97 The Art of Dream Inquiry

The Art of Dream Inquiry

Cultivating Seeds of Light


A dream is a letter from the Beloved,
written to you alone. Read it.

A dream is a gift from the Absolute Mystery,
fashioned for you only. Open it.

A dream is a seed of Light sown in your unique being.
Cultivate it so it bears fruit.

Not all mystics are granted visions. Very few can, like Ibn ‘Arabī, train the active power of the imagination to create manifestations of Reality on other planes of existence. Even fewer receive prophetic or “true” dreams, dreams inspired directly by God. But all travelers, all those journeying toward the One, dream. And “a dream is one-sixtieth part of prophecy,” say the ancient rabbis; “a pious dream is the forty-sixth part of prophecy,” says Salih Muslim. Though our dreams may not be “true” dreams, there is true knowing in our dreams and, with practice, we can discover the truth hidden there for us. Just as the practices of retreat, dhikr, meditation, contemplation, music, breathing, and visualization loosen the ties to ordinary consciousness, so too may the spiritual practice of dream inquiry. “A natural state of sleep is like a profound concentration, like deep meditation,” Hazrat Inayat Khan teaches, “and that is why everything that comes as a dream has a meaning.” (Healing, 213) Learning how to receive that meaning is part of the path of a Sufi, which is not to converse with fairies and spirits, see colors and visions, but “to connect with one’s deepest, inner self, as if one were blowing on one’s inner spark.” (Inner Life 91) The art of dream inquiry can help us blow on that spark.


To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.