|A lucid dream can allow you to control and also shape your dreams because you 'know' that|
you are sleeping! (Artwork by Johnson Tsang)
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Lucid dreaming about Sathya Sai Baba? What does it mean?
I met a person in Singapore (let us call her Lakshmi because she doesn’t want her identity revealed) who had a very interesting experience with lucid dreaming. For those that are wondering, in a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming! In many cases, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment. Thus, the dreamer is not just a participant of the dream but also, to an extent, the controller and decider of the destinies of everyone and everything in the dream. In short, the dreamer is almost the God of the dream!
I was very keen to know more about her experiences because I felt that lucid dreaming is such a spiritual phenomenon. Vedanta says that life itself is a dream - just that one isn’t aware of it. “What better analogy to find in ‘real life’ about awakening and awareness than lucid dreaming?” I thought.
There were many interesting insights that I got from her but the most striking one was about visiting Prasanthi Nilayam and seeing Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who we lovingly call Swami.
Dream or a nightmare?
Lucid dreaming is something that one can train oneself to do and there are lots of resources on the internet on how to become a lucid dreamer. Lakshmi however, discovered that she had a natural ability to lucid-dream. (Statistics show that about 10-12% of the population has this ability naturally.) The discovery came late in life in an interesting manner.
Lakshmi would dream that she was lying on her bed with her head in the opposite direction of which she had actually slept. She would be paralyzed and stuck. And she would know that it was a dream!
“All that I have to do”, she would tell herself in her dream, “is wake up. Then this paralysis will be gone.”
A normal dreamer can only wonder at how such an experience feels. But for Lakshmi, it was very frustrating. Though she knew that the solution to her paralysis was waking up, she did not know how to wake up!
She discussed her strange plight with her family and close friends. She also received a very interesting solution.
“Lakshmi, you are getting frustrated because you don’t know how to ‘wake up’ though you are aware that you are in a dream. Don’t try to wake up. Just exploit your awareness...”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Lakshmi, a bit confused.
“Well, you know that it is a dream. Thus, you can easily convince yourself that you can walk in it. Spend time walking till you are able to wake up!”
That is precisely what Lakshmi did. The next time she turned lucid and paralysed in her dream, she didn’t try to wake herself. Instead, she got up and walked to her mother’s room. Then she came back to her bed and lay down after which she woke up. Happy to have overcome her problem, she got up to tell her mother. She walked to her mother’s room, told her and then returned to her room. She woke up again! This repeated over and over again till she finally ‘woke up truly’ and walked to her mother’s room. She half feared that she might wake up again but thankfully that didn’t happen.
Lakshmi was scared now. She thought that she was losing the ability to differenciate between the wakeful dream and sleeping dream!
That was when she came up with a modified solution. It was a dream after all and anything is possible there. Why should she walk when she could convince herself to even fly? She would enjoy some amazing dream experiences, do things that were pleasant and not possible in the waking state. That way, she would be able to separate the real dream from ‘reality’ which Swami refers to as ‘the dream of life’.
That excited Lakshmi. There are millions of people who dream of doing different things. Here, she had the opportunity to shape her dreams in a manner of her liking! Lucidity had given her the chance to ensure that she never had to tell anyone,
“I can’t do it even in my wildest dreams.”
In other words, she could choose to enjoy all that she couldn’t in her waking state. The thrill, joy and satisfaction would be as real because of her lucidity!
The journey to Sai
The next time Lakshmi felt stuck in her dream and turned lucid, aware that it was just a dream, she decided to embark on the journey to Puttaparthi!
“Let me go to Prasanthi Nilayam and have Swami’s darshan”, she resolved.
She headed to the Changi airport to catch a flight to Bengaluru. Was it the budget airline Scoot or the luxurious Singapore Airlines? Actually, it didn’t matter. Being in charge, Lakshmi was able to do everything as she wishes. She got all the comforts she wanted and travelled as fast as she liked! In almost no time, she was in a car zooming towards Prasanthi Nilayam.
Her excitement and anticipation of being in Prasanthi Nilayam and interact with Swami increased. The interesting thing to note is that this was happening in 2018, seven years after Swami had left the physical! How was Swami to be present in Prasanthi Nilayam? Well, everything is possible in a dream. In fact, that was the reason Lakshmi was banking on to do something she could never ‘dream’ of in reality - see, touch and talk to her Swami.
Something bizarre happened as she turned off the highway, getting closer to Puttaparthi. The whole dream began to collapse and her progress was impeded. The road ahead began to warp and swirl and Lakshmi was back in her bed in Singapore! She realised that she could not go to Prasanthi Nilayam or see Swami on her own volition.
Then, she woke up!
Dreams of Sai are true
In the discourse on the 24th of November, 1998, during the Valedictory function of the first Overseas Convention of Chairs of Sai Centres, when the question of dreams was posed to Swami, He answered,
"Sometimes you experience nightmares and sometimes you experience dreams that fill you with happiness. All these dreams occur because they are accumulated in your subconscious mind. It is good that they find expression in dreams. Dreams are reaction, reflection and resound of things which are within you. The same does not appear to dreams in which Swami appears. Swami appears in dreams only when He wills it and not when you want."
From my own personal experience, I know for sure that dreams of Sathya Sai are true always. I also know from the jaw-dropping experience of a disciple of Swami Sivananda that nobody can travel to Puttaparthi and have Baba’s darshan till Swami Himself wills it. This revelation from Lakshmi was a combination of the two insights.
“Nobody can visit Prasanthi Nilayam and have Sri Sathya Sai’s darshan, even in one's dreams, till He wills it!”
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