Soulfulness In Our
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
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.
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,
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
•Amplify your dream by using this version of active
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
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
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
Copyright © 2002 David Richo, Ph.D. This article is an excerpt from
Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity & How
to Open it (Crossroad, 1998).
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
Dance: Liberating the Power and Creativity of Your Dark
Side (Shambhala, 1999),
Universal: Integrating Spirituality
and Religion (Crossroad, 2000), Mary
Within: A Jungian Contemplation of Her Titles and Powers
How To Be An Adult in Relationships (Shambhala,
2002). Dr. Richo’s tape and book catalog can be viewed
on the web