Some time back, a friend mailed me about dreams. I replied in the usual Vedantic fashion. Here is the correspondence.
> Good Morning ...,
> Can you please help me find the answer to the following:
> What are dreams? What do dreams mean? Why do we dream?
[Great to hear from you.]
"I want to know more about my dreams" is a beautiful and deep
question. Many people before us tried to find about dreams before us.
Ancient Indian philosophers, some of whom created the system of
Vedanta tried to explain dreams at least 5000-7000 years ago. The
Vedanta answer to this is pretty deep. Vedanta says that the dream
places, dream objects and dream time are nothing but mental
projections and do not exist with respect to the waking-world.
Many psychologists beginning at the turn of century, led by famous
scientists like Frued tried to answer these questions using many
experiments. Their experiments were as extensive as you can imagine
and they investigated where the mental projections came from. It is
interesting that they also came to the same conclusions that all
dreams can be explained using the past-memory/future-imagination
Think about it. For many of the things you "see/hear/feel" in a dream
have some source in your past experiences or future imaginations.
There are some dreams -- I agree *some* dreams -- that seem difficult
explaining using the past-memory/future-imagination theory. I truly
believe that they too can be explained using analysis.
Please answer this question for me: "How much time did it take for you
to realize that a dream was a dream and in a way, non-existent with
respect to the waking world?" How long did you have to think to state
for yourself, "Ah, it was all a dream!"? I would think, not more than
a short-moment. The moment that realization dawns in, all the tigers
that were about to jump on you, all the beautiful place you have gone
to seem non-existent. Is it not? Think about it.
The Vedantic philosophers, classified something called levels of
reality. They stated the following: "when compared to the
waking-world, the dream-world has lower level of reality". The
teachers of Vedanta, brilliant as they were, did not stop there. The
conjectured about the idea of a higher level of reality that
waking-world. In other worlds, they asked the question "what if this
whole life was a dream?" It seems like a funny idea, but it is true.
Did you watch the movie Matrix? If NOT, please watch it again (at
least 2-3 times. I am talking about Matrix-part-1 only, not 2 and 3.).
It has good special-effects, but great philosophy too. Please
concentrate on the philosophy of the movie, at least once. What
happens to Neo when he wakes up in Morpheus's cabin? He is initially
afraid, but then realizes that all his waking life was a dream. The
funny situation is when he goes back to the matrix and says: "I used
to eat in that restaurant? ..." It is funny because he *knows* that
his eating was non-existent.
The Vedantic philosophers tried to define the higher level of reality
and gave it the name Brahman. They found that it was full of Ananda or
Bliss and stated that our true nature was Brahman. In other words,
they stated that out true nature was happiness. Can you imagine the
beauty of this? Our true nature is infinite-bliss!!!
On a practical scale, they advised us to be happy all the time. That
is what I would advise you too. Happy not because we accomplished
something, happy not because something good happened by chance or
choice, but because "Happiness is our true state". Feel this and think
about it. Our true nature is nothing but Infinite bliss.
If you have more questions, please mail/call me.
regards to your family.