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Op-Ed

Who doesn’t Dream or have Dreams?

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By EMN Updated: Aug 25, 2013 1:14 am
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Jack T. Chakhesang

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll forms of dreaming are universal to all communities in the world. They say that to fulfill your dreams, you need to see them first. So what are dreams?
Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. A dream can include any of the images, thoughts and emotions that are experienced during sleep. Dreams can be extraordinarily vivid or very vague; filled with joyful emotions or frightening imagery; focused and understandable or unclear and confusing.

ANGAMI NAGA VERSION OF
DREAMS AND SIGNIFICANCE
Since Chakhesangs are part of the Tenyimia groups of Nagas, I start with what is available in my arsenal. For Angamis, the second dreaming is the favourite and the best. The Angamis have almost a science of dreaming, and it is practiced in particularly by old women, who take fees for dreaming.
On payment of the fee prevalent at the time, the woman foretells the result of a hunting expedition, a trading venture, or whatever it be that her client proposes to do. However, in the question of hunting, the taking of omens is a must.
These dream-women have most repute for their prophecies in the case of hunting, but every huntsman has also his own dreams, and their dreamings have a curious way of coming true. All kinds of dreams have different meanings and their interpretations depend on the type of culture that they have been inculcated in. And dreams are regarded as important for any occasion that is to ensue.
It stands to reason, therefore, that for any occasion be it festival, wedding, hunting, pulling a bridge or erecting a monolith, war, et al, certain rituals like killing mithuns, bulls, chickens etc and which the village Animist priest follows in strict accordance in the days prior to Christianity.
And yet, Christians still accept these because Animism has been in our veins since as far back as we can remember and no amount of education or better religion can afford to totally ignore such. And such rituals are frowned by the Christian Church although some sort of assimilation has been adjusted in recent years.

ONEIROLOGY—STUDY OF DREAMS
Dreams have been a topic of scientific speculation and a subject of philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called Oneirology. Scientists believe that birds, reptiles, and other mammals also dream. Surely God has blessed them accordingly!
Dreams can last for a few seconds, or as long as 20 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep.
The average person has three to five dreams per night, but some may have up to seven dreams in one night. The dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, two hours of it is spent dreaming.

MEANING OF DREAMS
Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and culture. Dream interpretations date back to 5000–4000 BC. The earliest recorded dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5,000 years, in Mesopotamia. These were documented on clay tablets.
In the Greek and Roman periods, the people believed that dreams were direct messages from the gods or from the dead, and that they predicted the future. Some cultures practiced dream incubation with the intention of cultivating dreams that are prophetic.

FREUD’S VERSION OF DREAMS
Sigmund Freud (pronounced Froid) who developed the discipline of psychoanalysis, wrote extensively about dream theories and interpretations. He explained dreams as manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions.
In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud developed a psychological technique to interpret dreams and devised a series of guidelines to understand the symbols and motifs that appear in our dreams.
Sigmund Freud born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis. In his later work Freud drew on psychoanalytic theory to develop a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.
Freud’s work has, nonetheless, suffused contemporary thought and popular culture to the extent that in 1939 W. H. Auden wrote, in a poem dedicated to him: “to us he is no more a person / now but a whole climate of opinion / under whom we conduct our different lives.”
Therefore, pursuing dreams do not just mean realization of goals and aspirations. But also have the power to inspire scientific breakthrough.

ANCIENT HISTORY OF DREAMS
The Dreaming is a common term within the Animist creation narrative of indigenous Australians for a personal, or group, creation and for what may be understood as the “timeless time” of formative creation and perpetual creating.
The Sumerians in Mesopotamia left evidence of dreams dating back to 3100 BC. According to these early recorded stories, gods and kings, like the 7th century BC scholar-king Assurbanipal, paid close attention to dreams. In his archive of clay tablets, some amounts of the story of the legendary king Gilgamesh were found.
The Mesopotamians believed that the soul, or some part of it, moves out from the body of the sleeping person and actually visits the places and persons the dreamer sees in their sleep. Sometimes the god of dreams is said to carry the dreamer. Babylonians and Assyrians divided dreams into “good,” which were sent by the gods, and “bad,” sent by demons – They also believed that their dreams were omens and prophecies.
In ancient Egypt, as far back as 2000 BC, the Egyptians wrote down their dreams on papyrus. People with vivid and significant dreams were thought blessed and were considered special. Ancient Egyptians believed that dreams were like oracles, bringing messages from the gods.
They thought that the best way to receive divine revelation was through dreaming and thus they would induce (or “incubate”) dreams. Egyptians would go to sanctuaries and sleep on special “dream beds” in hope of receiving advice, comfort, or healing from the gods.

CLASSICAL HISTORY
In Chinese history, people wrote of two vital aspects of the soul of which one is freed from the body during slumber to journey a dream realm, while the other remained in the body, although this belief and dream interpretation had been questioned since early times, such as by the philosopher Wang Chong (27-97).
The Indian text Upanishads, written between 900 and 500 BC, emphasize two meanings on dreams. The first says that dreams are merely expressions of inner desires. The second is the belief of the soul leaving the body and being guided until awakened.
The Greeks shared their beliefs with the Egyptians on how to interpret good and bad dreams, and the idea of incubating dreams. Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams also sent warnings and prophecies to those who slept at shrines and temples. The earliest Greek beliefs of dreams were that their gods physically visited the dreamers, where they entered through a keyhole, and exiting the same way after the divine message was given.
Antiphon wrote the first known Greek book on dreams in the 5th century BC. In that century, other cultures influenced Greeks to develop the belief that souls left the sleeping body. Hippocrates (469-399 BC) had a simple dream theory: during the day, the soul receives images; during the night, it produces images.
Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC) believed dreams caused physiological activity. He thought dreams could analyze illness and predict diseases. Marcus Tullius Cicero, for his part, believed that all dreams are produced by thoughts and conversations a dreamer had during the preceding days.
In Judaism, dreams are considered part of the experience of the world that can be interpreted and that lessons can be garnered from. It is discussed in the Talmud, Tractate Berachot.
The ancient Hebrews connected their dreams heavily with their religion, though the Hebrews were monotheistic and believed that dreams were the voice of one God alone. Hebrews also differentiated between good dreams (from God) and bad dreams (from evil spirits).
The Hebrews, like many other ancient cultures, incubated dreams in order to receive divine revelation. For example, the Hebrew prophet Samuel, would “lie down and sleep in the temple at Shiloh before the Ark and receive the word of the Lord.” Most of the dreams in the Bible are in the Book of Genesis.
Christians mostly shared their beliefs with the Hebrews and thought that dreams were of the supernatural element because the Old Testament had frequent stories of dreams with divine inspiration. The most famous of these dream stories was Jacob’s dream that stretched from Earth to Heaven. Many Christian men preached that God talked to his people through their dreams.
According to Iain R. Edgar, dreams play an important role in the history of Islam and the lives of Muslims. Dream interpretation, is the only way that Muslims can receive revelations from God after the death of the last Prophet Mohammed.

DREAMS AND PHILOSOPHICAL REALISM
Some philosophers have concluded that what we think of as the “real world” could be or is an illusion, an idea known as the skeptical hypothesis about ontology.
The first recorded mention of the idea was by Zhuangzi, and it is also discussed in Hinduism, which makes extensive use of the argument in its writings. It was formally introduced to Western philosophy by Descartes in the 17th century in his Meditations on First Philosophy. Stimulus, usually an auditory one, becomes a part of a dream, eventually then awakening the dreamer.

DREAMS OF THE WIVES OF
PILATE AND JULIUS CAESAR
During the last week of the 40-day Lent ending in the tragedy (or bkessing) of Good Friday, Pontius Pilate’s wife herself advised him to have nothing to with that “holy man.” Instead, Pontius Pilate chose to wash his hands in public in an attempt to absolve himself from taking the life of Jesus Christ. He ended his life in obscurity in Spain.
A few decades before him, the wife of Julius Caesar also had a dream wherefore she pleaded with him not to go to the Senate that day because she dreamt of dark clouds and so on. Being Caesar himself, Julius could not accept the warnings from his wife’s dreams on the basis that as a man he would attend the Senate meeting.
The result? He was stabbed 23 times by those who he thought were his closest supporters. But what broke his heart was the betrayal of Brutus in his assassination in 44 B.C.
So, never belie women’s dream–sometimes, at least.

MARTIN LUTHER’S DREAM
Martin Luther’s famous speech “I have a Dream” at Washington on August 20, 1963 has now been accepted as a classic speech. His prime concern and objective was equality for all Americans be they, white, blac, Latin or other coloureds. He was fortunate that this was during President John F. Kennedy’s time. A believer in non-violence, King followed the example of Mahatma Gandhi.
A Bill to establish King’s birthday was introduced but Congress did not assent without a fight and it was only almost two decades later that President Ronald Reagan grudgingly signed Martin Luther’s Day into law in 1983.

LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST
To paraphrase some quotes, all men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers. There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are those who face reality; and there are those who turn one into the other. So, the world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
The renowned American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, said “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.”
And as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
So, why not you?

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By EMN Updated: Aug 25, 2013 1:14:03 am