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RATIONAL USE OF DREAMS.
“ Thus guided, many a haughty man veils his actual feel. ings beneath the demeanour of courtesy and humility, and many a coward speaks bold words in a brave tone.
“But while dreaming, this potent monitor has no longer any influence over us. We, therefore, dream, not according to our factitious, but according to our real nature.
"Perhaps it will be urged that, admitting all that we have said to be correct and irrefragable, it is still somewhat difficult to see what use can be derived from a knowledge of it.
“We are of opinion that many a ruined and criminal man might have derived a saving use from it. By observing our dreams, by pondering upon those bad qualities which they, so to speak, accuse us of possessing, and by increasing our watchfulness over those particular qualities, and abstaining as far as possible from anything which can by possibility arouse them into action, we may obtain such a mastery over ourselves as will save us from vice and its consequent misery, contrition, and disgrace. This is the only rational and virtuous purpose with which we can take note of our nightly visions; and
good and rational man cannot make even the shadow of an objection. Contrariwise, it is greatly to be commended, as being one stimulus to all good, and to forbear from the commission of evil.”—“On Dreaming,” Pinnock's Guide to Knowledge, December 26, 1835.
to this purpose
DREAMS DEPENDENT ON HABIT.
“Plutarch, endeavouring to show how we may know if we have acquired the habit and perfection of virtue, points out twelve ways, one of which is that of dreams. If even in your dreams, he says, you have no idea but what is right and proper, or if, when others come upon you, you find that even in your sleep you struggle like a valiant soldier to resist them as strenuously as if you were awake,-it is a sign that virtue is deeply rooted in you; because not only the will, but even
the imagination and the senses, are made subject to reason. This agrees with the explanation of some authors on the passage of St. Paul in Thessalonians (1 Thess. v. 10), that not only when we are awake, but even when asleep, our thoughts should always be flowing in the same current, and directed towards the same end. So Aristotle says, that when a man is master of any trade or art, he can so easily put it into practice that he has no occasion to wait and think how he should set about it; and all philosophers hold that habit appears not in the actions performed with reflection and care, but in those done upon the spur of the moment, without having any leisure allowed us for deliberation and circumspection. It is spontaneous behaviour that evinces the instinctive habit of the mind and heart. Hence it follows that we are as responsible for our dreams as for our waking thoughts,-just as much so as, we are told, we shall be for every idle word ał the great tribunal. For the nature of our dreams is determined by the gloss or tone of mind which we cultivate, indulge in, or abandon ourselves to; so that, whether sleeping, waking, or dreaming, a man's life is nothing else than a dramatic personification of his innate or acquired ideas, or in other words, it is his mind in deed. The phantoms of the night reappear as the motives of his conduct in the day, in the same manner as the deeds of the past day rise up in judgment against him in the fitful visions of the night. Accordingly, the masters of the spiritual life have taken occasion to prescribe rules to their disciples concerning the proper manner of composing themselves to sleep, their manner of sleeping, and the manner of their dress, the kind of thoughts wherewith they should entertain themselves as they close their eyes, what they should do if they could not sleep, and how they should recollect themselves upon first awaking in the morning; for they justly concluded that in no moment of his life should a good man ever neglect himself, or permit his great enemy, Death, to steal upon him unawares.' - Journal of Psychological Medicine, vol. ii., July, 1849.
AN ENIGMA AND ITS SOLUTION.
PHASES OF DREAMS.
“We must now trace some curious phases of dreams which result from partial fatigue of the brain, and when there is a state of complete sleep of the organs of the intellectual faculties and moral attributes, and an undue activity of the animal propensities. We admit that it is true in some measure, that dreams are modified by the pursuits of men, and by the natural character of individuals, although the latter is not always the case. And hence it will answer one of the objects of this essay, to explain an important physiological fact, and one which is too important to pass by unnoticed, but which must not be regarded as counteracting any of our preceding views,-it may be considered an exception,-it is, however, valuable for not confounding the accidental thoughts of a dream, as indicating the moral condition of men; and it furnishes important data to prove that pious and worthy people would do well to study the mental laws, for some of the best persons may dream of things and actions which disgust their waking consciousness, and in their sleep may perform actions which may excite a sense of horror that, under any circumstances, they could entertain such horrible conceptions.
“The solution of this enigma is simple and easy, and, so far as inductive reasoning is to be depended upon, almost as satisfactory as if it could be actually demonstrated. When persons have been much engaged during the whole day on subjects which require the continued exercise of the intellectual and moral attributes, they may induce so much fatigue and exhaustion of those powers, that in their sleep. to their subsequent sorrow and surprise, they may have the most sensual and most vicious dreams! And they may on awakening, under the violence of their own impressions, marvel at the fact that such should have been the case, as they had, even though tired, addressed the Lord with prayers for his manifold
WILFULNESS OF DREAMS.
mercies and sustaining powers, as manifested during their respective occupations. And they may perfectly recollect that, prior to closing their eyes in sleep, they had not entertained any impure associations, nor had occupied their thoughts with any reflections on the criminal condition of different members of the community.
“On the contrary, they may remember that they had calmly looked back on a well-spent day, and, strongly impressed with one idea, that they might be permitted to continue their labours of usefulness with a renovated mind and body on the ensuing morning. And yet under this state of mind, and with such inclinations, nevertheless scenes of the most polluted kind, and actions the most depraved, haunt the dreamy thoughts. Now all this occurs from a non-observance of the Creator's laws. Such
have sustained an undue exercise of the intellectual and moral powers, so as to induce intense fatigue in them, while the animal propensities had remained in a state of comparative inactivity. These latter powers (the animal propensities) being wide awake, they, in their turn, manifest greater energy in consequence, whilst the intellect revives imperfect impressions. Acting with the animal propensities, these revel as if under their respective stimuli; and hence the debased and brutalized dreams which result.
“Had the intellectual attributes been more active and vigorous, they would have constrained in some degree the vagrant thoughts; but from their being in a dormant condition, they cease to act as 'the board of control,' and therefore the propensities indicate the greatest excess ;-memory furnishing a variety of incidents either read or spoken of, whilst fancy aids in fanning the overstrained energy of the feelings - manifest their blind and impulsive condition, as when acting from the stimulation of real occurrences. These explanations furnish satisfactory data to explain the whole phenomena.
“In saying these things we may still admire the wisdom
TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS.
of Zeno, which induced him to regard a dream as a test of virtue. For he thought (according to Plutarch) that if, in a dream, a mau's heart did not recoil from vicious suggestions, there was an immediate necessity for self-examination and repentance.
“If our explanation is correct—and numerous facts could be cited to render this obvious—we demur at anything like actual responsibility for any thoughts which may actually occur in our dreams under the circumstances indicated. Even should our normal mental condition be shocked or disgusted that any
such notions should have been entertained with all the vividness of reality, and though we repudiate any criminal responsibility from these visions of sleep, yet we, nevertheless, think that such dreams should be heeded. And if they occur involuntarily, we should begin to ascertain the cause, and endeavour to regulate in a better way both our mental faculties and the functions of the body. We should study the profound laws of God, by which we should ensure corporeal health and sanity of mind. We should recognize the importance of being temperate in all things, and therefore avoid giving way to excess, even in sustaining the most elevated and spiritual thoughts; that the exercise would then be natural, and in every instance invigorating and beneficial; for it is an indisputable truth that when we regulate our varied powers, without excess of any hind, we ensure refreshing sleep, undisturbed by dreamy visions of any kind, and our lives would then be useful to others, agreeable to ourselves, and ensure a lasting satisfaction.”—Journal of Psychological Medicine, vol. x., January, 1857.