header pic header text

Volume VIII - The Art of Being

Health and Order of Body and Mind

Chapter XXII

1 The Nature of the Dream

There is a Hindustani saying calling this world the dream of life. In the Vedanta this world is called the dream of Brahma, the dream of God. It makes a person afraid to think that all our affairs, to which we give so much importance, should be unreal, should be a dream. When people came to talk to me, I have several times experienced their great disappointment when they said, 'Do you mean to say that all this is a dream, that it is not real? Now here you are standing, I am sitting, you are speaking. Is it all a dream?' They meant, 'What a foolish idea to call this life a dream.' To him who has experienced only materially through his five senses, without even a glimpse of an idea of something else, this life seems real and we cannot blame him for thinking it real. It is only when he awakens from this life that he sees that it is unreal. If, while you are dreaming, someone comes and tells you, 'Do not believe it, it is a dream,' you will never believe him, you will think it is real.

The dream is recognized as a dream because of its contrast to physical life, as everything is recognized by its contrast. We recognize woman because there is man; day is recognized because there is night, but to find the contrast to the dream of life is very hard. Let us see what makes a dream to be called a dream. There are three things: its changing character, its momentariness, and its deluding nature. Life in this world has the same attributes. If we consider ourselves – our body, the body of another – we see that at every moment we are changing. At one moment we find ourselves so angelic, so good, so mild, at another we find ourselves so rebellious that we would fight with Satan. As to the momentariness, the transitory nature – where are those who were so great as Dara and Sikandar whose glory promised to last always? Nothing is left. Then, as to its deluding nature, how jealous are we if our rival gets what we hoped for. It may be a passing joy; tomorrow the joy and the rival may not be, but whilst they last how jealous we are! If great riches come into our hands, we think it so great a thing. It promises us all. It all passes away, but while it is there we are so happy or so sad. This is life's deluding nature.

Why is this world called the dream of Brahma, the dream of God? Because each of us experiences only a part of the dream, and only God, the Whole Being, experiences all the time the whole of the dream.

God lost in the manifestation is the state, which we call waking. The manifestation lost in God is realization. In my language I would call the latter awakening and the former a dream.

In the physical world you are here, everything else is outside of you, and you are contained in space. In the dream all you see is contained within you. You may dream that you are in Paris, but if you really were in Paris, the Parisians would know that you were there. If they knew nothing of it, then you were not in Paris. Paris and everything else in the dream is within you. In that state you are so great – but you call it a dream, an imagination, and you think that imagination is nothing.

Question: is it better to be always in a dream or always awake?

Answer: This is a very interesting question and one that should be asked of great people. If a person wishes to be always in a dream, he should go to the caves of the mountains, to the wilderness, because in the world people will not only take all he has, but they will eat his bones, his skin, his flesh. We see at what point people have come by being always awake! If such a person wishes to eat, the thought comes, 'What can I gain, what business can I do,' and will not let him eat. If he wishes to sleep, the thought, 'What benefit can I have,' will not let him sleep. The politician who is always thinking, 'What office can we take, what territory can we gain, how can we get more than others can,' can never have any rest.

The best course for those who are seeking the truth – not for everybody, but for those who are on the way of truth – is to be just so much awake as is needed to carry out their responsibilities in life, not allowing themselves to be quite trodden upon, and to be so much in the dream as they can without neglecting their life's responsibilities.

How Dreams are Formed

Let us now consider how the dreams that we dream every night are formed. Our mind is made of vibrations, or let us call them atoms. These have the property of receiving impressions; they are just like a photographic plate. They are continually receiving impressions: impressions of heat or cold, of friends or enemies. These are stocked in the storehouse of the mind – so many thousands, so many millions of impressions, more than can be counted. When you are asleep, when your body is resting but your mind is active, these pictures appear before you, just like a moving picture on a screen. Then, when your mind is fully exhausted, deep sleep comes.

Some pictures we develop very much by keeping them often before us. The pictures of enemies, for instance, or of friends of whom we often think. Other pictures are very little developed, they just come and go. That is why sometimes in the dream we see the faces of our friends just as they are, sometimes we see forms that seem familiar but whom we do not recognize, and sometimes we see pictures that seem quite strange. Two or three of the pictures that are little developed join and form one picture which seems familiar.

If asked whether we can dream of what we have never seen, I would say: No, all that we dream we have seen. The Jinn, who have never manifested themselves on earth, cannot form a picture of things of this world. The imagination is just the same as the dream.

Dreams go by affinity, which means that like attracts like. If at the beginning of the night we have a sad dream, all night sad dreams come. If at the beginning of the night we have a joyful dream, all night pleasant dreams come. If there is one tragic dream, then all night tragedy goes on and on. If there is one comic dream, then all night comedy goes on.

Question: Is there any means of keeping an undesirable dream away?

Answer: There are a thousand ways of keeping an undesirable dream away, but if it is a warning then it will be very difficult to keep it away, or if one particular dream is kept away, another unpleasant dream will come.

3 Dreams of Three Kinds

The dreams we dream every night are of three kinds. There is a fourth sort of dream, but that is more a vision.

There is a dream in which a person sees during the night what he has been doing during the day; when his mind has been very much engaged in all thoughts, occupations, and cares of the day, these appear before him in the dream. This dream is called khwab-i khayali. It does not have much effect upon the mind, because it is not very deep.

The second kind of dream is khwab-i ghalti, in which one sees the opposite of what really happens: when one sees someone dead that person recovers from his illness, or one sees someone as one's enemy who in reality is one's friend. When the mirror of the mind is distorted, then the image falling upon it is distorted too, just as in some mirrors everything appears reversed; if you are thin, you appear as fat and round as a ball, and a short person appears as tall and thin as a column.

The third kind of dream is khwab-i ruhi, in which events are shown exactly as they are. This dream comes to the upright, pure mind, to the righteous, pious person. It is seen either in a dreaming or half-waking condition. If something is lacking in the person's piety, he may see something reversed in the dream. He may see the death of the father when it is the death of the mother, or the illness of the daughter, when it is the illness of the son, but if he is absolutely pious he sees the exact event. This dream comes only to the few, to the chosen ones, but we should remember that in all of us the soul is the same; it is only its cover that is different. So we may all dream this dream at times.

Many years before the Prophet Muhammad came forward as a master, as a prophet, his wife knew he was a prophet, because every morning he used to tell her what he had dreamt in the night, and it was always that which happened the next day. Whilst he himself was not yet sure of his message, she believed that he was the chosen one, and she encouraged him. If there was a first disciple of Prophet Muhammad, it was his wife.

The three kinds of dream are the most wonderful subject of study in life. The kind of dream, which is the exact picture of a reality which a person may sooner or later experience in his so called real life, teaches us that the incidents which we experience unexpectedly in life were pre-ordained for us. It also teaches us that, although here in the physical plane we appear to be separate from one another, in the plane of the dream the whole world exists upon the surface of the individual's mind. He who is one single being on the physical plane inverts into the whole world on the plane of the dream, although even there where he is alone he still holds fast his individuality.

The nature of the second kind of dream, in which everything appears to be the reverse of what may happen, is the opposite of manifestation: a person seen dead in this dream will have a long life, and the sickness of a friend seen in the dream would, on the contrary, bring him good health. It is because of their negative nature that things like the printer's block, the photographic plate, and all other things of negative character, will show their opposite before they produce the right image.

The kind of dream produced before the view of man, in which he sees what he has been doing during the day, is of little consequence. It is either caused by unbalanced activity of the mind, or by physical disorder. Such dreams as a rule have no importance and, although they create before man a moving picture, they are surely a waste.

This kind of dream, caused by the activity of his mind, is given to each person in his everyday life. The second kind generally manifests itself before the view of those who possess the attribute of humanity, who first think of the world and its responsibilities, together with the thought of God. The third kind of dream generally is vouchsafed to the spiritual person; it is, of course, seldom seen by the average man.

The first thing that happens in the spiritual development of a person is that his dreams change. First he dreams a thing and the contrary happens. Then he dreams a thing and that thing happens exactly as he dreamed it. Then God gives him warnings in pictures, just as the first writings were picture writings. Then, when his soul discloses itself more, he hears a voice and he sees angelic beings. Then, when his soul opens still more, he realizes the true being of God. When the true being of God is realized in the waking condition, then he is a saint.


checked 19-nov-2015