by Gerald N. Epstein, M.D.
16 East 96 Street, Suite 1A
New York, N.Y. 10128
(212) 369-5646 (fax)
NOTE OF INTRODUCTION -- Gerald Epstein, a physician and author, is a leading expert in the field of mind-body medicine and mental imagery. He lives and has his practice in New York City.
Among other posts, he is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. He has completed many research studies, one of the latest being a study (funded by the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine) of cures of bronchial asthma by using mental imagery.
Dr. Epstein has selected the term IMAGINETICS to identify his approach to healing -- an approach based in the teachings of Western metaphysical and spiritual traditions. His school of thought sees the mind, body and spirit as an integral whole.
He directs three educational divisions of IMAGINETICS in which he trains health care professionals and teaches the public:
THE BLUE GATE WISDOM SCHOOL offers courses to the public in Western spiritual teachings.
THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR MENTAL IMAGERY is a postgraduate training center for mental health care professionals, the Institute being chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.
THE DIVISION OF PROFESSIONAL TRAINING consists of programs in mental imagery and IMAGINETICS for health care providers.
His published books are:
WAKING DREAM THERAPY (Human Sciences Press, 1981);
STUDIES IN NON-DETERMINISTIC PSYCHOLOGY (Human Sciences Press, 1980; Republished AKMI Press, 1992);
HEALING VISUALIZATIONS (Bantam, 1991);
HEALING INTO IMMORTALITY (Bantam, 1994)
We are grateful for Dr. Epstein's kind
permission to reproduce his paper with the stipulation that copyright and
all other rights are reserved to him. For additional information, please
be in touch with Dr. Epstein at the addresses included in his paper. (Ingo
Topical Area: Consciousness phenomenology, right hemisphere of the brain, consciousness synthesis
Key Words: Waking dream, mental imagery, imagination, imaginal, spectrum of consciousness
A general information background is provided from which a program of healing and discovery of inner powers based on mental imagery has proven successful after thirty years of clinical experience. Distinctions are discussed between the deterministic approach associated with the linear logic of the left hemisphere of the brain, and the non-deterministic approach which incorporates the powerful imaginatory faculties of the right hemisphere. A framework is outlined for the reincorporating of the non-deterministic, non-linear aspects of the holistic human that restores synchronization of spirit, mind and body and re-opens access to larger effective transcendental powers via important processes of imagination.
The term IMAGINAL is noted in the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language as first used circa 1647 in the following context: "That inward life's the impresse imaginall Of Nature's Art."
A closely associated term, was IMAGINATORY, noted in print in 1618 in the context of: "The Dreamings ... which have entered and centered themselves in thy Imaginatory Mind."
The term IMAGINATION is found in English at about 1340 in the context of forming a mental concept of what is not actually physically present to the senses. Circa 1509, IMAGINATION was defined as "The creative faculty of the mind in its highest aspect; the power of framing new and striking intellectual conceptions."
Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines IMAGINATION as "The power or faculty of the mind by which it conceives and forms ideas of things communicated to it by the organs of the senses." The 1967 version of Webster's carries this same definition.
In most contemporary dictionaries, IMAGINAL (adjective) is defined as "of or relating to imagination or to images or imagery." The needs of researchers of the faculties of imagination have required the introduction of The IMAGINAL as a noun, and which refers to all processes of imagination.
IMAGINATION and IMAGINAL are often confused with ILLUSION, defined as "the state or fact of being intellectually deceived or misled; a misleading image presented to the vision; sensory perception to which wrong interpretation is attached." Attributing the definition of ILLUSION to IMAGINATION or the IMAGINAL is therefore spurious.
During modern times, the tendency arose to consider the phenomena of "Dreamings" as separate from the phenomena of "imagination." Organized research into the imaginatory and imaginal faculties began in the 1920s, and has confirmed that dreams and imagination are similar and purposeful components of human imaginal faculties.
A great event of Western psychology in this century took place in 1900 when Freud published THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS. He attempted to demonstrate that the dream had a significant relationship in the chain of mental life within an individual's experience.
This was part of his overall approach, which set out to explain the nature of human mental functioning and to unearth why we behave as we do.
Since then much elaboration of Freud's formation
has taken place within the psychodynamic tradition. The efficacy of this
tradition relies on the primacy of the spoken word. In this concept, the
contents of the linear thought components of consciousness strung together
by spoken words are seen as the key to unlocking the mysteries of our emotional
land mental life.
Against this concept, the components of non-linear thought exemplified by imagination were not incorporated into Western psychology.
After an absence of some 400 years, however, an
earlier non-linear model to explain the nature of mental functioning based
in imagination is being reintroduced into Western therapeutics.
The stimulus for this movement has been the discoveries of those functions connected with the activity of the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain, elaborated quite admirably by neurological researchers like Sperry (1973), Gazzinga (1965, 1977), and Bogen (1969) among the others.
They discovered the presence of discrete activity
in patients whose corpus callosum had been severed, leaving the two cerebral
hemispheres unconnected by the intercalating and interconnecting channels
that normally characterize the anatomy of an intact brain.
It was noted that the right cerebral hemisphere in the patients operated independently of the left cerebral hemisphere in consistently characteristic ways suggesting that this hemisphere mediates visual and imagery and imaginal events for the human organism.
David Galin succinctly summarized these findings
in 1974. He indicated that the two cerebral hemispheres perform separate
cognitive functions. When they are surgically disconnected, they operate,
as he put it, as "two separate conscious minds in one head . . . they
are different not duplicate minds because of their specialized functions."
Putting aside the metaphysical question of whether
the mind is completely located in the head, the service that Galin performed
was to bring some respectability and necessary attention to the visual function
as an event important in its own right; and to point out that visual perception
may operate according to its own laws, which differ from those that pertain
to linear logic.
With this in mind, I attempt in this paper to establish
imagination as an essential link in the chain of mental life that can help
to enrich our physical, emotional, and spiritual life. And I shall introduce
a process called "waking dream" for gaining access to this important
Both imagination and waking dream need to be defined since Western culture disbelieves in the vital reality of imagination and is uninformed of the function regarding waking dream processes.
In common western usage, "imagination"
means the formation of mental image which is neither real nor present. It
is often used as synonymous with fantasy similarly perceived as having little
to do with the "real" world.
But this has not always been the case. In 1976,
Carol McMahon illustrated how imagination served a very real function in
Western life in general and western medicine in particular, which had been
holistic prior to the advent of dualistic Cartesian thought in the 17th
century. McMahon writes:
"Among the faculties of the soul were sensation,
reason, digestion, and imagination. The lattermost was a major theoretical
variable in human physiopathology. The theory of imagination-produced disease
reached in zenith in Renaissance medical treatises, where its implications
for diagnosis, prognostication and therapy were fully elaborated. Although
the conceptualization of imagination as causal in altering bodily functions
antedated Aristotle, it was his formulation which became the received view
of the Renaissance.
"It was this soul which accounts for the
historical greatness of psychological medicine. When Descartes (1596-1650)
redefined soul as "immaterial substance" or "mind,"
imagination's role in the disease process was irrevocably taken from it.
An era ensued in which the existence of "mental illness" was
denied. How, it was asked, could an "immaterial substance" possibly
"We have failed to profit from the accomplishments
of our early predecessors because of a discontinuity in the history of
medicine. In the pre-Cartesian era, medicine was invariably holistic or
psychosomatic. In the post-Cartesian dualistic era, mechanistic physiopathology
gained ascendancy, and psychophysiological events were forbidden on logical
Before Descartes, imagination was thought to reside in the ventricles of the brain and to be the regulator of visual phenomena, which encompassed dreams and hallucinations as well as emotions.
The individual who was treated for physical and emotional disorders was given exercises that involved his visualization capacity. An object might appear to the individual during these exercises.
In waking life, the individual would then acquire
such an object to wear as a talisman or amulet, to remind him of the discoveries
he made by utilizing his imagination about himself and his disturbances.
He was thereby able to sustain the influence of imagination in his everyday
life and live this continuity between imaginal and waking life.
It is interesting that activity associated with
imagination was located in the brain. Current investigation of right hemispheric
activity has accorded this hemisphere of the brain the function of mediating
activity of the imagination.
This activity is a NONRATIONAL thought process dealing with gestaltic perception.
Significantly, the right cerebral hemisphere is connected with functions of the left side of the body, which is the location of the heart. Numerous cultures, including the Hebraic and the ancient Egyptian (Schwaller de Lubicz, 1977) and the North American Indian (Se'journe', 1976) call imagination and holistic perception the "intelligence of the heart."
In Eastern philosophy and life there is no question about the reality of imagery and imagination.
There has always been an acceptance of the value, power and function of the image. One of the reasons for this acceptance derives from the general philosophy of life that informs oriental cultures.
Briefly, one fundamental premise of oriental philosophy
is expressed by the phrase "I am." By extension, therefore, everything
is. If everything is (that is, has an existence), then imagination has an
In contrast, the major premise of post-Cartesian
Western philosophy is "I think, therefore I am" - making the rational
thought process the yardstick by which all thought is measured.
Instead of being troubled by the imaginal, Far
Eastern cultures accepted its validity and were then free to explore its
nature experientially. By doing so, they could learn a lot about the human
existence and establish ways of integrating imaginal life into the everyday
practice of living.
Some of those cultures most notably having a great
affinity for the imaginal are the Chinese, Tibetan, and Islamic.
In particular, Tibetan Buddhism makes striking use of the imagination.
In Tibetan practice, one turns away for a time from the external world of concrete reality and attempts to turn one's senses inward, there to find other levels of consciousness, each populated by its particular inhabitants.
There one encounters "other worldly creatures" of various kinds. There is a recognition (re-cognition - a knowing again of what was known before ) of the essential unity of all existence and a corresponding diminution of the personal "I".
These imaginal recognitions are graphically and
vividly portrayed in Tibetan art works called Tangka. There the entire panoply
of psychological life is etched against the background of the sacred (symbolically
displayed) with which it forms an indelible unity.
Again, these realms of consciousness imaginally perceived and experienced, are viewed as perfectly real and imbued not only with great meaning, but also with tremendous influence over the conduct of everyday life.
Moving further West, but still remaining in the
Orient, we come upon the imagination in the context of Judaism and its close
The backbone of Jewish life is the Torah. The Torah
embraces both the law and its historical and cultural tradition that govern
the daily behavior as well as spiritual and esoteric knowledge about the
nature of reality.
This esoteric form of knowledge is called Kabbalah. It is within this context that Rabbi Akiba in the first century, utilizing a form of spiritual work called "throne mysticism," traveled through mental spheres called "palaces" where visual imaginal experiences would ensue.
Also, in the thirteenth century, Abraham Aboulafia used imagination exercises to visualize letters of the Hebrew alphabet seeing them turn into various forms.
But unlike other great cultures, such as the Chinese,
Japanese, Indian, and Amerindian, which have achieved an integration of
these two forms to enrich and enhance every day life, Judaism for many reasons
has in many ways stressed the cultural and historical, or legal and ethical,
aspects of its traditions at the expense of the imaginal.
Our medieval and Renaissance predecessors as well seemed to have had an intuitive awareness of the meaningfulness of the imaginative function which connects the heart with the brain.
Writing in 1972, Henry Corbin, one of the leading
Western scholars of Islamic thought, wrote:
"In other words, if in French (and in English)
usage we equate the IMAGINARY [author's emphasis] with the unreal, the
utopian, this is undoubtedly symptomatic of something that contrasts with
an order of reality which I call the MUNDUS IMAGINALIS, and which the theosophers
of Islam designate as the "eighth clime." After a brief outline
of THIS OTHER REALITY [my emphasis], we shall discuss the organ which perceives
it, i.e. imaginative consciousness, COGNITIVE IMAGINATION [my emphasis]"
"... the world of the image, the MUNDUS IMAGINALIS:
a world that is ontologically as real as the world of the senses and that
of the intellect. This world requires its own faculty of perception, namely,
imaginative power, a faculty with a cognitive function, a NOETIC [author's
emphasis] value which is as real as that of sense perception or intellectual
Writing in 1965, H. H. Price, an English philosopher,
elegantly affirms the real existence of the imaginal world:
"Paradoxical as it may sound there is nothing
imaginary about a mental image. It is an actual entity, as real as anything
can be. The seeming paradox arises from the ambiguity of the verb `to imagine.'
It does sometimes mean `to have mental images.' But more usually it means
`to entertain propositions without believing them'; and very often they
are false proposition, and moreover we disbelieve them in the act of entertaining
them. This is what happens, for example, when we read Shakespeare's play
THE TEMPEST, and that is why we say Prospero and Ariel are `imaginary characters.'
Mental images are not in this sense imaginary at all. We do actually experience
them, and they are no more imaginary than sensations.
"To avoid the paradox, though at the cost
of some pedantry, it would be well to distinguish between imagining and
imaging, and to have two different adjectives `imaginary' and `imagy'.
... Indeed, to those who experienced it, an image-world would be just as
`real' as the present world is . . ." 
Prior to the advent of the Cartesian revolution in Western thought, imagination was valued highly and its reality unquestioned.
If fact, it was regarded as THE major approach to the treatment of physical and emotional disorders.
Then Descartes came along and said, among other
things, that imagination is "unreal" because it is not amenable
to rational comprehension.
The acceptance of Cartesian assumptions profoundly affected Western medicine and psycho-therapy - both of which have since valued empirical experience and linear thought above all.
As yet there has been no systematic attempt to
correct this imbalance. The very first requirement is that we attempt to
correct the distorted semantic appreciation of the terms IMAGINATION, IMAGINAL,
IMAGE and IMAGERY.
As H. Corbin astutely pointed out:
"[The term] Imaginary from Latin usage is equated with what is `unreal' ... something outside of being and existing ... Contrast this to the IMAGINAL REALM ... A LIVED EXPERIENCE IN SPACE; A SPACE THAT TRANSCENDS CONCRETE LOCATION AND DEFIES MEASURABILITY [emphasis mine]. This space provides the link for levels or planes of realities which also quite naturally remove us from the dimension of time that is measured by the movement of the clock ... A mode of existence whose act of being is an expression of its presence in these worlds ... The image world is ontologically real and as real as the world of the senses. It uses its own faculty of perception - namely, imaginative power having a noetic value. Ontologically, imagination is a function of the imaginal realm and is more immaterial than the sensible world ... In the realm of analogical knowledge, Imagination is the vehicle that allows penetration from outside to inside. 
Regarding the Western rediscovery of the imaginal,
a little noticed trend in the treatment of emotional disturbance began to
emerge in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.
By that time, the teachings of Freud and other
psychoanalysts had been so deeply assimilated in Europe and elsewhere that
little attention was paid to the work of individual therapists in Germany
and France who practiced independently and in isolation.
They sought to incorporate into their treatment
both the practical mental discipline of meditation as well as an understanding
of the prevailing concepts of psychodynamics.
The aim was to introduce notions of Eastern psychology into a Western cultural tradition.
The important contributors have been Carl Happich
(1965), Robert Desoille (1966), Wolfgang Kretschmer (1965), Hanscarl Leuner
(1969, 1975), Roberto Assagioli (1965), C. G. Jung (1954), and Henri Caslant.
Carl Happich and Robert Desoille both evolved their
techniques in the 1930s. Of the two, Desoille had been the more prolific
writer - but most of his writing has not been translated from French.
Desoille called his method "REVE EVEILLE DIRIGE
(or "directed waking dream.") He devised a set of motifs - mountain,
cave, meadow, and so on - which he asked the patient to explore via mental
Leuner attempted to enlarge Desoille's method by
increasing the number of motifs originally described by Desoille. Leunner's
technique, which he called "guided affective imagery (GAI)), uses ten
motifs, one of which is suggested to the patient, who lies on a couch.
In his report published in English (1975), Leuner provided some data on the outcome of cases where patients were evaluated before and after the use of guided affective imagery.
This group was compared to a control group being
treated for the same manifest symptoms, but without the use of GAI.
His data appeared to demonstrate that the symptoms abate significantly faster with imagery work than other techniques that do not incorporate it.
None of the researchers discussed thus far mentions
any use of dream analysis that departs from, or extends, Freud's formulations.
However, Roberto Assagioli (1965) added a new device
to obtain associations from dream elements.
Basically, he would have the patient carry on a conversation with someone met in the dream - or have the patient undergo an extended imagery session beginning with an unresolved or conflictual incident from the dream.
Carl Jung also used a technique called "active
imagination," in which he would essentially ask the patient to complete
a dream that was broken off or interrupted by the dreamer's waking up.
In addition to those just mentioned, there are
a number of therapists in the United States and Europe who use some sort
of imagery technique.
Prominent in the United States is Jerome Singer.
His method, which he uses with children as well as adults, takes daydreams
as the jumping off point for exploring the patient's "inner life."
Mardi Horowitz, a psychoanalyst working in the
field of image formation, proposes an interesting thesis about human perception
of the external world. 
He suggested that all modes of perception be considered
equally valid. No one mode is held to be superior to any other in terms
of response to the precept, and conversely, no mode is held to be pathological.
He posited three fundamental modes of response to the precept: lexical, visual, and actional. He indicated that the immediate precept of the human organism vis-à-vis the external world is received as a gestalt, i.e., as a total configuration.
As this gestalt precept is mediated by the brain,
the organism will respond according to one of the three fundamental modes.
Phenomenological studies and research cannot account for all of Horowitz's
suggestions. But his contention that perception is fundamentally gestaltic
in nature has very strong support, and it is acknowledged that the tendency
to translate one mode into the "language" of the other (thereby
giving primacy to it) is essentially a learned bias.
The realization of the actuality of nonphysical
processes in a nonphysical environment allows us to recognize that we exist
IN and AS a particular mode of relatedness to whatever we encounter.
In this sense, the human "being" can
be said not only to be a vehicle for the perception of and participation
in the linear physical world, but also is a vehicle for the manifestation
of the nonlinear imaginal levels of reality.
In connection with the ontologically real world (i.e., the imaginal world) of image described by Corbin, and with the organ of perception (i.e. cognitive imagination or imaginative power) I have introduced and researched a treatment technique connected with imaginative power called WAKING DREAM THERAPY.
As the manifestation and instrument for imagination
in psychotherapy, waking dream has had, and still has, numerous proponents,
stemming back to the earliest days of this century in Europe and into America
in the present day.
Waking dream is still a term commonly used by practitioners of imagery techniques. One example has been presented by Mary Watkins in her book entitled WAKING DREAMS. 
We also find the term used by writers and poets.
In Keat's ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE we find the line: "Was it a vision or
a waking dream?"
The Irish writer George Russell (who wrote under the pseudonym of AE) describes very well the waking dream experiences that influenced and shaped his life in his book CANDLE OF VISION. 
William Blake wrote extensively about the veracity
of the imagination:
"This world of Imagination is the world of
Eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death
of the Vegetated body.
"This World of Imagination is Infinite &
Eternal, whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation, is Finite &
"There Exists in that Eternal World the Permanent
Realities of Every Thing which we see reflected in this Vegetable Glass
"All Things are comprehended in the Eternal
Forms in the divine body of the Savior, the True Vine of Eternity, The
Human Imagination ..." 
In his ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE, Keats also wrote eloquently of the imagination:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness
of the Heart's Affections and the truth of Imagination - what the imagination
seizes as Beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not - for
I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their
sublime, creative of Essential Beauty." 
Visualizing phenomena like night dreams and waking dreams are concrete manifestations of a movement of energy that flows through abstract intellection to concrete sensory experiences.
Hence, ALL visual phenomena are revelatory and need to be translated into statements about existence that include options available for fulfillment. These options include avenues or possibilities closed off from fulfillment; and pointers toward the action that must be taken to concretize the fulfillment.
The action of waking dream and its shortened version
called guided exercise not only permits the seeing of possibilities but
also the doing of possibilities, the effects of which are brought back to
concrete reality and are actively used to create one's existence.
Waking dream work suggests the importance of an
exploration of the phenomenology of space.
In waking dream, we move from the psychology of time to the phenomenology of space. We move outside of time as a linear movement (past-present-future), to the acausal, nondeterministic dimension. This is roughly analogous to Freud's idea of the "timeless unconscious," or to the quantum levels of reality in physics.
The movement outside of linear time permits a recognition
of our relationship(s) to life not apprehendable in our everyday habitual,
linear, time-oriented life.
Linear time is subsumed by space, since without the latter, the former could not exist.
The space I refer to, of course, is primary spatiality,
qualitatively real and not measurable. Secondary spatiality, or quantifiable
measurable space, falls within the larger primary spatiality.
IT IS PRIMARY SPATIALITY THAT IS IMPLICIT IN LEVELS
OF REALITY OR REALMS OF EXISTENCE. Primary spatiality allows us to be "here"
in physically measured linear time while being "there" in reverie,
fantasy, or daydream.
Our "thereness" (Heidegger, 1962) is immeasurable and nonquantifiable. If this can be recognized and accepted as a core characteristic of human existence, then our habitual relegation of these experiences to measurable time dimension in terms of being "unreal" can be overcome.
For example, night dreams are real (because they
happen), and also meaningful in many different ways. But night dreams consist
of "thereness" in nonquantifiable space, although they refer to
"hereness" in quantifiable, linear time space.
It is understood that dreams function toward holistic synthesis, either with regard to linear time problems, various psychological situations, or with regard to creativity and inventiveness.
By learning to understand the authenticity of THERENESS
space, the qualitative events experienced achieve a genuineness that is
sorely missing in contemporary human experience.
This implies the need to add new working concepts
to the term PSYCHOLOGY, which is so far understood as being applicable only
to dealing with what is analyzed, not with what is synthesized. The phenomenology
of space is concerned with movement, imagination, and description - a synthesis.
The function of imagination was put very succinctly
and clearly in 1972 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kuk:
"The perception of ontological truth is dependent upon the development of the power of imagination, A SPECIAL NON-RATIONAL FACULTY ... [my emphasis], and
"In the treasury of imagination all truth
and greatness are contained; these become manifest little by little through
the restrictive, filtering channels of reason. Our rational faculty is
but a humble disciple ... All praise is due to the vital force of our higher
imagination ... which unites with the higher Reason.
"The Power of imagination is the `chair'
of which the light of wisdom and of the higher life rest . . . The exalted
state of imagination obtains as long as man adheres to the standards of
holiness; secular imagination, on the other hand, contains only the reflected
power of the shadow (of reason) and is the source of cynicism . . ."
What does this mean for understanding the imagination and dream experience?
Among other things it means that we accept dreams
as valid and important in their own right and not necessarily to be judged
solely by the standards of waking life.
In this way the dream is accorded a position as a realm just as real as waking life. Therefore, we can replace the oft used phrase, "last night I had a dream, but in REALITY . . ." by "last night I had a dream but in WAKING LIFE . . ."
Further, we can immediately drop the ideas of latent
and manifest dream. These ideas are a product of many speculative assumptions,
among which is that the dream has no meaning by itself, but acquires meaning
only when the "life" of concrete reality is breathed into it through
the agency of associational thought.
This latter action immediately devalues and renders
inauthentic an integral part of human existence. By accepting the dream
as real, one is directed to look at what the dream reveals about us IN ITS
OWN LANGUAGE, a language that is analogical, concrete, non-linear, and directly
Dreams can be seen as a sign function that reveals
something about oneself (or others), as well as events that may take place
subsequently; or they may indicate corrective actions to take or reflect
confirmations of one's behavior.
Ordinarily in clinical work, the dream is used as a stimulus for associations and as a subject for analysis.
But this is not the only possibility. The dream
can also be EXPLORED as waking life is explored.
The essential action of waking dream therapy is
the patient's IMAGINING himself to be in the dream and CONTINUING its movement
in a WAKING STATE.
This action reveals possibilities for living that if followed through, can help free us from the restrictions we habitually live with in the concrete world.
We recognize the meaningfulness of what addresses us from our thereness realm in ways not previously available, which helps us to know what action is appropriate to be carried out in the concrete, hereness world.
In a related way, waking dream takes into account
the expression of emotion. From the perspective of phenomenology, images
are the concretizations of emotions.
Therefore, the exploration of the imaginal realm is in effect the immersing of oneself into emotion. This is in fact what is meant by "the intelligence of the heart."
By accepting these existences as real, we can begin
to accept and appreciate ALL aspects of human experiences as real without
elevating one mode as more real than another.
We no longer assume, then, that linear logical
thought is the only framework within which all human activity should be
On the contrary, we find that in the imaginal existence,
we are able to SEE with a vision not limited by the ordinary time-space
parameters of concrete reality.
This seeing allows us to "get inside" of the personal self and thus see our existence from a different, nonhabitual vantage point.
What is seen brings with it knowledge about the
individual's relationship to the concrete world and to his own biological
being, a knowledge that is unshakable and that can be used in everyday life.
It is well known that concepts, methods, and tools designed to study one set of phenomena cannot be used to study an entirely different set.
To attempt to so is scientifically unsound and
leads to rigidity of mindset and lack of appropriate understanding about
phenomena that cannot be studied by inappropriate concepts and tools.
Because the concepts and methods designed to analyze
linear thought related only to the physical world, concepts and tool appropriate
to the imaginal need to be conceived and established in their own right
Because linear thought does not contain the potential
for gestalt action it cannot help us fulfill our possibilities. Linear thought
by its very nature can only reflect the past. The future on the other hand
is by DEFINITION potential and nonexistent.
By trying to apply linear thought to the future,
we can only become more and more fragmented, since we are always applying
the past to our experience and removing ourselves from the present moment
at the same time.
From the perspective of my research in the imaginal,
the future is transformed into the present by its fulfillment through our
physical presence and physical action in the world of concrete reality.
It is cyclical because the newly transformed present simultaneously generates a new potential, a new future. Here we see how the nonmaterial world influences the material.
Let me illustrate this more concretely.
The physical carrying out of a possibility involves
three distinct acts: perceiving, apprehending, moving.
First, there is the perceiving (seeing) of the possibility.
This seeing may be linked to primary insight and implies that at the outset the perceiver is one with the perceived and UNDERSTANDS IN THAT PERCEPTION THE INHERENT MEANING OF THE PERCEIVED.
For example, calling a tree by a name means that
the general class "tree" is previously understood since otherwise
no single tree could be distinguished as such.
This means that our perceiving (e.g., seeing) goes from the general to the particular, from the overall gestalt to the particulars within it, as gestalt research has indicated. Linear thought attempts to proceed from particulars to the whole; nonlinear experiencing proceeds from the whole to the particulars.
Schematically speaking, the act of perceiving is
followed by the apprehending of a way to fulfill that perceptual possibility.
This apprehending is followed by the movement toward or away from its fulfillment. It is only IN THIS THIRD PHASE, AND NOT BEFORE, THAT WE KNOW (i.e., SENSE) OUR PHYSICAL BEING.
The second phase is thought - but thought used
appropriately to tell us HOW to fulfill a goal. What to do and when to do
is not a proper subject for thought, and is part of the third phase only,
the phase of action.
For example, I see a friend ahead of me on the
street; I DECIDE to run to catch up with him, then I RUN.
In running I become aware of my physical nature. If I do not run I am still aware of my physical nature - which at that moment is associated with not running.
If I see, apprehend, and do not act, I might be
in debt (violation?) to what has called upon me to fulfill itself. If I
do not apprehend a way to do so, I am made aware of the limitations of my
These limitations I can either accept - or once realizing their existence, can try to overcome.
It is here that one can move back into the form
of waking dream work I call GUIDED EXERCISES to seek an active way to complete
the action called forth by what is perceived.
Besides the voyage itself into the imaginal world and the living of the imaginal world in waking life, two other aspects of waking dream to mention at this point are:
The return journey from the waking dream and the role of the therapist in this work.
The traveler returns from his excursion into the
imaginal realm along the same route he used in the going. Going and returning
along the same route is consonant with the original precedent for journeying
set by the patriarch Abraham, who traveled from Chaldea throughout the Near
East to Egypt and back again by THE SAME ROUTE.
As he returned he paid homage to those he had met along the way and paid back debts to those from whom he had borrowed on the trip.
And perhaps he returned with a new perception about the things he passed on his original journey.
The therapist in waking dream therapy acts both
as an INSTRUCTOR and an ADVISOR who can give directions to the explorer
in this new spatial terrain, which is unfamiliar.
Recent investigation by psychologists who have
been able to step outside of the limits imposed by the locus of interest
of psychology (i.e., cognitive linear thinking) has allowed them to begin
to understand the importance of the functions that stand apart from rational
But not all psychologists have been able to accommodate themselves to this new locus of investigation - and therein lies a problem.
Joseph Rychlak has quite clearly stated the general
difficulty of psychology:
"Man devised his scientific methods, and he alone can adjust his thinking about how to use them most productively and usefully. PSYCHOLOGY'S PROBLEMS ARE AT HEART THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OF MAN'S USE OF INTELLECT (emphasis mine.) Before we can resolve the inner contradictions of the science of psychology, we must first revise our thinking about the nature of scientific knowledge. In doing so, we will not depart from our sister sciences, but actually come more into line with them." 
Rychlak rightly relates the problems of current psychological investigation to the intellect and to knowing as a function of intellect.
This capacity is commonly called RATIONAL PROCESS.
What also has to be considered in psychological investigations, however, is the NONRATIONAL process. Because of the prejudices within science in general and psychology in particular, the nonrational processes have been mistakenly labeled "irrational," the connotation of this label being "unreal."
Ken Wilber has made a valiant attempt to set the
record straight by pointing out how psychology by its own tenets can only
deal with logical thought processes - and therefore cannot investigate those
processes that they term "appositional," the appositional not
being within the propositional framework of syllogistic logic. 
In the framework of syllogistic logic or propositional
thought, the thought process can be described as rational or irrational
- or logical or illogical.
But those processes mediated by the right cerebral hemisphere cannot be evaluated by a terminology that applies to left hemisphere functioning alone.
The right-hemisphere processes are also called
nondeterministic because they do not exist according to the causal laws
and principles which govern linear thought. It is unwarranted, therefore,
to call the activity mediated by the right hemispheric functioning as being
irrational or illogical.
Rather, these processes must be called NONRATIONAL or NONLOGICAL.
If we acknowledge the principle that phenomena of reality embrace nonmaterial spatiality and form, we can enlarge the dimensions of human experiencing to include an acceptance of the experiences we label "aberrant" or "irrational."
Recognizing the reality of nonmaterial spatiality
and form releases us from the burden of having to sort out the "rational"
from the "irrational" and prompts us to shift toward accepting
the genuineness and authenticity of ALL experience, be it substantial or
Given the contrary habits and indoctrination of
our training, both as children and adults, this shift is painful. The new
way of looking at the nature of reality does not coincide with currently
But if the shift is attempted and the pain endured, the reward may well be worth the trouble - because you will allow yourself to see reality in a new light.
It will become less necessary to stand outside of another's existence judging the "correctness" of that existence according to your own preconceived notions about "reality."
Simply put, waking dream is the carrying out of dream life in the waking state along two distinct lines or phases.
THE FIRST LINE: The "explorer" continues
his night dream in the session and explores the elements that constitute
the dream setting or action by describing to the "instructor"
his existence as he now experiences it.
For this exploration to take place, optimally, the patient should place himself in the dream by first relaxing with his eyes closed and with noise levels diminished so that external reality is sealed out as much as possible.
Following this phase (called the induction) the
explorer is asked to imagine himself back in the dream at the point which
the explorer considers to be most significant.
He is then asked to describe what it seen, heard, and felt, as well as any other sensory experiences that might occur.
He will then begin to explore and describe the
dream existence, finding himself moving rather quickly out of that domain
into a region that is ontologically real, experienced as such - but like
the dream reality, not governed by the laws that apply to the world of concrete
It is in this realm that the individual literally
sees possibilities for his existence as well as the way to fulfill those
possibilities. He might also apprehend the possibilities that can be - but
have not yet been capable of fulfillment or even recognized as possible.
If the apprehended way is available, he then moves to fulfill that possibility through some action in that realm.
THE SECOND LINE: The above process is closely associated
with the second line of waking dream work - that of living the function
of waking dream in the world of concrete reality (or waking life).
This means that the experiencer/explorer needs
to carry out in the physical action of waking life the possibility experienced
and fulfilled in the imaginal realm.
Thus, waking dream allows us to move behind the
confines of physical reality (which is governed by its own particular laws
of causality) to another realm of perceptual reality (where physically derived
notions of time and space do not apply).
In this, waking dream is similar to another realm of perceptual reality, namely, one's sleep dream life, which is also not governed by the waking life standards of time and space.
Waking dream work suggests the importance of an exploration of the phenomenology of inner space.
This implies moving beyond the term "psychology"
as defined so far, and which is understood as being applicable only to dealing
with what is analyzed, not with what is synthesized in the entire human
being gestalt. The phenomenology of space is concerned with movement, imagination,
and description - leading to a synthesis.
The investigations of waking dream research bring
into focus the importance and functions of the nonlinear right cerebral
hemisphere, promoting an harmonization of left and right cerebral hemispheric
It is already understood that images are the concretizations
of emotions and of little-understood sensory data that are apparently processed
as a priority into images as a vital, natural inner life function. Thus,
imaginal work arouses our inner life and gives spontaneity and strength
to our daily life.
Such work prompts us to awaken to our life-giving
and creative impulses, and permits us to see that we can shape and create
our experience and hence add to the meaning of our existence.
Perhaps the most significant, and perhaps revolutionary,
finding was discovered by Mme. Colette Aboulker-Muscat in Israel, the daughter
of the celebrated neurosurgeon, Prof. Henri Aboulker, and whom today is
one of the most respected healers in Israel. Using waking dream methods,
she had helped thousands harness their inner powers. Her work has been corroborated
by my own clinical experiences.
Mme. Aboulker-Muscat's finding concerned the place
of the five basic senses by which we negotiate our way at all levels of
existing. The senses are the vehicles which take us not only through the
gates of the concrete linear world, but also through the gates into the
As paradoxical as it sounds, the organs that habitually allow us to find the world of concrete reality also allow us to find those worlds of imaginal reality.
This world of concrete reality is the actualization
of the world of the forces that physicists term "nonmaterial,"
but which is understood in quantum physics as the source of all form.
When we move from the concrete reality to the imaginal, we move from concrete form to nonmaterial form.
Such movement would not be possible without the use of the five senses. The senses take us not only into the realms of the concrete forms, but also take us through the doors to our inner life.