Tuesday, May 12, 2009

J. W. Dunne's "An Experiment with Time"

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Many people throughout history have claimed to have had prophetic dreams which have foretold of future events. Likewise, almost everybody has at one time or another experienced what is commonly referred to as da-ja-vu. If these phenomena were taken at face value, they would entail that our minds go beyond the generally accepted boundaries of space-time. Most of the time such events are considered either coincidence or the mind playing tricks on us. There is no proof that people can see into the future ---or is there? In J.W. Dunne's studies, he has uncovered a common thread in the content of almost everybody's dreams. This common thread may prove that our subconscious minds are in deed capable of seeing into the future. If we look at a dream's content with an open mind, there seems to be an equal number of events which correspond to the recent past as to the near future. The future events in question are generally statistically unlikely to have been guessed and often virtually impossible to have been logically predicted. It should be noted that upon making this discovery, J.W. Dunne did not believe in clairvoyance nor astral-wandering nor messages from the dead or dying. This was because J.W. Dunne was not compelled to take knowledge of the paranormal second-hand from some 'clairvoyant' or 'medium' ---with all the important points left out and a mass of misleading suggestion thrown in. For, the only reason that J.W. Dunne studied and came to believe these phenomena is they had happened, one and all, to himself.

J.W. Dunne assumed that if his dreams were often precognitive, then logically the average person must also have similar dreams. It may be asked how the average person may dream of future events and not even realize it, especially after the event in question actually occurs. The answer to this question is simple. First of all, the vast majority of dreams are forgotten the moment one wakes up. Second, when these congruencies are found, they are usually shrugged off as coincidence. And finally, people simply do not believe that they can see the future and therefore are unwilling to accept that such events have taken place. Accepting the prophetic nature of dreams, after all, would entail that popular science does not fully understand the workings of time in its relationship with mankind. An attempt to prove that this phenomena does indeed exist is the subject of the next chapter entitled, "The Experiment". There you will find that even the average person's dreaming mind is also capable of looking into the future.

The following are some examples of J.W. Dunne's own dreams that first led him to believe that there was something more to dreams than he would have liked to believe. After the dreams of J.W. Dunne are a few examples of personal dreams belonging to the author of this web-site, D. As odd as it may sound, D has found that J.W. Dunne's findings hold true in his own dreams as well.
Examples of J.W. Dunne's Dream Content from Part II, THE PUZZLE

The First incident provided a very fair example of what might easily have passed for 'clairvoyance'. It occurred in 1899, when I was staying at an hotel in Sussex. I dreamed, one night, that I was having an argument with one of the waiters as to what was the correct time. I asserted that it was half-past four in the afternoon: he maintained that it was half-past four in the middle of the night. With the apparent illogicality peculiar to all dreams, I concluded that my watch must have stopped, and, on extracting that instrument from my waistcoat pocket, I saw, looking down on it, that this was precisely the case. It had stopped ---with the hands at half-past four. With that I awoke. The dream had been a peculiar one, and the net result of it all was that I lit a match to see whether the watch had really stopped. To my surprise it was not, as it usually is, by my bedside. I got out of bed, hunted round, and found it lying on the chest of drawers. Sure enough, it had stopped, and the hands stood at half-past four.

The solution seemed perfectly obvious. The watch must have stopped during the previous afternoon. I must have noticed this, forgotten it, and remembered it in my dream. Satisfied on that point, I rewound the instrument, but, not knowing the real time, I left the hands as they were.

On coming downstairs next morning, I made straight for the nearest clock, with the object of setting the watch right. For if, as I supposed, it had stopped during the previous afternoon, and had merely been rewound at some unknown hour of the night, it was likely to be out by several hours (In other words, it was extremely unlikely that I should have dreamed of half-past four at precisely half-past four).

To my absolute amazement I found that the hands had lost only some two or three minutes ---about the amount of time which had elapsed between my waking from the dream and rewinding the watch.

This suggested, of course, that the watch had stopped at the actual moment of the dream (The probability of my having dreamed of half-past four at half-past four must be multiplied by the improbability of my having been bothered by a stopped watch on the previous afternoon without retaining the faintest recollection of such a fact). The latter was probably brought about by my missing the accustomed ticking. But ---how did I come to see, in that dream, that the hands stood, as they actually did, at half-past four?

* * * *
Then came an incident of an entirely different character.

In January of 1901, I dreamed that I was at a place which I took to be Fashoda, a little way up the Nile from Khartoum. The dream was a perfectly ordinary one, and by no means vivid, except in one particular. this was the sudden appearance of three men coming from the South. They were marvelously ragged, dressed in khaki faded to the colour of sackcloth; and their faces under their dusty helmets were burned almost black. They looked in fact, exactly like soldiers of the column with which I had lately been trekking in South Africa, and such I took them to be. I was puzzled as to why they should have traveled all the way from that country to the Sudan, and I questioned them on that point. They assured me, however, that this was precisely what they had done. 'We have come right through from the Cape,' said one. Another added: 'I've had an awful time. I nearly died of yellow fever.'

The remainder of the dream was unimportant.

At that time we were receiving the Daily Telegraph regularly from England. On opening this paper at breakfast, the morning after the dream, my eye was caught by the following headlines:

From our
special corespondent.
KHARTOUM, Thursday (5 p.m.).
The Daily Telegraph
expedition has arrived at
Khartoum after a magnificent journey etc., etc.

A note in another part of the paper stated that the expedition was led by M. Lionel Decle. I heard or read subsequently that one of the three white men of the party had died en route; not, however, of yellow fever, but of enteric. Whether this was true, or whether there were three white leaders, I don't know.

One or two remarks may be made here.

I had heard, some years previously, that M. Lionel Decle was contemplating some such trans-continental journey; but I did not know that anything had come of the scheme. Certainly I had no idea that the expedition had started.

The expedition arrived at Khartoum the day before the news was published in London, and thus long before I had the dream, as that issue of the paper had to get from London to Alassio, and the dream did not occur till the night before its arrival. This put any 'astral-wandering' business completely out of the question.
I attempted no explanation.
* * * *

In the sprint of 1902, I was encamped with the 6th Mounted Infantry near the ruins of Lindley, in the (then) Orange Free State. We had just come of trek, and mails and newspapers arrived but rarely.

There, one night, I had an unusually vivid and rather unpleasant dream . . . about an island which I recognized as an island of which I had dreamed before --an island which was in imminent peril from a volcano. And, when I saw the vapor spouting from the ground, I gasped: 'It's the island! God Lord, the whole thing is going to blow up!' . . . Forthwith I was seized with a frantic desire to save the four thousand (I knew the number) unsuspecting inhabitants. Obviously there was only one way of doing this, and that was to take them off in ships. There followed a most distressing nightmare, in which I was at a neighboring island, trying to get the incredulous French authorities to dispatch vessels of every and any description to remove the inhabitants of the threatened island. I was sent from one official to another; clinging to the heads of a team of horses drawing the carriage of one 'Mounsieur le Maire', who was going out to dine and wanted me to return when his office would be open next day. All through the dream the number of the people in danger obsesses my mind. I repeated it to everyone I met, and, at the moment of waking, I was shouting to the 'Maire', 'Listen! Four thousand people will be killed unless----'
I am not certain now when we received our next batch of papers, but, when they did come, the Daily Telegraph was amongst them, and, on opening the center sheet, this is what met my eyes:

40,000 LIVES
One of the most terrible disasters in the annals
of the world has
befallen the once prosperous town
of St. Pierre, the commercial capital of
the French
island of Martinique in the West Indies. At eight
on Thursday morning the volcano Mont
Pelee which had been quiescent
for a century,
etc., etc.

But there is no need to go over the story of the worst eruption in modern history.

In another column of the same paper was the following, the headlines being somewhat smaller:


There followed the report of the schooner Ocean Traveler, which had been obliged to leave St. Vincent owing to a fall of sand from the volcano there, and had subsequently been unable to reach St. Lucia owning to adverse currents opposite the ill-fated St. Pierre. The paragraph contained these words:

'When she was about a mile off, the
volcano Mont Pelee exploded', etc., etc.

* * * *

. . . The more I thought of the two episodes the clearer it became that, in each case, the dream had been precisely the sort of thing I might have expected to have experienced after reading the printed report ---a perfectly ordinary dream based upon the personal experience of reading. How, then, could I be sure that those dreams had not been false memories engendered by the act of reading?

But there was the watch business to be taken into account. That, certainly could not be made to fit in with the new theory, unless I were a great deal madder than I could bring myself to believe.

I was, however, absolutely satisfied that neither in the Cape to Cairo nor in the Mont Pelee dream had there been any 'astral-wandering', or any direct vision across leagues of space, or any 'messages' from the actors in the actual episodes represented. These dreams had been induced, either by the reading of the paragraphs, or else by telepathic communications from the journalist in the Daily Telegraph office who had written those accounts.
* * * *
Then came a dream which somewhat simplified the matter (1904). For it ruled out definitely: insanity, clairvoyance, astral-wandering, spirit-messages, and telepathy. But it left me face to face with something much more staggering than any of these.

. . . I dreamed one night that I was walking down a sort of pathway between two fields, separated from the latter by high iron railings, eight or nine feet high, on each side of the path. My attention was suddenly attracted to a horse in the field on my left. It had apparently gone mad, and was tearing about, kicking and plunging in a most frenzied fashion. I cast a hasty glance backwards and forwards along the railings to see if there were any openings by which the animal could get out. Satisfied that there was none, I continued on my way. A few moments later I heard the hoofs thundering behind me. Glancing back I saw, to my dismay, that the brute had somehow got out after all, and was coming full tilt after me down the pathway. It was a full-fledged nightmare ---and I ran like a hare. Ahead of me the path ended at the foot of a flight of wooden steps rising upward. I was striving frantically to reach these when I awoke.

Next day I went fishing with my brother . . . my brother called out: 'Look at that horse!' Glancing across the river, I saw the scene of my dream. But, though right in essentials, it was absolutely unlike in minor details. The two fields with the fenced-off pathway running between them were there. The horse was there, behaving just as it had done in the dream. The wooden steps at the end of the pathway were there (they led up to a bridge crossing the river). But the fences were wooden and small ---not more than four or five feet high ---and the fields were ordinary small fields, whereas those in the dream had been park-like expanses. Moreover, the horse was a small beast, and not the rampaging great monster of the dream --though its behavior was equally alarming. Finally, it was the wrong field, the field which would have been on my right, had I been walking, as in the dream, down the path towards the bridge. I began to tell my brother about the dream, but broke off because the beast was behaving so very oddly that I wanted to make sure that it could not escape. As in the dream, I ran my eye critically along the railings. As in the dream, I could see no gap, or even gate, in them anywhere. Satisfied, I said, 'At any rate, this horse cannot get out', and recommenced fishing. But my brother interrupted me by calling, 'Look out!' Glancing up again, I saw that the horse was no dodging fate. The beast had, inexplicably, just as in the dream, got out (probably it had jumped the fence), and, just as in the dream, it was thundering down the path towards to wooden steps. It swerved past these and plunged into the river, coming straight towards us. We both picked up stones, ran thirty yards or so back from the bank, and faced about. The end was tame, for, on emerging from the water on our side, the animal merely looked at us, snorted, and galloped off down a road.

Now, it seemed to me that from this incident one thing was abundantly clear. These dreams were not percepts (impressions) of distant or future events. They were the usual common place dreams composed of distorted images of waking experience, built together in the usually half-senseless fashion peculiar to dreams. That is to say, if they had happened on the nights after the corresponding events, they would have exhibited nothing in the smallest degree unusual, and would have yielded just as much true, and just as much false, information regarding the waking experiences which had given rise to them as any ordinary dream --which is very little . . . they were occurring on the wrong nights . . . They were merely displaced in Time.

* * * *

One morning (in 1912) while in (the city of Salisbury Plain) I dreamed that I was standing in a very large meadow, situated in a landscape which I did not recognize. In this meadow a monoplane landed, crashing rather badly . . . Immediately afterwards I saw Lieutenant B. coming to me from the direction of the wreck. I asked if much damage had been done. He replied, 'Oh no, not much,' and then added 'Its all that beastly engine; but I've got the hang of it now.' The dream was a longish one, all about aeroplane accidents, a common form of nightmare with me, even to this day, and Lieutenant B.'s smash was by no means the worst thing I saw. I awoke ot find the servant by my bedside with the morning tea, from which fact I was subsequently able to fix the hour of the dream as close on 8 a.m. Lieutenant B. was killed between 7 and 8 that morning, falling into a meadow near Oxford. But I did not read of the accident until two days and a night later.

But now, note the following points: 1. Engine failure had nothing whatever to do with the accident, nor could B. for one moment have ever thought that it had. For the monoplane was planting down ---with the engine partly or entirely stopped ---at the time; and the accident was due to the uncoupling of a quick-release gadget in one of the main 'lift' wires . . . 2. B. was merely a passenger in the machine. It was being piloted by another man, a stranger to me, who was also killed. There was nothing of this in the dream . . . 4. The coincidence in time was not really remarkable. Dreams of aeroplane accidents were, as I have said, very frequent with me in those days . . .

* * * *

During autumn of 1913, I dreamed of a train falling off embankment just north of the Firth of Forth Bridge, in Scotland.

On April the 14th of that spring the 'Flying Scotsman', one of the most famous mail trains of the period, jumped the parapet near Burntisland Station, about fifteen miles north of the Forth Bridge, and fell on the golf links twenty feet below.

Examples of D's Dreams (the author of this web-site)

The first dream that I recall coming true was back around 1980, when I was about seven or eight years old.

In this dream, my pet dog, whom I'd grown up with, had injured her foot. Blood from her wound was all over the back patio. My father had tried to put a band aide on the wound to stop the bleeding.

The next day, I awoke to find blood on the back porch just like in the dream. My dog had indeed cut her foot. And, yes ---my father tried to put a band aide around the dog's toe. Unfortunately the band aide quickly came off and would not hold in place, even after repeated attempts.

I had told my parents about this dream and they shrugged it off as if I'd just made the whole thing up. My brother, who is a few years older than me, however claimed to have had the same dream. Only in his version, everything looked like a cartoon, not like a real-life picture. At the time, I didn't believe him. I thought he was just trying to make fun or humor me. But, looking back, I have to wonder. Perhaps next time we see each other, I'll ask him if he remembers the incident.

* * * *

The most vivid dream of a future event which I can recall also happened when I was quite young. This dream took place in 1984 when I was 11 years old. My family was just about to move from Kansas to Texas. It was my first big move and I was worried about who my friends might be in Texas. I prayed with all my might that God might send me an answer.

That night, my last night in Kansas, I dreamed that I was on a school bus. There were only a few kids on the bus and they introduced themselves to me. Their names were Bri, Pat, and Shawn. One was a dark-headed guy with a big belt buckle. The second was thin and blond. The third was kind of big and dark skinned.

A couple of days later, I was in Texas about to start my first day of school. I got on the school bus. I looked around and was dumbfounded by what I saw. The only thought running through my head was, "these are the people from my dream." As I gathered my thoughts, they began to introduce themselves to me. I was going over their names in my head just prior to their introduction. What's more is that these three kids were my best friends for the next five years. I rarely did anything without one of these three by my side. There was no doubt in my mind but that I had been given a glimpse into the future via my dream.

* * * *

While going attending college in Athens, Georgia, I had another such experience. The date was January 16th, 1996 and I was 22 years old. But this time the dream was less personal.

I woke up recalling a dream in which a very small plane crashed in a field close to some houses. I was very bothered by this dream. It seemed so real that I wondered if anyone I knew had been killed. First thing upon awaking, I wrote this dream in my journal.

Later in the day, I saw on the news that a small airplane had crashed in a field somewhere in Atlanta, not too far from where I was now living. The crash was said to have been early morning and two people were killed in the accident. The names of the dead were not at this time being released. To this day, I still do not know if the victims were in anyway connected to me.

The fascinating aspect of this case is that I had recorded the event before I had gained word of the event in question. However, like in some of J.W. Dunne's dreams, the actual event took place at about the same time as when I had been sleeping. It is likely that it was not the actual plane crash that I had caused the dream but rather the news report of the event for which I had foreknowledge.

* * * *

While still in Athens, I had another prophetic dream but this time directly relating to myself. The date was May 20th, 1996. Like the last event, I recorded this dream in my journal upon awakening. However, this time the foreknowledge was a bit abstracted. Still, the subject matter was too surprisingly accurate to be overlooked.

In the dream, a police officer was searching my house for marijuana (belonging to my roommate?). The officer entered my room and rummaged around, overlooking the bag of paraphernalia lying on my desk in plain sight. Repeatedly, he looked at the T-shirt I was wearing, depicting the moon smoking a joint. He appeared to be angry that he couldn't bust such an obvious pot-head. The following day, seven hours after waking up, a message was left on my answering machine. I did not hear this message until later that evening. The message was from my good friend, Rhiannon. In it, she said that the cops would be coming by looking for Tracie and that I and my roommates should hide our paraphernalia. At the time, I didn't know that Tracie was wanted for anything, and I had no reason to suspect that the police would have been coming to my house. This message was totally out of the blue.

There obviously was some correlation between Rhiannon's message and my dream about the police and paraphernalia. The chances of this being a mere coincidence was simply too small. What are the odds: a million to one, a billion to one? Perhaps even higher. The irony of the situation is that the cops never came to my apartment and nobody even questioned me in regards to Tracie. I did however dispose of my paraphernalia just in case.
I hope that this mention of drug use does not lead some readers to suspect mental incompetence. The fact is that many people have experimented with drugs while in college and not had any long term affects. Today, I am a successful professional. My work title is Sr. Logistics Business Analyst and I am working on a very complex global systems project.

* * * *

Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell when a dream is of a prophetic nature. For example: Early in 2005, my wife was pregnant and we had been discussing baby names. My pseudo-prophetic dream was extremely vivid. I was holding a beautiful curly haired baby girl. I called her “Emily Elizabeth”. This was a name that my wife and I had never discussed. Later, we agreed that we both liked it. Soon after, my wife had a miscarriage. We honored the baby with the name from my dream. However I will never hold this baby. It will never be born. And, we will never use the name for another baby.