Lessons Dreams Teach
When the Lower Man is Sufficiently
Purified, He Receives Visions of Truth in Dreams
The Theosophical Movement
The following text is reproduced
from “The Theosophical Movement”
magazine, January 2004 edition, pp. 82-84.
We experience dreams when we fall asleep every night. It is so commonplace an occurrence that we hardly pay any attention to it. Dreams have very important lessons to teach us, but we scarcely heed them. The three planes of human life - waking, dreaming and deep sleep - contain the key to the deepest mystery of man, which the ancients well understood.
The Upanishads contain important expositions on the three planes of human life, and draw lessons from them leading to most sublime truths of the psychological mysteries of man. In the Old Testament there are numerous references to dreams. In the Book of Job it is said that in the dreams and visions of the night, man is instructed. The first step on the Path of Atma Vidya, the Science of the Soul, the Science of all sciences, is a careful and a thorough study of the three states of our existence.
Modern science has paid superficial attention to this important phenomenon. It is considered to be of little consequence, because mind is taken to be a secondary effect of electro-biomolecular activity of the brain, not independent of the body, and doomed to disappear like a puff of steam after the death of the body.
The basic premise of the ancient science of psychology, on the other hand, is that mind is independent of body and not a product of physical evolution. It is a ray of the Universal Mind, evolving through countless reincarnations under Karmic Law; and this higher godly Manas is only partially incarnate as the lower mind-being, the mortal man. Hence, man is a dual mind-being: higher immortal and lower mortal; good and evil, wise and foolish. It is this basic truth that underlies the three planes of human life - waking, dream, and dreamless sleep - and it contains the key to the mysteries of the complex nature of man.
Even ordinary, chaotic, meaningless dreams teach us many lessons, if we only pay careful attention to them. The first lesson even ordinary dreams teach us is the fact that the sensorium is not in the physical body but independent of it. We see, hear, smell, taste and touch in the dream state - when the body is fast asleep, and when senses and most part of the brain are in abeyance - as vividly as when we are awake. Linga Sharira or the Astral Body is the real seat of the sensorium.
The second lesson dreams teach is the fact that the inner self is independent of the body, as we experience all the emotions and mental states when the body is fast asleep, oblivious of the external world. When from the dream state he passes into the deep sleep or Sushupti state, the personal man is wholly unconscious of his existence. When he returns to the waking state through the dream state, he does not lose his self-identity in spite of all these transformations. He feels sure that he was the same self in the waking life, during dream experiences, and also during the state of deep sleep - the state of apparent oblivion.
The deep sleep state, in fact, refreshes him with new energy, deep peace, inner joy and contentment, when he awakes in the morning. This would not be the case were the deep sleep state an oblivion of self. It is noteworthy that the unchanging self-identity runs like an unbroken thread through all the myriad experiences of the three states, and remains the same Self. This supports the proposition of ancient psychology that Self or Ego is distinct from and unaffected by myriads of sensations and experiences it undergoes as it cycles through the three planes of being; naught adheres to the Self. It is the Perceiver of them all, but “stands on high unaffected,” Kutastha.
Theosophy teaches that when the deep sleep state is reached, after the dream state, the Ego regains temporarily its original freedom, a high spiritual state, full of knowledge and bliss, because the Ego-Manas is a son of the Universal Mind or Mahat. In The Voice of the Silence the deep sleep state is called the Hall of Wisdom wherein the Ego feeds on ambrosia and revels in its celestial freedom.
After enjoying the freedom, when the time comes for waking, the Ego returns from its celestial home to its bodily prison. It can only return by the gate of the dream state. As it is beginning to assume the bodily apparatus, the lower brain-mind begins to awaken in the dream state and sees for a time the activity of its Divine Parent, the Ego. The Ego in turn tries to impress the lower mind with its knowledge and wisdom - of past, present and future. But the spiritual impressions so received are lost, as they get mixed up with the chaotic impressions of the waking experiences of the lower mind which troop into the dream state, and we wake up none the wiser. Thus spiritual knowledge of the Ego is lost every time we wake up in the morning, because we have made our mind and brain coarse and unfit for the reception of superfine spiritual impressions of the Divine Ego.
Our waking life has effect on dream life, and vice versa. If the waking life is full of mere personal concerns of selfish pursuits and lower desires, as is normally the case with the majority of people, the dream life is polluted with impure lower impressions. To receive benefits from our Divine Parent Ego in the dream state and to bring them back to the waking state, the latter has to be kept clean and pure. This means, performing duties dispassionately, as sacrifices to the God within, “with calmness ever present,” thus elevating and ennobling our lives. The brain-mind so purified and becalmed enters the dream state fit to receive and retain the impressions of the Higher Ego, which can be brought back more or less intact to the waking life for the benefit of our fellow-men and ourselves.
There are any number of instances of high-minded men and women receiving knowledge and illumination through dreams.
When the lower man is sufficiently purified and attuned to the Ego within, he will receive illumination and visions of truth in dreams. Very pure and holy men have been so inspired even during the waking state.
Lessons Dreams Teach
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.