This is part 6 of a series about combining the practice of meditation and dream interpretation.
I ended last week’s post saying I would write a bit about Jung’s process of interpreting dreams through the “amplification” process. I now realize it is best to hold off on this till I have a chance to do more detailed studies.
For now it is enough to sum up a few of the basic points of the past few weeks and lay the groundwork to return to sustained reflections on Jung’s more advanced methods.
Writing out a dream as soon as you awaken, will allow you to remember important details of the dream. As you write out the dream imagery, it is likely “associations” will “pop-up” in your mind which are triggered by the key details, images, and feelings of the dream. Making notes of the “associations” that “pop-up” will give you valuable insights into the message of the dream. Please see Part 2 and 3 of this series for more details, or send me a note with your questions.
What is important to remember is this: The dream is about the dreamer’s current life. The message of the dream is closely related to some event, issue, feeling, fear, wish, or drive in the dreamer’s current life and concerns and deepest emotional structure.
The key to any dream is to understand that the dream is essentially a commentary and replay of something in the dreamer’s recent past, or a portrayal of a concern the dreamer has about their near or long-term future. On one level, as confusing as dream imagery may be, at the core, each dream is about some issue or practical concern that is very personal to the dreamer. In my own language, the primary method I use for dream interpretation is based on Jung’s initial method of dream interpretation.
The second method of Jungian dream interpretation is the “amplification” of the dream. In this approach key images of the dream are compared with images from ancient myths, fairy tales, and folk stories from various historical periods of human history.
The goal is to see how these links to myths or fairy tales from the world’s cultures “amplify” the meaning or evocative power of the dream imagery.
This is a very creative idea and I believe it conforms to Jung’s views that deeper and deeper layers of a dream’s meaning are linked to older and older periods of human history. The limit I am running into with studying this method is this: I can only begin to imagine how much research it would take to determine how much of this is true as compared with how much may simply be a very imaginative and colorful idea.
What I can say is this. In my experience, some dreams I have present images which are highly symbolic in nature and deeply surreal in tone. Also, these images, are drawn from very different historical periods other than the one in which we live now.
From these experiences I can conjecture that Jung’s “amplification” process may be highly relevant.
The problem in general is this. No one will dispute that Jung was one of the most educated and brilliant people of the 20th century. The problem is he did not present the second method of his approach to dream interpretation, with his accompanying theory of the Archetypes, in a clear and systematic way. Also, there is a very real possibility his ideas are based in part on the evolutionary biology of Lamarck. Lamarck offered competitor theories on evolution to Darwin’s theories in the late 19th century. Lamarck’s theories have been, at least in part, discredited since then.
In short it is difficult to sort out which of Jung’s ideas are drawn from methodical, empirical investigation as compared with those which are simply the florid imaginations of a gifted, original thinker.
This is not to say it may not be very helpful to compare certain vivid and numinous images in dreams to medieval, or ancient images, or fairy tales or myths drawn from cultures in the far corner of the world.
What I am saying is for now I cannot be sure of any way to really evaluate Jung’s process of “amplification.” But I believe it is a subject worthy of ongoing study.
Do you have strong opinions for or against Jungian dream interpretation? If so, please send a note along. All constructive comments will be posted.
Will Raymond Author or “The Simple Path of Holiness”, host of Meditationpractice.com
will at meditation practice dot com ( spelled out to limit spam)