Dreamwork and the Principle of Opposition

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In Chapter 11 of Dreams for Peace, (see Hastings) Godzilla comes into someone’s house causing panic and huge fear where everyone ends up fleeing for their lives. Some don’t make it. It is easy enough when you are doing the initial dream analysis to see that the dreamer is running away from a perceived fear of something that is large and evil. You have a fear and it makes you start avoiding. This is the pattern. You can find this kind of information in most books about dreams.

What you don’t find is a good theory about solving dreams. About 10 years ago when I was doing dream work with a lot of adolescents on a daily basis, I discovered a principle which I call opposition. It certainly isn’t a new principle because it can be found in great writings of every major religion. The principle, briefly stated, is that we all have a true self, which is eternal, positive, and oriented toward service to humankind, and we also have an ego, which is the animal or material self that will one day die. The ego, because of its protective and survival orientation is prone to all of the negative emotions especially fear. When the ego is not subordinate to the true self, it tends to cause all kinds of harm and mischief. Godzilla, for instance, is a symbol of a big ego that causes great evil.

The major problem with most contemporary practices in psychology is that they do not see the true self as the solution to the ego. The true self is unlimited in the number of positive capacities that it can express, while the ego is its mirror opposite in its negative destructive abilities. Dreams are either an expression of the true self or an expression of the ego. Sometimes there are dreams that express parts of both in the same dream. Godzilla is an example of dream about the ego. It could be as a result of personal experience, of family upbringing, or of cultural origins. What most people need after a dream like this is an analysis, but what is even more important is a solution. We have to ask ourselves what is the solution to Godzilla.

In the Baha’i Writings there is a famous quotation that goes like this.

So far as ye are able, ignite a candle of love in every meeting, and with tenderness rejoice and cheer ye every heart. Care for the stranger as for one of your own; show to alien souls the same loving kindness ye bestow upon your faithful friends. Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord — so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world. Such is the essence of God’s admonitions; such in sum are the teachings for the Dispensation of Baha. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 34)

Spiritual writings are, by their very nature, solution oriented. In the above quotation, described as the sum of all the teachings for this age, the solution to blame is praise, the solution to poison is honey, and the solution for thorns are roses. So if we look at Godzilla, based upon the above quotation, he can be described as a terribly destructive force that wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Where psychology has come to thus far as a practice is to recognize that Godzilla is an evil force causing untold destruction, so therefore, lets kill him and everything will be just great. So we kill Godzilla, but because we haven’t done the solution of opposition as in the holy writings, sooner or later, Godzilla’s uncle pops up and starts the same thing all over again.

Being solution oriented means doing the opposite. Great destructive powers are solved by great constructive and healing powers. When the world trade center was destroyed in New York City, the immediate response was to go after Godzilla. Countries do have the right to protect themselves, and there is a benefit from killing Godzilla, but no one seems to have responded to him in a solution oriented way by going after huge positives.

Whenever I have a dream that is negative, I almost immediately begin by flipping the negative images in my mind to their positive opposites. This tells me almost immediately what kind of actions to take in my life. You can try it. If you are being attacked by a poisonous snake in a dream, you don’t really need to worry so much about what a snake means. What you need to do is to change from being poisoned to being healing. Maybe there is a lot of vicious backbiting at work. You can do healing work by finding people to praise and honor.

There are a lot of interesting clues that you can get in dream work if you learn to pay attention and then apply a solution. If the dream is dark, then it means that you need to bring more light into the world, maybe shedding more light. If there is a large negative, then you can go for a very large positive. If everything is going really fast, then you can work on slowing everything down.

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