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Dreams – that prolonged activity we engage in every night – can have highly significant spiritual meanings if we pay attention to what they tell us.
I’ve had dreams that gave me insight into how to solve a problem, and others that warned me of a potential tragedy.
Four years ago, I dreamed that my father had a heart attack and died. While still in the dream, I “woke up” frightened and told my mother about it. To my surprise, she calmly responded, “Good, that means we can prevent it.” Then I woke up. Needless to say, I felt very confused and distressed. I told my mother everything, and to my shock and amazement, she said the exact same thing that her dream self had said: “Good, that means we can prevent it.”
Clearly this dream was a premonition, because about a year later, my father had a severe hemorrhagic stroke. His doctor told my mother that his chances of surviving and regaining consciousness were slim. Someone with such a severe stroke would normally remain in a coma, and if they woke up, they would never be the same.
Thankfully, my father did not die, but his condition was very serious, and he was in the hospital for an entire month. During that time, we experienced many miracles due to the power of prayer, because while he was sick, hundreds of friends, family and kind strangers around the world prayed for his healing.
I firmly believe that all those prayers led to his full recovery. We may not have been able to prevent his stroke from happening, but we were able to prevent his death. This particular dream was an example of a true vision, because what I saw in my dreams occurred later in real life.
There are three kinds of dreams. One is a true vision, which is even as the morning light and has no need of interpretation. Exactly what is seen, the same thing occurs. But most people, generally, do not receive this kind of dream. In the period of every person’s life it may chance to happen that one’s heart and mind are free and clear of false suppositions. Then whatever the spirit discovers conforms to the reflection obtained. This is a true vision and needs no interpretation; it is reality.
The second kind of dream is that requiring interpretation, because the mind or the heart of the dreamer possesses false suppositions. When a spiritual journey is attained, it must be interpreted and false thoughts must be separated from spiritual discoveries. The soul is even as a fine white fabric. Any color that you add to it, it will receive, and this is real. However, if a color other than white is in the fabric, and you add a color, this is unreal. For example, if a yellowish color is in the fabric and you give it blue, it will become green. Then it is necessary to separate out the yellow until the blue is displayed. This is interpretation.
Another kind of dream is the confused dream. For example, during the day a man becomes engaged in a quarrel and dispute. Later, in the world of the dream, these same circumstances appear to him. This is a confused dream. It has no interpretation and contains no discoveries. Before the person dreamed, he was overcome with delusions. It is clear that this kind of dream bears no interpretation and is confused. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.
So, some dreams offer us true vision, some are confused, and some require interpretation. A dream that Abdu’l-Baha once had about his future death provides a great example of a dream that was interpreted by his loved ones incorrectly:
A few weeks later, whilst occupying a solitary room in the garden of His house, [Abdu’l-Baha] recounted another dream to those around Him. “I dreamed a dream,” He said, “and behold, [Baha’u’llah] came and said to Me: ‘Destroy this room.’” None of those present comprehended the significance of this dream until He Himself had soon after passed away, when it became clear to them all that by the “room” was meant the temple of His body. – Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 310.
Although Abdu’l-Baha understood the meaning of his dream, his loved ones could not interpret the dream correctly. Their desire for Abdu’l-Baha to stay alive and close to them may have clouded their understanding. So, they assumed that the dream referred to a physical location as opposed to Abdu’l-Baha’s physical body. Abdu’l-Baha passed away peacefully in his sleep soon after sharing that dream.
In the world of dreams, we visit a special place where God can give us not just foresight, but insight as well – if we have pure, detached minds and hearts. All we have to do is ask. Often, we can solve problems “in the world of the dream:”
How often it happens that man ponders a question in wakefulness, but he is unable to solve it. Then, in the world of the dream, it happens that the answer is discovered. Frequently such a dream is a true dream, inasmuch as that which is seen becomes manifested to the outer eye, requiring no interpretation. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.
For example, whenever my mom experiences writer’s block, she asks for inspiration before she goes to sleep. When she wakes up, ideas pour into her head and she knows exactly what to do. How exciting that the dream world can be of assistance to us, and that we can take steps to make our intention known! So, now that you know, what will you wish for in the world of dreams?