Editor’s note: Every Friday a question is printed at the end of this column inviting a response. If you are a religious leader on Kaua‘i please send in your thoughts or suggestions for future topics. Next week’s subject is on song. The suggested topic at the end of the column is for the following week.
by Pam Woolway – The Garden Island
The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Koloa
Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, expounds on the wonderment and phenomena of the dream:
“Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed. Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.” (The Seven Valleys)
His eldest son, Abdu’l-Baha, demonstrates how dreams can help us solve problems and foretell events: “The soul journeys, perceives, senses. It often happens that a man in a state of wakefulness has not been able to accomplish the solution of a problem, and when he goes to sleep, he will reach that solution in a dream. How often it has happened that he has dreamed, even as the prophets have dreamed, of the future; and events which have thus been foreshadowed have come to pass literally.” (The Promulgation of Universal Peace)
In another passage he illustrates how in the world of dreams we sometimes converse with those who have passed on. This shows that the soul is a separate entity which is not dependent on the physical body and continues to exist after the person dies. Reflecting on these phenomena Abdu’l-Baha says “There is no doubt that a reality exists other than the outward, physical reality”. (Foundations of World Unity)
Kaua‘i’s Hindu Monastery
A Hindu view of sleep and dreams — Growing up in the West, we are taught that dreams are the most unreal of unrealities. They are wildly fanciful, often disturbing and always useless. Period. Still, we sleep some one-third of our lives, so it’s no wonder we wonder about them, and whether they might have any significance at all.
In the East dreams and the state of sleep are understood differently. In the East the mind is regarded as real, and dreams are the stuff of the mind. The mind never sleeps — only the physical body experiences this indulgence — and the physical brain perceives and records what passes through the mind, but the astral brain perceives and records … oh-so-much more.
Gurudeva, who lived at Kaua‘i’s Hindu Monastery for over 30 years explained the Hindu view:
Sleep is a cleanser for the subconscious mind. By the use of willpower this can be done slowly or quickly. When you sleep, you are cleaning out the subconscious mind and educating it to face the experiences that you must go through as you evolve. This is done automatically, but you can help it by the use of your will.
A beginner on the path of meditation, or even one in the intermediate phase, should endeavor to forget dreams and strengthen the fibers of the mind and psyche through daily sadhana — consistent spiritual disciplines. We especially want to forget bad dreams as quickly as possible, lest by remembering them we impress them in the subconscious and make them manifest in daily life.
Bad nightmares are not natural to the sleeper’s mind. Often they are produced by outside influences, such as the neighbors in the next apartment.
A child may be tormented by nightmares and wake up screaming, and the solution might be to have it sleep in another room, away from the next-door apartment where the husband and wife are battling, entertaining hateful thoughts. These kinds of quarrels permeate the inner atmosphere one hundred yards around, as far as the loudest voice could be heard if there were no walls.
When people begin to meditate and are on the spiritual path — and this means that they do accomplish making a difference in their behavior, their beliefs, attitudes and daily actions — their dream life will reflect these results as well. For them, the dream karmas can be worked out.
Karma is often qualified as a force that is sent out from us and returns to us, generally through other people. We do experience in the inner worlds, while the physical body is asleep, forces going out from our thoughts, feelings and what we say and think, and these obviously are dream karmas, real karmas that will eventually manifest on the physical plane unless reexperienced and dissolved within the dream world.
Some dreams come from the person’s emotional nature, some from subconscious fears, and some from just playing back experiences in daily life. But certain dreams are brought by the gods.
Dreams from the gods come to very religious people who live a disciplined life of sadhana, rising at four in the morning, and living Hindu Dharma to the best of their ability. They have attracted the attention of the gods because they have penetrated the realms of the gods. If they let down, then they would not have those kinds of visitations any longer. And there are prophetic dreams, which come from the superconscious mind, beyond the subconscious.
It is a state of mind that sees into the future and into the past simultaneously, is able to read the akashic records. The most prophetic dreams come in the early hours just before sunrise. The more subconscious-cleansing type dreams come before that time.