Dreaming of the World’s Suffering
The Global Dream Initiative (GDI), in partnership with Pacifica Graduate Institute, calls for a recognition of the trauma in the world and the need to participate in its healing. We assert that the world’s suffering appears in dreams and that we can creatively respond via the dream.
As Jungian analyst and author, Russell Lockhart, says in his essay Whispers and Murmurs dreams are “gifts given to an audience of one (the dreamer) arriving unbidden, seemingly from some dimension beyond the personal,” yet they also are meant to be “gifted again to a larger audience.”
This is particularly true of “big dreams” which Lockhart describes as having “strikingly numinous intensity.” With such a dream, “the dreamer [is] impelled to share the dream with another, as if following some ancient imperative (perhaps even of evolutionary significance).”
Dream and the anima mundi: An approach to healing?
The idea of an ensouled or animated world is a natural part of many indigenous traditions, but it is foreign to much of contemporary culture. Instead, we have acted as though soul exists inside ourselves, inside our moods and feelings, inside our dreams and relationships and that soul sickness has nothing whatsoever to do with the landscapes in which we live and work and play.
“The archetypal source of our world’s continuing peril,” archetypal psychologist James Hillman says, is “the fateful neglect, the repression, of the anima mundi.” But we have another choice, one that speaks to the heart of the Global Dream Initiative and its attention to the world’s dream:
Let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form. Then anima mundi indicates the animated possibilities presented by each event as it is, its sensuous presentation as a face bespeaking its interior image—in short, its availability to imagination, its presence as a psychic reality. Not only animals and plants ensouled as in the Romantic vision, but soul is given with each thing. God-given things of nature and man-made things of the street.
Sensing the animated possibilities present in each and every thing requires original human abilities, renewed and refreshed. To notice the world and its soul, “we need the nose of common animal sense” so that we are “animated by the world’s anima, like an animal.” We also need to recall the ancient notion of the heart as the organ of sensation and imagination, not merely “a physical pump or a personal chamber of feelings.”
In practices aligned with listening to a world ensouled, including Dream Tending, which was developed over 40 years by Steven Aizenstat, dreamers imagine that the images that come “are the expression of Nature herself, effortlessly arising in our dreams.”
C. G. Jung emphasized the value of images provided by dreams, and the responsibility a dreamer to work with them when he said, “The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them or a shirking of ethical responsibility deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.”
 Russell Lockhart, 2012, “Whispers and Murmurs” Section II, para. 1
 Russell Lockhart, 2012, “Whispers and Murmurs” Section II, para. 2
 James Hillman, 1994, 129
 James Hillman, 1982, 91
 James Hillman, 1982, 77
 James Hillman, 1982, 79
 James Hillman, 1982, 81
 Steven Aizenstat, 2011, Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams, 151
 C. G. Jung, 1989, 193
View a video on dreamwork below: