Dreams as an Analogy for the Afterlife


     In my first post, As Above, So Below, I speculated that the afterlife might be analogous to a dream. While nobody knows for sure what happens after we die, I find the theory that the afterlife might be a form of dream intriguing. Carl Jung realized that dreams are compensatory. Our dreams inform us of the ways that we are off balance. By interpreting our dreams we can learn how to regain balance in our lives. In this way, dreams can be seen as a form of corrective measure. Many religions teach that we are either rewarded or punished after we die based upon how we behaved during our lives. If dreams and the afterlife are related, then it seems likely that the afterlife is also compensatory.
     I remember a friend of mine, a chassidic rabbi, once told me that we judge ourselves after we die. Some part of ourselves, separate from our ego, evaluates our behavior in life and decrees some form of reward or punishment to correct the soul. This could be exactly what happens in a dream. Our Self formulates a dream experience to help correct our ego. I see no reason why the afterlife should be any different. When we reincarnate or “awaken” into our next life, we will hopefully have gained wisdom from the experience. Every subsequent incarnation offers an opportunity for the further growth of the individual and the species.


As Above, So Below.


     Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Hermetic dictum, “As above, so below.” This saying has traditionally been interpreted to mean that, astrologically speaking, what occurs in the heavens is mirrored by what happens here on Earth. However, there is another interpretation favored by depth psychologists, that what occurs in a person’s mind is mirrored somehow in the circumstances and events of their outer lives. Dr. Carl Gustav Jung formulated the theory of synchronicity to explain how this phenomenon is scientifically possible. He believed that an acausal relationship can exist between two events. There is another interpretation of the above saying which I find compelling, that the macrocosm matches the microcosm. Plato believed that the universe was an organism, an animal, of sorts. There are mystical traditions associated with the Abrahamic faiths that this organism is a man, the identity of which varies among the different traditions. According to Jewish Kabbalah, this man is Adam Kadmon. Christian mystics have associated this cosmic man with Jesus. Therefore, a synchronistic relationship may exist between this larger cosmic man (who according to some traditions is a hermaphrodite, combining masculine and feminine traits) and mankind. I believe that by understanding ourselves, we can understand something about the universe and about God. I also believe that the existence of this mirroring effect can be intuited when we observe the daily life of an average human being and consider it’s relationship to the life cycle of a human being. It may be possible to infer the existence of an afterlife and reincarnation, if we understand the meaning of the pattern of daily human routines. In Sophocles’s Oedipus the King, a sphinx poses a riddle to Oedipus. “What moves upon four legs in the morning, walks on two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” Oedipus comes up with the correct answer to the sphinx’s riddle. The creature is Man. As a babe, we crawl on all fours. As an adult, we walk upright on two legs. As we age, it sometimes becomes necessary to walk with a cane. The sphinx’s riddle draws an analogy between the time of day and the stages of the human life-cycle. There seems to be a relationship between the human life-cycle and the universal aspects of the day to day activities of people. In the morning, we wake up. This is like being born. In the course of our day, we go about our lives. In the evening, we get tired. This is comparable to the infirmity that comes with old age. At night, we fall asleep. This has long been compared to dying. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet says, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…” Dreams may be a glimpse of the afterlife. Waking up the following morning is like reincarnation and the process starts all over again. This is not hard scientific proof of the existence of an afterlife or reincarnation. However, for those who can see the patterns woven throughout the fabric of reality, it is possible to discern a poetic order behind the chaos.