Not infrequently, when I begin to wake in the morning, I have such a strong sense of how arbitrary it is that I am back in my particular form. I recognize the person I slip back into: I know her mannerisms, her likes and dislikes. And it seems no one else is available to be in her body – they are busy looking after their own – so I slip in and start the day.
Apparently the Australian aborigines believe that when one sleeps, one leaves the body; dreams are, in fact – according to them – the adventures of their bodyless being. I wish I could maintain this sense of distance all the time. It seems curious that it happens either through absolute alertness – witnessing – or after coming out of deep unconsciousness.
The sense of distance with our own body can happen both ways: either by becoming aware, alert, or by falling deep in unconsciousness. While you are unconscious, the distance will not be recognized; but when you are becoming conscious, for a slight moment you will be able to see the distance – that you are one thing and the body is something else. In alertness it is more clear, but the phenomenon is the same.
In many aboriginal tribes the mythology is that in the dream the soul leaves the body and travels and all that you see in the dream is not dream but a reality. In aboriginal tribes where that mythology is prevalent, nobody is awakened from sleep because if you wake up the person and he is not at home – he may be far away, traveling in a dream – you can kill him. And it has happened many times that by some accident the man was awakened suddenly and he died, but that is simply out of a deep auto-conditioning.
In the dream you don’t go anywhere; otherwise it would be happening all over the world, not only in a certain tribe where the belief is perennial. You can wake up anybody; that does not mean he will die. But in those particular tribes – in India there are a few tribes and in other countries in the Far East – they are very respectful when a person is asleep because he may be visiting faraway places. No noise is made, no disturbance, so the person can wake up on his own when he returns. If he is not back yet and you wake him up, you have broken the thread that joins him with his soul. In those tribes, it happens.
This is something very essential to be understood. It is a vicious circle: if you believe in something, it happens; then you believe it more, then it happens more, and so on and so forth. The wheel goes on deepening into your being.
These tribes which have that kind of myth also think that whatever you do in a dream is real. For example, if you have slapped somebody in the dream, then the first thing to do in the morning is to ask the elders of the tribe, “What should I do? In the dream I have slapped somebody.” And they prescribe the apology: “Take sweets, fruits to the person and ask his forgiveness.” And because of such simplicity, they rarely dream. It is very rare for people in those tribes to dream. Their sleep is a solid block of silence.
This is significant in reference to Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis. Those tribes have been doing psychoanalysis for centuries. You have slapped somebody in the dream, and in the day you go to apologize, to be forgiven. This is a deep psychoanalysis. You are not just relating a dream to that psychoanalyst, you are actually living it again – and not only living it, you are trying to clean yourself of it.