Dreams and Spirituality

“Are you sure you want to share your dream with us in public? And withyour family here? “

This was what the speaker half-jokingly asked a participant of a well-attended public lecture on dreams and spirituality, emphasizing the personal nature of dreams.

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Dreams are also one way of God communicating to people, said Lucito de Jesus, wholeness and peace advocate, professor, student counselor and host of a radio program on dreams.  .

 De Jesus, whose first name literally means Little Light, was the speaker of  the Institute for Spirituality (ISA) during the monthly forum held on July 9, 2016 at the Titus Brandsma Center. .

He cited a number of Biblical characters who had dreams which helped family, friends and even nations. For one, the Pharaoh was warned of famine in Egypt by Joseph (made popular bythe Broadway hit “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Coat”).

De Jesus told the audience of the forum, “Dreams are to be discerned so that we can listen to God’s message. One of the premises about dreams and spirituality is that dreams are given for our healing and wholeness. A dream is a gift to be opened, used and cherished, and is more powerful when seen as a question rather than as a question.”

According to de Jesus, the purpose of dreams is to bring us to consciousness. He mentioned aids to such a discernment: dream work; time, rhythm and Emptiness, listening and  meditating;  spiritual guides, asking about God’s will or a Higher Will; and conscience, the small voice within us.

De Jesus also discussed how Hebrew Scripture classified dreams – as a revelation of God  (which may or may not need interpretation); as a symbol; and as foretelling the future event (prognostication).

He named a number of Biblical dreams, including that of Jacob who saw a stairway reaching the heavens with angels ascending and descending it and with God on the very top.

The dream foretells of the wandering from and the  eventual return of the Jews to Israel when God told Jacob, “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying, and your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out … All people will be blessed through your offspring. I will watch over you wherever you go and I will bring you back to this land…”

Thesame dream foretells of a new nation, as when God himself renamed Jacob as Israel “because you have struggled with God and with men but you have overcome.” 

In the case of Joseph, he received the skill to interpret dreams so that he could warn the Pharaoh about famine. He spared Egypt seven years of famine which devastated the land of  his brothers, who had envied him for his coat of many colors and sold him to slavery. But he forgave them, asked them to fetch their father, and invited them all to stay with him in safety.

De Jesus said that there was a time when the Church viewed dreams as an affirmation of God’s voice. But in the fourth and fifth centuries, dreams became associated with evil when St. Jerome (who translated into Latin the Greek and Hebrew Bible) mis-translated the Hebrew word anan (which means witchcraft, soothsaying and predicting from omens or augury) to “observing dreams”.

For his part St. Gregory the Great  (born 549) –  the last great Doctor of the Church of the early Church –  carried the affirmative attitude of the early Church towards dreams and visions  in his book Dialogues,  only to reverse himself in a second version.

Both saints, said de Jesus about this bit of history, “seemed to choose faith and doctrine, a more rational approach to God, over ongoing direct experience of God’s revelations through dreams and dreamwork.” 

Dreamwork involves analysis and interpretation. Here, De Jesus mentioned dream dictionaries, analysis and interpretation, symbolic association, cause and effect theory, and relational approaches such as active imagination, theological approaches, dialoguing with the figures in a dream, and God’s eyes.

 God is also present in symbols which capture profound statements, such as visions which are numinous and filled with a sense of the presence of the Divine and the Holy.

De Jesus quoted A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis by Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter and Fred Plau in defining a symbol as an unconscious invention in answer to a conscious problematique and as an expression of something intensely alive – one might say “stirring” in the soul.

What is also important to remember is how a symbol is expressed in unique and individual terms as it partakes of a universal imagery (e.g. flowing water = life).

Symbols are useful when reflected upon and related to.  In this way, they can be seen as aspects of  those images that control, order and give meaning to our lives. They come from archetypes which find more full expression as symbols

De Jesus referred to Dreams and Spiritual Growth by Savary, Berne and Kaplan-Wilkes for six consequences for spiritual growth in making a commitment to one’s destiny (which is defined as “what God and Life wants of me”), one’s journey (which is composed of destiny, quest (“what I want from God and Life”) and one’s fate (“what seems inevitable in my life”).

The third of six consequences is: “I seek to improve my relation to God/source of my destiny and my call.” And the sixth is “I choose to accept as fully as possible the fruits of my commitment as expressed in increased vitalityand meaning, and representing God’s purpose on Earth .”

De Jesus ended histalk with techniques for awakening the will –“Choose your spiritual ideal” is one -.and with guide questions for discerning dreams.

One such question is: What would be a more desirable behavior, attitude  or circumstance thatyou/God  had wished to evolve  in the dream? How would you wantto make it evolve? #

Perla Choudhury