From the publisher’s website: After decades of analyzing his dreams, a professor of psychology finds that some of them anticipate future events. Not only does he dream the exact day of the year on which one of his books is accepted for publication, but he learns how to use these dreams to create better outcomes in his life. Working with a medium for his research as well as in the classroom, he finds that the medium often gets correct information to which she does not have any ordinary access during apparent conversations with the dead. As his experiments continue to meet with surprising results, the author comes to accept the idea that reality is much more interesting than conventional science has led us to believe.
Imants Barušs is a Professor of Psychology who teaches courses on consciousness. Dr. Barušs’ previous books include Alterations of Consciousness and Science as a Spiritual Practice.
The subtitle of this slim volume, referring to it as a ‘personal discovery’, is an accurate description of its contents. In six chapters, with notes which constitute the book’s bibliography, the author recounts in some detail his personal, subjective experience and exploration of meaningful dreams, healing and the question of life after death. The book has no index, but since it is focused on the personal rather than the general, this is not a drawback.
As we learn in the “Prologue,” the author’s goal is to interpret his dreams in his own terms, in order to achieve better understanding of himself and the courses of action available to him. It is useful to bear this in mind when moving on to the next chapter, on “Precognitive Dreaming”, since the approach is rather different from what a psychical researcher would expect when coming across the term “precognitive” (i.e., identifying and corroborating objective facts corresponding to the dream). For example, dreams reveal to the author where he is going wrong with his gluten-free diet and help him find a solution – something not unusual when one is preoccupied with a subject. Interpreting dreams symbolically (the dreams often involve games of hockey, an important aspect of the author’s life) helps him to predict or change the outcomes in actual situations. The connections made on a subjective level, although effective for the experient, do not easily translate into objective evidence. However, to be fair, the author’s primary aim is to help others explore their inner world rather than provide evidence for the paranormal.
The chapter on “Remote Healing” describes a system of healing strategies aimed at transcending the “morphic field” of the disease by using imagination. Results are positive but measured only in subjective terms, and although the author does conduct a controlled experiment where participants are sometimes led to think they are being remotely healed when they are not, no claims are made as to the objective validity of such healing beyond the personally experienced therapeutic benefits. There are, however, detailed accounts of qualitative subjective responses and methodology for diagnosis, with emphasis on the use of cognitive processing and altered states. Everything takes place in the imagination, with emphasis on “commitment with which I imagine things” (p.51) being crucial in “resonating” with the target.
The author also describes in some detail his own serious health crisis, which involves interpreting symbolic dreams, coming up with coping strategies and receiving help from healers. There is no resolution to the problem, and there is awareness that many dreams may simply reflect one’s fears and desires and not reality, but the story draws attention “to the ways in which dreams can help a person through a stressful time of life” (p. 84) – whatever that might be.
In the penultimate chapter, “Talking to Dead People,” we are given an account of a case where words relevant to current situations spontaneously appear on a computer screen; this is followed by a description of the author’s own inconclusive experiments in instrumental transcommunication, and his work with a medium resulting in what might have been contact with a dead friend. There is also a brief reference to the work of the late Ian Stevenson and past life regression. The author’s own experience of the latter with his students and himself could be, as he acknowledges, a projection of personal issues, but this might still have therapeutic value even if it is of doubtful value as evidence for survival (which, for other reasons, the author regards as likely).
This is a brief and very personal account, with some less than mainstream views (e.g., positing “astral goons” who can have a negative influence if allowed into one’s psyche, p. 99) and scant reference to the literature of the subject. It is brave of the author to reveal much of his inner self, and the book is positive in its belief in the efficacy of intention and ability to override physical circumstances, without being dogmatic. However, the call for more research, made in the “Epilogue,” is somewhat misplaced in view of the lack of the book’s wider perspective, and might leave the reader new to the field unaware of the substantial body of information about the “extraordinary nature of reality,” much of it objective, collected over more than a hundred years, not least by the SPR.