One of the most interesting aspects of dreaming for me is the incredible variety of personalities or egos that I experience in the dream. Not only do I often look different from my waking self, often younger looking and in better shape, but I sometimes appear as something altogether different from my waking self. I have been Captain Kirk and Spiderman. I have been a gunfighter in the Old West as well as a female in the Old West.
This variety of dream egos demonstrates both a flexibility of consciousness and a variety of forms of consciousness. We know that the waking consciousness is observing and/or experiencing the dream at some level, but who is it that is directly experiencing the dream?
In one lucid dream, I was in the front yard of my childhood home with my baby brother. At the time, that house no longer existed. It had been torn down and turned into apartments. In the dream, my brother is about seven or eight years old. I become lucid in the dream. I know that I am dreaming. I tell my brother that this is a dream and he is really13 years old.
It is assumed that when you become lucid in a dream, it is your waking consciousness that becomes lucid. But in this dream, that was not the case. It was not my waking consciousness that became lucid because my waking consciousness knew that my brother was not 13 years old but was in fact an adult. So who became lucid?
In another dream, a dream-within-a-dream, I am sitting in a travel agent’s office with my two male cousins and a travel agent. We are planning a trip together. I am sitting on a high stool, like a bar stool, and leaning against the wall. I’m drowsy and fall asleep. In my sleep, I have a dream. In my dream-within-a-dream, I am walking down a city street at night. All of the stores are closed. I am licking chocolate frosting from a large green bowl. I become lucid and realize that I have fallen asleep in the travel agent’s office. Embarrassed, I wake up back in the office again.
You will notice again that it was not my waking consciousness or waking ego who became lucid in my dream-within-a-dream. It was the ego consciousness of my self in the travel agent’s office. Shortly after waking up in that office, I woke up in my bed. You can see how some people have trouble knowing if they are really awake and in the real world or are still just dreaming. Perhaps we are.
In any case, these experiences and, I’m sure, experiences from your own dreams, seem to suggest that we do not have a single unified ego or a narrow variety of levels of consciousness. We have a multiplicity of egos and a great variety of levels and types of consciousness. It may be that one of the purposes of our dreams is to expand our sense of self, enlarge our ego boundaries, and open to more and different states of consciousness.
It may turn out that life itself is just a dream-within-a-dream.