Distinguishing Between Phenomenon and Interpretation: When Does Lucid Dreaming Become Transpersonal Experience?
Discussions of the transpersonal implications of lucid dreaming are already a firmly established part of the lucid dreaming literature. Patricia Garfield suggests that, "lucid dreams are microcosms of the mystic experience." (1979, p. 213)Stephen LaBerge describes certain types of lucid dreams as "instances of transcendental experiences, experiences in which you go beyond your current level of consciousness." (1985, pp. 242-243)Scott Sparrow concludes that the experience of light and energy in a lucid dream is what is "universally recognized in the literature on meditation and contemplative prayer as actual communion between the individual and the Divine."(1976, p. 51)A number of articles in Lucidity Letter(e.g. in Vol. 4, No. 2) have dealt with the close association between lucid dreaming and what are called out-of-body-experiences (OBEs). A religious "near-death experience" (NDE) has been seen to duplicate lucid dream phenomena (Gillespie, 1985). For those interested in what is called transpersonal psychology, such discussions can be exciting.Lucid dreaming appears to be a doorway to experiences that transcend normal awareness. But for those who are wary about mystical speculation, it may seem already too late to rescue the reputation of lucid dream research. We cannot avoid the fact that religious feelings and supposed mystical experiences are occasionally part of lucid dreaming experience, but we can avoid looking at such phenomena uncritically. We can separate the basic description of a lucid dream from its transpersonal interpretation.