Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dream Off

Zee wrote me on Facebook with the following suggestion for the daily Sound Off: "The Bible has a number of examples of dreams having meaning. Do you think dreams have meaning? If you are a theist do you believe God has ever spoken to you through a dream?"

My understanding is that dreams are the result of one's brain trying to sort through things while you sleep. So, it seems to me that dreams can often have psychological importance, but their meaning comes from within, as opposed to coming from God. But, if a dream seems to have deep significance, and the dreamer has faith in God already, how could I ever convince her that the dream wasn't a message from God?

Using one of the earliest dreams I can remember as an example: I was trapped in a gorilla cage at the zoo, and the gorilla was chasing me around in circles. I saw my mother outside the cage in the distance, so I cried out for her. She merely turned and looked in my direction but did not come to my aid.

I learned not long ago that dreams like this are common among children, and they represent a fear of abandonment. I was four years old when I had this dream and would have just been starting nursery school. This would have been my first time on my own, the first time my mother left me behind.

After I got married, I had several dreams that followed the pattern of one example in particular: I am outside when I spot an impending storm moving in quickly off of a lake; the clouds are marvelous to behold, but menacing at the same time, as clouds associated with severe weather often are. I stare at the lovely clouds for a bit, and then realize that the very dangerous storm is heading right for me. So, I turn to run inside, but my feet won't move quickly enough, as if I were wading through tar.

Like my marriage, the storm was something I thought was pleasant at first, but then realized that it was a dangerous situation. But by the time I realized it, I felt trapped and unable to escape.

In either case, the dream was a meaningful commentary on my life at the time of the dream. If I believed in God, I could attribute that commentary as a message from God. If I didn't believe in God, then I attribute the meaning to my own psyche.

How would you answer Zee's questions? Also, feel free to share any meaningful dreams you may have had.

10 comments:

  1. I think that dreams often do have meaning. I think that people often compensate for something they are lacking in real life by dreaming about it. An extremely simplified example would be one who is malnourished may dream about food. I also think a dream could call attention to a problem that someone has been avoiding in real life. Someone in a bad relationship might have bad dreams about it.

    I do believe in God and I believe that He can speak to people through dreams. I do not think that God has ever spoken to me in a dream and I most often highly doubt anyone that thinks God was speaking to them in their dreams.

    I rarely remember my dreams. Two nights ago I remembered a dream for the first time in probably over a year. It wasn't an interesting enough dream to share. I talk in my sleep sometimes which gives someone near me the chance to get an idea of what I'm dreaming about and at times manipulate my dreams by talking back to me.

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  2. As a theist, I think dreams can be a message from God. I do not think all dreams are - and many in fact are probably not.

    Dreams are fascinating, aren't they? We know so little about why we dream - even why we sleep. The complexity of our mind amazes me.

    I have a recurring dream. It started when I was eight. I still have the dream at least once a month. In the dream I am walking on the second floor of a mall in my hometown. I can see the shops (they changed over the years) and the items in them. I feel I am being followed and begin to panic. In an effort to get free I jump over the railing to land on the first floor. When I land I am on a case of stairs enclosed - sort of like a servants staircase. In the dream I know I am in the house of an old lady. The stairs are cluttered to the point that I am climbing over pots and pans and toys to get to the top. When I open the door at the top I am right back in the mall in front of the man who was following me. He grabs my shirt and I wake up.

    Same dream every time. Nothing changes except the stores and what they sell. Not a clue what it means but apparently it is odd to have a recurring dream happen so often for so long. Who knew?

    I think someone spoke to me once through my dreams. I was at college in Alaska and I was unhappy with the school. Things were going downhill and quickly - I felt they were hiding something from the students. One night of my junior year I had a dream. It was simple. There were no people or places. I was standing in a dark area with nothing around me. I heard someone tell me to leave the school and not wait. To leave that month.

    I did and less than two weeks later with no notice whatsoever the school lost accreditation and closed. All students who were still attending lost all credits when accreditation was pulled. Had I still been there, over two years of my education would have been ruined. Because I left before that happened, I was safe.

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  3. The Lion,

    These are from http://www.dreammoods.com/

    Mall- To dream that you are at the mall, represents your attempts in making a favorable impression on someone. The mall is also symbolic of materialism and the need to keep up with the trends, fads, and/or the latest technology.

    Stairs - To dream that you are walking up a flight of stairs, indicates that you are achieving a higher level of understanding. You are making progress into your spiritual/emotional/material journey.

    Chase - To dream that you are being chases, signifies that you are avoiding a situation that you do not think is conquerable. It is often a metaphor for some form of insecurity.

    Jumping - To dream that you are jumping, indicates that you need to take a risk and go for it. You will find progress toward your goals. Consider the metaphors "jumping for joy" or "jumping the gun". How you feel in the dream will provide additional significance and meaning to your dream.

    So based on that your dream means you are trendy, you are achieving a higher level of understanding, there is a situation you have been avoiding, and you need to take a risk.

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  4. Philo said.....

    "Like my marriage, the storm was something I thought was pleasant at first, but then realized that it was a dangerous situation. But by the time I realized it, I felt trapped and unable to escape."

    Your dream (and life) are very interesting. The plot thickens. Please fill in the details soon!

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  5. As an atheist, I am very glad that I do not think that dreams are messages from god, or other supernatural things. I have sleep paralysis. (I'm working on a blog about it right now, but it's very involved, so it's taking some time.) If I were prone to religiousity, I would surely think that there were gods, ghosts, aliens, etc. in my bedroom at night.

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  6. What do you aliens do in your dreams Sunny?

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  7. I do not often remember my dreams, but last night I had a strange one. Interpretations welcome.

    I saw a pretty, potted, cheerful looking flower on display....with wings! The flower was flapping its wings. I wondered if it could fly. I thought it was really neat so decided to come back later and buy it. When I returned, the flower was wilted and dying. I asked, "What happened? Where are the wings?"

    I was told that the wings had flown away.

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  8. Tandi:

    To see a cheerful looking flower in your dream, signify kindness, compassion, gentleness, pleasure, beauty, and gain. It may also be symbolic of perfection and spirituality.

    To see withered or dead flowers in your dream, denotes disappointments and gloomy situations. It may signal an end to a love relationship. Or it could indicate that you may not be utilizing your full potential and talents.

    To see a pot in your dream, represents your attitudes and may reveal hidden anger or frustration. Consider also how it may be a reference to marijuana and/or drug use.

    To see the wings, indicates your desire for a freer way of life.

    So you saw a freer way of life which was trapped by hidden anger or frustration. A life which included kindness, compassion, gentleness, pleasure, beauty, and gain yet for some reason you did not try to obtain it right away. When you tried to obtain it later you were disappointed and ended up with a gloomy situation.

    Yes? No? Maybe so?

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  9. There may be something to some of your words here, Zee. Does anyone else have thoughts about putting the words together in a different way? I continue to ponder the dream. I do not think the flower represented me, but someone close to me.

    Today, in my Bible Pathway reading, I read this and thought about the dream again:

    "The purpose of the dew is to maintain life during dry seasons. Only living things benefit from the dew. It does nothing for stones nor dead leaves but is spontaneously absorbed by wilted plants. Dryness of spirit is always a cause for alarm; darkness is not, for you need not see what tomorrow will bring. Days of meditation in the Word of God will refresh and influence very gently and as unnoticed as the dew in the darkest night, it will bring life back to a dry soul."

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  10. Concerning my unusual dream.........I posted an update at my blog:

    Passover Flower

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