"Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly and was
happy as a butterfly. I was conscious that I was quite
pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Tzu.
Suddenly I awoke, and there was I, visibly Tzu. I do
not know whether it was Tzu dreaming that he was a
butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that he was Tzu.
Between Tzu and the butterfly there must be some
distinction. [But one may be the other.] This is called
the transformation of things."
I'll write a long post for you:
I used to have what I would call a very active dream-life.
My dreams were sometimes realistic, sometimes comedic,
sometimes nonsensical. I noticed that when I do dream I
wake up a little more refreshed mentally (although not
physically…due to lack of Stage 3&4 sleep). So part of my
sadness in missing dreams was this association that I would
wake up feeling at least a little bit alert.
I'm with you, mostly, and especially about wanting to wake up
with more energy, more refreshed and with more alertness. (The last
seems better with l-carnitine, in my case, BTW.)
What I probably miss partially (among other things I don't know
that I don't know) are your senses of "very active", "dream-life"
and "nonsensical". I am asking - for definitions no less, but do
not feel imposed on: "definitions are difficult" (Multatuli)
- and here is part of my reasons why:
MM: "dream-life": In what sense, would you say, is
dreaming a life? How does it differ from one's conscious
MM: "very active": In the sense: dream often, dream
several dreams a night, guide my dreaming?
MM: "nonsensical": what's the difference between a
nonsensical dream and non-nonsensical dream? Is there such a
thing as "a dream-logic"?
Those sorts of questions... (...and a fool can ask more
questions then all wise women can answer)
But as I said, Hoping, don't feel imposed upon: I'm merely writing
what I think, as I find your post very interesting, thoughtful and
clear, and I do know how it is to have to live with ME, and may
well be less unwell. (There will be more such questions ;).
Hoping... What I mostly missed (I did not dream
from 1988 to 2007) were dreams that are rich in symbolism.
Does "did not dream" cover "not at all"? As in: switched
completely off, for some reason?
And here is one such question - just about almost certainly not
having the same - sort of - thoughts as you when I read the above
MM: "symbolism": In what sense? (Two simple ones:
analogy/similarity, and A makes me think of B)
I should add here that I am a Peircean and have thought a lot
about what symbols, meanings, ideas, concepts, thoughts, theories
Hoping... I also missed dreams that morphed from
one weird landscape into the next. You just don’t
experience these morphings in the waking world. It is an
Again one such question as just described:
MM: "morphed": In what sense? Transformed - but
how: continuously, topologically etc.
The etc. is "as in maths", which I leave out. (There are the
mathematical concept of morphism and transformation, but I fear
that moderators will then enter to civilize my language if I
indulge... but these are relevant, in fact, I think.)
Hoping...I recall a dream I had in which I was a
baby elephant. A large herd of grown female elephants went
on a rampage and were stampeding towards me. One in
particular seemed bent on mowing me down. I tried to hide
behind/under a large piece of plywood. But that did not
save me. The big female trampled me right down and squashed
me flat. In the meantime, my ‘experience/awareness’ in my
dream changed from 1st person (I was the baby elephant that
was experiencing the terror) to a 3rd person, viewing the
goings-on from a distance. So at the very last moment my
‘dream conciousness’ escaped from the baby elephant and
morphed over to an observer and I watched that big female
kill the baby. Of course I awoke with a very big pounding
heart. It was all quite frightening.
Do you have any sort of explanation of how one's
"‘experience/awareness’ in my dream changed from 1st person (..) to
a 3rd person". Incidentally, you put it extremely well, in these
And yes, I can imagine - as I read you - a film that enacts the
tale you tell, and also "sort of" take the place of the baby and
big one, but then that also involves a conscious step of 'acting
as/if', imagining 'what it would be like'. Is it similar in your
Also, as to "It was all quite frightening.": I can imagine - but as
"when viewing TV or a movie" or as "like the real thing - but I
woke up from it"? (I guess the latter, but don't know.)
Hoping... When I took time to try to understand
the dream I could see different layers of meaning.
Again one such question as just described (does he never
"meaning": meaning? (Ockham, Peirce and Ogden & Richard give the
best answers, and the Polish analytical philosophers and
Here I again revealed one of my (many classes of) obsessions that
this forum better not be subjected to...but again: It's a relevant
- and Hoping: tantalizingly difficult - question.
Hoping... This does not mean that I sat down and
analyzed the dream, but what happens to me is that over a
period of a day or so after a vivid dream little thoughts
filter up when I am doing other stuff, and these thoughts
can sometimes be eye-opening to me.
Just like me, and perhaps more relevantly the great French
mathematician Henri Poincaré: See e.g. Graham Wallas's "The Art of
Hoping... So in the above example some of the
thoughts that came to me:
1) I was the baby elephant (naivete and innocence. I was a
very shy child and perhaps overly protected).
2) My mother-in-law (who did not like me) was the big
female elephant; and in real life she frequently attempted
to squash many of my plans and aspirations by meddling in
my marriage by manipulating my husband. There were times
when she was quite vicious.
These seem to me on patterns suggested above:
analogy/similarity, and A makes me think of B. Incidentally, if you
would want to make the point: logic is here not a criterion:
heuristics are, that is methods of producing useful guesses about
something, such as one self. And Hoping beautifully explained and
showed how this may involve may happen and indeed help one inquire
insights, by a kind of directed free association. (Among other
Hoping... Or could it have been I was both the
baby and the large female in the dream (a gestalt approach
to trying to read the symbolism):
And once such question as just described:
MM: "gestalt approach": A la Wertheim ("Productive
Thinking"), Perls and Goodman ("Gestalt Therapy") or ...
Merely asking (also with ME, but you make me curious and think),
and for "symbolism" as per the above.
1) I was trampling on myself in some way
2) Or I was suffocating myself (not speaking up enough and
advocating for myself)
1) The baby elephant represented new ideas that were young
2) The big female was myself…the part of me that felt fear
and anxiety of change…willing to kill a a newly emerging
part of myself and squashing new ideas.
I think I have already said what I could have said here. (Sigh;)
Hoping... There is no right or wrong to the
interpretation. But sometimes one gets an ‘ah-ha’ feeling,
like a light bulb going on. And suddenly you realize
something new, or see a real-life situation in a new light.
Quite so - and it is the same with creative thinking. And again
your long post - in fact an excellent concise and clear piece of
exposition and illustration - depicts quite clearly how one's
dreams may help one (and why you missed having them).
Hoping... You are right…you can “make anything
from anything” – but the “anything” that I make from my
dreams is relevant to me and can touch me deeply, and can
often help me to understand and get over the rough spots in
the waking part of the day.
I think I have already said what I could have said here.
And you are quite right.
Hoping... So, I am not so sure I answered your
question. But I sure did write a long post in the process.
Thank you very much for it: inspirational. I hope I have not
raised too many questions, and my excuse is only that I think they
are relevant (i) to understand what you had and have in mind and
(ii) to understand what dreaming is (like) and how it may help one.
Meanwhile, this is where it stands at the moment, and if you want
to read more about it, here is where it all starts