"Throughout our history as a species, humans have sought answers
basic questions about our existence, questions that are best described as
spiritual in nature...why we must suffer pain, illness, misfortune,
and death to searching for moral principles to help us overcome evil and
strive toward good...Psychological researchers have found that dreams function
to address exactly these kinds of concerns, to seek creative new solutions
to our most pressing and difficult problems."
Written for the intelligent lay reader, Spiritual Dreaming offers thirteen lucid chapters arranged thematically. Topics include dreams involving: the dead, healing, prophecy, sexuality, lucidity, and creativity.
In addition, Dr. Bulkeley provides three Appendix essays on dream hermeneutics, conceptions of reality, and methodological considerations. Both the Endnotes and Bibliography sections provide detailed information for those wishing to delve further into the material cited.
A particular virtue of Spiritual Dreaming is its multi-cultural outlook. Its author deftly highlights religious traditions outside the mainstream Christian--such as Native American shamanism, Hinduism, Sufism, and the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism. It is partly by studying such traditions that Dr. Bulkeley feels confident in asserting that, "Dreams seem to have the potential (especially in times of crisis) to give us special powers of perception and to connect us with forces and realities that transcend ordinary waking consciousness. The testimony of dreamers throughout history and the findings of modern psychological researchers both provide evidence in support of this position."
For this reviewer, Spiritual Dreaming's most intriguing chapter deals with dreams of initiation. After surveying the importance of initiatory dreams in a variety of non-western cultures historically, its author rhetorically asks: "Does modern western culture provide any resources for incorporating people who have transformative dream experience?" His terse answer: "It does, but only sporadically." And yet, the appearance of books like this--and the growing audiences for those interested in authentic transcendental experience--attests that the situation may be rapidly changing for the better.
As Dr. Bulkeley aptly comments, "Every night when we go to sleep,
we separate ourselves from ordinary waking society and enter into the liminal
world of our dreams, where the sacred is a powerful, living presence...the
capacity to dream, and to become closer to the sacred in our dreams, may
be a gift that we all are born with."
Reviewed by Edward Hoffman, Ph.D., author of OPENING THE INNER GATES: NEW PATHS IN KABBALAH AND PSYCHOLOGY.