I touched upon this subject briefly in a blog post in 2009 (“Lucid Dreaming“). Since then I have had experiential evidence of actual “Translucid Dreams.” It appears that other writers had had experience of these phenomena, which I only discovered after writing the blog post referred to above. Ken Wilber actually described them in his book One Taste as “Pellucid Dreams” as opposed to “Lucid Dreams.” I also discovered that one tradition in which I had taken a vow of secrecy advocates the practice as part of its teachings, without me realising beforehand! Oh well I shall not disturb their privacy – I have already stated my position on oaths of secrecy.
Anyway, the position is this: what I call a “Translucid dream” is a Lucid Dream in which one experiences Transpersonal states of awareness. The basic technique appears to be: starting from a lucid dream, dissolve all dream images until one is left with nothing. I believe that the great Neo-platonic adept, Plotinus, who was said to have been united with God four times whilst still in the body, was conversant with a similar technique – or at least that is what I understand from reading David Godwin:
The way to achieve these states was by contemplation. One recommended technique was to visualize the universe and then mentally abolish its limitations.
Godwin, D, 1992, Light in Extension: Greek Magic from Homer to Modern Times (Llewellyn’s Western Magick Historical Series), Llewellyn, Minnesota – p146.
It occurred to me that as lucid dreaming and astral projection are two forms of the same phenomenon, it ought to be possible to achieve “trans-astral-projection” as well, if you will pardon the inelegant use of language. Be that as it may, when I first tried to achieve translucid dream states I found I could momentarily dream about nothing, but it did not seem to be particularly impressive. Then however, one night recently, I spontaneously realised what the final or at least next step was. After having dissolved every astral phenomena and then thought “what next?” on the spur of the moment I dissolved the dissolver.
The result was astounding. I ceased to exist – and yet when I re-incarnated an indeterminate time-later – coincidentally not a million miles away from where I remembered I was before this catastrophe – I was aware that SELF had been conscious of the experience the whole while. SELF had experienced Nothing – i.e. not nothing-in-particular but actual Nothing. In slipping off the clothes of Ego, SELF had also managed to escape from the inertial-frame of every object in the material universe. This is why I refer to “an indeterminate time” – I really have no idea whether the experience lasted five, ten, twenty minutes, half-an-hour or more.
Moreover it was a particularly powerful experience – even the memory of this moment of SELF-awareness grips my imagination writing sometime after the event.
That such “peak experiences” are possible are not so surprising when one considers this is exactly what people like Patanjali and all the great Yogis from history have been talking about for more than two thousand years or so. However, what I find remarkable is that it is possible to achieve such experiences whilst dreaming. It strikes me that, in Yogic terms, the Lucid Dream state is a perfect example of Pratyahara, or “sense-withdrawal,” the fifth of the eight-limbs of Raja Yoga. The mind of the Lucid Dreamer is conscious but perfectly detached from all external influences. Hence the Translucid dream would be equivalent to directing the mind towards the sixth, seventh and eighth limbs – Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Contemplation/super-consciousness).
Hence: the Translucid dream phenomenon is not an end in itself, but a useful tool for progressing on the path.