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Do dreams really have symbolic meanings?

Thanks for writing with this interesting question: What is the Urantia book's views on Dreams? In the Eckankar Religion dreams are very significant. Dreams are a door way to heaven. Is it good to keep a dream journal? Do dreams really have symbolic meanings and can lead us in the right direction?

The Urantia Book has relatively little to say about dreams...certainly not as a significant means of divining one's life purpose or plans. The revelators describe them in one place as "fantasies of the night season." The idea of dreams as significant goes way back to primitive times, as in this quote:

86:5.11 All down through the ages men have stood in awe of the apparitions of the night season, and the Hebrews were no exception. They truly believed that God spoke to them in dreams, despite the injunctions of Moses against this idea. And Moses was right, for ordinary dreams are not the methods employed by the personalities of the spiritual world when they seek to communicate with material beings.

You might want to read Paper 86, Early Evolution of Religion, where there are a fair number of references to dreams in the experience of primitive man.

But, this should not be surprising, since one can imagine the primitive mind of man, faced with a nightmare, for example...or seeing a vision of a departed family member or tribal chief. What are they to think about such a thing? Of course, it was of great significance to that mind that had no other point of reference with which to explain such things.

Nowadays, science has done a lot of research into dreams and their purpose. Here is just one sample of some of that research in Scientific American, July 2011:

"Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are. Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it. This way, the emotion itself is no longer active.  This mechanism fulfils an important role because when we don’t process our emotions, especially negative ones, this increases personal worry and anxiety. In fact, severe REM sleep-deprivation is increasingly correlated to the development of mental disorders. In short, dreams help regulate traffic on that fragile bridge which connects our experiences with our emotions and memories. "

And there is a lot more dream research out there, which you can access in a Google search, if you want to pursue it.

I have heard that keeping a dream journal is a good idea, but have never done it. It seems like it might be a good idea in order to kind of see what is down there in our subconscious mind, needing some release. I don't know whether dreams have symbolic meanings. I suppose that to the individual, they can have such meaning, if you consider this research cited above, but I would think that it would be a purely psychological significance, rather than an indication of spiritual guidance.

As far as dreams and the Thought Adjuster, The Urantia Book is clear:

100:5.6 If one is disposed to recognize a theoretical subconscious mind as a practical working hypothesis in the otherwise unified intellectual life, then, to be consistent, one should postulate a similar and corresponding realm of ascending intellectual activity as the superconscious level, the zone of immediate contact with the indwelling spirit entity, the Thought Adjuster. The great danger in all these psychic speculations is that visions and other so-called mystic experiences, along with extraordinary dreams, may be regarded as divine communications to the human mind. In times past, divine beings have revealed themselves to certain God-knowing persons, not because of their mystic trances or morbid visions, but in spite of all these phenomena.

Some people may wonder whether dreams can be a means by which the Adjuster communicates with us, but again, we are given this sobering advice:

110:5.2 Man’s dream experiences, that disordered and disconnected parade of the unco-ordinated sleeping mind, present adequate proof of the failure of the Adjusters to harmonize and associate the divergent factors of the mind of man. The Adjusters simply cannot, in a single lifetime, arbitrarily co-ordinate and synchronize two such unlike and diverse types of thinking as the human and the divine. When they do, as they sometimes have, such souls are translated directly to the mansion worlds without the necessity of passing through the experience of death.

During the slumber season the Adjuster attempts to achieve only that which the will of the indwelt personality has previously fully approved by the decisions and choosings which were made during times of fully wakeful consciousness, and which have thereby become lodged in the realms of the supermind, the liaison domain of human and divine interrelationship.

While their mortal hosts are asleep, the Adjusters try to register their creations in the higher levels of the material mind, and some of your grotesque dreams indicate their failure to make efficient contact. The absurdities of dream life not only testify to pressure of unexpressed emotions but also bear witness to the horrible distortion of the representations of the spiritual concepts presented by the Adjusters. Your own passions, urges, and other innate tendencies translate themselves into the picture and substitute their unexpressed desires for the divine messages which the indwellers are endeavoring to put into the psychic records during unconscious sleep.

It is extremely dangerous to postulate as to the Adjuster content of the dream life. The Adjusters do work during sleep, but your ordinary dream experiences are purely physiologic and psychologic phenomena. Likewise, it is hazardous to attempt the differentiation of the Adjusters’ concept registry from the more or less continuous and conscious reception of the dictations of mortal conscience. These are problems which will have to be solved through individual discrimination and personal decision. But a human being would do better to err in rejecting an Adjuster’s expression through believing it to be a purely human experience than to blunder into exalting a reaction of the mortal mind to the sphere of divine dignity. Remember, the influence of a Thought Adjuster is for the most part, though not wholly, a superconscious experience.

Click to read more about Erroneous Concepts of Adjuster Guidance

The only place I know of in TUB that tells us about a really significant dream is the one that occurred in Joseph's life HERE, when Mary first conceived Jesus.

Again, The Urantia Book points us in the right direction – the direction of using our intellects and living in the conscious, day-to-day world using the tools of faith, worship, and unselfish prayer, rather than spending a lot of time trying to figure out the meaning of our dreams.

100:5.7 In contrast with conversion-seeking, the better approach to the morontia zones of possible contact with the Thought Adjuster would be through living faith and sincere worship, wholehearted and unselfish prayer. Altogether too much of the uprush of the memories of the unconscious levels of the human mind has been mistaken for divine revelations and spirit leadings.

And, to my way of thinking, if dreams were really significant to our spiritual growth or if they could provide meaningful help in our walk with God ( a “doorway to heaven,” ), Jesus would have told us; Jesus would have demonstrated that for us. And he never did.

100:5.11 However favorable may have been the conditions for mystic phenomena, it should be clearly understood that Jesus of Nazareth never resorted to such methods for communion with the Paradise Father. Jesus had no subconscious delusions or superconscious illusions.

And in fact, Jesus at one time gave a talk on "Magic and Superstition," and in that talk, one of the points that he covered was this one:

“The interpretation of dreams is largely a superstitious and groundless system of ignorant and fantastic speculation. The gospel of the kingdom must have nothing in common with the soothsayer priests of primitive religion.”

 Thanks again for your interesting question. I hope that this reply has been helpful.

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Author: Staff