Should your dreams be important to you or offer special messages or meanings? Have you ever wondered why you have nightly dreams, or exactly how the process happens? And what does it mean if you think you don’t dream or seldom remember your dreams? All these questions and more are answered by the great master of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda, in a unique look at the ever-fascinating subjects of dreams and dreaming.

Dreams are an endlessly fascinating topic for people of every culture, place, and time. Many books have been written on this subject. Yet, no one has addressed this topic in the same way that the great exponents of yoga have done. And no one has spoken or written on this subject with such fresh insights, clarity, and spiritual authority as one of the greatest yoga masters of recent times, Paramhansa Yogananda.

Yogananda was the first yogi from India to make his permanent residence in America. Born in 1893, Yogananda came to the United States in 1920, where he lived until his passing in 1952. In addition to lecturing and teaching extensively in the West, he wrote books and lessons on yoga teachings, meditation, and philosophy. In some of his earliest lessons he wrote about dreams, why we dream, and what our dreams mean. He did not write as someone presenting a theory about what dreaming is, but as a spiritual master—one who had experienced every level of consciousness, and who had achieved union with the Divine, as well as great knowledge of life and death. In 1948 Yogananda published his masterpiece and his most important written work, Autobiography of a Yogi, which remains, to this day, one of the most sought-after and influential books in the annals of metaphysics.

Much of the material in this book is taken from a series of lessons Yogananda wrote in the 1920s and 1930s. The author also quotes from the books, lessons, and lectures of Swami Kriyananda (1926–2013), a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and the author’s spiritual teacher for thirty-eight years. He was the founder of Ananda and its communities and centers worldwide. For nearly six decades he served Yogananda’s worldwide mission through writing, lecturing, and teaching.

Savitri Simpson

Savitri Simpson has taught classes and workshops on the chakras, yoga, meditation, and many other related topics for over 30 years. She has served as a counselor, minister, and teacher at The Expanding Light Retreat Center, where she also served as the director of the Ananda Yoga Teacher Training Program and founder/director of the Ananda Meditation Teacher Program.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Baylor University, and is the author of several books, including Chakras for Starters, Through Many Lives, Through the Chakras, and The Meaning of Dreaming. In addition to her primary devotion to yoga, meditation, and all related subjects, she is a musician, herb gardener, gourmet cook, and nature lover. She lives with her husband, Sudarshan, in a geodesic dome-home at Ananda Village, near Nevada City, California.

Introduction
1. What Science Knows About Dreaming
2. More Information About Dreaming
3. Dreaming Through the Ages
4. Where Do Our Dreams Come From?
5. Why Do We Dream?
6. How Do We Dream?
7. Ordinary Dreams vs. Superconscious Visions
8. Taking Charge of Our Dreams
9. Using Dreams to Contact Departed Loved Ones
10. Dream Interpretation and Symbols in Dreams
Conclusion
About the Author
Further Explorations

Introduction

In the first stage of my research for this book, I was astonished by the sheer number of books and articles that have been written about dreams and dreaming—thousands, or more probably, tens of thousands! There are several websites on the topic, plus chat rooms, scientific journals, magazines, and conferences, even a whole library devoted to this subject. At the time of my research, I found 6871 book titles on Amazon.com with the words dream or dreaming in the title.

The proliferation of available information on the subject suggests two things: first, dreams seem to be an endlessly fascinating topic for people of every culture, place, and time; and second, why should I attempt to write yet another book on the subject, when so much has already been written? In answer to this question, my research also helped me to see that, at least as well as I could determine, no one has addressed this topic in the same way that the great exponents of yoga have done. And, to my knowledge, no one has spoken or written on this subject with such fresh insights, clarity, and absolute authority as one of the greatest yoga masters of recent times, Paramhansa Yogananda.

Paramhansa Yogananda was the first yogi from India to make his permanent residence in America. Born in 1893, Yogananda came to the United States in 1920, where he lived until his passing in 1952. In addition to lecturing and teaching extensively in the West, he also wrote books and lessons on yoga teachings, meditation, and philosophy. In some of his earliest lessons he wrote about dreams, why we dream, and what our dreams mean. He did not write as someone presenting a theory about what dreaming is, but as a master of himself—one who had experienced every level of consciousness consciously, and who had achieved superconscious union with God, as well as power over life and death. In 1948 Yogananda published his masterpiece and his most important written work, Autobiography of a Yogi, which remains, to this day, one of the most sought-after and influential books in the annals of metaphysics.

Much of the material in this book is taken from a series of lessons Yognananda wrote in the 1920s and 1930s. Occasionally sentences, redundant in the present context, have been deleted. Sometimes words or punctuation have been changed to clarify the meaning.

In this book I also quote extensively from the books, lessons, and lectures of Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters; 1926–2013), a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and my spiritual teacher for thirty-eight years. He was the founder of Ananda Sangha and its communities and centers worldwide. For nearly six decades he served Yogananda’s worldwide mission through writing, lecturing, and teaching.

He is renowned also as a gifted author and composer. His published books number over a hundred, the best known of which are: The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda; Rays of the One Light; The Essence of Self Realization: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda; Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography; The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyaam Explained; The Hindu Way of Awakening; Hope for a Better World; God is for Everyone; Conversations with Yogananda; The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita; and Revelations of Christ.

What Is a Dream?

The word “dream” has several meanings. At night we fall asleep and dream. But we also use the words “dreaming” or “dreams” to describe things we are wishing to have happen, imaginations, or visualizations of desires. Another meaning suggests something insubstantial or not quite real. Paramhansa Yogananda often referred to “the dream nature of the universe,” explaining that the reality of the material universe is not as real or solid as we think. Most people have had the experience, even if only for a few moments, of their life and what is going on around them having a dreamlike or insubstantial quality. People who are not grounded or are vague in their approach to life are often called “dreamy” or “dreamers.”

In whatever ways we use the word, there are probably few people who have not wondered about their dreams, what they mean, or why we dream in the first place. Scientists who study sleep patterns and dream states agree that everyone dreams, even if some people say they are unable to remember their dreams. Even animals seem to dream, as evidenced by their twitching limbs, other movements, or vocalizations made while asleep. And yet this universal activity is still, in many ways, an unexplained phenomenon. This book, based on the teachings of yoga and especially those of Paramhansa Yogananda, is an attempt to demystify dreaming and what dreams mean, and to throw a new light on this everfascinating subject.

Sample Chapter
(excerpt)

Chapter Two

More Information About Dreaming

I am the prince of perpetual peace playing in a drama of sad and happy dreams on the stage of experience.
—from Metaphysical Meditations (1932 Edition) by Paramhansa Yogananda

Everybody Dreams!

One interesting question we may ask about dreaming is: “Does everyone dream?” Science agrees with the yogis that the answer is: “Yes!” Laboratory studies have shown that everyone experiences the REM state of sleep, when dreams primarily occur. Under laboratory-controlled conditions, all those who claimed to be “non-dreamers,” when awakened from REM-sleep, agreed that they were dreaming.

“What If I Don’t Remember My Dreams?”

If it is true that everyone dreams, why do some people have trouble remembering their dreams? One clue is that “non-rememberers” take much longer to awaken from sleep than those who have less trouble remembering. Perhaps this added time at the end of their sleep cycles erases their connection to what they might have been dreaming. Or perhaps it has something to do with visualization, imagination, or memory capabilities, or even the desire (or lack of it) to remember one’s dreams. Dreams are perceived as enjoyable and entertaining by some and not so by others. Some people have no difficulty in remembering several dreams nightly, whereas others recall dreams only occasionally or not at all.

Then, too, a “non-rememberer” may be the type of person who deals with his problems and challenges by denying or forgetting them—avoiding the awareness of uncomfortable emotions and desires, and practiced in forgetting them—such a person may extend this practice to dreams also, becoming an “efficient forgetter.”

“Are we all equally imaginative in our sleep, or do people who are already creative in their waking hours retain that edge at night? Much as it would be nice to think that sleep is a great democratizer, the fact is, creative types seem to have an advantage in the dream remembering process. Psychologist David Watson of Notre Dame tracked 200 subjects over three months and found that those who scored high on creativity scales when they were awake tended to remember their dreams more. ‘One reason is that they simply have more vivid and interesting dreams,’ he says. ‘That’s linked to having creative daytime behavior patterns, which shade over into the night. This is a case of the rich getting richer.’”

In any case, what happens during sleep—including dreams, thoughts that occur throughout the night, or memories of brief awakenings—is often forgotten by morning. There is something about the phenomenon of sleep which makes it difficult to remember what has occurred. Most dreams are soon forgotten unless they are quite emotionally or spiritually impactful—or are written down. Sometimes a dream is suddenly remembered later in the day or in the future, suggesting that the memory of a dream is not totally lost, just a labor to retrieve.