RSCN4428 WSDreams are a form of reality. They are real phenomena, just as thoughts are real phenomena.

Some years ago in a writer’s group when I was still working on my novel The Birdcatcher, I read aloud the pages from that book where Chris Stone recounts his dream of flying up the Song Cau valley in a helicopter.

When I finished, one of the other writers said the dream was too real. It had too much detail. Real dreams, she said, are vague and confusing. As she said it, the other members of the group nodded their heads in agreement.

I didn’t say anything, since we weren’t there to discuss the nature of dreams, but inwardly I shook my head in dismay, for it was another sign of what I had long suspected – that most people have forgotten how to dream.

Stone’s dream was a real dream of my own. Lifted from my 1975 journal, it was a dream I had one night after watching the fall of Saigon on TV. To fit it into The Birdcatcher, I didn’t have to change much at all.

Your dreams don’t have to be vague and confusing. All you have to do is pay attention to them. Do that and they will reward you, not only with more detail, but sometimes with numinous power.

Dreams can be very real. In one dream of mine when I found myself in a parking lot, I was so impressed by the strength and detail of the scene that I decided to investigate (such conscious thinking makes this a ‘lucid dream’). I squatted down to examine the pavement. The surface was just as detailed and irregular as in real life. Even when I ran my finger over it, I could feel the solid granular surface.

Of course, dreams aren’t always like that. In the average dream, things you look at frequently change before your eyes – men turn into women, flowers can become monsters, etc. That’s one reason why I was suspicious of my realistic surroundings in that dream.

Some people say I was having an out-of-body experience, so I was in a real parking lot. I’m sceptical of that.

But how such detail is created I don’t know. Though I’m convinced that our imagination is deeply involved in the creation of dreams, I’m not convinced that the imagination doesn’t sometimes require assistance, or some pre-existing raw material. In other words, I’m not convinced that dreams are entirely in your head.

The creation of dreams is a mystery that psychologists and other investigators have not penetrated very far. Although dreams are real phenomena, they have a strong air of the paranormal about them. That may be the reason that serious research into them has been more or less shut down since the 1970s.

If you haven’t already started, why not begin your own research?

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