Question: Could you speak a little about the significance of dreams?1Sri Chinmoy: When we have a dream, we have to know which plane of consciousness it comes from. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. When we have a dream from the lower worlds — the subconscious worlds or, you can say, inconscient worlds — we have to feel that this dream has no value. It cannot change our nature. It cannot inspire us. It cannot give us any hope for our future fulfilment. When we get a dream from the vital plane, it will be filled with constant movement. This kind of dream is like a battle; people are being killed and everything is being broken and smashed. Dreams like this cannot help us at all in our spiritual life. The best thing we can do is forget them. If the dream comes from the mental plane, there will be some poise — not full poise, but a little poise, a little calm and quiet. If it comes from the psychic plane, we will feel affection, sweetness, compassion and concern for the things or persons we are seeing. And if it comes from the soul's plane, it will be all peace, light and delight.
When we have a dream from the lower worlds, we do not want to identify ourselves with it for it is very frightening. The dream comes to us as a threat. But a dream that comes from the higher worlds comes as an invitation. It gives us inner joy and inner satisfaction, and immediately we feel our identity there. We enter into it and grow into it. A dream that comes from the subconscious world, where we are quarrelling and fighting and doing many undivine things, will not necessarily materialise. But a dream that comes from the higher worlds is bound to materialise because it is coming from a world that is living and palpable. When we meditate, we consciously enter into many higher worlds and their reality sometimes enters into us in our dreams.
If we want to have sweet and inspiring dreams, then we should meditate most soulfully early in the morning — say at 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock — and then go to sleep for half an hour or forty minutes. If our meditation was sound and genuine, if it came from the very depths of our heart, any dreams we have afterwards will be divine and significant. They will be about angels and gods, or about our dear ones; or we will see some encouraging, inspiring things. If we want to have good dreams before 3 o'clock, we should meditate on the navel centre for about ten minutes before we go to bed at night. The navel is where emotion starts. Emotion itself is not bad; it is a question of how we use it. With human emotion, we bind ourselves and others. But with divine emotion, we only extend our consciousness. So if we concentrate on our navel centre for ten minutes, we can bring the human emotion under control and allow the divine emotion to go up from the heart to the highest.
If we read books to learn how to interpret dreams, we will find that each book gives us a different answer. Perhaps each book is right in its own way, but it is best if we get our own interpretation from our dreams themselves. When we have a dream, we should try to feel our own existence in the dream, that we are inside the dream itself. Those who meditate daily will not find this difficult to do, but others may find it difficult.
An ordinary man sees a dream as something totally separate from the rest of his life. He feels that he is living in reality and that his dream has nothing to do with reality. It may be something sweet, precious, encouraging and inspiring, but he does not feel that it is more than that. But when a spiritual man has an uplifting dream, he immediately feels that this dream is the precursor of reality. Something more, he will see the dream as tomorrow's reality. How does he do that? He does it on the strength of his meditation.
Right now our consciousness is separated into three parts. At this moment we are in the waking consciousness. When we are in deep sleep, we have another consciousness. Then we have a third consciousness in the dream state. Someone who meditates expands his consciousness into all three planes.
How can we derive benefit from our dreams? We can derive benefit from dreams if we feel that each dream is a step or steppingstone towards our divine Goal. There are some people who say they do not have any dreams at all, but they are mistaken. They do dream, but when they come out of the dreamland, they totally forget what has happened. Some people have the capacity to retain their dream consciousness when they awake early in the morning. If we feel that we had a dream at night but cannot remember it, then early in the morning we should try to concentrate on the point behind the head just at the top of the neck. When we have dreams, either they will manifest through our physical mind or, for some time — for a few hours or even for a day or two — they will be registered at that point behind the head. If we can concentrate there for ten or fifteen minutes, we will be able to feel that we are knocking at a particular door. And when the door opens, we will be able to remember our dreams completely. Everything will come back to us.
When we have a frightening dream, we should pay no attention to it. Suppose we have a dream that a friend or relative of ours is going to pass away. Tomorrow the individual is supposed to die, but if we are frightened now, then today he is already dead for us. If we surrender to the dream, we will suffer unnecessarily before the actual hour. Also, our fear will immediately enter into the victim and create an additional burden for him. Or suppose we dream that something bad is going to happen in our life. If we are frightened, we are already dead. But if we are not frightened, then during the few hours or the few days that lie between our dream and the actual occurrence, we can fight against the unfortunate occurrence with our prayer and meditation.
Perhaps we think that prayer is something feminine or delicate. No! Prayer is our greatest strength. God's Strength is His Compassion and man's strength is his prayer. Or if we can meditate, that will be an even mightier strength. Suppose we dream that a loved one is about to die. If we invoke God's Help and God's Grace descends, we can delay this person's death. Many times it has happened that spiritual seekers have dreamt that their relatives were going to die and immediately they started meditating and praying to God. Then God's Grace descended. God does not nullify the event, but He may delay it. Why? Because He is not bound by Cosmic Law! Cosmic Law is created by God, and at any time He can break His own Law. Our soulful prayer can make Him break His Law. God has said, "This is to be done." He has recorded such and such, but when human prayer enters into His Heart, He may cancel His own Decree.
When we have hopeful dreams, illumining dreams, encouraging dreams, when we see that something significant is going to take place in our life, we should go deep within and try to prepare ourselves to be a fit instrument to receive what is about to take place. And if we see that a friend or a loved one is about to have a significant experience, we should consciously try to prepare that person inwardly. He will eventually get joy from the event because it belongs to him. But this joy, by God's Grace, we have received before he has. So if we are wise, we will go deep within and assimilate this joy, and then try to offer it to him inwardly by identifying with his soul during our meditation. This will give him additional strength and prepare him to receive the very high, meaningful and fulfilling experience he is about to get. Then, before the event actually materialises in his life, he will start getting inner peace and joy that he cannot account for. And when the experience comes, he will be more ready for it. But if we tell him, "You know, I had a wonderful dream about you," he will be happy for a second and then he will doubt us. He will say, "Oh, it is all mental hallucination." Despite our best intention, his doubtful mind will throw cold water on our encouraging message.
It is not bad for a seeker to pray to God for dreams. Dreams are necessary, as experiences are necessary. But again, if we do not have dreams, if we do not have experiences, that does not mean that we are not fit for the spiritual life or that we are not fit for God-realisation. There are people who do not have any experiences. They curse themselves and think that God is displeased with them, but that is not the case.
There are two ways of reaching a goal. One way is to go there consciously one step at a time. My calculating mind says that I have to take four or five steps to get there: one, two, three, four, five. If my physical mind wants to be convinced at every moment while I am walking towards my goal, then I can say that step one is an experience, step two is an experience and so on. But again, if I know where my destination is, it may not be necessary for me to have constant experiences each step of the way. What is necessary, in my case, is only to reach my destination. So I can just go there and find that God is ready for me.
For some people, dreams or inner experiences serve as preparatory steps. For other people they are not necessary at all. The human mind always wants to be convinced. It wants to get joy at every step when it does something. But if we live in the heart and the soul, then we need not give that kind of importance to experiences and dreams. They are not necessary because God is preparing us in His own Way. If He does not want to give us convincing experiences, no harm. But again, if we pray to God for convincing experiences or sweet dreams, there is no harm in our prayer either. Eventually a day will come when we shall offer to God the highest prayer: "O God, if You want, give me experiences. If You do not want to give me dreams or experiences, it is all up to You. Only make me worthy of Your Compassion. And if You do not want to make me worthy of Your Compassion, it is also up to You. Only do with me as You will. Let Thy Will be done in and through me. I care for nothing except Your own Fulfilment in and through me." When we have that kind of prayer within us, then God comes to us and says, "Do not be a beggar. Do not cry for dreams; do not cry for experiences. Take Me, the Reality itself."
MUN 286. 1970.↩