Messages contained in our dreams can be extremely important in the process of healing from depression and finding enlightenment. That’s why I recommend that those who are on the path of healing keep a dream journal on their nightstand. Dreams are a link to the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind is linked to the Divine. Dreams therefore can convey spiritually-important messages to the dreaming ego. I was reminded of the distinction between the subconscious mind and the ego via an otherwise rather ordinary dream I had the other night. A colleague and I were looking over a box of scientific instruments that apparently needed repair or recalibration. My colleague selected one instrument, with which I was not familiar, for closer inspection. He pushed the “on” button, looked at the readout, and exclaimed that it was reading “1000g” and was therefore clearly out of calibration. At first, I didn’t have a clue what “1000g” meant and was about to ask him, when it suddenly occurred to me that this was probably an instrument for measuring gravitational force. To demonstrate that I knew (or rather had guessed) the purpose of the instrument, I made a rapid swinging motion with my arm and jokingly stated that the calibrator must have been doing this during the calibration process. When I awoke, I immediately thought about how it took my dreaming ego awhile to figure out what my dream colleague (a character from my subconscious) was talking about, clearly demonstrating that it was my subconscious mind and not my ego that had concocted the dream scenario. Later, I realized that it was perhaps more likely that the non-calibrated instrument was simply a weigh scale, rather than a g-force scale. Regardless, this was a neat little illustration of how the subconscious mind can communicate with the ego in dreams. In my book, I present many more personal examples of this phenomenon, with emphasis on healing communication from the Divine - via the subconscious mind - to the ego.
Many families and friends are grieving deeply for loved ones killed in Las Vegas. My heart goes out to them. Exactly why the 64-year-old perpetrator acted as he did remains unclear, but he was suffering from mental illness. He was depressed and had been given a prescription for anxiety. I feel certain that his illness was due to child abuse (similar to what created HItler). For this reason, I also feel sorry for the shooter. Had he recognized the roots of his distress, he might have been able to experience self-compassion, which is crucial to healing. Reportedly, his father was a bank robber on the FBI's most-wanted list. ISIS is claiming that the shooter had converted to Islam several months ago, but have provided no real backup for this claim.
The shooter had accumulated worldly wealth, and was a gambling "high roller", but he did not love himself, for anyone who truly loves himself can never intentionally harm anyone. Only the sick, impermanent ego could believe that harming another accomplishes anything. The shooter had lost contact with his true self, his inner child. We were all created in the image of the Divine, pure and innocent, in love with both ourselves and the world. Then things happened, largely beyond our control, that caused us to lose our connection to our innate divinity. Many of us were taught that we are “by nature sinful and unclean”. We were raised in an environment where love was conditional on our acting in certain ways and achieving or believing certain things. We developed an ego that feared rather than trusted. Some of us became angry, hateful and vengeful. In extreme cases, we may have decided to strike out at the world. All of these reactions are products of the ego, but the ego is not who we really are. The ego has forgotten that our true self is a divine and eternal being. This is true for each and every one of us. As Neale Donald Walsch has written, “Hitler went to heaven”. So, too, has the Las Vegas shooter.
Religious fundamentalism is largely based on a false premise, this being that God can be offended, insulted or provoked. Only an ego can take offense at anything, and God has no ego. However, the God that is worshiped by fundamentalists takes offense (i.e., feels slighted or insulted and gets resentful or angry) when human beings "sin" by either performing, or failing to perform, all manner of actions. Religious fundamentalism is generally patriarchal and promotes hard, ego-based actions such as judgment and punishment at the expense of soft, spirit-based qualities such as love and forgiveness. Both Jehovah of the Old Testament and Allah of the Quran have an ego. Fundamentalist Islam teaches that those who do not act in a manner consistent with the commands of Allah, as revealed by the Prophet Muhammad, risk everlasting damnation and torment. Those who reject the call of Islam are to be subjugated or even killed ("jihad"). Fundamentalist Christians believe that no one, no matter how sincere, can ever be good or innocent enough to satisfy God. As a consequence of "original sin", even newborn babes risk God's wrath. The only saving grace is accepting that salvation has been purchased through the sacrifice of God's son Jesus. However, Jesus never claimed that he needed to be put to death so that we could be made acceptable in God's sight. This was a concept promoted by Paul, and was a carry-over from the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice. The God revealed by Jesus himself is different. Jesus' God loves us unconditionally and would never sentence anyone - regardless of their beliefs or even their actions - to an eternity of exclusion in hell. True salvation lies in discovering one's real identity, which is a magnificent and loving eternal being created in the image of God.
Robert Keith Rinne's work focuses on the healing of mental illness, particularly where such illness has been fostered by fundamentalist religion. He and his wife have raised four children. As a family, they were always open about Robert’s own struggles and their individual spiritual journeys. Robert is now semi-retired but continues to offer spiritual counseling.