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
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
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
Question: Is there any means of keeping an undesirable
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
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
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.