Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. -Numbers 12:6
Dear Members and Friends of the SF Swedenborgian Church,
On average, a person spends one-third of their life asleep. During this nightly 6- to 8-hour timespan, we experience something quite fantastic called dreaming. This dreamstate occurs during the several hours of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep we undergo each night. Even if we cannot remember our dreams or claim to never dream at all, REM sleep confirms we all share this experience. Though we may not know precisely why we dream, it’s well-documented that we all do it regardless.
When we do remember our dreams, they can often be wild or troubling, begging for interpretation or a desire for real-world meaning and application. Dreams are especially important in the stories in the Old Testament. In Numbers (roughly 1440 BC – 1400 BC), it is even specified by God, “I speak to them in dreams.” Yet, by the time of Jeremiah (627 BC – 580 BC), God tells the Israelites, “do not listen to the dreams that they dream.” This points to two things: 1. People in biblical times believed that while dreaming, our spirits are capable of touching and communicating with spiritual beings, God in particular; 2. The very nature of dreams defies the ability for one to authenticate them beyond belief in the honesty of the dreamer.
It is certainly a very hard thing to discern the meaning of a dream that you may or may not remember. But if you are willing to learn a few things from the ancients, especially the Israelites, you might want to begin by paying attention what it means to sleep. For the ancients, sleeping was not just for rest, but also for possible contact with spiritual beings, especially God. When it happens properly, a spiritual dream means that you have obtained some wisdom that can be beneficial to you. This insight can help you avoid a coming danger or even give meaning and purpose to your life! In other words, a life-changing experience might be waiting for you right within your sleep every night. Since we all dream, the challenge comes not in the possibility of having such an experience, but in being receptive to the experience when it does happen. So how can we make ourselves receptive?
If we think of our mind like the attic of a house, we can fill it up or clean it out as we desire. If the attic is stuffed full and cluttered, we have little room left to add anything new. But if we take the time to periodically organize and clean it out, we can have potentially unlimited space. So to be receptive to spiritual wisdom through our dreams, we must first clean ourselves physically and mentally and empty out all the stuff that preoccupies our mind! In order to receive and contain something that is from God, we must provide a proper space – our mind – that is clean and spacious.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee