Nightmares, Karma, and the Next Life


I keep having horrible nightmares. I’ve heard that sometimes God communicates through dreams, but are all dreams from God? Is it simply karma that must be worked out? I also fear that in another life I will get very lost from being born in the mode of darkness and not remember everything I have learned.

—Mike, United States


Dear Mike,

God sometimes communicates through dreams, but if so, they are superconscious dreams, full of light, inspiration, beauty, upliftment. Horrible nightmares on the other hand come from our subconscious mind, never from God.

Yes, all our difficulties are karma which we ourselves have created, and which has to be worked out. It is best worked out by giving strength to its opposite positive quality: fill your day consciously with whatever is the antidote to your nightmares. It might be calmness, love, joy, courage, or peace. Use affirmations, songs, thoughts, your behavior, to strengthen that quality. In this way you consciously oppose this nasty “inner warrior” which causes you nightmares with the good soldiers of the soul, with its divine qualities. The good news is: the soul wins in the end, always. But it is not effortless.

You are a child of light. As you battle with these intruders, always dis-identify yourself from these nightmares and its causes: they are not you. Identify yourself instead as a son of God. “If you only knew how beautiful you are,” Yogananda told his disciples. Gold remains gold, even though buried in mud for ages. You are that gold. Go for it. Don’t let anything or anyone convince you otherwise.

Our next incarnation depends on what we do now. If you make the spiritual effort now, Sri Yukteswar said, everything in the future will improve. Don’t worry what the future life will bring, just do your best today, then tomorrow, then the next day, one step at a time. There will be victories and days of failure in the battle, ups and downs. Never mind, just keep going. You can’t go wrong this way. Many drops do make the sea.

Neither worry that your soul might not remember everything you have learned, in your next life. it does. You start exactly where you left off. But you must have learned your lessons not only in your head, but in depth, in your heart and soul. The most important lesson might be this: “I am a child of God. Error has made me suffer. Now I do my best to reflect my golden soul, in all its beauty and uniqueness. And I destroy the misery-making separation between me the great Universal Life which is God. I am homeward bound. Nothing else really matters.”

The rest will all fall in place.

In friendship on the path,

PS How many hours do you sleep at night? I have noticed that my worst dreams occur after 7 hours of sleep. In fact Yogananda recommends to not sleep more than 7 hours at night. Also eat lightly for dinner. Dreams are worse if one sleeps with heavy stomach. Avoid meat. Another thing: the last thought before falling asleep is important. Try to maintain positive thoughts (you may practice a positive affirmation then), or even better, meditate before falling asleep.