(Let me preface my response by apologizing in advance for rambling.)
My understanding is that the Western view can go from the Freudian 'royal road' understanding...to it is 'just' another state of consciousness haphazardly induced by neuro/chemical/biological structures. I haven't read anything actually written by Jung, but everything I've read in Western literature that references his theories seem to bridge the Western/Eastern paradigms.
My esoteric view is consciousness is a continuum...and dreams only one aspect. Different aspects of awareness, of thinking, of experiencing and even different 'levels' to dreaming. Westerners are interested in something called 'lucid' states....but I personally think that people striving for these states are 'missing the point'. Just like siddhis in normal meditation, it is easy to get distracted in dream states.
Personally, I've found it useful to adapt the following understanding of various dream states: samsaric (your normal dreaming), dreams of clarity (when you become 'aware' in your dream state...and these vary from mild to life altering dreams), and natural light.
Being wholistic beings, I believe in the mind/body connection...so doing good things and having good thoughts and having a spiritual practice will naturally move one from one level of dreaming to another. I think we all have dreams of clarity at various points in our lives. Like swimming in the great pool of the subconscious...usually one is just free-floating during sleep. At times, the dream with attain a 'quality'...clarity. You 'know' it is important. You may even be aware that you are dreaming. Some of these can be life-altering. Dreams of 'natural light' I will skip describing for now, but the quality of awareness is what I think is key for a spiritual aspirant.
Dreaming, like 'being awake', is understood differently depending on context and culture. My understanding, one that makes sense to my western mind, is that dreaming is part of a continuum of consciousness. If we are interested in examining perception, reality, exploring consciousness in all it's aspects...then examination of the dreaming state is part of that exploration.
(This is my understanding...feel free to ignore it.)
Most dreams are a mix of the days events, and the symbols/events stored in our memory. It is as if the subconcious is 'playing' by taking normally disparate events and juxtaposing in order to create new relationships...new insights. Buddhists label these types of dreams as part of 'samsara'. The same 'samsara'/ignorance that we exist in while 'awake' in the normal sense.
Then, there are dreams of 'clarity'. These are the ones that stand out. The 'special' ones. Again, they are on a continuum. Some lesser...dreams of seeing one's self die, meeting others or traveling places. Some greater...life-altering. Dreams of clarity become more clear, take on attributes as one evolves.
Dreams have significance in every culture, but I think that 'interpretation' is best left to the individual. That being said, cross-culturally, certain dreams, seem to occur that have significance as 'signposts' in one's personal development. Dreams of death are significant in every culture as a representation of change in the individual.
I recommend the following titles on dreaming, and understanding of certain states of consciousness:
Mind of Clear Light, by the Dalai Lama
The Crystal and the Way of Light, by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, Dalai Lama
Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light, C.H. Norbu again
Meditation, Transformation and Dream Yoga, by Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche
Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying, Dalai lama
Luminous Emptiness, by Francesca Fremantle
Tibetian Yogas of Dream and Sleep, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Wild Awakening, by Dzogchen Ponlop
The Words of My Perfect Teacher, by Patrul Rinpoche
Dangerous Friend, by Rigdzin Dorje
Other FA.com threads:http://www.fightingarts.com/ubbthreads/s...rt=all&vc=1http://www.fightingarts.com/ubbthreads/s...ue#Post15755447http://www.fightingarts.com/ubbthreads/s...rt=all&vc=1 Dogen on perception...an 'Eastern' view?