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Q&A with Robert Moss author of "The Boy Who Died and Came Back"

by New World Library

When you were three years old, a doctor in Australia told your parents you "died and came back." Tell us what happened.

I first died in this lifetime when I was three years old. My great aunt the opera singer saw this in the tea leaves but didn’t talk about it until long after. What she did not see was that – as a doctor at the hospital in Hobart, Tasmania told my parents – I “died and came back”. That is still the term I prefer to use of these experiences. I don’t remember much of what happened when I left my body at age three, only that it was very hard to live in a body in this world after I came back, and that I felt that my home reality was somewhere else.

When you were nine years old, you again lost vital signs in a Melbourne hospital, and you write of the amazing experience of living a whole life in another world. Tell us about that, and about how it changed your life and your understanding of reality.

At nine, I died again during emergency appendectomy in a Melbourne hospital. This time I seemed to live a whole life somewhere else, among a beautiful people who raised me as their own. I came back remembering that other life and that other world. It still wasn’t easy for me to live in the ordinary world, and I was nostalgic for that other world. The gift of these experiences, and my persisting illness (I had double pneumonia twelve times between the ages of three and eleven) was an inner life that was rich and prolific, and an ability to move between states of consciousness and reality at will.
The first person who gave me a model for understanding what had happened to me was an Aboriginal boy. He told me, “When we get real sick, our spirit goes away. We go and live with the spirit people. When we get well, we come back.”

In midlife you moved to farm in upstate
New York, you found yourself deeply engaged with “past life” dramas involving an Irish adventurer in colonial New York and a Native American shaman of his time. This led to a “spiritual emergency” of the kind typical of shamanic initiations. Tell us this story.

In the mid-1980s, I left the fast-track life of a bestselling thriller writer and moved to a farm 130 miles north of New York City, thanks to a hawk and a white oak. I found myself drawn into trans-temporal dramas and the spirit world of a Native American people. I became deeply engaged in issues and dramas from the life of an 18th century Irishman, a major historical figure who knew the Mohawk very well. My engagement with him opened a link to a woman of his time, an extraordinary dream shaman, the Mother of the Wolf Clan of her people, who tried to influence him and most certainly succeeded in influencing me. She reminded me why dreaming is central to healing and to living our bigger and braver stories, and I cherish our continuing relationship across time and dimensions. I learned what it means to be so deeply involved with a personality from another time that your lives turn together. I was eventually required to undergo death and rebirth in the mode of a shaman. Borrowing from Jung, I sometimes describe this period in my life as a protracted "confrontation with the unconscious." I see now that, as with the years Jung recorded in his Red Book, all the important work of my subsequent life has flowed from this stormy period of spiritual emergency and emergence.

You write that “The Years of Writing Dangerously” on the farm led you to leave the fast-track life of a best-selling thriller writer and follow a new path that is not recognized as a career track in Western society: that of a dream teacher. Tell us what we all need to know: what is required when you make a radical change in your life? How do you get it together and keep it together?

There are few subjects more important than how we navigate the big transitions in life. A transition is more than a change; it is literally a “crossing over” from one state into another. What happened to me in midlife was another experience of dying and coming back.

I learned that when you change your life, your true friends are those who will support you through that change and your worst friends are those who try to keep you in the frame of past expectations.
Dreams showed me how to find my way in my new life as a dream author and dream teacher. When I still thought I had to return to writing thrillers to pay the bills, my dreams told me that it is never a good idea to trade the soul’s calling for a bag of groceries, or even a truck full.
Young children, especially my own daughters, became my most important mentors in ordinary life on what dreams require from a family or community. Time among children confirmed and renewed my understanding that dreams are for real, that there is magic in making things up, and that we change the world when we tell a better story about it.
I found, as Emerson counseled that “there is one direction is which space is open to us.” When I followed my calling, doors opened in astonishing ways. When I slipped back and away from my path, doors stayed resolutely closed. I am grateful for that.

You created Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism that is now being taught and practiced in more than 20 countries. What is Active Dreaming? What is the life of a dream teacher like?

Active Dreaming is my original synthesis of shamanism and contemporary dreamwork. It offers three core areas of practice.
First, Active Dreaming is a way of talking and walking our dreams, of bringing energy and guidance from the dreamworld into everyday life. We learn how to create a safe space where we can share dreams of the night and dreams of life with others, receive helpful feedback, and encourage each other to move towards creative and healing action. We discover that each of us can play guide for others. Above all, we learn to take action to embody the energy and guidance of our dreams in everyday life.
Second, Active Dreaming is a method of shamanic lucid dreaming. It starts with simple everyday practice and extends to profound group experiences of time travel, soul recovery and the exploration of multidimensional reality. It is founded on the understanding that we don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The easiest way to become a conscious or lucid dreamer is to start out lucid and stay that way.

Third, Active Dreaming is a way of conscious living. It calls us to remember and tell and live our bigger story in such a way that it can be heard and received by others. It is about navigating by synchronicity and grasping that the energy we carry and the attitudes we choose have magnetic effect on the world around us, drawing or repelling encounters and circumstances.

What is my life as a dream teacher like? It is like being on one of the world’s best vacations every day. I travel and teach from Brazil to Bucharest, from Paris to Portland, and everywhere I have the joy of seeing the light come on in people’s eyes when they discover that there are fun, high-energy ways to play with their dreams and live their best dreams.

What is a shaman?

The shamans who interest me are world-class dreamers who can travel between different worlds in the multiverse at will.
They know the roads of the afterlife because they have died and come back. They walk with Death at their left shoulder, as an ally, not a dread.
They know where to find lost souls and how to guide them to where they belong, in one world or another.
They travel in the company of animal spirits, and can borrow their senses and use their forms.
They are time travelers who can scout out the future, repair the past and heal ancestral karma.
They are poets of consciousness who entertain the spirits by bringing them fresh words. They heal body and mind and re-enchant the world by telling better stories about them.

You say that we can all become “shamans of the breakfast table”. Tell us how!

Anyone who dreams, as the Kawahiv, an Amazonian dreaming people say, is "a little bit shaman". We stand on the brink of claiming this power when we remember our dreams and start to develop the practice of working with dreams as daily practice. I have developed a fast, fun method of everyday dream sharing. I call this Lightning Dreamwork, because it is meant to be fast as a lightning bolt, and to focus and harness energy. What Lightning Dreamwork provides is a way of dream sharing that can reach temporary closure in just five or ten minutes, exploding any alibi that we don't have time for this. This approach also offers clear guard rails that insure that we will not intrude on each other's privacy and will never presume to tell another person what his or her dreams mean. The process always leads to creative or healing action to bring the energy and guidance of dreams into daily life.

The subtitle of your book is “Adventures of a Dream Archaeologist in the Multiverse.” What is a dream archaeologist?

Dreams have guided archaeology; Heinrich Schliemann’s dreams led him to discover the site of ancient Troy when most people thought it was only a myth. But dream archaeology is about more than digging things out of the ground. A dream archaeologist combines the skills of the scholar, the detective and the shamanic dreamer to enter other times and other cultures in order to enter the living experience of the ancestors and then test and verify the discoveries. These expeditions can facilitate ancestral healing, releasing those living today from multigenerational stories of abuse, addiction and hatred. It can help to release ancestors who are trapped in narrow or hateful mindsets, in their own time.
For group expeditions in dream archaeology, I often begin by having adventurous spirits gather in a real location in nonordinary reality that provides a base camp for further journeys. My favorite locale, for these purposes, is the House of Time. It is a created locale in the Imaginal Realm. It has been developed through the active imagination of hundreds of dream explorers and archaeologists who have traveled here over many years.

You say that in dreaming we are all time travelers and this can become conscious practice. How?

As dreamers, we are time travelers. With or without intention, we travel to the past and the future as well as parallel worlds. This can become conscious practice, and we can learn to fold time in the sense of being present, mind to mind, with other personalities in other times, sharing gifts and insights with each other. Our ability to travel into the future is essential to our survival and well-being. We not only bring back memories of future events for which we – and sometimes whole communities – can then prepare. We visit possible futures, and our ability to read our memories of the possible future and then take appropriate action can determine whether we can escape a future event we don’t like, or manifest one that we want.
How? We start by recording and working with spontaneous night dreams. We learn to value the scout who goes out every night, in dreaming, to identify challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and to work with his information. Every morning, he brings us memories of the future – and also glimpses of

past times and parallel times.
Dream memories of this kind are ideal portals for conscious journeys – for which we use shamanic drumming in the workshops – to explore past, future, or parallel times. We can learn to go back to a younger self – as I went back to my strange, solitary boy self – to offer support and mentoring. We can visit our soul family and learn how the dramas of other lives in other times may be influencing our present lives.

What happens after death? How do we know for sure?

There is a people of the South Pacific who say that there are as many afterlife situations as there are human imaginations. They may be right. What we encounter on the Other Side is conditioned by our desires, our courage and our imagination (or lack of imagination). These things are too important for us to rely on hand-me-down versions or other people’s opinions. We need first-hand knowledge. We get that through contact with the deceased, which is an entirely natural phenomenon, and through our ability to travel in the realms where the departed are at home. We do that quite spontaneously, in night dreams. We can learn to embark on conscious exploration to learn the geographies of the afterlife.
Dreaming is practice for immortality, perhaps the best we have available. Why? Because dreaming is traveling. We journey effortlessly beyond body and brain, into realms beyond the fields we know in ordinary life. We travel to territories in which the dead are at home. In this way we gain first-hand knowledge of the roads and conditions of the afterlife.
In dreams, we also receive visitations from the dead. They come for all the reasons we may contact each other in ordinary life, and then some. They come for healing and forgiveness. They come for an update on family affairs. They come with warnings and information. Sometimes they need help and information from us, because they are lost of confused. Tremendous numbers of people who are living in the afterworld are seeking to communicate with the living.

Are you afraid of death? What would you say to someone who is?

I am not afraid of Death, but I do not want to check out of this life while carrying regrets, so I am concerned to settle the debts I have incurred before I go. I am also conscious of having a “sacred contract” for this life that I would like to fulfill.
Death is a counselor who helps me to make choices with more courage and clarity than I might manage otherwise. I would say to anyone who is afraid of Death: You don’t know where Death is waiting for you, so you want to be ready to meet Death anywhere. What you most fear is what you most need to face. When you approach life in the knowledge that Death is at your left shoulder, you’ll find you have a better perspective on what truly matters. And by releasing your fear, you may acquire superabundant energy for life.

You say that treasures await us in the Place between Sleep and Awake. What kind of treasures and how do we find them?

The easiest way to become a lucid or conscious dreamer is to spend more time in the twilight zone between waking and sleep, or between sleep and waking. Tinker Bell told Peter Pan to look for her in the Place between Sleep and Awake. This liminal state is a place of encounter with inner guides and transpersonal visitors. It is also a place of heightened psychic perception and creative breakthroughs, where it is easy to make connections that escape the daily mind.

What is the most important thing you have learned about reality?

The only time is Now. All other times - past, present and parallel - can be accessed in this moment of Now, and may be changed for the better.

In your epilogue, you explain that you carry credentials as Dream Ambassador of the Republic of Uzhipis. Is this for real? What is this Republic, and how did you get to be a “Dream Ambassador”?

Oh yes, I am officially the Dream Ambassador of the Republic of the Other Side (which is what Uzhipis means in Lithuanian). It came about like this. I was lunching at a café across the river from the Old City of Vilnius in Lituania when I lively fellow from a nearby table jumped up and declared, “Your conversation is fascinating and I invite myself to join it.” That was one of the best opening lines I had ever heard so naturally I consented. He introduced himself as the Foreign Minister of this Republic I had never heard of, which turns out to be an artist’s community occupying a hundred acres or so of a once seedy neighborhood that now blooms with goddess sculptures and Surrealist mosaics. It declared its independence in the 1990s. When I explained my work, Tomas – the Foreign Minister – declared that we are engaged in the same cause and invited me to accept the appointment as Dream Ambassador. I agreed on condition that I should receive proper diplomatic credentials, and they were delivered within the week. You may now call me Your Excellency.

Your book is full of remarkable riffs of synchronicity. Would you describe yourself as a synchronicity magnet?

Certainly. If we are open to the play of synchronicity, we not only observe more cases of it; we help to generate more of them. If we are not open to this phenomenon, we are truly missing out, because synchronicity is a marvelous navigational guidance system
Synchronicity is when the universe gets personal. Our inner sense of meaning meets an external event that we know is related. Even though there is no apparent causal or rational connection, we feel that something is speaking to us. Meaningful coincidence of this kind can feel like a secret handshake, or like an unseen hand tickling you or mussing your hair, or pushing you back or pulling the rug from under you.
One of the essential rules for navigating by synchronicity is: for every setback, look for the opportunity.

How do you explain what you do to people who are meeting you for the first time?

When I am asked by a stranger on a plane, "What do you do?" my favorite answer is this: "I am a storyteller, and one of my greatest pleasures is to help people discover their bigger stories, and live those stories and tell them so well that they want to take root in the world."

The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss

March 15, 2014 • Metaphysics • Paperback • 304 pages

Price: $15.95 • ISBN 978-1-60868-235-5

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