Using an IDL Dream Interview to Wake Up



The following interview of a priest was sent to me for comment. It could just as easily be an interview with a Rabbi, Imam, or any other True Believer. It is a good example of how Integral Deep Listening interviews of dreams generate waking lucidity, in this case regarding understanding  how we keep ourselves asleep, dreaming and sleepwalking. As we listen to what is attempting to awaken we become more lucid; the result is that dream delusion lifts and dreams should slowly become more lucid. This is why IDL generally stops nightmares and repetitive dreams.

My comments are interjected in the interview in red and also follow it. I do not make such interpretive judgments during interviews nor do I encourage you to. However, after the interview, as a teaching aid for yourself, students or others, it is entirely appropriate. As you will see, such interpretive comments are not statements of truth and the following interview shows how our assumptions and interpretations are often proven wrong during interviews. This teaches us that great humility and caution is necessary regarding making interpretations, and they should be both deferred and subordinated to those supplied by interviewed characters and the student themselves.

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

Belonging/membership in wrong church

If we take this in a broad sense, we are talking about the tragedy of recognizing our life allegiances have been to the wrong causes and beliefs.


How sad. One spends his life in service as a priest, teaching inclusiveness, only to find himself excluded. This is what happens to any of us when we commit ourselves to serving within exceptionalistic structures, such as nationalistic, business  or religious institutions that are intrinsically exclusive or competitive. We run the risk of one day waking up and recognizing that we are the one that is being excluded.

Understanding self

What a rare desire in authority figures, particularly priests and gurus. Most believe that they already have the answer to who they are, as defined by their system of belief. IDL is often threatening to such world views because it challenges those bedrock assumptions. This fellow is somewhat of an exception, probably due to the pain of feeling excluded.

Tell me a dream you remember.  It can be an old one, a repetitive dream, a nightmare, or one that you’re sure you understand. 

In a basement-like structure under a church with a group of hard core (3 or 4) Orthodox men.

Why do you think that you had this repetative dream?

A call to re-examine my life and finding reality.

If this dream were playing at a theater, what name would be on the marquee? 

Concealed Animosity

This priest feels hated by church authority figures. To the extent that they represent aspects of himself, this priest is pointing out his hatred toward himself. 

These are the characters in the dream, besides yourself…

Group of hard core Orthodox men; Basement meeting room; Altar; Tile floor; Candles; Chalice; paten; red book

If one character had something especially important to tell you, what would it be?


Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are this or that character in your dream and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!


Altar, look out at the world from your perspective and tell us what you see… 

I feel surrounded by the enemy.

So here he is (here WE are) in a context of sanctity and sacredness, yet feeling threatened…

Altar, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I am very benign, immaculately clean, gleaming and am being used.

When this priest tunes into his ideals, his idea of service, and his purposes for his life work this is how he feels. This is how he justifies his work and his existence.

Altar, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I am beautiful, clean and stately and wrapped in fine linen.

Another statement of idealized self-image.

Altar, what do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

I have no defenses

Actual altars, which are made of stone or wood, do not need defenses because they are not alive and therefore cannot die; people and animals that are being attacked need defenses because they can be hurt or killed. When an altar is attacked it is because of the ideas it symbolizes; but altars themselves are inanimate objects. However, this altar has at least the same level of aliveness as the dreamer, because it is in part an aspect of him. Therefore, it is animate and can feel attacked and in need of defense. 

Altar, what aspect of this priest do you represent or most closely personify?

His piety and belief

Piety and belief definitely require defending because these are attributes of humans, not life itself. Life doesn’t do piety or belief. For example, the sun or rain do not care if you are pious 0r what you believe.

Altar, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?


The implication is that the piety and belief, personified by the altar, like themselves and don’t want to change when they themselves create the sense of threat and the need for defense. This is a reality that generates its own problem. The altar symbolizes beliefs, some of which are exclusionary. Exclusion automatically generates fear of that which is excluded. Perhaps the fear is of contamination, defilement, sin, corruption or death in a spiritual or physical sense. If the altar did not personify exclusionary beliefs it would be far less likely to feel threatened or a need for defense.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Altar, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence, 9, because I am what I was created to be.  

Compassion, 10, because I represent compassion and represent my integrity.

Wisdom, 10, because I am the center of wisdom.

Acceptance,  4, because I can be used for purposes that I was not created for.

Inner Peace, 9, because my substance is not integrated.

Witnessing, 10, because I represent the big picture

These scores tend to negate my projections/interpretations above, in that this Altar scores itself very highly in almost all areas. It is very high scoring except for acceptance. It is his emerging potential, not mine. So this tells me I am going to learn something because I do not understand! 

Altar, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

Yes,  I would be what I was fully intended to be.

This is a statement of growing into one’s unfulfilled but recognized potentials. 

Altar, how would _______’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

I would be peaceful.

This implies the score of “9” for inner peace above is, upon contemplation, found to not be so high. A sense of inner peace is lacking. So that means deficits in both acceptance and inner peace are issues for this altar.

Altar, if you could live _____’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I would not be striving to be, but would just be.

Interesting, because again, altars do not strive to be; they just are, which is what he desires. However, all animate things strive to be more, to fulfill themselves, to attain an unattainable state of complete balance and fulfillment. Therefore, is this desire to no longer strive to be realistic or unrealistic, practical or impractical, possible or impossible?

Altar, if you could live _____’s waking life for him today, would you handle his life issues differently?  If so, how?

Yes, I would live without exclusion and this would include the other two issues. Everything would fall into place.

There are two faces to exclusion indicated here. There is the exclusion of others, portrayed in the dream, and the exclusion of oneself, or parts of oneself, implied by the dream and made clear by the interview. In the dream it is indicated by the parts of self personified by the orthodox men and in the interview by the sense of separation and threat implied by wanting to have defenses.

Altar, what life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of ______’s life?

  1. Exclusion

Altar, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for ____ to imagine that he is you and act as you would? 

I would be across-the-board different.

Don’t let people get away with such a vague, all inclusive answer to this question. In such a case follow up with “How?” or “In what ways?” The implication is now that it is not just a problem with acceptance and inner peace but a need for pervasive change. This contradicts all those high scores. Clearly, in afterthought, they are not experienced as so high after all. The implication is that there is a vast difference between the idealized values of the altar and what it actually experiences. Which are real? Which are true? 

Altar, do you do drama?  Do you get into playing the Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer? If not, why not?

Yes,  because I am the center and generally play rescuer.

This is a great example of why this is an important question to ask during interviews, if your student is already familiar with the concept of the Drama Triangle. It brings to consciousness how we can easily spend our entire life within the context of the three roles of rescuer, persecutor and victim. While this awareness can be extremely uncomfortable and threatening in itself, without such an awareness there is no way to understand and objectify drama and so we remain trapped within it. 

Altar, what is your secret for staying out of drama?

I have no secret for staying out of drama because I have been doing drama all my life. If I were to step out of drama, it would be not to exist.

Another highly profound response because it explains why so many people are threatened by the concept of the Drama Triangle. They cannot conceive of a life, or at least a life worth living, outside it. Since there is no peace of mind in the context of drama, they have defined the game of life, that is, scripted themselves, in such a way that inner peace is impossible. This priest is saying that the way he has played the game of life has been within the context of the Drama Triangle. 

Altar, you are imaginary. Why should ____  pay attention to anything you say?

I am the anchor of ____’s living his fast moving life.

If you have built your life around drama and it is your anchor, it doesn’t matter if it’s imaginary or not. It’s your reality. We all have built our lives around comfortable delusions that we assume are reality. We are asleep, dreaming, sleepwalking. This priest’s predicament is no different than yours or mine, only he is more honest about it than many of us.

Altar, why do you think that you are in ______’s life? 

Someone (something) has to anchor him, otherwise the centrifugal force would throw him into nothingness.

And so in our imagination the choice becomes one between drama and nothingness. But this is a false dichotomy, defined by drama, not by life.

Altar, how is _______ most likely to ignore what you are saying to him?

It is possible for him to cram what I say down into his bowels.

A nice place to put the truth and clarity, resonant with living underneath the church in the dream!

Altar, what would you recommend that he/she do about that?

This answer shows us that this fellow already has a good deal of self-awareness of how he is sabotaging his inner peace and self-acceptance. He recognizes that he has defined his reality within the context of the Drama Triangle. This is a major step forward toward greater lucidity. Adopting the role of rescuer means that he inevitably gets to feel persecuted by others and himself and therefore experience himself as victim. Notice how he is objectifying his life drama: “The place no longer seems as important as it did.” He is outgrowing his subjective immersion in his life dream. This is lucidity. It is more important than lucid dreaming, in that it is lucid living, or waking up out of the self-created delusions of life. This is what makes Integral Deep Listening a dream yoga, or sacred discipline of waking up. It is lucid dreaming in the sense of waking up or becoming lucid in regard to your life script. As you do so in your waking life, the self that perceives within dreams evolves, wakes up and becomes more lucid. Dreams become more lucid and clear. You spend less and less of your waking and dream time stuck in the misery of a labyrinth of drama of your own creation.  



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