The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Sunday, May 9, 2010

DREAMS AND DREAMING: RELIGIOUS IMAGERY

The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines a dream in the following way:
'A train of hallucinatory experiences with a certain degree of coherence, but often confused and bizarre, taking place in the condition of sleep and similar conditions.'

It has been suggested that dream interpretation is like learning a new language; this is very true except that the language is actually already known to us and it is simply a matter of re-learning it. The language of dreams does have common themes and commonly accepted meanings, but just as every language has its dialects, so also does this one. Once the theme of the dream is revealed, then the various aspects can be given definition and the symbols interpreted.

Dream interpretation has a long and chequered history. Probably some of the best known dreams are those recorded in the Bible, such as the feast and famine one which was interpreted by Joseph (incidentally, Joseph must have had a great deal of insight available to him through dreams, since he was a prolific dreamer himself). Ancient peoples had great faith in prophetic or clairvoyant dreams which they called visions. They believed that these were sent by the gods as warnings and guidance. In the light of the modern day belief that many dreams come from the Higher Self, or more spiritual side of ourselves, we have come almost full circle.

Dreams have a way of introducing - or rather reintroducing - us to truths which we have long known to be. If spirituality is taken to be an inner truth, and religion as that which links us back to source, then it must be the case that religious imagery partly assists in that function of recognition. Using images that cannot be interpreted successfully in any other way reinforces the idea of spirituality being something separate in us. Because the images are so specific that they may be startling.

When the individual, through deliberate or spontaneous neglect, denies himself access to the store of religious imagery in waking life, dreams will often react to this lack and try to compensate by jolting the dreamer back into an awareness of his inner spirit. In today's society it is very easy to fasten on the hypocritical aspects of religion and to accept that hypocrisy. It is also easy to make the assumption that the outward forms of religion often deny the existence of a true inner reality. This rejection can be valid, since it is not until the individual accepts responsibility for his own existence that true spirituality emerges. If spirituality - the inner truth that we all hold - is neglected, it will not go away: it will simply reappear in its negative and terrifying form. In waking life the closest image we have to that is the Devil, or the more vengeful Indian gods. Our own personalised demons can be more frightening than those.

If we are prepared to accept that each truth will have its own personal slant, and that we must get back to the basic truth, all dreams can be interpreted from a spiritual point of view. This is especially true of religious imagery.

Christ appearing in dreams epitomises the recognition of the ability to reconcile the physical and the spiritual, God and man. He personifies Perfect Man, a state to which we all aspire. Appearing on the cross he signifies redemption through suffering. We do not need to be crucified physically to suffer.The ideal Christ is that part of ourselves which is prepared to take on our portion of the sufferings in the world by working within the world. The anarchic Christ is the part of us whose love and lust for life permit us to break through all known barriers. The Cosmic Christ is the part that is prepared to take on Cosmic Responsibility - thst is, to be connected with the Universal Truth. While these aspects have been spoken of in Christian terms, obviously they are also present in all religious figures.
(Excerpted from "The Complete Book of Dreams & Dreaming" by Pamela J. Ball - a very interesting book about dreams.)

No comments:

Post a Comment