by Bernie Siegel, M.D: There have been many dreams which have been personal guides for me…
If you think about evolution sleep, at some time, was a dangerous undertaking. You lie down in your cave or shelter and along comes a predator and has you for dinner. Many creatures do not sleep or sleep while standing so they can escape from dangerous situations. So I believe the reason we sleep is not just to allow our body to rest but that it is to allow this inner wisdom to speak to us through symbols. This includes the body or somatic problems as well as psychological ones. Dreams and drawings are useful in diagnosing physical conditions. Carl Jung interpreted a dream and correctly diagnosed a brain tumor. I have had similar experiences with my patient’s dreams and drawings.
Many years ago I experienced hematuria and my associates wanted me to immediately see a urologist as cancer could be the cause of the bloody urine. I was very busy and did not want to interrupt my schedule and caring for patients. That night I went to bed and dreamed that I was sitting in the cancer support group I ran. Those attending were all introducing themselves and telling why they were attending. When it came my time to speak and introduce myself everyone said, “But you don’t have cancer” before I could say a word. I awoke knowing I didn’t have cancer and that I could make an appointment that fit my schedule. The dream proved to be correct. I had an infection.
Next problem was my wondering whether I was running support groups for seriously ill people and a doctor because I feared death and wanted to feel invulnerable. That night I dreamt I was in a car with several other people. I can’t recall who was driving but we went off a cliff and everyone in the car was screaming in panic while I sat calmly observing what was happening. I awoke knowing that death was not an issue or problem for me.
Another dream I had was of an iridescent white cat I thought was called Diamond because of her appearance, but people weren’t pronouncing the name correctly. I went to visit the Jungian Therapist James Hillman because of that dream and a past life experience I had which was like lucid dreaming. A friend, over the phone asked me, “Why are you living this life?” when she heard how busy I was. I went into a trance and saw myself as a knight being told by his lord to kill someone. It was like watching a movie about me. In the vision, I ultimately did kill a young woman and her dog because — if I had refused — my lord said that he would take my life.
To make a long story short when I discussed these things with Hillman he said the cat was named Daimon and was about my spirit and the life I was to live and I should talk to the cat. And I did. Then he shared how I was talking about my Lord and I said yes the lord of the castle and he answered. No, it is your Lord. It hit me then how I had always wondered how Abraham, Jesus and Noah could follow their Lord’s instructions and not ask for other options. I learned about faith from that experience. Who my Lord should be and that my reason for being a surgeon was to cure with a knife and not kill with it.
For me consciousness is non-local, not limited to the body and can exist independent of it. I have had a near death experience and past life, as I described, and I believe all these relate to our connection with our personal and collective consciousness which never ceases to exist. For me creation comes from intelligent, loving, conscious energy. I believe what sees when we have a near death experience and leave our bodies is the same force which creates our dreams.