Philosophy of Dreams

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95 pages.


by Swami Sivananda

Table of Contents

Publishers’ Note
1. Songs of Dream
2. Dream
3. Study of Dream-state
4. Dream Philosophy
5. Philosophy of Dream
6. Who Is It That Dreams?
7. Lord Creates Dream Objects
8. Prophetic Dreams
9. Spiritual Enlightenment Through Dreams
10. Waking As a Dream
11. The Unreality of Imagination
12. Why Jagrat Is a Dream?
13. Waking Experience Has Relative Reality
14. Waking Experience Is As False As Dream Experience
15. Jagarat Is As Unreal As Dream
16. Remove the Colouring of the Mind
17. Upanishads and Dreams
18. Prasna-Upanishad on Dreams
19. Dream
20. The Story of a Dreamer Subhoda
21. Raja Janaka’s Dream
22. Goudapadacharya on Dreams
23. Sri Nimbarkacharya on Dreams
24. Dream of Chuang Tze
25. Dream Hints
26. Dream-symbols and Their Meanings


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Publishers’ Note

Though Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj is an Advaita Vedantin of Sri Sankara’sSchool, he is unique in that in his life and teachings he synthesises thehighest idealism and dynamic practical life. His “Divine Life” isideal life, ideal and divine only because it is possible to live it here andnow.

The sage, therefore, has directed the beam of his divine light on allproblems that face man. Not confining himself to the exposition of philosophyand Yoga, he has enriched our literature in other fields, too, e.g., medicine,health and hygiene and even “How to Become Rich.”

And now we have from his divine pen his inspiring and enlightened thoughts onone of the most interesting phenomena viz., dreams. He has viewed dreams fromseveral angles and thrown such a flood of light on it as to expose not only itsunreality, but also the unreality of the waking state. Thus the sage leads us tothe Supreme Reality that alone exists.


16th February, 1958.
Maha Sivaratri Day


The analysis of dreams and their cause by psychoanalysts are defective. Theymaintain that the cause of dream creation lies in the suppressed desires of thedreamer. Can they create dreams as they like by suppressing desires? No, theycannot do that. They say that desires stimulate or help the dream creation. Butthey do not know what supplies the material out of which they are made and whatturns the desires into actual expression, enabling the dreamer see his ownsuppressed desires materialised and appearing to him as real.

The desires only supply the impulse. The mind creates the dream out of thematerials supplied by the experiences of the waking state. The dream creaturesspring up from the bed of Samskaras or impressions in the subconscious mind.Indigestion also causes dream. The Taijasa is the dreamer. It is the wakingpersonality that creates the dream personality. The dream personality exists asthe object of the waking personality and is real only as such.

The waking and dreaming states do not exist independently side by side asreal units.

Why do we dream? Various answers have been given to this question. Dreams arenothing but a reflection of our waking experience in a new form. The medicalview is that dreams are due to some organic disturbances somewhere in the body,but more particularly in the stomach. Sometimes coming diseases appear indreams.

According to Sigmund Freud all dreams without any exception arewish-fulfilment. The physical stimulus alone is not responsible for theproduction of dreams. The dream mechanism is very intricate. The wishes are ofan immoral nature. They are revolting to the moral self, which exercises acontrol on their appearance. Therefore, the wishes appear in disguised forms toevade the moral censor. Very few dreams present the wishes as they really are.Dreams are partial gratification of the wishes. They relieve the mental tensionand thus enable us to enjoy repose. They are safety valves to strong impulsions.You will know your animal-self in dream.

The objects which manifest during the dreaming state are often not differentin many respects from those which one perceives during his waking state. Duringthe dreaming state he talks with the members of his family and friends, eats thesame food, behold rivers, mountains, motor cars, gardens, streets, ocean,temples, works in the office, answers question papers in the examination hall,and fights and quarrels with some people. This shows that man does not abandonthe results of his past relation with objects when he falls asleep.

The person who experiences the three states, viz., Jagrat or waking-state,Svapna or the dreaming state, and Sushupti or deep-sleep state is called Visvain the waking state, Taijasa in the dreaming state and Prajna in the deep sleepstate. When one gets up from sleep, it is Visva who remembers the experience ofPrajna in deep sleep and says, “I slept soundly. I do not knowanything.” Otherwise remembrance of the enjoyment in deep sleep is notpossible.

The reactions to dreams differ according to mental disposition, temperamentand diet of the person.

All dreams are affairs of mere seconds. Within ten seconds you willexperience dreams wherein the events of several years happen.

Some get dreams occasionally, while some others experience dreams daily. Theycan never have sleep without dreams.

The sun is the source and the temporary resting place of its rays. The raysemanate from the sun and spread in all directions at the time of sunrise. Theyenter into the sun at sunset, lose themselves there and come out again at thenext sunrise. Even so the state of wakefulness and dream come out from the stateof deep sleep and re-enter it and lose themselves there to follow the samecourse again.

Whatever appears in the dream world is the reproduction of the waking world.It is not only the reproduction of the objects seen, experienced or dealt within the present life, but it may be the reproduction of objects seen, experiencedor dealt with in any former life in the present world. Therefore the dream worldcannot be said to be independent of the waking world.

The objects that are seen in the state of wakefulness are always seen outsidethe body. It is, therefore, external to the dreamer, while the dream world isalways internal to the dreamer. That is the only difference between them.

During the dream state the whole wakeful world loses itself in the dreamstate. Therefore, it is not possible to find the distinctive features that wouldhelp the dreamer to distinguish the waking world from the dream world.

Scientists and Western philosophers draw their conclusions from theobservations of their waking experience. Whereas the Vedantins utilise theexperiences of the three states viz., waking, dream and deep sleep and then drawtheir conclusions. Hence the latter’s conclusions are true, correct, perfect,full and integral, while those of the former are partial and one sided.

Certain kinds of external sounds such as the ringing of a bell, the noise ofalarm-clock, knocks on the door or the wall, the blowing of wind, the drizzlingof rain, the rustling of leaves, the blowing of the horn of a motor car, thecracking of the window etc., may produce in the mind of the dreamer variety ofimaginations. They generate certain sensations, which increase according to thepower of imagination of the sleeper and the sensitiveness of his mind. Thesesounds cause very elaborate dreams.

If you touch the dreamers’ chest with the point of a pin, he may dream thatsome one has given him a severe blow on his body or stabbed him with a dagger.

The individual soul does not know that he is dreaming during his dream stateand is not conscious of himself as he is bound by the Gunas of Prakriti. Hepassively beholds the creations of his dream mind passing before him as aneffect of the workings of the impressions (Samskaras) of his waking state.

It is possible for a dreamer to remain cognisant during his dream state ofthe fact that he is dreaming. Learn to be the witness of your thoughts in thewaking state. You can be conscious in the dream state that you are dreaming. Youcan alter, stop or create your own thoughts in the dream state independently.You will be able to keep awake in the dream state. If the thoughts of the wakingstate are controlled, you can also control the dream thoughts.

Sometimes the dreams are very interesting and turn out to be true. Theyforetell events. A man living in Haridwar dreamt on the first January 1947 thathe will be in Benares on the night of the third January. It really turned out tobe true. An officer dreams that he will be transferred to Allahabad. In thefollowing morning he gets the transfer order. Another man dreams that he willmeet with a motorcar accident on the coming Saturday. It also turns out to betrue.

Profound wisdom comes through reflection on dreams. No one has known himselftruly who has not studied his dreams. The study of dreams shows how mysteriousis our soul. Dreams reveal to us that aspect of our nature, which transcendsrational knowledge. Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like aletter written in an unknown language.

Many riddles of life are solved through hints from dreams. Dreams indicatewhich way the spiritual life of a man is flowing. One may receive proper advicefor self-correction through dreams. One may know how to act in a particularsituation through dreams. The dreams point out a path unknown to the wakingconsciousness. Saints and sages appear in dreams during times of difficulty andpoint out the way.

The Vedantins study very deeply and carefully the states of dreams and deepsleep and logically prove that the waking state is as unreal as the dream state.They declare that the only difference between the two states is that the wakingstate is a long dream, Deergha Svapna.

So long as the dreamer dreams, dream-objects are real. When he wakes up thedream world becomes false. When one attains illumination or knowledge ofBrahman, this wakeful world becomes as unreal as the dream world.

The real truth is that nobody sleeps, dreams or wakes up, because there is noreality in these states.

Transcend the three states and rest in the fourth state of Turiya, theeternal bliss of Brahman, Satchidananda Svaroopa.

Swami Sivananda

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