This is the third in a series of Friday posts on this blog called Friday Thoughts, or #Foughts, an in depth discussion on a character or topic I have found particularly interesting, or has divided opinion. Our universe is ancient, or ageless, and holds as many mysteries as it explains our existence. Could it be hiding a huge mystery that could explain many unexplained phenomena, including dreams in which foretellings are told or things are familiar yet look wholly dissimilar?
I am not a prolific dreamer. Most of what I remember from sleeping is snippets of scenarios that make absolutely no sense and don’t follow the laws of physics or logic. However, over the past few years I have occasionally dipped into ‘other dreams’, the dreams in which I am in a place I have never seen in my life but is familiar to me. I have visited a particular shopping centre three times, and each time it has a new extension to it. I have looked at universities and houses and most recently had a drink in the student union, although this university is nothing like the real one which I have attended for the past two years. These ‘other dreams’ got me thinking: is there another me living in an alternative universe doing the same things that I am doing? Are these dreams just me taking a peek into what the other me is up to? And does the other me take a peek into my life too?
Typing the words ‘dreams alternative universe’ into the search bar, I wasn’t feeling optimistic. There is probably a psychological reason for them – perhaps my brain reinterpreting my current situations in its unique way, much the same as drowning in a dream could be interpreted as me struggling under a new responsibility. But I found that I’m not the only one who has been asking the same questions.
People have found themselves in an alternate reality when they go to sleep, and they have even found love in this reality, returning each night to their soulmate living in this other world, only to be ripped away from them every morning. Is this the brain’s way to escape a miserable unfulfilled life? Or are people generally dipping into an alternate reality in which their parallel self has a more satisfying life?
Dreams: A Coping Strategy?
There is research on how dreams are the brain’s methods to cope with stress. Nightmares reflect a fear that we currently have in our waking life, such as dreaming of a surgery if you are scheduled for surgery in the coming weeks, or dreaming of a bad driving experience if you are scheduled for your driving test. There is a way that you can control your dreams, called ‘lucid dreaming’, where people have had amazing experiences they could control. They often say that their dreams are more vivid and make them feel much more optimistic about their life when they wake. Perhaps this is one explanation for these ‘other’ dreams. People are themselves but the world they see looks different, even if the people and places feel familiar, because their brain either cannot remember details or interprets them differently. If you drew a picture of your face right now without looking in the mirror, how accurate would it be? Probably not that much because the way you look in your head is slightly different to the way you actually look.
So what if you have no worries in your waking life that are stressing you? What if, when you dip into these dreams, you have no control over them? You are simply watching your other self doing things in your other life. Was Paul McCartney stealing from his other life when he heard the lyrics to ‘Yesterday’ in his dream? Or was he just stuck on ideas and his brain chose the dream to solve his problem? To investigate if dreams can be a kind of doorway into a different reality, we have to look at the credibility of an alternate reality in the first place.
The Theory of a Parallel Universe
We don’t know where the universe ends. We don’t know what’s outside our universe. Is it too far-fetched to believe that there is a copy of our universe in which a copy of ourselves live? This leads us to the ‘multiverse theory’. Think about your life up until this moment. Think about every choice you have made as a crossroads. Whenever you have chosen particular friends over other people, whenever you have moved to a different house, whenever you have chosen a certain job offer over another: at each crossroad you have walked down one of the roads, leaving the other choice behind. In each universe, your other self will have chosen the other option, and will be living that now. All that has happened and all that will happen is already happening in another universe.
We know that everything around us is 3-dimensional. Although the planets are spherical, the universe is actually flat. This detail could mean that parallel universes are hiding on ether side of ours. Physicists are open to the idea that there is a fourth or even fifth dimension to our universe (in some theories, even 9), just that we cannot see the other dimensions where the other universes could be hiding. If you think of sitting in a boat on the surface of the sea. From your point of view all you can see is what is above the sea around you, and from the point of view of the fish beneath the water they can only see what is below the sea around them. It is like two different universes that cannot see each other. For all you know there is nothing below you, and for all the fish know there is nothing above them.
Many of us have had that uncanny feeling that we’ve seen or heard something before, a déjà vu. Commonly we dream of something before it happens, which questions the fabric of time itself, but if an alternate reality exists and we visit them in a dream, it could explain how we have a déjà vu. A parallel universe could also explain why people see UFOs or ghosts – people from that universe travelling to ours. There are many eerie stories of people who have unseemingly stepped into an alternate reality, finding themselves in places they thought they knew but were completely different. One comforting point from the multiverse theory is that when we die we could just hop across to another reality. But is it possible to hop across while we’re alive, and dreaming?
Is Consciousness Capable of Travel?
Many people have experienced lucid dreaming in which they can control their events. In this type of dreaming, they are already in the dream world around them, and although they can travel to places or fly or speak to anybody they wish in this world they are technically only travelling to a world in their mind, encased in their physical body.
There are ways that a person’s consciousness seems to travel to a different place and even a different dimension, things that they cannot even begin to explain. Drugs have been a gateway to escaping waking life and over the centuries have been used to help people escape their problems. N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is an illegal, psychedelic, tryptamine compound found in the human body and is often referred to as the ‘Spirit Molecule’. It is thought that this compound is released in our brains during birth, dreams and death, and could explain near-death experiences. During a trip on DMT, people have described these strange creatures in another dimension that have tried communicating with them and people feel enormous love and understanding, as if they’ve discovered a new fabric of our universe and mortality that we cannot possibly see in our day to day lives. Although this doesn’t necessarily prove the existence of another dimension, it shows that the consciousness can reach other levels of interpreting or ‘seeing’ the world and so could this also enable us to be able to travel further than we think? Talking about his own trip, Terence McKenna says that the beings often met in this other dimension could be a parallel continuum which cannot be reached through starships but ‘magical doorways opened via rituals and things like that’.
Another way of ‘conscious travel’ is a method called ‘astral travel’ or ‘astral projection’. This is when a person removes their spirit or consciousness away from the physical body while sleeping. It is an out of body experience with stories of successful projection sounding similar to DMT trips. People who have tried astral projection describe it as your spirit having a silver cord to your physical body, tethering you so that you can travel through a dimension and find your way back. To understand astral projection, you have to see the world as a physical world and a spiritual world, and through this projection you are walking among the spiritual world, and so this is not a method to reach parallel worlds but just another dimension of our own physical world. Again, some people’s experiences involve meeting people they know in their daily life but are slightly different or work at a different place as if visiting a parallel universe.
Can You Access a Parallel Universe Through Your Dreams?
We may never know for sure if it’s possible to even travel to a parallel universe, never mind determine that our dreams can take us there. However, physicists state that there is a true possibility that these multiverses exist just outside of ours that we may never be able to physically investigate. The fact that there are unexplained phenomena in the world that could point towards other dimensions, either parallel or unseen in this universe, unravels a tapestry of questions and mysteries that whisper the existence of something we cannot feasibly comprehend or understand. DMT or the ‘Spirit Molecule’ could be explained by delusions or hallucinations but when people are experiencing the same kind of trips and beings on these trips, it makes you question whether this drug is a gateway to something higher. And the fact that DMT is found in plants and our own bodies naturally, only threads more possibilities in the world as we know it. Being able to control dreams through lucid dreaming and explore a higher dimension through astral projection shows that our consciousness is more accessible to reaching newer places outside our physical bodies. Our consciousness can do amazing things and show us amazing things, but the limitation is that it is subjective to each person.
After all the scientific study to determine the size and age of our universe and what it holds, we are still left with a void of mystery. There is an unbelievably huge amount of universe that we cannot observe from our position and may never observe. Even scientists that have dedicated decades of their life in pursuit of life’s greatest answers still cannot solve many elusive mysteries.
If this article leaves you feeling deflated and all the more confuddled, here is one comforting thought you can take from it: there is so much more to our world than we can imagine. Doesn’t that make you feel lucky to be alive and living on this complex, stupendous, wondrous world? And perhaps many others…