The Interpretation of Visions
WHEN PAUL TOLD of the vision that had come to him on the way to Damascus, he said, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).
We all receive visions but we are not always obedient to them. Often our lack of obedience is caused by ignorance or by failure to realize that a vision is a leading, guiding intelligence. By visions, I mean something more than one would see in a special opening of the invisible realms. Every high aspiration, every splendid dream that we have of our possibilities — what we should like to be — is a vision. But most of our visions seem so far removed from our everyday life that we do not give them substance; we do not give them a chance because we are not obedient "unto the heavenly vision."
Obedience comes through spiritual inspiration. Man must make himself obedient. In other words, it is necessary for him to covenant with the Lord that he will be obedient. He does that in Spirit, in his meditations, in his prayers. All of us have had visions; we have had waking visions and sleeping visions. We have seen things that we could not tell to others for fear they would ridicule us. The visions that we have seen are from the Lord, and if we acknowledge those occult, hidden things as being real and in the silent recesses of our soul become obedient, we shall get something more definite; this, in turn, will lead to a clearer revelation, and soon we shall have the door open between us and our higher self.
One of the most delicate subjects that the metaphysician has to deal with is that of visions and dreams. The practical, everyday man considers them foolish, childish, and valueless. Many religionists put a like estimate on these seemingly
meaningless mental pictures. Even those who have a certain faith in visions and dreams are largely in darkness as to their real import. The reason for all this is that the realm in which dreams operate is so far removed from material consciousness that it is difficult to get a right interpretation or a right understanding of the symbols.
Spirit functions in a consciousness in which there is no limitation. It is not a place of things; it is a place of ideas. In order to connect or synchronize with the world of effects, these ideas have to be transposed, changed about entirely. If you take your dream to be what it seems literally, you will fail to understand the message. Spirit talks in ideas, which are presented to man's consciousness as shapes and forms. So when you have the vision or the dream, remember that it is through understanding its abstract or absolute character that you will get the lesson and the right interpretation. If you dream of persons or of things and think that the dreams mean the persons and the things themselves, you are not interpreting scientifically. Men become prophets and seers by seeking to know the meaning of the pictures of the mind. Today there are thousands of Bible students studying the dreams and visions that Daniel had; and yet if you should say to one of those same students, "Do you ever have dreams?" he would probably reply, "Oh, yes! I have dreams and I see things sometimes, but it is all my imagination."
In the Bible, there is evidence of an inner and an outer interpretation and relation of visions. It is plain that what is called Peter's vision was partly a dream. The narrative says that he fell into a trance. He went into what we call the silence; he was meditating and praying on the housetop. When you meditate and pray, you look toward the realm of the spiritual — not with your eyes but with your mind — and
through this looking, this directing of your attention to the spiritual, it begins to open to you. It always follows that those who look spiritually, who pray, who believe in spiritual things, have added to them this other faculty, a spiritual imagination.
The fact is that we are using this imagination all the time. It is the maker in us of forms and shapes. In contour, your body is the result of your imagination. So every time you look into the glass, you can see yourself as you appear or seem to be in your mind.
Cultivate imagination; be true to the heavenly vision. Picture in your mind continually that which you want to be and refuse to judge according to appearances. Some of our dreams pertain to the individual, and others to matters external. It is difficult sometimes to decide just where to place the dream. I find that my greatest difficulty in interpreting is to know whether the dream applies to me individually or to me as an individual related to persons and to things.
I remember that a good many years ago, when Spirit first began to lead me in dreams, I had some very definite lessons and guidance with respect to things external as well as my individual development. One night, I dreamed that I went into the bank where we were doing business and as I talked to the teller, I saw that his clothes grew shabby; I looked over to where the cashier was sitting, and his desk began to look worm-eaten, and everything grew less and less prosperous in appearance, and, all at once, the place faded away. I did not pay much attention to the dream. I was very busy at the time. I did not attempt to interpret it. After one has had a dream, he should meditate upon it and pray and ask for the interpretation. Spirit will show him. But I did not give any special attention to that dream and, a few nights
later, I dreamed that I was standing in front of the office. In the dream, I saw a large bank of dirt flying through the air; it landed with a great crash right in front of me, and out of it came a voice saying, "Now do you understand?" I thought that that was strange but still I did not understand and did not stop to inquire. In about three days after the last dream, the bank failed, and we lost all the money we had. Then I saw the warning that Spirit had twice tried to give me.
On awakening after a dream, lie perfectly still and let the various incidents drift through your mind; then see whether you can connect some of them with some matter or question that you have been considering. Reduce the dream pictures to representative factors and you will have the key to the interpretation.
Pharaoh dreamed that seven fat cattle were devoured by seven lean cattle, that seven full ears of corn were devoured by seven thin ears. Joseph told the king that these simple things represented seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine. That was the true interpretation, as the succeeding years proved, and not only Egypt, but Canaan, and the family of Joseph were all saved by this simple dream.
So you can see how, by taking advantage of these simple lessons, these ordinary dreams that you have, you may get a guidance of importance to you. The Lord uses the simplest things to confound the mighty. Visions and dreams are from the Lord more often than we think, but they need a right interpretation.
When you go to sleep, you simply quiet the outer consciousness. When the body enters into its rest, the external mind rests also. Then the mind of Spirit has its opportunity, and, in your dreams, you get its wisdom. But if you ignore the spiritual mind and fail to inquire into its symbolical
messages, it loses all hope of expressing itself, and mortality reigns supreme.
All people have visions and dreams, but there is lack of God interpretation. Nearly all people interpret from the standpoint of form and shape. They take the symbols for what they seem and fail to see the ideas back of the symbols. Joseph said that his dreams and visions were interpreted by God; all who go to the Lord for the interpretation get a lesson entirely different from that given to those who leave out the Deity. The dreamer who interprets in the name of the Lord gets a different lesson and he is growing and developing in an entirely different direction from the one who functions wholly in the intellect.