This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Vedantic interpretation of dreams

Martine Quentric-Séguy — Pondicherry.

Dreams are interpreted by people all over the world along a fourfold pattern. These are: (1) Dreams as chemical resetting of the brain - This is the most recent interpretation, comparing the human brain to a computer. In this system dreams have no meaning at all. (2) Dreams as psychological tools - Freud proposed to interpret dreams to know oneself better. After and with him, all western systems of psychology say that dreams are mostly the conscious or unconscious satisfaction of desires, but also the repetition of traumatic experiences. (3) Dreams as social and moral means - This is the oldest way to understand dreams: They put us in contact with some superior Intelligence unveiling the past and the future of mankind or individuals. (4) Dreams as a path to wisdom. - This approach to dreams, specific to the Vedanta, without rejecting the three previous possibilities, does not indulge in the interpretation of dreams, but uses them as the “x” in algebra. Considering that we go through three moments every day, that is “waking state, sleeping state with dreams and deep sleep state”, the Vedanta asks us to wonder what are these different states : Who says “I” in them? If dreams are illusory, so what about this waking state? Could we consider a fourth level, in which all three states would be incorporated, that would be the only real state? Then, what is this fourth level, referred to as turiya in Vedanta?