As most of us might have experienced, dreams appear to be arbitrary reflections of memory and abrupt creations of the agility of mind. We can hardly find any truth and logical basis or purpose in the broken sequence of what we usually dream in sleep. Interestingly though, when we are watching a dream, every scene appears real! We experience every bit of it as if we are living in it. Many a time dreams appear to be quite amusing and entertaining. Quite often they are frightening nightmares too.
The imaginary world of dreams may sometimes be supernatural and soothing fairylike “dream land”. Some dreams are scary and they stress our mind with unprecedented fear and worries. Usually, these diversified experiences occur because of the influence of the semi-conscious state of mind.
Desires, apprehensions and inquisitions of the conscious (external) mind, and the perceptions and conditioning of the sense organs induce corresponding influences in the subconscious state of sleep. For example, concupiscence at the time of sleep would generally result in vulgar scenes of sexual indulgence in the dreams. Active dreams of this kind might even stimulate the genitals and cause night-discharge. The heaviness of stomach, indigestion, headache, anger, mental stress tension etc. also bear associated negative effects on dreams.
Bites of mosquitoes, bedbugs, lice, etc. may be depicted in the dreams as the incidents involving experiences of injuries, pains, irritation, etc. Unfulfilled desires, suppressed emotions and psychosomatic complexes, are also reflected in the variegated experiences of dreams, which would normally be beyond the imaginations of the conscious mind. Most of the above kinds of the active (subconscious) dreams are hazy, haphazard, and difficult to be remembered. Often the dreams of this category do not bear any meaning or purpose. Such dreams cannot be analyzed or interpreted scientifically and these hardly have any connection with the hidden messages of the unconscious mind. However, frequent occurrence of the dreams of similar kinds may have roots in some psychosomatic disorder or disease.
Analysis of whatever is remembered from repeated experiences of same sort of dream during sleep might be useful in diagnosis and cure in such cases. Correlation of mental tendencies and response of active dreams sometimes becomes apparent from the specific reactions of the semi-conscious (sub-conscious) mind during active sleep. For instance, look at the following experiments conducted in the Dream Research division of the California University. As part of the studies of the effects of surrounding environment on dreams, a candle was lit and kept for some time in front of the closed eyes of a sleeping person, who happened to be a sportsman. The latter felt in his dream at that moment that a white bat and a golden shining ball are kept in front of him which he is about to pick up for a play.
When the same experiment was repeated with a coward clerk, he dreamt as if some unknown enemy is coming towards him with a thick stick and a lamp to beat him in the darkness of night. Napoleon Klettman and Eugene Aserensky of the Chicago University had attempted to investigate and identify the part or state of the body or brain responsible for experience of dreams. Despite long-term dedicated research they could not find any clue to proceed further. Their unperturbed motivation however brought fruits one day when they saw rapid movement of the eyeballs and variation in the face expressions of a sleeping child. This observation gave rise to rather focused hypothesis that the rapid movement of the eyeballs makes watching a dream possible.
This had set the direction of modern research on dreams, which has come a long way since then. Dreams appear to be the mode of transmitting subtle messages of the mind through a rhetorically coded language.
Whatever one sees in the dreams is a reflection of the subconscious or unconscious mind. The active dreams of the kind illustrated above are expressions of the thoughts, sentimental currents and bodily functions in general. The implicit nature of these reflections mingled with multiple flashes of memory makes it almost impossible to decode the meanings of dreams in general. Most often there may not be anything substantial in a dream.
The extrovert ambitions and agile mind of people frequently present them with abrupt dreams that are no better than a child’s play or congregation of delusions and arbitrary imaginations. Stationary dreams and dreams with intuitive messages are rare and are experienced by people whose mind is pure, serene, and stable.
Dreams of spiritually enlightened minds carry premonition, afflatus, or messages of great importance. Some people are born with spiritually charged mind because of their dedicated spiritual endeavors in the past lives.
Some develop these by disciplined control and purification of their mind and character. The dreams seen by such people in yoga-nidra, trance or deep sleeps are of significant importance. Spiritual dreams are expressions of afflatus and the subliminal voice of the inner self. Ample examples are available in the annals of history where great discoveries, divine illumination of the intellect, emergence of intuitive ideas, resolution of mysteries, realization of latent powers, etc. amazingly became possible because of dreams.
Sometimes, the divine inspirations educed by such dreams lead to sublime transformation of ordinary mortal beings into saints, mahatmas or great personalities of supernatural talents. Young prince Siddharth once dreamt that a divine soul had taken him to a graveyard. Pointing to a dead body the latter warned “look this is your body, realize the perishable nature of the body and the transient nature of life and hence make the best use of the moments of life available to you now”. Siddharth was truly awakened after this dream. He renounced all luxuries and attachments and attained ultimate knowledge thereafter through ascetic disciplines and sadhana of the highest order. Thus, a dream sparked the transmutation of Siddharth into The Buddha.
Joan of Arc the crowning glory of the French Revolution was born in an ordinary farmers family. In her dream one night, an angel reminded her to remember the great purpose of life, listen to the call of the times and kindle the torch of liberation. This message became the source of light and courage in her life and triggered her immortal participation in the French freedom movement with superhuman bravery.
Some of the dreams of Tipu Sultan, the intrepid king of Mysore also have significant place in history. He often used to be amazed by the intimations of future events given by his dreams. It became his habit to note down his experiences in a diary.
The modern trends of psychology were largely inspired by the theory of Freud. Sigmund Freud neglected the role of dreams as possible linkages between the subliminal and the gross domains of consciousness.
He rather affirmed dreams as reactions of suppressed and unfulfilled desires. In his view unsatisfied concupiscence or sexual instincts are predominant in stimulating disturbance of mind and generating psychological tides, which are expressed via dreams. Despite receiving significant support for a long time, Freuds hypothesis was criticized and proven to be incomplete by the eminent thinkers and psychologists
like Carl Gustav Jung.
Jung opined that, although the aspirations, emotions and the reactions of the ups and downs of daily life bear substantial impact on dreams, the latter couldn’t be confined to such reflections alone. He defines dreams as expressions of the “communications” of the individual consciousness with one or more of the infinitely many impulses of the cosmic consciousness. In his view, deciphering of dreams may give us some, though indirect, idea of the linkage of the individual consciousness with the omnipresent para-consciousness.
It should be noted here that the nature of dreams of an individual would depend upon his intrinsic character and tendencies. Dreams cannot generally depict those activities or aspects which are altogether different from his inclinations or which do not intersect with the domains of his interactions or are contrary to his habitual tendencies.
For example, it would be rare that a blacksmith dreams something associated with painting unless fine arts or painting happens to be of relevance or interest to him in some respect. However, this may be true only for the dreams seen by most people in general.
The dreams of divine or spiritual category do not depend upon the worldly activities or occupation of a person. The piety of one’s character, serenity of his mind and spiritual elevation of inner self happen to be the principal factors in experiences of such dreams.
Carl Jung has elucidated the power of the subconscious (and unconscious) mind in his highly recognized book “Memories, Dreams and Reflections”. He writes that the resources of knowledge available to the subconscious mind are enormous and stronger as compared to those of the conscious (external) mind. The latter relies on perceptions by the sense organs or acquisition of information and knowledge. But the subconscious mind, being a component of the unconscious or subtle (inner) mind, may acquire infinite ways of continuous enlightenment through the linkage of the latter with the eternal cosmic consciousness. The unconscious mind can receive subliminal impulses of ever-new experiences via the cosmic signals of omnipresent consciousness.
Some of the Modern psychologists like Dr. Haffner M. Roberts describe dreams as nothing more than the shadows and responses of the worldly horizons of life. Several other contemporary scholars of psychology have, however, contradicted such views. Prof. Fitz attributes dreams to be “the means of transmission of the inner expressions of mind in an esoteric language” which can also indicate the internal condition of the body and mind of the dreamer.
Dr. Strumpel deciphers subtler roles of the dreams and states that dreams depict the subliminal domains of life beyond the barriers of the conscious or the visible world. Prof. Berdek warns that the study of dreams should not be neglected by treating them as mere reflections or shadows of the day-to-day activities and hidden ambitions. Many times dreams prove to be rich sources of immense information of unique importance. Dreams are like layers of water on the surface of an ocean that might bring valuable substances along with the deeper currents and convey what lies beneath in the core.
The pearls of inner power and knowledge can be fetched with the help of these clues. Sometimes dreams help resolve a mystery or difficult problems, which were intractable by the logical thinking, reasoning and trenchancy of the conscious mind. This becomes possible because the conscious mind is overtaken by the unconscious mind during the moments of deep sleep.
The extrasensory potentials of the latter thus get a chance to transmit transcendental knowledge. Gaston Ugdiyani of Florence (Italy) had seen a distinct dream when he was seven years old. He saw himself as a priest in a temple in India. The dream was so clear and impressive that the image of the temple building remained alive in his memory for many years. It also educed an attraction in his mind. He visited India as a young man and was stunned to find, after a long search, that one of the temples in Mahabalipuram was exactly what he had seen in that dream!
He analyzed the dream and attributed this to be a reflection of the memory of a past life. Supernatural experiences of clairvoyance, vision of the invisible, premonition and intuition are also associated with the dreams of divine (or spiritual) category. Deciphering the realities and mechanisms of such dreams elucidates the possibility that individual consciousness can be connected to the vibrations of the subtle world via the medium of dreams.
The dormant state of the conscious mind and the active intellect during deep sleep coupled with the charged state of the subconscious and unconscious layers of mind may be likened with the state of mind during deep meditation (dhyana, dharna), yoga nidra and trance. It is in this state that the inspirations of the inner self can be received by our mind without any obstruction and fluctuation.
The spiritual realizations experienced by the yogis in the higher states of trance may be described the most real and vivid kinds of dreams. Mr. Tom Feature of Sidney had aroused his inner powers and trained his mind for understanding the implications of the rarely occurring transcendental dreams. He had also undergone spiritual practices (sadhanas) to elevate his intuition and willpower to find clues via dreams to meet the needs of the time. He had successfully used this supernormal ability to solve many intractable problems and mysteries posed before him.
Sir Oliver Lodge accepts such possibilities in his book “Survival of Man” (pg 112). He affirms the existence of a subtle linkage, which offers the glimpse of transcendental knowledge to the human mind. He also cites (pg 106/7) an interesting incident in this regard.
“Priest E. K. Eliot was on a voyage across the Atlantic. On the night of 14th January 1887, he received his uncle’s letter in dream informing the sad demise of his younger brother. The priest had narrated this dream in his diary the next day, stating that he can’t believe this dream because his brother had no problem except mild fever when he had left home in Switzerland. No one could imagine that he would die. But he got confirmed news of his brother’s death when he reached England. What else the above dream would be designated other than premonition or an experience of clairvoyance.”
Roman emperor Caesar was once requested by his wife Cornelia not to visit the senate because she had seen a horrifying dream the previous night. She had seen herself with untied hair, holding the bloodstained body of her husband in this dream. However, the king saw no reason to believe her dream or suspect any possibility of a scandal that time. What an ill fate, his friend Brutus assassinated him the same day in a narrow passage of the senate hall moments after he reached there.
Charles Fillmore of America was an ordinary citizen, living a dutiful, austere married life. He often used to see sacred scenes in his dreams. One night he dreamt that a stranger had taken him to a strange city. He read the name of the city as Kansas. Following the stranger, he arrived at a new place, which also was new to him because he had not visited this city before. There he was given a newspaper to read, he could hardly read the first letter “U” in it when many newspapers began to fall in his hands. Suddenly he was awake. The dream was broken. Somehow it had left a deep mark in his memory.
Charles was a deeply religious man and he used to teach people the need for and benefits of prayer, meditation and ascetic disciplines. Because of his simplicity and piety of conduct, even the nonbelievers respected his words. He also inspired many rich and socially active people. Some of them requested him one day to form an organization to spread the noble message of righteous faith and human values. In 1890 the “Society of Silent Unity” was formed. Surprisingly, the members proposed the city of Kansas as the headquarters of the society.
The place selected for housing the society’s office was indeed what Charles had seen in his dream. The society also launched a magazine from this office, which was named “Unity”. Now Charles Fillmore knew the secret of the letter “U” read by him in that divine dream. Later, along with his wife Myrtle Fillmore he founded world-renowned Unity School of Christianity. At present Unity school has an unequalled global outreach through its prayer ministry (Silent Unity), its books, magazines, audio and video material, conveying the message of human unity, love, peace and understanding. And all this started with a dream!
The Red Rock gold mines are second largest in the world. Mr. Winfield S. Stratton, the founder and owner of this estate has described in his memoirs how a miraculous dream made his fortunes. It happened when Stratton was facing bankruptcy in his business and used to rove around in search of solace and hope.
During this phase of misery, he slept under the sky on an open ground in Colorado on 4th July, 1811. An angel appeared in his dream and showed him the path to climb the mountains of Betil. The angel marked a particular spot there and uttered “here lie a great source of gold, which will enrich your fortunes for ages”. Stratton was awake the next moment with a feeling of hope and surprise. As he did not have money to invest in the new venture, Stratton narrated his dream to some friends with a request for help. They laughed and ridiculed his dream as mere delusion of his desperate mind.
Their conclusions were logical because the geological survey of that region of Colorado, conducted about eighteen years back, had shown no possibility of any valuable mineral ore there. All doors were closed for poor Stratton but his hopes and enthusiasm remained alive. A few days passed. Finally he climbed the hills as per the directions shown in the dream and also identified the right spot. He dug out some portion and found a stone of gold at a depth of few feet. Then he borrowed some money against the surety of his remaining property and purchased that golden land of Colorado. Soon he became a billionaire. Stratton considered the dream as a blessing of the almighty as a reward for his pious deeds in a past life.
As a mark of his inexplicable gratitude, he established a Church on the grounds where he saw the divine dream. He also founded a charitable trust for free education of poor and helpless children. The above examples show that if we maintain sincerity, piety and natural peace of mind, and thus, minimize the hindrances in the expression of its unconscious impulses, we too may sometime be bestowed with the miraculous knowledge and experience in dreams that we could have never imagined to attain in our wildest dreams!
The source of all knowledge, all activities and manifestations of the visible world as we experience it, lie in the subtle, unseen world, which is beyond the reach of our perception. The gross body of a tree is seen but its roots lie beneath the surface of earth. The strength, greenery and fructification of the tree depend upon how strong and deep are its roots. The same may be true of the trees of our lives too. Usually our mind remains engrossed within the peripheries of selfish interests and passions. It therefore experiences only the dreams driven by the tamoguna. That is why our dreams are most often vague and abrupt or haphazard expressions of suppressed desires.
When the condition of our body and mind is dominated by the rajoguna, one would experience active dreams, and the things and persons encountered in the awakened state would appear in the dreams with slightly rhetoric transformations. The subconscious reflections of the bodily conditions including those caused by internal disorders (disease) are also experienced in such dreams. The divine or supernormal dreams reflecting the transcendental realities are experienced in the turiyavastha, when the aroused influence of satoguna overcomes the raja and tama. In this state the human mind gets an opportunity of direct linkage with the soul-spirit. Precognitive dreams, the dreams offering extrasensory knowledge and clairvoyance, fall in this category of higher-level dreams. A distinct class of such dreams is the tejas swapna (enlightened dreams), which, as described in the Paramhansa Parivrajak Upanishad, are perfect reflections of truth. These are exactly materialized in the future.
The gross or the visible world we live in acquires its energy and life from the subliminal world. Understanding this fact helps towards orientation of our mental and bodily activities in harmony with Nature and the omnipresent consciousness. This helps arousing the deeper potentials of our mind and heralds the possibility of attaining vibrant health and super normal talents.
The refinement and spiritual enlightenment of the inner self with the help of sincere endeavors of yoga sadhanas can establish a harmonious linkage between the subliminal and the gross worlds of life. Gnostic dreams serve this purpose, to some extent, from time to time.