21 February 2023


Gary Lachman. Dreaming Ahead of Time: Experiences with Precognitive Dreams, Synchronicity and Coincidence. Floris Books, 2022.

Gary Lachman's vast learning of his subject matter born of decades of study is fully on display in this masterful and detailed account. Although the topics under consideration are large in scope, Lachman demonstrates his grasp of the writings of previous researchers.
He cites in particular those of Jung, Priestley, Lethbridge, Ouspensky (on whom he has written another book) and Colin Wilson inter alia. 

The majority of the work therefore consists of an invaluable summary of their research and theories. Lachman (p. 161) claims when discussing time slip that 'he is not looking for an explanation' and for the most part he is content just to set out the various accounts of different phenomena and their associated theories, without giving his own definitive view of what he thinks. So in general he tends to follow Priestley's recommendation that we should avoid an 'either/or' approach' which blocks us from 'going forward into a higher, less abstract, richer, more fundamental reality' (p. 174).

Nevertheless Lachman, appears to accept the premise about the left/right divide of the brain in which the right side's more chaotic creativity is too much damped down by the organisational tendencies of the left brain. Lachman points us to a sort of halfway house where we can intentionally move towards the unperceived reality surrounding us by an effort of will, rather than by the use of drugs such as mescaline. The drug, it will be recalled, helped break down the doors of perception in the experiment so famously described by Huxley. Lachman argues that the use of such drugs do nothing to advance civilisation, and in fact, as it were, still leaves us with the washing-up in the sink.

All of this comes after Lachman begins by telling us about his own experiences. For many years he has been in the habit of recording his dreams. Whilst many of his dreams do show trivial coincidences, one or two were of more significance. For example he had one pre-cognitive dream in which he dreamt that his former wife's half-Japanese uncle urged them to escape from a lava flow. It was not until a week later that he learned about a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in Japan (the eruption of mount Unzen in 1991). 

Outside his own experience Lachman is impressed with numerous examples of synchronicity. One such comes from what Arthur Koestler termed 'the library angel' genre in which books mysteriously fall into the hands of researchers. He cites the story of the historian Rebecca West who was looking for a document in the hopelessly confused archives resulting from the Nuremburg trials. After several hours of futile effort she went to the librarian to complain, and, pointing to a series of volumes, randomly pulled one from the shelves and opened it to illustrate her point. To her surprise she found that not only had she pulled out the correct volume, she had opened it to the exact page she needed. Many other examples such as this are cited by him.

If Lachman shows in general a masterful grasp of his material, I nevertheless find it odd and indeed to my mind unnecessary for him to say that for the purposes of the book he accepts Newtonian time rather than the theory of relativity. This approach is surely untenable, and as a result of it in his chapter three (It's About Time) he misses the opportunity for what could have been a fruitful discussion on the subject of sub-atomic particle physics (e.g. particles that appear to backwards in time and experiments where the presence of the viewer appear to affect the experiment). One would have thought that such matters were tailor-made to fit into his own overview that it is possible to exercise one's own will to penetrate the realm of hidden reality.

This is however a minor complaint by comparison to the immense learning and mature discussion shown by Lachman overall, and I am sure that readers will find the book to be an invaluable guide to what is a complex but fascinating field of enquiry.
  • Robin Carlile

1 comment:

Terry the Censor said...

>'he is not looking for an explanation'

Very convenient when mystery mongering.

>For example he had one pre-cognitive dream

Any reports of predictive dreams that did not come true?

>To her surprise she found that not only had she pulled out the correct volume, she had opened it to the exact page she needed. Many other examples such as this are cited by him.

So...after looking extensively where the document was supposed to be, she quickly found it nearby where it was not supposed to be. This is the exact method I use to find "lost" items in seconds after my hosts spend hours or even days looking for personal items they themselves put away in their own house.