The human imagination . . . has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open.
I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams.
Our dreams disturb us because they refuse to pander to our fondest notions of ourselves. The closer one looks, the more they seem to insist upon a challenging proposition: You must live truthfully. Right now. And always. Few forces in life present, with an equal sense of inevitability, the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, and the demands of what we might become.
You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.
And suddenly, I understood; everything became extraordinarily clear and simple. Everything: life, death, the meaning of existence. And even stronger than this revelation was my surprise: how had no one on earth yet understood this thing, so extraordinarily simple? . . . I had the feeling that a message had been transmitted to me, that I should remember [it] so as to be able to communicate it to men. I woke up . . . with this idea in mind: not to forget what I had seen. A second later, I had forgotten.
If you compare dreams of olden times with those of our time, you will note that the basic problems have remained the same.
Rather than be confronted with an overwhelming proof of the limitations of our understanding, we accuse the dreams of not making sense.
A major problem in the development of Elias Howe’s sewing machine was the location of the eye of the needle. The inventor was rapidly running out of money and ideas when one night he had a peculiar dream. He was being led to his execution for failing to design a sewing machine for the king of a strange country. He was surrounded by guards, all of whom carried spears that were pierced near the head. Realizing instantly that this was the solution to his problem, Howe woke up and rushed straight to his workshop. By nine o’clock that morning, the design of the first sewing machine was well on the way to completion.
The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.
If someone were to tell me I had twenty years left, and ask me how I’d like to spend them, I’d reply, “Give me two hours a day of activity, and I’ll take the other twenty-two in dreams.”
One night I walked home very late and fell asleep in somebody’s satellite dish. My dreams were showing up on TVs all over the world.
All men dream — but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
I am, indeed, a practical dreamer. My dreams are not airy nothings. I want to convert my dreams into realities as far as possible.
If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep.
Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
In 1977, English professor Coleman Barks had a dream that changed his life. In the dream, he was relaxing on a riverbank near his childhood home in Georgia. A ball of light floated towards him. It contained a man with his head bowed and eyes closed, sitting cross-legged and wearing a white shawl. The man raised his head, opened his eyes, and said, “I love you.” Barks answered, “I love you, too.” Some time after this dream, he met the same figure in waking life. It was Sri Lankan holy man Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who set Barks on the path to becoming a translator of the dead mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi. Today Rumi’s books are bestsellers, largely due to Barks.