This is a post I created for reddit /r/dreams which you can read here: What Are Dreams?
Nearly every mammalian lifeform dreams and quite possibly every lifeform engages in a type of dreaming similar to how it experiences it’s own reality. Dreams are an important function of our sleep and even though we may not remember all of our dreams, sleep research suggests based on EEG and fMRI research into the 5 stages of sleep: REM and 4 Non-Rem [NREM] that the brain is quite active in producing dream content.
Why we don’t remember is a neurological problem that is observed again in dream research where the content of our dreams often takes place only in the short-term memory centers of the brain. The long term memory center, the hippocampus is observed active but in only allowing information to flow out and not into our long-term memory stores.
Other problems occur in the prefrontal cortex which is involved with our logical and analytical faculties. When this slows down during sleep, our dream content often takes on an illogical and abstract stream of experiences. fMRI scans of lucid dreamers show that instead of being inactive, the prefrontal cortex is quite active indicating that the person while in a lucid dream is now using these critical cognitive functions involving our logic and reason. This is also why dream content during a lucid dream often is more vivid and clear and the quality of the dream content can be more literal rather than being symbolic. Lucid dreaming is always the better focus state to have if you want to gain more control over your dream content and have a more fulfilling experience through dreaming.
When we enter sleep, the changes in brain function invokes a type of sleep induced amnesia where our waking mind is not functioning in a conscious state, rather it functions in an unconscious state during these types of amnesiac dreams. This problem with amnesia doesn’t stop at our initial dreams during sleep. When we wake up, if the short-term memory is not transferred into long-term memory the dream content collapses and we quickly forget what we dreamed about. I call this problem, “Waking induced amnesia”.
Over coming amnesia is part of our challenge as dreamers. By making an effort to record our dreams in a journal, or even just reviewing our dream content when we wake up; we build a stronger bridge in the memory relationship. After all, what good is dreaming is all you do is forget you dreamt at all?
So what is a dream? We know we have them and they become very vivid content rich experiences that represent another type of reality experience. Dreams have similar qualities to our waking reality. Dreams are often in a third-dimensional first-person point of view. Like waking reality, dreams have a duration of time were sequences of events flow from one dream frame to the next. The space we see in dreams allows us to move around and explore the dream world as if it was a functioning reality for the time we are focused in that state. How do dreams create space/time relationships in the dream content? How does the mind produce this effect during sleep?
The first fact about what dreams are can be found in what the dream content is composed of. Unlike physical reality where we have sub-atomic particles forming atoms that produce molecules and larger objects which become tangible to touch. Dreams lack any physical properties that we have come to know from the objective world. The building blocks of dreams from a physical viewpoint is non-relational. Where physical matter reality uses sub-atomic particles to describe the content of physicality, dreams use something completely different to achieve this.
The physics of dreaming derives itself from thought. Dreams are Plato’s idealism in every respect of the term as dreams use “thought-forms” by which to describe the objects, surrounding and events of the dream. So the light that we see in a dream, the colors, the textures, the sounds are all derived from a highly evolved thought process where we think in these archetypes.
Dreams simulate reality by using thought as a type of programming language which is then rendered into our first-person view so that we have this simulated dream reality. Dreams themselves are working examples of how the brain can simulate reality using thought in a very profound and incredible way. Nature has somehow evolved the perfect “virtual reality simulator” and dreams are a living example of this mechanic at work.
You can see how thoughts can take on the properties of sensory information in self-evident examples such as listening to the inner monologue of your voice as it reads this text. The faint audible sound of your voice is actually a type of thought simulating sound. If you close your eyes and visually imagine an apple. The apple that faintly appears in your mind is thought simulating visual information.
These mechanics of thought are even more self-evident if you actively participate in falling asleep with the intent to remain awake and conscious. When we use our sensory apparatus to observe the external world, during sleep something that I call, “The Inversion of the Senses” takes place where our sensory focus moves from external information to start perceiving dream information in a self-similar sensory way.
How often have you fallen asleep to start to see images appear, or even hear sounds such as music or talking as the onset of dreaming starts to take place. Perhaps you’ve noticed that these sensory thought forms are something you are invoking, and that they are your thoughts changing from a simple verbal exchange of ideas, into this more complex language of dreaming.
It is through this higher-order of sensory thought that we are able to change dream content when we sleep. Anyone proficient in lucid dreaming where they think about what they want to dream during an actual lucid dream will find the dream canvas change suddenly to reflect this new content. Thought is a fundamental part of the fabric of dreaming.
The other interesting aspect of dreaming also borrows itself from how we perceive the outside world. In order for us to have a meaningful relationship with sensory information, the mind must take in sensory data, and through information processing by the brain, the mind must then render that information into a view.
Our perception of reality in all actuality is another example of how nature has evolved the ability to take information, process that information and then render that information into a view. It is similar to how a computer takes digital information and processes that information to produce a final rendering of that data on a computer screen so a user can have a meaningful user-interface with that data rather than seeing a string of binary 0001110011 which the visual representation replaces.
Unlike a computer, the human brain does not have a computer screen to render sensory information on. It does something much more amazing in that it has to virtualize the computer screen that allows us to have our experience of reality.
This means the output of our sensory perception takes place on a virtual canvas of the mind. This canvas has been called the Cartesian Theater inspired by Rene Descartes “Seat of the Soul” where by a little man he called the Homunculus sat to observe the sensory renderings of the mind. It has been called the Bohmian IMAX by consciousness researcher Anthony Peake. Plato touches on the same idea in his Allegory of the Cave. All of these metaphors are used simply to describe what the human mind uses as it’s reality rendering screen for us the observer.
It is very ease and self-evident to see in action how the brain is producing a type of rendering on this virtual screen. Simply close your eyes and it will be very apparent that sensory information is being rendered by the brain. What we observe as reality is actually an approximation of reality based on sensory information, information processing and the final rendered product of these processes.
I will also put forth that what the brain uses to render sensory information in this simulation of reality is also a type of thought-form. Each cell along the pathway to the final rendered product adding it’s cellular thoughts as bits of data to the larger picture that they collectively output.
Why this canvas of the mind is important to dreaming is because the same mechanics are at work in rendering dream content. This feedback interface is simply virtual renderings composed of thoughts which produce the final product. The final product is simply described as the dream content.
Thus what we have with dreaming is a type of information processing phenomena where thought programs the content and the mind renders the content in this virtual canvas of the mind so that we have a meaningful view of what that information represents. It is the same canvas that also renders our sensory model of reality. This is one common factor between ourselves as the observer of this content, and where this content renders as part of our feed-back interface.
Through these mechanics, our mind has evolved a type of language which for all intents and purposes is a type of communication between the conscious and unconscious aspects of ourselves. This is also a type of Non-Verbal communication. Dreams are examples of non-verbal communication at work between our waking mind and the unconscious mind if you subscribe to the idea that we are composed of many different compartments like Freud’s Ego, ID, super-ego and unconscious. If you are more Jungian then it would be communication with the collective unconscious which translates how non-verbal communication in the form of dreams is the mechanism by which this communication takes place amongst these different properties of our larger consciousness system.
Regardless of what the dream content may be as the final result of all these processes, the mechanics themselves are self-evident and worth consideration as this is how we dream and why we dream from a mechanical perspective.
This question was put forth by a member of the Unexplained Mysteries forum which you can view here: Forum Post.
I think it illustrates in as many words as I like how I view dreams, precognition and reality as an interconnected system of information and where I derive some of my theories from based on other influences, as well, where my experience with precognition supports some of those theories.
That is a very good question, and it is something that I have explored extensively through lucid precognitive dreaming back in the late 90′s. The answer based on those experiences seems to suggest that at a very deep unconscious level, dreams are a function of reality pre-processing like blueprints to probable futures which we will experience.
Dreams are a valid working example of how we are capable of simulating an experience of reality. They demonstrate our innate ability to create dream content using a higher form of thinking whereby our thoughts describe the content of the dream world.
I am not sure if you are familiar with simulation theory, or digital physics. Basically there are a group of physicists and mathematicians who based on the evidence emerging in quantum mechanics as well as mathematical theories suggest that the nature of our physical world is based on the principles of information that “renders” into what they call a virtual reality.
Nick Bolstrom argues based on a computer model of simulated 3D time/space and how we are evolving digital simulations of reality with computers that it’s quite likely that we are already existing in a type of simulation. Brian Whitworth a mathematician out of Massey University has published papers describing how reality could have emerged from information and itself be some type of virtual reality. The math supports this better than any other model and as he says… if the shoe fits.
Both of these very intelligent thinkers do not subscribe to the conscious model of the Universe. However, there are those who do such as Tom Campbell who says implicitly that awareness evolved as an information system the ability to produce virtual reality simulations and he is very sincere that we are already living in an “awareness simulated virtual reality”. He even talks about the idea that the Universe is like a big computer which fits in with John Wheeler’s “It from Bit” where he says the Universe is like a giant Turn Machine (computer). Dr. Fred Allan Wolf who is also known as Dr. Quantum and was in What the Bleep also says we are living in a virtual reality. He wrote a book entitled, “The Dreaming Universe” and I have spoken with him via e-mail where he confirmed his believe that the Universe itself is a type of dream.
If what Nick Bolstrom claims is true… that if something can simulate reality then we are already living in a simulation. We know from dreams that dreaming itself demonstrates how our awareness via consciousness can simulate reality in the form of a dream using thought. So the idea that our physical reality is not a physical system rather an information system that is effectively a “rendered final product” of information processing connects into simulation theory and digital physics.
My experience with lucid precogntiive dream content shows to me at least that these kinds of precognitive dreams are being created at run-time and somehow myself and those involved unconsciously are also acting participants on the creation of dream content. It’s not hard to see that we do in fact create dreams as we do this all the time and have done so since we are born. Dreams are for all intents and purposes a “Created” product of our unconscious mind. We can make the unconscious mind conscious and observe these processes through lucid dreaming like I have done. Thus it becomes even more apparent that even a precognitive dream is a created dream similar to our non-precognitive dream content.
So are we seeing the future, or deciding the future… based on the experience I had we are creating the future through a well defined rule-set which Tom Campbell describes as being imposed by the Larger Consciousness System as he calls it. Reality then is ultimately a co-creative system where we are all participating members of the content that we generate at that deep unconscious level. And it moves us back to very old esoteric beliefs that, “Thought creates reality”.
I subscribe to Tom’s model of physics and the idea that our reality is a simulation. This is also evident in the double-slit experiment where particles can behave like wave-functions (interference patterns) but when observed/measured they collapse the wave-function and behave like solid particles. Tom’s answer to this is that the larger consciousness system acting like a Universal super-computer “renders” the information into particles because that information is now being accessed. When that information is not being accessed, the larger system doesn’t need to render the particles because it’s more efficient to leave the information unrendered but still there as a probability distribution (wave-function).
If we look at how other physicists interpret wave-function collaspe we find David Bohm’s “Many World Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics” where he believes due to probability many probable timelines are emerging and splitting off at a given second. Erwin Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment called “Schrödinger’s Cat” which challenges the idea that if the wave-function known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics produces the possibility of probable realities. The thought paradox places a cat inside a box. The box has a vile of hydrocyanic poison and a hammer attached to a radioactive decay trigger. Due to the measurement problem the decay would create a state where the cat is either dead or alive in the box in two diverging probabilities based on superposition and the many world’s interpretation of quantum mechanics.
“The quantum-mechanical “Schrödinger’s cat” paradox according to the many-worlds interpretation. In this interpretation, every event is a branch point. The cat is both alive and dead—regardless of whether the box is opened—but the “alive” and “dead” cats are in different branches of the universe that are equally real but cannot interact with each other.”
Tom Campbell put forth this diagram showing that the Universe indeed creates fractal probabilities in time as the system tries to accomidate each of our intentions and choices that are defined by the constraints or rule-set that the system imposes on us.
In this example, Tom describes the Universe in terms of probability that there is only one actualizing reality which we experience in the 3rd dimension, however there are many fractal probabilities of potential outcomes which do not actualize. Thus time and the future is probabilistic, even though it seems to those of us who have precognition that it may be deterministic.
My experience with precognition supports Tom’s theory that time is probabalistic as I’ve observed what happens when we interact with precognitive information in our dream content and that causes a type of causality effect between that probability node, and the actuality of it should it collapse from the probability distrubution of future events. Tom also describes that the larger consciousness system acting like a Universal Computer has to recalculate probabilities in run-time if we make certain choices that affect non-existent probabilities already pre-calculated out. This causes a spike in calculations where the system has to adjust to new potential probabilities.
To give you a working example of how strange probability actually is vs the actual timeline that we are all experiencing linked to my own precognitive dreams, the example that I talk about is the dream that saved my life where I had a precognitive dream about an accident where I lost control on an icy snow-covered hill and passed into oncoming traffic where a white pickup truck slammed into my driver’s side door waking me up from the dream. Acting on this dream out of concern that it “might be precognitive in nature” I bought 4 studded winter tires which I reasoned may change the circumstances of that event giving me better traction if I do find myself in the same situation as described in the dream. Sure enough, the dream was a literal precogntiive dream and I was faced with the same situation in waking life. I still had difficulty stopping my car but the tires worked, I stopped and the white pick-up truck drove past me instead of potentially ending my life as the dream illustrated.
This means, there is a probability based on the original dream content where I likely died and no longer existed. If we were on that probability as in, it actualzied then I likely would not be here to share this story with you. It’s like Final Destination or the Butter Fly effect but in my real life. So this means, we are now talking in the probability that actualized where I changed the circumstances and lived. Did the larger system present this information as a key insight to help me avoid a probable death? I believe so.
This also means the future has been altered as if I had not had that dream, the outcome would have been deterministic thus I wouldn’t be here. In a way, I’ve lived through Schrödinger’s cat thought paradox thanks to precognition.
Hope this answers the question as well as provides more information as to the nature of probability and time.
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