When going through the individuation process, dreams can play a vital role in uncovering the Self. In this episode, we focus on the final stage of Individuation and using your dreams for self-realization to let go of the ego and embrace a higher purpose. We discuss:
- Carl Jung’s perspective on the True Self
- How dreams can relate to the Self
- An archetypal dream interpretation
- Interpreting dreams symbolically vs literally
Debra Maldonado 00:27
Hello, welcome back to Soul Sessions. This is Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado with CreativeMind. We’re so excited to end our series on dreams. Not excited, but this last episode is juicy. It’s about dreams and the self, the last stage of individuation. This is where all the big magic happens in our lives. Before we dive in, I do want to ask you to please subscribe to our channel so you can get every episode of Soul Sessions. Here we’re talking about our favorite topic: individuation and dreams.
Robert Maldonado 01:04
Thank you to all of you who submitted dreams. Incredible, beautiful dreams. We promise to treat them with respect, with kindness, and give you some insight, if we can, on them. We talked about shadow dreams and how dreams play into our shadow work. We talked about how dreams help us through the integration of the animus, or for men, the anima. The third stage of individuation takes us into the self. There’s various ways of defining the self. But Jung narrowed it down to the idea that if you consider that we’re more than our conscious mind, more than our conscious waking awareness, there’s a deep unconscious mind. If you put it all together, both conscious and unconscious, not only the personal unconscious in the Freudian sense but the collective unconscious—
Debra Maldonado 02:15
When we say unconscious, it’s not in a coma. Our conscious mind is not conscious of it. It’s very much alive. All this soup of universal power and the collective psyche that we can’t see on an everyday level. It’s everything.
Robert Maldonado 02:38
The totality of that is the self, the totality of both the conscious mind and the unconscious mind put together is what Jung defined as the self. In Eastern philosophy, the self is described slightly different, but it has similarities.
Debra Maldonado 02:57
It’s like in my book, Like a Spark from Fire, the spark and the fire are the same substance. It’s just different in name and form. If you look at everyone in the world, every situation in the world, all the items in the world, they’re all made up of the same stuff. They’re just shaped and look in different forms, but on the pure level it’s all a part of the self, and then we are that self. We’re connected to all of that. We want to discover that self-actualization, that means to realize we’re the self, we’re not the ego.
Robert Maldonado 03:34
In 2024, we hope to have Swami Tyagananda join us for a podcast, we’ll ask him about the self in Advaita Vedanta. He’s a monk of the Ramakrishna order, he’s studied Eastern philosophy deeply, so he will be able to enlighten us on that. For now, the self, according to Jung, is the totality of our psyche, both conscious and unconscious.
Debra Maldonado 04:06
Not our personal psyche, but everything that exists.
Robert Maldonado 04:12
Individuation is the letting go of our over identification with a persona and moving towards the center of ourselves and identifying as the self, the larger self, the true self.
Debra Maldonado 04:30
He often calls it circumambulation. In our Western world, we think of personal development as stages and levels, like a staircase or a linear process. This is actually a circumambulation, which means we’re getting pieces of ourselves and constantly working toward the center. A good analogy of this is every fable, every superhero myth about the ordinary person discovering their magic and having universal powers. They were just an ordinary person, then they realized they had these special powers and were able to do incredible things in acting outside of their own personal needs for the greater good of all. That’s ultimately, as a human being, what we hope to achieve in our lifetime, get the ego out of our selfish desires and be a representative of something greater in us expressing itself in the world.
Robert Maldonado 05:26
It’s a journey. We see in Jungian psychology this idea of integration, meaning that we’re collecting the pieces of our psyche that have been fragmented throughout time or just through experience. We’ve never really considered those things as part of who we are. Through this process of growing our awareness, personal development of looking inward, as he says, taking that journey inward and really trying to understand who we really are, we start to gather those pieces and integrate them.
Debra Maldonado 06:07
Part of it is also this non-judgment toward our past, toward our emotions, toward other people and more of a self-acceptance on a deeper level and a non-attachment to how our ego wants things to play out. We move into a greater place of existence, of expression. It’s a beautiful thing. We see ourselves as a force of nature and not a flaw in nature.
Robert Maldonado 06:35
The idea of individuation, of identifying with the soul in us, as some would put it, connects us to the universe. As individuals, we start to lose our limited identity. We don’t lose our mind, because we still need it, but we see it in the right context. It’s an instrument, it’s a part of the way the self, the larger self that expresses itself in the world through us, where we’re representatives, or one piece of that higher self. But the self is privy to, it’s connected to, it’s the essence and the source of where the universe comes from, how it arises, how it’s created. It’s leading to the non-dual awareness. It’s connecting us to everything. Everything I’m seeing, everything I’m experiencing, is the self. Therefore, if I am the self as well, then everything I’m seeing is myself as well. It’s the ability to be in harmony with the universe.
Debra Maldonado 07:55
It’s much needed in the world right now. This is why we have wars, because we’re projecting onto each other. That’s why there’s discord in relationships and people acting out of ego, out of desperation, out of fear, when if we knew that we’re the self and that other person is basically another aspect, we have that connection, the world would be a more harmonious place. We need to do our own work in order to change the world. I love this stage of individuation, because it’s like you’re throwing away all those childish, egotistical desires. You’re not giving up what you want in life, but it’s not coming from ego, it’s not coming from compensation, or competition. It’s coming from “I just feel like expressing this”, and it’s a beautiful place to be. It’s like getting your ego to step aside and allowing this greater nature to be expressed through you. It’s a beautiful thing to witness in yourself. How do dreams play a role in this?
Robert Maldonado 08:58
Jung noticed that in history, if you look at other cultures, historical documents, and just folklore and mythology, dreams have always had that part to play in human affairs, and the messages that God would send to human beings was through dreams. The dream was the prophecy in a way. It was a way to hear the voice of God, or the gods because not all cultures were monotheistic. The Greeks and Romans had a pantheon of gods, in India you see many gods. How did these gods communicate with human beings? Often through dreams, through visions, through the symbols that come in the night. It’s been a powerful force in shaping human culture and history. Jung was after developing a psychology that accounted for that. Not necessarily that he believed that we should go back to some pre-state.
Debra Maldonado 10:17
Put our Western mind into some other culture. It’s more of how we make it a part of our culture as a modern man.
Robert Maldonado 10:28
His idea was that because we don’t evolve that fast, we’re not going to lose that need that we have to connect to the cosmos through the gods or through the deities. It’s not going to drop off because now we’re focusing on technology, that need is going to be there. If it’s not fulfilled, if it’s not paid attention to, it’s going to work against us. This is an idea in Eastern philosophy as well. If you don’t attend to the self, the self acts as an enemy towards you.
Debra Maldonado 11:11
It feels like an enemy to the ego, shaking up my life, I have everything in order, you’re bringing this crazy thing, interfering. But it’s the self coming to move you along and shake things up on purpose. From the ego’s perspective, it feels like the enemy.
Robert Maldonado 11:29
You’re going to be out of harmony with the true self in you. You’re going to be living only a partial existence and thinking it’s going to give you everything you need to be satisfied and whole. It can’t give you that because it’s only a small piece. Our persona, our ego, our individual existence is only a fraction of that.
Debra Maldonado 11:54
There’s so much more to us. Most people live their lives on the surface, having small human problems tear them down. We have to tap into something bigger than us. What typically happens in cultures is that they’d project that power onto a deity. They’d project that power externally, in order to deal with life.
Robert Maldonado 12:19
The deities, especially in the Eastern philosophy, were used to focus that sense of the higher self in an individual symbol or form. Krishna essentially represented the higher self, pure awareness of the universe. That way the human side of us can easily communicate, access, and conceptualize the self instead of just thinking of it in the abstract form. It’s a hard concept to hold in mind. But when you have a deity, a symbol that represents the self, it’s easier. You can meditate on it, you can conceptualize it, relate to it as well.
Debra Maldonado 13:11
The ego is the limited self. There’s limitations, it’ll only take you so far. We also have our self-concept, which boxes this in. Then the big self is this unlimited self, there’s pure potential. Like Buddha or Jesus or all these deities. They created miracles in a way, it felt like a miracle because they had special powers. We have them, we just don’t use them. If we expand our mind beyond the ego, beyond the persona, and individuate, we get to access the powerful, amazing awesomeness of all of who we are.
Robert Maldonado 14:46
What do dreams have to do with this? We’d like to present a dream along with our discussion, to give it some practicality because many of you have had these types of dreams. Perhaps you didn’t know what it’s talking about. This isn’t a typical dream of the self. But we see some archetypal elements that point to the self here.
Debra Maldonado 15:16
Archetypal is images and symbols of universal patterns.
Robert Maldonado 15:22
Jung always emphasizes that the mandala is the perfect symbol of the self. This isn’t a mandala dream, though. For those of you that have had mandala dreams, those are definitely dreams of the self. But this is more of what we were talking about on our last episode, the animus taking more of the father archetypal element to it. This dreamer is a person who is undergoing individuation. She’s working hard to look at herself and understand her deeper connection with all aspects of her psyche. Her unconscious has given her a particular dream that encapsulates where she is at this moment. “In the dream, my grandfather — the grandfather, of course, is the archetype of God, it’s the great father, it’s the archetype of God. How do people think about God in monotheistic religions? They often think of God as a Father, Father spirit. She says there was one in dream, my grandfather and Rumi, the poet, who we can think of as the muse or, in this case, as her muse by her connection to poetry and the spirit. “The grandfather and Rumi walked me to a boat one night. I got into the boat, the ocean was dark. I ended up somewhere that was all white and blue ocean. A baby passed by on the surface of the ocean, I grabbed it. Then there was a white horse, my grandfather told me to get on and pointed towards a white castle as it being my home. The horse took me there with the baby. Inside the white castle, in the center of the main room, was an open book. My grandfather and Rumi appeared again.” The great father, the spirit, the animus in her now has become closer to that great spirit, the essence of God, which is often a symbol of self. In Eastern philosophy, we know the atman, which is the individual soul, is identical to the brahman, to the divine cosmic self.” These two are the same. The grandfather is equal to the soul, which is equal to the higher self. Rumi is also an aspect of the animus as the muse, the bringer of inspiration. They both walk her to a boat. What does the boat remind you of?
Debra Maldonado 18:34
It’s movement, a journey. The ocean being dark is the night sea journey that Jung talks about, going into the unconscious. The ocean of consciousness, the boat is a navigational tool to go on the ocean of consciousness.
Robert Maldonado 18:49
This is an archetypal dream, almost all the symbols that appear here are archetypal.
Debra Maldonado 18:57
Non-personal, except the grandfather comes in a personal form, but with everything else in the dream, she’s not working on shadow work here. She’s working on something that’s much more grand.
Robert Maldonado 19:09
She’s off on the boat, she’s entering the sphere of the unconscious, she’s no longer on land. Now she’s in the collective unconscious. The ocean is white and blue. White and blue are both colors associated with spirituality. She’s in the realm not only of a deeper aspect of the psyche, but she’s in the realm of spirituality.
Debra Maldonado 19:38
When I saw that it turned to blue and white, it was the transformation, the darkness became light, the unconscious that we can’t see is now coming to consciousness and everything’s clear. The sky and the clarity. White is purity in spirit.
Robert Maldonado 19:55
Another symbol of self is the baby. There’s a baby floating on the water. This is, of course, a vision, a dream. She plucks it out of the water. Now the symbol of the baby represents the birth, or rebirth on the self. She’s been reborn through this journey she’s undertaking. It’s a summation of her individuation process. As she undergoes transformation, as she ventures into the collective unconscious, the new self is found.
Debra Maldonado 20:35
Would you say this is maybe more of where she’s going versus where she is? Because it’s showing the whole journey. There’s work to do to get there.
Robert Maldonado 20:47
This is a particular aspect of the unconscious mind, it doesn’t operate on the space-time continuum that we experience in our waking life. In the unconscious, there is no before, present, and future, it’s more of that infinite moment.
Debra Maldonado 21:09
We can have a dream like that, even though we’re still doing shadow work. Because it’s showing us different stages of where we can be, because we’re multifaceted. We’re not in one time and space at the same time, but we’re always evolving. All the facets of us, some personal and some collective, we are experiencing it all at once. But we usually only see a little bit at a time because it’d be overwhelming to see all the facets of us and all the layers of our consciousness.
Robert Maldonado 21:39
That’s a good way to put it. Also individuation, as Jung formulated, helps us make sense of this aspect of the unconscious. It’s giving us a very different picture of what reality is that’s not based on that space time continuum. How do we make sense of that? Through the individuation process. It’s a way that we structure our relationship with the unconscious so that it becomes practical for us, then we’re able to use it. The baby is a significant aspect of the dream. Another archetype was a white horse. The horse, especially in this context, this is also a particular aspect of dream interpretation that you can’t read symbols independent of their context. In this context, the white horse reads as her animus, her totem power, playing a big role in the process of her becoming her self.
Debra Maldonado 22:51
It’s being supported, because we tend to think, our ego feels like it needs to fix everything, analyze on the cognitive level. And this is like, this is happening. It’s a supportive force that’s guiding and taking like the currents under the sea, it’s operating unconsciously, having that will to move what’s on the surface.
Robert Maldonado 23:16
The grandfather points her to the white castle, as being her new home. The royal self is the Lion King. Those kind of mythologies.
Debra Maldonado 23:33
You realize you’re the king, or that you have the powers, you were born with this magnificence.
Robert Maldonado 23:40
They point to this connection, in ancient myths and ancient cultures the king and the queen were representatives of the divine. They weren’t ordinary people. They were vessels of the divine. Where do they live? They live in the castle, the home of the divine on Earth. The grandfather is pointing to the castle, this is your new home, this is the new self that you’re going to live in. As she goes there, the book of life for her, she interpreted as being the Quran, and rightly so, for her and her culture that she grew up in, the Quran was the book of life, the word of the divine. In symbolic form, it represents the book of life where the names of the people that individuate or that undergo transformation are written. She finds her name in there, that’s the symbolic form that the unconscious is pointing her in through all these symbols towards her new identification as the self.
Debra Maldonado 24:59
Versus her self-concept as the persona ego. It’s taking what’s your inheritance as this true self. I know some people have dreams like this that I work with. They’re still doing shadow work but they have this dream and think “I guess I’m done with shadow work, I’m now the self, I’m having all these dreams”, but we always have to know there’s layers and layers, we’re working on many layers of ourselves at the same time. But this is more like getting closer or where you’re going than you don’t have to do shadow work anymore. It’s just showing you how the story ends, basically, it gives you a little preview.
Robert Maldonado 25:43
It has a lot to do with what your purpose on the waking stage of life is. We know people take vows and abandon or renounce the world and go live in a monastery and focus their whole life on the spiritual aspect. Most of us don’t, we have to stay in our everyday life. She’s one of the people that are staying in their everyday life. The idea of them becoming the self isn’t necessarily dropping what they’re doing with their limited mind, their temporal limited self has to remain in the world and continue to function. Therefore this dream of becoming the self means the realization of what her true nature is is at hand.
Debra Maldonado 26:43
With these dreams we have a direct experience, it gives you a knowing that you wouldn’t have just by reading a book or someone saying, “You’re unlimited, you can do whatever you want.” You have this direct experience in a very symbolic, numinous way. These dreams a lot of times are numinous, they have a magical quality. Then you’re like, “There has to be something more than this ego.” A lot of times they play a role in letting you know that individuation is the path you should be on. We’ve had people have these type of dreams right before they start our coach training or one of our coaching programs. They’ll have a dream like this, you’re on the right track, individuation is really where your path is leading you. It’s a preview for what’s ahead. The numinous feeling is something you can anchor in and have a sense of what it feels like to be the self versus the ego. You can compare. That’s what I like about it.
Robert Maldonado 27:49
Also, the time and space are transcended in the unconscious mind. It doesn’t distinguish between where we were ten years ago and where we are now. In the self, everything has happened already. Therefore, this person is already and has always been the self. It’s expressing that in the dream.
Debra Maldonado 28:12
On the ego level, they may still be whatever their stage is in individuation, then there’s a potential that’s already been realized. It’s getting your conscious mind caught up to what you already know. Again, Hercules going down to earth, being raised by these farmers, not realizing that he’s a god. There’s a lot of mythology around that. It’s that same message over and over again: remember who you are.
Robert Maldonado 28:40
Dreams speak that mythological symbolic language. Therefore, we don’t interpret them literally, we interpret them symbolically.
Debra Maldonado 28:53
It doesn’t mean you’re gonna have a baby or the baby’s coming in. There’s some precognitive dreams, we talked about that in previous episodes. But these dreams are big dreams you’ll never forget. They’re really profound. They feel like they’re not about your human life. They feel transcendent in a way. As we end our series, we really appreciate you all sticking with us and learning about dreams. It’s a really fascinating technique that you can learn for yourself, but also as a coach, if you’re interested in coaching. We train our coaches in dream interpretation. if this sounds interesting to you, definitely look up our coach training program. We always have a cohort happening every few months. We’d love to see you in this type of work you want to do. It’s really profound and interesting, it’s never a dull moment.
Robert Maldonado 29:47
It’s not a lost art, but it’s an art, there’s very few people now that carry on the tradition of this art form of dream interpretation. We certainly encourage people to continue to learn and use it, especially if you’re a coach helping others through their self-transformation, the power of the unconscious, the messages coming through the unconscious to help them in the individuation process is incredibly powerful.
Debra Maldonado 30:27
There’s only so much you can get on a cognitive level of asking questions, maybe visualizing, all those things. But when you work with dreams, it gives you so much more information both you and the client aren’t conscious of. It brings an extra element of the secret code that’s operating underneath that you can access. The clients love it because they learn to interpret their dreams. In between coaching calls, they learn about themselves. It’s fascinating. Did you know my grandmother used to read dreams? My mother told me this about a year ago. Grandma used to have a dream dictionary. She’d always interpret people’s dreams. Then my mother had it. It’s part of the feminine inheritance in my family. The women in my family have that. It’s no accident that I met you, now we’re doing dream interpretation.
Robert Maldonado 31:19
She’s Irish, the Irish have a strong literary and mythological tradition, which includes dream interpretation.
Debra Maldonado 31:30
It’s been a great series, our last show of the season, we’ll be back next year 2024, with some new great content for you, new shows. As always, if you have questions, post them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you and what you want to learn about. Share with us, say “Could you do an episode on this or that?” We’d love to hear. Welcome to our community if you’re new, enjoy these deep conversations.