Why Dreams Matter
In March a friend agreed to help me collaborate on some YouTube Videos where we could discuss different topics related to life. The first topic we chose was Dreams and specifically Why Dreams Matter. I originally wrote a script which I was supposed to read on camera for the video, but I found myself so incredibly uncomfortable and anxious that I couldn't do it.
Instead, my friend offered to help me go through the script interview style-- to help me thwart some of the pressure that was causing me to clam up. We ended up doing 4 segments which didn't exactly follow the script.
They are all up on youtube now and can be found here.
Below is the original script for anyone who is interested in reading it. Enjoy:
Why Dreams Matter: Script
We live in a world that is often contradictory in nature. It is not uncommon to be told one thing and then shown another or to be given two contradictory values simultaneously. One place where this shows up frequently is in the context of following your dreams. It is common in modern American society for young children to be told to dream big and pursue their dreams. Movies made for children capitalize on this idea, as do story books, and teaching methods. Young children are often taught that the sky is the limit and encouraged to reach for the stars. A strange thing happens, though, when those same children reach the age of adolescents and prepare to enter the “real world”. During this stage as children start to see themselves less as children and more as adults in the making, a new type of narrative is provided. It sounds something like this, “That’s a nice dream, but it’s not realistic” or “You can try to do that, but chances are it won’t work.” The message changes from dream big to be realistic and often ends up being narrowed down to a select few options like go to school and get a job or work really hard at a job and see if you can climb the ladder that way. If you look at the two narratives together the overall message becomes one that says dreaming is for children, but adults know better and the more a person relates to being an adult the less value they place on dreams.
This specific story about dreams and dreaming has an especially deep hold in the modern American adult psyche because not only is it told repeatedly but evidence seems to support it. How many adults do any of us know that actually went for their dreams and succeeded? There are very few people that truly pursue a big dream and even fewer that are successful in bringing that dream into reality. Those who do start out in pursuit of a dream are often met with cynicism, discouragement, and skepticism from those around them which contributes further to the association between dreaming and pain. This association lends more credibility to the idea that dreams are at best meaningless remnants of childhood. So here we are at the starting point with the widespread, deeply ingrained idea that dreams in adulthood are of limited value. Even if this pervasive belief is not stated out loud, the fear of dreams being unattainable is often a driving force in how adults decide on things like career paths, hobbies, and even relationships. If dreams are meaningless then the smart thing to do is make choices that are rational and safe and if this is internalized deeply enough, then a decision-making process based primarily on safety and availability will show up in almost every aspect of a person’s life. This process of deciding then has massive implications for the quality of that person’s life and when multiplied across many individuals, large-scale implications for how we function together as a society as well. Since what we believe about the pursuit of dreams underlies so many of our decisions it is worth taking some time to explore the foundation of this belief and question the true value of pursuing dreams. So, lets look at the question more deeply, do dreams matter and is there enough value in their pursuit to risk failure?
In this video I am going to propose that dreams are not meaningless, and in fact are an important part of spiritual growth and development. There is a reason that stories about those who have had the courage to follow their dreams resonates so deeply with so many of us, even if we struggle to replicate that story in our own lives. The reason that we are so moved by stories and messages like the ones we were given in childhood is because they are actually closer to a universal truth than our rationalized minds might tell us and both dreaming itself and the pursuit of our dreams play crucial roles in our development as living beings since are tied to the concept of purpose. In a way, dreamers who believe enough in their dreams to pursue them, live much closer to the pulse of universal consciousness and so can line up more easily with the concept of God or Universe-- or whatever term might be used to capture the creative force that inspires the pursuit of meaning and fulfillment in our lives and the general energy through which existence flows.
Statements about purpose and god or consciousness are more philosophical in nature and difficult to quantify, which makes presenting them challenging. However, even if you don’t believe that dreaming has such lofty spiritual implications, you can use a more rationalized approach to understand that dreams create real change and have value to both individuals and society.
My goal in creating this video is to explore why dreams matter in order to counter the narrative that shuts down the pursuit of them and encourage dreamers to allow themselves the space to dream and courage to pursue their dreams. My personal view on the topic is one that is rooted in the idea of purpose and stems from a belief in a multi-dimensional reality. It is difficult to explain this concept and I’m not planning on diving into it in depth here, but it can help to think of existence taking place in different layers like film strips laying on top of each other, each layer has its own basic qualities and laws but they also interact with each other producing effects that can traverse the totality of existence. When I talk about physical or concrete reality, I am referring to what most people simply call reality—this includes structures and beliefs that are widely held and generally accepted today as well as ideas and objects that can be quantified. From my perspective this is not all of reality, it is just a slice of it and since physical reality is only a small fraction of the many dimensions of existence, speaking only about it provides a limited perspective. For that reason, I do not plan on talking about things only as they exist in physical reality but also to introduce ideas that incorporate the other dimensions and the ways these aspects interact. However, I am also aware that many people are most comfortable thinking primarily in terms of only physical reality, so in order to explain my ideas more clearly, I will attempt to start with concrete examples and illustrate why these ideas are relevant for life in this dimension before moving through some of the less concrete concepts. This way you can have some practical and rational take aways as well as an introduction to a broader perspective of why both dreaming and pursuing dreams is important.
Hopefully, an exploration of these ideas will allow you to look more critically at the beliefs you currently hold about your own dreams and provide some space to consider what your dreams are and if they are worth pursuing.
Point 1: Dreams as a blueprint- give examples of how dreams and manifestations are linked together
Why do dreams matter? One reason is that dreams act as a kind of blueprint for what we consider reality. I would argue that dreams are not only a blueprint for reality but are themselves part of reality, just not in physical form. Even though dreams are not physical they exist as a thought-form with specific energies associated with them. Though thoughts are not concrete they are very real and have direct implications for our lives and for what becomes concrete over time. This concept relates to the idea of different dimensions and will not be explored too deeply here, but it is important to keep in mind that thoughts and other non-physical things like dreams, energy, emotions, and abstract concepts are often the starting point of what eventually manifests in physical reality and even if a dream is not pursued the fact that it exists at all means that it is part of existence. This one of the reasons why there is so much power in belief systems like that of the Toltecs or Hindus that portray reality as a dream. If you want more information on a reality is a dream perspective, I would highly recommend looking into books by Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Miguel Ruiz Jr which provide both a unique paradigm of reality from Toltec teachings and practical steps to implement that paradigm in order to enhance your life. It is possible to get very abstract here and discuss the ways that dreams create a literal energetic blueprint which when given enough attention becomes the next stage of concrete reality, but for the sake of this video it would make more sense to work backwards and look at some of the components of our current reality that started off as dreams.
There are millions of examples of this. Some of them are personal and have meaning for the individual dreamer and some have stretched across generations linking dreams over time and changing the way that we live today. Individual dreams can take many forms. Drive down the street and look at the houses or small businesses—even large businesses if you like—before the person who purchased a home did so there was a dream about owning a home. Before business owners took the financial risks associated with starting a business they had a dream about either owning the business, providing a certain type of work or service, or being their own boss with a certain level of financial freedom. Over time the dreams may have grown, changed, or been passed from one generation to another, but the current state of things started somewhere as a dream.
Let’s look at a larger dream now—one that has taken generations of dreamers to become a reality. Let’s look at the idea of flight- at airplanes, rockets, and other inventions that allow us the capacity to travel great distances through the sky. Humans have been dreaming about flight for thousands of years. You can tell by mythology associated with the idea. Early renditions of this might have been based on the observation of birds and included concepts such as humans with wings. Even though flight today does not reflect the exact same physical depiction, generations of scientists, inventors, and artists have envisioned what it would be like to fly and with time and energy it has become a reality. Flight is no longer an impossible dream that humankind cannot attain, it is a fairly well-established mode of travel. It is part of our every day, concrete reality now, but there was a time when it was only a dream. Millions of examples can be found like this, modern medicine developed out of dreams of physical survival. Democratic systems of government came from dreams of more equally disbursed power and expression. Highway systems developed from dreams of moving goods efficiently across space so that needs could be met more easily. Technology comes into existence from dreams of solving problems or reaching higher goals. New types of science and math are developed from dreams of exploring beyond our current realm of understanding. Books, movies, and artwork all start as dreams to share stories and convey ideas. The world we see today is a physical expression of dreams that were dreamed in the past and developed over time into concrete form. For some people, thinking about dreams in this way can be really inspiring. It means that your dreams have a purpose—they have the ability to shape the future whether you are able to complete the process of creating them in your lifetime or not.
For others the idea that a dream may take more than one lifetime to fulfill can be disheartening. It can bring back the feelings of pain related to the risk of pursuing a dream and the sense of failure and disappointment that comes if it cannot be completely realized. If you are in this second group of people, don’t give up yet. The next reason that dreams are important has less to do with whether you are able to accomplish them and more to do with how dreams impact the life of the dreamer.
Point 2: Dreams indicating purpose (self-realization): Thematic convergence (braid—keep coming back to the same themes)
Dreams are not only important when they are realized, but they are important because they both teach about and transform the dreamer. This matters because what you are actually pursuing in your life is a feeling of happiness and fulfillment. This might not be how you think of your pursuits right now, but if you are really honest with yourself and look deeply you will realize that what you want in your life is tied up to how you think you will feel when you have it and while you may not immediately say that having whatever you want will make you feel happy and fulfilled, there is a good chance that you believe that whatever it is that you are seeking will make you feel better or less bad than you feel now. Whether you see that accomplishment as bringing happiness or only reducing the amount of pain you feel depends mostly on your current emotional state, but that’s a different topic. For the sake of this video, what you need to understand is that you pursue things to feel good and you feel good when you are moving towards the things you want. In order to actually know what you want and where your sense of fulfillment comes from you need to be aware of what you value and the direction you would like your life to take if you had all the power, resources, and ability in the world to create any life you chose. Dreaming helps you do this. If you allow yourself to dream, even if you choose not to act on that dream, the dream itself will hint at the kinds of things that you want. Those things might change over time but if you listen to them you will start to find themes. The dreams you dream might take on different appearances but they will start to center around your core values and desires or if you have a lot of unresolved pain they will indicate where healing needs to take place before you move towards larger desires. If you allow yourself the time and space to dream you will get a much better view of who you are and what you want and then it will be easier to make choices that will take you closer to your own happiness whether the entirety of the dream is ever realized or not.
Let me give some examples to make this a little clearer. Someone might spend their time dreaming about being at the top of a certain career. They might see themselves with a lot of money, with a lot of respect, and the authority to make important decisions that lead to the success of the company. At a younger age they might have seen themselves winning competitions or being at the top of their class. This person might not imagine one specific career or industry as an adult, they might dream instead about having the big office, owning some company, or managing many of their peers. Their dreams show that they are seeking accomplishment, power, and respect. Most people value these things, but if these are the types of images that form the central point for a person’s dreams then they are currently placing more value on them than things like comfort, freedom, or adventure. If you know from the types of dreams you have that accomplishment, power, and respect are important to you then you can start to see how the decisions you make lead you towards or away from these values and then make adjustments to move towards them. For example, you might want to focus on developing one skill really well, or taking courses and reading about leadership. You might decide to actively pursue greater levels of responsibility in a company and spend extra time to make yourself a competitive candidate for promotion. Engaging in these types of activities will likely cause you to feel more fulfilled and confident and bring about a greater sense of happiness even without the actual promotion. Of course, an added benefit is that engaging in these types of activities will also improve your chance of making some of those dreams into a reality, but even if you didn’t make it all the way to the top position in the company, the pursuit of the dream would still cause you to feel more capable, confident, and accomplished than ignoring the dreams and using large amounts of time and energy to focus on things that you are less excited about. Over time the positive feelings that arise from the pursuit of these dreams will lead to a better quality of life overall.
Let’s say that being in charge of a big company isn’t one of your dreams. Maybe when you dream you imagine traveling, working on personal projects that aren’t related to an office type of job, and engaging with different types of people, books, or events. If your dreams follow this type of pattern, you may find that you value freedom and diversity more than you value the traditional view of success or stability. In this case you might want to make choices that give you greater flexibility and expose you to new ideas and experiences. You would see that staying in that office job with long hours and strict guidelines, even if you are able to achieve a high position would not make you feel good. You would find more happiness in life if you allowed yourself to explore and adapt. You could do things like take trips (big or small), read books or watch movies about different cultures, create space to be spontaneous and say yes to unexpected opportunities. Chances are this would lead you to feel happier and more fulfilled.
These examples are both general, but the same idea applies to more specific dreams as well. Letting yourself dream and really focusing on all the aspects of the dream-- feeling the sensations, imagining both the process and the outcome, looking for any re-occurring ideas-- all of this will allow you to get a better idea of who you are and what you want out of life. It will also provide you with a point of focus which can inspire ideas for action steps and if you choose to pursue those steps you will gain even greater insight into yourself -- even if you find yourself changing your mind along the way. Engaging with your dreams, noticing what you believe you will gain from accomplishing them, and the reasons you may find yourself changing your mind provides you with greater self-awareness.
Whether it is a big dream or a small one, dreaming and then using that dream to make new choices will change your life. It will cause you to see the world around you differently and make decisions in a new way and this means that you will reduce your chances of getting caught in a trap of stagnation and increase your engagement with life. It is not uncommon for people to refuse to give themselves space to dream or to counter their dreams with all the reasons they won’t work before they have a chance to develop. The problem with doing this is that it causes you to lose sight of what you want out of life and start to disengage. Whatever habit of living you have formed in the past will become your primary decision-making tool as you move forward which means that you will essentially be stuck in a wheel, making decisions from the same place over and over and getting the same results leading back to the same decisions. There is nothing objectively wrong with doing this. Some people find the stability comforting—in fact the level of comfort that comes with this is one of the biggest reasons people don’t exit this cycle even if they can envision a different life for themselves. But, if you do this then your choices are a habit and your life becomes a habit and you will be more likely to find yourself disengaging with life itself. Often people who spend a significant amount of time living in this way end up looking back years later when some event has disrupted their cycle and wondering where their life went.
Dreaming allows you to engage in your life more fully because it gives you different ideas to pursue as well as the motivation to break out of old habits. Pursuing dreams gives the activity in your life purpose and allows you to explore situations and parts of yourself that you might not notice if you stayed stuck in a wheel of habit. This is incredibly important because whether the realization of a dream takes the form you expected or not, the pursuit of it creates change for you as an individual and then for the rest of society by extension.
Dreaming and pursuing your dream, whether the dream is ever fully realized or not, gives life much more depth and meaning. Additionally, dreaming and believing in those dreams makes you much more likely to accomplish what you desire. Allowing yourself to dream, feeling the emotions associated with your dreams, and revisiting them when things are difficult can help you to build resilience, come up with creative solutions, and develop greater levels of courage and integrity which are all needed to make dreams real. There are significant benefits that come from dreaming even if you do not see the dream become a full reality in your lifetime, but there is also a much greater likelihood that a dream will manifest if you continue to dream it, believe in it, and pursue it.
Point 3: Relationship between the dream and the dreamer (stress idea of mutual benefit, explain the pitfalls such as tunnel vision vs lack of focus)
So far we have talked about why dreams matter, both externally as they are manifested and become part of the physical reality that we inhabit and internally through the development of self-awareness and motivation for growth. Hopefully, I have made something of a case for some of you to feel that it is worth it to allow yourself the space to dream and maybe even to start to act in a way that will allow the dream to manifest concretely. The nuances of your dream and conditions of your life along with your internal guidance will all play a role in helping you take those steps forward, but there are some general considerations to be aware of when it comes to the pursuit of a dream. When it comes to most things in life there are polarities or opposing elements that show up as pairs of opposites. To move forward with minimal discomfort takes a great deal of awareness about when to rely on which half of the pair. The pursuit of a dream is not different from this. There are risks involved both in pursuing a dream so fervently that you attempt to force it into existence when it or you are not ready and there are also risks involved in being so passive about a dream that you never actually move towards it. The idea is not to get stuck in either modality along the way, but to watch your own actions and reactions and adjust yourself and your pursuit of a particular dream accordingly. This means that there are times when you will need to focus more intently on making the dream a reality even if you meet opposition and face discomfort, and there are other times when you will need to sit back and let the dream flow on its own without trying so hard to actively pursue it. You don’t want to set yourself up with an expectation that you will pursue a dream at all costs but you also don’t want to only sit with the idea of the dream and never take any of the action steps that come forward or line you up with making the dream real if you want it to come into physical existence through you.
Everyone’s process will be different and ultimately how you move towards your dream will be up to you. However, if your ultimate goal is to live a happy, fulfilling life, that feels good to you even when things are difficult; I suggest using awareness and being very cautious of falling too far into over-activity or inactivity. Hyper focus on making a dream into a reality can lead to tunnel vision and lack of conviction and movement in the direction of a dream can lead to stagnation. Sometimes you will need to be more active and focused than others but the relationship between the dream and dreamer should ultimately be mutually beneficial. If you sacrifice yourself for the manifestation of a dream you will have lost the joy and fulfillment that is intended as a side-effect of pursuing a dream and have diminished your life to that extent. If you never take steps to overcome the obstacles preventing you from creating something that you really want to experience then you will miss out on the joy and confidence that comes from facing those challenges and persevering towards a goal. In this way you will also diminish your experience in life. If you have decided that a dream is worth pursuing, it can help to look at the dream or goal as an extension of yourself. You cannot be completely healthy and happy if it is suffering and it cannot come to full fruition and bring joy to you if you are suffering.
Point 4: States of Consciousness- note that this occurs as part of the entire process (process isn’t linear)
We have covered a lot of ground in this video and there is still a lot more that could be said. Everyone will end up choosing for themselves the best way to live their lives and what types of information to incorporate. The purpose of this was mainly to provide a counternarrative to the idea that dreams are unrealistic and not worth pursuing. The reason this is necessary is that deep down, if we are willing to sit long enough with ourselves, many of us will realize that there is something in us that we want to express. There are desires and dreams and wishes that we deeply want to experience. Experiencing these things is why we came to exist in the first place. The purpose of life when all is said and done is to live, but what is living? It is engaging in the experience of being here. It is being present with yourself and feeling the emotions, pursuing your desires, learning about and expressing yourself in a way that brings joy and fulfillment, first to you and then by extension to the world around you. This is profound whether your dream is observably large or not. The reason it is so important that each of us find the spark within and allow it to develop is because doing so creates an energy pattern of joy, hope, and fulfillment. Energy patterns are not something that most of us are taught to look for today but they underly all of our thoughts, decisions, and outcomes and they influence other energy patterns. This means that as one person takes a step forward and finds greater joy and fulfillment they create a ripple in energy that allows others to more easily step into the same pattern. At the same time if one of us holds back and shuts down we create a pattern of closing off that makes it more difficult for those around us to move forward. The pursuit of dreams influences the energy patterns in a way that creates movement and the act of dreaming even without further pursuit allows you to access these patterns and learn from the creative forces at work in the universe.
I am assuming that if you are watching this, you are someone who is at least mildly interested in spiritual topics and curious about what lies beyond life and the purpose of your own existence. Allowing yourself to dream is one way to access some of this information. Letting your imagination flow in such a way that it provides images and feelings of your desires creates a doorway into the unconscious. It gives you access to information about yourself that you may not have observed before but also links you to the collective energies and experiences of humankind and beyond that consciousness overall. The more deeply you can go into this state of dreaming the thinner the barrier becomes between what is seen as physical reality and what is beyond the physical plane and here you have access to guidance, inspiration, and different types of creativity. I know that this is becoming esoteric in nature and an entirely separate segment would need to be made to discuss levels of reality and consciousness—specifically how different levels of consciousness influence our perception of reality in order to do this topic justice. Instead of opening up this idea all the way I just want to say this, for those who already understand how this works it will be easier to grasp and for those who are new to these concepts this might just be an idea to sit with that might make more sense later—there is a real energetic change that takes place when you dream and a different but equally real change that occurs when you pursue the dream. The changes you make within yourself eventually reflect outward and change the world, so if there is something about the world that you want to change the most effective way to do it is to look within and fuel the dream you have related to that change. If you want peace go inside and dream up peace, if you want wellness or health, or prosperity go inside and dream it. Allowing yourself to dream opens you to deeper ideas from outside the normal waking state of consciousness, it also starts to feed the energy you are dreaming in. Keep doing this as you move towards the pursuit of a dream and you will continually access new information and become a doorway for the dreams which exist beyond our concept of physical reality to come into a concrete form. Purpose, fulfillment, and changes in your experience of life are all tied to your dreams and the way you go about pursuing them. You can choose to ignore them, but in doing so you shut yourself off from the beauty of the process as well as the pursuit of your internal desires and being part of the changes you have wanted to see grow into this world.
Before I end this I want to leave you with something. I’m new to making videos and speaking publicly, so no one really knows much about me, but a lot of the information I get comes from a combination of studying, life experience, and words, images, and feelings that come to me. You can conceive of the source of these words, images, and feelings in anyway that you choose, I often refer to the carriers of them as voices even if the message is conveyed through imagery or sensation. At the start of this video while contemplating the topic the voices gave me an explanation for why dreams matter, I like the way they describe it and would like for you to hear it. Most of the ideas in this video came from me dissecting their words in a way that had more concrete and practical implications, but I also think it would be beneficial to hear what they said so that you can interpret it in your own way. This is what the voices told me:
The dream is a starting point. Life is a dream. A dream is like a seed that will one day sprout, buried under the soil it appears dormant. You notice the changes happening within it, changes that will one day spring out in nearly imperceptible ways at first but then will grow and develop. Looking back after a time you will see that a forest has grown where a seed was planted and then you will understand the impact that a dream can have on the environment—but at the moment that the dream is planted it will not seem so important. Like a seed, a dream begins underground—in the recess of the heart-mind or whatever metaphoric location you prefer to use, as it germinates the seed itself changes. At first a dream will change a dreamer and not the environment. From the outside these changes may seem inconsequential but they are important. They are the start because once that seed has changed and started to sprout it grows into something which impacts the environment around it and it creates new seeds. So you see, dreams are the starting point for the things beyond your reach to become physical. They start internally (at least in appearance because if you are perceptive you’ll notice that internal and external are not actually different) and then move outward and this is how change in the physical world is created.