In 1939 Jimmy Van Heusen and Eddie De Lang wrote the enduring pop/jazz classic entitled “Darn That Dream.” A closing line of the lyrics says, “Darn that dream and bless it too.” Over the years the vast majority of my dreams have contained more “darns” than “bless it toos.”
The purpose of and the interpretation of dreams are fascinating engagements but it is other aspects of this universal phenomenon that have arrested my attention. Does the dream state vitiate our free will? Once there, what control over our thoughts and actions do we have? Can we choose not to dream, or select the topics we dream about? It seems that many of the great human qualities of mind that distinguish us from the animals are rendered useless once we are inducted into the dream state.
Where do we go while dreaming? Is it similar to an out of body experience, where the physical remains behind while our consciousness travels to new locations and meets with people never before known during our present existence? I personally have never been in the same dreamscape, the same location twice. Most of the people of my dreams are new and only occasionally are they sprinkled with the old and familiar.
Is the dream state of mind suggestive of the immortality of the soul, wherein the dreamer has departed the waking conscious state and is unaware of the physical world around him? The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments refers consistently to the “death” state as a “sleep.” Why would the authors so often, including Jesus, choose this characterization rather than bluntly state, “dead” as in non-existent?
Were the authors themselves uncertain as to the actual nature of death and therefore selecting terminology that was vague and open for various interpretations, or were they using a very accurate and understandable equivalent?