music. Some of it is very interesting, and I could see it in this context. But he's no Beethoven. I believe that this dream occurred not long after the release of Glass' opera, Nixon In China - which I found interesting but boring.

Of course, I'd already developed most of the ideas that came out in this dream miniseries, but they came together in a way that I found very moving and profound. I've always felt that this was a gift from the Divine and not something dredged up from my own creative aquifers. It gave me breathtaking glimpses of the lives of the individual disciples. I spent time with James and John afloat before dawn, casting nets for the family business. As the moon glittered on the black water, the melodic chant of a psalm would drift across the waves and be taken up by other fishermen. I came to see Bartholomew as a man who struggled with homosexuality, and I lived with the passionate Jewish guilt of Matthew Levi, the tax collector. And the man Jesus, the fully human and truly divine, the most integrated man of the age, one of an endless series of Manifestations of Divine Intent that has guided mankind throughout its history - he was revealed to me in a much more complex and wonderful way than ever before. I awoke, and remembered, with a greater understanding of how truly radical God's truth was and is in the world, and why a complete transformation and cycle of destruction and rebuilding analogous to the Great Flood is the only way for that Faith to be established in the world.


davelambert's picture

I know that I go through training many nights in my dreams. I call it dream school.


That's a great thought...I never looked at it that way. It's this continual unfolding of perception that makes this Portal such a nexus of conscious motion.



fredburks's picture

Wow, Dave! Thanks for sharing that awesome dream!!! What a mind blower! I don't know if you have seen that the mainstream media even picked up for a while on what they call the Gospel of Judas, which has striking similarities to your story. You can find it at Thanks so much for taking the time to share that with us!

With sacred love flowing,

davelambert's picture

Fred, I was aware of the Gospel of Judas but haven't had a chance to read it. The link above didn't work for me, but I did a little Googlin' and came across some intriguing information. There are links to the text, I just haven't gone there yet. I don't think any of the ideas in my dream are original to me, and I'm always reading and pulling snippets from this source and that one - later on, I don't remember what came from where.

*Added later...

I've read some of the text and history of this gospel now, and it is quite interesting.  You're right, some of the ideas overlap - most of them, in fact.  It is certainly possible that I had the dream at about the time the discovery of this gospel was in the news.  I don't remember, but the timeline seems about right.  Isn't it interesting how our minds can work out ideas while we sleep.  I've read that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Dr. Jekyll And Mister Hyde after dreaming the story, and I've read of scientific discoveries being inspired by dreams.



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