THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 11, September, 1938
(Pages 510-512; Size: 10K)


THE principal character in a currently playing drama describes life as a lighted room, and pointing to the darkness outside, suggests that perhaps some time we will know what lies "out there."

We go "out there" every night of our lives, and at death we apparently leave the "lighted room" permanently. The possibility of knowing, while conscious in a body, what exists beyond the narrow horizon of waking existence, is pre-eminently a Theosophical conception. No one can endow us with this power; it comes by no favor from God or Gods, but like all of our knowledge, it is the result of observation and experience. The fact that we spend some of our time in another state than the familiar waking existence is undeniable. This leads to the question: Have we any recollection of the experience?

Some of our dreams are just that -- a recollection of experiences beyond the world of sense perception. But what of those dreams believed to be merely the result of organic disorder, such as dreams of falling, which investigators assert are caused by difficulty in respiration or heart action? What of the nightmares produced by over-eating and similar physiological disturbances? The explanations offered by modern psychologists are (a) that they are simply reflex action produced in the matter of the brain by external stimuli, and (b) that where they have a significance, they are produced by temporary release of psychological inhibitions, allowing primary instincts and memory to have full sway. But if any circumstance in the experience we call dreaming cannot be accounted for under these hypotheses, some other explanation must be sought. We may consider, for example, the Theosophical proposition that there is in man a thinking entity independent of the body and brain.

The theory that dreams are entirely reflex action suffers from the fact that they frequently have definite meaning. Literature and history are full of instances of prophetic dreams. Again, many have dreamt solutions to problems beyond their ordinary mental capacities. Neither prevision nor the creative thought of the latter case would be possible if dreams were simply the product of the mechanical excitation of brain material. Both are a form of mental action transcending mere neural activity.

The second theory to account for dreams is that, inhibitions being removed, "sub-conscious" memory and instinct cast the images which are seen. Certainly both instinct and memory have much to do with subjective experience, but can they explain prevision or creative imagination? What, according to psycho-analytical theory, departs in sleep, leaving the subject "uninhibited," susceptible to irrational or "forbidden" dream situations? This last question is extremely important; in fact it exposes the basic weakness in Freud's method or theory, causing the entire structure to fall to the ground.

There is something in the human being which strives to govern his instincts and his body. Theosophy says that "something" is the MAN. Its presence in the human-animal vehicle explains those mental and moral qualities which make the great gap between the highest animal and the lowest man. Its partial release from the animal vehicle each night causes the body to go to sleep; its final desertion of the body eventually brings physical death. That "something" is the Soul -- "the Man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike."

This teaching, ignorantly regarded by the materialist as a superstitious fancy, is nevertheless supported by all the facts which he so laboriously endeavors to fit into the conception that consciousness is the product of form.

Theosophy teaches that there is one Power common to all manifested beings -- the Power to Perceive. Itself eternal, limitless, a perfect unity, this power is exhibited in terms of infinite diversity through individual forms which are themselves aggregations of other smaller living units or "beings." There must be, then, some primal aspect of this Power, as it exists in an unmodified state. This we may call Consciousness, as contrasted with particular modes of being conscious. Consciousness is, whether manifested or not -- independent of all form. Man is not only a Conscious-Perceiver, but is aware that he is such. This makes him a Self-Conscious Individuality, the Trinity of Atma-Buddhi-Manas(1), which the Theosophist calls the Real Man. The vehicles which this Real Man uses are made up of congeries of Conscious-Perceivers -- the "lives" -- entities in which self-awareness is potential.

Man, therefore, as a spiritual being, does not depend upon vehicles for his real existence, but only utilizes them for perception on the various planes of being. But on any plane, he is obliged to use the vehicle peculiar to it for all perception there. This makes Man dependent upon his brain for the recollection, while awake in a body, of the experiences he has undergone on other planes of being.

It now becomes clear why our waking remembrance of what we call dreams usually presents to us a mixture of half recollected experiences. Reflex mechanical action, excitation of latent memories and instincts in the brain of the physical man during the absence of the Ego, are facts; but such theories neglect altogether the Soul's life on its own plane -- inner experiences which are partially impressed on the brain when the latter instrument is not of too coarse a fibre, not too overlaid with other impressions to record them.

Many people say they do not dream, yet everyone knows what is meant when the word "dream" is mentioned. "Dreaming," according to Theosophy, is for every human being the portal into that self-knowledge which gives certainty, in or out of a body, that we are self-conscious Perceivers. If one has not himself had the experience of a prophetic dream, or of an allegorical vision (which at a future period assumed a significance out of all proportion to the details in which it was remembered), he can at least satisfy himself that such dreams do occur by referring to the extensive literature of well-attested experiences of this kind.

Once we recognize that man is the inhabitant, not the product, of the body, the power of remembering more and more of our nightly experiences can be cultivated. As Job discovered, "In dreams and visions of the night is man instructed." According to H.P.B., "It is by cultivating the power of what is called 'dreaming' that clairvoyance is developed." This power is not produced by having others analyze our dreams, nor is it the result of any sort of "occult" practice, but is to be acquired by eliminating those habits of life and thought which "inhibit" the voice of the Soul and deafen the waking mind to its injunctions. Since the pictures presented by the senses and the animal instincts are most vivid when we are fully identified with the body during waking life, it is apparent that the more we become detached and are able to control them while awake, the less the purely reflex and instinctual imagery of the sense world will obtrude into the brain-mind of the sleeping body. The real man is then able to "bring through" his knowledge to this plane, and when "the old soul takes the road again" to waking life on earth, it does not suffer exile from his own land.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


O brother, know for certain that this work has been before thee and me in bygone ages, and that each man has already reached a certain stage. No one has begun this work for the first time. 


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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesn't paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Atma-Buddhi-Manas" means Spirit-Intuition-Mind: the immortal Triad -- the Eternal Pilgrim, the Higher Self, the Reincarnating Ego, what and who we really are: an Eternal Thinker, in or out of a physical body.
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