Tricycle Film Club

Buddhist films and discussion for the
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Edge of Dreaming

How real are our dreams?

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Edge of DreamingEach month, Tricycle Supporting and Sustaining Members will be treated to a select feature-length film, presented in partnership with Alive Mind Cinema and BuddhaFest Film Festival, June 14-17 in Washington, DC. The benefits of membership continue to grow, so if you're not already a Supporting or Sustaining Member, upgrade now and watch our February selection, Edge of Dreaming, written and directed by Amy Hardie.

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Edge of Dreaming (February 2012)

Scottish filmmaker Amy Hardie built a career on making science documentaries, reflecting her staunchly rational mind. Then one evening she had a haunting dream of her horse dying, waking to discover that her beloved horse had passed away that same night. Shaken, she tried to pass it off as mere coincidence. But then she had another disturbing slumber, a nightmare where her deceased ex-husband predicts that she will die at age 48. With the love and support of her family, Amy chronicles her quest to untangle the knots in her unconscious and the meaning of her destabilizing dreams.

Read more about Edge of Dreaming—and purchase the film—here.

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Amy Hardie's picture

Hi both,

These dreams are so vivid. I feel I would love to talk to you more about them, perhaps more privately. Do you want to email me on a.hardie@ed.ac.uk?

Laura438's picture

Amy, thank you for your exquisite
contemplation of death.

It seems you changed quite a bit during the year of filming--
from a scientific materialist point of view
("The dead are dead")
to something that allows for more
mystery.

I wonder if the dreams
and the illness came
to wake you up in this way?

I will look forward to watching
your film about others facing death.

Amy Hardie's picture

Hi Laura,

I changed a lot that year. The shaman certainly thought the dreams and the illness came to wake me up. I always worry though that these explanations afterwards are too neat. I almost want to stay just with the facts, stay in front of the dreams, and the medical diagnoses, without running away. I have just finished a film following five women who have a diagnosis of secondary cancer. They are amazing. The film is with the composer just now, but as soon as it is ready I will put bits of it on http://www.amyhardie.com/.

Amy x

kh1044's picture

I downloaded "Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul", by Robert Moss, to my Kindle, and although some of the material is "out there", he makes many references to the Jesuit studies of the Iroquois people and their dream-centered culture. I am only just starting the book, so I will reserve judgment until I've finished, but what I've read thus far is interesting and thought-provoking.
I dream, but often have trouble recalling the details. Some dreams I've had were so crystal-clear, and disturbing that I remember them vividly decades later. Some people seem to be more dream-oriented, or else have had more practice or training in using the dream-state. I'm hoping that Robert's book will teach me more about it.
Thanks for sharing your experience, for your courage in filming what must have been a difficult and trying time in your life. I'm excited about learning more on this new pathway!

Amy Hardie's picture

I would love to know more of what you find re the Jesuit studies of the Iroquois - would you put in on http://www.amyhardie.com/ so I can share it with other folk who I know are really interested?

Amy x

Will.Rowe's picture

“Death is an old joke, but it comes to everyone as something new,’” Ivan Turgenev, a Russian once wrote. This film aptly displays just how deep the fear of death is that requires such denial. Her husband relates most people’s ideas about dying: “Too scary to think about.’” Yet through Amy’s dreams, death resurfaces, and the past deaths of her mom, a former companion, and her horse weigh upon her own predicted death.

However, it is always the dream that concerns her the most. Even after acknowledging she is deluding herself from believing she can escape the “death sentence,” she goes to a shaman to confront the dream rather than death. The birthday celebration and her defeating death’s premonition comes across as such a temporary or sham victory when Amy states that she knows she will be around to raise three kids. She still thinks the conflict was with a dream, not with death.

The film could likewise be interpreted strictly along the lines of dreams, ESP, and their connection with death. Some intriguing assertions are made by the doctor in those regards, all of which I happen to agree. To me death puts everything in perspective. When we fully recognize that each moment may be our last then we do not have to worry that we never said goodbye, for the mundane is superfluous, and we can really communicate. I suspect that, judging from the scenes of Amy with her daughters, she had no real need to fret over not saying goodbye to her dead friend. I think she reached him deeply in life.

Amy Hardie's picture

Hi Will,

There is a lovely story that I think about when I am trying to get to grips with reality and awareness - you probably know it. I am making a film with 12 doctors and health professionals who believe, shockingly for the establishment, that the body is not a mechanical object, but a locus of energy in an energy field. One of them told me this story:

• A Buddhist monk showed his class a glass of tapwater. He said: “When a person who is ‘at a low vibration, full of anger and paranioa, sees this water they see it as full of pus. For you in this room, you can see it is tapwater – not perfect, but drinkable, and thirst quenching. When the Buddha looks at this glass, he sees nectar.”

sama710's picture

Thank you Amy for making this film and thank you Tricycle for making it available! It was tremendously moving and thought-provoking. Can't wait to see what the filmmaker's next piece will be. As someone working in the field of environmental protection, I was deeply moved by the possibility that Ms. Hardie was picking up signals about the destruction of our home. It gives me hope that humanity might right itself and take better care of the planet we rely on for... well... everything.

I have been struggling with health issues for the past three years after being treated for cancer and this film gave me a different way to think about life, destiny, and the power of the subconscious. Thank you again, Amy, for sharing this part of your life with us. It is beautiful.

Amy Hardie's picture

Hi Sama,

It is tough to go through the cancer treatment. I have been filming since April 2011 six women going through treatment for secondary cancer. They are amazing. They have gone through about the most scary diagnosis you can get, and come out the other side. So they are funny, and generous, and relaxed...and snappy and tired and often, very very wise. I will post them on http://www.amyhardie.com/digging in about two weeks.

Amy x

symphonyofcolor@gmail.com's picture

One of my most memorable dreams was about 12 years ago; a colleague's son who had drowned a few months earlier was sitting on a couch in his mother's front yard. He told me that he was very ill with cancer before he drowned in the lake. He asked me to tell his mother. I took his mother out to lunch and told her what Richie said in the dream. She told me that she and her daughter had suspected he was very sick. The other dream that I will never forget about death was when I was about 14. Baby birds in one of the shrubs in our hedge were all dead in the dream. Upon awaking I rushed out to see the baby robins. I was horrified to find them all dead in the nest.

Perhaps the dream expert in your film was correct that we do get unconscious subtle signals that can only be decoded by our dreams. I think as I have expanded my meditation practice over the last 5 years, I have gotten some subtle messages that I would've missed before my awareness was better developed. Within the last year I received a message for someone I didn't know well that she was in danger. When I asked her what that could be about she told me that she was pursuing the apparent accidental death of her brother. Within the last 2 months she told me that 2 other people have warned her to stop her investigation because she was in grave danger.

Thank you for this wonderful treatment of dreams.....it was intriguing. I enjoyed how you executed the filming too...filming your handwriting in the journal, close-ups of family members, the countryside, the pictures that accompanied your shamanic journey, and the cat frolicking in the field. You're very good at your craft and I hope that I can view more of your productions as you complete them.

Amy Hardie's picture

These are amazing dreams. I want to expand my meditation practice (actually, I need to start it!...my only meditation really is riding my horse. But that is pretty fab). I am making films at the moment in a hospice and in the Maggie's Centre in Dundee, Scotland. I have started a new blog in case folk want to keep in touch - so if you go to http://www.amyhardie.com/digging I will put the little films on there as I complete them, and bits of my next film in the hospice.

bongocmr2's picture

This film was moving and beautiful! There was one particular part where you talking about your mother's passing where you related it to birth that was very thought provoking. Also, when you mentioned that you opened the window as your mother drew her last breath. I was present when my granmother died and found myself following her last breath towards the window. It "felt" like she or her spirit had moved from the hospital bed through the window.

Thank you Amy and Tricycle for making this film available. May you have many more years with your family and continue to share your gift of filmmaking.

boiester's picture

I too was moved by this film, and by your instinct to open the window when your mother died.

Amy Hardie's picture

That is so interesting. I was unprepared for my actions to open the window when my mother died. I did it with total determination, but not at all sure why! And you also both did it? What do you think about that?

kanju's picture

Thank you very much, i am so grateful with tricycle and with you Amy. Put in front of me the impermanence and the beauty of this life. I need to remember at every moment that is important apreciate our life.
Sorry for my poor english

Muchas gracias desde España

Kanju

Amy Hardie's picture

Me too - I need to remember....my best way is going outside. With nothing to do. xxAmy

britt's picture

I was so moved with the beauty and honesty of this film! Being raised and born in Sweden (now living in CA) it reminded me of Ingmar Bergman's films, which I grew up watching! I am not afraid of death and suppose it might be due to having lost a sister, a brother and my parents at much too early age. I have learned to appreciate life for all it's beauty and it's blessing even though there is despair and sorrow along the way. I do meditate again after a long absence and find it very soothing, especially when there is more stress in my life! Thank you dear Amy for this beautiful film! We are all blessed to still have you in our lives! xo

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou Britt. That is a lovely response. If you go to http://www.amyhardie.com/digging you will see my best coping mechanism - my tiny foal. He is a dead ringer for George (no pun intented)....

kh1044's picture

I often wonder, and want to believe that the dream-state is our connection to the "All", that universal foundation which has many labels, and permeates all things. My 17 year-old Tuxedo cat, healthy at the moment, but nearer to the end of his current journey than to the beginning, likes to tuck up next to my leg as I sit on the bed reading. In such moments, quiet permitting, he dreams. His body twitches, he growls, his ears flip, and his eyes are in REM stage. I've noticed that about a minute before he goes into dream-state, I become aware that he is about to dream. It actually rouses me from my reading, and I find myself watching him. Is there something about the activity in our brains that connects us? Sometimes as he curls up next to me, I tell him to have good kitty-cat dreams, and describe a lovely back yard with grass and trees (we occupy an apartment, but once lived in a park-like house). It's silly, I suppose, but I want him to have good dreams. Isn't that strange? I'm curious about lucid dreaming, but have never pursued it. Maybe the Iroquois are on to something - wouldn't be the first time "primitive" people knew better than us "civilized" folks. :-)

Amy Hardie's picture

What a great bit of noticing! I love it that you pick up on his change of consciousness just before he dreams. I find that extraordinary. After the events of that strange year in my life I find it easy to imagine that your brain registers some shift in his brain. I know for me that I want to deepen those connections. yes, I guess the Iroquouis were on to something - it is claimed it is the beginning of psychoanalysis.

I have been so inspired by this discussion I set up a new blog so I can continue it once this month is over. It is on http://www.amyhardie.com/digging.

flomi's picture

My partner and I really enjoyed watching the film on a cold, crisp night here in Canada. The scenery is not too dissimilar...
It is amazing to me that we spend so much of our lives trying to discount the subconscious dream states that have been a part of ourselves as far back as we want to go with our species. By chance I had watched Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" recently and found the parallels with Amy's film to be very strong. We all want to seek absolute truths, but we still rely on only five realms. Our instincts tell us there must be something else, but our rational mind seeks to define and define. Meditation is often contrary to what our wandering minds have been hard wired to do. The paradox is that we seek duality in what is really a non-duality world. As the great Canadian poet Join Mitchell says, "We are stardust; we are golden; and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou! It is a shock realising how limited we are, even conceptually, by the information that come come through our five senses. But maybe it is not so hard to experience non-duality? Maybe we do it all the time?

Amy x

Amy Hardie's picture

Hi everyone,

What a great discussion! I love the care you are taking to chew over the concepts, and the appreciation for the beauties that I see about me. Looking at each season when you think it could be your last sharpens your eye. I am intrigued by the dilemma on whether we should live as though each day could be our last, or whether we should live as though we will live forever. That became a question I lived with, for that entire year. When I tried to meditate on death I found myself getting depressed, or sometimes very angry. It made me nervous. It also made me reckless. If I was going to die, then I lose my care and attention for the world around me.

When I read about the woman who had a dying child, and decided that they would both live as though they would live forever, I was very moved. It seemed the most profound act of courage. To commit, totally, to this moment, and the next moment, holding these moments as though they will last forever, knowing that what we do with our lives, with others, with the earth, creates a reality that continues to exist, that there is no escaping into an 'other' life. I find this the most exhilerating and life-enhancing responsibility!

adkins.ronald's picture

Incredible bravery to make the film and share your deeper self with all of us - thank you!

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou! If you ever want to see how I am coping now, you can go the Edge of Dreaming facebook page, and see the beautiful red foal, curious, resilient, energetic, that is my present to myself as a way of coping with filming every week with around 100 people facing their own mortality..I think that foal is now my deepest self.
Amy x

kh1044's picture

A beautiful film, honest, compelling, troubling, and yet uplifting. We know so little about how the clear light in all things connects us, and how our conciousness defines our reality. To paraphrase Dickens' view "Men's ways foreshadow certain ends: if the way's be departed from, surely the ends must change." Perhaps the same is true of dreaming; in certain conditions, we dream we are an ugly thing, but in dissatisfaction with that, we revisit the dream, and instead become a butterfly. If it truly is our mind that creates this world, it is our choice; what we dwell upon, we become.
I hope Amy and her family dwell upon love, and compassion, and the beauty of their world for years to come. How strange that it should take the most primitive of therapists, a shaman, to point the way. Maybe, when the glaciers encased much of the Earth in icy death, the cave dwellers painted their strikingly beautiful animals on the walls of their homes, to bring life back to the Earth. I'd like to think that what we dream can become reality, and if that's true, I wish all of us, everywhere, dreams of peace.

Amy Hardie's picture

o I like this idea that the cave dwellers' paintings summoned life back to earth!
There is a really interesting account by Father Ragueneau, a Jesuit priest who described the 17th century Iroquois Americans with whom he lived:
'They have no divinity but the dream. They submit themselves to it and follow its order with the utmost exactness. Whatever they see themselves doing in dreams they believe they are absolutely obliged to execute at the earliest possible moment. Iroquois would think themselves guilty of a great crime if they failed to obey a single dream. '

When they had a fearful dream, they would ask people in the community to enact it with them, keeping the energy flow of the dream, but substituting a less severe outcome. For instance, if they dreamt their legs were broken after an attack, their friends would simulate the attack but only bruise their legs. They made the private mental experience of a dream public. Not only did they share their dream in community, but they involved their peers community in a carefully calibrated shift of the dream, to produce a better outcome. Their community could be described as actively involved in recreating the dream.

Was I doing a similar thing with this film? Going through the experience of facing my own imminent death, and sharing it with the community by making a film about it?

beatrice's picture

Yes, great movie. Everyone's journey is so fascinating and to have Amy's so well documented was thrilling. Amy, so relieved you have more years to grow with your loving family.
Thank you to both Amy and Tricycle.
These fims are inspiring.
Namaste'

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou. I am so happy to be alive, especially right now, in front of a fire, cat next to laptop, white frost outside, new red foal learning about ironhard ground.
xx Amy

wilcuneo's picture

I found this an extremely interesting movie and the maker a very courageous and honest woman.

Thank you tricycle for making it available.

We owe science a great debt, however it seems to me that science and science oriented people are well and truly stuck in the world of the human 5 senses which is an infinitely narrow and small place. Science appears to speak in absolutes, despite the evidence that our scientific knowledge is a tiny fraction of what is to be know.

I wonder if Amy would have lived if she had not visited the Shaman? I know what I think, but for Amy I got the feeling of a denial and retreat into the world of the material, in seeking to live life as though she would live forever...

Great movie

yourneighbor57's picture

I think that, when done with sincerity and "right thought," both science and Buddhism rest in "not knowing" with openness and humility.

Amy Hardie's picture

I am so glad you enjoyed the movie. I think I would have died if I had not gone to the shaman. I was so sure I was fine after the first shamanic journey that I went to the hospital and asked them to discharge me. But when they refused, and tested me again, they found that my lungs were still at 60% capacity. It took the next 18 months for my lungs to climb up to 94%, which is when they did finally discharge me. Maybe the cells of the body are slower than the brain neurons. maybe they take time to catch up. I would love to know if there are scientific experiments that test this.

wilcuneo's picture

Thank you for sharing this with me Amy.

I remember Ajahn Brahms of the Western Australian Buddhist Society discussing Professor John Lorbers finding at the University of Sheffield, on the Maths student with an IQ of 126 and virtually no brain. To me it challenges the basic premise of the importance of the Brain.

http://www.uncommonforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=100
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lorber

There is so much we don't know about our universe.

I feel that the physical brain is no more than a mechanical super, super, super biological computer.... and nothing else .....Its the program that USES it that intrigues me ... and that's called "the mind" and I have no idea what that really is:)))))) No evidence just intuition mind you.

Amy Hardie's picture

That is such an interesting article. I was amazed when I learned recently in a physiology class that we have neural receptors in our heart, and our digestion! I would like to put your link in my blog, so that other folk can read about it and discuss.http://www.amyhardie.com/

Thanks, Amy x

wilcuneo's picture

Hi Amy

I have been traveling for the last 3 weeks sorry for the late reply .. If you haven't already done so please put it in your blog.

I have been listening to a very interesting audiobook by B. Alan Wallace called Hidden Dimensions, amongst other things he discusses the study of the brain to determine conciouness . What comes first? I am even more convinced that the brain is the hardware and we can't yet see/understand the software .. But the yogis do :)

Cheers

Bill

trish0's picture

I am in awe. A truly beautiful film. In every way. Thank you, Amy, for your courage and heart. Namaste.

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou and a big hug from Scotland!

ranabastani4's picture

It was a movie, yet so real ! How she did it? Being honest for sure. Talented, of course.
Gratitude to her. May she will have enough time for whatever she wants to do.

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou. I am now working in a hospice making films about other people confronting their own mortality!

johnpotts's picture

I was mesmerized with the beautiful photography and the path which we were led to walk by the story. I wanted to get to the journey's conclusion but was disappointed when it arrived. My hopes had gotten raised when I saw the Buddhist figurines on the window sill with the mother's ashes that there would be more of a Zen/Buddhist ending and was disappointed. I agree with Michael Jaquish's comments above.

As a 73 year old man, I think I have come to grips with the death of my body and that the real me which is part of all that is will never die and there is nothing to fear.

I really appreciate Tricycle for initiating this film series. I love it and I love Amy Hardie, a truly beautiful person! Thank you Amy for sharing and making us think! John

Amy Hardie's picture

Hi John,

Thankyou for enjoying the film and glad you found it stimulating. The Buddhist figurines are my sister's. She has spent time in Plum village and gets so much from it. I love it that you have got to a place where there is nothing to fear. Wish the same for all of us!

Amy x

TW77's picture

I was gripped from begining to end...I needed to know how this ended! Very interessting. In fact, i didn't have a dream but very similar thoughts and fears only hours before watching this while talking to my dad about his cancer that may have returned. It's a dark place and as the husband said I too seem to "push those thoughts aside" when they're too much. Our dreams could force us out of our false sense of security. I was hoping she would find medtation...for me, when i get overwhelmed i lean on the Dharma and meditation even more. Calming my mind is the only way to allow clairity to rise. I wonder how that might have helped, Amy? I've also read about death warning via dreams. Maybe this warning was to live more in the moment by seeing how death does come most often without warning. The scientific explanation or theory that was mentioned towards the end...can't remember his name, that blew my mind.

I think Eosforos explanation of her reasoning for saying that at the end is correct...in my opinion.

Incredible documentary...I want to show everyone! This is such a cool thing to have access to. Cool scenery shots, beautiful home and landscape too...gave a real sense of being there with her and by the end you felt like you actually met her and her family. The dream about the horse...and then finding it...that messes with my head. There has to be more to this life...as they mentioned about what else exists that our senses can't pick up? Crazy

Amy Hardie's picture

I am so glad you got so much of the film. Yes, I think meditation is the way forward for me. I run a workshop sometimes where people bring their own stories and work in pairs, to experience changing a block or dead-end in their brain. We bring science, and Jungian archetypes, and some indigenous spirituality, and end in a sort of meditation which feels enormously replenishing.

I am taking so many of these themes into the films I am working on now, also about people facing their own mortality. Which they do in so many different ways. Through talking, sharing, avoiding, singing, telling jokes.... thanks again,

Amy x

eosforos's picture

I really enjoyed Amy Hardie's film - i am thankful to her and the TFC (i remind myself that the 'F' stands for film - not football :) I also found Amy's closing remark speaking to my heart. Which is ok, basically, given i am illiterate in buddhist thought. To me, "living like one will never die" and "living like one is about to die any moment" are two quite similar states of mind. In a sense, both refer to the same internal feeling of being indifferent towards death as a dis-continuity, a lapse in the stream of life. Especially so of death as an eventuality for which one has to "do something about, to act".
I appreciate Michael Jaquish's arguments above - indeed it would be a trap of the mind to consider we have eternity in store (and act irresponsibly towards the present moment). Then again, Amy's point is about (like) "never dying" - not "living forever". A subtle difference, albeit significant for pointing out the importance of overcoming the fear of death, on one hand, and rounding-up the film's storyline and lesson, on the other.

Amy Hardie's picture

Thankyou - I think you are quite right! I discussed it more at the bottom!

gribneal's picture

I agree, eosforos, that the two statements about "living like" are most similar. We all have such different connotations of words, ideas. I did not come away feelling that Amy Hardie expected eternal life or that she would be frittering her life away because of her attitude. She had lived with her own death for a year and faced her fears which she so gracefully and courageously shared in the film. I think facing death is all about facing fears, whether that death is of the body or the spirit. As I age and get closer to death, I also feel that I am closer to life. Living each day as if it were my last gives me images of hanging on, attachments. Living each day as if I had tomorrow allows me to slow down, perhaps do things I wouldn't do otherwise, perhaps even sit quietly.

worthmoremusic's picture

the conscious.. truly something to ponder. a wonderful, personal journey into dreams and reality.

Thank you Tricycle..and thank you Amy !

_/\_

Amy Hardie's picture

thankyou for watching and thinking....I also am a ponderer...
Amy x

James Shaheen's picture

It's interesting you mention this, Michael, because it's precisely what gave us pause here at the Tricycle office when we watched the film together. Maybe Amy Hardie would like to address this. A Buddhist audience is likely to ask why we should live as if we'll live forever. We're taught by our teachers, in fact, to contemplate the reverse!

Many thanks to Amy for making the film available. Like both of you, I enjoyed it.

szavov's picture

In fact I do not see the contradiction. As far as I know the Buddhist teachings tell you to remember your mortality, your death every day in order to appreciate this human life, to be present in every moment. If I understand correctly that was exactly the aim of that mother who told to her dying child that they would live forever: "to commit, totally, to this moment, and the next moment" as Amy wrote.