Why and How Do We Dream?

Question

Greetings gurudev,

Yogananda says that we go to astral world when we sleep, only we are not aware of it. Does it mean that a soul leaves the body at night? Do we experience temporary death? My question is that what causes dreams? And what is the soul doing throughout the night?

Waiting for your reply.

—pushkar, india

Answer

Dear Pushkar,

Paramhansa Yogananda explains that when we are asleep and dreaming, we are more fully inhabiting our astral bodies. There are also times during deepest sleep, he says, when we are in semi-superconsciousness.

No, the soul does not leave the body at night. Until we reach final liberation and oneness with God (Nirbakalpa Samadhi) we remain encased three bodies: causal, astral, and material.

Yogananda describes and explains these three bodies very carefully in Autobiography of a Yogi.

No we do not experience temporary death in sleep. The soul is the same night or day, whether we are asleep or awake, dead or alive. The soul is the part of us which is a part of God. The ego is the soul identified with the body (or 3 bodies) and is what we deal with most commonly. But someday the ego (little self) and the soul (Higher Self) will merge and we will reclaim our full awareness of our oneness with God. This is our absolute destiny — it just may take a while and a few more incarnations to get there.

Nightly dreams, Yogananda explains, happen to us for two reasons: 1) to instruct and to entertain us, and 2) to teach us that ultimately, all of life is a dream. Most nightly dreams are of the entertainment variety, wherein the subconscious mind simply weaves memories and thoughts into a kind of mental movie.

However, occasionally we may experience a superconscious vision or dream, which will have an important message for us to know about. The trick is to know the difference. Deep, daily meditation will help you to determine that.

I have written a book called The Meaning of Dreaming by Savitri Simpson, in which I compiled all of Yogananda’s teachings on what dreams really are and exactly why we dream. You might enjoy reading it! It is available at www.crystalclarity.com or at www.amazon.com.