The introduction explains that big dreams are the “black swans” of dream research—rare but highly impactful experiences revealing new aspects of brain/mind functioning with important relevance for the study of religion. The basic idea that religions originate in dreaming has a long history, and this book will put the hypothesis to the test by using new scientific information about sleep and dreaming. Much of the evidence presented in the book comes from the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb), a digital archive and search engine designed to facilitate empirical studies of dreaming. An outline of the book’s four sections is presented: Part I looks at the evolutionary context of human sleep, Part II describes research on the form and content of ordinary dreaming, Part III examines scientific research on the four prototypes (aggressive, sexual, gravitational, mystical) of big dreaming, and Part IV looks at big dreams in religious experiences.
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