If you’ve read much of this blog you already know there are a couple of aspects to dreaming that we don’t think much of: trying to control dreams and dream dictionaries.
In some circles this is controversial. Small industries are built upon both of those topics.
The process of controlling your dreams is known as lucid dreaming. There’s a lot written on this online. There are book and videos on this topic too.
There’s a time and place for this technique, especially if you’re trying to plan, or write a story. (If you are, here’s an easy technique to have a lucid dream). Most of the time you’re missing the opportunity to consult with an internal coach: your subconscious, sometimes even a Higher Power. That part of your mind is with you all of the time. Your subconscious is you. By listening to it, you’re able to gain perspective and insight that’s not available from any other source.
If you’re truly interested in success and making positive changes in the real world, you’re not going to be interested in riding the back of a butterfly in your dream one.
Granted, lucid dreaming can be fun. By hitting the sweet spot between wakefulness and dreaming you can have, at minimum, an interesting time. The problem is every time you do that you’re missing an opportunity to confer with your internal coach. You’re missing an opportunity to tap into the perspective it can provide.
As for dream dictionaries, dream interpretation experts, and their websites, all are minimally useful. If you give the process of interpretation some time and you’re patient, those dogs standing on their hind legs boxing (or whatever the puzzling symbol you don’t understand right away is) will start to make sense. It can happen every time. If you get hung up on the meaning of a particular dream, you can always ask for a clarifying dream.
There are other, potentially greater reasons for not bothering with lucid dreaming.
You’re never going to know whether you got a communication from a Higher Power.
It happened to St. Joseph. Why can’t it happen to you?
Underrated Aspects of Dreaming
Some positive aspects of dreaming are often underrated. There’s the idea that if you’re dreaming and remembering your dreams, you’re probably getting sufficient sleep. Sleep, of course, is important for your health. If you’re having dreams, that’s a good sign.
Another underrated aspect of dreaming is the ability of the subconscious to make clever puns.
To me, however, the most underrated aspect of dreaming is the idea God or his messengers can sometimes speak to us in our dreams. Whether you call it God or our higher nature, it happens. Our ancestors were right. God — or his assistants — sometimes do reach out to us. The proof (based on inductive reasoning) is overwhelming.
How do you know if your dream is from God?
Whether God is talking to you in your dream isn’t the main point, even though the Bible says God speaks to us through dreams.
While inductive reasons can make you reasonably sure, it can’t take you all of the way to certitude. That’s where faith comes in.
You can have a dream where something says, “Listen to me. I am God.” The thing that’s telling you that may or may not be God. It could be a figment of your subconscious. It could be a dream symbol. It could be an evil entity. Anybody can say anything and you can be hearing voices. That’s both true in dreams and outside of them.
Further, it can be in any form, like a snake.
Anybody can get duped by a lie. The only alternative is to never believe anybody about anything. That’s not practical. The proof is in the message. Mixing up messages from God happens over and over in the world, like when somebody puts on a vest laden with explosives and walks into a crowd of people and detonates the vest. The crowd is seemingly consisting of a semi-random assortment of people, male and female, young and old. Can this ever be right? The Geneva Convention and the doctrine of Just War say it can’t. Yet the associates of the suicide bomber tell the world that it’s God who’s telling them to do that, that the war is somehow ‘holy.’ Is it?
What if there was a way to convince the group you were targeting of the truth of your position? That would be infinitely more powerful. You also wouldn’t lose an ally, like you do when someone associated with your cause kills him or herself, like you do when you have a suicide bomber. Suicide bombing, kamikaze bombing, and any similar attacks puts your cause on the losing side of the conflict equation. Suicide bombing diminishes both the “cause” and the opposition. If there ever was a tactic that was pure evil, that’s the one.
Any voice that’s recommending that tactic isn’t from God, the source of eternal positivity or whatever you want to call it.
In discerning, it’s best to focus on the expected results of the action. That’s where you can start to be more confident about whether something is of divine origin or not. That’s not to say there never will be a lack of clarity or competing goods. Philosophy is the study of resolving these questions. God, is impressive, awesome, all good, and omnipotent. When you see the results of His or His minions’ counsel, you can come to appreciate this.
Divine counsel tends to stand out from the usual type of dream
A good symbolic analogy for discussing dreams is the moon. The moon is visible at night and dreams, too, are visible at night. Most people sleep at night. What causes moonlight? Science tells us that it’s light from the sun shining upon it.
What causes dreams?
The “light” from your day-to-day life shining upon your subconscious. What does the “light” shining upon your subconscious consist of? Your hopes, goals, aspirations, activities and so forth. Sometimes, though, there are inputs that don’t seem to come from your own mind, your personality or day-to-day experiences. There are insights and emotions that are beyond you and your capacities. The information is beyond your experience. The lovingness is way more loving than you could ever be. There is an amount of peace you don’t have. They contain an instruction, a request.
These are the kinds of visions and dream input that people talk about when they talk about God talking to them in dreams. Per inductive reasoning, there is a good chance this is from some point beyond your mind.
You know yourself. You know your personality, your preferences, your proclivities, your thoughts and the rest. In many cases, you can figure out this not of you. Your subconscious can sum up information. It can put pieces of something that’s been puzzling you. Tapping into it can give you laser-piercing insight. Usually, there’s nothing particularly miraculous about that. But the feeling from one of these experiences is akin to reading a summary of something versus having your mind and emotions blown.
A person knows when they’ve reached a conclusion step-by-step and when they’ve just had their paradigm altered. Then, when the advice is in line with goodness and justice, there’s a good chance that it’s coming from God or one of His assistants.
Use your ability to reason
You’re responsible for determining what is and isn’t right. God doesn’t make you do anything. You’re the one He’s gifted with free will. When you’re gifted with an occasion of supernatural insight, you’ll often be 99.9% confident in retrospect, thinking, there’s no way that was me, there’s no way that was my subconscious. That had to be a power beyond me.
It’s only right, then, to give credit where credit is due. Deductive reasoning proceeds orderly, using equivalency. Inductive reasoning is about probability. When you can feel 95 percent confident about something, you can afford to be pretty damn confident.
Know yourself and your abilities
If you know you’re prone to hallucinations, misconceptions, or have frequent problems along that line, then you simply can’t be as confident that what you’re perceiving is actually true. You’re not a reliable witness.
Pay attention to patterns in your dreams
After you’ve kept a dream journal for a while, you might notice certain patterns or a streak of a certain type of dreams. Sometimes you might have a streak of mundane dreams. They’ll be dreams where you’re doing a day-to-day activity. You might be in a meeting. Maybe you’re cleaning a shed, a dog, or your kitchen. Maybe you’ll be cooking dinner. These are common.
Sometimes they’ll be like episodes of a TV show.
Dreams are usually preoccupied with what’s going on in your life now, Ann Faraday writes in The Dream Game. If mundane dreams were the only kind of dream people had, it would be hard to say dream journaling was very worthwhile. So after a certain cycle of these dreams, you might see a cycle of heavy symbol-laden dreams. In these dreams, it can seem your subconscious is trying to communicate some important truths about your life to you. Looking for these patterns can give you further confidence that what you’ve experienced is from a superconscious input.
You — and everyone else — is influenced by a lot of different sources. Journalists influence you to care about societal issues often beyond your personal experience. Your boss and co-workers influence you to care about various matters at work. Your spouse, parents, and children influence you to care about matters affecting your home life. Your body’s feedback systems influence you to care about matters affecting your physical well-being.
We could easily go on and on listing the influences upon you. There’s no shortage. You bring these influences with you into a personal environment or sphere of control: your world. Other factors influence this world and you, in turn, influence these other factors.
The power of dreams comes down to you being able to affect this circle of influence. If you find a crystal clear voice of goodness and reason among all of those influences and voices, you should follow it. It’s meant to help you. If you do so with your eyes wide open and focusing on the long-term good and benefit to the people and things you most care for, that’s for the best. Wisdom is a good thing. It’s easy to give up our freedom of choice and abdicate responsibility. It’s also foolish and shortsighted. By running these ideas through your decision-making process you can help advance the wellbeing of humanity in the ways you most care about, meeting your mission. It’s simply wise to use good counsel and positive influences to help you meet challenges along the way.
That’s the best way to know if your dream is from God.
For further reading:
Christianity isn’t the only faith that pays attention to dreams: The Principles of Islamic Dream Interpretation