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A Synchronistic Encounter
by Paul Levy
Paul Levy

Life can be so dreamlike. In the late 1980s I was working as the Book Service Manager for the C. G. Jung Foundation of New York. One day, one of my customers, an older man, asked me how come I didn't carry his books. Wondering who he was, I asked him and he replied "I'm Dr. Montague Ullman." Astonished, I realized I was talking to one of the world’s greatest experts on dreams. He, along with Dr. Stanley Krippner, started the Dream Research Lab at Maimonides Hospital in New York. He had also written the classic book on the subject of Dream Telepathy, as well as some of the best books around on dreaming.

Being passionately interested in dreaming, this seemingly chance meeting between us was deeply meaningful and synchronistic for me. As we got to know each other over time, we realized that we actually lived quite close to each other in the suburbs. One time when I visited Dr. Ullman at his home, I shared with him the intense shamanic initiatory illness that I had been going through since the late 70s. I described to him the overwhelming experiences I had been having where the boundary between dreaming and waking was dissolving. I knew from his work that he was not only a psychiatrist but was very open and interested in the paranormal. So I told him about many of the out-of-the-ordinary experiences that were happening to me - stuff that wasn't supposed to happen in this universe of ours…stuff that could only happen in dreams. I was explaining to him how deeply I was struggling, trying to integrate what I was realizing inwardly with somehow being in the world and making a living in a way that supported my spiritual unfolding.

I knew that being the book service manager at the Jung Foundation wasn't my true calling. Even though I enjoyed the job because it allowed me to study Jung, the job itself felt like a suit that fit too tight. If I amplified this experience like a dream, having a job in consensual reality felt like a part of my soul was being killed. I knew that Jung said that the cause of suffering and neurosis, both of which I had plenty of, was not finding your true vocation. He points out that vocation comes from the word calling, which comes from the words genie and genius. And the word genius comes from the word daemon, which means the inner voice and guiding spirit. Jung’s point is that if you follow your inner voice you will find your true vocation, snapping out of your neurosis and ending your suffering.

Dr. Ullman was in strong agreement with Jung. I will never forget one thing he told me, something that no one else had ever said in response to my problems with integrating my mystical experiences into this seemingly materialistic world.

As if giving me a prophecy, he said that my healing would undoubtedly have to do with whether I could creatively find a way to build a bridge between the two worlds, and creatively assimilate the deeper spiritual process I had fallen into in such a way that I would then be making a living out of this very process of integration. He told me a story of a student of his who had managed to do this, teaching workshops which were the vehicle not only of getting across whatever she was realizing, but the workshops themselves were the very container which deepened her own process of realization. She was living her dream, and dreaming it in a creative way that came from deep inside of her.

Since that meeting, Dr. Ullman’s prediction is becoming true. I find that my healing is completely tied in to my work with dreaming. The work that I've developed is the very thing that is healing me. It was as if my encounter with Dr. Ullman was a reflection of an inner process occurring deep within my psyche that was getting played out in the seemingly outside world.

Synchronistic phenomena like this encounter with Dr. Ullman can oftentimes illumine the underlying dreamlike nature of things. We can view this meeting with Dr. Ullman as a dream in which we were both mutually "dreaming each other up" to play roles in each other’s inner processes. In Dr. Ullman, it was as if I had "dreamed up," in actual materialized form, an inner wisdom figure and guide. Because I was unconscious of this inner wisdom at the time, I had to project it seemingly outside of myself to begin to develop a conscious relationship to it. And if you tell me that I am just imagining, or dreaming that this is so, I would say "Exactly!"

Paul Levy is an artist whose medium is dreaming. He is in private practice, helping others who are spiritually awakening. He is the coordinator of the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. He can be reached at (503) 234-6480.