The University of Our Lives

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Winsights No. 93 (September/October 2006)

Photograph courtesy of Elan Sun Star

Here’s an interesting concept to play with —

A letter sent by a correspondent a while back offered the following interesting proposition:

“BTW, when strange things happen to me in 3D real life, that I don’t grok, I also sometimes ask myself ‘what could this mean to me if it were a dream?’ — and often the answer becomes quite obvious….”

There are several divergent hypotheses at stake here, and while exploring this won’t necessarily resolve among them, such an exploration might nonetheless cast light upon them. Gentlemen, start your epistemological engines…..

It seems to me that just about any real-life situation, because it eventually relates to everything else, has lessons for us which, if we paid the right kinds of attention to it, could usefully instruct us. We might, in order to get lessons more immediately and easily, start with situations which seem to us odd or unusual.

The right kinds of attention?

The reader may already know the Project Renaissance method for interpreting dreams:   treat the dream as one Image Stream, thank your faculties for that message, ask their help in understanding that message by means of another, then a third Image Stream — all of which are somehow the same message, only shown with entirely different images. Then sort through all three sets of experience to find what’s the same — the color green, for instance, or running water, or curving forms — when everything else is different. A detailed description of this “inductive inference” procedure is given in High Thinktank.

We may be on the verges of a dynamic system for turning everything in our lives into a powerful learning and wisdom-gathering device. Who is up for experimenting with the following over a period of a week or so:

  1. Take 2-3 unusual events or at least occasions which caught your attention, one at a time. With each in its turn,
  2. Detail the major features, mainly on a sensory-perceptual basis, though don’t exclude all your known facts about the situation. But for every such fact, include 3-4 sensory-detailed descriptions.
  3. Thank your faculties for whatever “lesson” this experience represents. Ask their help in your truly understanding that “lesson,” with first one and then a second Image Stream, each with entirely different images but somehow representing the same “lesson.”
  4. Treat the first experience as if it were your first of the three sets of images. Search all three sets for what’s the same when everything else is different.
  5. Determine how what’s the same, when all else is different, constitutes the meaning of the “message” for you.
  6. Ask your faculties for a way to verify your understanding of what that message is.


We don’t have to assume that some vast subtle agent is pushing our buttons — and setting our destinies — to perceive that, while not everything necessarily has a purpose, everything has a function. Then again, maybe some vast subtle agent is pushing our buttons — I’d rather know than not know, either way. I don’t think that this particular experiment will determine which is correct, but it may bring us closer to knowing.

I’m pretty sure that meaningful, significant relationships will be found. All meaning exists through relationships — what happens to other things when something happens to the one thing. Nothing is meaningful except through its relationships. Some relationships appear to be closer and more meaningful than others, but in a holographic universe everything bears on everything else, sooner or later.

Most programs in the world-wide creativity movement, including Osborn-Parnes and including de Bono, find metaphor and the “forced-fit” to be productive of fresh insights. Mostly Project Renaissance has worked beyond “forced-fit,” though CrabApple and Problem-Solving Woodswalk have proven highly productive.

Read events, and read our lives, like a book? A page in Chinese can be full of wisdom for us — if we have the code with which to decode it into our own language. So can an exposed cliff face to a geologist, or the tracks in a pile of photographic plates to a high energy physicist, or the slightest neck or face muscle tweak to an astute and observant psychologist. Is this experiment the short-cut toward finding the code for our lives?

A life of understanding — a most intriguing concept. Can Can our lives become our own university? Perhaps your trying out this little experiment can make this eventuality a little closer and more possible. It’d be interesting to find out.