MEHER BABA ON DREAMS
In a way, even an ordinary dream is also a subconscious experience of the Subtle, because everyone necessarily makes an actual use of one’s Subtle body in the dreaming state. But, be it noted, through that body one experiences different sensations and happenings pertaining to the Gross only. In other words, the ordinary dreaming state is the experience of the Gross through the Subtle means in the subconscious state.
from notes dictated by Meher Baba,
Q. What are dreams?
Baba: Dreams are subconscious experiences which are always linked with your Gross experiences of the past. Sometimes in your dreams you see persons you never saw in this life. This link is from the past. It is all based on illusion and imagination. So everything except the Real Self is based on illusion.
Elizabeth Patterson: How was it that when I was twelve years old, I dreamed of you three different times in succession, and when I first met you, years after, I recognised you as the one I had known in the dreams. Was that an illusion?
Baba: What I mean is that everything except your being infinite is illusion. I am very ancient, very very old, and always young.
I will one day explain all about dreams. There are seven kinds. Some are due to indigestion. The sixth has no meaning. The seventh has significance.
Aw 10:2 p10,
also LA p158
Subconscious experiences, although of the same plane, vary. Some are mere dreams, some visions, some the foretelling of the spending of impressions. But even the subconscious can be hallucinated. Now what is hallucination? This is very interesting. It is not a dream, it is like delusion, but the difference can be understood by examples. You sit relaxed, and in your mind, pictures of your home, your mother, etc., come to mind. And you speak to the pictures that you can bring before your mind. This is imagination.
You imagine yourself being in America. Now, in your imagination, you think that you can actually see your home, your mother, etc., and feel their presence. This is hallucination. As another example, I asked one man to fast for forty days on water only. On the fortieth day he saw figures with ten heads, twelve hands, speaking. He thought this was a spiritual experience, but it was hallucination.
Now what is the difference between hallucination and spiritual experience? In hallucination you see things, extraordinary things, but never feel blissful or peaceful. This is the only sure sign of differentiating between hallucination and spiritual experience. When it is hallucination, bliss and peace are impossible. In delusion, too, bliss and peace are not possible, but the confusion as to whether it was hallucination or spiritual experience does not remain.
In hallucination, you see strange figures, and yet doubt as to whether they exist or not. In delusion, you take things as existing which really do not exist, but you feel sure they do exist. Hallucination is like a conscious nightmare.
Sometimes in your dreams you see events that occur years after, and all of a sudden you remember having dreamt it. Sometimes you see such funny things, things that have no meaning, or persons whom you have never seen in this life. But you have either seen them in the past, or will see them in the future.
Evolution progresses from the atom towards the infinite, and the soul gathers its impressions from imagination. Your soul has been through this process for millions of years through every form. So what you can imagine includes, and has as its basis, all that you have passed through. And every soul has to pass through negative and positive experiences.
You cannot imagine things that you have not seen. You cannot now imagine being in Persia, because you have never been there. But you can imagine being in England as you have seen England. So whatever you see in dreams is hallucination, or the projection of imagination. But it is always something you have seen or will see in the future.
In a dream, when you sleep, this body (the physical) is not used, and yet you see, smell, hear, taste, etc. You do it all with the Subtle body, but not consciously. When you do it consciously, you actually experience being aloof from the body. You smell, you eat, you hear, you feel, doing it all as concretely as you do with the Gross body, not vaguely as in dreams. You can actually feel the body as a cloak. You put it off and on like a garment, actually, not just in your imagination.
Garrett Fort: How can you imagine things you have never seen?
Baba: You have seen things far back, ages back. You can never produce what you have not seen. Imagination is infinite. But sometimes you see in your dreams events that occur years after, and all of a sudden you remember having dreamed it. Sometimes you see such funny, weird things, having no meaning. Or you see persons you have never seen in this life. But you have either seen them in the past, or will see them in the future.
Fort: When you have dreams of future events, have you seen that?
Baba: You will see it later, even if you have not seen it yet. Imagination is always something you have seen or will see in the future.
14 March 1937,
Another version, LA p181
The Master usually helps the aspirant through ordinary means, and prefers to take him under the veil. But when there is a special indication, he may also use an occult medium to help him. Special types of dreams are among the common media which are used for touching the deeper life of the aspirant. Masters have not infrequently first contacted the aspirants by appearing in their dreams. Such dreams, however, have to be carefully distinguished from ordinary dreams.
In ordinary dreams, the Subtle body is active in exercising its functions of seeing, tasting, smelling, touching and hearing, but the soul is not using the Subtle body with full consciousness. As these experiences of ordinary dreams are received subconsciously, they are in most cases purely subjective, relating to physical activities and concerning the Gross living, being the creations of the nascent sanskaras stored in the mind. In some cases, however, a dream which is indistinguishable from ordinary dreams may be the reflection in the subconscious of some objective experience of the Subtle body, and not merely a product of fancy.
Most dreams are purely subjective and subconscious experiences of the Subtle body, and they have no special spiritual significance, except that they can be the occasions for the forging of new sanskaras or the spending up of old ones, and that occasionally they shed a light upon the hidden complexes and unfaced problems of personality. But such dreams can never include something which is not in some way a part of the past experience of the person. And they allow scope for novelty only in respect of new combinations of the items which have already appeared in past experience.
The rare types of dreams are the dreams of persons and things which have been known to the man, not in this life, but in some past life or lives. And even still more rare are the dreams of persons and things which have never appeared in his life or lives, but are going to appear in his life in the future. Ordinary dreams are thus utterly different from dreams which have occult significance.
1941? Di v3 p11-12
In rare cases, in spite of the resistance offered by the brain, some memories of past lives leak into the present life in the form of dreams which are entirely unaccountable by means of the present life. A man may see in his dreams persons whom he has never seen in his present life. It often happens that the persons who appeared in the dreams were persons whom he had met in his past lives. But of course, such dreams, when they are of the ordinary type, cannot be treated as memory of the past lives. They merely indicate that the imagination which worked in dreams was influenced by materials taken from the past lives of the man.
The real memory of past lives is clear, steady and sure, like the memory of the present life; and when it comes to a man, he has no longer any doubt about his having existed in several lives, along with many others. Just as he cannot doubt his own past life in the present incarnation, he cannot doubt his life in his past incarnations.
1942? Di v4 p61
As compared with dreams, the physical life is indeed a reality. Similarly, compared with the reality of the Path, the world and all worldly life is vacant dreaming on the part of man. But as the world and all of its experiences are illusory, so is the spiritual Path that leads to reality. The former may be termed false illusion and the latter real illusion. Nevertheless, despite the vast difference between them, they are both illusions, for God alone is the only reality.
c.1952? GS p73
The dream of a man is but a drama enacted by the projection of man’s own dormant impressions. These impressions, when projected through man’s subconsciousness, create things and creatures of the dream, as Sub-Subtle forms. Man in the dream state not only becomes involved in the drama of his dream, and plays the roles of both the creator of that dream and of the hero in the drama of that dream, but in this drama man also gets closely associated with the things and the creatures in their Sub-Subtle forms, which are of his own creation in his dream state. This creation of Sub-Subtle forms comes entirely as a result of the manifestation of man’s own past and present impressions. Thus man in his dream state associates subconsciously with forms in Sub-Subtle states.
When recollected by a man in the awake state, these very forms, which he has seen and associated with in the dream state, remind him of his conscious associations with the Gross forms as things, creatures and beings associated with in his day-to-day life of the present, and link them with his connections and contacts established in his life of the immediate and sometimes distant past. But more often than not, a man also recollects in his conscious awake state that a particular Gross form, whether of a thing, creature or being, with which he closely associates, and which he actually seeks, reminds him of having witnessed that same object in his dream at some time in the past, either some days, months or years ago.
Thus it actually happens that a form of the future, which he happened to witness in his dream of the past, reappears to the man as a Gross form in his life associations of the present. After a lapse of time the same object, that the man was totally ignorant of ever having seen or contacted before in his lifetime, appears to him now in the awake state, exactly as he had witnessed it before in his dream. Experiences of a similar nature are also recorded in which a man witnesses certain incidents in his dreams years in advance of their actual occurrence.
c.1954, GS p94-95
When you sleep and dream, you experience association with people, speaking with them and doing actions in relation to them, see all manner of objects in your surroundings, and feel happiness or unhappiness in regard to them all. Where do all these people and objects come from? Not from outside yourself, but from within you. You create them for your own experiencing, and no one but you sees, knows about and experiences what you are seeing, knowing and experiencing. They exist only for you.
In like manner, you are sitting in this room seeing these other persons and the objects in the room, and in like manner, no one but you is seeing them and experiencing them – that is, seeing and experiencing them as you are seeing and experiencing them. They exist solely for you, and have come from nowhere but from within you. You have created them for your experience of them.
What is called your awake state, your daily life with all its associations and experiences, is only you dreaming, and in your dream creating all the persons and objects in that dreaming for your experience of them. What is called your dreaming when asleep is but another dream within this dream.
When you awake from your asleep-dreaming into your awake dream, you know that the asleep-dreaming was only a dream. When you awake from your awake-dreaming, you will know that you were the sole creator of both the dreams, and all the people, objects and situations contained in them – that they existed only in you, and were for no one but you, and were nothing but dream experiences of your own dreaming – and that you alone have real existence. When real light appears, this darkness, which you think is light, disappears.
c.1955, SG p167
When a Gross-conscious person has a dream, he has, as in his waking state, an experience of some place, and also of some mental state and experience associated with it. But the place, mental state and experience with which a person is confronted in his dream do not have the same externality or separateness which characterise them in wakefulness. It will be very artificial, and even misleading, if we try to separate the place in the dream from the state and the experience connected with it, though such separateness presents us with no difficulty when we are concerned with the place, state and experience in Gross-conscious wakefulness.
1956? Be p85
Although the most important work of consciousness is always done during the waking state, dreams also play their part in helping consciousness through the maze of problems which beset it. As a rule, consciousness passes through the dream-state during the transition from waking to sleep, and while returning from sleep to waking. The dream-state serves as a bridge between sleep and waking, but it is not an inevitable phase. The mind may swing between quiescence and waking without subconsciously passing through the dream phase.
In the dream-state, consciousness is not completely dormant as in sleep, nor is it fully active as in waking. The dream-state is midway between these two phases, and it marks a transition from latent consciousness to active consciousness. The unique virtue of the ordinary dream-state is that experiences in it are relatively free from the act of willing, as well as from the rigid social demands which prevail in conscious life.
Despite the seeming lawlessness of the dream-state, it is nevertheless subject to the accumulated mental and emotional impressions (sanskaras) which function as inexorably in the dream state as in the waking. Many inclinations and desires which cannot find fulfillment in waking life, seek and find gratification in the self-created subjective world of dreams. Likewise, many fears and conflicts buried in the subconscious mind inflict upon the dreamer a diversity of suffering which the conscious mind would seek to avoid.
Thus dreamland also invites the experiencing of the opposites. The unique characteristic of dream experiences is that they afford an opportunity to work out a number of sanskaric impressions without creating any new physical bondage. Many dreams have the same force and directive value that inhere in experiences of the waking-state, but these latter are always accompanied by the simultaneous creation of new emotional and mental impressions (sanskaras) that prove to be just as binding as the age-old impressions that limit man’s consciousness. Dream experiences, however, result in no such creation of further bindings.
Another interesting aspect of ordinary dreams is that, regardless of what the dream entails, it has no direct effect upon any mind other than the dreamer. This is quite contrary to experiences in the conscious waking-state. These invariably involve and affect many other souls as well, thus complicating many life patterns. The activity of consciousness in the waking state creates a bondage of karmic liabilities and assets from which dream experiences are exempt.
The dream world is a type of psychic experimental laboratory, insulated from the demands of physical life, and thus possessing some advantage over the waking-state. But because it does not give play to the directive faculty of the will, and isolates the individual soul from other souls, it also suffers severe handicaps from which the waking life is free.
before 1957, LH p121-123
You say that you see me in dreams. These dreams arise from your own impressions formed through your love and faith in me. Do not attribute them to me. I have come into your midst to awaken you from the long, drawn-out dream of illusion, not to create more dreams for you.
c.1960? India, EN p40
You are really the infinite soul, but you identify yourself with a finite mind, and so have to suffer. You have your moments of happiness and sorrow. Whether your pains outweigh your pleasures or your pleasures outweigh your pains, you worry all day about something or the other until your finite existence retreats at night into sound sleep. There you unconsciously merge in the infinite.
In sound sleep you completely forget yourself and your surroundings, your thoughts and emotions, around which are ranged your ideas of imagined happiness and sufferings. But this respite is short-lived. From the sound-sleep state you come down to the normal awake state, and as you come, you have necessarily to pass through a dream state, even though it be only the fraction of a second.
Now at one time you have a very happy and sweet dream, in which your ideal of happiness is fulfilled. But being a dream, it lasts only a little while. And waking pains you so much that you sigh, ‘What a pity it was all a dream.’ At some other time you have a horrible dream in which you experience great suffering. Time seems an eternity. As you wake, you feel such relief that you say, ‘Thank God it was only a dream after all.’
In the dream state you enjoy and suffer. When you wake, you realise that your enjoyment and suffering was nothing but a dream, an illusion. But know that your present state of consciousness, which you call being awake, when compared with the real awake state, is nothing but a dream state. Your life is a dream within the mighty dream of God which is the universe.
c.1960, India, EN p51-52
(A man had dreams in which he found himself flying in the air)
Q. Baba, has this any special meaning spiritually?
Baba: What meaning? Only that of a dream. We see birds flying. What does that mean spiritually? In ancient times some yogis were so powerful that they, too, could fly like birds. For a lover of God such things are neither important nor essential.
(Baba asked whether anyone present had had dreams of flying. Some raised their hands.)
Baba: Then such dreams are not uncommon. (Baba pointed at one of the mandali) Even such a plump person can fly in a dream. What a wonder! Whether you walk on water or fly in air, whether it be in a dream as you had, or in the normal awake state, as the ancient yogis did, these things have no meaning spiritually, or very little meaning, worth ignoring. Try honestly to love God, and you will realise that, except love, all other things are meaningless…
Where is God?
Q. God is in everyone and everything, in every particle of dust.
Baba: Is this not mere book knowledge? Is this your experience? Even a child can make such statements. So unless you have the experience, it is useless to make such statements. If you are really keen about the Truth, try to meditate with love on the divine form of your choice, or remember the name of God wholeheartedly. Then, with divine grace, a fortunate one sees God face to face, everywhere and in everything, far more clearly and intimately than you see the things in this room now with your physical eyes.
Before the real seeing is revealed, one gets many experiences on the Path. If not rightly valued, these experiences prove very alluring and deceptive. If one starts feeling proud about one’s flight in a dream, how much pride will the experiences on the Path nourish? One has to be very watchful about the tricky nature of the ego, which tries to maintain its separateness more and more. One thing is certain: the more importance and attention you pay to such experiences, the more you get bound. Don’t run after the experiences, but remain steadfast in your love for God.
Guruprasad, Poona, 1960, DH p1-4
How can a man know that this is only a vacant dream unless he is awakened from it? The dream of the universe is ever real until one is awakened. It is simple and easy to say ‘It is all just a dream. It is all nothing. It is all absurd and meaningless.’ But who honestly experiences it as dream, as nothing, as absurd and meaningless? Only the Realised ones.
Even though consciousness is full and complete in human form, man still thinks that the things he sees with his Gross eyes are real. He takes them to be real when everything is false. Why? Because of the sanskaras that make the dream appear to be real.
It is as if while sleeping, a man dreams he is a king with a royal court, reigning over all, surrounded by grandeur, singing and merriment. This man is enjoying himself, and is at a great height, for he is a king among men. And were the Ancient one himself, the mischievous one who is Meher Baba, to tell him, “You are a fool – a fool. You are only dreaming. You are not a king in the least,” the man would not believe it. But later, when he awakens, he soon realises that it was a dream and nothing but a dream after all. All that he valued in the dream is now meaningless, because it is nothing but the stuff that dreams are made of – sanskaras.
In the same way, though awake, the whole world is dreaming. The people of the world do not know that they are dreaming, so deceptive, so binding are the sanskaras, that stuff that makes dreams and more dreams.
People marry while dreaming, have children and homes, work, play, fornicate, fight, love, hate, theorise, intellectualise and philosophise, thinking it is all real, when not one experience is real.
When death comes, man leaves his family behind, loses everything that he worked and fought for so hard, including his identity, and experiences heaven or hell, but returns again into another man or woman form with a new identity, having forgotten the past. So everything and everyone goes on and on – new families, new affairs, different values.
Deaths and births are as insubstantial as waking and sleeping. The human consciousness changes, not the species, and sometimes experiences itself in the form of a man and sometimes as a woman, healthy and sick, sometimes rich, sometimes poor, intelligent and stupid, ugly and beautiful, sane and insane, black and white and so forth, 8,400,000 rounds.
It is the human consciousness that experiences the diversity of living in one country and then in another, with different beliefs and customs, for ages and ages, before and after recorded history. The diverse human experiences are tremendous, as the sanskaric patterns differ with each individual; in this sense, the uniqueness makes it an adventure. But the goal is to become awakened, and to achieve that state the Jeevatma finally realises, after countless cycles of births and deaths, that it’s self is not outer consciousness.
When what one sees has no reality, the inevitable must occur: the consciousness looks within and begins the inner journey, and the Jeevatma again dreams, but this time the dream is divine.
When the Jeevatma begins the inner journeys, it means he dreams the divine dream of becoming God. ‘I will become God – I will know him, and thereby become him’ …
from notes dictated by Meher Baba, 1967, NE p56-58
In the ordinary awake state, energy and matter manifest in Gross form. In the ordinary dream state, energy and matter manifest in Sub-Subtle form, meaning the breath is drawn within (inhaled), and becomes internal in a semi-Gross form.
In the dream state, the dreamer has an impression of energy in a Gross sanskaric form; the Gross sanskaras of the person are in a partially non-functioning state; Gross action stops, but certain predominant Gross thoughts remain.
The impressions one has while dreaming are also a result of sanskaras accumulated from past lives, which give rise to situations in dreams that are associated with the present. The past molds the future; for this reason, dreams can probe into the future but do not fully reveal the future.
from notes dictated by Meher Baba, 1967, NE p305
“Baba explained that, in general, one quarter of a dream comes true…”
21 January 1923,
Bombay, RD p139
“… Baba once told me that any dream where a spiritual Master appears is not a dream but a vision. Also he has told us that any time a person’s thoughts turn truly to Baba, that he is truly with them.”
in a letter to Delia DeLeon,
7 December 1947, Aw 6:2 p22