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 worlds 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
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.
Jungs point is that if you follow your inner voice you will
find your true vocation, snapping out of your neurosis and ending
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
Since that meeting, Dr. Ullmans 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 others 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
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.