The Dreaming, the Living Awaken, and the Five Dreams

Welcome, dear readers, to our May newsletter.

We begin our monthly selection with a lecture by W.E.H. Stanner on the Dreaming, the no-time and no-place of myth and revelation among Australian aboriginal cultures.

Although The Dreaming conjures up the notion of a sacred, heroic time of the indefinitely remote past, such a time is also, in a sense, still part of the present. One cannot ‘fix’ The Dreaming in time: it was, and is, everywhen. We should be very wrong to try to read into it the idea of a Golden Age, or a Garden of Eden, though it was an Age of Heroes, when the ancestors did marvellous things that men can no longer do… Clearly, The Dreaming is many things in one. Among them, a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen; and a kind of logos or principle of order transcending everything significant for Aboriginal man.

• Next, showing how both dream and vigil can refer to the same higher states of reality, we present the famous medieval allegory Hayy ibn Yaqzan, “The Living Son of the Awake”, by the 12th-century Iberian philosopher Ibn Tufayl, which has sometimes been called a “philosophical novel” or an “allegory”. Developing the idea of a perfection and wisdom of nature to which the pure human soul can attune, this influential narrative is said to be the inspiration of Robinson Crusoe and similar works.

Those who merely think and have not reached the level of love are like the blind. The colors, at that stage known only by accounts of their names, are those experiences which Ibn Bajja said are “too splendid to arise in the physical world”, which “God grants to those of his worshippers whom He chooses.” But to those who reach love, God
grants what I purely metaphorically call another faculty. This corresponds to the restoration of sight.

• And we complete our selection with an essay on “The Five Dreams of the Bodhisatta in the Murals of Pagan”, full of Buddhist cosmological imagery and bringing the concept of dream back to its highest metaphysical dimensions.

In a sequence of five successive visions, it becomes clear to Sakyamuni that he is in a state of pregnancy—pregnant of himself—, and that the moment of delivery is close. What the dreams show, is the perfectly developed and ripe being, ready to realise these still hidden but real potentialities. The dream is similar to a pregnancy: it takes place in the head of the dreamer like the child grows in the womb of his mother, and as it can only be truly known and experienced by the dreamer, the baby can only be felt by his mother.