Lucidity Letter - December 1985 - Vol. 4, No. 2

Lucidity Letter

Letter from the Editor                                                                                                                      2

Jayne Gackenbach


           Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience - A Personal Report

John Wren-Lewis                        4 

  What Do We Mean By Lucidity?

                      Charles T. Tart                                                                                                          12

  “Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience”: A Lucidity-Meditation Analysis

                       Harry Hunt                                                                                                                17

  Comments on “Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience-A Personal Report”, by John Wren-Lewis

                       George Gillespie                                                                                                       21

  Near-Death and Dream Lucidity: Comments on John Wren-Lewis’s Account

                       Michael Grosso                                                                                                        24

  Representation of Death in My Dreams

                       Beverly I. Kedzierske                                                                                               28

  Near Death, Near Dream

                      George Gillespie                                                                                                        30



  Lucid Dreams and Viewpoints in Imagery: Two Studies

                       Susan Blackmore                                                                                                      34

  Out-of-Body Experiences as Lucid Dreams: A Critique

B. Scott Rogo                                                                                                         43

              WANTED: New Mapmakers of the Mind

                      Robert Monroe                                                                                                        47

  Comments on OBEs and Lucid Dreams

                       Stephen LaBerge                                                                                                      54

  OBEs-Are They Dreams?

                       Lynne A. Levitan                                                                                                      59

  Lucid Dreams or Out-of-Body Experiences: A Personal Case

                       Father “X”                                                                                                                62


  Distinguishing Between Transcendental Consciousness and Lucidity

Charles N. Alexander, Robert W. Boyer and David W. Orme-Johnson                    68


  “Dreams, Illusions, Bubbles, Shadows”: Awareness of ‘Unreality’ While Dreaming Among Chinese College Students

Myrna Walters and Robert K. Dentan                                                          86

              Dream Control or Dream Actualization?

                        Stephon Kaplan Williams                                                                                         93


            Photographic and Cinematographic Applications in Lucid Dream Control

                        Kenneth Moss                                                                                                        98


             “The Mystique of Dreams: A Search for Utopia Through Senoi Dream Theory” by G. William Domhoff

                        Reviewed By Robert K. Dentan                                                                             104


                 Association for the Study of Dreams                                                                                 109


             Lucid Dreams Bibliography Update                                                                                  110



Lucidity Letter (LL) is edited and published by Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.. It was formed to enable a dialogue between professionals and sophisticated experients interested in the phenomenon of lucid dreams. These are dreams where the dreamer knows while he/she is dreaming that he/she is experiencing a dream. LL a published bi-annually with editorial offices at the Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 50614. Manuscripts should be submitted to the editor, in duplicate and double spaced. Subscriptions placed prior to April 1, 1986 are available for $20, $25 foreign. After April 1 add $5 to the subscription rate. Back issues from December 1981 to June 1985 are available at $1.25 each or $1.35 foreign. Subscriptions, change of address and inquiries should be sent to the editor.


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Letter from the Editor


As you can see Lucidity Letter has radically changed with this issue. This is one step in the move from a newsletter to a journal format. Another step, which is in progress, is the formation of an editorial board.


The theme of this issue is the possible relationship between dream lucidity and death. Two approaches to this association are addressed: the near-death (NDE) and the out-of-body (OBE) experiences. John Wren-Lewis’s piece reporting on his near-death experience and subsequent lucid dream kicks off the first section on near-death experiences. Comments on his experiences and the significance of them for the study of dream lucidity are made from four perspectives. These include: Charles Tart on the definition of lucidity; Harry Hunt on the lucidity-meditation parallel; George Gillespie on a religious/phil­osophical perspective and Michael Grosso on the parallel to the experiences other NDEers have reported. The final two pieces in this section are from sophisticated lucid dreamers who report on their ‘death’ and ‘near-death’ dream imagery while lucid.


The second section of this issue of LL, focuses on the ongoing dialogue concerning the concurrence of OBE’s and dream lucidity. Authors of the first three articles argue that OBE’s are not lucid dreams. Specifically, new data on the imagery skills of OBEers and lucid dreamers is reported by Susan Blackmore. This is followed by a critique of the OBE lucid dream question by Scott Rogo. Robert Monroe then unites on his work with OBE’s also arguing that they are not only lucid dreams. Two reports follow these presenting the perspective that OBE’s are largely misattributions and that a lucid dreaming attribution for these experiences would be more accurate. Finally, an anonymous Catholic Monk Priest writes of his personal experiences with lucid dreams and/or OBE’ s.


In the third section many of the points brought out in the first two sections are integrated into a theoretical model. Charles Alexander and his colleagues, Robert Bayer and David Orme-Johnson, at the Maharishi International University argue that Vedic psychology helps to place dream lucidity into a much needed conceptual and developmental framework.


Three articles on dream lucidity from an anthro­pological (Walters and Dentan), clinical (Williams) and experiential (Moss) perspectives constitute the fourth section. Robert Dentan then reviews G. William Domhoff’s book on Kilton Stewart’s presentation of the dream practices of the Senoi. Finally, the News and Notes section includes an announcement about the forthcoming annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams in Canada and updates on the lucid dreaming bibliography.


As reflected in the pages of this “newletter” a lot of interest is abrest regarding this unique dream experience. The June 1986 double issue of LL will carry the proceedings of a day long symposium on dream lucidity held in conjunction with the 1985 annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams in Charlottesville, VA. The December 1986 issue of LL is planned to address the possible relationship of dream lucidity to the healing process.


Let me take this opportunity to thank Mary Tuttle, my ever dedicated and hard working secretary and friend for all her help in putting out LL. Also, let me encourage you the readers to write with your observations and concerns.


Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.

Editor, Lucidity Letter


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 2.


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Dream Lucidity and Near Death Experiences- A Personal Report


John Wren-Lewis



Attempts to investigate possible correlations between the incidence of lucid dreaming and near-death experiences (NDEs) have so far been inconclusive (Lucidity Letter, Vol. 1, Nos. 2 and 3). This note reports some observations following my own NDE in November, 1983, which suggest an entirely new approach.


My NDE itself, which I have described elsewhere (Wren-Lewis, 1985), lacked almost all the dramatic features emphasized in the now voluminous literature on the subject (Lundalh, 1982). I had no “out-of-body” vision of myself in the hospital bed, no review of my life, no experience of hurtling through a tunnel towards a heavenly landscape and no encounter with supernatural figures urging me to return to bodily existence. I simply dissolved into an apparently spaceless and timeless void which was total “no-thing-ness” yet at the same time the most intense, blissful aliveness I have ever known.


The after effects of the experience, however, were dramatic indeed, and I have found no account of anything comparable in the NDE literature. I have been left with a change of consciousness so palpable that in the early days I kept putting my hand up to the back of my head, feeling for all the world as if the doctors had removed the top of my skull and exposed my brain to the infinite darkness of space. In fact the Living Void is still with me as a kind of background to my consciousness and the effect is that I experience everything, including this sixty-year-old body-mind, as a continuous outpouring of Being, where­in every part is simultaneously the whole, manifesting afresh moment by moment from that infinite Dark. As “John” I seem to have no separate existence, but am simply the Void knowing itself in manifestation, and in that process of continuous creation everything seems to celebrate coming into being with a shout of joy - “Behold, it is very good!” Yet the experience is in no sense a high, for its feeling-tone is one of gentle equanimity. My impression is rather that I am now knowing the true ordinariness of everything for the first time, and that what I used to call normal consciousness was in fact clouded.


I still slip back into that clouded state frequently, but this is not a process of “coming down.” What happens is something I would have found unbelievable had I heard of it second-hand - namely, I again and again simply forget about the pearl of great price. I drift off into all kinds of preoccupations, mostly trivial, and become my old self, cut off from the Void-Background. Then, after a while, there begins to dawn on me a sense of something missing, at which point I recall the Void and usually click back into the new consciousness almost immediately, with no effort at all. I think this must be what is meant by the mystical notion that so—called normal human life is really a state of chronic forgetfulness of “who we really are,” and I suppose my NDE must somehow have shocked me into recognizing my identity with the Void, with the result that my forgetfulness is now spasmodic rather than chronic.


Needless to say, I was bowled over by all this at first, and spent many weeks coming to terms with it. I soon found that the new consciousness did not seem to demand any drastic changes of life-style. In keeping with its sense of utter ordinariness, I remained recognizably John, and neither my tendency to drift out of the new consciousness nor my ability to click back into it seemed affected in any way by variations in diet, environment, or activities such as meditation. One change that did impress me, however, was that to begin with my sleep seemed to become quite dreamless, for I had hitherto always been a big dreamer. In fact I seemed no longer to experience sleep as unconsciousness, but rather as withdrawal into something like the pure void-state of the original NDE.


­Then, after about two weeks, I woke one morning with a dream, and was very disappointed to find it a rather “boring” scenario totally lacking in mystical consci­ousness. My disappointment grew as this experience was repeated several times over the following weeks, and I wondered if it meant my new consciousness was somehow superficial, doomed to fade before long. In fact, however, the consciousness remained undiminished in waking hours and at sleep onset; with a scientist’s hankering after quantification, I estimated that I stayed in it between 30% and 50% of my waking time. The explanation of its absence from dreams became apparent as soon as I put aside disappointment and resumed regular dream-work, using the approach devel­oped by my wife, Dr. Ann Faraday (Faraday, 1973, 1976). I found that my dreams now, just as in my pre- NDE life, were working over, in their own distinctive dreamatic-symbolic mode, various specific unresolved concerns of the day-and I immediately recognized these as the very preoccupations that had obscured mystical consciousness during my “drifts into forgetfulness.


In fact my disappointment came from not taking our own dream theory seriously enough. On the Faraday view, most dreams - even happy, creative, numinous, archetypal and transpersonal ones - derive from waking con­cerns requiring further attention, mainly thoughts, feelings or subliminal vibes passed over during the day because we were either too busy or unwilling to examine them. The essence of my mystical conscious­ness, on the other hand, is that each moment is enjoyed with full felling-attention - not because I stop thinking or imagining, but because I am coming from a state of complete satisfaction with whatever is in the moment, irrespective of what has to be com­pleted along the line of time. The clouds descend when consciousness gets caught up in some concern, high or low, and forgets its identity with the Void-Ground - and Normal dreaming, in which the self is completely involved in whatever dream-drama is going on, is an exact reflection of this state of preoccupied forget- fullness.


Realizing this, I understood why many mystics have referred to unenlightened human life as a kind of waking dream. I also recalled the claim often made by J. Krishnamurti that he has “no need to dream” because he completes each waking moment in full satisfied feeling-attention. He awakens each morning, he says, to a world completely new and fresh, having spent the night in a state beyond both dream and dreamlessness - perhaps the same state which Tibetan yoga describes as transcending the distinction between sleep and waking (Chang, 1963). Could this have been what I experi­enced in the first two weeks after the NDE? I remained very puzzled, however, about where lucid dreams fit into this picture, and tried several experiments to induce them by pre-sleep suggestion, without success. And then, at Easter 1984, I got my answer, and also my first dream that did include mystical consciousness, through an entirely unforeseen circumstance.


The occasion was a dinner party in Sydney at which my host continued unobtrusively to refill my glass with superb Australian wine to the point where I had drunk more than is my custom. All my puritan Christian conditioning, reinforced by my studies in Eastern mysticism since the NDE, closed in on me with the fear that I might have sabotaged my mystical consciousness. In actual fact I could not detect any clouding at all - the party, and the streets on the way home after, were full of the usual blissful “Isness”. But my worrying Topdog voices wouldn’t be shaken off, and I went to bed half convinced that I would wake next day to find I had betrayed my gift of grace, dissolved the pearl of great price in a mess of alcohol. Instead, I had the most remarkable dream of my life.


Since it occupies seven pages of my dream diary, I can only give a bare summary here. It began as an ordi­nary dream of wandering around Sydney and gradually becoming aware that most people couldn’t see me be­cause I was dead. Of the few who could, one was Ann, another the real-life President of the Australian Institute for Psychical Research, Eric Wedell. He seemed to have a special responsibility for instruc­ting me in how to handle this strange post-mortem existence, and when he mentioned wine I suddenly became lucid. I knew this was a dream, in which my ghostly invisibility symbolized my post—NDE state and the dream-characters who could see me were the people who in waking life recognized that I was living in heaven here on earth, dead to “this world.” I also knew I was creating this dream to explore my concern about drink and mystical consciousness, and I became aware of lying in bed in our apartment overlooking Sydney Harbor Bridge with my mouth dry from mild alcoholic dehydration.


Still in the dream, I recalled the discussion in Lucidity Letter following Charles Tart’s proposal (Tart, 1984) to restrict the term “lucid” to dreams in which there is full rational consciousness, including awareness of lying in a particular bed asleep. I thought to myself, “Well, here’s one for you Charlie!”, and continued with the dream, maintaining simultaneous consciousness of lying in bed in one room while talking to Eric in a quite different dream-room. I asked him outright what were the heavenly rules about drinking, to which he replied that “here,” drink just wasn’t available for people likely to abuse it - and would I like to try this new vintage? With a flash I saw that the real threat to my mystical consciousness lay not in drink itself but in getting caught up into an internal dialogue about drink, and to celebrate this “breakthrough” in dream-terms I walked straight through the wall of the dream-room. As I emerged into the Street by the harbor my dream was flooded with mystical consciousness, not as something new, but as a simple recognition of what had actually been there all along, the exact same sense I have when I click back to the consciousness in waking life. I flew over the water, borne by a wind I knew to be the breath of God on creation’s first morning, and fainted at the beauty of it all - to wake in bed, my eyes brimming with tears of gratitude.


The gratitude has returned many times since, for I have used the insight again and again in waking life to break out of internal Topdog/Underdog dialogues (of many different kinds) and click back into mystical consciousness far sooner than I would otherwise have done. Largely thanks to this particular piece of dream-work, I am now enjoying the mystical state for well over half of most days, sometimes much more, and this has been accompanied by some quite astonishing effects - for example, an ability to take even quite unpleasant experiences, like pain into the consciousness and find them, too, “very good” as I have described elsewhere (Wren-Lewis, 1985). For the record here, I must state that I have not noticed any decrease in my dreaming, but this is no surprise; dreams deal with specific unresolved concerns, any one of which can sometimes be worked over by several dreams of the same night, so even a small amount of time caught up in preoccupation during the day could still generate as much “need to dream” as a whole day of clouding. The “Krishnamurti phenomenon,” if it occurs, would represent a quantum jump to complete dreamlessness when daily drifting into preoccupation is reduced to zero, and I am a long way from that yet.


Meantime, my main concern here is to report what I have learned from all this about lucid dreaming, and once again I must necessarily resort to summary, as follows:


A.   My dream described above completely confirms Faraday’s view (Faraday, 1976) that the contents of lucid dreams, including breakthroughs, flying and even the act of “awakening” to lucidity, can be interpreted in the same way as the contents of non-lucid dreams. Faraday links varying degrees of self-reflection or lucidity in dreaming to occa­sions of comparable “awakening” during the day, when we catch ourselves out (albeit only partially or very fleetingly) getting lost in some internal drama of our own making. In my case, the fleeting moment of waking lucidity must have occurred on the drive home from the party, when I looked around the Sydney streets and found them still full of bliss­ful “Isness”, despite my Topdog trying to persuade me otherwise.


B.    The dream very clearly portrayed mystical consciousness as beyond the “awakening” to lucidity. Following the logic of a Faraday-interpretation, I see this, now, as a reflection of the fact that in waking life, mystical consciousness includes but goes beyond psychological “awakening” to one’s internal dramas. This jibes with Ken Wilber’s re­peated insistence (Wilber, 1981, 1983) that psycho­therapy and human potential work can never in themselves bring final fulfillment or liberation, which is transpersonal, though they provide an essential foundation for it. In Wilber’s paradigm, mystical consciousness is presented as a separate stage of development, requiring yogic or Zen technique, after psychological self-awareness has been attained; in my case, having been catapulted into mystical consciousness by the shock of the NDE, I now find myself having to use the self-therapy of dream-work to claim fully what I already have much of the time.


C.   Because my NDE has given me this foothold beyond psychological self-awareness, I would expect, on Faraday principles, to have fewer spontaneous lucid dreams than I did before, since any time I catch myself out in an internal drama during the day I normally click straight back into mystical consci­ousness with no opportunity for the self-awareness to become an unfinished concern. I think lucid dreams are likely to arise for me now only in rather special circumstances like the Easter party, and so far I have had no further instances. For anyone without a mystical foothold beyond psycho­logical self-awareness, on the other hand, I would expect the practice of regular dream-work or other human potential disciplines to be accompanied by an increase in all the stages of lucidity in dreams, just as Faraday reports (Faraday, 1976, 1978).


D.   I suspect that my Archimedian foothold beyond self-awareness was also in some way responsible for the fact that my Easter 1984 dream gave me full “Tart-style” lucidity for the first time in my life, though the precise logic of this is not yet clear to me. I think Tart is wise to emphasize (Tart, 1984) that there could be something like a difference of kind, rather than merely of degree, between knowing clearly in a dream that one is its author, and actually being aware of sleeping in bed and of dreaming simultaneously. While the former would seem, on Faraday’s principle, to reflect some fleeting or unacknowledged moment of self-awareness during the day, Tart’s lucidity seems to imply a state of consciousness transcending the distinction between sleep and waking, as envisaged in Tibetan dream yoga. I should therefore be extremely interested to know if Tart or anyone else who has experienced what he wants to call lucidity in dreams has ever done it spontaneously, or whether it is the result of some special exercise, as would be expected on Wilber’s paradigm.


E.   Finally, in the light of all the above I would expect no simple correlation between NDEs and the incidence of lucid dreaming. There might even be a negative correlation if NDEs regularly produced mystical consciousness with full feeling-attention and complete satisfaction in each waking moment. Most NDEs, however, seem only to produce conversion-experiences, which, if they involve an impulse towards greater self-awareness, might bring an increase in lucid dreaming according to Faraday’s paradigm.


Chang, G. (1963). Teachings of Tibetan Yoga. New York: University Books.

Faraday, A. (1973). Dream Power. New York: Berkley Books.

Faraday, A. (1976). The Dream Game. New York: Harper & Row (Perennial Library).

Faraday, A. (1978). “Once upon a Dream”. Voices, Spring.

Lundahl, C. R., ed. (1982). A Collection of Near-Death Research Findings (Chicago: Nelson-Hall).

Tart, C. (1984). Terminology in lucid dream research. Lucidity Letter. 3(1), 4-6.

Wilber, K. (1981). No Boundary. Los Angeles: Shambala. Wilber, K. (1983). Eye to Eye.

       Garden City, New York: Doubleday/Anchor.

Wren-Lewis, J. (1985). “The Darkness of God.” Bull. Aust. Inst. for Psychical Res., No. 5.

Wren-Lewis, J. (1985a). “The Darkness of God”. Anabiosis, Fall 1985: International Association for Near-Death Studies, Box U-20, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06268.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 4.


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What Do We Mean By “Lucidity”?


Charles T. Tart

University of California at Davis


John Wren-Lewis fascinating article (1985), reinforcing the discussions George Gillespie and I have been having (Gillespie, 1983; Tart, 1984), demonstrates much we need to clarity the term “lucid.” It raises many other vital issues, but space limitations preclude my commenting on them here.


I propose that we take “lucid” and make it a technical term, along the lines discussed below. Since lucid is rarely used in common speech, this is practical. This technical usage will have applications to all states of consciousness, not just dreaming. What I propose will be reasonably consistent with current usage of “lucid dream,” while simultaneously calling for greater care and clarity in talking about lucid dreams.


Consider the dictionary definitions of lucid: It is defined as meaning suffused with light; luminous; translucent; having full use of one’s faculties; sane; and as clear to the understanding, intelligible. “Lucidity” is defined as clearness of thought or style; a presumed capacity to perceive the truth directly and instantaneously; and as clairvoyance.



To define lucidity in a technical sense, we start with a simplified model of reality. I assume there is a real, lawful world, existing independently of what I believe about it. I further assume that I exist and I have some real, lawful nature, regardless of what I currently believe about it.



My perceptions and understandings of both my world and my self can vary in their degree of experienced luc­idity. Consider my world. At one extreme, my vision can be out of focus, objects hard to recognize, my location unclear1 the meaning of the world around me obscure. At the other extreme, I can experience clear and intense perception of the world around me and clearly and immediately recognize everything in my world around me, and understand its name, function, and place in my world.


Consider my self. At the non-lucid extreme, I may feel confused about who I am in a given situation, or who I really am in a larger sense than the immediate situation. I may suffer from rapidly changing or contradictory emotions and concepts, my body may feel strange. I may be unclear about who or what I am and what my current state is at the moment. Indeed I may have delusions about my self. At the lucid extreme I clearly know who I am in a wide sense as well as grasping the particular functioning of my self at this moment in space and time.


Experienced lucidity can vary somewhat independently on these two dimensions of world and self. I could be lucid about my self, for instance, while in a world situation that was very unclear in terms of its external nature, or perhaps unclear because of malfunctioning of my sensory organs. Those of us who wear glasses get a small example of this sometimes when our mind is clear but we can’t see well without having our glasses on.


Note carefully that we have been discussing experi­enced lucidity, your immediate perception/cognition of your perception of your self and of your world. The degree to which experienced lucidity correlates with general and wide ranging validation of the lucidly experienced percepts and ideas is a different issue. We would like them to go together, but we have all experienced situations when things were quite lucid, but later we realized that we were mistaken. My pro­posals for the technical use of the term lucid here deal only with experiential qualities, not with their validation by long-term or external criteria.


Absolute and Relative Uses of Lucidity:


Given our model of a real self and a real world, with lawful properties of their own, we can now define absolute lucidity as the experience of immediate, clear access to all relevant information about your­self and your world that is possible for a human being to have. I believe this includes the “clairvoyance” aspects of the word lucidity, for these are part of human nature (Tart, 1977). Absolute lucidity is thus similar as a concept to the idea of absolute enlightenment, and to Gurdjieff’s idea that genuine wakefulness was having immediate and complete access to all of your abilities and knowledge (Tart, in preparation).


For those who are not comfortable with including psi abilities like clairvoyance in the underlying model for lucidity, we can define absolute-but-convention­ally-limited lucidity as the experience of immediate, clear access to all relevant information about your self and your world that is possible through conven­tional sensory perception and inference from memories of past experiences. You perceive as clearly as is possible, and you have access to all your stored experience to draw rational inferences from.


Our ordinary state of consciousness, which can best be technically described as consensus consciousness (Tart, 1975), does not possess this absolute lucidity or absolute-but-conventionally-limited lucidity. For one thing, perceptual defense and distortion frequent­ly give us limited and/or distorted perceptions of our world, even without our knowing they are distorted.


Lucidity can be seen as changing quantitatively along a continuum. Imagine we have precise knowledge about your nature and the nature of reality. Suppose you find yourself in a certain situation calling for an adaptive response. If, to make up some numbers, you have the inherent capability to perceive 100 relevant elements in the situation and have 100 stored items of relevant information, but only perceive, e.g., 30 elements and recall 40 stored items, we could say you were 35% lucid on some sort of absolute scale. If people generally were about 35% lucid on this scale, we would call your state “ordinary” or “normal” and not think about “lucidity” or lack of it.


Now suppose something happened that altered your men­tal functioning so you functioned at 45% on our scale. This quantitative shift would probably make you in­clined to say you had become lucid with respect to your ordinary state. Small shifts would probably not be perceptible to the experiencer as lucidity or lack of it, while large shifts would. Such a shift upward could happen in your ordinary waking state, in a dream or in some other altered state, such as marijuana intoxication or a meditative state. We can call this kind of shift quantitative lucidity.


A lucid dream, however, is usually described as a qualitative shift. We don’t get reports of the type “I found I could recall 15% more informational items about the dream person I was looking at, and so called this lucidity.” There is a shift in overall quality, a pattern shift to a discrete altered state of consci­ousness as compared with ordinary dreaming. Parts of this pattern shift may include the appearance of psy­chological functions (such as volition) that were absent in the previous non-lucid dream. We should call this kind of change qualitative lucidity. John Wren-Lewis’ ongoing experience of “Isness” in his “ordinary” waking state is an entirely new quality superimposed on ordinary waking functioning, not a simple quantitative shift. I would consider his cur­rent waking state as a discrete altered state of con­sciousness compared to his previous ordinary waking state. The kind of self-remembering Gurdjieff taught leads to a similar qualitative shift in ordinary con­sciousness (Ouspensky, 1949; Tart, in preparation).


The nature of discrete altered states and the practi­cal methodological considerations for investigating and working with them are a major topic in themselves, dealt with in my “States of Consciousness” (Tart, 1975).

Space limitations preclude further discussion here, but note that this is intended as a further stimulus to clarification of the concept of lucidity and of lucid dreaming. I look forward to your responses.



Gillespie, G. (1983). Memory and reason in lucid dreams: A personal observation. Lucidity

      Letter, 3 (4), 8-9.

Ouspensky, P. D. (1949). In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching.

      New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Tart, C. T. (1975). States of Consciousness. New York: Dutton. Republished by Psychological

      Processes, Box 371, El Cerrito, CA 94530, 1983.

Tart, C. T. (1977) Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm. New York: Dutton.

Tart, C. T. (1984). Terminology in lucid dream research. Lucidity Letter, 3, (1), 4-6.

Tart, C. T. (in preparation) Waking Up.

Wren-Lewis, J. (1985) Dream lucidity and near-death experience: A personal report. Lucidity Letter, 4, (2), 1-9.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 12.


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“Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experiences”- A Lucidity-Meditation Analysis


Harry Hunt

Brock University


Wren-Lewis’ fascinating account shows an apparently very rare approximation of near-death experience to a felt dissolution into voidness and mystical enlight­enment. If such full experiences do occur in the actually dying then one could infer that most resus­citated patients are pulled back earlier from its access stages. Consistent with other accounts of mystical realization, previous daily life is now seen as a clouded forgetfulness closely akin to ordinary dreaming, both being characterized by a narrowed pragmatic involvement that is “forgetful” of just that overall context or perspective that comes with en­lightenment (temporary or long term) and is made more likely with meditative practice (the major historical self-awareness technique). Similarly, deep dreamless sleep now occurs with ongoing awareness as the direct experience of voidness and there is an at least ini­tial paucity of dreams--possibly because background phasic physiological discharges are no longer clust­ered within the REM state or are more generally re­duced and equilibrated. The dreams that do occur are correspondingly ordinary-based on “day residue” in- completion. He plausibly suggests that any associa­tion between NDE and lucid dreams would depend on the enhancement of reflective self-awareness resulting from intermediate level NDE carrying over into dreams, which is also consistent with several suggestions that dream lucidity is itself a spontaneous meditative state. Indeed both developed meditation and lucid dreaming share a receptivity to a broader sense of context that balances off the narrowing involvements of the everyday world with all its “projects” (nec­essarily uncompleted because endlessly renewed and redefined). I have recently reported two studies in which we found a correlation between meditative prac­tice and tendency to lucid-control dreams.


Where I am less certain is with his relation of lucid dreams to Faraday’s “day residue” incompleteness model for all dreaming-with lucid dreams the carrying forward of uncompleted tendencies toward self aware­ness during the day. First, this tendency of the dream to complete previous waking experience may be part of a more general Zeigarnik effect--operating within wakefulness as well. There may also be a question of different types of dreaming: while all dreams (as a subspecies of all discernible experi­ences) may have some such completion aspect, it seems to be central only for certain forms of dreaming (such as Freud’s dreams which are day residue centered and require some sort of memory model for their under­standing). In Jung’s archetypal dreams, however, day residue seems less determinative and we require cognitive concepts of creative imagination to make sense of the total dream. Second, and along these lines, it may be a mistake to treat lucidity as just another type of dream content-to be assimilated to a principle that is more general than dreaming anyway. Rather, with lucidity and developed meditation, a reflective and detached self awareness transforms consciousness--dreaming and waking consciousness equally. It begins a release from pressures of discharge and specified completion which culminates in the enlightenment state that Wren-Lewis describes. What would Faraday-Lewis make of occasional shamanistic and meditative accounts where the transformation of consciousness seems to begin and develop entirely within dreams--only gradually carrying forward into daily life in the way that, more commonly, meditative practice carries forward into lucid dreaming? Again, what strikes me is the way that lucidity-meditation transforms ordinary “completion” consciousness in waking and dreaming about equally and beginning from either direction.


That said, Wren-Lewis’ account is apparently consistent with my suggestion of a curvilinear relation between degrees of lucidity and corresponding transformations of dream consciousness. We found high levels of ordinary dream bizarreness associated with prelucid dreams, most lucid dreams being relatively true-to-daily-life, while highly developed lucidity moved towards the mandala and white light patterns of access mysticism. Wren-Lewis seems to start at the other end, however, where enlightenment leaves one “back” in the everyday world as now perfect (either with no dreams or “ordinary” ones) and/or with no difference between enlightenment realizations awake or dreaming. However, with a relative diminution of his enlightenment “plateau”, we see, instead of the more expectable clouding of dream consciousness associated with anxiety and wine, a stimulation of full lucidity--as a sort of “peak experience” to balance the temporary loss of voidness by something more sharply ecstatic. It is reminiscent of mid to high level lucidity. I would anticipate that should he suffer more periods of diminution of mystical consciousness that these would be associated with very vivid and fully lucid dreams as well as more Maslow type “peak experiences” in waking life, precisely because lucidity is not simply derivative from waking consciousness but is mid level stage of meditative self reflectiveness which cuts across dreaming and waking. All this is not to deny the reality of Wren-Lewis’ observations but to put them in a slightly different context. With full enlightenment, factors which are normally attenuating would paradoxically release more episodic peak-like returns. Going the other way, we would have a gradual development from bizarre-archetypal non-or-prelucid dreams, to lucid dreams with mundane content, to lucidity with psychedelic transformations of flying, mandala patterns, light, and ecstasy, to a cessation and/or mundanization of dreaming again as the episodic and narrowed structure of experience “as this or that” drops away altogether. All this would work on the model of a dialogue between an ever deepening attitude of detached receptivity (hard to develop, so requiring less intensity of active content in its early stages) and “content” that comes increasingly to “mirror” the open emptiness of the meditative attitude itself.


Finally, I would be inclined to see the Tart-type lucid dream-described early on by van Eeden-- not so much as a sign of degree of lucidity development per se but rather as a transition to the closely related out-of-body structure (also seen in different ways in flying dreams and Green’s metaphoric hallucinations of one’s actual surroundings). It may also be a by-product of closeness to awakening.


Lucidity, false awakening, out-of-body experience, and autoscopic hallucinations form a series of multiple transitions and subtypes. I am not sure that as yet we have any convincing or cognitively sensible way to arrange these linearly. However, further observations by gifted individuals like Wren-Lewis may begin to order what is present a multiform transitional series.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 17.


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Comments on “Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experiences-A Personal Report”, by John Wren-Lewis


George Gillespie

University of Pennsylvania


Wren-Lewis’s near-death experience (NDE), whose relationship to his later lucid dreaming he questions, was an experience of “no-thing-ness,” a darkness (Wren—Lewis, personal communication, May 31, 1984) which he describes as a void. His is one type of NDE. NDEs reported by others may include visions and light without an experience of voidness (Lundahi, 1982). So what is questioned here is the relationship, if any, of void-type NDEs, rather than NDEs in general, to lucid dreaming. And as the experience of a void is not exclusive to the context of dying, since, for example, it is to be achieved in Buddhist and other meditation, we may really be examining here the relationship of the void-experience, rather than just void-type NDEs, to subsequent lucid dreaming.


The dream that Wren-Lewis describes is in four parts:

1.    Ordinary dreaming. When wine is mentioned, this develops into a lucid dream.

2.    Ordinary lucid dreaming. The degree of lucidity at the beginning of the lucid dream is hard for me to know, but it is without awareness of himself in bed. When he remembers Tart’s comments in Lucidity Letter about full lucidity, he becomes fully aware of himself in bed (Wren-Lewis, personal communication, May 31, 1984).

3.    Lucid dreaming with apparent full rational consciousness including awareness of lying in a particular bed. For the rest of the dream, he remains conscious of his bedroom and of the dream activity, in which he participates. The dream continues to be a process of self-therapy, an internal dialogue about drink and mystical consciousness. He then comes to an understanding about this concern of his. Following this breakthrough he becomes “flooded with mystical consciousness.”

4.    “Mystical consciousness.” He is not dissolved again into “no-thing-ness” as in the original NDE. He experiences what he has experienced in waking life—the void as a kind of background to his consciousness. He does not transcend awareness of the dream environment, for he is aware of water and wind and has the sensation of flying. Nor, if he is still aware of his bedroom, has he transcended awareness of waking environment. He has religious feelings.


We can only guess whether the earlier void—type NDE or the resulting “new consciousness” may have brought about this more fully lucid dreaming, or whether the full lucidity reflected, as did the dream activity itself, unfinished waking thoughts about the “new consciousness.” It may be significant that Wren-Lewis had this, his first lucid dream with “full rational consciousness,” shortly after reading Tart’s and my own discussions about full lucidity in Lucidity Letter (Wren-Lewis, personal communication, May 31, 1984), and that he became fully lucid in the dream upon remembering Tart’s comments. This fuller lucidity was not in itself mystical, nor was it any more free than ordinary lucid dreaming from the preoccupations that obscure mystical consciousness. It is when a problem is solved that “mystical consciousness” came, and even then the dream did not become transpersonal in the sense that the original NDE did.


Wren-Lewis chooses to interpret his experience of the “void” largely in a Buddhist manner. Then he questions whether the experience of full lucidity implies a state of consciousness reached in Tibetan dream yoga. In Tibetan dream yoga, as indeed in traditional yoga initiated while awake, whether Buddhist or Hindu, the purpose of yoga is the suppression of all sensing and mental activity. Tibetans use yoga during lucid dreams for eliminating dreaming and producing the four experiences of the “void” that lead to nirvana. These experiences are described as being like visions of clear sky. In the third void experience there is a darkness with no sense activity or thought. This may be Wren-Lewis’s original experience of voidness. The voids are experienced, they say, in dreamless sleep (sometimes called just “sleep”), which is the state beyond waking and dreaming. What “dreamless sleep” may mean in modern psychology, of course, must be considered apart from the various Hindu and Buddhist conceptions. These visions of voidness, the Tibetans say, are also experienced upon dying. Thus it is appropriate that Wren-Lewis’s NDE include an experience of voidness. Naturally the void experiences are then brought about through dying and not through yoga.


The more fully lucid dream as described by Wren-Lewis or Tart, because of its greater awareness of the waking and dream world, its mental activity and memory, is very far from the experience of the void or dreamless sleep and the goals of yoga. Ordinary lucid dreaming, particularly when mental activity and memory are most limited, is much closer to the experience of dreamless sleep. It is awareness that one is dreaming and not the quantity of lucidity that enables the dreamer to meditate and use the dream to reach the state beyond waking and dreaming. An excess of environment-awareness, thinking, memory and activity only make more for the dream yogin to eliminate.



Lundahl, C. R. (Ed.) (1982). A Collection of’ Near-Death Research Readings, Chicago: Nelson Hall.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 21.


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Near-Death and Dream Lucidity Comments on John Wren-Lewis’s Account


Michael Grosso

Jersey City State College


John Wren-Lewis’s near-death experience (NDE) and the aftereffects he describes are remarkable. Notably, his NDE did not follow the typical pattern; it contained none of the typical imagery associated with NDEs, such as encountering light beings, deceased relatives, supernatural landscapes, out-of-body states. However, the aftereffects he reports, spiritual and psychic, are more in keeping with many deep NDEs.


Let me begin with the following comment. It is by now a commonplace among near-death researchers that the deeper levels of this remarkable experience seem to be phenomenologically similar to the mystical experience. This similarity points to the possibility that the NDE  and the mystical experience derive from a common psychospiritual process. Near-death may be one of many possible stimuli of that process.


Another point concerns the differences in naming and conceptualizing the Transcendent in the various mystical and spiritual traditions; these may be due to qualitative differences in core psychological experiences. Many people, for instance, report having visions (both in the NDE and classical mystical context) of a Christlike or Buddhalike Being of Light; accordingly, the Transcendent is named and conceptualized in personalistic and theistic terms. Mr. Wren-Lewis’s NDE consisted of dissolving into a “spaceless” and timeless void which was total ‘no­-thing-ness’.” Later, we find him naming the Transcendent the “Living Void,” the “Infinite Dark,” the “Void Background,” etc. Experiences of the type reported in this paper offer hints on understanding the psychology and parapsychology of the god-making process.


But, to come back to Mr. Wren-Lewis’s imageless plunge into the Divine Vacuum. We see, for instance, that this “Void” symbolism belies the actual character of the author’s post-NDE mystical experience, which is described as “full feeling attention,” “a state of complete satisfaction with whatever is in the moment.” Later, he writes of a “party, and the streets on the way home after, (as) full of the usual blissful Isness.” Mr. Wren-Lewis reports that on the latter occasion he was drunk and was afraid of jeopardizing his mystical consciousness. In fact, there was no clouding over; however, he retired doubting, wondering. That night he had a remarkable dream, mystical and lucid. In it he obtained the insight that drink itself was not a threat to his mystical consciousness but “getting caught up into an internal dialogue about drink.” This lucid dream revelation is consistent with the account of the mystical state as full feeling attention, satisfaction with the flow of what is.


Mr. Wren-Lewis notes that he experienced this mystical quality of attention in his dream-the same quality he reports as prevalent in his post-NDE waking life. This suggests, as also noted by Mr. Wren-Lewis, an idea from Tibetan mystical texts: that it is possible to maintain certain higher, mystical states of awareness, continuously through waking and dreaming. Indeed, the effort to maintain the continuity is itself part of the mystical discipline. The particular challenge is to maintain self-awareness during the onset of sleep and dream; not, we might say to get caught up by, lost in or identified with, the dream content.


This, of course, begins to sound like dream lucidity. Thus, both Tibetan teachers and Mr. Wren-Lewis seem to be saying that it is not the content (a frog plopping in a pond or a Bach mass) or the form of consciousness (dream, waking, alcoholic intoxication, etc.) that defines the “ultimate” or “liberated” state, but a certain internal attitude, a peculiar relationship to that object or state: detachment, autonomy, being fully present, fully attentive. This is, moreover, a mode of consciousness with inherent value-intrinsic bliss, blessedness, beatitude. These value properties, according to this claim, are inherent properties of lucid consciousness. Mysticism, as a scientific hypothesis, might turn on experimental proof of this subtle experience, in which consciousness, being, and intrinsic value, were perfectly fused.


The term “lucidity”, as used in this letter, grew out of an attempt to describe a certain type of dream in which a subject is reflexively aware of being in the dream state. A little reflection, however, shows that the notion of lucidity has universal ramifications. The root idea means to revolve around simultaneously becoming observer and participant. The language of detachment, separation, indifference, objectification often comes into play in describing lucid-related states. Plato wrote in the Phaedo of the separation of the soul from the body; modern phenomenology speaks of the reduction, bracketing, parenthesizing; esthetic theory of psychical distance; modernist metafictional theory of deconstruction.


Broadly speaking, all these address a fundamental evolutionary task of consciousness: which is to wrench itself free from all partial and hence limiting perspectives. Lucidity, thus raised from ifs specific dream context, is what may happen when consciousness gets stuck, trapped, arrested at some juncture in the personal or collective evolutionary process.


But this is an ambiguous, tentative process. For instance, lucidity in dreams marks an advance in consciousness, but is scarcely indicative of anything “ultimate.” There is an advance in awareness of the mode of consciousness, i.e., that one is dreaming. The conscious ego wrenches itself from the absorption in the dream. But in the awakening of oneself as dreaming, one also becomes aware of oneself. I am dreaming, would seem to accompany the revelation, this is a dream. In the lucid dream, the sense of I is rescued from absorption in the dream world; by contrast, in the mystical life the sense of I is rescued from absorption in the dream world; by contrast, in the mystical life the sense of I is relinquished, absorbed, or harmonized with a larger reality. Dream lucidity is only a step on the evolutionary ladder of consciousness.


Mr. Wren-Lewis sees the dream itself as a compensation for a deficiency in the fullness of waking attention; if so, then dream lucidity is at best an attempt to retrieve something lost in waking life. In waking life, of course, it is easier to become lucid; yet it is hard to achieve pure lucid waking. Consciousness is continually getting caught up, ambushed by distractions, swamped by external and internal impressions. The ebb and flow of lucid waking is reflected in Mr. Wren-Lewis’s fluctuations from normal to mystical consciousness.


We sometimes hear of masters, adepts, supposed to be established in a state of permanent enlightenment. These might be individuals who never get lost in or absorbed by the waking world, its fictions and constructs. But such ultimates should be taken with a grain of salt. For, if lucidity is a general term for inclusive consciousness, and if the universe is evolving and steadily producing novelty, then the idea of an ultimate state of inclusive consciousness makes no sense. I would therefore attach a relative significance to the author’s allusion to “final fulfillment or liberation.”


Studies indicate that near-death experiences are often followed by a generally enhanced psychic receptivity; as increased incidence of OBEs, ostensibly ESP, or as a general opening to intuitive and imaginative modes of awareness. It is not therefore surprising that lucidity-broadly understood--should have followed the author’s NDE. What Mr. Wren-Lewis’s remarkable experience suggests to me is that dramatic quantum leaps in the evolution of personal consciousness are empirically observable. Such effects, I believe, need to be looked at in relation to the collective evolution of consciousness. I would, in future research, hope to see the biological perspective stressed. Lucidity may be a useful concept in evolutionary psychology.


All contents and states of consciousness are limited aspects of the universe’s self-transcending evolutionary potential. Our dreams and waking adventures, unusual experiences like near-death, special disciplines like art, science, the various yogas of heart, mind, and spirit--all are possible occasions for attaining new levels of lucidity, new levels of inclusiveness, autonomy, and inherent value.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 24.


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The Representation of Death in My Dreams


Beverly I. Kedzierski

Carnegie Group

Pittsburgh, PA


In my waking life, I am very involved in my career as a Computer Scientist. I also have been doing research in lucid dreaming for the past 5 years at the Stanford University Sleep Laboratory, with Steve LaBerge. I’ve had lucid dreams long before I knew the name for them, and I continue to have them often. The first one that I remember occurred when I was 7 years old. It is described, along with other lucid dreams of mine, in the November 1985 issue of New Age magazine. Here I will briefly, discuss one aspect of my experiences, namely, death in dreams.


I have dreamt about people that I’ve known that have died. For instance, I’ve had many dreams about a very close friend of mine, Denise, who died from a sudden automobile accident when I was 19 years old. In describing my dreams about Denise, I will refer to the dream character that represents Denise to me as “her”, and I will refer to the dream character that represents myself as “me”.


In my non-lucid dreams about Denise, I would often run into her in some typical scene where we would interact with each other. Sometimes, I would suddenly remember that she had died and scare myself awake. Using my lucid dreaming skills, I learned to let the recognition of her having died make me realize that I was dreaming. In these cases, I would try to remain silently in the dream with her, who I perceived to be the actual Denise who had died. These dreams were usually uncomfortable experiences.


After my involvement with lucid dreaming research, I recognized that I was not completely lucid in these dreams because I did not realize that I was just seeing a dream characterization of Denise.  Once I saw her in this way, I was much more comfortable, and was able to remain in a dream and talk to her about our activities. Listening to her was more difficult, however, and I would often slip back into partial lucidity and feel strange listening to someone who I viewed as being dead. I was eventually able to remain totally lucid and talk to her about Denise’s death.


In a very special dream, I asked her if she knew that she had died. She told me that she knew this now, but that there was a period of time when she didn’t. Her realization was gradual. At first she thought that she as still alive, but she eventually understood. Her response might have to do with the tact that I knew that Denise had been in a coma for quite awhile prior to her death. As the dream continued, I asked her about what she was experiencing now and we resolved some issues that had been unresolved at the time of her death. Towards the end of the dream, someone called out, “Senator Red”.


My dreams of Denise helped me deal with dreaming about other people who have died. I learned how to dream about people by deciding ahead of time that I wanted to dream about them and then imagining meeting them while in a lucid dream. If I run across someone in a non-lucid dream that I know has died, the situation becomes a clue for lucidity and the dream usually becomes very enlightening.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 28.


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Near Death, Near Dream


George Gillespie

University of Pennsylvania


I will describe here an experience of mine which was in all its characteristics a near-death experience (NDE) except that ultimately there was no evidence that I had been near death, and which, except for my believing I had died, was similar to a number of earlier experiences of mine which had always occurred only in the context of lucid dreams, that is dreams in which I know I am dreaming.


I have been a frequent lucid dreamer since 1976 and have experienced many “out-of-body experiences” (ODEs) both in the context of lucid dreams and between dreaming and awakening, though never with verification that I had left the body. Before this “NDE”, if I may call it such, I had experienced a number of times a brilliant light in which I felt God was present. This has always been in continuity from ordinary lucid dreaming, and has a occasionally grown out of an experience of darkness (see Gillespie, 1985).


At least six years before my “NDE” I had read some excerpts from Moody’s Life after Life. Otherwise, I had not read much about NDEs, although I was familiar with Tibetan material on death experience. My “NDE” happened in the early morning of February 18, 1985 in Calcutta. I wrote it down immediately afterward.


In an ordinary dream I was explaining to some people about death. Our interest was not simply theoretical, but related to real possibilities. I said, “You will see both darkness and light at the same time,” meaning they would pass out of darkness into light.


After a transition that I don’t remember, I was floating in darkness wondering what was happening to me. I was going through some personal crisis I did not understand. Though I was not particularly aware of my (dreamed) body, I felt myself drift up. Suddenly I entered the light, which I happily recognized. I knew then that I was again in the presence of God, and that this time I had died. The light was brilliant and filled my vision. There was a point above the level of my eyes from which the light appeared to radiate.


I did not remember waking life, nor did I know the circumstances of my death. I had some regrets at first, but my joy was greater than any regrets. I was spontaneously prayerful, calm and extremely happy. As I floated for some time in the light I repeated over and over with great feeling, “Thank you, Father.” I was not thankful for dying, but for being in the presence of God and the light.


Then slowly I became aware that I was in bed. I woke up tingling and very much surprised to find that I had not died.


My NDE did not, to my knowledge, have a physiological base, nor an obvious psychological precipitant. The experience did continue the themes of death, darkness and light of the preceding ordinary dream. A possible factor is that a close friend died a few days later in the United States. I knew he had been in serious condition for some months, but being in India I did not know that he was close to death at the time.


The characteristics of my experience that are common to NDE accounts are: the feeling of crisis, floating up as in an OBE, passage through darkness, entry into a brilliant light, awareness of having died, consciousness of a presence in the light--in my case God, devotion, extreme joy, and resignation to having died. It was all very real to me and even upon waking reflection, very convincing.


All these elements I had experienced before in continuity from ordinary lucid dreaming, except the feeling of crisis and the “knowledge” that I had died. This knowledge came to me as knowledge comes in dreams--I simply “knew it, as in an ordinary dream I may “know” I am in Hong Kong without any evidence in the dream environment. In a similar manner a near-death experiencer may “know” that she is dead, “know” that something good waits for her at the end of the tunnel, or “know” that the presence wants her to return to life (see Lundahl, 1982).


The experience of “dying”, in continuity from an ordinary dream, contained elements of NDE, OBE, and mystical phenomena, while duplicating previous lucid dream-related experiences. It was not like an ordinary dream, nor like an ordinary lucid dream. But I find lucid dreams, ODEs, mystical phenomena, and NDEs to be in a continuum with dream experience, and to be experienced as dreams are experienced. When happening in the context of dreams, as lucid dreams do and OBEs sometimes do, the connection with dreaming is more apparent. When happening apart from dreams, as mystical phenomena, NDEs, and OBEs usually do, the connection with dreams is not obvious. All these experiences have a commonality in that each is a kind of awareness-that-not-awake (ANA, can I say?) that is distinguished from ordinary dreaming. While the lucid dreamer generally accepts the unreality of what is being experienced, those who experience OBEs, mystical phenomena, and NDEs generally accept the experience as really happening.


To see these experiences as dream-related or as in continuity from dreaming only partially explains them. There is a lot we do not know about dreams, and these phenomena all have elements that take them decidedly beyond ordinary dreaming.



Gillespie, G. (1985). Ordinary dreams, lucid dreams and mystical experience. A paper presented

      at the annual Lucid Dream Preconvention Symposium at the international conference of the

      Association for the Study of Dreams, Charlottesville, Va., (June).

Lundahl, C. R. (Ed.) (1982). A collection of near-death research readings. Chicago: Nelson Hall.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 30.


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Lucid Dreams and Viewpoints in Imagery: Two Studies


Susan Blackmore

University of Bristol, England


There is much evidence that the same people tend to report both lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences (OBEs: Irwin & Blackmore, in press), but there is no general accepted explanation for this association. One way of exploring this further is to see whether the same cognitive skills are associated with the two experiences. Previous studies have shown the vividness of imagery and control of imagery are not associated with lucid dreaming (Blackmore, 1982: Hearne, 1978). While recent studies show some association between having OBEs and certain visuospatial skills (Cook & Irwin, 1983).


In three recent studies I explored the relationship between having OBEs and the use of viewpoints in imagery and memory (Blackmore, 1983: 1985). A theory of OBEs (Blackmore, 1984) predicted that OBErs should be more likely to use an “observer perspective in recall and dreams and to be able to switch easily from one viewpoint to another in imagery. I also predicted that, if the observer viewpoint is used as an escape from unpleasant situations, bad dreams should more often be recalled in observer perspective than good dreams.


Several of the predictions were confirmed. As expected unpleasant dreams were more often recalled in observer perspective. It was found that OBErs do not more often use an observer viewpoint in recall of real life situations, but they do more often use it in dream recall. Also OBErs reported having more vivid imagery from different viewpoints and were consistently better at switching from one viewpoint to another in imagery tasks. This was especially so for the viewpoint above the head, which is common in OBEs.


It is of interest to know whether the same differences would appear for those who have lucid dreams. Therefore, the results of the second two studies were compared for those who did and did not have lucid dreams.


Experiment 1




Subjects. There were 135 subjects, tested in four groups. The majority, 68%, were female with ages ranging from 17 to 94 (x = 43.1 years).

Procedure The subjects were asked to imagine the room in which they were sitting (various classrooms and libraries) from 4 or 5 different locations. They then had to rate how clear and vivid their image of the room was using a scale from 1 (no image) to 7 (a perfectly clear and detailed image). The locations were at eye level in the doorway, by the ceiling above their own head, by the ceiling above someone else’s head, by their feet and at their own eye level. The last of these was used for only 63 of the subjects.


The subjects were also asked where they normally perceive their “self” or “center of awareness” to be and were asked to try to switch their viewpoint or center of awareness from its normal position to above their head and back, and from their normal position to their feet. They were asked to rate how easily they could do this on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely easily). It was predicted that it would be much easier to switch to a position above the head than to the feet.


Finally they were asked whether at any time during the exercises they either saw their own body from the outside, or seemed to have another body at their imagined location. They were asked whether they had ever had a lucid dream or an out-of-body experience. The lucid dream question was worded as follows “have you ever had a dream in which you knew at the time that you were dreaming? (If in doubt please answer “No”). They were also asked whether they had ever induced a lucid dream or OBE deliberately.




As expected the room was easiest to imagine from the subjects’ own eye level and most difficult from the feet. It was much easier to switch viewpoints to a position above the head (x=3.7) than to one at the feet (x=2.1). During these various exercises 22% of the subjects claimed that they saw themselves from the outside and 15% that they had another body in their imagined location.


The most common position of normal center of awareness was behind the eyes (65%). The next most common positions, the top of the head and the forehead, represented only 12% of the subjects.


Eighty-six (64%) of the subjects claimed to have had lucid dreams. Of these 13 (15%) claimed to be able to have them deliberately. There were no age or sex differences between those who reported lucid dreams and those who did not. Subjects reporting having had at least one ODE were 22% of the sample. There was no association between those having ODEs and lucid dreams

(X (1)=.04).


The lucid dreamers were no better than others at the imagined viewpoints exercises. Subjects were given a combined score for their rated vividness of imagery from the different positions. The mean score for lucid dreamers was 14.6 and for others 13.8 (t = .79 n.s.).


Lucid dreamers were no more likely to see themselves or to have another body during the imagery exercises, and they showed no differences in the normal position of “self”.


The one positive finding was that lucid dreamers were better at switching from one viewpoint to another, especially when switching from the normal position to one above the head (t(102) = 1.99, p < .05)


Experiment 2




Subjects. Subjects were 187 students, mostly school sixth formers but also some university and adult education students. Ages ranged from 17 to 75, but most were 17 to 20. There were 98 females and 89 males.


Procedure. Subjects were given a questionnaire about their dream life and asked whether they had ever had an OBE. The lucid dream question was “Have you ever had a dream in which you knew at the time (i.e. during the dream) that you were dreaming?” Possible answers were a. Never, b. Occasionally (e.g., 1-5 times), c. Often (e.g., 5-20 times), d. Very often (more than 20 times) and e. Can have one whenever I like. They were then asked, in a way similar to that used by Nigro and Neisser (1983), to remember seven events and to write brief descriptions of these events, and they were then asked to say whether they imagined them as though from the observers position, seeing themselves in the scene, or from their current position. That is, as they would have seen it looking from their eyes. There were three “real life” situations to recall (first thing this morning, this time last Sunday and this time on Christmas Day) and four dreams (last night’s, last week’s, the best and worst dreams they could remember). Subjects were also given the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Odlfield 1971).




The different recall situations differed markedly in the proportions pf viewpoints used (see Table 1)


As predicted, the worst dreams were recalled more often in the observer perspective than the beat dreams.

Thirty—eight subjects (23%) claimed to have had an ODE, while 152 (82%) reported having lucid dreams. The frequency of lucid dreaming is shown in Table 2. There was no association between having ODEs and lucid dreams (X (1)=.25). There were no sex differences between lucid dreamers and others.


Lucid dreamers were more likely to report vivid dreams, and to enjoy their dreams. Contrary to previous findings (e.g. Blackmore 1982, 1983b) they were not more likely to have flying dreams (see Table 3).            However, none of the correlations are very strong.


The relative percentages of lucid dreamers and others who reported using an observer perspective for the different questions were compared. No significant differences were observed (See Table 4).


There were no differences in handedness between lucid dreamers and others (x =.45, n.s.) nor in laterality quotient, a measure of the extremeness of handedness (r =0.10).




These results show that lucid dreamers differ from others in being better at switching viewpoints from one imaginary location to another. In this respect they are similar to OBErs. Indeed the ability to switch viewpoints most clearly distinguished the OBErs from others. One possible interpretation is that there is one skill which underlies both experiences.


However, no other significant differences were found between lucid dreamers and others.


One drawback to this study is that the percentage of subjects reporting lucid dreams depends upon only one question. It is quite possible that the size of the lucid dreaming groups are inflated by false positives. This could be circumvented by interviewing the subjects, giving more extensive questionnaires, or asking them to write an account of a lucid dream. This is a general problem, applying to the survey work on both OBEs and lucid dreams. It needs to be dealt with before more definite conclusions about the cognitive skills involved in having lucid dreams can be made.




Blackmore, S. J. (1982). Out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, and imagery; Two surveys.

       Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 76, 301-317.

Blackmore, S. J. (1983a). Imagery and the OBE. In W. G. Roll, J. Beloff and B. A. White, (Ed.),

       Research in Parapsychology, 1982, Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press.

Blackmore, S. J. (1983b). Birth and the OBE: An unhelpful analogy. Journal of’ the American

       Society for Psychical Research, 77, 229-238.

Blackmore, S. J. (1983). A psychological theory of the out-of-body experience. Journal of

       Parapsychology. 48, 201—218.

Cook, A. M. & Irwin, H. J. (1983). Visuospatial skills and the out-of-body experience. Journal of

       Parapsychology, 47, 23-35.

Hearne, K. N. T. (1978). Lucid Dreams: An electrophysiological and psychological Study.

       Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Liverpool.

Irwin, H. F. & Blackmore, S. J. (in press). Lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences: Two

        views. In J.I. Gackenbach and S. LaBerge (Eds.), Lucid dreaming: New research on

        consciousness during sleep, New York: Plenum.

Nigro, G. & Neisser, N. (1983). Point of view in personal memories. Cognitive Psychology, 15,


Oldfield, R. C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh Inventory.

         Neuropsychologia, 9, 97-113.

Snyder, T. J. & Gackenbach, J. I. (in press). Individual differences associated with the lucid

         dreaming ability. In J. I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Ed.), Lucid Dreams: New research on

         consciousness during sleep, New York: Plenum.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 34.


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Out-Of-Body Experiences as Lucid Dreams: A Critique

D. Scott Rogo

John F. Kennedy University


In his recent book on lucid dreaming, Stephen LaBerge (1985a) suggests that out-of-body experiences represent a form of lucid dreaming. The only difference between the two experiences, he argues, is the way the subject interprets the experience. LaBerge goes on to show that the type of reasoning and observations that occur during OB states is similar to phenomena arising from lucid dreaming. He also cites the experiences of Oliver Fox (19710, whose OBEs were bound up with experiments and experiences with dreaming awareness.


The idea that OBEs are really lucid dreams gains some support from two recent findings. There are a number of techniques for inducing OBEs that rely on lucid dreaming or dream control (Rogo, 1983), while there exists considerable survey data that people who experience OBEs also experience lucid dreams (Irwin, 1985). Despite these points of evidence, there are a number of reasons for rejecting any theory that equates OBEs with simple lucid dreaming. The most important of these is that OBEs and lucid dreams seem to emerge from different psychophysiological states. Probably the most consistent finding about the lucid dream is that it occurs within the context of normal Stage 1 REM sleep. The only exception to this rule is that some lucid dreams may occur during sleep onset (Dane & Van de Castle, 1985), though it is unclear whether the EEG tracings taken from such “dreams” indicate true sleep or a waking hypnagogic state. So from the standpoint of psychophysiology, lucid dreams do not seem to be unique experiences, but merely a subtype of normal dreaming.


If OBEs are to be explained as simple lucid dreams, it follows that the EEG tracing taken from subjects inducing them should conform to the patterns that accompany dreaming. In an earlier paper (Rogo, 1984, I pointed out that several psychophysiological studies of gifted OBE subjects have in fact been made. The results indicate that OBEs emerge from a wide variety of brain states, with no consistency present between the EEG records from one subject to another.


To date, there have been four studies conducted with subjects capable of inducing OBEs from the sleeping state. The first of these was reported by Tart (1968), working with a gifted subject in California. The EEG tracings that accompanied her sleep OBE revealed no REMS. They did show continuous alphoid waves and poorly defined sleep spindles, but the alphoid activity was so peculiar that an outside judge could not classify it as clear-cut sleeping or waking. So while these results showed some superficial resemblances to dreaming, they seem to be pointing in a different direction. Tart (1967) was later able to replicate his research with a second subject, who has now been identified as Robert Monroe, well known as the author of a classic book on his personal OBEs. It would appear that Monroe’s OBEs stem from a poorly defined Stage 1 sleep state, although his REM activity was not as pronounced as might be expected in normal dreaming. Later, however, more EEG tracings were taken from Monroe’s sleep induced OBEs at the Topeka Veteran’s Administration Hospital (Gabbard & Twemlow, 19813). Researchers there found a strong relationship between Monroe’s OBEs and the production of the theta waves. Such a finding is not consistent with the idea that OBEs are any sort of dreams.


In a more recent report, Gabbard and Twemlow (1984) have reported on their work with a second subject. Her complex readings indicate that her OBE occurred in a state resembling Stage 3 sleep, typified by theta and delta activity with a cessation of alpha waves. This subject reported herself to be still awake during the process of leaving the body, although the experimenters try to interpret her experiences as a type of “window in consciousness” during sleep.


The subjective experiential report offered by the second subject tested by Gabbard and Twemlow demonstrates that OBEs do not necessarily occur during clearly-defined sleep. This fact alone should keep us from facilely equating OBEs with lucid dreams. Most deliberately induced waking OBEs occur by way of relaxation exercises or similar procedures that result in reduced cortical (personal communication, 1985) activity (Irwin, 1985: Rogo, 1983). LaBerge (1985b) has suggested that such OBEs can be equated with those lucid “dreams” that sometimes occur during the hypnagogic phase of sleep onset. This is certainly a testable hypothesis, since the hypnagogic stage is typified by a fairly consistent EEG pattern of broken alpha wave activity. However, this is not the pattern we find when we look at the EEG records procured from gifted subjects capable of experiencing waking OBEs.


The most thorough of these studies was a series of experiments undertaken with Keith Harary by researchers at the Psychical Research Foundation (then) in Durham (Hartwell, Janis & Harary, 1975). The EEG tracings taken from several of Harary’s OBEs showed no robust changes from his resting base-line EEG. The results were consistent with his entering into a normal, waking, eyes-closed condition. Very similar data were later collected by Osis and Mitchell (1977) with a subject they tested at the American Society for Psychical Research. In both cases the EEG records were typical of an awake and mentally alert state. Both subjects showed a subtle decrease in electrical activity in the left brain hemisphere, but none of these findings support the theory that the subjects were lapsing into a hypnagogic state.


An experiment using volunteer subjects was conducted by Palmer (1979), who introduced them to an OBE- induction procedure in his laboratory. Several of them reported OBEs, but there was no consistent EEG index that related to them.


These various studies reveal that, unlike dreaming, OBEs do not emerge from any discrete state of consciousness as defined psychophysiologically. This is a rather extraordinary finding, since the phenomenology of the OBE is so self-consistent. Even OBEs reported from sleep tend to differ in content very little from waking OBEs. Yet practically no EEG tracings taken from a gifted OBE subject has ever conformed to a similar data taken from any other subject. There is even some indication that a single subject is capable of inducing OBEs from different brain states, as the research with Robert Monroe suggests. So what are we to conclude from all of this? The polygraph is just about the only objective tool psychology has to explore the exciting in-reods of consciousness. Though perhaps a crude tool, EEG monitoring offers considerable evidence that OBEs cannot be explained as lucid dreams. While LaBerge is correct in pointing out the many similarities between OBEs and lucid dreaming, objective EEG criteria suggest that these resemblances are purely superficial or artifactual. Research to date reveals that, with all their vagaries, OBEs emerge from a group of psychophysiological states distinct from REM sleep and/or lucid dreaming.



Dane, Joseph & Van de Castle, Robert (1985). Evidence of non-REM lucid dreams: Theory, physiology and phenomenology. Paper delivered to the 1985 meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams, Charlottesville, VA.

Fox, Oliver (reprint 1974). Astral projection. Secausus, N.J.: University Books.

Gabbard, Glen & Twemlow, Stuart (1985). With the eyes of the mind. New York: Praeger.

Hartwell, J.; Janis, J. & Harary, B. (1975). A study of the physiological variables associated with out-of-body experiences. In Research in Parapsychology-1974. Metuchen, N.J.:Scarecrow Press.

Irwin, Harvey (1985). Flight of mind. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

LaBerge, Stephen (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Tarcher.

Osis, Karlis & Mitchell, Janet (1977). Physiological correlates of reported out-of-the-body experiences. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 49, 509—24.

Palmer, John (1979). ESP and out-of-body experiences: EEG correlates. In Research in parapsychology-1979. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

Rogo, D. Scott (1983). Leaving the body. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Rogo, D. Scott (1984). Researching the out-of-body experience: The state of the art. Anabiosis, 4, 21-49.

Tart, Charles T. (1967). A second psychophysiological study of out-of-the-body experiences in a gifted subject. International Journal of Parapsychology, 9, 251-58.

Tart, Charles T. (1968). A psychophysiological study of out-of-the-body experiences in a selected subject. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 3-27.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 43.


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WANTED: New Mapmakers of the Mind

Robert A. Monroe

Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences, Faber, VA


It was with great pleasure that I was made somewhat aware of the scope of exploration taking place under the label of lucid dreaming. The dictionary definition is certainly less than adequate: LUCID, bright, clear, transparent, sane, easily understood; DREAM, sensations, thoughts, images passing through a sleeping person’s mind, fanciful vision of the conscious mind, a fond hope or aspiration, to imagine as possible, anything so lovely, transitory and charming as to seem “dreamlike”. The very little I know of lucid dreaming indicates it is apparently far removed from conventional Webster.


When one approaches the out-of-body state, ordinary definitions become even more tenuous. The, unabridged dictionary doesn’t bother listing the phrase even in abbreviated form. The closest is OUT-OF-DOORS, which conceivably might be used to describe OOB activity symbolically, with appropriate stretching and twisting.


So much for main stream thought, which represents at least 99.99% of the world population. For this overwhelming majority, such states as lucid dreaming and out-of-body don’t exist. Any reference to them is met with a response ranging from tolerant disbelief to superior skepticism. It seems important to remember this when one becomes intensely excited over significant results in a research project. If there is indeed “something of value” surfacing in your work effort, what then? It has value only if put into constructive application. If it remains forever in the laboratory or as a research paper, such value is at best very limited. An interesting phenomenon, perhaps an anomaly, not much more.


I cannot speak with the least authority as to lucid dreaming. My fragmented information related to the work being done in the field provides me with only minor comparisons with the out-of-body state. We are somewhat more familiar with OOBEs through communication with some 20,000-plus individuals who have experienced it, ongoing studies in our own facility, and of course my own personal activities through the past 27 years. Those who have actively participated in these efforts have inescapably and conclusively accepted the reality of the out-of-body experience. The protocols, methodology, and measurement systems may be different from conventional scientific process, by necessity. Physiological parameters are not necessarily the major gauge of non-physical events. It is much like trying to measure and analyze electricity with a coffee cup. A new language must be learned along with a change in overview. The observer does indeed affect the experiment, for example. He is the experiment along with the subject.


For the strict purpose of establishing a baseline of sorts, here is a consensus view of the common characteristics found in an out-of-body state:

1.         Complete consciousness, i.e., the ability to think syllogistically, to access memory, to experience emotion, to process information input, to think reflectively and intuitively-all without the support mechanism of a physical body and physical sensory stimulants.

2.         Perception of both physical and non-physical environments and activity from a perspective not available through the physical senses of the participant, in a manner that replicates in part but is not limited to that received through the physical senses.

3.           Physiological life signs: the body exhibits a lowering of temperature to an observable maximum of two degrees, a drop in blood pressure to a steady level at least ten below normal for the subject, loss of muscle tone, average 11% lowering of pulse rate, slow, extremely shallow breathing, all similar to those found in delta sleep. EEG patterns, initially, are similar to REM sleep with prominent theta added, evolving into high amplitude theta in the 4-6 HZ range, and 1.5-2 HZ in delta. Subject participant experiences no awareness of physical body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, or typical physical body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, or typical physical sensory perception. Prime indicators of change to OB state, provided other modes are present, is a shift in electrical DC polarity as measured between head and foot of subject participant.

4.         NEAR REACHES activity (current earth time-space): Subject-participant is able to move willfully to any desired destination at a selected speed ranging from one foot per hour to speed of light, or greater. In close areas, he can observe his physical body in the position he left it, from any direction or viewpoint to which he moves. He can pass through matter such as walls, buildings, mountains, etc., without effort or effect upon himself or the object. However, if he moves slowly enough, he is able to “feel” and identify the actual texture and structure of such matter. In no cases in such consensus have there been instances where matter has been changed or altered by a subject-participant, nor has any time-space event been significantly affected by such OB presence. Communication with persons physically awake and active in their bodies is primarily limited to contact and conversation with an apparent portion of their consciousness not available to or with awareness by the physical-awake self. The subject participant retains a form generally similar to that of his physical body, except that it appears near-transparent upon examination. Such replicate is somewhat subject to gravitic fields, as it drifts slowly to the floor or ground if released into a relaxed un­motivated state. A factor resembling surface tension prevents it from drifting further. Subject participant usually remains fully cognizant that he still has a physical body and the location thereof.

5.           FAR REACHES activity (environments other than current earth time-space) freed of the conventional conceptual constraints of time, upon separation from the physical, the subject participant is able to “move” at speeds beyond comprehension to a given destination – provided he has an identity (familiarity, address, etc.) as a homing point or is accompanied by one who does. A quick sense of motion or a blurring of perception are the only indicators of the process. Occasionally there is the feeling of the tunnel and emerging into light as often reported in the near death experience. Most important, there is an immediate awareness that this is the modality or ambience that is the normal medium for OB action rather than the gray dullness of’ NEAR REACHES. Perception changes drastically. Here a full spectrum of inter­action emerges of which physical sensory replication is but a part. Communication to and from others is total, without reduction to words or symbols. Conduct within or upon an environment, as such, is limited simply by the will and knowledge of the operator. These two factors - communication and conduct - are the most difficult elements of adjustment required of the neophyte OB participant. Compounding the problem is the probability that many are so overwhelmed by the impact of such reality as to become lost in states of emotional and religious ecstasy, leaving only a few remaining shreds of their highly-prized objective consciousness to cope with the input overload. Some, perhaps most, are never able to do so in spite of repeated attempts.


In such states, the OB subject participant usually begins to “forget” that he still possesses a physical body, so great is his interest and concentration in this form of being. Either a distress signal from the body or help from another is typical method that brings him back to his here-now physical existence. If he bothers to examine his “body”, it is no longer humanoid in form. It can resemble a drop of liquid, a sphere, a seething cloud, or whatever he desires. It is much like gelatin removed from a mold. No longer rigidly restrained by fixed shape and temperature, it slowly begins to return to its original state.


From this perspective, it becomes quite apparent that a gray area exists in the cataloging of lucid dreaming and the out-of-body state. If lucidity denotes consciousness, then lucidity also is a prime characteristic of the OB state. Therefore, one might theorize that there is the non-conscious OBE which is simply not in available memory. For most, it is impossible to recall an ordinary waking physical activity that took place a week in the past that has no strong emotional or attention focusing overtones. Thus there may be dreams and lucid drams, OBEs and lucid OBEs.


The most common differentiation appears to be that of construct. The lucid dreamer awakens to find himself within a dream which is internal in origin. He can at will obliterate or change both setting, participants, and action. Perhaps he can pre program his dream and insert himself into it. The willful OB practitioner produces the OB state, then moves to a desired destination. He has no control over the reality of such location. He can not change its content, texture, the persons involved, nor significantly affect the activity in progress. He can leave the site and return to it, but he cannot affect its existence any more than a tourist can erase the Washington Monument before which he stands.


Thus the OB participant can move only to a destination known to him either through direct information or by an “address” provided to him in a form similar to that used by the remote viewer, such as latitude and longitude co-ordinates, a photograph, a name. A third target source may well be a location visited previously by OB during sleep and not a part of his conscious memory.


Another point of difference may be that of perception. Does the lucid dreamer have the ability to perceive selectively or in a composite manner as does the OB operator? With the expansion of interest in lucid dreaming, there must be considerable data available for a comparative overview. Further, does the lucid dreamer retain any awareness of his physical body during the experience? There are many more such questions that surface within an incomplete data base.


A significant difference may lie in the nature of consciousness utilized by the lucid dreamer versus the OB practitioner. Again, from a limited knowledge, the lucid dreamer succeeds in exercising total control over self and situation as internally generated. The consciousness found in the proficient OB state is first of all aware of the duality aspect. He sublimates and/or detaches from that part which is physical. In so doing, he releases a significant I ortion of his consciousness related to the part of his being. He must adjust to this lessening without a sense of loss or disorientation. Thereafter, his attention is focused externally rather than internally. Thus he is no longer limited to his own creations, concepts, and distortions. He may misunderstand and distort what he does perceive due to such limitations that he takes with him. The ideal is to explore the OB state with total clarity and thus experience completely the freedom that it implies. As with all ideals, it is a goal to strive for but is very rarely reached. Getting out of our individual belief system boxes, even momentarily, is indeed a tough and rocky process. 


A great part of the gray area of identification may stem from initial or spontaneous lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences. If not informed in the area, certainly the magnitude of the event could trigger any number of misconceptions and mislabeling. First and foremost, identification in itself would be problematical if there were no one present to pinpoint the symptoms - if the person had the courage to report such a bizarre experience at all. Moreover, those of us who may claim to be the identifiers have only begun to formulate premises and theories which are subject to revision as we ourselves learn.


From one overview, the work in lucid dreaming offers at the most an exciting opportunity to explore and understand the human mind-consciousness far beyond our present levels. Somewhere in the middle it offers the promise of a very effective tool in psychoanalysis. At the least, it may be an excellent means to rid the prospective OB operator of the many earthbound anxieties and fears that hamper his development. Proficiency in the OB state complements the lucid dream quite nicely by offering the opportunity to quest beyond the limits of human experience to find - who knows?


Therefore: it becomes increasingly evident that the old charts of the human psyche, dreams, consciousness, thought, are badly in need of revision. More and more newly considered aspects of the maze fit less and less the old patterns. What this world needs is some new road maps for mind-consciousness     Now if there were some bright young map-makers…      


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 47.      


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Comments on OBEs and Lucid Dream


Stephen LaBerge

Stanford University


In Chapter 9 of Lucid Dreaming (LaBerge, 1985), I argue that the only necessary feature distinguishing lucid dreams and OBEs is how the person interprets the experience. In order to have an OBE you must merely believe that you have in some sense “left your body.” Of course, the subjective sensations of being out-of-body provide no proof as to whether and in what way you actually have “left your body.” Those interested in the details of my reasoning should read the original.


Here I will confine myself to clarifying some misconceptions. Rogo (1985) argues that OBEs cannot be a form of lucid dreaming on the grounds that the two experiences are accompanied by different physiologies. Rogo cites evidence suggesting that lucid dreams occur only during REM sleep, whereas OBEs occur from almost any state except REM. Even if both of these claims were true1 OBEs still could be dreams, since dreaming takes place in a variety of physiological states, not just REM. However, careful reading of my book reveals evidence proving both assertions false.


As to the first point, a variety of studies have demonstrated that lucid dreams characteristically occur during REM sleep. However, in my dissertation (LaBerge, 1980), I described the NREM stage-1 sleep-onset lucid dreams of a single subject, a phenomenon later verified by Dane (1984). As to the second point, in the very chapter criticized by Rogo, I clearly stated that our laboratory subjects “frequently describe lucid dreams initiate from brief awakenings within REM periods as ‘leaving their bodies’” (LaBerge, 1985, p. 216). In tact 5 out of our 14 subjects who have signaled lucid dreams in the laboratory have reported this experience. Two examples are recounted in my book; perhaps it will clarify matters to quote one of them (my own):


“It was the middle of the night, and I bad evidently just awakened from a REM period since I effortlessly recalled a dream. I was lying face down in bed, drowsily reviewing the story of my dream, when suddenly I experienced a very curious sensation of tingling and heaviness in my arms. They became so heavy, in fact, that one of them seemed to melt over the side of the bed! I recognized this distortion of my body image as a sign that I was reentering REM sleep. As I relaxed more deeply, I felt my entire body become paralyzed, although I could still seem to feel its position in bed. I reasoned that this feeling was most likely a memory image, and that actual sensory input was cut off just as much as motor output was. I was in short, asleep. At this point I imagined raising my arm and experienced this imagined movement as if I had separated an equally real arm from the physical one I knew to be paralyzed. Then, with a similar imagined movement, I “rolled” out of my physical body entirely. I was now, according to my understanding, wholly in a dream body in a dream of my bedroom. The body I had seemed to leave, and which I now dreamed I saw lying on the bed, I quite lucidly realized to be a dream representation of my physical body; indeed, it evaporated as soon as I put my attention elsewhere. From here, I flew off into the dawn...


I would say that having awakened from REM sleep, I was (as always) experiencing my body image in a position calculated by my brain. Since this calculation was based on accurate information about the physical world obtained through my awake, and therefore functional, senses, the body position I experienced corresponded to my actual position of lying in bed. Since during sleep (particularly REM), sensory input from the external world is actively suppressed my sensory systems at this point no longer provided my brain with information regarding the physical world. Thus, my brain’s representation of my body image was no longer constrained by sensory information concerning my body’s actual orientation in physical space and I was free to move it in mental space to any new position that I chose. With no sensory input to contradict me, I could freely “travel’ anywhere in mental space (p 217-2 18).”


I doubt if most people think about their OBEs in such an analytical manner; they are more inclined to believe that if it felt like they were out of there bodies, they were. Sometimes the distinction between lucid dreams and OBEs is very fine indeed. For example, Father X writes that “the only essential difference between (my OBEs] and my lucid dreams is that I am totally conscious when I enter this other state of consciousness, whereas my lucid dreams always begin with a non-lucid dream and then it becomes lucid. “This is, of course, exactly the distinction I have repeatedly drawn between “Wake-initiated” lucid dreams (WILDs) and “Dream-initiated lucid dreams (DILDs) (e.g., LaBerge, 1980, 1985). WILDs comprise about 25% of our laboratory sample of lucid dreams (LaBerge, 1985) and as I have said, they frequently take the form of “leaving one’s body.”


I am making an appeal for a more scientific, critical-minded approach to the relationship of OBEs to lucid dreams. It is not enough to claim, as Monroe (1985) does, that ODEs are simply not dreams or that “those who have actively participated in [research at the Monroe Institute] have inescaped, [sic] and conclusively accepted the reality of the out-of-body experience.” Monroe asserts that “the protocols, methodology, and measurement systems may be different from conventional scientific process, by necessity. Physiologic parameters are not necessarily the major gauge of non-physical events.” Unfortunately, Monroe appears to simply assume that the OBE is non-physical, occurring “without the support mechanism of a physical body and physical sensory stimulants [sic].” If this is science, where is the evidence? If it is not, as I fear, it may be like--in Monroe’s words--” trying to measure and analyze electricity with a coffee cup. “Incidentally, what psychophysiology is about is trying to correlate mental events with brain physiology, not an altogether absurd undertaking unless you believe your brain is nothing more than a cooling system. Anyone more than “somewhat aware” of the recent developments in the study of lucid dreaming will know how successful the psychophysiological approach has been in shedding light on an phenomenon previously no better understood than the OBE. I see no reason why OBEs could not be efficiently studied by the same signal-verification methodology that is now standard for laboratory investigations of lucid dreaming.


I would like to leave readers with something to think about regarding what it might mean to “leave your body.” First of all, what exactly does “being in your body” mean? “Being in the body means constructing a mental body image. Because it is based on sensory information, it accurately represents the body’s position in physical space. While dreaming, we are out of touch with out bodies and consequently liberated from the physical constraints imposed by waking perception. Thus, no awkward sensory facts are present to limit our movement in mental space, and we are free to move out of the spatial orientation defined by ‘being in the (physical) body.’ The part of us that ‘leaves the body’ travels in mental, not physical, space. Consequently, it would seem reasonable to suppose that we never ‘leave our bodies’ because we are never in them. Where ‘we’ are when we experience anything at all--OBEs included--is in mental space. Milton’s famous phrase, “The Mind is its own place,” goes not quite far enough. The mind is not merely its own place, the mind is its only place.” (LaBerge, 1985, pp 220-221).



Dane, J. (1984). A Comparison of waking instructions and post hypnotic suggestion for lucid dream induction. Unpublishes doctoral dissertation, Georgia State University, of Atlanta.

LaBerge, S.P. (1980). Lucid dreaming: An Exploratory study of consciousness during sleep. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University.

LaBerge, S.P. (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy Tarcher.

Rogo, s. (1985). Out-of-body experiences as lucid dreams: A critique. Lucidity Letter, 4(2).



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 54.


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OBEs - Are they Dreams?

Lynne A. Levitan

Stanford University


A great deal of controversy has accompanied the presentation of the theory, as in Stephen LaBerge’s book Lucid Dreaming (LaBerge, 1985), that so-called out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are simply dreams or possibly even pre-lucid dreams. That this is true is not surprising, since, as many who have had such experiences have noted, these experiences often surpass all others in vividness and emotional intensity. They leave one with an extraordinary sense of conviction that what one has just experiences is real, perhaps even more so than ordinary reality. However, this same conviction is often experienced by people in ordinary dreams not involving the OBE feeling. I have often heard recounted, and personally experienced the thought, “This cannot be a dream; it is too vivid, too real.” Upon awakening, however, the dreamer realized that the situation he or she was just experiencing was entirely fictitious--a dream after all.


What I am saying in essence is that strong conviction alone is not enough to demonstrate the reality of any experience. One must have proof. With this premise, we can never prove to ourselves that what we are experiencing is real; however, we can prove that what we are experiencing in not real, be it sleeping dream or waking hallucination. For example, in dreams, people often fly (with their dream bodies or not) unaided by wings or machinery. Such flight is in defiance of the natural physical laws true of external (non-mental) reality. Thus, when we fly, we can be certain that we are experiencing a dream or hallucination. Therefore, the way we know we are dreaming is not by conviction (indeed the tendency in dreams is to not believe that it could possibly be a dream); we know we are dreaming because the world is not behaving in the way we know it does in external reality.


As for OBEs, people are quite often, understandably, so impressed by the intense experience they have been through that they do not stop to question whether the situation they were in while “out-of-body” was realistic, or even possible. In the case of one of LaBerge’s OBE experiences (LaBerge, 1985, p. 212-213), he had that feeling of conviction that it was real during the experience, but after awakening realized that he had been asleep and that the situation of the experience was absurd. Therefore, he concluded that he had been dreaming, however, not lucidly, for then he would have been aware during the experience that his surroundings were of purely mental construction.


The same arguments apply to OBEs which originate outside of sleep. The word ‘dream’ can be used loosely to refer to mental experiences which are not connected to external reality. Those who wish to test the status of such experiences must simply ask themselves if the world they are visiting “out-of-body” corresponds to the real external world. Again, if there should be a direct correspondence, this is not proof that the person was actually “out-of-body”-- it could mean telepathy or a very precise memory--but any lack of correspondence indicates that the world seen “out-of-body” is a world within the mind.


Scientific tests of the validity of OBE vision have been performed, and the results have not been encouraging. In one rather thorough study by Karlis Osis of the American Society for Psychical Research, using experienced OBE “travelers” it was demonstrated that there was almost no correspondence between OBE perception and the real world (Osis, 1973). One study, of course, does not disprove the possibility of the true phenomenon. It is a fascinating subject and a well-conducted study demonstrating otherwise would be welcomed by many researchers, including us.


Going back to the old idea of the mind leaving the body in dreams (on which the OBE is simply a variation), let me explain how our research makes this possibility unlikely. We have found that there is a striking amount of correspondence between the actions of the dreamer in the dream and changes in the physiology of the dreamer’s body of which the dreamer is totally unaware (LaBerge, in press). This is true even of lucid dreams we have recorded in the laboratory which begin with the dreamer having the experience of leaving his body. These findings imply that there is always a connection between the dreamer’s mind and his body, though his conscious mind is receiving no sensory input from the body.


A few more words on the experience of OBEs. They quite often occur at the onset of sleep, accompanied by a feeling of paralysis and sometimes an intense feeling of vibration or a buzzing sound. The feeling of paralysis and helplessness accompanied by bizarre hallucinations is quite common. What happens is that the deep muscle paralysis associated with REM sleep is sometimes “turned on” at the onset of sleep (during stage-1 sleep, a state quite similar to REM sleep). The mind loses contact with external sensory input and hallucinations occur (similar phenomena are experienced in sensory deprivation) as the mind creates its own sensory experience. Unlike later in sleep, the ego, or conscious mind, has remained awake. The sudden transition from waking reality perception to body paralysis and hallucinated perception can be quite disturbing and many people are frightened by these “paralysis experiences.” In some of these experiences, the sleeper feels that he is leaving his body, not unreasonably, since he knows his real body is paralyzed (though he cannot really feel it) and yet he has a hallucinated world to move in. So the dreamer leaves behind his real paralyzed body and moves off into his mental world in a mentally constructed body. A similar phenomenon can also occur later in the night when a person awakens and returns to sleep by going directly into REM sleep with the waking ego still in control. When the dreamer realizes that this is happening, i.e. that he or she is entering a dream, we call this a W-type (for wake- type) lucid dream (LaBerge, et al, 1981). If the dreamer does not realize that he or she is dreaming, but instead believes him-or herself to be still awake, an OBE can easily occur. These experiences can be quite beautiful, and to believe that they are journeys into a mental world rather than the physical one in no way decreases their magic. Indeed, the possibilities are increased, for the world within the mind holds less limitations and more wonders than the physical world we ordinarily perceive.



LaBerge, S.P., (in press) Psychophysiological parallelism in lucid dreams, in Ahsen, A., Dolan, A.T., and Jordan, C.S., (eds.), Handbook of imagery research and practices, New York: Brandon House.

LaBerge, S.P., (1985), Lucid Dreaming. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher.

LaBerge, S.P., Nagel, L.E., Taylor, W.B., Dement, W.B., & Zarcone, V.P., (1981), Psychophysiological correlates of the initiation of lucid dreaming. Sleep Research, 10,149.

Osis, K., 1973, Perspectives for out-of-body research. Parapsychology Research, 3, 110-113.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 59.


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Lucid Dreams or Out-of-Body Experiences: A Personal Case


Father “X”

A Catholic Monk Print


I have just finished LaBerge’s book, “Lucid Dreaming”, and was gratified to learn that the lucid dreams of not a few people have similar characteristics of my own. These included: 1) the testing of gravity to reassure oneself that one is really awake in a dream (I usually do a somersault and find myself floating in the air like an astronaut in a weightless environment); 2) the varying degrees of lucidity, some so lucid that one fears that one will become “stuck” in this dream-world; 3) the frequent inability to read any written or printed matter; 4) the emotionally detached from the dream, prolonging it; 5) the experience of lucidity coming over one gradually or suddenly; and 6) the capacity for voluntary action in this dream-world.


My lucid dreams are tied up with another phenomena, that of the out-of-body experience. I would like to concentrate my remarks on LaBerge’s chapter nine where he examines these experiences. Until I got to that chapter of his book, I had the impression that he was convinced that this dream-world we enter in our lucid dreams was totally the product of our subconscious minds, but in chapter nine he seems to be less sure of that conviction. I really hate to use that term, “out-of-body” experiences, because it turns so many people off, especially scientists, and understandably so. It raises the prospect of all sorts of menaphysical speculation- the whole mind-body question. But, unfortunately, that term is the only one I know of that adequately describes the sensations I feel when I have these experiences. Perhaps if more people realized that when a person has such an experience, it does not necessarily mean that he is still in the “here-now” conscious state, but that he may have entered another state of consciousness, perhaps the dream-state. This is what I believe happens to me when I have these out-of-body experiences. The only essential difference between these experiences and my lucid dreams is that I am totally conscious when I enter this other state of



1. Editors Note: Father “X” has asked me to withhold his name as he feels that his experiences, or at least the telling of them, might compromise his professional position.


consciousness, whereas my lucid dreams always begin with a non-lucid dream and then it becomes lucid. I realize how strange this may sound- how could someone who is totally conscious enter the dream state? All I know is that when the paralysis and vibrations come over me my vision is somewhat blurred but I am still aware of my surroundings. Then I am literally pulled out of my body and off I go.


Of course all this would not seem so strange if, as LaBerge seems to suggest in chapter nine, the dream- world possessed some sort of objective existence; if you recall Van Eeden’s article, he seemed to come to this conclusion also, and when Charles Tart reviewed Dr. Tholey’s work in his magazine, “The Open Mind”, Tholey also suggested that the dream-world seemed to possess an “inertia” and “lawfulness” all its own. As for myself, after having undergone hundreds of these experiences over a period of twelve years, the only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that the content of most of my experiences come from some source other than my subconscious. I am basing my opinion not so much on what I saw in these experiences but what I heard- the responses I received from these “dream-creatures” or “spirits” or whatever else we want to call them. Even though I am a Catholic monk, whenever I talk about my experiences I am not speaking from any religious point of view. I try to view my experiences in a totally objective light. As a matter of fact most of the “people” I have met in my experiences seem to have, if not an anti-religious attitude, certainly an irreligious one.


Another characteristic of my experiences which convinces me that this dream-world has some sort of objective existence is that I have never been able to transform the content of my experiences with my conscious mind. The individuals and environment in this world sometimes change dramatically but the changes do not appear to come from my mind.


I was particularly interested in LaBerge’s description of the experience of the Indian physician and editor, Ram Narayana, as he tried to convince the creatures of his dream-world that they were his own creation. I too have succumbed to that temptation on a number of occasions. I usually ended up having a fight on my hands which abruptly ended the experience. One of these experiences comes quickly to mind even though it happened some years ago. It started out as a non-lucid dream which quickly became very lucid. I found myself walking down a very busy, bustling city street in what looked like a large metropolitan city at noon. As usual, with so many of my experiences, at first glance everything looked normal. All sorts of people walking to and fro, seemingly concerned only with their own personal affairs. The clothes and hairstyles and everything else about them looked more or less modern and normal. There was a lot of traffic in the streets and even a policeman directing it. Well, for some reason I was feeling very frustrated and angry so I decided to “let it all hang out.” I walked out to the middle of the street and started shouting as loud as I could, “alright you people listen up, this is my dream and I want to know what in the hell is going on around here?” Well, if I had dropped a bomb I probably could not have gotten their attention any quicker- all at once everything stopped and I mean everything, everyone stopped dead in their tracks, turned and stared at me. Then they all began moving towards me in a very threatening way; I really thought that I had done it this time as I could feel the panic and fear sweeping over me. Frantically I began concentrating on my body lying in my bed (I have found this to be the quickest way to end an experience). For a few, very frightening seconds nothing happened. They were all getting very close. Finally, just before they reached me, I found myself back in my bed.


Finally, I’d like to relate an experience I had earlier this year, which is a good example of the puzzling nature of many of my experiences. They lead me to conclude that most of the content of these experiences come from some source other than my own mind. What that other source is I will leave to others more qualified than myself to speculate on.


It began as a normal dream and quickly turned into a very lucid dream. Like so many of my experiences I found myself in an urban setting, standing on a city block, observing all sorts of people bustling about. As I continued to observe my surroundings, I saw that I was standing in front of a small building which looked like it might be a library or a museum. I decided to try my luck in there, so I walked up to the door, opened it, and entered. I had fairly good control of my body and my vision was very clear. I am always amazed at my sense of touch in these experiences. I can actually feel the objects I am touching. However, it is not a direct sense of touch- rather it feels like I am wearing heavy gloves on my hands. It seemed to be a library as there were rows of books stacked in shelves along the walls. I immediately noticed two middle-aged, oriental-looking men sitting on the floor with their backs leaning up against the bookshelves. They did not seem to be reading anything, just staring off into space. There were only about five or six other people in the place, and they were all clustered around a desk in the middle of the room where a pretty, blond-haired girl in her early twenties seemed to be checking out books. Since so many of my experiences are very short, some lasting only seconds, I thought that if I was going to get any useful information from this experience, I better start right away before the experience ended. I walked up to her desk, stood directly in front of her and just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind; “Are you people dead?” The girl behind the desk looked at me in a sort of wistful way and said, “Yes”, and without my saying anything else she added this extraordinary statement, “but I am the only one around here who remembers dying.” Before I could ask her anything else, the other people around the desk began pushing me back and started to act in a very threatening way towards me. Next thing I knew the experience ended and I was back in my bed.



Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 62.


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Distinguishing Between Transcendental Consciousness and Lucidity


Charles N. Alexander, Robert W. Boyer

and David W. Orme-Johnson

Maharishi International University


Only within the last 10-15 years has Western psychology actively investigated the phenomenon of lucidity during dreaming. The recent growth of interest in lucidity, reflected in descriptive and experimental research, has led to a consideration of the theoretical and practical significance this type of dream experience might have. Whereas some researchers have suggested that lucidity offers an important phenomenological tool for the investigation of dreaming processes (LaBerge, 1985), others have emphasized the similarities between lucidity and certain types of meditative states and have suggested that they may promote psychological development in related ways (e.g., Hunt, 1985; Hunt and Ogilvie in press).


The purpose of this report is to compare lucidity during dreaming with experiences of transcendental consciousness and witnessing mental activity reported by practitioners of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, which includes the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi program. Vedic Science from which the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field is derived offers a comprehensive psychological theory of human development we hope in this brief report to explore some of the principles of Vedic Vedic psychology that may help place the phenomenon of lucidity into a much-need conceptual and developmental framework and also may help generate ideas for further empirical research. We will suggest that it may be useful to conceive of this phenomenon in terms of a developmental continuum of degrees of lucidity culminating in the realization of higher stages of human consciousness.


Lucidity During Dreaming


Lucidity is generally defined as dreaming while knowing one is dreaming (Gackenbach & LaBerge, in press). It is reported to combine the self-reflective awareness (Moffitt, et al., 1985) volitional discriminative and memory processes of the waking state with the illusory imagery associated with the dream state, but to be different from either of those states. Interrupted sleep studies indicate spontaneous lucid dreaming occurs most often in the final hours of night sleep and are associated with patterns of electrophysiological arousal. For example, increased respiration rate, heart rate, eye movement density, and skin potential. Lucidity is described as a state in which the dreamer has immediate awareness of observing dream content, pleasant feelings of balance sometimes along with reduced bizarreness of dream content or reduced identification with dream egos, increased control of dream events and ability to execute motor responses while dreaming.


Hunt and Ogilvie (in press) emphasize that there are strong similarities between experiential states during lucid dreaming and during insight meditations such as types of Zen, Tibetan meditation, and concentrative meditation. They suggest that lucid dreaming may constitute a spontaneously occurring meditative state within dreaming. Hunt’s (1985) view of lucidity as observational reflexivity has some similarities to the Vedic psychological descriptions of witnessing mental activity that will be considered later in this report. Similarities between the de-identification process LaBerge (1985) describes as an aspect of lucid dreaming and our speculations on de-embedding levels of mental processes will also be discussed. Before these similarities and differences are considered, however, the Transcendental Meditation technique as a facilitator of transcendental consciousness and the Vedic psychological theory of human development will be summarized to provide a framework for comparison of these two states.


The Transcendental Meditation Technique as a Facilitator of Transcendental Consciousness


Ancient classical references in Eastern literature offer a tremendous reservoir of information on subjective experience and states of consciousness that can be helpful in understanding phenomena related to meditation. Gillespie (in press) has attempted to identify descriptions in classical Eastern literature that might indicate the contribution of lucidity during dreaming in meditative practices. He reports that the Tibetan literature held lucid dreaming to be useful in concentrative meditation because of the difficulty frequently experienced of trying to withdraw or remove the senses from the objects of experience in order to turn the mind inward and arrive at a state of concentration. The senses considered already to be withdrawn from external objects of perception in the lucid dreaming state would thus make it easier to concentrate. However, Gillespie (in press) reports finding little or no treatment of lucidity during dreaming in the classical Indian literature. Such differences may reflect fundamentally different techniques of meditation and resultant experiences.


According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1969), the popular notion that meditation requires concentration (mental effort) or contemplation (thinking on the level of meaning) may have been originally a misunderstanding of the meditative technique described in the ancient science of the Veda, the oldest continuous tradition of knowledge and the original Indian source on the practice of meditation. Veda is a Sanskrit term meaning knowledge.


Maharishi has revived the knowledge of Vedic science through a simple mental technology, the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field (Dillbeck & Orme- Johnson, 1986). This standardized subjective methodology for development of mental potential has been taught to more than three million people worldwide and has encouraged extensive physiological, psychological, and sociological research (Chalmers, et al. 1986; Orme-Johnson & Farrow, 1977). Working with psychologists at Maharishi International University, Maharishi founded Vedic psychology to develop a comprehensive theoretical and applied science of psychology integrating current theories and understanding in psychology with Vedic science.


Maharishi states that the TM technique is a effortless, natural procedure that automatically produces lesser and lesser states of mental excitation and results in the least excited, simplest state of awareness referred to as Transcendental Consciousness because in this state all mental activity is said to be transcended and the experiencer directly experiences content-free or pure consciousness without thoughts or any localized boundaries to awareness. In transcendental consciousness the observer, the objects of observation and the process of observation become unified into one wholeness of pure self-awareness. In vedic psychology transcendental consciousness is described as an unbounded, unified field of consciousness or Cosmic Psyche, the source of both the individual psyche and the objective laws of nature (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1986). Transcendental consciousness is not the thought, idea, or concept of this underlying field, but rather is held to be the direct experience of it, occurring when individual awareness settles down to its least-excited, ground state.


Consistent with descriptions in the Vedic literature such as in the Mundaka Upanishad, the state of transcendental consciousness has been proposed as a fourth major state of consciousness as distinct from the ordinary states of waking, dreaming, and sleep as these states are from each other (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1969; Wallace, 1970). The distinctive physiological and psychological correlates of this state of consciousness attained during TM have been described in numerous published articles (e.g., Chalmers, et al., 1986). Recent studies show that periods in which subjects indicated experiencing transcendental consciousness by pressing a button during practice of the TM technique are highly correlated with enhanced alpha, and theta and beta EEG coherence across topographically distinct cortical areas, a measure of long-range spatial orderliness in the brain suggestive of high alertness; and with periods of respiratory suspension, decreased heart rate, stable phasic GSR, and heightened basal GSR indicative of physiologic quiescence (e.g., Farrow & Hebert, 1982). Although the uniqueness of physiological effects of meditation in general compared to simple rest has been questioned (Holmes, 1984), a quantitative meta-analysis clearly distinguished the physiological effects of TM practice from simple relaxation (Orme-Johnson & Dillbeck, 1984). Moreover, a meta-analysis of effect sizes comparing over 100 studies on various meditative and relaxation practices indicated that the TM technique was significantly more effective in reducing trait anxiety (Eppley, et al., 1984).


The TM technique also differs from procedures reported to induce the experience of lucidity during dreaming. Lucidity is described by some researchers as a cognitive skill that can be learned using induction methods such as autosuggestion and intentional recognition of the elements of the dream (Gackenbach & LaBerge, in press). The TM technique does not involve suggestion or intentions to be awake, to remember, or to be mindful of one’s experiences. It simply allows attention to settle down to the source of thought, the ground state of mental activity. Trying to maintain alertness, remember, or to achieve any particular experience can interfere with the practice. Though experiences during TM are reported to be enjoyable, the value of the technique is primarily assessed in terms of its spontaneous effects on psychological growth and physical health after TM practice (Chalmers et al., 1986).


The Vedic Psychological Theory of Human Development


According to the Vedic psychological theory of human development, the state of transcendental consciousness is of fundamental importance in the development of higher states of consciousness (Alexander et al., 1986; Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1986). These higher states of consciousness can be viewed as a continuation of normal human growth beyond the currently postulated endpoints in Western psychology, beyond the adult conceptual level of formal operations in Piaget’s theory and the peak and plateau experiences described by Maslow. Seven states of human consciousness are identified in Vedic psychology, including four developmental states higher than the three physiologically defined states of sleep, dreaming, and waking. Each state of consciousness in the theory is characterized by a relatively distinct range of experiential reality from a state of no subjective experience in deep sleep, to illusory experience in dreaming, to the typical range of empirical reality in waking, to pure unbounded self-awareness in transcendental consciousness.


According to the theory, repeated experience of transcendental consciousness alternating with waking, dreaming, and sleep promotes neutralization of accumulated stress in the nervous system and refines mental and physiological functioning, giving rise to a new style of functioning that is capable of sustaining transcendental consciousness along with mental activity. In this experience, called witnessing, transcendental consciousness becomes a silent, self- sufficient, uninvolved witness to mental processes. Development of a permanent style of physiological functioning that spontaneously maintains witnessing at all times during waking, dreaming, and deep sleep defines the fifth state of consciousness, termed cosmic consciousness, a state of inner peace and self- realization in which individual awareness remains permanently identified with the unbounded silence of the Cosmic Psyche.


Further refinement of the nervous system, facilitated by continued practice of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, is said to develop the state of refined cosmic consciousness characterized by highly developed perceptual and affective processes, in which the individual is able to appreciate what is described as the finest level of subjective and objective creation. Vedic psychology proposes that human development culminates in the seventh state of consciousness, unity consciousness, described as the highest state of enlightened development in which the entire range of objective and subjective creation is spontaneously experienced in terms of the infinite, eternal oneness of the Self, the Cosmic Psyche (Maharishi Mabesh Yogi, 1969; Alexander, et al., 1986).


With respect to the development of Cosmic Consciousness, survey responses were recently obtained on witnessing deep sleep from 235 volunteer students and staff at Maharishi International University who practice Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field: 7.6% of the sample had regular experiences of clear transcendental consciousness throughout a night’s sleep, 7.4% frequent experiences, 40.4% occasional experiences, 27.2% experiences once or twice, and 17.4% either vague or no experiences of witnessing deep sleep (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1986). Similar reports have been obtained for witnessing during waking as well as during dreaming.

Distinguishing Transcendental Consciousness from



This brief summary of lucidity and of transcendental consciousness suggests that there are distinctive differences as well as possible similarities between these two states. Whereas lucidity is typically, though not always, associated with dreaming, transcendental consciousness is described as a self- sufficient state of pure awareness that can be experienced either in isolation or along with any mental state. It is not linked specifically to dreaming, and is not involved in nor mediated by any form of imagery or symbolic thought. Transcendental consciousness can be maintained along with waking, dreaming, or sleep but in these experiences there is a separation or gap between the peaceful, non-changing awareness of transcendental consciousness and the changing mental activity of these other states.


In contrast to explanations of lucidity as involving the active intellect and discriminative processes similar to the waking state, the essential feature of transcendental consciousness and witnessing is awareness in its pure, non-changing state, the Self or Cosmic Psyche, regardless of whether the experiencer is engaged in self-reflective thinking. No self- reflective thinking or logical discrimination is involved in deep sleep, but witnessing of deep sleep spontaneously occurs as the fifth state of consciousness, cosmic consciousness, develops. In transcendental consciousness and all higher states of consciousness described by Vedic psychology, the Self, the witness, is totally de-embedded from the mental faculties of intellect, memory, and perception. Transcendental consciousness is not a process of waking up the executive cognitive functions, and does not involve gaining perspective on the dream experience by reflecting upon the dream content or the dream state.


In some ways Hunt’s (1985, p. 1) view of lucidity as an “observational attitude” or as “observational reflexivity” is similar to the Vedic psychological descriptions of transcendental consciousness and witnessing. Vedic psychology identifies transcendental consciousness as well as the higher states of consciousness as having the property of self-referral. Self-referral is not the same, however, as the self-reflextive thinking characteristic of the waking state. In the ordinary adult waking state , the localized self is identified and reflected upon in terms of the cognitive structures related to body image, personal abilities, beliefs and values, past experiences, social position and other components that define the individual in the social world in which he or she is embedded. In contrast, self-referral means that the inner self is fully awake to itself and is identified only in terms of the unlocalized, transcendental Self, the Cosmic Psyche. It is the state of pure consciousness, as opposed to being conscious of something other than itself. In the self-referral state, awareness curves back onto itself and knows itself directly as the unified field of pure consciousness. Regardless of how recursive and complex self-reflective thought becomes, the self-referral state remains completely simple, the silent witness, uninvolved with the active social self.


While Hunt’s observational reflexivity bears similarity to self-referral, on the other hand, his conclusion (Hunt, 1985) that lucidity is in the same class of phenomena as out-of-body experiences would appear to clearly distinguish the form of lucidity he is describing from the self referral states of Vedic psychology. The self-referral states do not involve out-of-body experiences. Maharishi (1969) predicts that these higher states of consciousness will maximize coordination of mind and body. This is corroborated by subjective experiences of practitioners of the TM and TM-sidhi program, as well as by performance-based research on mind-body coordination (e.g., Bolt, et al, 1978; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981).


In addition to these conceptual and phenomenological differences, the psychophysiological and behavioral correlates of transcendental consciousness appear to differ from the findings on lucidity. The findings of respiratory suspension, EEG coherence, biochemical changes and other correlates consistently identify transcendental consciousness as a distinctive fourth state of consciousness characterized by a calm state of silent inner awareness (Maharishi, 1969; Wallace, 1970). In contrast, lucidity during dreaming is associated with an increase in some somatic arousal indices suggesting an increase in cognitive processing rather than induction of a quiescent state. A summary of the distinguishing features between transcendental consciousness and lucidity is given in Table 1.


Although the experimental and descriptive evidence suggests that these are distinct types of experience, it is possible that future research will support the conception of a continuum of degrees of lucidity, with the most advanced form the state of transcendental consciousness, and that some lucid dreaming experiences may also be identified as witnessing experiences. In the final section of this report, we would like to speculate on how lucidity might fit into a developmental framework based on the conception of a continuum of levels of psychological maturation.


Speculations on Lucidity and the De-embedding Process


We suggest that lucidity as typically experienced may be considered an indicator on the continuum of psychological maturation related to the unfoldment of higher order, self-reflective thought (c.f., LaBerge, 1985). Human development unfolds in stages from more concrete to increasingly abstract, subtle and integrative cognitive states. Piaget has identified a


sequence of four basic stages of cognitive development from birth through early adulthood: the sensorimotor stage, preoperational thought, concrete operational thought, and a level of abstract reflective thought termed formal operations. Developmentally, dreaming generally appears to involve relatively primitive mental operations and, according to Piaget (1962), has much in common with preoperational thought, which is characterized by prelogical mentation and impulsivity. Young children may be unable to distinguish clearly between waking and dreaming because the necessary waking discriminative functions are not yet developed. Even in the adult the dream state may at times be irrational and reflect a lack of discrimination. On the one hand the adult dreamer may be performing a complex logical task such as calculus in the dream, but on the other hand also may be engaged in fanciful mental imagery that the logical adult waking state would clearly identify as irrational. Adult dreaming may thus share features with preoperational thought such as inability to distinguish fanciful and realistic experience, no clear definition of ego or self, and extended symbolic play (Piaget, 1962).


The developmental process through preoperational thought, concrete operations, formal operations, and post-conceptual though can be viewed in terms of the degree to which executive cognitive functions are de-embedded from and begin to monitor immediate perceptions and mental representations. After the onset of concrete operations, the waking state self is able to recall distinctly prior periods of the illusory reality of dreaming. Perhaps at a later stage when the nervous system is capable of supporting higher order adult reflective thought, the ability to have knowledge of dreaming during dreaming may become accessible to some individuals. These experiences may reflect a developed adult cognitive system, with relatively mature functions for differentiation and integration of experiences.


From the Vedic psychological perspective, the human mind has a hierarchical structure with levels of depth from gross to subtle, to transcendental. The theory of levels of mind in Vedic psychology identifies the following components of the individual psyche: the most expressed level, called senses the deeper level of cognitive operations such as representation and working memory referred to as mind the deep decision processes termed intellect and the most subtle, integrative aspect of individuality, the ego.Underlying these levels of individual mind is the source of thought, the level of transcendental consciousness, the Cosmic Psyche. We have proposed (Alexander, et al., 1986) that the increasing functional integration of the nervous system in ontogenesis may permit the utilization of these increasingly subtle levels of mind. The progressive enlivenment of each subtler level may provide the deep structure for the expression of correspondingly higher levels of cognitive operations. Enlivenment of a deeper level of mind may allow that level to observe and monitor the more expressed levels. As the level of intellect is enlivened, it may be able to monitor and add its discriminative functions to mental and sensory operations; and as the ego is enlivened, the individual may be able to integrate more fully the operations of intellect, mind, and senses. If dreaming in its typical form shares attributes with preoperational thought, the senses and desires of the mind would tend to dominate during this experience, and the intellect and ego would not be in normal operation. In the case of lucid dreaming, some of the monitoring functions of intellect and ego may be operative. When the transcendental level of pure consciousness becomes enlivened, witnessing of ego, intellect and all levels of mind would spontaneously occur.


Such a de-embedding process is also suggested by LaBerge (1985, p. 242-243) as a potential aspect of lucid dreaming, which he calls “de-identification.” He points out that lucid dreamers “know that the persons they appeared to be in the dream are not who they really are. No longer identifying with their egos, they are free to change them, correcting their delusions. . . the fully lucid dreamer does not need to struggle to overcome his or her ego. He or she has become objective enough to no longer identify with it. This knowledge puts the ego’s importance in modest proportion to the true, and perhaps as yet undiscovered, Self.” LaBerge’s description seems also to point to the possibility of extending the de-embedding process, such that the localized, bounded ego of the dreamer as well as the stable waking ego is transcended and awareness identifies with the true Self in its own self-referral state.


We have recently proposed an unfreezing human development hypothesis that suggests how the de-embedding process can be extended beyond the limits ordinary imposed by conceptual thought (Alexander et al., 1986). Fundamental cognitive, moral and self development typically come to plateau during late adolescence or early adulthood with stabilization of formal operations and adult reflective thought. It is believed that psychological development freezes at this level because the central nervous system generally stops developing during this period of life. The high degree of functional interrelationship of mind and body, however, suggests that not only can changes in the nervous system act to change the level of awareness, but also changes in level of awareness can in principle act back upon the nervous system to influence the style of physiological functioning. Development at any stage is stimulated by cognitive and behavioral experiences. Development may typically be frozen at the level of ordinary adult thought because the experience of transcendental consciousness is not ordinarily available. As this experience is gained regularly, facilitated by the TM technique, higher stages of development may naturally emerge. Practice of TM does appear to catalyze further physiological refinement and integration (e.g. Orme- Johnson & Haynes, 1981) that may unfreeze the developmental process.


Our findings suggest that the higher states of consciousness described in Vedic psychology represent the logical continuation and extension of normal human development. The Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field is viewed as a post-conceptual or post-language developmental technology that may be as fundamental for promoting development of consciousness beyond symbolic thought as language learning was in facilitating development to the ordinary conceptual lead attained in adulthood.




Extensive empirical research will be required to identify precisely the physiological, psychological, and behavioral profile of higher stages of consciousness and the specific role phenomenal experiences such as dream lucidity play in that development. Future evidence may support the conception of a continuum of degrees of lucidity, especially in the sense that the most advanced state of lucidity implies clarity of awareness of the true Self (LaBerge, 1985). We speculate that lucidity as typically experienced may reflect the further developmental de-embedding and generalization of higher order self-reflective thought such that it can function in some form during the dream state. It is our impression that many if not most lucid dreams may result from activation of such functions of the intellect and ego. Nevertheless, some lucid experiences which have been reported may be of the purely self-referral witnessing type described by Vedic psychology. We are presently collaborating on research with Dr. Jayne Gackenbach to identify phenomenological differences between lucidity and witnessing and determine their cognitive and behavioral correlates, which may lead to further clarification of these issues.




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        technique. Psychosomatic Medicine. 44(2), 133-153.

Gackenbach, J. & Laberge, S. (in press). An overview of lucid dreaming. International Review of

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Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 68.


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“Dreams, Illusions, Bubbles, Shadows”: Awareness of ‘Unreality’ While Dreaming Among Chinese College Students


Myrna Walters and Robert K. Dentan

Branch School of Beijing Foreign Languages Institute

Beijing, China


The recent literature on lucid dreaming (e.g., Purcell et al. 1985) includes some discussion of how to categorize “quasi lucid” states of consciousness, in which dreamers are aware of dreaming but do not control the content of their dreams. Without venturing into the theoretical questions involved, we offer some Chinese data which fall into this category and which suggest a plausible interpretation of such states of consciousness. These data may prove useful to researchers for two reasons. First, nonWestern data of this sort are difficult to locate in the ethnographic literature (cf. Walters & Dentan, 1985), a situation which among other things exacerbates the difficulty of disentangling biological determinants of dreaming tram cultural ones. Second, the process which we propose to interpret the sort of “quasi lucidity” in these Chinese dreams may be more generally prevalent.


The accounts below are from a corpus (n=67) of dream narratives collected from Chinese college students in Beijing in April and May, 1985. This population seems homogeneous in terms of age (mostly early 20s), past experience (mostly growing up in the Beijing area) and academic achievement (high). Almost all, including the narrators whose accounts are reported here, are Han. Han are the dominant ethnic group in China (93.3%) and indeed the largest ethnic group in the world (936,700,000 people). Most Han traditionally regard dreams as insubstantial and illusory. “Meng huàn pào yĭng” goes one four-character-aphorism (chéng yŭ), “dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows.” Although we asked our students to interpret their dreams for us if they felt they could, few could explain their own dreams. Those who tried mostly referred to a two line aphorism, “Rì yŭo sŭo sí, Yè yoŭ sŭo mèng,” “Day is the locus of yearning, Night is the locus of dreaming,” i.e., one dreams at night about things on one’s mind during the day (cf. Wu Zuguang, 1985; p. 65). A few students offered the interpretive principle that dreams predict the opposite of what is actually to happen (cf., Yi & Xu, 1984; p. 60). Although we were surprised at how interested many of the students were in reporting their dreams, programmatic Marxist-Leninist materialism has reinforced traditional dismissive attitudes about dreams to the extent that there seems to be little cultural pressure to have dreams of any particular kind. Thus there is no social reward for having the sort of dreams described below.


The first two accounts below are word-for-word as written by two twenty-year-old students in the English department of a small Beijing teachers’ college in May, 1985. We have discussed the rationale of such a presentation in an earlier note (Walters & Dentan, 1985). The first narrative is by a man (*TC 21 in our files) from the city. The cross-hatching (“/”)represents his crossings-out.


During my life, I have many, many dreams, but now, when I think them over, I can only remember two of them. One is that dream I often dream when I was a middle-school boy; the other is that dream I dreamed a few days ago.


When I was a middle-school /high school/ boy, I often had a peculiar dream. I flied in mid-air, with all my classmates and people I ken knew standing on the group, looking up to me. I flied on and on, high getting higher and higher.


However, Moreover, whenever I had such a circumstance, I knew I was having a dream. I didn’t know what it meant to me, at that time, but I think I know the answer now. At that time, I was a top student in a key school /elite school; see Wu Ming, 1985/, and I was very, very proud, too proud, perhaps, to find a friend. Being told by teachers and parents that being proud was a bad thing, I tried to hide this feeling deep in my heart. Then, when night came, this idea came out and became a dream like that. I haven’t had this dream for four or five years.


A few days ago, I had a very, very strange dream. The dream was just like a play showing on a stage. I dreamed that there were two heroes fighting against. The two were the best fighters in the world, like Beowolf (perhaps it was because that I read the epic Beowolf that I could have such a dream). One of the heroes was just himself whereas the other had a lot of fighters with him. The group of fighters caught the hero several time but he fled away every time. Once, the hero lost one of his shoes, so he had to stay in a room, and that the group of fighter knew this. The other hero came silently and all of a sudden, he locked the door and locked the hero in the room. The hero of the group laughed loudly and went away. The fighter in the room was very angry and tried to seek a way of going out. At this time, one of the “second class” fighter in that group came. The heroes pledged /pled?/ him to unlock the door. The fighter agreed without any hesitation but he have a condition. That is, the hero should fight with him, because the “second class” fighter thought he could win over the hero. The hero was confident that he could fight win over him and agreed. The fight unlocked the door and the hero came out, saying “I have no time to waste on you” and run away. The fighter was angry: “I thought you were a whole man, but you are not.” The hero, hearing this sentence, run back again, and both of them got ready to fight. At this time I woke up. As soon as I awoke, I had an interpretation of this dream. Those days, I had an eye to on a girl, but the only problem is was that I did tell him her. The single hero represented me and perhaps the other group of heroes represented her. I’m was full of confidence and I believed that I could get her. The scene that the hero was caught several time but he got away every time represented that I wanted to express my feeling to her but each time I gave up. The scene that the two prepared to fight meant that I will would tell this to her. At this critical crucial time, I woke up, and that showed that this matter had an uncertain future


The second teachers’ college narrative (*TC 26) is by a woman who had been quarrelling with her father, who wanted her to read serious economic journals instead of the murder mysteries and science fiction which she preferred.


Yesterday, I had a horrible dream, which I think you may be interested in. Here it is.


In the evening, I went out of the school with a stool in my hand. I seemed to have decided to go to my uncle’s home, which is not very far from our school by bus. However, I hadn’t brought any money with me, so I decided to walk there. On my way, I met one of my classmates, who gave me a film ticket and asked me to go to the movie with her. I didn’t refuse. We went into a cinema which had a lot of columns in it, and settled down in our seats. The movie started. The first scene was a beautiful lady holdng a bloody woman’s head in her hands. There was a voice explaining that the head had been found on a country road in the suburb. I was so frightened by the scene that I began to cry. My classmate comforted me. The movie went on without showing a title. On the screen, I could see a beautiful seashore with many cheerful people on it. Many of them were wearing swimming suits. Suddenly, I heard a boy crying, “Oh! God! Look! What are these?” I saw on the screen people begin to gather around him, and not far from the place the boy stood, there were two female arms lying on the sand. The arms had been washed by sea water and had turned to be extremely pale. Then the scene changed. In a dark lane, there was a man fetching water from a well, but the thing he got out from the well was not water, but a black iron box, in which there were pieces of flesh cut from a human body.


That’s all about the dream, for I was waken up by my mother, and fortunately couldn’t continue. I really don’t understand why I had such a dream. It’s true that I used to like detective stories very much and have read something about a person being killed, cut into pieces and being thrown away in different places, but I haven’t read such things for a long time. Why do I dream such a dream now? The only reason I can think of is that, the day before yesterday, I translated into Chinese a passage talking about a man in his death throes. The man dreamed that his soul was separated from his body and was watching the struggle of his body. However, if possible, I would like to know your interpretation of it.


The third dream narrative (D8) is by a 23-year-old single male architecture student taking an English course preparatory to going abroad for postgraduate study.



People were playing on the skating ring joyously. Miracle appeared suddenly. Someone were riding bicycles on the surface of melted ice water and didn’t sink! They were moving forward in an incredibly fast speed. One by one, the bicycle driving seemed to be ridiculous. Under the cliff there was the ice surface and on the top of the cliff there was a closet. I was changing my clothes with a man I know well but did know his name in the closet. With a great sound, a bomb exploded in the middle of the cliff. I was just about to look what was happening, another explosion frightened me. I was trying to make myself to believe I was dreaming. It was so horrible. Wake up! It didn’t work. A bomb exploded inside the closet. Fortunately enough, the bomb was one for teaching, and was not very destructive. No one was hurt. Several bombs just traveled in a curved trace to reach us and explode while we were withdrawing. My acquaintance had been wounded. Someone were shouting cheerfully that they had done an excellent experiment. “You must be terrified, mightn’t you?” one of my former classmates asked me. I didn’t know where be came from. “No” I replied, “But my elder brother did.” The dream was copied in Dec. 13, 1982. I am sorry to have chosen such a damned unlucky date to dream it.


Summary and Conclusions


In the foregong dream narratives the dreamer experiences events in the dream as different from mundane reality. The first dreamer “knew” he “was having a dream” when, in his early teens, he repeatedly dreamed of flying. His 1985 dream he perceived as like a stage(d) “play” (see Footnote 1 below). Similarly, the obsessive dismemberments in his classmate’s dream are part of a “movie;” the Chinese phrase for “movie,” diàn yĭng, “electric shadows” echoes the phrase “dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows.” In both cases, the illusory nature of the dream seems manifest in the dream itself. Finally, the architect consciously tries in his dream to convince himself he is dreaming, in order to wake himself up.


We suggest tentatively that, in these cases, the semi­-consciousness or quasi lucidity of the dreamer serves to open psychological distance between the dreamer and the dream content. In all three cases the dream seems to refer to feelings with which the dreamer is uncomfortable: pride or ambivalence about approaching a girl in *TC 21; violence (which Dentan, for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, believes to be connected with sexual feelings) in the other two. American readers should remember that Chinese students are exposed to much less graphic violence than American mass media routinely purvey. Our method of eliciting dreams biased our sample towards emotion- laden dreams. Nevertheless, our impression of our as yet unanalyzed sample is that Chinese students’ dreams are nasty oftener than we had expected. This impression is consonant with Walls’ (1985) finding that Chinese students are significantly less likely to enjoy dreams or to agree that dreaming is good for you than American students are. Against this background, the notion that the sort of quasi lucidity under discussion is a kind of ego defense mechanism against unpleasant feelings seems plausible. Rather than being a way of dealing with problems, in other words, such quasi lucidity may serve to push them away (“dissociate” them), perhaps as a prelude to waking into a state of consciousness in which they are minimized or denied (see Footnote 2 below).




1. The possibility that this description is a waking elaboration of dreamed experience is methodologically imponderable. There is no way in any given case to distinguish dream narratives from dreams nor any reason to believe that people do not experience dreams as they report them (of. Dentan in press).


2. This suggestion is consistent with clinical evidence (Delaney, personal communication, 1983).



Dentan, R.K. (in press). Ethnographic considerations in the cross cultural study of dreaming and lucidity. In .J.I. Gackenbach (Ed.). A sourcebook on sleep and dreams. New York: Garland.

Purcell, S., Mullington, J., Pigeau, R., Hoffman, R., & Moffitt, A. (1985). Dream psychology: Operating in the dark. ASD Newsletter, 1(4), 1-4.

Walls, .J. (1985). Dream content, experience and attitudes toward dreams in Chinese and American university students. ASD Newsletter, 1(4), 8-9.

Walters, N. & Dentan, R.K. (1985). Are lucid dreams universal? Two unequivocal cases of lucid dreaming among Han Chinese university students in Beijing, 1985. Lucidity Letter, 4(1).

Wu Zuguang. (1985; originally 1937). Sleep and dreams /Shuì yŭ meńg/. Chinese Literature, (Summer), 64-67.

Yi Qiong and Xu Junhui. (1984). Elephant Trunk Hill: Tales from scenic Guiling. M.A. Bender and Shi K. (Trs.), Beijing: Foreign Language Press.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 86.


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Dreams Control or Dream Actualization?


Strephon Kaplan Williams

Jungian-Senoi: Dreamwork Institute

Berkeley, CA


I was dreaming again my nightmare in which I was swimming far out from shore and loosing strength. I was going to drown when I remembered Strephon’s words, ‘Just go with it and see where the dream takes you.’ I then let go to the waves and they carried me to shore where I walked up the beach to the amazement of my friends.”--Dream of a student of Strephon Kaplan Williams’s Dream Actualization approach as described in his JUNGIAN-SENOI DREAMWORK MANUAL.


The above dream takes us into the drama of experiencing the dream world fully. This student of mine was already practicing lucid dreaming, or dream control. She could recognize in a dream that she was dreaming and change unpleasant scenes into something different by recognizing that she was dreaming, and had that power. However, she did not like the results she was getting. The changes she created averted her dream disasters, but they led to scenes which were often disgusting to her. I suggested a different way, a way based more on Senoi and Jungian principles than on the ones practiced by modern dream control adherents.


Is Lucid Dreaming a Good Thing?


What some modern lucid dreamers who also chose to practice dream controllers try to do, and succeed somewhat, is alter their dream states consciously. They can report when they are having a dream in which they know they are dreaming. They can also train themselves and others to alter dream experiences at will, such as flying away from adversaries instead of staying put and encountering them. This marks a fundamental difference between the Dream Actualization approach and the Control Dream approach.


What my students most commonly say on the question is, “Who wants to change their dreams, anyway? I like mine the way they are. I want my dreams to speak to me without distortion by my ego.” Or, “Yes, I learned to train myself to know that I am dreaming by looking at my hands, as was suggested in the Don Juan books by Carlos Castenada. But so what? What then?”


Exactly! What then? As a way of explaining the issues and the differences in the two approaches we can think of the dream process somewhat as follows.


How the Dreaming Process May Work


First we have the original dream experience. We don’t really know what it is or where it comes from. But we do know that most dreams are a rich and feeling experience in imagery in which we, our image of ourselves, our dream ego, often play a significant part. What seems to be happening in sleep is that the conscious waking ego gives up control while still maintaining awareness and perhaps remembering the experience afterward.


But where is the imagery coming from? That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Let us postulate that within the mental realm of the individual is an image producing function, and let us postulate further that in dream sleep another center within the mental realm, the psyche, uses this image producing function to send messages to us about ourselves, the dream ego, into the midst of these image situations so that we feel related and involved with what is going on.


To sum it up, a self-regulating center within the psyche uses the image producing function of the psyche to convey experiential messages to the waking ego, choice-making function of the psyche, or what we normally think of as ourselves.


Intervening in the Natural Dreaming Process


What some lucid dreamers who practice dream control try to do is intervene in this natural process. They train the waking ego function to take over the image producing function, to take it away from the self-regulating function of the psyche. This position is exemplified in Stephen LaBerge’s statement in the November 1985 issue of New Age Journal “Full lucidity is knowing ‘Every part of this dream is my own mind and that I take full responsibility for it.” In other words, the “I” part of the personality takes over the dream. There is no such thing as a dream source, or other center in the psyche which knows and heals us better than we know ourselves, as I understand LaBerge’ s statement.


What is Dream Actualization?


Dream Actualization means relating to dreams by re-experiencing them and bringing them to resolution. We do not seek to change our dreams, but to experience them more fully. We do not trust the ego’s point of view to be in control of the dream either through lucid dreaming or interpreting the dream afterward.


In the dream ego, the image of ourselves, is only one of the characters. The dreamego represents one point of view and there may be as many points of view as there are other characters. We seek to experience fully whatever comes up in dreams and not to change it. If someone wants to kill us, or befriend us, we may let the character kill us rather than wake ourselves up. This takes courage and a realization that the dream is real. The reason so few people report dying or having been killed in a dream is that they wake themselves up before the act can happen and call the result a nightmare. The lucid dreamers who practice dream control, on the other hand, do not wake themselves up. Their defense is to say it is only a dream and not real, and therefore they can change it. They can make unpleasant dreams into pleasant dreams by flying or all sorts of other tricks. Great if you can do it, but you may be severing yourself from the center within which wants you to face things as they are and not as you would want them to be.


Encounter Your Dream Adversary--Don’t Fly From It!


I have had some tremendous adventures encountering all sorts of adversaries and dealing with them. Some I let attack me. Others I have fought to the death. In each circumstance the dream resolved its issues because I stayed present to the situation as it was, not as I might have wanted it to be. I learned courage and not fear. I learned to stay present and not escape. I learned to become really active in the dream state, as a state to be in just as real as the external world state.


Dream Actualization accepts the dreamworld as just as real as the outer world. What we experience there is real at an experiential and feeling level. It is not just a dream. It may have different laws from outer reality, but I do not call a dream only a dream and therefore I can do anything with it since it is a product of my own imagination.


In the Jungian-Senoi Dream Actualization process we commit ourselves to doing dreamwork tasks as ways of actualizing the dream. A new way of relating in a dream state may be taken to an outer life relationship. Expressing feelings of anger may first come up in the dream state and need actualization in the outer. We may contact spiritual beings in the dream state and make a gift in art or write a poem symbolizing the encounter. We train ourselves to become more active and relational in the dream sleep state by doing Dream Reentry, one of our chief techniques.


Reentering Your Dream From the Waking State


A student of mine did not like the way she was being terrified in her dreams by a witch-like female figure. She felt helpless and afraid to even fall asleep because of what she would encounter there. We did not train her to recognize that she was only having a dream and so did not have to be afraid. We trained her in Waking Dream Reentry to go back into her nightmares to become more active with the adversary and see what happens. She found that by visualizing the dream and practicing relating to adversaries instead of running from them in this meditative dream reentry state she could stand up for herself and the adversary would also change in response. She learned to experience the fear even more fully, in other words to have and express feelings, and then to go on and cope courageously with those feelings. The final result was that in one of her dream sleep nightmares she was running and running from a witch figure and growing exhausted, then she turned and asked her adversary for help, and help came. Crescendo! She did not change her dream. She learned from it, and learned better how to deal with life by re-experiencing her dream fully, both in the waking state and in the dream state. He dream adversary helped her. We have had many other successes of this nature, including dreams dealing with war and rape trauma.


Yes, let us expand our dream consciousness. There may even be some point to knowing from time to time you are dreaming. But let us never neglect the potency of the dream reality by calling it only a dream or seeking to control what happens there. If we seek to do this, we may be fooled anyway. Many reported lucid dreamscan be seen as the dreamer thinking she is in control in the dream when in fact the dream source may want her to think she is in control. Who is in control here, and how can you tell? What we suggest instead is accepting dream reality as just as real and intense as waking reality, and therefore dealing with the dream on its own terms. When we accept the dream as it is we will be accepting ourselves as we are, and from that mystery actualize what is wanted from us by the dream source.


We learn to serve the process rather than control it.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 93.


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Photographic and Cinematographic Applications in Lucid Dream Control


Kenneth Moss

Wayne State University


Through the application of photographic and cinematographic principles the lucid dreamer can be the director of various visual phenomena, thereby synthesizing creative dreaming and photography within the dream. A photographer needs to utilize certain techniques to either replicate a given scene or to create an altered scene. I found that these techniques could be simulated to achieve certain visual effects in the dream. They were accessible to dream control due to the perceptual nature of lucidity and the visual elements represented in the dream. The lucid dreamer may use a “dream camera” as a prop to facilitate the usage of the through-the-lens viewing techniques. However, it may be easier to use only the essential factor, such as a filter. Alternately one may visualize the process without using specific aids. Although the resulting visual phenomena can occur independently in dreams the usage of these photographic applications may increase their frequency and quality.


Given the importance of the visual experience in dreams there are several advantages to this undertaking. The extension of an artistic pursuit into the dream state can be fun and exciting, as well as aesthetically pleasing. Photographic works are often referred to as having dream-like qualities. However, by closely working with dreams one may further stimulate waking photography so that it more accurately reflects dream experience. The lucid dream can be a studio of direct imagination and experimentation. The dreamer can determine to what extent one can control the dreamscape. I have been unable to identify any absolute limitation. Hence, this approach may help to elucidate the special characteristics of the visual elements in dreams. It may also help to define the interrelationship between visual phenomena and certain experiential states.


Lighting Effects


In my lucid dreams I have had a wide variety of lighting effects that at times have played a vital role in the dream. All of my lucid dreams have been dreamed in color. One application that takes advantage of this property is a prism filter which breaks light into its component colors. A star filter creates light rays extending from a light point. The rays may scintillate perhaps giving the impression of movement or blinking. A diffraction filter combines these effects to produce spectral rays arranged in a star pattern about a light source. This effect has been reproduced in lucid dreams on numerous occasions with dramatic results.


A polarizing filter is one technique that can control luminosity, typically from diffuse or reflective light sources. For example it can deepen a blue sky or reduce glare from water and glass surfaces. By reversing the process increased luminosity can result. Color and tinted filters can also change the color and intensity of the light. A different process is to go beyond direct through-the-lens viewing and attempt to visualize shutter and apperture effects immediately. Stroboscopic lighting involves changes in luminosity rapidly through time. This may involve single or multiple lights that can be synchronized. The light source can be viewed from various angles including those that allow viewing of the reflections. In dreams I have been able to control both the frequency and luminosity of the lights. This can be accomplished through eye blinking, motor drive shutter advancing, and by moving a succession of columns (i.e. trees, fingers, etc.) in front of the light. An equivalent effect occurs when elements or even the entire visual field blinks without an apparent light source. Stroboscopic lighting can occur in connection with other effects such as star and diffraction effects. It can be synchronized with sounds or music and lattice or kaleidoscopic patterns. This can have a profound effect on the subjective experience of the dreamer. There is a close synchrony and integration of sensory and mental experience. Specific phenomena can include synesthesia and vibrational resonance.


Other lighting techniques that have occurred in my lucid dreams include silhouettes, diffusion, fog, rainbow, sunset and halo effects.




The viewpoint of the dreamer is an important feature and in lucid dreams one has the ability to improve it. A more advantageous vantage point can occur by simulating the positioning actions a photographer employs to get the best viewing angle. Another method is to use framing techniques such as cropping and focal length variation. In general perspectives that allow greater dreamer participation, as opposed to spectator roles, are preferred. This usually requires a first person viewpoint. The camera viewfinder, in which the dreamer has a through-the-lens view, usually retains the first person viewpoint. The dreamer may also have a first person viewpoint that resembles waking stereoscopic visual fields. In autoscopic viewing the dreamer views himself. While this may be a secondary viewpoint it can be first person as in the example of mirror viewing.


Screen viewing occurs when the visual field appears to be existing on a screen. By bringing the screen closer or by utilizing certain movement techniques one can facilitate visual interaction. In close-up or macro viewing small objects are enlarged to predominate the field of view. Important subjects include nature scenes and the identification of lattice and crystalline structures. In expanded field viewing the angle or content of view is greater than the usual range. This may occur if a wider field is compressed into the normal viewing range, such as with a wide-angle lens. However, it may also occur if the angle of peripheral vision itself is increased with the possibility of a 360 degree or even spherical horizon. I have tried to accomplish this by using various rotational techniques.


A frequent viewpoint in lucid dreams is an above ground or aerial view. This may occur in flying, falling, mountain and transportation dreams. Its occurrence in non-lucid dreams offers a common and efficatious opportunity for lucid induction. On several occasions I have had an underwater view. Sometimes one has the impression of remote or vista viewing.


The gaze effect is an often reported viewing phenomenon. By fixating the vision on a specific dream element, such as the hands, there is a secondary consolidation of the lucid consciousness. I have noticed a similar effect when investigating characteristics such as depth of field, perspective, detail, color, composition, and contrast in lucid dreams.


Visual Fields and Elements


The shape and essential content of the dreamer’s visual field is highly variable and mutable. With tunnel vision or telescopic effects only the center of the field is present, noticed or in focus. This can be accomplished by movement techniques, frame molds, center-spot filters, fish-eye lens or by identifying certain visual elements. In a mirror field all or part of the visual field is a reflective mirror that the dreamer can view. In a double-exposure field there is the appearance of two or more image fields superimposed on each other. A split field has at least two distinct visual field sections side by side. A mirage field is a type of slit field in which the top and bottom sections reflect each other. In a collage field the elements tend to have a random arrangement. By using these models I can create new dream sequences by splicing together visual elements in a manner simulating a cinematographic editor.


In abstract and non-representational fields elements do not have conventional form. In an off-focus field the visual elements may be blurred even to the point of total abstraction. The focusing can be controlled and even reversed. Sometimes the elements can resemble posphenes or fire flashes. A grainy field has a pointillistic appearance. Kaleidoscopic patterns and changing variegated patterns. Multi-image filters provide scenes that are readily adapted to this. Geometric and lattice patterns have a definite organization. Other patterns include spiral, tunnel, funnel, and cobweb structures. By simulating eye closure phenomena such as multi-colored floaters and entoptic patterns can result. The visual field can have a quality resembling photographic materials as though one is dreaming the photo.


Visual fields can also simulate telephoto, wide-angle, fish-eye and macro lenses.


Visual Movement


Visual movement refers to the apparent movement of the dreamer in relation to the visual field. This may be due to either the movement of the dreamer or the visual elements. One class of movement involves speed effects. This may be introduced as the result of linear or rotary movement. As a result of this speed effect the scenery can be blurred or streaked. Some of these results are similar to zooming with a telephoto lens. The transition to macro viewing can include movement that may lack the speed effect. The early stages of visual field involution can be simulated by a wide-angle lens. Oscillating and scintillating elements can also give the impression of movement. These visual movement techniques can be implemented to produce the vortex phenomenon, in which the dreamer has the sensation of whirling through a vortex.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 98.


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The Mystique of Dreams: A Search for Utopia through Senoi Dream Theory


By G. William Domhoff

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.


Reviewed by Robert K. Dentan

American Studies and Anthropology Depts. State University of New York at Buffalo


This book begins with an analysis of “Senoi dream theory,” a therapeutic praxis introduced to Americans by Kilton Stewart, allegedly on the basis of his ethnographic work with indigenous hill peoples of Malaysia. (The theory is that a nonhierarchical supportive community in which people freely discuss their dreams can teach dreamers to confront and overcome their own destructive feelings in lucid dreams, resulting in complete sanity and the abolition of social strife.) Domhoff’s discussion moves on to consider the place of dreams in American life and science.


This little book is wide-ranging, intelligent and intellectually stimulating. Anyone seriously interested in understanding dreaming should read it. It is not, as some people seem to fear, reactionary Sixties-bashing or redundant demystification of the ethnographic fieldwork on which Kilton Stewart claimed to base the techniques of dream control which until a couple of years ago went under the name of “Senoi dream therapy” or “Senoi dream theory”. Like his distinguished mentor, the late Calvin S. Hall, Domhoff tends to err, when he does err, on the side of tolerance and generosity in evaluating other people’s work. There’s a lot to disagree with in this book, but nothing tendentious nor malicious.


After a brief introductory chapter defining the issues he intends to treat, Domhoff discusses, in sequence, the ethnography of the “Senoi,” the character of Kilton Stewart, the spread of Stewart’s “Senoi dream therapy” during the 1960s and 1970s, the efficacy of “Senoi dream principles.” His conclusion is that, as scientists, we know little about dreams.


I was too closely involved in writing the second chapter, as Domhoff acknowledges, to be comfortable evaluating it. There are a couple of minor ethnographic slips. The derogatory Malay term for Senoi is ‘Sakai,” not ‘Saki” (p. 14). The discussion of Senoi “soul” concepts on p. 23 conflates Semai Senoi and Temiar Senoi notions in a way that neither people would find correct. For readers concerned with dreaming rather than with the minutiae of Malaysian ethnography, however, the chapter is more than adequate.


Stewart was an attractive character, even to people like Domhoff and myself, who know him only indirectly. That attractiveness, plus Domhoff’s aforementioned generosity, paradoxically make this chapter the least accurate in the book. The inaccuracy comes from omitting any discussion of material which might seem to reflect discredit on Stewart, even when the material is Stewart’s own words and when the discredit could only spring from retroactively and stupidly imposing 1980s political verities only the 1930s. For example, Domhoff’s discussion of Stewart’s political liberalism (pp. 52-53) would leave the impression that Stewart never in his life had a thought which people today would characterize as racist.” Such immunity to a dominant ideological tendency of his time would have been extraordinary, especially for someone of Stewart’s background. It is surely creditable enough that, although at the time of his first fieldwork Stewart thought “Negritoes” were intellectually inferior for biological reasons [quoted in Porteus 1937), be shortly afterwards changed his mind and asserted (on the basis of the same data) that there were no serious intellectual differences between human “races.” My own feeling is that the ability to change one’s mind on a basic issue is rare enough a virtue that to protect Stewart’s reputation Domhoff’s way is to make him seem more a kneejerk liberal and less a thoughtful person, albeit one with a fairly freewheeling attitude towards data, than he was. The Biblical story of the prodigal son tells us that a person who sees the error of his or her ways is more admirable than one who never errs. Stewart was in many ways a prodigal son.


Similarly, Domhoff so downplays the importance of Stewart’s Mormonism in the formulation of “Senoi dream theory” that a casual reader might miss it entirely. Stewart in this case again was much more forthright. In “Pygmies and Dream Giants” (1954), he states clearly that he was attempting to rediscover in his research the Mormon community he remembered growing up in, in which “Dreams and visions made it possible to maintain a community where no adult had spiritual authority over anyone else, since each could communicate with the supreme authority in his dreams and visions.” As Domhoff’s friend and colleague, James Clifford, has demonstrated in a number of wonderful articles, this sort of motivation is not uncommon among ethnographers. People, after all, have reasons for what they do, and there’s nothing disreputable in that fact. We’re not machines. Personally, I think Domhoff’s squeamishness about these matters is laudable but patronizing. Professionally, I think it distorts the sociology of knowledge he’s trying to write.


Discussing the appeal of “Senoi dream theory” for Americans during the 1960s, Domhoff correctly points out that it fit squarely into the American tradition of self-improvement that runs from Benjamin Franklin through Norman Vincent Peale. His interpretation, which I believe substantially correct, is not as cogent as it could be. The televised horrors of the Vietnam War no doubt made the peaceful and technologically simple life Senoi lead appealing, but I don’t think the fact they also lived in Southeast Asia had much effect. The appeal of mystified Senoi life, I think, is far more intimately tied to Americans’ on-again-off-again love affair with Native Americans, which Domhoff also cites. In fact, at least one popular dream book refers to Senoi a “Indians.” It would have been illuminating to have winkled out the similarities between the “Sixties” and the other times in which white people’s imaginings of Indian lives became intertwined with reformist or revolutionary American politics. (I’m thinking of the period immediately after the continent was discovered, described by the historians Commager and Giordanetti in “Was America a Mistake?;” the early middle nineteenth century, beginning with the Leatherstocking tales and culminating in “Hiawatha,” “The League of the Iroquois” and “Moby Dick”; and the 1920s, particularly in the community at Taos, where Jung and the feminist ethnographer Elsie Clews Parsons worked with Pueblo peoples, D. H. Lawrence studied American character and Mabel Dodge Luhan took an Indian husband. Leslie Fieldler’s studies of the role of Indians in American literature would be a good starting place). Since Domhoff is a sociologist and student of dreams rather than a literary critic or historian, it would be unfair to suggest that he grapple with this issue, but some his colleagues in the History of Consciousness Department might find the project intriguing.


In a chapter of particular interest to readers of this journal, Domhoff suggests that, considered simply as a therapeutic technique, Senoi dream therapy doesn’t work. In a couple of recent articles in the Lucidity Letter and the ASD Newsletter Myrna Walters and I suggested that Chinese lucid dreams might be a way of avoiding problems rather than of dealing with them, and some psychotherapists consider “Senoi” praxis detrimental to therapy. Domhoff’s survey of the literature seems extensive, although he spends little time on lucid dreams per se (pp. 89-90). What he has to say about REM sleep may surprise the reader familiar only with the popular literature on the subject.


Like Stewart, Domhoff concludes that Western dream theory is not far advanced over Senoi theory. Domhoff, however, believes not that Senoi theory is advanced but that Western theory is rudimentary. Moreover, even his defense of the two bodies of Euroamerican method and data he thinks reliable lacks the trenchancy of his earlier critiques. He argues that, despite hermeneutic heterogeneity, interpretive psychology has shown that dreams have meaning. He further expresses confidence in the content analysis of dreams, the technique at which he is especially experienced. These assertions are debatable, but since I’ve examined them in more detail in a chapter in Gackenbach’s forthcoming Sourcebook on Sleep and Dreams, I’ll spare the reader a discussion here. The book ends on an upbeat, celebrating American optimism, openness to change and utopian idealists like Stewart who, however wrongheaded they may be, expand our horizons. It’s a fitting conclusion to a book whose main weakness is its generosity.


A final note: Domhoff’s style is forthright and unpretentious. Despite the complexity of its subject this little book is easy and fun to read. I recommend it highly.




Porteus, S. D. (1937). Primitive intelligence. New York: Macmillan.

Stewart, Kilton Riggs (1954). Pygmies and dream giants. New York: W. W. Norton.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 104.


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                  Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD)

The call for papers for the 1986 ASD annual meeting to be held the week of June 23, 1986 at Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, is available from Dr. Roy Salley, Psychology Service 652/116B, McGuire VA. 23249. Brochures and membership information available from ASD, P.O. Box 590475, San Francisco, CA, 94159-0475. Invited addresses will be made by:


Walter Bonime, M.D.; New York City; “The Transmutation of Personality Through Dreams”

William Domhoff, Ph.D.; University of California - Santa Cruz; “Kilton Stewart: The Man and

     the Senoi Myth”.

Pierre Etevenon, D. Sc.; Paris, France; “Sleep to Dream, Reverie and Arousal: An EEG

     Modulation of Vigilance”.

Raymond Greenberg, Ph.D.; University Hospitals, Boston; “Emerging of Perspectives: The

     Contributions of Laboratory and Self Psychology to a Theory of Dreaming”.

James Hall, M.D.; University of Texas; “Object Relations, Complexes, and Dreams”.

Earnest Hartmann, M.D.; Shattuck Hospital, Boston; “Nightmares and Boundaries in the Mind”.

Richard Jones, Ph.D.; Evergreen State University; “Dreams and Metaphor’.

Waud Kracke, Ph.D.; University of Illinois; “Language of Dreaming: Personal and Cultural

     Meaning of Dreams”.

Robert Monroe, Faber, VA; “Out-of-Body Experiences and Lucid Dreams”.

Montague Ullman, M.D., New York City; “Dreams and the General Public”.

Robert Van de Castle, Ph.D.; University of Virginia; “Phases of Women’s Dreams”.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 109.


Bibliography Update


Each issue of Lucidity Letter contains recent references on dream lucidity. The complete bibliography can be obtained by purchasing all past issues.


Fenwicik, P. B. C., Schatzman, M. & Worsley, A. (1984). Lucid dreaming. Paper presented at the symposium of the Electroencephalography Society, Southampton, England, May.

Gibson, H. B. (1985). Dreaming and hypnotic susceptibility: A pilot study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 60, 387-394.

Gackenbach, J. I., Heilman, N., Boyt, S. & LaBerge, S. (1985). The relationship between field independence and lucid dreaming ability. Journal of Mental Imagery, 9(1), 9-20.

Hearne, K. M. T. (1984). Lucid dreaming and psi research. Parapsychology Review, 15(6), 2-3.

Hearne, K. M. T. (1985). An ostensible precognition using a ‘dream-machine.’ Journal for the Society Psychical Research, 53(799),38-40.

Hooper, J. & Teresi, D. (1985). Lucid dreaming. New Age Journal, 2(4), 34-41 & 78.


Below is a further list of publications by Dr. Paul Tholey at the University of Frankfurt. As many are in German, a brief explanatory note by Dr. Tholey accompanies most of the references. See Vol.3, No.4 of Lucidity Letter for other Tholey publications.


Tholey, P. (1977). Der Klartraum. Seine Funktion in der experimentellen Traumforschung. In W. H. (Ed.), Bericht uber den 30._Kngreb der Deutschen Gesellschaft Fur Psychologie in Regensburg 1976. Gottingen: Hogrefe.


This paper contains a summary of my experimental research on lucid dreams. For illustration, phenomenological experiments are described in which several hypotheses concerning the relation between dream content and eye movements were tested.


Tholey, P. (1980a). Erkenntnistheoretische und systemtheoretische grundlagen der sensumotorik. Sportwissenschaft, 10, 2-35.

The critical realism of Gestalt psychology is described. The theoretical assumptions are based on the concepts of “field”, “open system”, and “backcoupling” or “feedback”. The significance of lucid dreaming to research on perception and motor learning is mentioned, only briefly. On the other hand, this paper contains the epistemological, theoretical and methodological basic principles of my research program on lucid dreaming. However, the field theoretical concept of Gestalt psychology requires supplementation. In our opinion, it is necessary to unify the quantum and relativity theories into a “Grand Unified Field Theory”. Such a theory must be able to explain and predict physical, psychological, and the so called paranormal facts as well as their coherence.


Tholey, P. (1982). Bewubtseinsanderung im Schlaf: Wach’ ich oder traum’ ich? Psychologie

       heute, 9(12), 68-78. (Reprinted in Psychologie heute Redaktion (Ed.), Grenzerfahrungen,

      1984. Weinheim: Beltz).

This paper is popularized science. Although a detailed explication of the concept of “Klartraum” can be found here, this article is mainly concerned with psychotherapeutic principles in lucid dreaming.

Tholey, P. (1984c). Facultes cognitives des personnages oniriques en reve lucide. Oniros, 2(4), p. 3.

Translated by H. Ripert. (Abstract of Tholey, 1985; see below).


Tholey, P. (1984d). Gestalt therapy made-in-USA and made elsewhere. Gestalt Theory, 6, 171-174.

In this brief article several theoretical weaknesses of the Gestalt therapy are mentioned. In contrast to Fritz Perls work, our field theoretical psychotherapy using lucid dreaming will avoid aggressive behavior towards “top dogs”, if possible.


Tholey, P. (1984e). Sensumotorisches Lernen als Organisation des psychiachen Gesamtfelds. In E. Hahn & H. Reider (Eds.), Sensumotorisches Lernen und Sportspielforschung: Festschrift fur Kurt Kohl, Koln: bps-Verlag, 11-26.

In this paper, the significance of lucid dreaming to motor learning is briefly described. We noted positive effects on athletic performance in our work with sports students. We traced the positive effects to various improvements in the organization of the cerebral sensory and motor field processes. We then found a parallel in the improvements of athletic disciplines to the change from a more ego-centered to a more situation-centered attitude.


Tholey, P. (1985). Haben Traumgestalten ein eigenes BewuBtsein? Ein experimentell-

       phanomenologische Klartraumstudie. Gestalt Theory, 7, 29-46.

In the theoretical part of this study, what is meant by saying a dream figure possesses a consciousness of its own is explicated. Following the epistemological and phenomenological explanations of the Gestalt psychologist Karl Duncker, consciousness is attributed to a dream figure, if it possesses a phenomenal “I” of its own that is able to be participating in phenomenal events. Several possibilities are pointed out about how the question, “Do dream figures possesses consciousness?”, can be examined by physiological or phenomenological experiments. In the empirical part a description is given of experiments detailing the cognitive accomplishments of which dream figures are capable. Nine experienced lucid dreamers were directed to set tasks of a certain kind to dream figures they met during lucid dreaming. Dream figures were asked (a) to draw or write something, (b) to name words unknown to the dream ego, (c) to rhyme, and (d) to solve simple arithmetic problems. Some of the dream figures agreed to perform the tasks and proved successful. However, the arithmetic accomplishments were poor. From the viewpoint of the empirical findings, nothing contradicts the assumption that some dream figures have consciousness. From this it was concluded that in lucid dream therapy communication with dream figures should be handled as if they were rational beings. Also, the possibility of communication of dream figures with “external” observers is mentioned.


Tholey, P. & Krist, H. (in press). Klartraumen. Frankfurt am Main: Fachbuchhandlung fur Psychologie.

This book contains several studies on lucid dreaming.


Lucidity Letter 4(2), December, 1985, p. 110.


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