We all dream. We have dreams that drive us to achieve various goals in our lives, and we have dreams that we struggle to remember after waking up. How we relate to our dreams can vary greatly, and is often influenced by our personal religious beliefs. So what do our faiths say about our dreams, intuitions, and the concept of spiritual communication? In this report, I will explore, compare, and analyze these concepts according to the following established religions: Hinduism, Sufism, Christianity, and Native American religious practices. The purpose of this report is to synthesize all of the data as to how it aligns (or doesn’t align) with my personal belief system. Through this research, I will develop a more concrete definition and understanding of my faith.
Swami Sivananda, a Hindu Doctor turned ascetic, says this about dreams in his book, The Philosophy of Dreams: “Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like a letter written in an unknown language. To a man who does not know Chinese, a letter written in that language is a meaningless scroll. But to one who knows that language it is full of most valuable information. It may be the letter calls for immediate action; or it may contain words of consultation to one suffering from dejection. It may be a letter of threat or it may speak of love. These meanings are there only to one who would care to attend to the letter and would try to decipher it. But alas! How few of us try to understand these messages from the deep unseen oceans of our own consciousness.”
Hindus believe that we all experience dreams, and that dreams can carry a wide array of meanings. Dreams are documented in the Vedas, a holy text honored by devout Hindus. Certain symbols found in dreams are associated with everything from obtaining wealth to the birth of a child. All who follow this way of life are encouraged to commune with the Gods and to develop a deep connection to the spiritual realm. Our commitment to growing closer to the source of our dreams gives us a deeper understanding of these messages. Those who seek communion with the Supreme God will be rewarded with prophetic dreams and visions.
Sufism is often referred to as a mystical form of Islam, a school of practice that emphasizes the inward search for God and shuns materialism. Beyond the basic tenets of Islam, Sufism doesn't imply a specific set of beliefs, like the terms Sunni or Shiite. What it does suggest is a mode of practice concerned with individual spirituality. In this practice, dreams and intuitions are to be analyzed with caution. If your heart is pure and you continue diligently on the path to individual spirituality, dreams can give you connection to peace, wisdom, and joy. However, if we find ourselves consumed with earthly evils, our dreams will reflect that instead. This ties to the practice of minimalism, which is key to becoming a devout Sufi. In this faith, the understanding that material possessions can lead to jealousy, anger and other negative thinking, encourages its followers to turn from material things in exchange for a closer relationship with the divine. The idea is that each individual can determine their own spiritual future. By committing oneself to a sheikh, or spiritual leader, you journey on a path that will ultimately bring you divine peace.
Native American Religions Practices
While there is no single religion in Native American history, there are certain tenets that connect many, if not all tribes of Native Americans. The belief that all people experience dreams, and that dreams can serve a variety of purposes is a common thread in these religious practices. Dreams can predict the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, impending success or even the outcome of war. The popular Native American Dreamcatcher is a talisman used to protect people from nightmares and evil spirits that can visit us through our dreams. Since dreams come to all people as a gift from the source, distinction is found in those who possess the ability to interpret and/or control their dreams. Some tribes believe that this ability is a gift given by the divine, while others believe that this gift can be achieved through devout spiritual living. Regardless of how the gift is acquired, it is a highly valuable skill. These people are sometimes referred to as Shamans or Medicine people. Shamans and Medicine people held positions of reverence and esteem in their respective tribe. Being able to commune intentionally with spirit was seen as a gift and tool. Shamans often presided over important ceremonies in the tribe, in order to ensure that the proper spiritual connection was made between our physical world and the spiritual realm.
The belief that there is a Spirit which exists in everything, living and non-living is known as Animism. This belief is often misinterpreted as being inherently polytheistic and pagan in nature, but that is a common misconception. Many Native American tribes honor The Great Creator or Earth Mother as the source of all things. Their faith then expands to honor the spirit that Earth Mother places in all things. This can be seen in the way Native Americans honor the earth, and seek to do as little harm as possible to our planet. Native Americans have a deep connection to the spirit world, simply because they believe that the spirit world exists in everything and everyone.
The word "dream" appears in 61 verses of the Bible (KJV) for a total of 74 times. There are at least twenty detailed parables or stories about the dreams of a Biblical character. And while the evidence that dreams were a fairly regular occurrence during Biblical times is substantial; how God feels about dreams is still up for debate. In some of the more popular Bible stories about dreams, God is identified as the source of the dream, making the dream good or holy. While the purpose of the dream could vary greatly from story to story; as long as it could be confirmed that the dream came from The Lord, then all was as it should be. There is, however, another way dreams are referenced in the Bible, and the tone is in stark contrast to the holy dreams mentioned earlier. God warns his people to be leery of “false prophets” or those who claim to have heard from the Lord in asking them to rebel against their God.
As someone who was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, dreams and visions are things that I heard about, but never applied to myself/my spiritual journey. I remember preachers and prophets saying that they “had heard a word from the Lord” before they delivered a sermon. I can also recall messages warning me not to fall victim to “false prophets” who would try to lure me into sin. Without the in-depth look into the Bible that coincided with this research assignment, I doubt that my knowledge of the power of dreams and visions would have ever evolved past that rudimentary understanding.
The Religion of Self
I am a dreamer. This has been my truth for as long as I can remember. Now, I take hold of that truth and honor the power of my dreams. I believe that The Universe that lives inside of me communicates to the Great Universe (and vice versa) through my dreams, intuitions, feelings, and things that I used to refer to as, “coincidences”. I am confident that as I go deeper in my spiritual journey and practice, I will hear these communications more clearly and understand them more completely.
I am my religion and self-love is the practice that makes my faith tangible. I am my greatest dream come true. I trust my gut intuitions, and I am open to guidance from the ancestral spirits that have come before me
✌🏾 & 🤟🏾