Dunne, J. W. - An Experiment with Time – Going out of body in a dream to see the time
Type of Spiritual Experience
The composer has gone out of body and seen the watch, and then constructed a dream around the event
A description of the experience
AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME BY J. W. DUNNE [SECOND EDITION]
It occurred in 1898, when I was staying at an hotel in Sussex. I dreamed, one night, that I was having an argument with one of the waiters as to what was the correct time. I asserted that it was half -past four in the afternoon : he maintained that it was half -past four in the middle of the night.
With the apparent illogicality peculiar to all dreams, I concluded that my watch must have stopped ; and, on extracting that instrument from my waistcoat pocket, I saw, looking down on it, that this was precisely the case. It had stopped — with the hands at half -past four. With that I awoke.
The dream had been a peculiar one (in ways which have nothing to do with this book), and the net result of it all was that I lit a match to see whether the watch had really stopped. To my surprise it was not, as it usually is, by my bedside. I got out of bed, hunted round, and found it lying on the chest of drawers. Sure enough, it had stopped, and the hands stood at half-past four.
The solution seemed perfectly obvious. The watch must have stopped during the previous afternoon. I must have noticed this, forgotten it, and remembered it in my dream. Satisfied on that point, I rewound the instrument, but, not knowing the real time, I left the hands as they were.
On coming downstairs next morning, I made straight for the nearest clock, with the object of setting the watch right. For if, as I supposed, it had stopped during the previous afternoon, and had merely been rewound at some unknown hour of the night, it was likely to be out by several hours.
To my absolute amazement I found that the hands had only lost some two or three minutes — about the amount of time which had elapsed between my waking from the dream and rewinding the watch.
This meant, of course, that the watch had stopped at the actual moment of the dream. The latter was probably brought about by my missing the accustomed ticking. But — how did I come to see, in that dream, that the hands stood, as they actually did, at half -past four?
If anyone else had told me such a tale I should probably have replied that he had dreamed the whole episode, from beginning to end, including the getting up and re-winding. But that was an answer I could not give to myself. I knew that I had been awake when I had risen and looked at the watch lying on the chest of drawers.
Yet, what was the alternative? " Clairvoyance" — seeing across space through darkness and closed eyelids?
Even supposing that there existed unknown rays which could effect that sort of penetration, and then produce vision, — which I did not believe, — the watch had been lying at a level above that of my eyes. What sort of rays could these be which bent round corners?