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Spirituality

The Dreams and Visions that Inspired the Prophets

David Langness | Feb 3, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Feb 3, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 32.

Vision-questHumanity’s major religions all have revelatory dreams and visions at the very center of their cosmology. Actually, almost all religious ideas and revelations come directly from dreams and visions, from a mystical connection to the eternal.

Native and aboriginal faiths often center around the vision quest, a search for lifelong meaning in dreams. Those traditional tribal societies universally believe that dreams give us the opportunity to encounter a different and more spiritual realm. In the Abrahamic Faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—religious truth comes to the prophets and messengers via direct revelation from God, typically in a dream or waking vision. The prophet Zoroaster received his mission in seven consecutive visions. In Buddhism and Hinduism, dreams play essential and integral parts in transmitting the inspiration, the wisdom and the teachings of Buddha, Krishna and Rama.

The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, recounts a few of the visionary and revelatory experiences that led to the formation of several of the world’s great Faiths:

…the soul-shaking experience of Moses when confronted by the Burning Bush in the wilderness of Sinai; of Zoroaster when awakened to His mission by a succession of seven visions; of Jesus when coming out of the waters of the Jordan He saw the heavens opened and the Holy Ghost descend like a dove and light upon Him; of Muḥammad when in the Cave of Ḥirá, outside of the holy city of Mecca, the voice of Gabriel bade Him “cry in the name of Thy Lord”… – God Passes By, p. 93.

The Baha’i Faith started with a powerful dreamlike inspiration, as well. At the moment the Baha’i Faith began, a revelatory vision in a dark prison cell first made Baha’u’llah aware of his own mission:

While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honoured servants. – Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 5.

From these prophetic visions and dreams, the world’s great Faiths came into being. Communicating with a mystical reality, with the unknown, with the Creator, their prophets and messengers all confirmed that spirituality emerges naturally from our dreams and visions:

Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream… First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past? Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.

God, the Exalted, hath placed these signs in men, to the end that philosophers may not deny the mysteries of the life beyond nor belittle that which hath been promised them. For some hold to reason and deny whatever the reason comprehendeth not, and yet weak minds can never grasp the matters which we have related, but only the Supreme, Divine Intelligence can comprehend them. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 32.

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Comments

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  • Feb 4, 2015
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    Time often reveals the shallowness or conversely the profundity of our dreams.
    Personally, soothsaying interests me not and I need no other interpreter than the beloved Guardian who has more than adequately interpreted more than I can handle already
    David has asked which dreams are productive and which are 'like the waves of the sea of imaginations' to cite the Master.
    In my dream last night in the mid-most heart of the ocean sailing the good ship 'SS Baha'i Teaching' 50 million 'fish' came on board, in a metaphorical sense, attracted to the limpid streams of His fundamental and eternal ...principles:
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    One night he [the father of Baha'u'llah] dreamed a strange dream. In his dream he saw an ocean stretching in every direction as far as the eye could see. In the center of the ocean swam Husayn-‘Ali,[Baha'u'llah] strong and peaceful, with His long, jet-black hair floating on top of the waves. His body seemed to glow with light, attracting fish from every direction. As the fish gathered around Him, each clung tightly to one of His hairs; but the fish did not bother Husayn-‘Ali. He swam freely wherever He wished, while the fascinated fish swam with Him.
    When he awoke, Mirza Buzurg [His father] remembered the dream clearly. It seemed strange yet wonderful, as some dreams do. But what did it mean? He would need to call on a soothsayer who was wise in the language of dreams to find out….
    When the soothsayer came, he listened closely to every detail of Mirza Buzurg's dream. Finding the truth of a dream could seem like winding through the maze of a marketplace, but the soothsayer was experienced in interpreting the language of dreams. Soon it was Mirza Buzurg's turn to listen as the soothsayer spoke.
    The ocean was the world, he explained. The fish that gathered around Husayn-‘Ali were the peoples of the world. Husayn-‘Ali would cause great confusion and turmoil amongst them, but no one could stop Him or stand in His way.
    "Single-handed and alone," the soothsayer promised, “your son will achieve supreme ascendancy over it [the world of being]. Wherever He may please, He will proceed unhindered."
    Not even the soothsayer could tell the exact path of events that would unfold Husayn-‘Ali’s future. But Mirza Buzurg's heart was deeply moved. The soothsayer's words confirmed his own thoughts about the boy Who was wise beyond His years. The finest qualities of those kings and Prophets who were their forbearers was reflected in the brilliance of His spirit. Now more than ever Mirza Buzurg was determined to protect and care for his beloved son. Everything that was his -- wealth, position, and honor -- he valued only for this purpose.. (Baha'i library on line some where)
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    Paul
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