Do we dream of the future?

Although we toss around the term “time” quite a bit, we don't actually have much of a handle on what time really is. We believe in this aspect or quality of experience called time, and we have machines to measure it passing, but then we use the fact that such machines measure time as a definition of time itself. Great thinkers leave us with prosaic and uninteresting descriptions of time. We don't know much about time at all and I am skeptical about any “logical” reasoning that fully depends on using ideas we have difficultly even defining.

Researchers have shown that the world we believe we are seeing is an image our brains assemble for our use. Likewise it has been shown that other parts of our minds respond to events in our environment without our conscious awareness. So, in many ways our perceptions of happenings around us are just a part of a larger context. Our desire for coherence and continuity helps build an image of the world that allows us to act and exist in the world. And that's a good thing as we might not be able to survive if we didn't have this ability.

In some ways the passing of time is only a perceptual experience. We've all been schooled in the notion of time as a path we travel. In Kurt Vonnegut's notorious novel, “Slaughterhouse Five” the character Billy Pilgrim experiences his life out of sequence, jumping from segment to segment of his lifeline, unstuck in time and experiencing it from a different point of view, moment to moment. You might think of it as being shifted out of the containing dimension of space/time and not bound to “travel” continuously through it in a linear fashion.

Why might you think you are not experiencing the same lack of linear sequence? And how would you prove it is so? We already know that the brain likes to keep things simple and coherent for us, so maybe it fiddles about with things to keep us on track in our daily life, giving us a comforting picture of a simple and easy to cope with reality.

So, what's my point? The common sense notion we have of living time in a linear and continuous manner may be just something our brains do for us to help us survive. I think that it is likely that we are more like Billy Pilgrim than we care to admit. That at a “higher” or more complex level of experience, time is not so rigid and linear. That consciousness is a bit more flexible and unbound. And more pointedly, in dreaming our consciousness has more flexibility to move as it will. It isn't moored in earthly “survival mode” and can wander in time and space and into probable timelines and different ways of experiencing reality.

But can I prove it to you? Not directly, but I know hundreds of people, literally, who would agree with me on this, and nearly all of them have arrived at this conclusion through studying their own dreams. What is required is to keep an ongoing dream journal and to study it to look for those dreams that play out situations that occur in what was then the future. You'll need to capture all dreams that are recalled because it is most often the case that the most mundane dream situations are the ones that show the best evidence.

If you keep a journal for a long time you'll easily gather hundreds of dreams like this and it will eventually not be such a big deal. When I have a dream like this I like to check the details to see if something is being emphasized that I would normally ignore. Those things often end up being useful things to investigate.

If you are interested in this subject and want to learn more about it and how to catch dreams like this, Robert Moss has written an excellent book on the subject, titled “Dreaming True”. I just checked and even though it was published in 2000, it is still in print and is the best book on the subject that I know.

So, after all that, to answer the question directly: Why are we dreaming the future? Because we are more than our waking earthy, linear consciousness. There is more going on in the mind than we suppose. Finally, the Dream Source is passing us information about the world and our life, and offering up new paths for growth and development.


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