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We are all dreamers. We dream several times each night, and we daydream during wakefulness. Whether we are asleep or awake, our minds are natural dream-weavers, creating stories from our images and experiences. During our lifetime, we enter the dreamscape approximately 500,000 times, for a total of about 5 years; dreamless sleep claims at least 15 additional years.
Our dreams can become important to us. In this book, we will see how dreams can be integrated into our lives, such that we become more conscious, more whole, more productive, and more joyful. Dreams provide information about ourselves which we might not recognize otherwise. This self-knowledge has been one of the main emphases of religions and the modern psychologies of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud (who called dreams "the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind").
Dreams add new dimensions to our lives. For those of who are adventurous, dreams offer a new world to investigate. While our wakeful life might be reasonably interesting, the dreamscape offers an additional frontier, filled with people and activities which we would never encounter during wakefulness. Particularly if we are conscious (lucid) during our dreams, we can expand our ideas of who we are and what we can do -- whether in a silly fantasy or in a scenario designed to experience a new psychological mode.
Dreams give us the incentive and the means to study "reality." We tend to be "wakeful-centric," believing that our world revolves around our wakeful life, and that dreams are secondary or even irrelevant to wakeful reality. But our study of the dreamscape shows us that wakefulness is only a small part of our total self, and the wakeful world is only one world of many. We learn that the dreamscape is as "real" as our wakeful world -- perhaps more real in the honesty and directness (however symbolically) of the expression of our true feelings. We might even begin to experience life in the manner of Chuang Tzu and the butterfly in that famous tale: Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly. When he awoke, he wondered: was he Chuang Tzu who had dreamed of being a butterfly, or was he a butterfly who was now dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu? May your experiences be less confusing but equally thought-provoking as you explore your dreams, your identities, your realities, and your possibilities.