From April 1972 until September 1995, and beyond, Openfoot kept a record of his dreams in a series of notebooks, his "Dream Books". There are approximately 416 dreams (there is some misnumbering and a little variation in methods of counting) in the complete series from this period , although subsequent recording has brought number up to 433 as of July 2012. Dreams were not consistently or regularly recorded throughout this period and there are significant gaps. However, they fall into four main sequences of activity detailed below.
Sample pages from early in Book 1 showing part of the first dream recorded together with a very early jotting (see Early Jotting E6) and some erratic spelling is shown below.
1. Early Sequence Dreams (ESD): Dream 1, April 1972 to Dream 303, November 1975
2. Mid Sequence Dreams (MSD): Dream 311, August 1988 to Dream 359.10, May 1989
3. Late Sequence Dreams(LSD): Dream 363, Sept. 1990 to Dream 405, January 2001 and beyond
4. Later Dreams: Dream 418, March 2012 onward
5. The Missing Dream: A home for the odd occasional dream
Given the considerable volume of material involved Openfoot has not attempted to publish the text of all his dream records on line. He has selected those that he considers to best exemplify "the journey" and to give a fair representation of the range of experiences and phenomena encountered, and that a fellow traveller might therefore expect to be meet. Nevertheless the volume of material is still substantial.
While you are of course at liberty to dip into the dream records at any point Openfoot would emphasise that there is, or so it seems to him, a loose narrative and a progression of themes and perspectives, which can only be appreciated by reading the dreams in number/date order. To encourage you to attempt this Openfoot has marked with a red border, as with this section, those dreams he considers to be pivotal to the developing "narrative". If these marked dreams were read in order they would give a strong indication of the evolution and development of the dreams and would provide a framework and context for a fuller examination at a later date.
To aid interpretation and comprehension Openfoot has appended brief commentaries to some key dreams to indicate their significance and meaning to him. Commentaries follow the dream text and are in blue
Ah, the dreams, the dreams. The subject of man’s fascination throughout the centuries. What would you like them to be? They have variously been seen as the voice of God, messages from God, (Sorry I said I wouldn’t use the G word again and now I’ve done it twice) visitations by angels, telepathic thoughts from aliens, omens, the tool of oracles, visions prophesising the future or just so much psychic garbage that your brain needs to throw out every night as the by-product of the consolidation of memory and learning? Or perhaps you just overindulged in that delicious Cheddar cheese you had for supper? Take your pick.
The majority of the views above see dreams as originating from somewhere other than the dreamer. Dreams are frequently identified as other, from the outside, from the beyond. Given their undoubtedly strange and frequently powerful impacts this is, perhaps, not surprising (especially if you’re an extrovert?). But inside and outside depend very much on how and where you draw the boundaries. If you must draw any at all?
Openfoot sees dreams much as he sees other forms of human communication. Our words and vocalisations can be used in a wide variety of different ways to match varying circumstances and needs. Our conversations can be banal and everyday, formal and highly structured, convoluted and contorted, simple and straightforward or deep and profound. Openfoot thinks dreams can be all of these too. It’s just that the “conversation” is an internal one and not directed by the everyday self.
The dreams reported here are those that have impact, which are hard to ignore and demand to be attended to. At one level Openfoot is content to see these in Jungian terms as communications from the unconscious mind directed to the egoic mind. At other levels this formulation seems far less relevant and dreams as a distinct phenomena begin to lose significance. Here dreams become an approach, an avenue, a living link to types of awareness and consciousness that can also be accessed by other means, such as meditation.
Although the unconscious may communicate using words in dreams, it is the symbols and images that form their important content, and the relationships set up between these symbols that provide their main communicative power. In charting the inner journey Openfoot sees dreams as being of particular value because they are reports independent of the waking mind. They are involuntary, spontaneous and entirely natural expressions of deeper states of mind. They offer reports on developing relationships between aspects of mind, providing critiques, encouragement and milestones along the way. In this sense they introduce a measure of "objectivity" into an overwhelmingly subjective developmental process.
Jung encouraged the individuals he counselled and advised to bring the contents of their unconscious, their dreams, into the light of day. Openfoot took this to heart early on. His “Dream Diaries” are one result but, as Jung suggested, he also sketched and painted dream material to give it a presence in the everyday world. He found that by doing this his ability to recall and engage with his dreams significantly increased.
Although working with his dreams was the key strand on Openfoot’s “progress” he does not consider that they would have, on their own, been sufficient to carry him and maintain his momentum along the path. Collaboration is required between the unconscious and conscious mind if this evolving dance is to proceed. The conscious mind needs to find ways to accept and integrate the material and experiences that are welling up from below, from inside. It must use its own tools and methods to do this. From here it is but a short step to all manner of narratives, myths, religions and art. Although Openfoot was happy to borrow and learn from all of these fields of endeavour when setting out his predominant world-view was grounded in his training in natural sciences, and scientific materialism.
Openfoot has therefore drawn widely on many avenues of human exploration and experience, but it has all been underpinned by a scientific and naturalistic outlook. This has contributed amongst other things to an attitude of "constructive doubt" that he has carried with him throughout all his interior ramblings. This has helped to keep him grounded when extraordinary experiences were up on him. The ability to bracket a powerful experience (see Dream 27: The Dawning of the Light) and regard it as phenomena for study and investigation without rushing to early conclusions about its nature and significance were Openfoot believes, one of the things that preserved his sanity in those early years.
Openfoot has pursued his own stubborn and highly individual path. In addition to Jung and science, Openfoot has had cause to be deeply thankful to Buddhist thought and practise. Although present from the beginning the contribution and influence of Buddhism has grown over the last twenty years, as the importance and presence of dreams has come to take a lesser role in Openfoot’s life. The spirit of personal verification, of experimentation and testing, so central to science is clearly and forcibly present in Buddhism, where it is applied to the inner rather than the outer world. Buddha did not expect others to take his word for it. He expected them to test his teachings personally, to make the path their own, to live it and judge the outcomes for themselves. As I understand it he also seems to have been more concerned about practical results than theoretical constructs. Results rooted in immediate experience.
Openfoot identifies closely with this approach and is grateful that he has, over the last forty years, been able to draw upon and meld the best, as he sees it, of Jung’s psychology, Buddhism and Science to forge his own path. He never has had an individual real life “spiritual teacher” and the difficulty inherent in trying to discuss such raw experiences with friends and family soon persuaded Openfoot that this was a far from advisable course of action. Perhaps the highly expressed introversion, and what can be the stubborn insularity of Openfoot, has not served him well in this regard. He can’t help feeling the path would have been easier if he had sought out a real life mentor but then would the ground he stands upon feel quite as certain as it does? The spaciousness feel quite as free?(Very probably!) He launches this web site with a complete sense of equanimity. He has no particular expectation for it. He is content that it should record the experiences of one of his generation, the post war baby-boomers, on what has been a universal and timeless human quest. If it proves to be of service to others who find themselves on the path so much the better.
Above: Sample pages from late in Book 3 recording part of Dream 247 in December 1974
It is interesting to compare the mode of transport shown here; a twin-box helicopter with Openfoot situated centrally in a third box, with the form of transport depicted in the (current) final dream LSD: D406; twin Saturn V launch vehicles in superposition. Openfoot takes these depictions of transport to represent, in part, the main components present in the dynamic structure of the mind i.e. the everyday rational analytical mind, the unconscious and emotional / feeling mind and a central egoic identity. By the time of Openfoot's Dream 247 all of these components would appear to be working together and heading in the same direction. Hurray!
See also the LOX sketch at the top of the Backstory page and D301: Piloting Concorde