Sun 17 Sep 2006
I had a lucid dream today. I don’t remember everything, but I was walking through a German town (I’m from Berlin, Germany). When I realized that I was dreaming, I started to look around, fascinated by the degree of detail that the human brain is able to create in imagination. Being more interested in what was happening, I started to lose the dream a few times, feeling my real body lying on the bed, sleeping, or rather dozing. But somehow I stayed in the dream for long enough for the following experiment:
I was walking by a bus or tram stop and saw a transport network plan. I decided to read it. As it turns out, I was in Cottbus, a middle-sized town in East Germany. I have never been to Cottbus in real life. The network plan contained all the stations the buses, or trams, in Cottbus stop at. Suddenly I had an idea: I wanted to challenge my brain, challenge the completeness and correctness of its imagination. I tried to read the station names, with the intent to later, when I was awake, find them on the real transport network plan of Cottbus.
As it stands, my mind couldn’t lie to my awareness: I plainly wasn’t able to read the text. I saw lines that resembled something that could be text in some other language, but it weren’t latin letters. (The text “Cottbus” was written readably with latin letters.) Everytime I looked at one specific bus stop label, it seemed to hav changed from the last time. For this reason I had problems remembering a specific label. I do remember though how the script generally looked like: It contained strokes, mainly from top to bottom and diagonal ones, and arcs like in C or ). These elements were less connected that latin letters; in a word of the length of 10 latin letters there were maybe 20 such strokes and arcs.
Why did my mind allow me to read the plan in the first place? As I’ve never been to Cottbus and have never seen the plan of public transport, it couldn’t possibly show me the real plan. I knew that, as well as my mind. (That sentence sounds a little insane, so let’s rephrase it: My awareness knew that as well as the mind of my physical ego, which was dreaming at the time. Read more about you, awareness and ego on Steve Pavlinas web log.)
On the time line in the dream, I first saw the plan and only then decided to take a detailed look at it, so it was too late for my mind to not let me see it. And I hadn’t thought of the challenge yet. So I didn’t expect to see something that I will later compare with reality. Before looking at the station labels though, I already thought of the challenge. And my mind knew that I was specifically after tricking it. So it decided to do something about it. After all this is a dream, and in a dream it’s possible for text to be just not readable. In the end my mind tricked my awareness.