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What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then? – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Have you ever had a dream, a vision, that stirred your soul?
I sure did. In my dream, which I had almost exactly twenty-five years ago, I met my wife. Someone introduced us and we shook hands, a little formally and a little tentatively. We only said a few words to each other—I don’t even remember the words now—and we looked into each other’s eyes, just for a moment. My spirit stirred. Somehow I knew, in the deepest part of my soul, that this woman would become my lifelong partner.
When the dream faded away and I woke up, I felt stunned, pole-axed. She had seemed so real, so present, that it took a few minutes to understand that it was just a dream. I felt bereft, because my emotions told me that something profound had happened; but my rational mind told me that it was, sadly, only a dream.
I walked around remembering that dream for days. I couldn’t shake it. I could see her blue-grey eyes in such exquisite detail—how could this not be real? My heart actually hurt by the end of the day, yearning for that dream to come true.
Two weeks later, it did.
At a conference I attended, the woman I had only seen in my dream walked across the floor in front of me. I recognized her immediately. A shiver ran up my spine. She passed by, maybe twenty feet away, and I told my friend sitting next to me “Hey, there’s the woman I’m going to marry.”
“Really?” my friend said, shocked. “What’s her name?”
“No idea,” I said.
“You forgot her name?”
“No—we haven’t met yet. Two weeks ago I saw her in a dream.”
“What?” My friend looked at me very strangely, as though I’d just had a psychotic break of some kind.
Four months later, my wife Teresa and I were married.
Furthermore, this immortal human soul is endowed with two means of perception: One is effected through instrumentality; the other, independently. For instance, the soul sees through the instrumentality of the eye, hears with the ear, smells through the nostrils and grasps objects with the hands. These are the actions or operations of the soul through instruments. But in the world of dreams the soul sees when the eyes are closed. The man is seemingly dead, lies there as dead; the ears do not hear, yet he hears. The body lies there, but he — that is, the soul — travels, sees, observes. All the instruments of the body are inactive, all the functions seemingly useless. Notwithstanding this, there is an immediate and vivid perception by the soul. Exhilaration is experienced. The soul journeys, perceives, senses. It often happens that a man in a state of wakefulness has not been able to accomplish the solution of a problem, and when he goes to sleep, he will reach that solution in a dream. How often it has happened that he has dreamed, even as the prophets have dreamed, of the future; and events which have thus been foreshadowed have come to pass literally. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 416.
Some people call this sense of independent spiritual perception déjà vu or a premonition; some call it a vision of the future; some just see it as the uncanny gut feeling that they’ve been there or done that before. We all have these kinds of déjà vu experiences, whether strongly predictive like mine, or only a slight premonition, the feeling that you’ve already experienced what you’re experiencing right now.
The Baha’i teachings say that in such foreshadowing dreams the soul “travels, sees, observes…”
Mine certainly did. You’ve probably had similar experiences, where an event or a person or a scene you dreamed suddenly becomes real.
Science has no explanation for this universal human experience yet. But the Baha’i teachings do:
How often it happens that the spirit has a dream in the realm of sleep whose purport comes to be exactly materialized two years hence! Likewise, how often it happens that in the world of dreams the spirit solves a problem that it could not solve in the realm of wakefulness.
Awake, the eye sees only a short distance, but in the realm of dreams one who is in the East may see the West. Awake, he sees only the present, in sleep he beholds the future. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 261-262.
I cannot think of better evidence of the existence of the soul.
Next: Dreams and Visions of the Soul