Global Spirit takes on an ambitious and fascinating subject: where our consciousness goes at night when we sleep. In the understanding of Australian aboriginals, we connect to the deeper reality of Dreamtime, a deeper reality containing everything — mind, body, and the natural realm of plants, animals, and sacred places — and from where spiritual entities come to give us messages. This ancient understanding is contrasted with the Western identification of images in dreams to elicit meaning for our daily lives. Both approaches celebrate the authenticity of this theatre of the mind as delivering forms of inner guidance and paving the way for personal renewal.

The two guests on this program are Yidumduma Bill Harney, a master storyteller, songman, painter and writer. Thanks to his immersion in Wardaman Australian aboriginal culture and tradition, he is able to "walk in both worlds" as a businessman and as a wise teacher to his people and visitors. Harney is the last fully initiated male custodian of his people and, as a result, has been designated as one of "Australia's living national treasures."

Steven Aizenstat is Chancellor and founding president of Pacifica Graduate Institute, a private graduate school offering programs in psychology and mythological studies. He is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and a credentialed public school teacher. Aizenstat has conducted dreamwork seminars for more than 35 years and is the author of Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams

Bill Harney takes us on an adventuresome journey into dreamtime where Australian aboriginals who live in the bush remain closely connected to the sacred places which are filled with powerful spiritual energy; we see him in his natural locale in a film clip. In the studio he plays the Didgeridoo and talks about the healing power of its sounds. Harney is also a talented painter, and he discusses the stories behind two of his paintings. His art work, like everything else in his life, is spiritually based.

Aizenstat is a very articulate spokesperson for his dream tending philosophy and practice. He contends that we live in a world where everything is dreaming. We should avail ourselves of the help that comes to us from dream visitors. But to do so, we have to be more open and listen more carefully to what they have to tell us. There is an intelligence to our dreams and we can use archetypes, myths, and symbols to decode our dream lives. Aizenstat shares some film clips and hits high stride in his criticism of the lack of interest of educators in the imagination or dreamwork. Aizenstat and Harney both are worried about today's youth and their lack of groundedness or appreciation for the dreaming mind of the universe.

To Continue This Journey:

  • It has been estimated that twenty percent of our sleep time is spent in dreaming, and the average person will spend six years of his or her lifetime in the dream state. Recall one of your dreams. What message is it giving you? What are its images/beings telling you?
  • What do you find most appealing about the Australian aboriginal understanding of the Dreamtime as the source of all creation? What does your own religion or your own philosophy say about the spiritual value of dreams?
  • Share your reactions to Aizenstat's approach to tending dreams, particularly his suggestion that we develop relationships with images.
  • Both Harney and Aizenstat believe that ancestors can play an important role in the lives of youth? Do you agree? What connections have you made with your ancestors? What wisdom would you like to have passed on to you from them in a dream?
  • Do you agree with Harney and Aizenstat's anxieties about today's youth and their imagination deprivation? What can spiritual people do to promote and sustain the wedding between imagination, the arts, creativity, and dreamwork?
  • Watch the dvd of The Edge of Dreaming, an engrossing spiritual documentary about a rational woman's close encounter with dreams and death that changes her life and perspective.