What is the significance of dreams
- Most of us dream. There are nightmares from overeating or from eating the wrong things, but I am not talking of such dreams. I am talking of dreams that have a psychological significance. There are various states in dreaming, are there not? You dream, wake up, and then you try to find the meaning of what you have dreamed – you interpret it. The interpretation depends on your knowledge, on your conditioning, on what you have learned from various philosophers, psychologists, and so on. And if you misinterpret, your whole conclusion will be wrong. Then one may dream, and as one is dreaming, the interpretation is going on at the same time so that one wakes up with clarity; one has understood the dream, and it is no longer influencing one. I do not know if that has happened to you.
So the problem is not how to interpret dreams but why we dream at all. Do you understand? If you interpret your dreams according to any psychologist, then the interpretation depends on his particular conditioning, and if you try to interpret them for yourself, your interpretation is shaped by your own conditioning. In either case the interpretation may be wrong, and any conclusion or action based upon it may therefore prove to be entirely false. So the problem is not how to interpret dreams but why do you dream at all? If you could solve that problem, then interpretation would not be necessary. If you could really understand the whole process of dreaming, then it would become a very simple issue.
Why do we dream? Please, let us think it out together, not according to some authority who has written a book about it. Leave all those things completely aside if you can, and let us think it out together very simply. Why do we dream? What do we mean by dreaming? You go to bed, fall asleep, and while you are asleep, action is going on, taking the form of various symbols or scenes; and on waking you say, “Yes, that is the dream I have had.”
Now, what has happened? Please follow this, it is very simple. When you are awake during the day, the superficial mind is occupied with many things – with your job, with quarrels, with children, with money, with going to the market, with washing dishes – you know, it is occupied with dozens of things. But the superficial mind is not the whole mind; there is also the unconscious, is there not? You don’t have to read a book to find out that there is an unconscious. Our hidden motives, our instinctual responses, our racial urges, our inherited contradictions, beliefs – they are all there in the unconscious. The unconscious obviously wants to tell the superficial mind something, and as the superficial mind is quiet when it is asleep, the unconscious tries to tell it. The unconscious is also in movement all the time, only it has no opportunity to express anything during the day, so it projects various symbols when the conscious mind is asleep, and then we say, “I have had a dream.” It is not complex if you can go into it.
Now, I do not want to occupy myself everlastingly with the interpretation of dreams, which is like being occupied with the kitchen, with God, with drink, with women, or what you will. I want to find out why I dream and whether it is possible not to dream at all. The psychologists may say it is impossible not to dream, but leave the experts to their expertness, and let us find out. [Laughter] No, no, please don’t laugh it off. Why are there dreams? And is it possible for dreams to come to an end without suppressing, or trying to go beyond dreaming, so that in sleep the mind is totally still? I want to find out, so that is my first inquiry.
Why do I dream? I dream because my conscious mind is occupied during the day with so many things. But can the conscious mind be open during the day to all the unconscious intimations and promptings? Do you understand? Can the superficial mind be so alert during the day that it is aware of the unconscious motives, the glimpses of the things that are hidden, without trying to suppress them, change them, do something about them? If you can be merely aware, not critically, but choicelessly, of this whole conflict; if you can be open so that the unconscious gives its hints from moment to moment during the day, while you are on the bus or riding in a car, while you are sitting at the table or talking to friends; if you can just watch how you look at somebody, the manner of your speech, the way you treat people who are not of your own quality – then you will find, as you observe deeper, more profoundly, that there is the cessation of dreaming altogether. Then there is no need for intimations, hints, from the unconscious during sleep to tell you what you should or should not do because the whole thing is being revealed as you are living from day to day.
So, we have come to a very interesting point, which is this: During the daytime, the mind is extraordinarily alert, watching without judging, without condemning; and when the whole process of consciousness has been uncovered, examined, and understood, then you will find that in sleep there is a total quietness, and that, being totally quiet, the mind can go to depths which it is not possible for the waking consciousness to touch at any time. Do you understand? I am afraid not. I shall explain again, and I hope you don’t mind being a little late.
You see, our search is for happiness, for peace, for God, for truth, and so on; there is a constant struggle to adjust, to love, to be kind, to be generous, to put away this and acquire that. If we are at all aware, we know that to be a fact; there is this total activity of turmoil, of struggle, of adjustment, going on all the time, and a mind in that state can obviously never find anything new. But if I am aware during the day of the various thoughts and motives that arise, if I am aware that I am ambitious, condemning, judging, criticizing, and see the whole of that activity, then what happens? My mind is no longer struggling, it is no longer pushing, there is not that turmoil created by the urge to find. So the mind is completely quiet, not only the superficial mind, but the whole content of consciousness; and in that state of complete quietness in which there is no movement to find, no effort to be or not to be, the mind can touch depths which it can never possibly touch when it is trying to find something. That is why it is very important to be aware without condemnation, to look without criticism, without judgment. And you can do this all day long, off and on, so that the mind is no longer an instrument of struggle when it sleeps, is no longer catching intimations from the unconscious through symbols and trying to interpret them, is no longer inventing the astral plane and all that nonsense. Being free from all conditioning, the mind in sleep is then capable of penetrating into depths which the waking consciousness can never reach, and when you awake, you will find there is a newness totally unexperienced before. It is like shedding the past and being born anew.