Control your Dreams?
swebjunkie asked this question on 1/29/2001:
How can I control my dreams?
mscperugave this response on 1/30/2001
The joy of the Lord be in your heart.
You have posted your question on the Catholicism board so I venture to answer from the spiritual point of view.
Do you remember from the Bible that God spoke through the dreams of His chosen? Dreams recorded in Scripture are of two kinds. First, there are those consisting of the ordinary dream phenomena in which the sleeper ‘sees’ a connected series of images that correspond to events in everyday life (Gn. 40:9-17; 41:1-7). Secondly, there are dreams, which communicate to the sleeper a message from God (Gn. 20:3-7; 1 Ki. 3:5-15; Mt. 1:20-24). On occasions, there is virtually no distinction between a dream and a vision during the night (Job. 4:12f.; Acts 16:9; 18:9f.)
In interpreting dreams, the Bible distinguishes between the dream-phenomena reported by non-Israelites and by Israelites. Gentiles such as pharaoh (Gn. 41:15ff.) and his high-ranking officers (40:12f., 18f.) require Joseph to explain their dreams, and Nebuchadnezzar needs Daniel (Dn. 2:17ff.). On occasion God himself speaks and so renders human intervention unnecessary (Gn. 20:3ff.; 31:24; Mt. 2:12). But when the members of the covenant community dream, the interpretation accompanies the dream (Gn. 37:5-10; Acts 16:9f.). (Cf. The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962)
You understand that if the Lord wants to speak to you that way wanting to control your dreams wouldn't be tolerable. Are your dreams from heaven? Suppose they are. What should you do? The suggestion made by Saint John of the Cross is peremptory. Don't accept them! This seems contradictory. Isn't that going against God's will? No, it's actually a sign of humility. Saint John of the Cross argues that we are exposed quite easily to the influence of our own ambitions, concupiscence, evasions, etc. Additionally, the main instrument of temptation is suggesting thoughts. If it is God Who is speaking through your dreams He will find a way to make sure you know it's Him talking. Remember Saint John of the Cross has been declared doctor of the Church and his teaching is considered important for Catholics.
Dreams can be heaven. Many times dreams are some kind of hell. Where do these dreams come from? Psychology explains that dreams are a way of the subconscious part of your soul to integrate experiences, preoccupations, problems and neurosis. But sometimes they are only the reaction to what you thought before falling asleep. It you watch horror or x-rated movies don't be surprised if you dream about it. Why do you think that the masters of spirituality suggest you read the Bible or pray before going to bed? Conclusion: There is some control available.
However, I think we haven't considered something that is very important. A person lives on a much deeper level than according conscious, subconscious or unconscious reactions. To understand that we should pay attention to saint Paul.
Saint Paul suggests that the human constitution of a believer is body, soul and spirit. God created the last element as the layer where the encounter of God and man takes place. If this is destroyed, the damaged spirit, being the highest level of human experience, infects and corrupts the other elements. Disorders on the faith level have profound consequences. One rabbi even says that only dreams recurring on faith level are important. R. JISDA said that dreams lack importance except when you dream on the day of fasting. He said too that a bad dream is better than a good one because sadness calls you to repent. (Berakhot 55a.) What do you think of that?
Psychologists have found out and proved that 60-70% of physical sickness is caused by psychological trouble. That is the influence of the soul's power on the body.
Isn't it logical that the next higher level can have even a more powerful influence? I remember one incidence. Visiting the patients of our parish's hospital, I met an illustrious doctor who suffered terrible pain. Both the laboratories and his medical colleagues, psychologists, neurologists, etc. couldn't find the reason. Therefore, they decided to have an explorational operation in order to find the reason of all this pain. Well, the man had committed terrible sins. He confessed them to the priest of the Church and received God's forgiveness. Next day I went to see him but his hospital room was empty. I asked a nurse if he had been operated on and she told me that there hadn't been an operation. During the night, she told me, something happened because he wouldn't take the strong tranquilizers he couldn't sleep without. He felt no pain. In the morning, still the pain was gone so they sent him home awaiting possible recurrence of the illness. Well, he hasn't come back!
Dream can be alienation. Origene ( Hom. In Ez) suggests that taking refuge in dreams is a kind of escapism because you don't want to exercise your real freedom to suffer, fight and strive in order to accomplish the will of Christ in your life.
All human dimensions are infected by one global sickness, sin. In consequence, the realm of dreams can be and are the reflections of sin.
The Fathers of the desert exiled themselves from the cities in order to fight the devil in his natural habitat. They believed to be the vanguard of the Christian fighters who try to defend the Christians of the cities against temptation's assaults. The battle against idolatry is transferred from the streets of the cities into the minds and souls of the ascetic monks. An ascetic is the weapon to rebuilds the image of God in the heart of the faithful. Specifically the seven capital sins create and mass-produce idols in the heart of man be he awake be he asleep. Therefore, dreams for the monks could be verily a sign of idolatry in everyday life. What do you think about that?
By the way, isn't it a wonderful thought? Even today, the monks and nuns in the contemplative religious congregations are fighting vicariously for us so we might be able to destroy the idols of our souls and minds?
A modern author offers a fascinating thought. He expounds that modern man can't "play" anymore because everything is infected by the egotistical search of gain and consuming. He can't live anymore gratuity. Even his dreams are controlled by these categories. Humanity has to be freed from the alienating controls of utilitarian goals and has to be trained in order to live in freedom.
It's a secular way to express what the fathers of the desert knew 1500 years before. If you can't look beyond human desire you will dream awful and limited things because humanity hasn't invented neither goodness neither beauty nor real love. Moreover, the mind is inclined toward the bad from youth. That's in the Bible.
Therefore, we conclude that dreams reflect the endeavor of the person. If you live in Christian hope, you'll have dreams that reflect this hope.
"Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. DREAM that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.[St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3.]"
Get the trend? You dream what you are and what you want to be.
St. John Chrysostom suggests a dream to young husbands. They should say to their wives: "I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent DREAM is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.... I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you" [St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. 20, 8: PG 62, 146-147].
Hear ye, hear ye oh married people!
You can remain on a psychological level and you will get some insights about the inner workings of your soul and perhaps about dreams. However, wise men and women inspired by the Holy Spirit throughout history have discovered many of the mysteries of human soul. They have found out that people's desires and outlook shape the inner man. If you enter into the unlimited world of faith, you will have the unlimited dreams of a saint. You too! But why not? Nevertheless, at the same time you'll have to be vigilant about what you think, wish, and do. Because even the just fall seven times a day. Read the Fathers' of the deserts apothegmatic sayings. So much wisdom!
You have to consider that the salvation begins deep down in your person. Don't you think that your being transformed into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit will make a new person restored to health and happiness at the unconscious and subconscious level?
Read St. Paul (Eph 2): " 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
Now, at last, I can answer your question.
There is a simple way to acquire a control over your dreams.
Become a saint!