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Dave Richo

Soulfulness In Our Dreams
by David Richo, Ph.D.

Dreams, poetry, and myths all emerge from the same place: the point of contact between spirit and matter, human and divine, male and female, personal and transpersonal, ego and Self. Jung calls this point of contact the soul. The points are all related as Yin to Yang: complementaries that are ultimately unities (like breathing in and out).

Dreams are the royal road to and from the unconscious. They reveal our identity, our path, our next step, what resides in us and is ready to speak. Each dream speaks to our condition. Since dreams thus reflect and presage our life predicaments, they are living examples of synchronicity, meaningful coincidence.

Unexpected Miracles by David Richo

To know who we are is a twofold task. It is first of all to know our deepest wishes and longings as well as our loves and fears. It is also to know the space that opens in us when we go beyond needs, wishes, fears and expand our love. Dreams show us how to move between one and the other, how to continue our journey. Dreams introduce us not only to parts of ourselves but to visiting archetypes who may come to free us from the domination of the ego.

Our ego identity is encrusted with habitual ways of seeing ourselves, others, and our life. It is supremely devoid of surprises, full of boring, hackneyed, and predictable responses. Our soul identity is free of habits, biases, and orthodoxy. It is full of surprises, full of grace. Within this spiritual identity is a set of accurate, appropriate, and courageous responses to whatever life may bring. Our true Self is a reliable inner repertory of powers. It is like a Swiss army knife with blades for every circumstance that may face us in the forest. Dreams come to us from this power place—or rather space—in us.

Our journey is to advance past our ego’s entrenchments long enough to feel contact with wholeness in our soul/universe. Dreams are visions from a superior intelligence that points out our ego’s blind spots and challenges us to deal with them. Dreams come from a knowledge larger than ego or our I.Q. They tell us what we do not yet know. We have minds that are unable to know the deepest truths about us! What we figure out mentally about the meaning of a dream often misses the mark because dreams speak the soul’s language to the ego. They are not ego talking to itself. Like angels, dreams are intelligent agents that come to help us. Decisions made on the basis of logic alone betray this soulful voice within us that, thanks to our dreams, will not be silent long.

Dreams do not tell us what to do but what is unlived in us. They show us where our soul—our point of connection—wants to activate. This larger intelligence is unconscious and does not use logic or clear language. The soul is the dream-maker not the logical mind. According to Jung, the soul is the connecting link between our consciousness and our unconscious. Soul is made up of images. The unconscious produces images as the body produces T-cells: pictures that tell how healing happens and even make it happen!

Dreams and synchronicity work together most conspicuously in what Jung calls the transcendent function of the psyche: a healing, synthesizing image arises automatically in a dream when we hold our warring tensions rather than side with any one of them. This powerful gift, built into the psyche, is another feature of our souls.

When we hold, rather than attach ourselves to one polarity, opposites combine. For example, we notice we are overly controlling and yet also at times overly submissive. To hold both of these is to contemplate both of them, make room for them by accepting their equal legitimacy but not acting solely from one or the other. A healing third option will arise, the soulful point of contact: I see myself in a dream being gentle and yet still asserting my rights. In this image—and consequent plan to put it into action—my quandary is resolved. I respect both sides and find a way to show both sides without violating myself or anyone else. This is how chaos becomes cosmos.

The psyche/soul is trustworthy. It synchronously produces just the image that helps us reconcile our inner oppositions. We face a conflict at the same time as the psyche provides a solution. Butterflies were the most common image on the walls of the children’s’ camps in Nazi Germany. What a touching example of the transcendent function of the beleaguered psyche!

Dreams show our conscious ego: where it is on its journey, where it has become one-sided, where changes want to happen. The face we hide from in the daylight turns back to us in dreams. What we have excluded, i.e., do not believe we can integrate, now demands inclusion since the psyche has powerful instinctive directedness: it wants to include and integrate everything split off by fear and resistance. We fear anything unknown. We fear and resist our dark side full of dangerous impulses and our light side full of potentials for good. We fear our soul; we fear the possibility of connecting our light and dark sides. Synchronously, a dream brings an image that speaks to this condition. There is a unique meaning in this unique image in our unique life for our unique destiny. And that fact makes us courageous.

How to Be an Adult in Relationships by Dave Richo

Dreams come from the divine nucleus of psyche—the soul—to the orbiting electrons of daily life. When we listen to our dreams, they take us deeper into the fertile terrain of the Self. Deeper means: a more meaningful and harmonious connection between ego/Self, i.e., more activation of our soulfulness.

Where do images come from? The psyche has a complete lexicon of images both from our life experience and from our ancestors’ and it knows exactly which one fits this occasion! This is how our soul/synchronicity is helping us do our work. To work a conflict through in one’s inner life leads to less need to obsess about it or dramatize it in one’s daily life. This is because we focus on that center in ourselves where images are generated and where opposites are reconciled. As we relate to our own ego- transcending center, we make visible the wholeness that is already and always in us.


Dreamwork means conscious imagination to amplify the unconscious messages of dreams. Dreams want to find expression or completion in our waking world. Active imagination is a way of doing this. Dreamwork is the synchronicity of unconscious message and conscious work. It is a way of expanding upon the themes and images in our dreams by dialoguing with them. This process honors the transcendent function of the psyche to unite and synthesize conscious and unconscious realms within us, our soulwork.

Dreamwork is active imagination: engaging in a dialogue with an image or figure from a dream. Active imagination makes an accommodation with our predicament, thereby negotiating a path through it. Active imagination is not simply a technique to observe the unconscious. In it the ego asserts itself and helps our unconscious see how its demands can or cannot match the conditions of reality. Dialogue helps us relate to the figures in our unconscious rather than be possessed by them, stand in awe of them, or be frightened by them. Images are immensely responsive to the compliment of contemplation. They are enlivened and animated by it. This is how the active imagination expands and completes an image.

•Amplify your dream by using this version of active imagination:

1) Empty your mind of left-brain or distracting thoughts, using these affirmations: "I let go of ordinary thinking and analyzing. I am open to the voice that wants to come through to me." "Empty" also means empty of fear and attachment, i.e., empty of ego.

2) Look at the image, noticing the "felt sense" of it: As I hold this image, what do I feel and where do I feel it in my body? Which of the seven chakras is this image most comfortable in: Survival, Sex, Power, Heartfulness, Release of free speech, Wisdom, Spiritual Power?

Steps 3-6 are done in writing:

3) Dialogue with (and become) the image. Add the phrase: "This is part of myself" to an image or, "And this is my life (or body)" to a scene. Make associations until you reach an "Aha!" the best sign of finding your personal meaning in a dream.

4) Choose nine words from all you have written to create a poem.

5) Ask for a gift or message.

6) Create an affirmation that declares the message or central point.

7) Perform a ritual that enacts the message, including thanks for it.

Dreams point to a higher potential health, not simply past crises...giving clues to the archetypes of the psyche pressing for recognition.
-Joseph Campbell

Copyright © 2002 David Richo, Ph.D. This article is an excerpt from Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity & How to Open it (Crossroad, 1998).


Shadow Dance by David Richo Mary Within by David Richo How to Be an Adult by David Richo When Love Meets Fear by David Richo

Dave Richo

David Richo, Ph.D., M.F.T., is a psychotherapist, teacher, and writer in Santa Barbara and San Francisco California who emphasizes Jungian, transpersonal, and spiritual perspectives in his work. He is the author of: How To Be An Adult (Paulist, 1991), When Love Meets Fear (Paulist, 1997), Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity and How to Open It (Crossroad,1998), Shadow Dance: Liberating the Power and Creativity of Your Dark Side (Shambhala, 1999), Catholic Means Universal: Integrating Spirituality and Religion (Crossroad, 2000), Mary Within: A Jungian Contemplation of Her Titles and Powers (Crossroad, 2001), How To Be An Adult in Relationships (Shambhala, 2002). Dr. Richo’s tape and book catalog can be viewed on the web


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