Baha’is believe dreams prove that we each possess more than merely our tangible, material life—that we all have an eternal life latent within us:
… reflect upon the perfection of man’s creation, and that all these planes and states are folded up and hidden away within him. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 33.
How could dreams prove we have an eternal soul? The writings of the Bab, which refer to the phenomena of dreams as evidence of an afterlife, answer that question directly:
Verily, God hath created the dream state in His servants that they may be assured of the existence of the worlds hereafter and the life everlasting. The life of this world and its changes and chances, after death, are even as a dream that one seeth; once the dreamer hath arisen, he will see only the effect of its interpretation. – from a tablet of the Bab, provisional translation by Keven Brown.
In similar passages in their writings, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha spoke of dreaming as a wondrous manifestation of the world of the spirit, offering evidence of the life beyond and providing us with an inkling of how different that afterlife is from this physical life.
In some instances a dream experience can have the utmost importance to an individual, even leading to the recognition of God. For many people, meditating upon the existence and substance of their dreams can be beneficial in their spiritual search for meaning:
Therefore, I exhort you to be devoted to your spiritual development. Just as you have striven along material lines and have attained to high degrees of worldly advancement, may you likewise become strengthened and proficient in the knowledge of God. May divine susceptibilities be increased and awakened; may your devotion to the heavenly Kingdom become intense. May you be the recipients of the impulses of the Holy Spirit, be assisted in the world of morality and attain ideal power so that the sublimity of the world of mankind may become apparent in you. Thus may you attain the highest happiness, the eternal life, the everlasting glory, the second birth, and become manifestations of the bestowals of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 206.
Do all dreams lead to this kind of higher recognition? No—many of our dreams, the Baha’i teachings assure us, have no lasting meaning:
The mind and thought of man at times discovers certain truths, and this thought and discovery produce definite results and benefits. Such thoughts have a solid foundation. But many things come to mind that are like the waves of the sea of delusion; they bear no fruit and produce no result. In the world of sleep, one may have a dream which exactly comes true, while on another occasion one will have a dream which has absolutely no result.
One is sheer delusion, and the … other is real. The latter exert a marvellous effect upon minds and thoughts and produce powerful attractions in the hearts. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 293.
How do we tell the difference, then? In a tablet addressed to an individual Baha’i, Abdu’l-Baha explained:
When man’s soul is rarified and cleansed, spiritual links are established, and from these bonds sensations felt by the heart are produced. The human heart resembleth a mirror. When this is purified human hearts are attuned and reflect one another, and thus spiritual emotions are generated. This is like the world of dreams when man is detached from things which are tangible and experienceth those of the spirit. What amazing laws operate, and what remarkable discoveries are made! And it may even be that detailed communications are registered … – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 108.
Our dreams, the Baha’i teachings say, can come directly from the world of the spirit—but that depends on the purity of our hearts and souls.