Interviewed by Metka Cuk, a fellow dreamer, in 2017. Thank you for all the work and love you put into this, Metka!

Ralf, you work in Germany as a male nurse. At the same time, you are also very active in many dream forums and especially in the World Peace Dream Bridge. What do dreams mean to you and what do dream groups mean to you?

Firstly, Metka, let me thank you for asking these questions. It is a good chance to look back on my (dreaming) life. I hope my answers may inspire the reader on her/ his own path.

Dreams have become so much a part of my life. I feel only half alive without recalling dreams, say, for a week.

Dreaming, recalling and working on dreams is knowing myself, and the universe. Dreams are constantly challenging me, making my life colourful and rich. They are a way to explore the nature of consciousness and reality, generally – like in lucid and psi dreaming.

For me dream groups are essential to any development. If it were not for dream groups, I believe I would have never been able to break through the walls of my in large parts reductionist, materialist education and schooling, and go into the experience of the extraordinary. It is through the fellow dreamers, many of them my friends now, that all this was made possible. 

My first “group” was my dream buddy, a “high school”  classmate. At the age of 16 we started to appreciate our dreams the Jungian way, with systematic rigor in the spirit of our scientific schooling. Nevertheless, we managed to get in touch with our emotions and experienced the numinous, the treasures of the unconscious we brought up from the depth of our dreams, like fishermen on the open sea. This felt like discovering a new dimension of life.  We still meet and share our dreams. 

My second important group was the Lucidity Institute Forum I joined in 1999 when the internet made it possible to find like-minded people interested in a topic that was marginal at that time (compared to the lucid dreaming hype nowadays). I’m still so thankful to that group. The community inspired and supported me in my nine-month-training to achieve my first lucid dream at will. This meant diving into a mystery that had tickled me for over twenty years. It was one of those moments when I thought everything is possible if only I persist. 

Also there I got to know two dreamers who became my long-standing friends, and we surfed the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) bulletin board together and later joined the IASD and the World Dreams Peace Bridge.

It was on the IASD bulletin board around 2001 where I met dreamers interested in psi. It was something we could not explore in the Lucidity Institute Forum. Attending my first IASD PsiberDreaming conference (PDC) in 2002 really blew my mind. Looking back I think it was the energy of the group, the presence of dreamers with psi experience  that opened me up to my first incubated veridical psi dream in somewhat controlled conditions which made me one of the winners in the precognitive dreaming contest. I still feel moved: I was literally jumping for joy, excitement, relief the moment the results came up. It was like the dream of my life coming true. I could now prove to myself, that I am right to believe in psi because I can do it. It meant, and still means so much, as I grew up in a “muggle” environment and was taught to dismiss the spiritual side of life as not important, not worth my time, as not real. 

Over the years as I attended almost every PDC I took on the roles of thread monitor, then also presenter, and for some years now I’m co-hosting the Group Psi Game together with Joy Fatooh, one of my friends from Lucidity Institute Forum, and Maria Cernuto, who also became a friend, a dream sister, as I call her. I’m also part of Maria’s Psidreamers Group, a handful of dedicated dreamers practicing psi in a format akin to the PDC contests / events, pushing psi dreaming to the edge. Who would have predicted all this when I entered www in 1999? 

The year after my first PDC, in 2003, I joined Jean Campbell’s World Dreams Peace Bridge and I’ve been an active member ever since. Jean certainly is the one dreamer who has taken me to and over the edge of what I thought possible. At first I felt like a baby in the presence of experienced dreamers: for many of them the extraordinary things like mutual dreaming, telepathy, spiritual healing and high dreams feel normal and ordinary. Many could easily incubate meaningful and spot on dreams on topics the group choose each month.  At first it was hard for my skeptic mind to believe in the concept of reality creation beginning in dreams. I persisted.

I grew into that, gradually, over the years to become the group dreamer I am today. The motto of the World Dreams Peace Bridge still motivates me and takes dreaming to yet another dimension: Creating a universe in which peace reigns by dreaming peaceful solutions and acting upon our dreams. 

It is the application of the creative power of dreaming on many levels, by many means, including conventional ones, like sharing reports and analyses of events, discussing them in the group, sharing local news to supply the dreaming mind with details and keeping it engaged. The resulting dreams then often add creative, surprising, peaceful solutions; often psi effects are experienced, like mutual dreaming, telepathy, clairvoyance or precognition that tune into the lives of group members, or provide details of the incubation target. The experience of focused group dreaming cannot be adequately described to an outsider because it often appears as an intricate weaving of synchronicities. It may reach deep onto the personal level and the group process includes details that are not meant for the public. The ways we act on our dreams range from small acts of kindness to funding schools in war torn countries. I’m getting carried away… try for yourself, dear reader! I did a study on focused group dreaming you can find on my website. I’m currently working on a new site in wordpress.  

At what point in life did you start taking your dreams seriously and why?

It was when I was baffled beyond anything I knew, waking up from my first (recalled) lucid dream. I must have been around 10 years old. It went like this, quoting from my (a bit dusted) website:

I am walking outside, through trees and green, a somehow familiar landscape, the country, where I spend my later childhood. The sun is shining, I feel warm and well. A perfect moment. I felt ecstatic and lifted in this perception and get somehow aware, that this is a dream. I am overwhelmed by the sense of ecstasy and freedom. And wake up.

“It was a singular event. And I didn’t forget it. This glimpse of ecstasy and freedom stayed at the back of my head over the years. At fourteen I began to write down dreams and interpret them. My interest in the night life and the experiences beyond the borders of common sense stayed with me over the years.

How do you combine your waking life and your dreaming life? Do they affect each other? Do you perceive your work in the hospital differently because of your dreaming life?

The decades of recalling and working with my dreams and some mind-blowing events certainly had an impact on my general approach to living and dying. I would say today the doors and windows have opened wider in the house of my soul. Dream reality and waking physical reality are different rooms inside of it. I’ve learned to live in ever larger parts of my home, I’ve learned to look outside. This process of learning included developing my intentionality, and it is naturally useful in all realms. I’ve learned to hold on to peaceful intentions in both realms. I can see it pays off to believe in the malleable, dreamlike quality of my waking physical-social reality, just like it is worth bringing the light of lucidity, of cognition and reason into my dreaming reality. 

My experiences in the land of dreams certainly influence my nursing style. I had a presentation on how wake-induced lucid dreams helped me dealing with my fear of death at the IASD Copenhagen Conference in 2004. Also my experience of psi and after death communications have a huge impact on my view of life and death in the sense that I believe we are a web of boundless, timeless consciousness. Still, I’m not sure about an individual’s survival of personal mind, I’m not even sure about what individuality means in an entangled universe. 

In practice I’m open to talk with my patients about dreams, and other more unusual perceptions coming with neurological diseases (I’m a stroke nurse). I often find it is easier for the patients if they can frame passing delusions as dreams. There are limits though, in my experience, like for patients suffering with acute psychosis, or deliriant hallucinations. And of course this doesn’t work with many other symptoms, like neglect, anopia, double vision. 

However, my view of life resulting from dream work changes nothing in relation to my responsibilities as a nurse, especially if it comes to the questions of reanimation. 

I also share dreams with colleagues sometimes. I like to believe it creates a better working atmosphere. I can see it sometimes does. At least they know I’m a dreamer, and it feels good to allow these realms to be in touch. 

Another point is – no surprise – I’m often dreaming of my nursing work. Some dreams are opening up new ways to look at my professional role, and how my work connects with my life generally.  

Even though you live in Germany and are of German background you participate in many English-speaking forums where you post your dreams in English. Are you also a member of German-speaking dream groups? Are there any German speaking dream groups? Are people in your environment interested in dreams and willing to talk about them?

I don’t participate in German-speaking dream groups, except for one or two at the annual IASD conferences. I’ve been hooked to international groups ever since I entered www, and participating in them takes more time than I actually have. There must be some magic involved!

Of course there are German speaking dream groups. I know there are groups of lucid dreamers on Facebook and elsewhere. Only I don’t find the time. 

For those who know that I’m an active dreamer it appears to be easier to talk with me about their dreams, and sometimes they do. My sister and mother are also into spirituality and dreaming, and they sometimes share with me. With my partners ever the years it happened time and again, but none of them was so much into dreaming. I’m also not really good when it comes to interpreting a dream of / for someone so close. I normally stay away from interpreting but encourage the dreamer to find her/his own meaning. I mainly ask  questions so that the dreamer can appreciate her/ his dream in a different light. 

Do you dream in German or in English? Do you keep your dream journal in German or in English? Do the differences in the languages bother you in any way?

I perceive my dreams in German, mainly. Sometimes I get a single sentence in English, or in other languages I learned, like Turkish or Latin. If I dream of a song, it is in its original language. Mostly English. I play guitar and sing. 

The differences in the languages still bother me as some puns and expressions inevitably get lost in translation. Also it still takes more time to record a dream in English than in my mother tongue. I’d like to make more jokes but being humorous in a second language is hard work. I’ve kept my dream journal in English ever since 2002 because I couldn’t find the time to write down my dreams  in German and then translate them into English. This is also a reason why I haven’t joined any German dream groups. Ever since 1999 I’ve been reading and writing more in English than in German. I still have to look up words and I’m very thankful for spell checker apps. 

From your presentation at the PsiberDreaming Conference in 2016 I gather that you spend a lot of time thinking about big questions about dreams and consciousness.  Could you tell me a few of your core beliefs about dreams?

When I was a child I felt connected to nature and my fellow humans, and everything seemed to be bursting with life, like an immense weaving. This primary intuition somehow was muffled while I was growing up. I believe dreaming, and especially my experience of psi, is a way to tune into Nature, myself, other people and the universe, but in a different, grown-up way. 

I also believe that timeless, boundless mind, consciousness is at the top and the bottom of the universe. It is only in the middle where I meet individuality, forms, the tangible. My everyday “muggle” state of mind is just so focused on this middle range that it blends out everything not necessary for survival. My dreaming state of mind is also focused on my “muggle” experiences, but in more creative, playful ways. And it still has the resources to stay aware of the immense weaving of life and to be an active part of it. That is why we ALL have psi dreams, or gut feelings or intuitions while physically awake. That is why we are connected in a very basic, natural way, in ways that defy our usual concepts of space, time and even individuality.

The art of dreaming means building bridges between these states of mind, or opening doors and windows, if I stay with the picture of the house of my soul. 

I believe I make a difference in the world by being conscious of the larger weaving and the unity of being. It means being empathetic, it means resonating with others, it means being open for peace and for love. 

I also see how my beliefs have changed with my experience. That’s why I believe one important task of the dreaming community is to develop save and sane ways for anyone to dive into the mystery of dreaming.  

What would you like to achieve through or with the help of your dreams? Do you have any dreams you would like to come true?

At my first PDC in 2002 I learned about mutual lucid dreaming: in a nutshell, it is a meeting with a person or a group in a dream, fully aware. It was immediately clear to me that this is a game changer in the ongoing argument between reductive materialism and other paradigms integrating consciousness and “hard” science. I believe establishing mutual lucid dreaming has the power to change society for the better as it provides evidence of our spiritual nature at a time when materialism (here I mean the lifestyle) threatens to destroy our planet. 

Since 2013, we have been able to induce  dreams that contained consensual elements, strings of interaction, and elements that the partaking dreamers clearly dreamed at different times in Maria Cernuto’s Psidreamers group. It was another breakthrough for me. We are trying to replicate and further our skills. 

So what I’d like to see in the long run is mutual lucid dreaming and its non-local, trans-temporal quality being verified in lab settings, or at least using some kind of brain scan or electroencephalography in a home setting. Telepathy has been researched using these tools. Lucid dreaming for example was experienced long before it was possible to prove it in lab settings. 

Experience comes first, so what I want to achieve is to more frequently meet with my friends in mutual lucid dreams. Others did it. We can do it!

Ralf Penderak