The dream state is common to all people. Some persons say they never dream, but upon examination it will be found they have had one or two dreams and that they meant only to say their dreams were few. It is doubtful whether the person exists who never has had a dream. But it is said that dreams are not of importance; that they are due to blood pressure, or to indigestion, or to disease, or to various causes. They are supposed to be unimportant because, looking at them from the utilitarian view-point, no great use is seen to follow. Yet there are many who always make use of their dreams, and history, both secular and religious, is not without records of benefit, of warning, of instruction from the dream. The well-known case of Pharaoh's dream of lean and fat kine which enabled Joseph as interpreter to foresee and provide against a famine represents a class of dream not at all uncommon. But the utilitarian view is only one of many.
Dreams show conclusively that although the body and brain are asleep — for sleep begins primarily in the brain and is governed by it — there is still active a recollector and perceiver who watches the introspective experience of dreaming. Sorrow, joy, fear, anger, ambition, love, hate, and all possible emotions are felt and perceived in dreams. The utility of all this on the waking plane has nothing to do with the fact of perception. Time is measured therein, not according to solar division but in respect to the effect produced upon the dreamer. And as the counting of this time is done at a vastly quicker rate than is possible for the brain, it follows that some person is counting. In all these dreams there is a recollection of the events perceived, and the memory of it is carried into the waking state. Reason and all the powers of intelligent waking man are used in dreams; and as emotion, reasoning, perception, and memory are all found to be even more active in dreams than in waking life, it must follow that the Hidden Self is the one who has and does all this.
The fanciful portion of dreams does not invalidate the position. Fancy is not peculiar to dreaming; it is also present in waking consciousness. In many people fancy is quite as usual and vivid as with any dreamer. And we know that children have a strong development of fancy. Its presence in dream simply means that the thinker, being liberated temporarily from the body and the set forms or grooves of the brain, expands that ordinary faculty. But passing beyond fancy we have the fact that dreams have prophecy of events not yet come. This could not be unless there exists the inner Hidden Self who sees plainly the future and the past in an ever present.
Waking clairvoyance cannot now be denied. Students of Theosophy know it to be a faculty of man, and in America its prevalence is such as to call for no great proof. There is the clairvoyance of events past, of those to come, and of those taking place.
To perceive events that have taken place in which the clairvoyant had no part nor was informed about, means that some other instrument than the brain is used. This must be the Hidden Self. Seeing and reporting events that subsequently transpire gives the same conclusion. If the brain is the mind, it must have had a part in a past event which it now reports, either as actor or as hearer from another who was present, but as in the cases cited it had no such connection as actor, then it follows that it has received the report from some other perceiver. This other one is the Hidden Self, because the true clairvoyant case excludes any report by an eye-witness.
Then again, when the clairvoyant is dealing with an event presently proceeding at a distance, it is necessary that a perceiver who recollects must be present in order to make report. For the brain and its organs of sight and hearing are too far off. But as the clairvoyant does report correctly what is going on, it is the other Hidden Self who sees the event, bridges the gap between it and the brain, and impresses the picture upon the bodily organs.
The Feeling of Identity
If recollection is the basis for the feeling of identity continuous throughout life, and if brain is the only instrument for perception, then there is an inexplicable series of gaps to be accounted for or bridged over, but admitting the Hidden Self no gaps exist.
We are born feeling that we are ourself, without a name, but using a name for convenience later on. We reply to challenge by saying "It is I" — the name following only for convenience to the other person. This personal identity remains although we fall asleep each night and thus far become unconscious. And we know that even when a long period is blotted out of memory by fall, blow, or other accidental injury, the same feeling of identity crosses that gap and continues the same identical "I" to where memory again acts. And although years of life with all their multiplicity of events and experience have passed, leaving but a small amount of recollection, we yet know ourselves as that unnamed person who came to life so many years before. We do not remember our birth nor our naming, and if we are but a bundle of material experience, a mere product of brain and recollection, then we should have no identity but constant confusion. The contrary being the case, and continuous personal identity being felt and perceived, the inevitable conclusion is that we are the Hidden Self and that Self is above and beyond both body and brain.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE