This article will hopefully be an interesting follow-up to my last one, ‘There’s Color In My Keyboard,’ since it shows how a dream prompted me to finish that article and get it posted. Let’s start with the dream:
This was a multi-part dream, but it was all related to my starring in a play as a vampire. There was a part where I’m looking at myself in a mirror checking out my phony fangs. Then there was another part where I don’t have fangs, and know I need to go to the costume store to buy some so I’ll have them for the performance. In the last part of the dream, I’m actually in the audience during the curtain call, and I know I have been sitting here as an audience member watching myself give the performance as the vampire. Other actors are on stage, and I can’t remember for sure how ‘I’ came out on the stage, but I seem to recall it was by flying down from the rafters as a bat and transforming into the vampire before taking a bow. I do remember though, once ‘I’ join the other actors, five more actors, who are tall shadowy shapes, drop down from the rafters and land behind us, joining us for the curtain call. One of them falls over and stays down once he hits the stage. Afterwards there’s a shift, and I’m in the vampire costume down in the audience area talking to people who are congratulating me on my performance. One was a gay guy, and there were also two attractive young women. Someone, I think it was the gay guy, compliments me on my eyes and the women agree. I admit that I know I have beautiful eyes.
Performing in live theater was a big part of my life during my childhood and teenage years, so it’s no surprise being involved in the theater is a common dream theme for me. For a long time, I wondered what some of those dreams might mean. Within the last year or so, it came clear that, at least in some cases, theater dreams represent my creative endeavors, which are mainly writing, but video work also. That makes sense because theater was my main creative outlet growing up. I also put most of what I create on the web, so one could see how the idea of ‘performing’ would apply to putting yourself out before the public online, even though only a handful of people read this blog.
As I thought about the dream afterwards, it seemed to me this theater dream was related to the nearly completed and aforementioned article I was working on because in it I’m basically putting the vampire part of myself on public display. Now in this particular article, I was trying to show how I was allowing sexual/romantic feelings to color my email exchanges with a business associate, Alex. At the time of the dream, the article had been lying idle for a week or so, since I wanted to have Donny take a look at a few small changes I’d made to it. But as he was quite busy with other things, I didn’t push the issue. So I took the dream as a message from my inner to get Donny to have one last proofread, and to then post the article. So I dusted off the article, and actually ended up reworking some of it a bit more extensively, as well as putting the finishing touches on a GIF I created to accompany it. I asked Donny if he would take a final look at it, which he did, and then I posted it.
So if I’m on target here with the meaning of this dream, then the beginning of the dream, where I’m looking at my fangs, and thinking about how I need to buy fangs, would seem to be indicative of the last minute re-working of the article. And if that’s the case, the curtain call and the end of the dream must have to do with the process of the article after it was posted, and the way readers felt about it. Dreams often exaggerate things however, as I often point out. So the actual reaction of the readers might not have been as glowing as the praise I received after the curtain call in the dream. The post got three likes though, so perhaps at least one of those readers felt like they got something valuable out of the article. It also seems possible to me that the praise after the curtain call may just be an acknowledgement by my inner for a job well done.
Regarding the other characters that were part of the curtain call, I’m not sure what they represent, though it seems to me the shadowy figures probably symbolize obscure or hostile forces that are having their play or influence during the sort of sexual/romantic indulgences that I describe in the article. I never mentioned the possible involvement of these kinds of forces in the article, and I only briefly brought out the idea that allowing these movements to have their play could possibly be harmful to Alex, that they might still have an effect on her even though she’s on the other side of the globe. But the dream I think tells it like it is, showing not only that it’s a vampiric thing to do, but also by revealing the presence of these shadowy hostile elements that are involved.
Perhaps the example I’ve shared above might not be enough to get the reader on the same wavelength as me regarding this idea that some of my theater dreams represent my creative work, and the placing of it on the internet. So I would like to share one more clear example. This one happened back in July 2018 on the night following the posting of my article ‘You Have To Read Between The Letters.’
I’m in a production of Peter Panstarring as Peter Pan. It’s towards the end of the performance, and I remember giving a short monologue, and then going outside and flying up to the top of a building, and then flying back to the stage for the curtain call. The theater is only about 15% full. We don’t get a standing ovation, but the people are giving a lot of applause. I tell the people in the audience to bring their friends to the performances we are having over the next few days.
As I said before, not many people read this blog, so that would fit with having a small audience in the dream for my ‘performance’. And perhaps the few people who read this article liked it, and that’s reflected in the dream by the hearty applause. Or, as I postulated about the vampire dream, maybe this dream is also or even primarily just giving an acknowledgement of a job well done on my part by my inner being. Here again I can’t say for sure.
I’m also unsure as to why Peter Pan was chosen to represent this article, which was about a dream that was an example of very specific and blatant guidance about a book I should read. Peter Pan is an adventurer though, and his world is one of dreams and fantasy, so I’m guessing it has something to do with that. Perhaps he represents my ongoing dream exploration, which, in its own way, is an adventure with new discoveries happening all the time. I don’t think it has anything to do with being mischievous or shirking responsibility in some area of my life, though I can see how Peter Pan couldrepresent those things in a dream.
Regardless of whether or not my speculation is on the money as far as the symbolism of Peter Pan goes, I hope the reader can follow my logic here and see how the symbolism of performing and theater could represent one’s creative work and putting oneself out in the public eye creatively and artistically. As for myself, as you can see, I’m convinced enough that I was able to take the first dream as guidance and finish an article.
In the future I hope to have more insight into other things a theater dream could represent. It hasn’t come up recently, but I’ve had a recurring theme in theater dreams over the years that a performance is imminent, but I’ve missed most or all of the rehearsals, and I’m not sure what that relates to. Perhaps dreams like that are related to my creative work also, and indicate times where I haven’t given something I was working on enough attention, and then finished it up in a hurry. I don’t know, but I will be paying more attention the next time I have one of these dreams. There is definitely more to uncover here.
I recently had a dream that was clearly prevision and is worth sharing just from that standpoint. What’s perhaps more interesting though is the way the dream portrayed what was going to happen, because, even though there was a correlation, the events in the dream were much more dramatic and momentous than what happened waking life. Because of this, it’s a good example of the way dreams do things.
Here is the dream:
I’m working at the Mermaid Grill as a server. Alex also works there. We find ourselves out in the entryway to the restaurant and start kissing and fooling around. Stefanie is sitting there at a desk and tells us in so many words to get a room. There was more in between I don’t recall clearly, but then later on (or in a different dream of that night following the same scenario) it’s six months later, and Alex and I have broken up after being in a relationship during that time. She has shown up with her new boyfriend at the Mermaid Grill to have dinner while I am working in order to rub my nose in it.
The two women in the dream, Alex and Stefanie, both work for an advertising company that has been a long time partner with my employer as the publisher of our visitors guide. The first thing I should mention is that I find Alex very attractive. She wasn’t someone I saw or interacted with very often however, so the attraction wasn’t something that came up much. You could definitely say though that I fancied her a little bit. Then, almost a year after I relocated to India, my employer expanded our partnership with her company, and they designed a new website for us and also took over handling all advertising sales for the site. I was instructed to pass any referrals for advertising on to Alex. So about once a month or so I needed to email her about something related to website advertising or the visitors guide.
The day following the dream I got an email from Alex. In it she told me that her coworker Kate would be handling all the advertising from here on out, and to refer everything to her. Looking at Alex’s signature I saw that her title had changed from Account Executive to General Manager, and I realized that was the reason. Then I noticed that the vital was a little bit deflated by this news. It realized I wouldn’t be emailing with Alex anymore, or at least not nearly as often, and experienced some disappointment because of that. Seeing this, I realized how the vital had taken pleasure in corresponding with her simply because of my attraction. And even though our emails were all business, it was still a little pop for the vital to get an email from her or to send her one. There was a thrill in that little contact.
This is the first time I can ever remember dreaming of Alex, and I think the prevision is obvious, though as I’ve found with prevision in my dreams at least, there isn’t an exact correlation. According to Sri Aurobindo, in this regard I’m the rule and not the exception. Aurobindo states in his Letters on Yoga that the power to have dreams with exact physical prevision “is comparatively rare, for ordinarily such previsions come in inner vision but not in sleep. In dreams vital or mental formations often take shape which sometimes fulfill themselves in essence, but not with this accuracy of detail.”1
I think we can see how this applies here, because this wasn’t anything like a romantic split in waking life. Nor was Alex’s email anything but congenial, and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be. I’m pretty sure she likes me as a person, and it was, after all, just business. And the truth is my vital wasn’t really that upset about the whole thing, just a little disappointed. The disappointment though was because of the attraction, and that seems to me to be why the dream portrayed what happened as a romance and a breakup. While writing this article I read something the Mother said which supports this idea as a reasonable explanation. She was talking about visions in the subtle physical plane, but I think the same mechanism would apply to dreams. In her words:
If you have a power of vision that is objective and sincere, you see the thing accurately; if you add your own feelings and impressions to it, it is coloured by them. So accuracy in the subtle physical depends exclusively on the instrument, that is to say, on the one who sees.2
To conclude the analysis of the dream, I’d like to take a look at the fact that this dream took place at the Mermaid Grill. As Donny once pointed out, a restaurant is a logical symbol for somewhere people are exchanging life force. That would fit in this case since I feel that actually occurs when you’re corresponding with someone or, as I pointed out in a recent post, during things like social media interactions. I honestly hadn’t ever given much thought to what a mermaid might symbolize. Nor can I remember ever having a dream of an actual mermaid, though that may have happened. I wasn’t sure what to make of it so I ran it by Donny, who said that to him, in the case of this dream, it suggested a desire that was still somewhat subconscious and unformed, still ‘under the water’ to some extent. That idea makes sense since my attraction to Alex has been more of a fancy, and not something that has really taken a hold of my mind or my vital the way an actual infatuation with someone would. It could perhaps be compared with having a celebrity crush. Unless you’re deluded or it’s an obsession, you don’t really take it that seriously, though it’s fun to think about, and you might go see every movie that person is in in order to bask in their on screen presence. In the same way, I’ve been basking in these kinds of feelings in my emailing with Alex. And like my celebrity crush example here, I’ve also had some fun along the way thinking about what it would be like to be the center of her universe.
Now compared to the way people living a normal life indulge these kinds of fancies, I’m not indulging them all that much. As a sadhak, however, I have to keep setting the bar higher and higher, and the goal of the yoga I follow is not to indulge these things at all. That’s been my goal for a long time, but I haven’t reached it yet due I think to a combination of excusing it, but also by being carried away in the groove of a habit I indulged for many years. One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes you can catch these things when they enter the mind and in that moment you can make the choice to push them away, while there are other times where they get in and start having their play for a while before you wake up and objectively realize what’s happening. So I think the best thing I can do is to take the writing and posting of this article as a call to make the most definitive push I can to stop entertaining these things whether it’s right at the moment they enter the mind or once I become aware they’re having their play due to the groove of habit. As far as Alex goes, this isn’t just for me and my attempts at purification, but for her too, because if I’m basking in my attraction while emailing with her, that vibe still colors the exchange and has an adverse effect on her, however small, even if I never drop the slightest hint in my emails that I have these feelings.
So in conclusion, my main point here was to draw attention to the larger than life element of dreams and also to the possibility of distortion by the dreamer. There’s certainly more to be said though on this subject of prevision in dreams, and I have another recent occurrence of dream prevision I want to share in an upcoming post that involved myself, and our dog, Lucy. This example takes things a bit farther, however, because there were prevision dreams both before the occurrence, as well as dreams afterwards that shed more light on what happened.
Sri Aurobindo, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo Volume 31: Letters On Yoga IV, page 457
The Mother, Collected Works of The Mother Volume 10: On Thoughts and Aphorisms, page 124
For anyone who might be new to this blog, I regard myself as the chela or disciple of Sri Aurobindo and have been reading his works for over 20 years. A month or so ago I was finishing up reading Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, and had decided I would read his Essays Divine and Human next. I was looking forward to reading this particular book since I have never read it before. Then I had this dream as I was working my way through the last few pages of The Life Divine.
I’m in a shop, which has lots of different little items for sale. Donny is behind a counter, and next to him on a table is a huge copy of Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga. It’s lying flat, but it’s something like four feet in height, and it has a dark red cover. I know Donny can get into a storeroom where other huge copies like this are. I tell him he should get a copy of this large-sized Letters on Yoga for himself. He mentions another book they have in the storeroom, which I seem to remember he called Philosophy of Yoga or something along those lines. The lower half of the huge Letters on Yoga is now covered with a blanket that has a price tag on it of $9.70. I figure that price must be for the blanket and not the book. I can’t recall what color the blanket was.
My first reaction to this dream was partly one of aversion since it seemed to be giving me the message to read Letters on Yogaand not Essays Divine and Human. For a couple of years recently, when I was living in Florida, Parts 3 and 4 of the Letters were basically my bible and I read them a number of times. I’d also recently read Parts 1 and 2 within the last year or so while here in India. So I kind of felt like ‘been there, done that’ and was more into reading something new.
But in the end, I decided to follow the dream and started to read Part 4 of the Letters. This Part 4, however, is from an expanded version of the Letters that is organized differently and has new material.1 So to some extent, it’s like reading a new book. I’ve been finding it quite helpful and am glad so far that I followed the suggestion proffered by the dream.
Looking at some of the other elements in the dream, the blanket would seem to me to represent warmth or comfort, while the dark red color of the book might have something to do with the physical since that’s what red often seems to mean in my dreams. Then there’s the price tag of $9.70 on the blanket.According to a list given by the Mother, 9 means ‘gestation or birth ‘and 7 means ‘realization’.2 So these symbols would all be indications of the positive purpose reading the Letters will serve in my life, something that will give me support and help towards the birth of spiritual realization.
Donny however pointed out something else a blanket could symbolize and that would be covering something up. He suggested this might mean there are things in the Letters I’ve yet to completely grasp, things that are still ‘covered’. That seems possible, since a book like this is one you can keep re-reading and always learn something new. In addition, since I chose to read a new expanded version of the Letters, perhaps the blanket is also indicating new things to uncover in the book. Donny further pointed out that the price tag might indicate some kind of price I have to pay in terms of effort, mental or otherwise, to gain the fruits of reading the book.
I think it’s worth pointing out that a dream giving such a blatant and obvious hint as this is a rare occurrence in my dreaming life. So did I perhaps interpret this dream too literally? From the way I’ve been jiving with reading the Letters I would say not. I do find it interesting though that in contrast to this obvious and spelled out guidance, we have the unseen book in the dream, which I seemed to remember was called Philosophy of Yoga, and which isn’t the actual title of any of Sri Aurobindo’s books. Perhaps it’s an indicator or a hint about something I might read in the future, or as Donny suggested, it might mean something more general, something about philosophy and yoga I still have to learn, and which is still ‘in the storeroom’ so to speak.
To end this article, it seems appropriate to mention that Donny decided to follow my suggestion in the dream that he get himself a copy of the huge Letters. So he went and bought himself Part 3 of the new expanded version. It bears mentioning that Donny also got a line from his muse that he interpreted as guidance to read the Letters, but he said that my dream was the big factor in making the decision. In fact, the line came after he had edited the first draft of this article, and we had discussed it. That line is the title of this article, “You Have to Read Between the Letters”.
Notes and References
This new version is from a more recent version of Sri Aurobindo’s works called the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. All the versions of the Letters I had read previously were from the first version of Aurobindo’s collected works called the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library.
Sujata Nahar, Mother’s Chronicles Book 3: Mirra The Occultist, pg 150.
Hey John Coward,
me too coming.
Standing on the train.
where is she:
is this a science
or is this evidence?
You look for invigorating theories
brought on by the catchphrase word.
Delve deeper and you might find life.
What’s this habit here?
Only outward tuned.
Tell me you don’t know anything:
it’s all conjecture, guess, and patchwork answer.
Evangelize this uncertainty.
All that can be known is in your little book.
Gimmie that a second;
it says you’re at
a larger historia
than right here taking an inventory of what I’m saying.
Behind closed doors
a muscle romance with dawn
tells your inner life with dream.
Behind walls of thought
you are rounding
Open your inner life,
spend time there.
Where is the key?
In the realm of your bed,
around the neck of dream
and other things during sleep.
Pour over the books there like a university.
No way –
I see it.
Superstition idn’t it?
Science’s armchair here?
Science can’t reckon there.
we got here.
for the smell of God at your door.
Oh you laugh and say smile?
Don’t try to shut up the bottom mile
Alight lookin’ good Brenda.
Still study your cat.
Bank it on the lips of dream
the rest of it.
Originally posted with the title “See Beyond the Peon” and without the last verse as a comment to the BBC Magazine article Point of View: "Ghosts and the Material World", May 5, 2013. It came via the inner voice.
On Easter Sunday this year I woke up feeling like I’d actually rested during the night, which is abnormal for me since I usually wake up feeling quite the opposite to varying degrees. I also felt clear and still on the inside for lack of better words, and with a little bit of enthusiasm and positivity for the day. That clear feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day, though it got covered up at times when I would get absorbed in doing this or that. It was pretty slight to begin with, and was even more slight throughout the day, but it stayed until the evening if I remember correctly, maybe even up until I went to bed, but I can’t recall for sure. I think the experience is connected to this dream I had Easter morning:
I’m driving down Montvale Road in Maryville, TN to Briarcliff Circle, where my family used to live. I’m with Trent and at least one other person. I know my family and I are staying as guests at the Bailey’s, and I joke with Trent asking him if he wants to go and see my dad (in waking life my dad did not like Trent). I turn into Briarcliff, but don’t get far before I turn the car around and go back out on Montvale Road towards town. Now we’re on foot though, and on the other side of Montvale Road is a large lake with pretty light blue water (in waking life there is a large expanse of farmland there). I’m saying to the others: “Why weren’t we coming to the lake and swimming every day when we were kids?” I just can’t believe we weren’t doing that. We all get in the water and are sitting in it next to the shore. The bottom has soft mud though, and I don’t like the feel of it so I get out and am now sitting on the road. A man and a little boy are here now with a big rectangular chocolate birthday cake. I tell them today is my birthday also, which, in the dream, it is. It says Happy Birthday Jennifer on the cake, and I assume that’s the boy’s mother. Then Jennifer, who is Latina, shows up and isn’t very friendly. So my friends and I go on the other side of the road to a small house that seems to be just one big room that has a garage door on it which is open. The family comes in too, and I find out that Jennifer is from Bolivia and start speaking to her in Spanish, telling her I went all over Bolivia over a period of about 10 months. As we talk she starts to warm up a little bit. My friends and I decide to go, but we have to get our car out of this room so we start moving the furniture and things that are in the way of the car. I move some small items, not wanting to hurt my back. There is no car now though, just a big bed, but that is what we’re planning to move out once we clear the other furniture out of the way.
In his Letters on Yoga Aurobindo states that ‘water is the symbol of a state of consciousness or a plane’.1 Now when I told Donny about the dream he pointed out that in his experience a lake with its expansive yet bounded condition (as opposed to say the ocean which is limitless and would represent an even higher condition) represents the state of mental silence and loss of ego denoted by terms such as realization, enlightenment, silent mind or in the case of the integral yoga ‘the spiritual consciousness’. The fact that the water was a pretty blue supports this idea since Aurobindo says the levels of the spiritual consciousness can be symbolized by the that color.2
I will say though that for me the real proof of the meaning of this blue lake is ‘in the pudding’ as they say. For millennia sages have testified to the peace and stillness of the spiritual consciousness and that was what spilled over into my waking life albeit in a very diminished form. So what I think happened here is I must have had a unrecalled brush with the spiritual consciousness in some way during sleep that was transcribed by the dream and also produced an effect on the waking consciousness. In a sense it was a very strong effect since it remained for the whole day even though the actual change in consciousness was very slight.
Looking at other elements in the dream, the appearance of the birthday cake is something that gives weight to this theory since, as Donny pointed out, it could be a symbol for a permanent transition from ego consciousness to the spiritual consciousness. That transition seems to be such a radical reversal it can be likened to dying and being reborn. The cake was also rectangular, and in his letters Sri Aurobindo also says that in visions a rectangle “indicates something partial and preliminary”3as opposed to a square which “indicates that the creation is to be complete in itself.”4I imagine squares and rectangles could have the same significance in dreams, and Aurobindo’s interpretation makes sense here since it appears all that may have happened was a fleeting immersion in the spiritual consciousness. There was no permanent change of station to that level.
I’m not sure what the muddy bottom of the lake might mean. Perhaps it’s some obstacle coming between me and the spiritual consciousness or maybe something that was difficult or disorienting about the encounter with the state. Apparently a lot of people require some time to adjust when they enter the spiritual consciousness permanently. It’s certainly worth noting though that I had a vision later on that morning after the dream where I was being encouraged to swim in that blue water.
Most of the rest of the symbols in the dream are hard for me to interpret. I don’t really know what to make of the room at the end of the dream and trying to get my ‘car’, that had turned into a bed, out of it. The fact that the dream took place in Briarcliff Circle where I used to live is interesting though because two days before Easter I received news that the Bailey’s, who are mentioned in the dream and who are close family friends, had suffered a very devastating loss. So Maryville and the Bailey’s had been on my mind, and in a manner of speaking I really had ‘been in Maryville’ on the level of thought and emotion in the days preceding the dream.
So is the fact that I was giving the Baileys a lot of thought the reason Maryville was the setting of my dream, and it was a more or less reflexive element woven in with other more obviously symbolic and meaningful elements? Or is there something more significant going on? I honestly can’t say. Perhaps the birthday woman from Bolivia who was in the glum mood represents the Bailey’s since there was Latino blood on Mrs. Bailey’s side. It would seem though that it would have something personally to do with me too, with the tendency for glumness in my vital which was being represented by this woman.
Having finished my attempt to analyze this dream, there is still one interesting question left to address. And that is: did my dream and experience have anything to do with it being Easter? I have to admit that, while I’ve had experience with the effects of things like solstices and full moons, if I’ve ever had a dream or experience like this on Easter, I can’t remember it. As it turns out Easter was on April 1 this year, and the night of March 31stwas the night of the full moon. For me the full moon alone would be enough to account for my dream and subsequent experience, but perhaps Easter, even though the date moves around every year, is a day with spiritual power in the same way the darshans of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram are for myself and many others.5
Now in conclusion, while the potential impact of things like full moons and days like Easter on sleep experience is no doubt interesting, what I feel is most important here is the idea that experiences that happen in sleep, even when we don’t remember them, can give rise to a dream transcribing the event as well as have a noticeable effect on our waking consciousness. It’s fair to point out too that, in my experience, you can experience and remember an altered state of consciousness in a dream that leaves no effect whatsoever on the waking consciousness like a number of dreams I’ve had over the years where I smoked marijuana and got high in the dream, but woke up feeling completely normal. Donny also recently recounted a dream to me where he was feeling a blissful ecstatic bhakti from which he woke up directly, and yet nothing of the experience carried over. I’m sure there are reasons for all this, but I could only guess at the moment what they are, so I’ll refrain from doing so. I’ll just leave all this as food for thought.
Notes and References
Sri Aurobindo, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo Vol. 30: Letters on Yoga III, pgs 150.
Sri Aurobindo, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo Vol. 30: Letters on Yoga III, pgs 127-28.
Sri Aurobindo, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo Vol. 30: Letters on Yoga III, pg 102.
The spiritual effect of the darshan days here at the ashram was the subject of my last post for those who are interested.
In this post, I have a dream I want to share mainly because of a strong synchronicity between it and an outer event that happened the morning after the dream. I think it provides a good example of how these meetings between the inner and the outer can happen even though I’m not sure what it all means. Here is the dream:
I’m watching the space shuttle come in for a landing on TV, but then I notice I can hear the sound of its engines coming in the window from outside. I figure Cape Canaveral must be close enough that I can hear it coming in. When I look outside however, I can see the shuttle has actually landed here on the runway of the airport in Pondicherry. It’s nighttime and it’s trying to turn around to go to the terminal. I try to walk closer to it to get a better look, but I don’t get much closer before someone’s is yelling at me about not getting too close.
The morning after this dream I noticed our Harm’s End Facebook page had a notification, so I clicked to see what it was. It turns out it was a ‘like’ for a post Donny did on someone else’s facebook page nearly fourteen months before. The post contains a long poem and a video clip of the space shuttle Atlantislanding after a mission. Donny and I were both impressed by the synchronicity, but what might the wholething mean?
Going up into space via the space shuttle or otherwise would seem to indicate a very high spiritual flight and the space shuttle landing would indicate coming down from that. As it turns out this dream happened on December 1, 2017 right in the middle of three darshan days1 here in Pondicherry. These are special days here at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, when people are allowed to pass through either Sri Aurobindo’s room or the Mother’s or sometimes both. Most of these darshan days were celebrated when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were still alive, and were noteworthy because they were days when the sadhaks were able to appear in front of Sri Aurobindo (who spent the rest of the year secluded in his room) and the Mother together for a silent blessing. People however were not permitted to speak to him.
Over the years I’ve noticed perceptible effects on myself on the darshan days, though often nothing noteworthy happens, or I’m too clouded to receive anything. Usually if something noticeable occurs it’s some peace or detachment, though I have also had some powerful and obviously significant dreams on these days as well. The other thing I’ve noticed, unfortunately, is that difficulties tend to increase both inwardly and outwardly in the days leading up to a darshan. That doesn’t always happen though, but I’m guessing that when it does happen it’s because of a combination of hostile forces trying to throw me off track so I’m not receptive on the darshan days as well as blocks and resistances in me.
Donny has noticed these effects as well of the darshan days, both the good and the bad, and I’m sure there are many other people, who are either sadhaks or devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, that have also. As far as the time period around the dream goes, I do recall feeling inwardly quiet and settled throughout the entire day on one of those three darshans, and it may have been the one on December 5th. I seem to remember it was. And if it was, then the dream could be showing the coming down from that experience the next day on the 6th. Regardless though of when it happened, that experience didn’t seem to me at first to be powerful enough to fit with the symbolism of going into space. Donny disagreed though saying he thought experiences of peace like that are more significant than I might be giving them credit for. After some thought, I can see his point especially when you consider the experience lasted throughout an entire day. Hopefully with more experience I’ll be able to say for sure if something like this could be symbolized by going into space.
But as I said in my introductory paragraph, what is really noteworthy about this dream is the synchronicity with the ‘like’ on Donny’s Facebook post. That would put some emphasis on the whole thing I would think. What’s interesting though is the emphasis is on the shuttle landing, not the shuttle going up into space. Why the emphasis would be placed on that, on coming down from a spiritual height, I don’t know. There was also nothing I recorded in my dream journal before or after this particular dream of going up into space. There was however a dream I recorded on November 26th where my best friend from college, Nick, (who’s deceased) was flying in an X-Wing fighter and blew up the Death Star. Perhaps the two dreams are related.
An interesting thing Donny pointed out is that my inability to get close to the space shuttle in my dream is metaphorically speaking a lot like the way I’ve had to approach this article. I haven’t been able to ‘get close’ in the sense of being able to draw any definite conclusions about what all this means, just put out some ideas and possibilities. I will say, however, that the simple occurrence of any really strong or blatant synchronicity can still have beneficial effects even if you can’t draw any conclusions from it. Having grown used to synchronicities over the years I often just shrug my shoulders at them, but this one impressed me, and Donny as well. It evoked, the way synchronicities can, a sense of a something wonderful and meaningful, of a guiding hand behind the seemingly mechanical workings of the universe.
One thing I’ve considered, and will throw out here as some food for thought, is the possibility that the dream isn’t referring just to me personally, but referring to what was going on in the atmosphere of Pondicherry itself with the triple darshan. Perhaps the dream was showing or also showing how the general vibration in the area would be coming down from that heightened state afterwards. I’ve noticed darshan effects even when living in Florida and also at the Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham ashram in Lodi, CA., so it doesn’t seem implausible that my dream is referring not just to me, but also to the general atmosphere of Pondy which was uplifted by the three darshans. It makes sense that here in Pondy the effect would be stronger than anywhere else.
There is one more thing that happened as part of all this which is worth mentioning as I close. While putting the finishing touches on my last article I was thinking about what I would write next. This article was one I was considering for my next one, though I seem to remember I was leaning more towards another. In the midst of that, and roughly two months after the dream/Facebook synchronicity occurred, we got another notification on Harm’s End of a ‘like’. This ‘like’ was also for Donny’s poem with the clip of the Atlantislanding, though it was another posting on a different Facebook page.2 So I took this as a nudge from the universe, which prompted me to write this particular article in lieu of some others that I was considering.
Notes and References
These three darshans are on November 17th, November 24th and December 5th. November 17th is the day the Mother died and December 5th is the day Sri Aurobindo died. November 24th is known as ‘Siddhi Day’ and marks the day that the ashram was founded.
Donny posted this particular poem and clip on a number of Facebook pages all having to do with debunking conspiracy theories. There were no other ‘likes’ received on any of these space shuttle Atlantis posts in the time between the two mentioned in this article.
About a year ago I had a series of dreams in the same night with the deceased American spiritual teacher Franklin Merrell-Wolff. I wanted to share these dreams for a couple of reasons, one of which is simply to get his name out there on the internet for someone who might be interested in him and his work, which has the obvious stamp of someone who attained a spiritual realization or ‘recognition’ as he preferred to call it. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea because of his strong intellectual bent, but if you have the kind of mind that can get into his writings, I think you’ll find him as rewarding to read as anyone in contemporary spiritual literature.
The second reason I want to share is because I feel these dreams might be indicating an actual contact with Merrell-Wolff during sleep on another supraphysical plane, and I wanted to use these dreams as a means to explore the possibility of such encounters. In a letter to one of his sadhaks, Sri Aurobindo calls this sort of dream a ‘dream experience’, which he defines as a “record direct or symbolic of what happens to us or around us there (on other supraphysical planes).”1 Now I honestly don’t know how to infallibly distinguish when a dream is a dream experience according to this definition. I wracked my brain trying to see if I could come up with some kind of criteria, but realized I’m just not at the place yet where I have that kind of knowledge and discernment. So this article is going to be more hypothetical than most that I write, and more about presenting possibilities than answers.
I think however we can still expand our horizons through exploring the possibility that this was indeed a dream experience with Merrell-Wolff , while at the same time being honest that I don’t know for sure. To give this idea some plausibility however, and not just build a house of cards, I will support it with some relevant quotes from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Let me also say that I feel that if these dreams were indeed of the dream experience variety, they were a symbolic record and not a direct one. Overall there was nothing really remarkable about the dream environment or the dream substance that would lead me to believe I was bringing back a direct record from something that occurred on another plane. And while there was one beautiful scene in the first dream, it wasn’t the kind of breathtaking beauty I’ve seen in dream environments that I suspect are peering into the subtle physical.2 I have to admit though, that there are many, many things I still don’t know or understand about dreams, so I may be wrong, but since Sri Aurobindo makes the distinction in his definition, I thought I needed to give my opinion on the matter for the sake of clarity throughout the rest of this article.
So with all this in mind I’ll now share the dreams.
Dream 1 I’m with Franklin Merrell-Wolff in a truck in the front seat and he’s driving. There’s also if I remember correctly another passenger and I’m sitting in the middle. We’re driving through some low rolling green mountains. There really isn’t a road though, and at one point the car is almost sideways driving along the side of one of the mountains. I know we’re going to reach a point where we’ll have to go more or less straight up and I’m nervous about this. We stop first though at Merrell-Wolff’s house. I join with a group of people and he’s giving us a tour. At one point we reach a place where there’s a staircase going up, and a staircase going down, and a room can be seen at the end of each staircase. One by one we have to go to the staircases and choose which way we want to go, and some people choose to go up and others choose to go down. When it’s my turn I can see that downstairs there are some chairs and the people there are watching a video presentation. I don’t now recall what was going on upstairs. My first inclination is to go upstairs, but then I change my mind and go downstairs, because I think that’s where Merrell-Wolff is. He’s not there though, and I realize he’s off somewhere else outside with a few other people and that I didn’t get to go. I find my way outside and can see a wide desert plain below that has some rock formations in the distance like something you’d see in the badlands in South Dakota. It’s a very beautiful scene. After that I find myself in a bigger room like a theater watching something on TV. I don’t remember now what it was about.
Dream 2 I’m with Merrell-Wolff in a truck again and he’s driving. We’re talking about spiritual realization, and how you get there. Something in our conversation (I don’t remember what) prompts me to say, “Well maybe I’m a weak person.” But he tells me that on the contrary I’m a very strong person, and he tells me why, but I can’t remember now what he said. Also during the conversation I asked him if surrender was the most important thing for gaining spiritual realization, and I seem to remember he answered in the affirmative. I also asked him if it’s just a matter of letting go, and I don’t remember now how he responded.
Dream 3 We’re back at Merrell-Wolff’s house in the mountains, and an airport taxi has come to pick me up though it looks like a trolley. Merrell-Wolff comes to say goodbye, and I’m feeling emotional because I don’t want to leave him. For our parting he reaches out to shake my hand while I try to give him a hug, which results in a kind of awkward embrace. He gives me a kiss on the cheek, and then he points his index and middle fingers of one hand at my eyes, but not directly, as his hand is a little bit on the left side of my head. He says reassuringly something like “You’re gonna get it. You’re gonna figure it out” or I may have just understood that that was what he meant by the gesture and he didn’t actually say it. I can’t recall for sure. I’m feeling very emotional because I figure I’ll never see him again.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff died in 1985. In a video interview I saw of him that took place near the end of his life, Merrell-Wolff states his belief that it’s possible to make the transition to death consciously and without falling into a swoon from which one would have to regain consciousness later. He also voiced his desire to accomplish this during his death.3 I have to admit I don’t have any idea what would be the benefits of entering death without losing continuity of consciousness, but I will say that I feel a realized being has a lot more control over what happens to them in death than your average joe, though I obviously can’t prove that.
Being familiar with Merrell-Wolff’s writings and having a sense of the stature of the man, I would guess he was developed enough to achieve his goal of entering death consciously. Developed enough also I would guess, to still be active on the other side guiding and helping the living, especially those people who are directly under his spiritual care—assuming of course that sort of thing is possible, and in my case I assume that it is. And if it is possible and this dream is transcribing an encounter with Merrell-Wolff, and if it’s a fairly accurate transcription in its basic details, then perhaps I actually went to his abode on the other side, his inner ashram you might say, somewhere where he meets and mixes with others. Now I don’t know where his abode might be on the other side, but the Mother said more than once after he died that Sri Aurobindo was dwelling in the subtle physical plane and that “you can meet him when you sleep, if you know how to go there.”4 She also made reference to a world on the subtle physical plane she visited during sleep “where the living and the dead intermingle without feeling any difference.”5
If you’ve read a lot of other blog posts of mine you know that I focus mainly on trying to show how dreams connect to actual occurrences in waking reality. So one could ask: what makes me think this dream isn’t just showing what was manifesting in my waking life at the time? Maybe, you might argue, it was showing a day or span of days that I was ‘up in the mountains’ spiritually so to speak, maybe feeling some peace or detachment. Unfortunately, I don’t recollect now what my waking life was like at the time, so I can’t refute that possibility by saying I was struggling with something then, but even if I had been uplifted at that time that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate for me the idea that this was a contact with Merrell-Wolff. That encounter might have been the thing that helped me to get clear. I should also point out that dreams have a depth and multi-dimensionality that’s hard for our waking consciousness to fathom, and this dream could very well have been showing both a personal uplift in waking consciousness and a contact with Merrell-Wolff at the same time.
One of the things that leads me to believe that this was a contact with Merrill-Wolff is years of dreams of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and my strong conviction that they’re my teachers, and that they are consciously active and guiding people from the other side.6 And while I don’t know of any examples with Merrell-Wolff, there are scores of stories of people encountering Sri Aurobindo and/or the Mother in their dreams (both while Aurobindo and the Mother were still alive as well as after their deaths) and receiving help or guidance from them. In one of his letters, Sri Aurobindo pointed out to a sadhak that encountering the Mother on the vital plane is an experience “all the sadhaks have in their sleep and dreams, if they are a little conscious there. Even those who are not sadhaks or others who do not know her come, but they are not aware of it.”7
Another question the reader might ask, and which I asked myself, is: could Merrell-Wolff be representing someone or something else I encountered in sleep and the dream just used him as a symbol because its one I would know and recognize? I recently came across an instance in Questions and Answers where a child tells the Mother a dream she had where “you took me in your arms and embraced me for quite some time.”8 The Mother then tells her that during sleep the child had entered into contact with Forces “which are full of love and tenderness, which help and welcome all those who come,”9 and “when you woke up, this was translated through images you know, that is, that you come to see me, receive blessings, and then as there was a new feeling —that of contact with this Force which envelops and helps— this gave you the impression that I was taking you in my arms and embracing you. It was translated in this way. The fact is there; the translation is that of your brain.”10 Based on this it certainly seems quite possible that Merrell-Wolff could have been a symbol for a Force like the Mother describes here, but it also seems possible to me that the dream does indeed record a contact with Merrell-Wolff.
While he’s not my primary teacher, and he admittedly doesn’t enter my dreams often,11 I have a tremendous admiration for Franklin Merrell-Wolff and his incredible mind, as well as a great enthusiasm for his written works, which I regard as some of my most prized possessions. That by itself seems to me would be enough to open up the possibility of a contact during sleep, but I’ve also reached out to him to a small extent over the years, asked him for his help. It’s only been in small spurts whereas I’m reaching out to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on a daily basis, but when I think of him it sometimes drums up a little bit of bhakti along with the enthusiasm I feel for his books. So I think there’s enough here for there to be an inner connection between he and I, and I think a spiritually realized man like Merrell Wolff is going to give his help to anyone who sincerely asks, even if its just in a small way, and even if for the most part he leaves that person to the care of the people directly in charge of his or her sadhana. I think also that the element of Merrell-Wolff giving me guidance in the dream as well as my desire to be with him and the emotions I felt at our parting could indicate that this was indeed a contact with him, and that the bhakti and enthusiasm I feel for him in my waking life are perhaps the outcome of a deeper inner connection. How you distinguish infallibly though between a dream experience that shows an actual encounter with someone like Merrell-Wolff or Sri Aurobindo, and one that uses them as symbols for helping Forces or other beings, is something I don’t know, and I have to wonder which of my many dreams of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother over the years were actually showing a contact with them and not just using them as a symbol.
I think after having hashed all that out, it’s appropriate now to briefly look at some of the movements in the dreams in the context of a dream experience and under the assumption that this was in fact a contact with Merrell-Wolff. Now as I said previously, I think that if this was a dream experience, it’s a symbolic recording and not a direct one. Given that, going up into the mountains might just be symbolic of rising up through the planes and in the scale of consciousness to Merrell-Wolff’s abode. According to Sri Aurobindo’s descriptions of other planes in his epic poem Savitri however, other supraphysical planes can have features like mountains, lakes etc.12 So it wouldn’t seem to me to be impossible that Merrell-Wolff, who loved the mountains and even built a small ashram in the Eastern Sierra Nevada during his lifetime,13 would set up his abode in a mountainous setting. This however is admittedly pure speculation.
Moving on, I have to say I have no idea what the choice between going up and going down in the first dream might mean, but the TV screen that was in the room downstairs and also the one at the end of the first dream perhaps indicate being given information or knowledge. It’s interesting I wasn’t included with the group that went outside with Merrell-Wolff. I don’t know what that represented, but for whatever reason I wasn’t invited. Maybe that’s because I’m not fully his student or maybe it was something for the more spiritually advanced people. I seem to recall that in the dream I understood that I wasn’t spiritually advanced enough to go, but since I didn’t record that in the dream’s description in my dream journal I can’t rule out that that’s a false recollection my mind has tacked on to the memory of the dream.
Looking at the guidance given in the dream, it’s of course nice to be told by someone like Merrell-Wolff in a dream that you’re a strong person, and that you’re going to figure it out. That gave me a little confidence boost after the dream that I can still recall, and one I must have needed though, as I’ve said, I can’t remember what my general state was at the time. The fact that I asked Merrell-Wolff if surrender was the most important thing for spiritual realization was prompted I feel by the memory of one particular part in his work Introceptualism that discusses the importance of self-giving to the sacred. That particular passage really resonated with me and has stuck with me more strongly than anything else I’ve gleaned from Merrell-Wolff’s books.14
So in conclusion, though this is all hypothetical, my feeling on the matter is that this was indeed a dream experience with Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Of course, that’s admittedly what I want to believe, but if you’re willing to take Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as authorities, I think I’ve presented a plausible argument that this was a dream experience, and that these sorts of supraphysical encounters with other people, be they dead or alive, are possible in sleep. But then there’s still the question of whether or not I actually encountered Merrell-Wolff in sleep that night or if my dream was just using him as a symbol for someone or something else I encountered. Regarding this I must be honest and admit once more that this is a question I can’t answer at this time, and one that almost got me to shelve this article before it was finished hoping that at some point in my life I’d have the knowledge and discernment to answer the question one way or another. It makes sense though that it really was Merrell-Wolff for the reasons I’ve stated previously, and I think my belief that it was indeed him can be presented as a reasonable, even probable possibility by the reader if you’re willing to admit the existence of such dream encounters with a spiritual teacher with whom you have an inner connection. It was this, along with Donny’s encouragement that convinced me to carry on with the endeavor and finish the article. Dreams are still a largely unexplored frontier, and some amount of hypothetical speculation is inevitable as we attempt to map this territory, or re-map it perhaps since past civilizations may not have been as in the dark about dreams and other occult phenomenon as we are. So if this inquiry has broadened anyone’s ideas of what’s possible in sleep and dreams and done it in a credible manner, that I feel is sufficient, and it’s served a useful purpose. And if it further prompts a reader or two to take a closer look at their own dreams for evidence of such dream experiences or even for just a deeper understanding of their dreams in general, so much the better.
Notes and References
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Vol 30: Letters on Yoga III, pg 260.
The subtle physical is Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s term for another world of physical matter like ours, but one of incredible beauty in comparison to the gross physical world we inhabit in waking consciousness.
The Mother, CWM Vol 13: Words of the Mother I, pg 12.
The Mother, CWM Vol 10: On Thoughts and Aphorisms, pg 147.
For what I think is a good clear example of a dream experience with the Mother, please read this article on my old blog The Chipmunk Press. Scroll down to where it says ‘From First, From Within’ to find the article.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Vol 32: The Mother With Letters On The Mother, pg 290.
The Mother, CWM Vol 6: Questions and Answers 1954, pg 143.
In my dream journals, which I’ve got on Word docs back to the beginning of 2013, Merrell-Wolff’s name only comes up twice, and in both dreams I was reading something he’d written and wasn’t actually with him. I have a vague recollection of another dream where I was actually with him, but that could be a false memory.
Please refer to Book II Canto II and Book XI Canto I in Sri Aurobindo’s
Merrell-Wolff built the ashram in Tuttle Creek Canyon near Lone Pine, CA with the help of a group he and his wife Sherifa founded called the ‘Assembly of Man’. This building still stands and is known as the ‘Tuttle Creek Ashram’ by the U.S. Forest Service.
Here is the quote for those who are interested: ‘Sacredness implies self-giving, while secularity implies self-withholding. In the transformation process, everything else is incidental to the attainment of the pure self-giving attitude. For the most part, one attains this attitude only after a desperately painful crisis, but if the individual can accept it without waiting for the crisis, he or she simply avoids a great deal of discomfort.’ Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Transformations in Consciousness, pg 150