The Pearl of Light

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This dream came not long after I’d taken on a new job as the Service Director of a counseling centre. The job proved to be very demanding. As the Service Director, I faced having to deal with the imminent closure of the centre. The mental stress was very intense. The night before this dream was full of busy, dead-end thoughts as I tried to think my way out of the crisis. This dreams mark a shift in my understanding of the importance of surrender in lucid dreams, particularly the surrender of my fears and expectations:

In the dream, I find myself on the busy, Southern California freeway system in a car driven by a woman I feel I know but can’t recall. We want to get to a meeting about something important and meaningful to us both. Suddenly I realise that she has gone about it the wrong way. She has got lost in a tangle of overpasses and bypasses. I tell her she can take a more direct route if she gets off the freeway.

Then the realisation comes that the freeways are like the mind’s byways and that the situation feels akin to how I feel in waking life. In that instant of lucidity, as I bow my head, the dreamscape falls away into blackness and I feel my being taken up by the black, shining winds at a slight angle upwards until the space opens up and it feels like I rest flat on my back being carried ever inwards down a black tunnel that shines with lights the entire way.

With this initial movement, I think, “Oh no, here I am out of my body again and how will I get back?” I sense an impatience about me and a displeasure at the experience, a thought which makes me sad even then. But just then, a voice says quite clearly, “Come and be in my Being.” The words feel comforting and inviting and it seems clear I will get back, so I release my fear and surrender to being carried in this way.

Then the space opens up, the winds cease, and it feels my being has been set inside a luminescent pearl or inside a twilight or dusk sky with touches of mauve lining the light blue edges. My being rests in this space for an eternal moment—enough to take in the spaciousness and silence, the sacredness and serenity, the still beauty of the light and life it gives. Suddenly I am surprised to be lifted out of this space—now that I am ready to stay! The return feels like moving out from the centre point of a circle, out and out, until I meet my earth body at a slightly different level

I wake up grateful for the experience, yet shaking my head at the old habits of my mind and those ingrained pathways and fears it follows. It’s a comforting thought that this awareness alone is enough to begin to loosen my conditioned mind’s hold over my thought processes. At the very least, in recognizing how far I am from clarity of mind, I know such a state is possible.

Some time later, I read Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light (1992) by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and learned about the Clear Light or Clear Mind dreams described in the Tibetan Buddhist dream yoga tradition. In this tradition, I recognized parallels to my own lucid dreams. In this lucid dream, the Clear Mind state was experienced as the pearl that ‘the shell of time and space cannot contain’ (Hafiz). The lucid dream encounter with the pearl—a luminous, symmetrical object of light—calmed my mind and gave me the inner peace to meet the outer conflict in waking life with more equanimity.

In the end, a way to face the crisis came to me. Since then, when I have been caught up in mental confusion, the lucid dream image of being within the inner pearl has served to centre and still my mind so that my intuition can sense how best to heal the situation.