The article on dreams alluded to in the following
letter is reprinted with the desired explanatory notes for the
information of our readers:
TO THE EDITOR.
The accompanying extract is from an article in a recent issue
of Chamber's Journal. I hope you will reprint
the same and kindly give full explanations upon the following subjects:
(l) Are dreams always real? If so, what produces them;
if not real, yet may they not have in themselves some deep significance?
(2) Tell us something about our antenatal state of existence and
the transmigration of soul?
(3) Give us anything that is worth knowing about Psychology as
suggested by this article?
Your most fraternally and obediently,
Bombay, November l0, l881
To put our correspondent's request more exactly, he desires
the Theosophist to call into the limits of a column or
two the facts embraced within the whole range of all the sublunar
mysteries with "full explanations." These would embrace
(1) The complete philosophy of dreams, as deduced from
their physiological, biological, psychological and occult aspects.
(2) The Buddhist Jatakas (re-births and migrations of our
Lord Sakya-Muni) with a philosophical essay upon the transmigrations
of the 387,000 Buddhas who "turned the wheel of faith,"
during the successive revelations to the world of the 125,000
other Buddhas, the Saints, who can "overlook
and unravel the thousand fold knotted threads of the moral chain
of causation," throwing in a treatise upon the Nidhanas,
the chain of twelve causes with a complete list of their two
millions of results, and copious appendices by some Arahats,
"who have attained the stream which floats into Nirvana."
(3) The compounded reveries of the world-famous psychologists;
from the Egyptian Hermes, and his Book of the Dead;
Plato's definition of the Soul, in Timæus;
and so on, down to the Drawing Room Nocturnal Chats
with a Disembodied Soul, by Rev. Adramelech
Romeo Tiberius Toughskin from Cincinnati.
Such is the modest task proposed. Suppose we first give
the article which has provoked so great a thirst for philosophical
information, and then try to do what we can. It
is a curious case if not altogether a literary fiction:
"The writer of this article has a brother-in-law who has
felt some of his dreams to be of a remarkable and significant
character; and his experience shows that there is a strange
and inexplicable connection between such dreams and the state
of somnambulism. Before giving in detail some instances
of somnambulism as exhibited by him and also by his daughter,
I will give an account of one of his dreams, which has
been four times repeated in its striking and salient points at
uncertain periods, during the past thirty years.
He was in his active youth a practical agriculturist, but
now lives retired. All his life he has been spare of flesh,
active, cheerful, very companionable, and
not in any sense what is called a bookworm. His dream was
as follows: He found himself alone, standing in
front of a monument of very solid masonry, looking vacantly
at the north side of it, when to his astonishment,
the middle stones on the level of his sight gradually opened and
slid down one on another, until an opening was made large
enough to uphold a man. All of a sudden, a little
man, dressed in black, with a large bald head,
appeared inside the opening, seemingly fixed there by reason
of his feet and legs being buried in the masonry. The expression
of his face was mild and intelligent. They looked at each
other for what seemed a long time without either of them attempting
to speak, and all the while my brother's astonishment increased.
At length, as the dreamer expressed himself, 'The
little man in black with the bald head and serene countenance'
said: 'Don't you know me? I am the man whom you murdered
in an ante-natal state of existence; and I am waiting
until you come, and shall wait without sleeping.
There is no evidence of the foul deed in your state of human existence,
so you need not trouble yourself in your mortal life shut me again in darkness.'
"The dreamer began, as he thought, to put the
stones in their original position, remarking as he expressed
himself to the little man: 'This is all a dream of yours,
for there is no ante-natal state of existence.' The little
man who seemed to grow less and less, said: 'Cover
me over and begone.' At this the dreamer awoke.
"Years passed away, and the dream was forgotten in
the common acceptation of the term, when behold! without
any previous thought of the matter, he dreamed that he
was standing in the sunshine, facing an ancient garden-wall
that belonged to a large unoccupied mansion, when the stones
in front of it began to fall out with a gently sliding motion,
and soon revealed the self-same mysterious person, and
everything pertaining to him, including his verbal utterances
as on the first occasion, though an uncertain number of
years had passed. The same identical dream has since occurred
twice at irregular periods; but there was no change in
the facial appearance of the little man in black."
Editor's Note. We do not feel competent to pronounce
upon the merits or demerits of this particular dream. The
interpretation of it may be safely left with the Daniels of physiology
who, like W. A. Hammond, M. D., of New York, explain dreams and somnambulism as due to
an exalted condition of the spinal cord. It may
have been a meaningless, chance-dream, brought about
by a concatenation of thoughts which occupy mechanically the mind during sleep
That dim twilight of the mind,
When Reason's beam, half hid behind
The clouds of sense, obscurely gilds
Each shadowy shape that fancy builds.
when our mental operations go on independently of our conscious
Our physical senses are the agents by means of which the astral
spirit or "conscious something" within, is brought
by contact with the external world to a knowledge of actual existence;
while the spiritual senses of the astral man are the media,
the telegraphic wires by means of which he communicates with his
higher principles, and obtains therefrom the faculties
of clear perception of, and vision into, the realms
of the invisible world.1 The Buddhist philosopher
holds that by the practice of the dhyanas one may reach
"the enlightened condition of mind which exhibits itself
by immediate recognition of sacred truth, so that on
opening the Scriptures (or any books whatsoever?) their
true meaning at once flashes into the heart." [Beal's
Catena, &c., p. 255. If the first time, however, the above dream
was meaningless, the three following times it may have
recurred by the suddenly awakening of that portion of the brain
to which it was due as in dreaming, or in somnambulism,
the brain is asleep only in parts, and called into action
through the agency of the external senses, owing to some
peculiar cause: a word pronounced, a thought,
or picture lingering dormant in one of the cells of memory,
and awakened by a sudden noise, the fall of a stone,
suggesting instantaneously to this half-dreamy fancy of the sleeper
walls of masonry, and so on. When one is suddenly
startled in his sleep without becoming fully awake, he
does not begin and terminate his dream with the simple noise which
partially awoke him, but often experiences in his dream,
a long train of events concentrated within the brief space of
time the sound occupies, and to be attributed solely to
that sound. Generally dreams are induced by the waking
associations which precede them. Some of them produce such
an impression that the slightest idea in the direction of any
subject associated with a particular dream may bring its recurrence
years after. Tartinia, the famous Italian violinist,
composed his "Devil's Sonata" under the inspiration
of a dream. During his sleep he thought the Devil appeared
to him and challenged him to a trial of skill upon his own private
violin, brought by him from the infernal regions,
which challenge Tartinia accepted. When he awoke,
the melody of the "Devil's Sonata" was so vividly impressed
upon his mind that he there and then noted it down; but
when arriving towards the finale all further recollection
of it was suddenly obliterated, and he lay aside the incomplete
piece of music. Two years later, he dreamt the very
same thing and tried in his dream to make himself recollect the
finale upon awakening. The dream was repeated owing
to a blind street-musician fiddling on his instrument under the
artist's window. Coleridge composed in a like manner his
poem "Kublai Khan," in a dream, which,
on awakening, he found so vividly impressed upon his mind
that he wrote down the famous lines which are still preserved.
The dream was due to the poet falling asleep in his chair while
reading in Purcha's "Pilgrimage" the following words:
"Here, the Khan Kublai commanded a palace to be built
. . . enclosed within a wall."
The popular belief that among the vast number of meaningless dreams
there are some in which presages are frequently given of coming
events is shared by many well-informed persons, but not
at all by science. Yet there are numberless instances of
well-attested dreams which were verified by subsequent events,
and which, therefore, may be termed prophetic.
The Greek and Latin classics teem with records of remarkable dreams,
some of which have become historical. Faith in the spiritual
nature of dreaming was as widely disseminated among the pagan
philosophers as among the Christian fathers of the church,
nor is belief in soothsaying and interpretations of dreams (oneiromancy)
limited to the heathen nations of Asia, since the Bible
is full of them. This is what Eliphas Lévi,
the great modern Kabalist, says of such divinations,
visions and prophetic dreams.2
"Somnambulism, premonitions and second sights are
but a disposition, whether accidental or habitual,
to dream, awake, or during a voluntary, self-induced,
or yet natural sleep, i.e., to perceive
(and guess by intuition) the analogical reflections of the Astral
Light. . . . The paraphernalia and
instruments of divinations are simply means for (magnetic) communications
between the divinator and him who consults him: they serve
to fix and concentrate two wills (bent in the same direction)
upon the same sign or object; the queer, complicated,
moving figures helping to collect the reflections of the Astral
fluid. Thus one is enabled, at times to see in the
grounds of a coffee cup, or in the clouds, in the
white of an egg, &c., &c., fantastic
forms having their existence, but in the translucid
(or the seer's imagination). Vision-seeing in the water
is produced by the fatigue of the dazzled optic nerve,
which ends by ceding its functions to the translucid,
and calling forth a cerebral illusion, which makes
to seem as real images the simple reflections of the astral light.
Thus the fittest persons for this kind of divination are those
of a nervous temperament whose sight is meek [weak? and imagination
vivid, children being the best of all adapted for it.
But let no one misinterpret the nature of the function attributed
by us to imagination in the art of divination. We see
through our imagination doubtless, and that is the natural
aspect of the miracle; but we see actual and
true things, and it is in this that lies the marvel
of the natural phenomenon. We appeal for corroboration
of what we say to the testimony of all the adepts. . . ."
And now we give room to a second letter which relates to us a
dream verified by undeniable events.
ARE DREAMS BUT IDLE VISIONS?
TO THE EDITOR
OF THE THEOSOPHIST.
A few months ago, one Babu Jugut Chunder Chatterjee,
a Sub Deputy Collector of Morshedabad, in Bengal,
was stationed pro tem on duty at Kandi a sub-division
of the Morshedabad District. He had left his wife and children
at Berhampore, the head-quarters of the District and was
staying at Kandi with Babu Soorji Coomar Basakh (Sub-Deputy Collector
of the Sub-Division), at the residence of that gentleman.
Having received orders to do some work at a place some ten miles
off from Kandi, in the interior, Babu Jugut Chunder
made arrangements accordingly to start the next day. During
that night he dreams, seeing his wife attacked with cholera,
at Berhampore, and suffering intensely. This troubles
his mind. He relates the dream to Babu Soorji Coomar in
the morning, and both treating the subject as a meaningless
dream, proceed without giving it another thought to their respective business.
After breakfast Babu Jugut Chunder retires to take before starting
a short rest. In his sleep he dreams the same dream.
He sees his wife suffering from the dire disease acutely,
witnesses the same scene, and awakes with a start.
He now becomes anxious, and arising, relates again
dream No. 2, to Babu Soorji, who knows not
what to say. It is then decided, that as Babu Jugut
Chunder has to start for the place he is ordered to, his
friend, Babu Soorji Coomar will forward to him without
delay any letters or news he may receive to his address from Berhampore,
and having made special arrangements for this purpose, Babu Jugut Chunder departs.
Hardly a few hours after he had left, arrives a messenger
from Berhampore with a letter for Babu Jugut. His friend
remembering the mood in which he had left Kandi and fearing bad
news, opens the letter and finds it a corroboration of
the twice-repeated dream. Babu Jugut's wife was attacked
with cholera at Berhampore, on the very night her husband
had dreamt of it and was still suffering from it. Having
received the news sent on with a special messenger, Babu
Jugut returned at once to Berhampore, where immediate assistance
being given, the patient eventually recovered.
The above was narrated to me at the house of Babu Lal Cori Mukerjee,
at Berhampore, and in his presence, by Babus Jugut
Chunder and Soorji Coomar themselves, who had come there
on a friendly visit, the story of the dream being thus
corroborated by the testimony of one who had been there,
to hear of it, at a time when none of them ever thought it would be realized.
The above incident may, I believe, be regarded as
a fair instance of the presence of the ever-watchful astral soul
of man with a mind independent of that of his own physical brain.
I would, however, feel greatly obliged by your kindly
giving us an explanation of the phenomenon. Babu Lal Cori
Mukerji is a subscriber to the Theosophist and,
therefore, this is sure to meet his eye. If he remembers
the dates or sees any circumstance omitted or erroneously stated
herein, the writer will feel greatly obliged by his furnishing
additional details and correcting, if necessary,
any error, I may have made after his consulting with the party concerned.
As far as I can recollect the occurrence took place this year 1881.
NAVIN K. SARMAN
Editor's Note. "Dreams are interludes
which fancy makes," Dryden tells us; perhaps
to show that even a poet will make occasionally his muse subservient to sciolistic prejudice.
The instance as above given is one of a series of what may be
regarded as exceptional cases in dream life, the generality
of dreams, being indeed, but "interludes which
fancy makes." And, it is the policy of materialistic,
matter-of-fact science to superbly ignore such exceptions,
on the ground, perchance, that the exception confirms
the rule, we rather think, to avoid the embarrassing
task of explaining such exceptions. Indeed, if one
single instance stubbornly refuses classification with "strange
co-incidences" so much in favor with sceptics then,
prophetic, or verified dreams would demand an entire remodelling
of physiology. As in regard to phrenology, the recognition
and acceptance by science of prophetic dreams (hence the recognition
of the claims of Theosophy and Spiritualism) would, it
is contended, "carry with it a new educational,
social, political, and theological science."
Result: Science will never recognise either dreams,
spiritualism, or occultism.
Human nature is an abyss, which physiology and human science
in general, has sounded less than some who have never heard
the word physiology pronounced. Never are the high censors
of the Royal Society more perplexed than when brought face to
face with that insolvable mystery man's inner nature.
The key to it is man's dual being. It is that key that
they refuse to use, well aware that if once the door of
the adytum be flung open, they will be forced to drop one
by one their cherished theories and final conclusions more than
once proved to have been no better than hobbies, false
as everything built upon, and starting from false or incomplete
premises. If we must remain satisfied with the half explanations
of physiology as regards meaningless dreams, how account,
in such case for the numerous facts of verified dreams? To
say that man is a dual being; that in man to use the words
of Paul "There is a natural body, and there is a
spiritual body" and that, therefore, he must,
of necessity, have a double set of senses is tantamount
in the opinion of the educated sceptic, to uttering an
unpardonable, most unscientific fallacy. Yet it
has to be uttered science notwithstanding.
Man is undeniably endowed with a double set: with natural
or physical senses these to be safely left to physiology to deal
with; and, with sub-natural or spiritual senses
belonging entirely to the province of psychological science.
The Latin word "sub," let it be well understood,
is used here in a sense diametrically opposite to that given to
it in chemistry, for instance. In our case it is
not a preposition, but a prefix as in "sub-tonic"
or "sub-bass" in music. Indeed, as the
aggregate sound of nature is shown to be a single, definite
tone, a keynote vibrating from and through eternity;
having an undeniable existence per se yet possessing an
appreciable pitch but for "the acutely fine ear"3 so the definite harmony or disharmony of man's external nature is
seen by the observant to depend wholly on the character of the
keynote struck for the outer by inner man.
It is the spiritual EGO or SELF
that serves as the fundamental base, determining the tone
of the whole life of man that most capricious, uncertain
and variable of all instruments, and which more than any
other needs constant tuning; it is its voice alone,
which like the sub-bass of an organ underlies the melody of his
whole life whether its tones are sweet or harsh, harmonious
or wild, legato or pizzicato.
Therefore, we say, man, in addition to the
physical, has also a spiritual brain. If the former
is wholly dependent for the degree of its receptivity on its own
physical structure and development, it is, on the
other hand, entirely subordinate to the latter,
inasmuch as it is the spiritual Ego alone, and accordingly
as it leans more towards its two highest principles,4
or towards its physical shell that can impress more or less vividly
the outer brain with the perception of things purely spiritual
or immaterial. Hence it depends on the acuteness of the
mental feelings of the inner Ego, on the degree of spirituality
of its faculties, to transfer the impression of the scenes
its semi-spiritual brain perceives, the words it hears
and what it feels, to the sleeping physical brain of the
outer man. The stronger the spirituality of the faculties
of the latter, the easier it will be for the Ego to awake
the sleeping hemispheres, arouse into activity the sensory
ganglia and the cerebellum, and to impress the former always
in full inactivity and rest during the deep sleep of man with
the vivid picture of the subject so transferred. In a sensual,
unspiritual man, in one, whose mode of life and
animal proclivities and passions have entirely disconnected his
fifth principle or animal, astral Ego from its higher "Spiritual
Soul"; as also in him whose hard, physical
labour has so worn out the material body as to render him temporarily
insensible to the voice and touch of his Astral Soul during sleep
the brains of both these men remain in a complete state of anæmia
or full inactivity. Such persons rarely, if ever,
will have any dreams at all, least of all "visions
that come to pass." In the former, as the waking
time approaches, and his sleep becomes lighter,
the mental changes beginning to take place, they will constitute
dreams in which intelligence will play no part; his half-awakened
brain suggesting but pictures which are only the hazy grotesque
reproductions of his wild habits in life; while in the
latter unless strongly preoccupied with some exceptional thought his
ever present instinct of active habits will not permit him to
remain in that state of semi-sleep during which consciousness
beginning to return we see dreams of various kinds, but
will arouse him, at once, and without any interlude
to full wakefulness. On the other hand, the more
spiritual a man, the more active his fancy, and
the greater probability of his receiving in vision the correct
impressions conveyed to him by his all-seeing, his ever-wakeful
Ego. The spiritual senses of the latter, unimpeded
as they are by the interference of the physical senses,
are in direct intimacy with his highest spiritual principle;
and the latter though per se quasi-unconscious part of
the utterly unconscious, because utterly immaterial
Absolute5 yet having in itself inherent capabilities
of Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence which as soon
as the pure essence comes in contact with pure sublimated and
(to us) imponderable matter imparts these attributes in a degree
to the as pure Astral Ego. Hence highly spiritual
persons, will see visions and dreams during sleep and even
in their hours of wakefulness: these are the sensitives,
the natural-born seers, now loosely termed "spiritual
mediums," there being no distinction made between
a subjective seer, a neurypnological subject,
and even an adept one who has made himself independent of his
physiological idiosyncracies and has entirely subjected the outer
to the inner man. Those less spiritually endowed,
will see such dreams but at rare intervals, the accuracy
of the latter depending on the intensity of their feeling in regard to the perceived object.
Had Babu Jugut Chunder's case been more seriously gone into,
we would have learned that for one or several reasons,
either he or his wife was intensely attached to the other;
or that the question of her life or death was of the greatest
importance to either one or both of them. "One soul
sends a message to another soul" is an old saying.
Hence, premonitions, dreams, and visions.
At all events, and in this dream at least, there
were no "disembodied" spirits at work, the warning
being solely due to either one or the other, or both of
the two living and incarnated Egos.
Thus, in this question of verified dreams, as in so many
others, Science stands before an unsolved problem,
the insolvable nature of which has been created by her own materialistic
stubbornness, and her time-cherished routine-policy.
For, either man is a dual being, with an inner Ego6
in him, this Ego "the real" man, distinct
from, and independent of the outer man proportionally to
the prevalency or weakness of the material body; an Ego
the scope of whose senses stretches far beyond the limit granted
to the physical senses of man; an Ego which survives the
decay of its external covering at least for a time, even
when an evil course of life has made him fail to achieve a perfect
union with its spiritual higher Self, i.e.,
to blend its individuality with it, (the
personality gradually fading out in each case);
or the testimony of millions of men embracing several thousands
of years; the evidence furnished in our own century by
hundreds of the most educated men often by the greatest lights
of science all this evidence, we say, goes to naught.
With the exception of a handful of scientific authorities,
surrounded by an eager crowd of sceptics and sciolists,
who having never seen anything, claim, therefore,
the right of denying everything the world stands condemned as
a gigantic Lunatic Asylum! It has, however, a special
department in it. It is reserved for those, who,
having proved the soundness of their mind, must,
of necessity be regarded as IMPOSTORS and
LIARS. . . . .
Has then the phenomenon of dreams been so thoroughly studied by
materialistic science, that she has nothing more to learn,
since she speaks in such authoritative tones upon the subject?
Not in the least. The phenomena of sensation and volition,
of intellect and instinct, are, of course,
all manifested through the channels of the nervous centers the
most important of which is the brain. Of the peculiar substance
through which these actions take place a substance the two forms
of which are the vesicular and the fibrous, the latter
is held to be simply the propagator of the impressions sent to
or from the vesicular matter. Yet while this physiological
office is distinguished, or divided by Science into three
kinds the motor, sensitive and connecting the mysterious
agency of intellect remains as mysterious and as perplexing to
the great physiologists as it was in the days of Hippocrates.
The scientific suggestion that there may be a fourth series associated
with the operations of thought has not helped towards solving
the problem; it has failed to shed even the slightest ray of light on the unfathomable mystery.
Nor will they ever fathom it unless our men of Science accept
the hypothesis of DUAL MAN.
Theosophist, January, 1882
H. P. Blavatsky
1 See Editor's Note, on the letter that
follows this one "Are Dreams but Idle Visions?"
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2 Rituel de la Haute Magie. Vol.
I, p. 356-7.
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3 This tone is held by the specialists to be the middle
F of the piano. Ed. Theosophist.
4 The sixth principle, or spiritual soul,
and the seventh its purely spiritual principle, the "Spirit"
or Parabrahm, the emanation from the unconscious
ABSOLUTE (See "Fragments of Occult Truth."
October number Theosophist. 1881).
back to text
5 To this teaching every kind of exception will be
taken to the Theists and various objections raised by the Spiritualists.
It is evident, that we cannot be expected to give within
the narrow limits of a short article a full explanation of this
highly abstruse and esoteric doctrine. To say that ABSOLUTE
CONSCIOUSNESS is Unconscious of its
consciousness, hence to the limited intellect of man must
be "ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS,"
seems like speaking of a square triangle. We hope to develop
the proposition more fully in one of the forthcoming numbers of
"Fragments of Occult Truth" of which we may publish
a series. We will then prove, perhaps, to
the satisfaction of the non-prejudiced that the Absolute,
or the Unconditioned, and (especially) the unrelated
is a mere fanciful abstraction, a fiction, unless
we view it from the standpoint and in the light of the more educated
pantheist. To do so, we will have to regard the
"Absolute" mercy as the aggregate of all intelligences,
the totality of all existences, incapable of manifesting
itself but through the interrelationship of its parts,
as It is absolutely incognizable and non-existent outside
its phenomena, and depends entirely on its ever-correlating
Forces, dependent in their turn on the ONE
Great Law. Ed.
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6 Whether with one solitary Ego, or Soul,
as the Spiritualists affirm, or with several i.e.,
composed of seven principles, as Eastern esoteric[ism
teaches, is not the question at issue for the present.
Let us first prove by bringing our joint experience to bear,
that there is in man something beyond Buchner's Force and Matter. Ed.
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