Dreams - What They Are and How They Are Caused

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Dreams - What They Are and How They Are Caused

By C. W. Leadbeater

The Condition of Sleep

Clairvoyant observation bears abundant testimony to the fact that when a man falls into a deep slumber the higher principles in their astral vehicle almost invariably withdraw from the body and hover in its immediate neighbourhood. Indeed, it is the process of this withdrawal which we commonly call 'going to sleep'. In considering the phenomena of dreams, therefore, we have to bear in mind this re-arrangement, and see how it affects both the ego and his various mechanisms.

In the case we are to examine, then, we assume that our subject is in deep sleep, the physical body (including that finer portion of it which is often called the etheric double) lying quietly on the bed, while the ego, in its astral body, floats with equal tranquility just above it. What, under these circumstances, will be the condition and the consciousness of these several principles?


When the ego has thus for the time resigned the control of his brain, it does not therefore become entirely unconscious, as one would perhaps expect. It is evident from various experiments that the physical body has a certain dim consciousness of its own, quite apart from that of the real self, and apart also from the mere aggregate of the consciousness of its individual cells.

The writer has several times observed an effect of this consciousness when watching the extraction of a tooth under the influence of gas. The body uttered a confused cry, and raised its hands vaguely towards the mouth, clearly showing that it to some extent felt the wrench; yet when the ego resumed possession twenty seconds later, he declared that he had felt absolutely nothing of the operation. Of course I am aware that such movements are ordinarily attributed to 'reflex action', and that people are in the habit of accepting that statement as though it were a real explanation — not seeing that as employed here it is a mere phrase and explains nothing whatever.

This consciousness then, such as it is, is still working in the physical brain although the ego floats above it, but its grasp is, of course, far feebler than that of the man himself, and consequently all those causes which were mentioned above as likely to affect the action of the brain are now capable of influencing it to a very much greater extent. The slightest alteration in the supply or circulation of the blood now produces grave irregularities of action, and this is why indigestion, as affecting the flow of the blood, so frequently causes troubled sleep or bad dreams.

But even when undisturbed, this strange, dim consciousness has many remarkable peculiarities. Its action seems to be to a great extent automatic, and the results are usually incoherent, senseless, and hopelessly confused. It seems unable to apprehend an idea except in the form of a scene in which it is itself an actor, and therefore all stimuli, whether from within or without, are forthwith translated into perceptual images. It is incapable of grasping abstract ideas or memories as such; they immediately become imaginary percepts. If, for example, the idea of glory could be suggested to that consciousness, it could take shape only as a vision of some glorious being appearing before the dreamer; if a thought of hatred somehow came across it, it could be appreciated only as a scene in which some imaginary actor showed violent hatred towards the sleeper.

Again, every local direction of thought becomes for it an absolute spatial transportation. If during our waking hours we think of China or Japan, our thought is at once, as it were, in those countries; but nevertheless we are perfectly aware that our physical bodies are exactly where they were a moment before. In the condition of consciousness which we are considering, however, there is no discriminating ego to balance the cruder impressions, and consequently any passing thought suggesting China and Japan could image itself only as an actual, instantaneous transportation to those countries, and the dreamer would suddenly Find himself there, surrounded by as much of the appropriate circumstance as he happened to be able to remember.

It has often been noted that while startling transitions of this sort are extremely frequent in dreams, the sleeper never seems at the time to feel any surprise at their suddenness. This phenomenon is easily explicable when examined by the light of such observations as we are considering, for in the mere consciousness of the physical brain there is nothing capable of such a feeling as surprise — it simply perceives the pictures as they appear before it; it has no power to judge either of their sequence or of their lack of that quality.

Another source of the extraordinary confusion visible in this half-consciousness is the manner in which the law of the association of ideas works in it. We are all familiar with the wonderful instantaneous action of this law in waking life; we know how a chance word — a strain of music — even the scent of a flower — may be sufficient to bring back to the mind a chain of long-forgotten memories.

Now in the sleeping brain this law is as active as ever, but it acts under curious limitations; every such association of ideas, whether abstract or concrete, becomes a mere combination of images; and as our association of ideas is often merely by synchronism, as of events which, though really entirely unconnected, happened to us in succession, it may readily be imagined that the most inextricable confusion of these images is of frequent occurrence, while their number is practically infinite, as whatever can be dragged from the immense stores of memory appears in pictorial form. Naturally enough a succession of such pictures is rarely perfectly recoverable by memory, since there is no order to help in recovery — just as it may be easy enough to remember in waking life a connected sentence or a verse of poetry, even when heard only once, whereas without some system of mnemonics it would be almost impossible to recollect accurately a mere jumble of meaningless words under similar circumstances.

Another peculiarity of this curious consciousness of the brain is, that while singularly sensitive to the slightest external influences, such as sounds or touches, it yet magnifies and distorts them to an almost incredible degree. All writers on dreams give examples of this, and, indeed, some will probably be within the knowledge of everyone who has paid any attention to the subject.

Among the stories most commonly told is one of a man who had a painful dream of being hanged because his shirt-collar was too tight; another man magnified the prick of a pin into a fatal stab received in a duel; another translated a slight pinch into the bite of a wild beast. Maury relates that part of the rail at the head of his bed once became detached and fell across his neck, so as just to touch it lightly; yet this trifling contact produced a terrible dream of the French Revolution, in which he seemed to himself to perish by the guillotine.

Another writer tells us that he frequently awoke from sleep with a confused remembrance of dreams full of noise, of loud voices and thunderous sounds, and was entirely unable for a long time to discover their origin; but at last he succeeded in tracing them to the murmurous sound made in the ear (perhaps by the circulation of the blood) when it is laid on the pillow, much as a similar but louder murmur may be heard by holding a shell to the ear.

It must by this time be evident that even from this bodily brain alone there comes enough confusion and exaggeration to account for many of the dream phenomena; but this is only one of the factors that we have to take into consideration.


It will be obvious that this part of the organism, so sensitive to every influence even during our waking life, must be still more susceptible when in the condition of sleep. When examined under these circumstances by a clairvoyant, streams of thought are seen to be constantly sweeping through it — not its own thoughts in the least, for it has of itself no power to think — but the casual thoughts of others which are always floating round us.

Students of occultism are well aware that it is indeed true that 'thoughts are things', for every thought impresses itself upon the plastic elemental essence and generates a temporary living entity, the duration of whose life depends upon the energy of the thought-impulse given to it. We are therefore living in the midst of an ocean of other men's thoughts, and whether we are awake or asleep, these are constantly presenting themselves to the etheric part of our brain.

So long as we ourselves are actively thinking and therefore keeping our brain fully employed, it is practically impervious to this continual impingement of thought from without; but the moment that we leave it idle, the stream of inconsequent chaos begins to pour through it. Most of the thoughts sweep through unassimilated and almost unnoticed, but now and then one comes along which reawakens some vibrations to which the etheric part of the brain is accustomed; at once that brain seizes upon it, intensifies it, and makes it its own; that thought in turn suggests another; and so a whole train of ideas is started, until eventually it also fades away, and the disconnected, purposeless stream begins flowing through the brain again.

The vast majority of people, if they will watch closely what they are in the habit of calling their thoughts will find that they are very largely made up of a casual stream of this sort — that in truth they are not their thoughts at all, but simply the cast-off fragments of other people's. For, the ordinary man seems to have no control whatever over his mind; he hardly ever knows exactly of what he is thinking at any particular moment, or why is he thinking of it; instead of directing his mind to some definite point, he allows it to run riot at its own sweet will, or lets it lie fallow, so that any casual seed cast into it by the wind may germinate and come to fruition there.

The result of this is that even when he, the ego, really wishes for once to think consecutively on any particular subject, he finds himself practically unable to do so; all sorts of stray thoughts rush in unbidden from every side, and since he is quite unused to controlling his mind, he is powerless to stem the torrent. Such a person does not know what real concentrated thought is; and it is this utter lack of concentration, this feebleness of mind and will, that makes the early stages of occult development so difficult to the average man. Again, since in the present state of the world's evolution there are likely to be more evil thoughts than good ones floating around him, this weakness lays him open to all sorts of temptations which a little care and effort might have avoided altogether.

In sleep, then, the etheric part of the brain is even more than usually at the mercy of these thought-currents, since the ego is, for the time, in less close association with it. A curious fact brought out in some recent experiments is that when by any means these currents are shut out from this part of the brain, it does not remain absolutely passive, but begins very slowly and dreamily to evolve pictures for itself from its store of past memories. An example of this will be given later, when some of these experiments are described.


As before mentioned, it is in this vehicle that the ego is functioning during sleep, and it is usually to be seen (by anyone whose inner sight is opened) hovering over the physical body on the bed. Its appearance, however, differs very greatly according to the stage of development which the ego to which it belongs has reached. In the case of the entirely uncultured and undeveloped person it is simply a floating wreath of mist, roughly ovoid in shape, but very irregular and indefinite in outline, while the figure within the mist (the denser astral counterpart of the physical body) is also vague, though generally recognizable.

It is receptive only of the coarser and more violent vibrations of desire, and unable to move more than a few yards away from its physical body; but as evolution progresses, the ovoid mist becomes more and more definite in outline, and the figure within it more and more nearly a perfect image of the physical body beneath it. Its receptivity simultaneously increases, until it is instantly responsive to all the vibrations of its plane, the finer as well as the more ignoble; though in the astral body of a highly-developed person there would naturally be practically no matter left coarse enough to respond to the latter.

Its power of locomotion also becomes much greater; it can travel without discomfort to considerable distances from its physical encasement, and can bring back more or less definite impressions as to places which it may have visited and people whom it may have met. In every case this astral body is, as ever, intensely impressionable by any thought or suggestion involving desire, though in some the desires which most readily awaken a response in it may be somewhat higher than in others.


Though the condition in which the astral body is to be found during sleep changes largely as evolution takes place, that of the ego inhabiting it changes still more. Where the former is in the stage of the floating wreath of mist, the ego is practically almost as much asleep as the body lying below him; he is blind to the sights and deaf to the voices of his own higher plane, and even if some idea belonging to it should by chance reach him, since he has no control over his mechanism, he will be quite unable to impress it upon his physical brain so that it may be remembered upon waking. If a man in this primitive condition recollects anything at all of what happens to him during sleep, it will almost invariably be the result of purely physical impressions made upon the brain either from within or from without — any experience which his real ego may have had being forgotten.

Sleepers may be observed at all stages, from this condition of all but blank oblivion, up to full and perfect consciousness on the astral plane, though this latter is naturally comparatively rare. Even a man who is sufficiently awake to meet not infrequently with important experiences in this higher life, may yet be (and often is) unable so far to dominate his brain as to check its current of inconsequent thought-pictures and impress upon it instead what he wishes it to recollect; and thus when his physical body awakes he may have only the most confused memory, or no memory at all, of what has really happened to him. And this is a pity, for he may meet with much that is of the greatest interest and importance to him.

Not only may he visit distant scenes of surpassing beauty, but he may meet and exchange ideas with friends, either living or departed, who happen to be equally awake on the astral plane. He may be fortunate enough to encounter those who know far more than he does, and may receive warning or instruction from them, he may, on the other hand, be privileged to help and comfort some who know less than himself. He may come into contact with non-human entities of various kinds — with nature-spirits, artificial elementals, or even, though very rarely, with Devas; he will be subject to all kinds of influences, good or evil, strengthening or terrifying.

His transcendental measure of time

But whether he remembers anything when physically awake or not, the ego who is fully or even partially conscious of his surroundings on the astral plane is beginning to enter into his heritage of powers which far transcend those he possesses down here; for his consciousness when thus liberated from the physical body has very remarkable possibilities. His measure of time and space is so entirely different from that which we use in waking life, that from our view it seems as though neither time nor space existed for him.

I do not wish here to discuss the question, intensely interesting though it be, as to whether time can be said really to exist, or whether it is but a limitation of this lower consciousness, and all that we call time — past, present and future alike — is 'but one eternal Now'; I wish only to show that when the ego is freed from physical trammels, either during sleep, trance or death, he appears to employ some transcendental measure of time which has nothing in common with our ordinary physiological one. A hundred stories might be told to prove this fact; it will be sufficient if I give two — the first a very old one (related, I think, by Addison in "The Spectator"), the other an account of an event which happened but a short time ago, and has never before appeared in print.

Illustrative examples of it

It seems that in the Koran there is a wonderful narrative concerning a visit paid one morning by the prophet Mohammed to heaven, during which he saw many different regions there, had them all very fully explained to him, and also had numerous lengthy conferences with various angels; yet when he returned to his body, the bed from which he had risen was still warm, and he found that but a few seconds had passed — in fact, I believe the water had not yet all run out from a jug which he had accidentally overturned as he started on the expedition!

Now Addison's story runs that a certain sultan of Egypt felt it impossible to believe this, and even went to the impolitic length of bluntly declaring to his religious teacher that the tale was a falsehood. The teacher, who was a great doctor learned in the law, and credited with miraculous powers, undertook to prove on the spot to the doubting monarch that the story was, at any rate, not impossible. He had a large basin of water brought, and begged the sultan just to dip his head into the water and withdraw it as quickly as he could.

The king accordingly plunged his head into the basin, and to his intense surprise found himself at once in a place entirely unknown to him — on a lonely shore, near the foot of a great mountain. After the first stupefaction was over, what was probably the most natural idea for an oriental monarch came into his head — he thought he was bewitched, and at once began to execrate the doctor for such abominable treachery. However, time passed on; he began to get hungry, and realized that there was nothing for it but to find some means of livelihood in this strange country.

After wandering about for some time, he found some men at work felling trees in a wood, and applied to them for assistance. They set him to help them, and eventually took him with them to the town where they lived. Here he resided and worked for some years, gradually amassing money, and at length contrived to marry a rich wife. With her he spent many happy years of wedded life, bringing up a family of no less than fourteen children, but after her death he met with so many misfortunes that he at last fell into want again, and once more, in his old age, became a wood-porter.

One day, walking by the sea-side, he threw off his clothes and plunged into the sea for a bath; and as he raised his head and shook the water from his eyes, he was astounded to find himself standing among his old courtiers, with his teacher of long ago at his side, and a basin of water before him. It was long — and no wonder — before he could be brought to believe that all those years of incident and adventure had been nothing but one moment's dream, caused by the hypnotic suggestion of his teacher, and that really he had done nothing but dip his head quickly into the basin of water and draw it out again.

This is a good story, and illustrates our point well, but, of course, we have no proof whatever as to its truth. It is quite different, however, with regard to an event that happened only the other day to a well-known man of science. He unfortunately had to have two teeth removed, and took gas in the ordinary way for that purpose. Being interested in such problems as these, he had resolved to note very carefully his sensations all through the operation, but as he inhaled the gas, such a drowsy contentment stole over him that he soon forgot his intention and seemed to sink into sleep.

He rose next morning, as he supposed, and went on with his regular round of scientific experiment, lecturing before various learned bodies, etc., but all with a singular sense of enhanced power and pleasure — every lecture being a remarkable achievement, every experiment leading to new and magnificent discoveries. This went on day after day, week after week, for a very considerable period, though the exact time is uncertain; until at last one day, when he was delivering a lecture before the Royal Society, he was annoyed by the unmannerly behaviour of some one present, who disturbed him by remarking, It's all over now'; and as he turned round to see what this meant, another voice observed, 'They are both out'. Then he realized that he was still sitting in the dentist's chair, and that he had lived through that period of intensified life in just forty seconds!

Neither of these cases, it may be said, was exactly an ordinary dream. But the same thing occurs constantly in ordinary dreams, and there is again abundant testimony to show it.

Steffens, one of the German writers on the subject, relates how when a boy he was sleeping with his brother, and dreamed that he was in a lonely street, pursued by some dreadful wild beast. He ran on in great terror, though unable to cry out, until he came to a staircase, up which he turned, but being exhausted with fright and hard running, was overtaken by the animal, and severely bitten in the thigh. He awoke with a start, and found that his brother had pinched him on the thigh.

Richers, another German writer, tells the story of a man who was awakened by the firing of a shot, which yet came in as the conclusion of a long dream, in which he had become a soldier, had deserted and suffered terrible hardship, had been captured, tried, condemned, and finally shot — the whole long drama being lived through in the moment of being awakened by the sound of the shot. Again, we have the tale of the man who fell asleep in an armchair while smoking a cigar, and after dreaming through an eventful life of many years, awoke to find his cigar still alight. One might multiply authenticated cases to any extent.

His power of dramatization

Another remarkable peculiarity of the ego, in addition to his transcendental measure of time, is suggested by some of these stories, and that is his faculty, or, perhaps, we should rather say his habit, of instantaneous dramatization. It will be noticed in the cases of the shot and the pinch which have just been narrated, that the physical effect which awakened the person came as the climax to a dream apparently extending over a considerable space of time, though obviously suggested in reality entirely by that physical effect itself.

Now the news, so to speak, of this physical effect, whether it be a sound or a touch, has to be conveyed to the brain by the nerve-threads, and this transmission takes a certain space of time — only a minute fraction of a second, of course, but still a definite amount which is calculable and measurable by the exceedingly delicate instruments used in modern scientific research. The ego, when out of the body, is able to perceive with absolute instantaneity without the use of the nerves, and consequently is aware of what happens just that minute fraction of a second before the information reaches his physical brain.

In that barely-appreciable space of time he appears to compose a kind of drama or series of scenes, leading up to and culminating in the event which awakens the physical body; and when after waking he is limited by the organs of that body, he becomes incapable of distinguishing in memory between the subjective and the objective, and therefore imagines himself to have really acted through his own drama in a dream state.

This habit, however, seems to be peculiar to the ego which, as far as spirituality goes, is still comparatively undeveloped; as evolution takes place, and the real man slowly comes to understand his position and his responsibilities, he rises beyond these graceful sports of his childhood. It would seem that just as primitive man casts every natural phenomenon into the form of a myth, so the unadvanced ego dramatizes every event that comes under his notice; but the man who has attained continuous consciousness finds himself so fully occupied in the work of the higher planes that he devotes no energy to such matters, and therefore he dreams no more.

His faculty of prevision

Another result which follows from the ego's supernormal method of time-measurement is that in some degree prevision is possible to him. The present, the past, and, to a certain extent, the future lie open before him if he knows how to read them; and he undoubtedly thus foresees at times events that will be of interest or importance to his lower personality, and makes more or less successful endeavours to impress them upon it.

When we take into account the stupendous difficulties in his way in the case of an ordinary person — the fact that he is himself probably not yet even half awake, that he has hardly any control over his various vehicles, and cannot, therefore, prevent his message from being distorted or altogether overpowered by the surgings of desire, by the casual thought-currents in the etheric part of his brain, or by some slight physical disturbance affecting his denser body — we shall not wonder that he so rarely fully succeeds in his attempt. Once, now and again, a complete and perfect forecast of some event is vividly brought back from the realms of sleep; far more often the picture is distorted or unrecognizable, while sometimes all that comes through is a vague sense of some impending misfortune, and still more frequently nothing at all penetrates the body.

It has sometimes been argued that when this prevision occurs it must be mere coincidence, since if events could really be foreseen they must be fore-ordained, in which case there can be no free-will for man. Man, however, undoubtedly does possess free-will; and therefore, as remarked above, prevision is possible only to a certain extent. In the affairs of the average man it is probably possible to a very large extent, since he has developed no will of his own worth speaking of, and is consequently very largely the creature of circumstances; his karma places him amid certain surroundings, and their action upon him is so much the most important factor in his history that his future course may be foreseen with almost mathematical certainty.

When we consider the vast number of events which can be but little affected by human action, and also the effects, it will scarcely seem wonderful to us that on the plane where the result of all causes at present in action is visible, a very large portion of the future may be foretold with considerable accuracy even as to detail. That this can be done has been proved again and again, not only by prophetic dreams, but by the second-sight of the Highlanders and the predictions of clairvoyants; and it is on this forecasting of effects from the causes already in existence that the whole scheme of astrology is based.

But when we come to deal with a developed individual — a man with knowledge and will — then prophecy fails us, for he is no longer the creature of circumstances but to a great extent their master. True, the main events of his life are arranged beforehand by his past karma; but the way in which he will allow them to affect him, the method by which he will deal with them, and perhaps triumph over them — these are his own, and they cannot be foreseen except as probabilities. Such actions of his in their turn become causes, and thus chains of effects are produced in his life which were not provided for by the original arrangement, and, therefore, could not have been foretold with any exactitude.

An analogy may be taken from a simple experiment in mechanics: if a certain amount of force be employed to set a ball rolling, we cannot in any way destroy or decrease that force when once the ball has started, but we can counteract or modify its actions by the application of a fresh force in a different direction. An equal force applied to the ball in exactly the opposite direction will stop it entirely; a lesser force so applied will reduce its speed; any force applied from either side will alter both its speed and its direction.

So with the working out of destiny. It is clear that at any given moment, a body of causes is in action which, if not interfered with, will inevitably produce certain results — results which on higher planes would seem already present, and could therefore be exactly described. But it is also clear that a man of strong will can, by setting up new forces, largely modify these results; and these modifications could not be foreseen by any ordinary clairvoyance until after the new forces had been set in motion.

Examples of its use

Two incidents which recently came to the knowledge of the writer will serve as excellent illustrations both of the possibility of prevision and also of its modification by a determined will. A gentleman whose hand is often used for automatic writing one day received in that way a communication professing to come from a person whom he knew slightly, in which she informed him that she was in a great state of indignation and annoyance because, having arranged to give a certain lecture, she found no one in the hall at the appointed time, and was consequently unable to deliver her discourse.

Meeting the lady in question a few days later and supposing the letter to refer to a past event, he condoled with her on the disappointment, and she remarked with great surprise that what he told her was certainly very odd, as, though she had not yet delivered her lecture, she was to do so the following week, and she hoped the letter might not prove a prophecy. Unlikely as such an event seemed, the account written did prove to be a prophecy; no one attended at the hall, the lecture was not delivered, and the lecturer was much annoyed and distressed, exactly as the automatic writing had foretold. What kind of entity inspired the writing does not appear, but it was evidently one who moved on a plane where prevision was possible; and it may really have been, as it professed to be, the ego of the lecturer, anxious to break the disappointment to her by preparing her mind for it on this lower plane.

If it were so, it will be said, why should he not have influenced her directly? He may very well have been quite unable to do this, and the sensitivity of her friend may have been the only possible channel through which he could convey his warning. Roundabout as this method may seem, students of these subjects are well aware that there are many examples in which it is evident that means of communication such as are here employed are absolutely the only ones available.

On another occasion the same gentleman received in the same way what purported to be a letter from another feminine friend, relating a long and sad story from her recent life. She explained that she was in very great trouble, and that all the difficulty had originally arisen from a conversation (which she gave in detail) with a certain person, by means of which she was persuaded, much against her own feeling, to adopt a particular course of action. She went on to describe how, a year or so later, a series of events directly attributable to her adoption of this course of action ensued, culminating in the commission of a horrible crime, which had for ever darkened her life.

As in the previous case, when next the gentleman met the friend from whom the letter was supposed to come, he told her what it had contained. She knew nothing whatever of any such story, and though she was greatly impressed by its circumstantiality, they eventually decided that there was nothing in it. Some time later, to her intense surprise, the conversation foretold in the letter actually took place, and she found herself being implored to take the very course of action to which so disastrous an ending had been foreshadowed. She would certainly have yielded, distrusting her own judgement, but for the memory of the prophecy; having that in mind, however, she resisted in the most determined manner, even though her attitude caused surprise and pain to the friend with whom she was talking. The course of action indicated in the letter not being followed, the time of the predicted catastrophe naturally arrived and passed without any unusual incident.

So it might have done in any case, it may be said. Perhaps so; and yet, remembering how exactly that other prediction was fulfilled, one cannot but feel that the warning conveyed by this writing probably prevented the commission of a crime. If that be so, then here is a good example of the way in which our future may be altered by the exercise of a determined will.

His symbolic thought

Another point worth notice in relation to the condition of the ego when out of the body during sleep is that he appears to think in symbols — that is to say, that what down here would be an idea requiring many words to express, is perfectly conveyed to him by a single symbolical image. Now when such a thought as this is impressed upon the brain, and so remembered in the waking consciousness, it of course needs translation. Often the mind duly performs this function, but sometimes the symbol is recollected without its key — comes through untranslated, as it were; and then confusion arises.

Many people, however, are quite in the habit of bringing the symbols through in this manner, and trying to invent an interpretation down here. In such cases, each person seems usually to have a system of symbology of his own. Mrs Crowe mentions, in her "Night Side of Nature" (p.54), 'a lady who, whenever a misfortune was impending, dreamt that she saw a large fish. One night she dreamt that this fish had bitten two of her little boy's fingers. Immediately afterwards a school-fellow of the child's injured those two very fingers by striking him with a hatchet. I have met with several persons who have learnt by experience to consider one particular dream as a certain prognostic of misfortune.' There are, however, a few points upon which most of these dreamers agree — as, for example, that to dream of deep water signifies approaching trouble, and that pearls are a sign of tears.


Having thus examined the condition of man during sleep, we see that the factors which may be concerned in the production of dreams are:

1. The ego, who may be in any state of consciousness from almost utter insensibility to perfect command of his faculties, and as he approximates to the latter condition, enters more and more fully into possession of certain powers transcending any that most of us possess in our ordinary waking state.

2. The astral body, ever palpitating with the wild surgings of emotion and desire.

3. The etheric part of the brain, with a ceaseless procession of disconnected pictures sweeping through it.

4. The lower physical brain, with its infantile semi consciousness and its habit of expressing every stimulus in pictorial form.

When we go to sleep our ego withdraws further within himself, and leaves his various encasements freer to go their own way than they usually are; but it must be remembered that the separate consciousness of these vehicles, when they are thus allowed to show it, is of a very rudimentary character. When we add that each of these factors is then infinitely more susceptible of impression from without even than it ordinarily is, we shall see small cause to wonder that the recollection on waking, which is a sort of synthesis of all the different activities which have been going on, should generally be somewhat confused. Let us now, with these thoughts in our minds, see how the different kinds of dreams usually experienced are to be accounted for.



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