Dreams and Descriptions of the Afterlife Seem to Have Alot in Common
Are Dreams a Dress Rehearsal To Prepare Humans For Death?
During a typical dream, the environment that many people experience has many similarities in common with near-death experience (NDE) accounts as well as the teachings of various religions as to what can be expected in the “afterlife.” By contrast, many of the foundational aspects of life that we experience in the day-to-day waking world are completely absent from dreams. Does this alternate reality of dreaming that we go through every 24 hour cycle actually exist for us as a type of rehearsal for what happens to our minds and consciousness after death?
One of the most fundamental aspects of most dreams is the experience of timelessness. Events or images seem to appear at random, or within the confines of a cluster of personal meanings that soon fade into other images. These experiences usually take place without any awareness or concern for the passage of time. Dreams are focused on emotional events, how we feel about certain things, or psychological states, and this strongly contrasts them with our conscious awareness in waking life.
In the waking world, while we also go through emotional states as well, our minds are attuned to and dominated by a logical, linear progression, a sense of getting from “here” to “there.” Whether you are a child in school studying and hoping to get to the next grade and eventually become an adult with the freedom and choices they have, or an adult trying to work up the corporate ladder, increase the size of your business, or discover a new invention, life is composed of a series of predictable steps and a limited amount of time and resources available to accomplish them. This progression pervades every action we take when awake, from getting dressed in the morning to how we go about eating a meal or reading a book. This step-by-step process is a necessary and accepted restriction of finite physical life, but no such restrictions exist in the limitless state of dreams.
In the dream state we experience life as a focused presentation of “impossible” events that are entirely immersive for us. We are captivated by what we see, without regard for any sort of “external” environment or foundation to the dream. This is pretty much the way you would expect life to be without a material body, free and unencumbered by normal physical laws.
Religion and near death studies tell us that outside of normal physical reality, we have a spirit or soul, an eternal, non-physical consciousness that goes on living forever after our bodies die. If this is true, and this spirit component to life is the basic spark of existence for humans, then the spiritual realm it would "live in" would have to be decidedly different from the physical world, and this is the very nature of what dreams reveal to us.
With no need for taking care of the basic needs of existence such as food, clothing, shelter and maintaining ever-present social relationships, such a spirit being’s interests might be focused entirely on the state of it’s own “mind,” feelings, passions and memories. The spiritual state might be so entirely different from physical reality that from our waking point of view it could appear insane, as the content of dreams themselves often do. How often do we wake up from dreams not having a clue what they “meant” but being emotionally satisfied and rested by having had them?
A spiritual being would also seemingly have no need for linear time, which Einstein himself told us was largely an illusion of our limited awareness. An eternal existence would make “watching the clock” rather irrelevant and past, present and future events could all randomly be grouped together. Objective reality itself would be irrelevant, as only the subjective experiences of the spirit realm would have a personal impact on the being’s existence. This reflects the dream state so closely that dreams themselves seem to offer a taste of what it is like for the mind to be aware while absent from the “container” of the body.
We are often told that spirits also have the ability to go anywhere in physical reality instantly to observe and explore, but for the most part not to interact with it. These abilities also reflect the state in dreams where we are usually detached from the events unfolding around us, watching them and experiencing them emotionally but not on a level where they can do us any harm.
Yet there are two main aspects to dreams that we are told by authorities are not part of any afterlife experience we can expect to have. One of these involves nightmares and generally disturbing dreams. Most NDE experiences are described as very positive, where those who have returned to the physical world say that the spirit realm is one of eternal light and love. While many religions have a form of “hell” that would mirror our deepest nightmares, most focus instead on the “heavenly” aspect of the afterlife that we are all told is our destiny if we live up to the precepts of our particular religious faith.
Dreams also often involve sexual experiences. In the Christian faith we are told that there is no sex in the afterlife, and no marriage. Intimate social relationships take on a more universal, pervasive quality supposedly. Reproduction it seems, also becomes unnecessary when there is no longer death. Other religions differ on this however such as Islam, where martyrs are promised numerous virgins in “heaven” for their self-sacrifice on earth. So while dreams show us both nightmares and vivid sexual encounters, (often frequently), religions seem to shy away from both as taboo topics that our attention should not be unduly focused on.
Is the dream state a rehearsal for the afterlife? Another way of looking at the experience would be in reverse. It could be argued that long-standing beliefs in an afterlife are superstitions that originated in human mythology, emerging and being embellished over time based on our daily experiences in the dream state itself. Whatever the case may be, dreams and afterlife beliefs seem to be closely linked by the environment they take place in. They have far more in common with each other than our ordinary waking state of life has with either of them.