When doing the inner work needed to become self actualized, the image of the wedding might also be prevalent in our dreams. When we begin to dream of weddings, it can be a hopeful sign that the process of unification can finally begin, particularly if the ego (you in your dream) is not directly involved in the wedding.
By ‘directly involved,’ I mean that if you are one of the couple getting married then the dream is probably about something else like possession or seduction by certain aspects of the unconscious.
Because the wedding is a union of opposites bringing about unification, the main characters in the wedding are usually figures other than the ego itself.
“I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:10-11
And Luke 13:29 says, “And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Here the kingdom of heaven is shown as a great gathering together that includes all humanity. In Luke’s Gospel, Sanford says, because he mentions all four compass points, the image is that of a mandala, which suggests wholeness or totality.
“The unity of the kingdom is a creative, not a static, unity,” Sanford says. “It is not a peace of quiescence, but a creative inner relatedness.”
Because God is primarily a Creator, his kingdom generates a continual source of new energies and possibilities. That is why, on an experiential level, no human being ever reaches the end of his or her journey, he says. For, as the kingdom begins to become a reality within, there is generated from within a host of new possibilities that consciousness can fulfill. So, the life of the kingdom is dynamic and continually evolving.
This brings new meaning to the story of the great catch of fish:
“[Jesus] said to Simon, ‘Put out in deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signaled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.” Luke 5:4-7
Fish are a favorite dream symbol because they can represent the contents of the inner world. While they may lurk under the surface and may be difficult to see, they can also be caught with patience and skill. And when they are caught, they may be eaten and, as such, taken into oneself. The contents of the inner world are also below the surface and, similar to the fish, taken into consciousness and become as food for our lives.
Obviously, the above is not the only reference to fish in the New Testament: the disciples are fishermen, the multitudes are fed with fish, a fish is caught to supply tax money, and it is the first food Jesus eats after his resurrection, to name a few.
According to Sanford, creativity is a function of the inner imagination, not of the ego. Creativity comes when we are in contact with the living contents of the inner world–the inner fish–and, bringing them to the surface, give them expression in life.
“When one is in contact with the creative aspects of the inner world,” he says, “one comes into possession of a vast treasure. Their is no higher gift in life than the gift of creativity.”
“Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But, store up treasure for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21/Luke 12:33-34.
Sanford says that in the Bible, “heaven” does not refer to a geographical location, but rather to spiritual reality. Treasures on earth are obviously material values and possessions which are notoriously perishable. Treasures in heaven are inner values, treasures of the spirit, a creative inner wealth, and these are imperishable.
This same motif appears in our dreams when we encounter a treasure. Coins can be found hidden in the ground, or a marvelous piece of jewelry may appear, or a large sum of money may come our way. These often refer to inner treasures with a spiritual or psychological value.
It is not about rejecting the material aspects of life for the sake of the spiritual. The material is needed to survive. Rather, we are asked to put the spiritual first; to realize that the material is necessary but not the ultimate goal.
So, in essence, the coming of the kingdom represents the “end of the world,” in the psychological sense that it is the end of an old order and the establishment of a new order of being, Sanford says.
“The ‘complete human being’–that is the Son of Man–is at the heart the heart of this new person born into the kingdom of God,” he says. “Because personality is the ultimately valuable thing in creation, since it’s life most unique expression, and because the kingdom is the goal of personality, the kingdom is futuristic and goal-centered.”
“If then they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the desert,’ do not go there; ‘Look he is in some hiding place,’ do not believe it; because the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into the west.” Matthew 24:26-27/Luke 17:23-24
Necessarily, the establishment of the kingdom brings great insight (lightning). Two kinds of knowledge have always been available to humans: knowledge of the outer, physical world, which is available through the methods of science; and knowledge of the inner world, spiritual knowledge that comes through inner gnosis or insight.
Our dreams often pick up on this lightning imagery, as well. A person on the verge of a significant and revealing inner experience may dream of a great flash of lightning, or a resplendent mountain, or go on a mysterious journey under the sea on some mission of great importance, or discover some mysteriously significant object.
The suddeness with which our inner reality may burst upon us is often represented by a flood in our dreams. Because water, in the form of the ocean, rivers, floods, torrents, streams, pools, etc., is a favorite symbol for inner reality, it is the symbol par excellence for the origin of our psychic life. Therefore, a flood is a sign that our inner reality has caught us unawares.
“Inner reality is beyond our control,” Sanford says. “We cannot predict or control the inner realm any more than we can predict and control our dreams. We can only be conscious and seek to be prepared to understand.”
Jesus says, “So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. . . . Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:42/Luke 12:39-40
When the Son of Man does arrive, when inner reality floods our consciousness, it will bring with it a reorganization of the personality so violent and complete that it can be described in only apocalyptic images. This reorganization might take place very quickly or over a long period of time, but the result will still be the same: the old attitudes and structures of the personality must give way to the new ones.
Jesus portrayed this vividly: “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven; then too all the people of the earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather his chosen from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31/Luke 21:25-27/Mark 13:24-27
Dreams frequently occur in which the heavenly bodies play a major role. We dream of the sun or moon or find ourselves gazing up into a brilliant starry night. The heavenly bodies refer to the archetypal contents of the inner world, the dominant psychic forces that powerfully influence consciousness. And, once again, the image of the four winds, signifies a mandala or totality and completeness.
“Another way in which the mystery of the coming of the kingdom is expressed is in the image of the Undivided Person,” Sanford says. “Unity is the goal of the kingdom.”
Thus the masculine-feminine division represented by the wedding as the male and female unite as one: both physically through intercourse, and psychologically through the act of sex representing an image of a higher unity that can take place within the individual as the diverse parts become one with each other. The union of masculine and feminine is therefore the symbol for the union of the psyche, and the image of marriage is, naturally, the primary representation of their inner mystery.
The opposite sides of the personality are so different that only a great force can draw them together in union. This power is love. Love is a stronger power than the forces of disunion. In love, even opposites can become one, and their differences unite in one indivisible whole. This is why love is the strongest power there is, stronger than sin, or death, or evil.
In the end, nothing can be excluded that belongs to human wholeness. In the kingdom, body, soul, and spirit, sexuality, eros, and meaning–all are part of totality.
Next Week: Conclusion: Christianity–A Religion for a Modern Era