Spiritual Dreams & Dream Research with Kelly Bulkeley
"Studying dreams is a way to study the natural foundations of human spiritual experiences and how to find the ways spiritual experiences and possibilities are woven into the fabric of our being…it's part of being human and something we all have as our birthright. That seems to lead away from what's scientific and the empirical but I think it's actually where the scientific and empirical lead. I really think it's leading to a validation of some very deep spiritual wisdom about dreaming that humans have known about for a long, long time."
Pioneering dream researcher Dr. Kelly Bulkeley offered Dream Discovery a fascinating conversation about dream research and dreams, spirituality and consciousness. Kelly is the author of over twenty books focused on dream research. His latest is "Big Dreams," an in-depth inquiry into the phenomena of epic dreams - those dreams you just can't forget. He's also a contributor to the Huffington Post.
Kelly is a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union, affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley. He earned his doctorate in Religion and Psychological Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Says Kelly:
"I've come to see dreaming as imaginative play in sleep. When the mind shuts off to external perceptions with no more stimulation coming in - we are free to play, to imagine, to speculate, to wander. Whatever value we may get from interpreting dreams and understanding their meaning, there is a deep value to the process of dreaming as an opportunity to play, to stretch our minds and try out different possibilities, to imagine…to rehearse...to play.
"Dreams have this uncanny, numinous power to them that make people feel in a deeply convincing fashion that they have connected with powers greater than themselves…If you’ve had that experience, you know it's really transformative. It shakes up your ordinary view of how the world works, how the mind works, the potential of your imaginative capacities and your place in the universe. That seems to be a hardwired feature of how the human brain-mind-system works - that we have the capacity for those kinds of experience."
Kelly hosts a sleep and dream database on his website where any dreamer can contribute to dream research. Check it out at the Sleep and Dream Database or KellyBulkeley.com
PART 1 AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS of Kelly Bulkeley's interview with Hollye Hurst:
Kelly’s story 2:00-6:30
“Big dreams” versus everyday dreams 6:40-10:00 and 13:45-17:50
Dreaming as imaginative play 11:50-13:40
Highlights in dream research 10:05-17:50
Dreams and spirituality — historically, culturally and in individuals’ lives 17:55-23:27
PART 2 AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS of Kelly's interview with Hollye::
Dreaming and our psychological and cognitive development and evolution 00:00-24:20
Dreaming as a zone of imaginative play, exploration and discovery 6:45-9:00
How dreams create root metaphors for our lives 9:00-13:45
Pluralistic dream tending — honoring a dream’s multiple levels of evolving meaning: 14:00-19:36
The archaeological and teleological function of dreams 16:40-19:36
The future of dreaming and the evolution of consciousness 19:42-23:45
Technological support for dreaming 21:32-23:35
Dreams in Life & Death
featuring Yo Yo Ma & David Blum
"Sooner or later, we will all have to deal with crises and the question of our mortality. We all have deep resources in our own ways, and if we listen and trust in them in difficult times, they can bring us comfort and transcendence." Yo Yo Ma
For over thirty years, YoYo Ma's friend musician David Blum was in continual conversation with his dream life. Drawing his dreams was a way David entered the living theater of the collective unconscious.
After a diagnosis with cancer, David began to share his drawings. His intention was not to create “art” but to give form to the elusive images that arose from the depths of psyche. David revealed,
“I’m a modern skeptic…but this doesn’t matter when an image from a dream of astonishing power plants its authenticity on me. This process intensified greatly during the last few years since the return of cancer.”
Jungian analyst Marion Woodman has commented about David's dreamwork:
“I have studied and meditated on David Blum’s extraordinary documentation of his dreams and inner work - the immense gifts that were given to him from his unconscious and poured into images and music. We are intrigued on all levels - emotional, imaginal, intellectual. Our hearts are split open as we watch the process of the inner marriage.”
In a series of powerful dreams a striking dream visitor emerged as a guide for David's life journey. "In the dream," said David, "a young woman led me through wheat fields that swayed in the wind to the music of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. This soulful woman, whom I call Mairi, first came to me in a dream when I was seventeen. I was then in Paris for the first time, living by myself and quite alone. I felt that it was my fate to be guided by her. I had no idea then what Mairi’s goals were, or the power of consolation she would eventually bring me.
"Over time, I’ve come to realize that this feminine presence is not merely a personal experience. She’s found in legends and literature. For Dante, she was Beatrice, leading him from Purgatory to Paradise. Goethe spoke of the Eternal Feminine; Jung of the Anima, the feminine form of Soul. She’s come to me in dreams, in many different transformations..."
The last year of his life David produced his DVD "Appointment with the Wise Old Dog," a crystallization of his thirty-year inner journey. In the DVD David describes the meaning of another powerful dream figure named Alfonto who originated as a stuffed animal from his childhood.“This simple frayed and tattered dog, my companion from my sixth year, whom some would think only fit for the dustbin, acts as my guide and protector. He is the non-ego, an uncorrupted essence from within myself. He carries the wisdom of the Old Wise Man in dachshund form.”
The Blum Collection consists of this DVD, along with fifty-one dream drawings, seventeen volumes of diaries, and six volumes of journals that document and analyze 1,670 dreams. To purchase the DVD: "Appointment with the Wise Old Dog."
David also authored Pictures from the Unconscious, an in-depth commentary on each of the fifty-one drawings in the Collection. David Blum’s collection of forty-four dream paintings and commentary are available on the website of Archive for Research of Archetypal Symbolism: http://aras.org.
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