Albert Einstein, smart guy that he was, once wrote, “I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” In this world there are many analysts of other people’s actions, but there are few real actors. The only difference that separates the actor from the analyst is the ability to dream.

[media-credit name=”MingChen Shen” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Of course, we all dream every night, whether we remember our dreams or not. The difference then is in the ability to remember one’s dream identity. Some people treat dreams as illusions that only entertain quirks of human psychology. Some people put greater personal emphasis on dream events, believing each object is a symbol that represents some piece of the subconscious mind.

Regardless of how a person esteems their dreams, they do seem to have something to do with the evolutionary programming of the mind. Have you ever seen a dog dream? Usually it will be laying down sideways flapping its legs as if it were trying to run. Is this the subconscious mind of the dog replaying a survival program? It would make sense for an organism to refresh its competitive advantage within nature while it rests. Do our minds run survival programs? If so, what does the human brain expect to do to survive?

Everyday dreams, made up of mundane experiences with weird aspects to them, are common to most people. If a person already thinks within an odd type of mental framework, most likely that person’s dreams are more bizarre than the person who thinks in terms of rules and dogma. Still, these dreams are all remodeling of physical experience — a twisted memory.

Beyond all trace of the ordinary, some dreams fall headlong into an entirely new category. The easiest way to introduce this concept is with the idea of the lucid dream, in which the dreamer realizes he or she is dreaming while the dream is still going. When the dreamer becomes conscious of the dream, all of a sudden he or she can take control of the rules that govern the dream and in effect create a new reality within his or her subconscious mind. The person dreaming becomes the ruler of that new reality and, like Neo in “The Matrix,” can alter the illusion of reality at will.

The benefit of believing one’s dreams have greater meaning or significance is that a person can define their identity by experiences beyond the limit of the physical world. I have led an exciting life in the physical world. I have traveled across continents, met countless interesting people and come uncomfortably close to death on several occasions. However, nothing I have ever achieved while awake comes near some of the things I have done while asleep.

Have you ever had a secret agent dream? A secret agent dream is one in which the dreamer knows he is dreaming but is still not free to command reality at will, because he is on a mission. Little tips and tricks to bend the rules of reality are still available to the dreamer, but this particular dream is no bubble of blissful illusion; often it resembles more a pit of chaos. Some of my secret agent dreams could get me in trouble if I were to relay them in a public forum such as this. Some include slaying a fire-breathing dragon and 20 legions of hell, escaping the Santa Barbara harbor as hundreds of clipper ships invade from the south, fighting a time-traveling robot, exorcising demons, slaughtering thousands of attackers as they attempt to storm my castle and several versions of a tidal wave apocalypse. Last night I figured out magnetic levitation, or in other words, Neo-style flight.

I am suspicious that all of these dreams, mundane and fantastic, are survival programs. The more mundane and earthly dreams are likely the playing out of older survival circuits in the human brain, while the fantastic dreams are probably hints at the direction the human mind is evolving toward. One set encapsulates the experience of the past while another set foresees the experience of the future. This concept, first described by LSD wizard Timothy Leary, is called the 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness. For more information on this concept, read Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson.