THEOSOPHY, Vol. 24, No. 3, January, 1936
(Pages 127-129; Size: 8K)
(Number 1 of a 4-part series)

DREAMS AND THE DREAMER

I

DREAMS are, by the sophisticated, regarded as simply illusions and, when taken seriously, as delusions. This dictum of our wiseacres need not be accepted as seriously as our professors take themselves. For all their learning and show of wisdom, the greatest of our psychologists, behaviorists, psychiatrists, and other empiricists, dream dreams the same as any common man, have no more control over their own minds while awake than any other mortal, and are very frequently "day-dreaming" in their writings.

How little all such are to be trusted as authorities or instructors is simply and easily shown. Not only are they unable to control either their waking or their dreaming operations, but they all treat of the subject from the assumption that the mind is asleep while dreaming goes on, and that the dreamer is unconscious during sleep! Is such a confusion of fundamental factors knowledge? Or is this confusion itself illusion, delusion -- or both?

Scarcely a person lives who has not experienced certain dreams which make it impossible rationally to conclude other than that current ostensibly scientific as well as popular opinion are fallacious when not positively false. There are, for example, retrospective dreams in which memories we have in vain tried to recover while awake, come to life. There are prospective dreams in which events, persons, landscapes, and so on, are encountered with a minuteness of detail that, when the thing seen in dream is encountered in the waking state, the identity of the two is unmistakable. There are mathematical, abstract and personal problems, which men have vainly sought to solve while awake, so that in time they "gave it up" -- to have the solution presented to them in a dream. There are dreams of such importance to the recipient or to others in whom he is interested, that he impresses himself to remember them with particularity when he is once more awake. And there are dreams within dreams; recurrent dreams; dreams in which the dreamer becomes aware that he is dreaming; dreams which are allegorically portentous, both as concerns one's self and others; dreams in which both the reason and the will are active, so that the dreamer travels in some form of mind-vehicle to persons and places at far remove, communes, observes, and after return to waking consciousness verifies the vision by ordinary means of intercourse and travel. And so one might go on with a recital to which the whole history of mankind bears witness.

Besides these, there are special forms of dream peculiar to certain persons and conditions -- dreams more rare, more difficult to inquire into for various reasons, but to which there is an abundance of testimony from the very greatest and noblest of men. In the face of all this, which any school-boy can verify, what an illusion, what a delusion, to dismiss lightly this vast subject, as so many do!

Do we reflect at all upon the astounding fact that dreams may be consciously invoked? That there have been at all times in the historical as well as traditional epoch, psychologists of sorts, who could go to sleep at will, that is, enter into one or another dream-state, there find that of which the seeker was in search, and return thence laden with the spoils of his excursion, exactly as men make similar essays while awake? Do we realize that, shorn of the ability to dream, there could be no progress for the human race?

Our greatest Scriptures, no matter what our religious ensigns, have all been the result of dreams and the dreamer. Not a classic of all literature, not an "inspiration", not an "invention", but has been the product of dreams and dreamers. You question this? Then reflect that none of these has been the result of either memory or reason, seldom also, alas, of the will. Yet memory, reason, and will in the form of desire, are the three principal factors or elements in waking consciousness. In the average man these three faculties are asleep when he dreams. Other powers, released from tension or suppression by the cessation of normal waking existence, wake up concurrently with the "sinking into abeyance of the waking senses and faculties". It is the same Perceiver, the same enjoyer or sufferer, but he is literally "in another world". What are those "other powers" which come awake as we "go into sleep"?

The waking "organs of sense" are, as we know, closed to exercise and impression, but sense-perception goes on just the same, only far, far more vividly than in waking-state. So vividly that ordinarily we are absorbed in what we see, hear, taste, smell, touch -- so absorbed that it does not occur to us to question, compare, contrast, either the state itself into which we have entered or the experience we are enjoying or suffering, with other like and unlike experiences whether in dream -- or waking-state. What is the true nature of sense activity in dreams, as compared with the senses used in waking existence? Are they the same or another set altogether? Certain it is, at all events, that their influence on us is far more powerful, for, as just shown, they make us forget (a) that we have left waking state; (b) that we are now in dream-state; (c) all consciousness that there is anything in the whole Universe save what we are perceiving; (d) all consciousness of self "as distinct from any and all experiences". Are not these tremendous changes worth attention, scrutiny, study, with all our waking faculties? For who knows what instant he may fall dreaming while he imagines he is "awake"? Certain it is, that, if this possibility exists, we need to take thought beforehand, because, once engulfed, we are beyond the reach of reason, of will, of conscience -- of any and all the employ of faculties and powers which in their sum-total we call sanity. The insane, the delirious, the intoxicated, the "addict", the many exhibits of sub-normal and sub-conscious "complexes" with which we deal -- what are all these but unrecognized and misunderstood manifestations of dreams and the dreamer?

Just as the "senses" are one thing while awake and quite something else while we are in dream-state, so with our mind itself. Do we have another mind altogether while dreaming? Who can make intelligent answer, either as to the mind or the senses in the two states? One thing is sure, the limitations which make an iron circle round both mind and senses in waking state lose their efficacy the moment we enter dream-state. Equally true is it, that there is a "circle pass-not" in dream-state itself, but "of another nature" from the horizon which hems in the waking existence. That the two states are related is a certainty, or the phenomena of the one would be totally unknown in the other, which is not the case.


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