Dreams - What They Are and How They Are Caused

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Dreams - What They Are and How They Are Caused

By C. W. Leadbeater

Experiments On The Dream-State

The object specially in view in the investigation, part of which I am about to describe, was to discover whether it was possible to impress the ego of an ordinary person during sleep sufficiently to enable him to recollect the circumstance when he awoke; and it was also desired, as far as possible, to find out what are the obstacles that usually stand in the way of such recollection. The first experiment tried was with an average man of small education and rough exterior — a man of the Australian shepherd type — whose astral form, as seen floating above his body, was externally little more than a shapeless wreath of mist.

It was found that the consciousness of the body on the bed was dull and heavy, both as regards the grosser and the etheric parts of the frame. The former responded to some extent to external stimuli — for example, the sprinkling of two or three drops of water on the face called up in the brain (though somewhat tardily) a picture of a heavy shower of rain; while the etheric part of the brain was as usual a passive channel for an endless stream of disconnected thoughts, it rarely responded to any of the vibrations they produced, and even when it did it seemed somewhat sluggish in its action. The ego floating above was in an undeveloped and semi-unconscious condition, but the astral envelope, though shapeless and ill-defined, showed considerable activity.

The floating astral can at any time be acted upon, with an ease that can scarcely be imagined, by the conscious thought of another person; and in this case the experiment was made withdrawing it to some little distance from the physical body on the bed, with the result, however, that as soon as it was more than a few yards away considerable uneasiness was manifested in both the vehicles, and it became necessary to desist from the attempt, as evidently any further withdrawal would have caused the man to awake, probably in a state of great terror.

A certain scene was chosen — a view of the most magnificent character from the summit of a mountain in the tropics — and a vivid picture of it was projected by the operator into the dreamy consciousness of the ego, which assimilated and examined it, though in a dull, apathetic, and unappreciative kind of way. After this scene had been held before his view for some time the man was awakened, the object being, of course, to see whether he recollected it as a dream. His mind, however, was an absolute blank on the subject, and except for some vague yearnings of the most animal description, he had brought back no memory whatever from the state of sleep.

It was suggested that possibly the constant stream of thought-forms from outside, which flowed through his brain, might constitute an obstacle by so distracting it as to make it unreceptive to influences from its higher principles; so after the man had again fallen asleep, a magnetic shell was formed around his body to prevent the entrance of this stream, arid the experiment was tried again.

When thus deprived of its ordinary pabulum, his brain began very slowly and dreamily to evolve out of itself scenes of the man's past life; but when he was again aroused, the result was precisely the same — his memory was absolutely blank as to the scene put before him, though he had some vague idea of having dreamed of some event in his past. This subject was then for the time resigned as hopeless, it being fairly evident that his ego was too little developed, and his kamic principle too strong, to give any reasonable probability of success.

Another effort made with the same man at a later period was not quite so utter a failure, the scene put before him in this case being a very exciting incident from the battle-field, which was chosen as being probably more likely to appeal to his type of mind than the landscape. This picture was undoubtedly received by this undeveloped ego with more interest than the other, but still, when the man was awakened the memory was gone, all that remained being an indistinct idea that he had been fighting, but where or why he had quite forgotten.

The next subject taken was a person of much higher type — a man of good moral life, educated and intellectual, with broad philanthropic ideas and exalted ambitions. In his case the denser body responded instantaneously to the water test by a very respectable picture of a tremendous thunder-storm, and that in turn, reacting on the etheric part of the brain, called up by association a whole series of vividly-represented scenes. When this disturbance was over, the usual stream of thoughts began to flow through, but it was observable that a far greater proportion of them awoke a response in this brain — also that the responsive vibrations were much stronger, and that in each case a train of associations was started which sometimes excluded the stream from outside for quite a considerable time.

The astral vehicle in this subject was far more definite in its ovoid outline, and the body of denser astral matter within it was a very fair reproduction of his physical form; and while desire was decidedly less active, the ego itself possessed a much higher grade of consciousness.

The astral body in this case could be drawn away to a distance of several miles from the physical without apparently producing the slightest sense of disquiet in either of them.

When the tropical landscape was submitted to this ego, he at once seized upon it with the greatest appreciation, admiring and dwelling upon its beauties in the most enthusiastic manner. After letting him admire it for awhile the man was aroused, but the result was somewhat disappointing. He knew that he had had a beautiful dream, but was quite unable to recall any details, the few elusive fragments that were uppermost in his mind being remnants of the ramblings of his own brain.

With him, as with the other man, the experiment was then repeated with the addition of a magnetic shell thrown round the body, and in this case, as in the other, the brain at once began to evolve pictures of its own. The ego received the landscape with even greater enthusiasm than at first, recognizing it at once as the view he had seen before, and surveying it point by point with quite ecstatic admiration of its many beauties.

But while he was thus engaged in contemplation of it, the etheric brain down below was amusing itself by recalling pictures of his school-life, the most prominent being a scene on a winter day, when the ground was covered with snow, and he and a number of his playmates were snowballing one another in the school playground.

When the man was aroused as usual, the effect was exceedingly curious. He had a most vivid remembrance of standing upon the summit of a mountain, admiring a magnificent view, and he even had the main features of the scenery quite clearly in his mind; but instead of the gorgeous tropical verdure which lent such richness to the real prospect, he saw the surrounding country entirely covered with a mantle of snow! And it seemed to him that even while he was drinking in with deep delight the loveliness of the panorama spread out before him, he suddenly found himself, by one of the rapid transitions so frequent in dreams, snowballing with boyhood's long-forgotten companions in the old school-yard, of which he had not thought for years.



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