Bombast and Flitterflop discuss dreams about which there are so many misconceptions and wrong theories

PART NINE of Astral Conversations—an unusual series of investigations into the occult with a humorous twist.


The subject of dreams has exercised the mind of man since the dawn of time. In recent years neuroscientists have taken up the study of dreams and even coined a name for this branch of science: oneirology. But despite their best efforts, the nature and function of dreams continues to elude them. This is not surprising when we consider that neither science nor the average New Age mystic knows that we have two minds, nor that consciousness does not reside in the brain, but in these two minds, which use the brain in the same way a driver uses a motor-car.

During their conversation, our intrepid miners of Truth dissect the woolly-headed speculations of scientists and New Agers alike, and in comparing them with the proven facts of Occult Science, arrive at some remarkable conclusions which we venture to hope will be of interest to all our readers, whether they are occultists, mystics, scientists or anything else under the Sun.

FLITTERFLOP: "I've been thinking a lot about dreams lately."

BOMBAST: "And what conclusions have you reached?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Scientists haven't a clue what dreams really are."

BOMBAST: "Touché! I had the privilege, or perhaps 'misfortune' would be a better word, to attend a seminar on dreams the other day and was appalled by the abysmal ignorance and breathtaking arrogance of the numpty—sorry—'world-renowned neuroscientist'—who was the keynote speaker."

FLITTERFLOP: "Does he have a name?"

BOMBAST: "She does, but I'm not going to give it in case she should ever read this and sue the trousers off me!"

FLITTERFLOP: "Very wise. So what did she say that so upset you?"

BOMBAST: "That dreams were just a hotchpotch of the brain's 'machine code' that we can't and shouldn't try to understand. She went on to say that people shouldn't waste their time delving into their own unconscious, because, in the considered opinion of this pundit of poppycock, consciousness is like a company director who shouldn't try to micromanage all the lower-level activities of his company because that would be disruptive and distract him from focusing properly on the big picture."

FLITTERFLOP: "Which is?"

BOMBAST: "Getting paid huge wodges of cash for spouting nonsense at scientific seminars, probably, or slapping electrodes on the head of some poor guinea pig and writing up the results in peer-reviewed neuroscience journals for other numpties to endlessly cite."

FLITTERFLOP: "It sounds to me that she's pretty clueless about dreams."

BOMBAST: "Completely clueless. The latest scientific theory which goes by the nonsensical name of the 'activation-synthesis hypothesis', states that dreams don't actually mean anything at all. We supposedly make them up after we wake up by extracting random thoughts and images from our memories. Considering that we spend a third of our lives sleeping—or in your case two thirds—one might be forgiven for thinking scientists ought to know all about dreams by now, but the little they do know is either blindingly obvious or mostly wrong."


BOMBAST: "It is widely claimed by neuroscientists that the only people we can see in dreams are already known to us, proving, in their view, that dreams are simply the random reconstruction of our memories. This is palpably untrue; for almost everyone has dreamed of people they don't know and have never met in their waking life. Another misconception is that some people only dream in black and white."

FLITTERFLOP: "They must be the same people who think in black and white."

BOMBAST: "That would exclude this neuroscientist, for she exhibited precious few signs of any thinking! Among her more inane remarks was the unsurprising claim that women dream differently to men and that men have more aggressive dreams than women. Who would have thought that men were more aggressive than women?! Another gem she came out with was that a large percentage of people have anxious or frightening dreams. I wonder why that is? Could it be because many people lead anxious and frightening lives? When you exclude these obvious deductions—which a child of five could have come up with—you're left with the inescapable fact that the only thing science really knows about dreams is that we have them."

FLITTERFLOP: "How does science explain prophetic dreams?"

BOMBAST: "It doesn't. If it did, it would have to throw overboard all its silly theories about consciousness and embrace the concept of spirit, which is about as likely as you dreaming of next week's wining lottery numbers a week in advance. Instead, science dismisses precognitive dreams as 'coincidence' by saying that the predictions arising from them are triggered by something we experience afterwards, leading us to suppose we magically predicted the future."

FLITTERFLOP: "That really is lame. What if the dream is recalled well before the event and told to several different people, some of whom even write it down? How do the psychologists explain that away?"

BOMBAST: "By means of that very convenient word 'coincidence' again. But this explains nothing at all, as science can't explain coincidences either. Nor can it explain why so many scientific discoveries and inventions have come about through dreams. The occultist and writer, Bulwer-Lytton, provided the answer more than 150 years ago in his occult novel Zanoni, when he wrote: "In dreams commences all human knowledge; in dreams hovers over measureless space the first faint bridge between spirit and spirit—this world and the worlds beyond!"

FLITTERFLOP: "So what it is that dreams? We know that animals dream too, and they are not supposed to have souls, at least not the kind of souls humans have. And what about insects and plants, or even stones, do they dream too?"

BOMBAST: "They must do, in some way, or waking and sleeping would not be a universal law, would it? As to what it is in us, an animal, a plant, or a stone, that dreams, I would say that wherever there is a mind, however rudimentary in our conception, it must be subject to the states we call sleep and waking and so be capable of dreaming, each according to its particular nature."

FLITTERFLOP: "Isn't it generally the lower mind that is active during dreams?"

BOMBAST: "During ordinary dreams—yes. The kind where we dream about losing things, finding things, being chased by robbers, or, if we're really unlucky, being pursued by scantily-clad ladies!"

FLITTERFLOP (laughing): "Chance would be a fine thing!"

BOMBAST: "For you, perhaps . . . I'm fighting them off every night."

FLITTERFLOP: "Well, you would say that. But seriously, those kinds of dreams—with or without sexy hotties of whatever gender—ought really to be called idle visions, shouldn't they, to distinguish them from real dreams?"

BOMBAST: "Yes, they should, for these and the similar dreams we are all familiar with are nothing more nor less than desire awakened into chaotic activity by the slumbering reminiscences of the lower mind."


Sir Frederic Leighton — Flaming June — oil on canvas, 1895

FLITTERFLOP: "So what determines what we dream and why?"

BOMBAST: "Madame Blavatsky compared the memory of the sleeper to a seven-stringed lyre and his state of mind to the wind that sweeps over the chords. The corresponding string of the lyre will respond to one of the seven states of mental activity in which the sleeper was before falling asleep. If it is a gentle breeze the lyre will be affected but little; if a gale, the vibrations will be proportionately more powerful. If the lower mind is in touch with its higher mind, the veils of the higher planes are drawn aside. Then we may see glorious scenes and encounter radiant beings, such as we find described in The Golden Star. If, on the other hand, the lower mind is of a thoroughly materialistic, animal nature, there will probably be no dreams at all. If the waking memory does manage to obtain a glimpse of a higher plane, as this will be impressed through the neurons of the cerebellum, and not by the direct agency of the higher mind, it will receive pictures and sounds so distorted and inharmonious that even a heavenly vision would appear as a nightmare or grotesque caricature. Consequently, there is no simple answer to your question for no two persons think alike or are alike in any way."

FLITTERFLOP: "There are people who claim they have never dreamed. Are they right, or is it simply that they don't remember their dreams?"

BOMBAST: "Every human being dreams, more or less, but most people forget their dreams as soon as they awaken. Much depends on the receptivity of the brain and the degree of spirituality. Unspiritual men, and those who do not exercise their imaginative faculties, or those completely exhausted by physical activity may only dream rarely, and never with any coherence or lucidity."

FLITTERFLOP: "Is the apparent objectivity in a dream really objective or only subjective as psychologists think?"

BOMBAST: "That depends on our point of view. To the physical man—who is a dreamer though he knows it not—all he sees with his eyes shut, and in or through his lower mind, is of course subjective. But to the Seer within the physical dreamer—which is the higher mind—he himself being subjective to our material senses, all he sees is as objective as he is to himself and to others like himself. Neuroscientists and materialists alike will dismiss this as complete nonsense, and complain that occultists make of a man a whole family of entities, but this is not so. Occult science teaches that physical man is one, but the thinking man—the higher mind— is septenary, thinking, acting, feeling, and living on seven different states of being or planes of consciousness, and that for all these states and planes the higher mind has a distinct set of senses."

FLITTERFLOP: "Can these different senses be distinguished?"

BOMBAST: "Not by scientists, for sciences such as biology, physiology and psychology know nothing of these finer, non-physical states. Science maintains that the phenomena of volition, sensation, intellect, and instinct are all manifested through the nervous centres, the most important of which is the brain. Scientists know a great deal about the particular agents or substances through which these phenomena take place, such as the vascular and fibrous tissues, and are able to explain their relationships by dividing the nervous system of the human body into motor, sensory and sympathetic circuits, but never touch on the mysterious agency of thought itself, or of the mind and its functions.

"It is not uncommon to become conscious that we are dreaming. This proves that man is a multiple being in the realm of thought; so that not only is the mind a multiform, ever-changing entity, but it is also capable of separating itself into two or more entities. We see this in dissociative mental disorders such as schizophrenia as well as in genuine cases of spiritual exaltation, the former involving the lower mind and the latter, the higher mind. But the universal consciousness of the higher mind or REAL SELF transcends a millionfold the self-consciousness of the personal ego or lower mind."

FLITTERFLOP: "I've heard so many conflicting teachings about the lower mind. Some say it's the body, others the physical senses, what is it really?"

BOMBAST: "In the ancient Indian teachings it's called the 'animal soul' and in the Kabbalah, the Nephesh. The ancient Egyptians called it the Ka, and in all three systems it is considered a separate principle from the body. According to Occult Science the lower mind possesses instinct and animal intelligence only and differs very little from the lower minds of animals. It is the presence of the higher mind which allows it to reason on a much higher level than the animals, though, in the case of the neuroscientist I mentioned earlier, there wasn't much evidence of any higher thought at work!"

FLITTERFLOP: "That explains why humans and animals have similar dreams."

BOMBAST: "Exactly. Most of us have observed a dog sleeping and seen its nose twitch while it barks softly or its limbs convulse; clear signs that it is probably dreaming of chasing a rabbit! We can observe similar movements, sounds, or even words when we watch our partner sleeping, though in this case he or she is probably elbowing their way to the front of the queue at a Black Friday sale!"

FLITTERFLOP (morosely): "Yes, but the dog usually catches the rabbit. I always end up missing the best bargains, or worse, buying something I don't really need and didn't want, just so as not to leave the shop empty-handed."

BOMBAST: "This is the aspect of dreams that has been extensively studied by science and is described more or less correctly by psychologists."

FLITTERFLOP: "What? Dreaming of rabbits or grabbing a bargain?"

BOMBAST: "Both. What is entirely terra incognita for the clever men and women in white coats are the experiences of the higher mind during the sleep of the body, which are also called dreams, but ought really to be called visions. This is the main reason neither science nor the average New Age numpty knows what dreams are."

FLITTERFLOP: "How do these two types of dreams differ?"

BOMBAST: "The nature and functions of dreaming cannot be understood unless we admit the existence of two minds or selves in man, both of which are independent of the body and brain. Occult science further teaches that during sleep there remains only an animated lump of clay, whose powers of independent thinking are utterly paralysed. Once we understand and accept these facts it follows that what we regard as dreams and science considers to be nothing more than random and meaningless brain activity, are actually isolated episodes from the life and experiences of the higher mind, which, at the moment of awakening are only partially and dimly recollected, and are more or less distorted by our lower mind and physical memory.

"It is the lower mind that catches mechanically a few impressions of the thoughts, facts witnessed, and deeds performed by the higher mind during its hours of complete freedom from the body. It is the higher mind which is the actor in us, the real man, the true human self. H. P. Blavatsky compared the higher self or permanent individuality to a prisoner in her books, and the lower self or temporary personality to the jailer of his prison. She tells us that 'If the jailer falls asleep, the prisoner escapes, or, at least, passes outside the walls of his prison. The jailer is half asleep, and looks, nodding all the time, out of a window, through which he can catch only occasional glimpses of his prisoner, as he would a kind of shadow moving in front of it. But what can he perceive, and what can he know of the real actions, and especially the thoughts, of his charge?' You may remember that Socrates employed a similar analogy which Plato describes in his allegory of the Cave to be found in Book VII of his Republic."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why can't the higher mind impress what it does when we are asleep upon our physical memory so that we remember it when we wake up?"

BOMBAST: "It can do, if we forge a link between the two minds. That link, or bridge is called 'antahkarana' in Hindu philosophy. While it exists in everyone, antahkarana is mostly dormant in the average person and has to be consciously activated, either through occult exercises, meditation or some other means. During sleep that link is broken, for then both minds go their separate ways, and are only reunited again when we wake up. Hence, very few people can recall the experiences of their higher mind when it is away from the body, and what little is transmitted to their physical memory when they wake up is fragmentary and confusing."

FLITTERFLOP: "Like a bad Skype connection when the sound and pictures break up?"

BOMBAST: "That's a good analogy. But in this case not only are the sound and pictures distorted, but the interlocutors are on completely different wavelengths."

FLITTERFLOP: How do you mean?"

BOMBAST: "Occult Science states that the thoughts of the higher mind are not like our waking consciousness. Past, present and future are one to the higher mind; its thoughts are living acts and deeds, present actualities. They are realities, even as they were when speech expressed in sounds did not exist; when thoughts were things, and men did not need to express them in speeches, for they apprehended them the moment they were conceived."

FLITTERFLOP: "That explains why the little that does get through is dismissed by scientists as random, meaningless brain-chatter."

BOMBAST: "As opposed to the random, meaningless brain-chatter of scientists who are dismissive of anything they can't explain?"

FLITTERFLOP (laughing): "Exactly. So how does the process work?"

BOMBAST: "The thoughts of the higher mind are reflected on the brain of the sleeper like shadows seen on the exterior walls of a tent, which the occupant sees as he wakes. He thinks he has dreamed it all, and feels as though he had lived through something, while in reality it is the thought-actions of his higher mind which he has dimly perceived. As he becomes fully awake, his recollections become with every minute more distorted. These are overlaid with the images projected from his physical brain which, by the power of association, mingle with his lower mind memories and set in motion various trains of thought that eventually obliterate any trace of the original experiences his higher mind had during sleep."

FLITERFLOP: "Are these experiences retained in some way, or are they lost forever?"

BOMBAST: "As the dreams we have been discussing are in reality the actions of the higher mind during physical sleep, they are recorded in the higher mind memory, which is a different kind of memory to that used by the brain. It often happens that we have no recollection of having dreamt at all, but later in the day the memory of the dream will suddenly hit us. There are many possible causes for this. It is analogous to what sometimes happens when a noise, image or smell brings instantaneously to our mind some long-forgotten event, scene or person. Something of what was seen, done, or thought by the higher mind, impressed itself at that time on the physical brain, but was not brought into the conscious, waking memory, owing to some physical condition or obstacle. This impression is registered in the brain but owing to some accidental circumstance it 'hangs fire', so to say, until something gives it the needed impulse and it immediately pops into our conscious memory."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why haven't the scientists made this connection? It explains the seemingly random and meaningless nature of dreams perfectly."

BOMBAST: "Because they don't know we have two, quite separate minds. Until or unless they make that leap, the nature and function of dreams will continue to elude them. Moreover, despite the great advances science has made during the last hundred years, there is still a very great deal it does not know about the brain, both physically and metaphysically."

FLITTERFLOP: "Sleep is sometimes called the 'little death' in occult parlance. Why is this and how do the two states differ?"

BOMBAST: "The difference between them is that during sleep there is a connection, however tenuous, between the lower and higher mind of man, and the latter is more or less reflected into the former, however much its rays may be distorted. But once the body dies, the higher mind departs, and bereft of its guiding light—however dim or unappreciated—the lower mind is left to its own devices. As we discussed in our conversation on consciousness after death, there is as much difference between the personality of the dead and the living as there is between a person shut up in a completely dark room and one in a room illuminated, however imperfectly, by some light or other."

"The lower principles are like wild beasts, and the higher mind is the rational man who tames or subdues them more or less successfully. But once the animal gets free from the master who held it in subjection; no sooner has it ceased to hear his voice and see him than it starts off again to the jungle and its ancient den. It takes, however, some time for an animal to return to its original and natural state, and it is these lower principles—elementaries—which are responsible for the nonsense emanating from séance rooms and the minds of channelers."

FLITTERFLOP: "What causes nightmares, and how is it that the dreams of persons suffering from terminal diseases are often pleasant?"

BOMBAST: "With very few exceptions nightmares are wholly psycho-physiological. They may arise from breathing difficulties which in turn create feelings of oppression and impending calamity. Or they may be the result overmastering fears of some kind, such as losing your job, house or a loved one. In the case of terminal diseases, the body ceases to be an impediment or barrier between the brain of the physical man and his higher mind."

FLITTERFLOP: "What about food? Is there anything in the old wives' tale that eating cheese late at night makes you dream more?"

BOMBAST: "There may very well be. There was a scientific study done in 2015 by two Canadian psychologists who surveyed 400 college students, which found that about one in five of the participants reported that food made their dreams more bizarre or disturbing. Among the triggers the study identified were eating a heavy meal late at night, eating too much of certain foods, such as—you guessed it—cheese, fasting and dieting."

FLITTERFLOP: "That's a pretty small study. Are there any others?"

BOMBAST: "Not that I've found. Until this study, scientists had paid very little attention to the role of food in dreaming, which is surprising when you think that eating is an even more basic and important human need than either sex or fame!"

FLITTERFLOP: "I guess it does make sense given that we are what we eat; at least so far as the body and brain are concerned, and as we've seen, it's the brain which is responsible for processing the information sent to it by either of the two minds."

BOMBAST: "Exactly. We know that diet plays an important role in the production and balance of hormones, which affect mood, as well as in many other neurological processes, so it follows that what we eat and when we eat it will affect our dreams, though less so in the case of higher mind visions. I mention that in case you were thinking of stuffing yourself with cheese before bedtime in the hope that it would provide a shortcut to enlightenment because all the best psychics say that dairy products inhibit clairvoyance."

FLITTERFLOP: "And do they?"

BOMBAST: "I shouldn't think so, or half the so-called 'gurus' in India would be out of a job as most of them live on nothing but ghee!"

FLITTERFLOP: "So we can safely ignore the claims of New Age numpties that vitamin B6 and tryptophan enhance your dreams?"

BOMBAST: "Yep. Along with diet coke being 'liquid light' and Big Macs being 'five-dimensional' food which will activate your DNA and accelerate your 'ascension' to New Age la-la land."

FLITTERFLOP (sarcastically): "Thank you for reminding me of the fantasies I used to believe in."

BOMBAST: "My pleasure!"

FLITTERFLOP: "Are there any sensible methods of enhancing dreams?"

BOMBAST: "Aside from the secret exercises given in the great occult orders I only know of one."

FLITTERFLOP: "What's that?"

BOMBAST: "Writing them down the moment you wake up."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why 'the moment you wake up', why not later, after breakfast when you're fully awake?"

BOMBAST: "Because, my dear inattentive lazybones, by the time you've polished off your eggs and bacon and two slices of toast and marmalade, and had your third cup of tea, what little you do remember of your dream will have become so distorted and fragmentary that it's not worth writing down. The process of recording one's dreams on paper strengthens the bridge between the brain, lower mind and higher mind called antahkarana we talked about earlier, have you forgotten?"

FLITTERFLOP: No—er—a bit, perhaps. What if the dream is partly gibberish?"

BOMBAST (mischievously): "I can hardly believe that any of your dreams would ever be partly gibberish!

FLITTERFLOP: "Very droll. You know what I mean."

BOMBAST: "I do. Well, one writes them down anyway, just as they come, however nonsensical or disjointed. With constant practise you will find that gibberish gives way to more or less lucid and coherent memories, until, after a few months, or longer—no firm timescale can be given as we are all different—you are able to recall complete episodes with perfect clarity, just as Arjuna does in the Book of Sa-Heti."

FLITTERFLOP: "Or like Joan Grant describes in Winged Pharaoh?"

BOMBAST: "Exactly, though in her case this was part of the occult training she underwent in a previous life. As H. P. Blavatsky tells us, 'It is by cultivating the power of what is called dreaming that clairvoyance is developed."

FLITTERFLOP: "Are there any means of interpreting dreams—for instance, the interpretations given by many New Age websites and in books?"

BOMBAST: "None but the clairvoyant faculty and the spiritual intuition of the 'interpreter'. As we have discussed, no two lower or higher minds are the same or think the same, and this applies to our physical bodies and brains too, so how can dream interpretations be valid for all people and all dreams? It's the worst kind of pseudoscience and psychobabble imaginable."

FLITTERFLOP: "Can we fall asleep in the astral world too?"

BOMBAST: "Why not? Sleep and waking are the two conditions that govern everything in the manifested universe."

FLITTERFLOP: "What would happen to us if we did?"

BOMBAST: "We would either return to our physical bodies on earth or wake up somewhere else."

FLITTERFLOP: "What if we went to sleep there too. What would happen then?"

BOMBAST: "What do you think? Flitterflop? FLITTERFLOP!! Drat, he's fallen asleep or do I mean woken up?"

If Bombast and Flitterflop have encouraged you to regard the pronouncements of scientists and New Age authorities on dreams with a large pinch of salt, we shall be well content. If they have also encouraged you to card the floss of your dreams and comb it into living actuality, so much the better. Until we meet our two friends again, we wish that their dreams and yours, dear reader, will always be filled with Light, Peace and Joy, whether you are awake or asleep.

You can find a complete list and brief descriptions of all the conversation between these two colourful occult students on the introductory page to these Astral conversations. Although these conversations can be read on their own, they are best read in chronological sequence as they form an ascending scale of revelation.

© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 12 September 2016. Updated 21 July 2023.

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