Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dreams and Visions

Today, dear Reader, I want to share three dreams.  Why, I'm not sure, but it just feels right.  The first two involve the Temple.  The third does not.  The first was a proof to me of the power of dreams, the second a promise, an the third a lesson.

So why am I going to share these dreams? Because for me, they are important. After all, the Guardian reminds us that this is a religion, and "the Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character".

As you may know, I grew up within the "shadow of the Temple", just north of Chicago, Illinois.

Looking back on it, I now see it as kind of odd. I mean, as far back as I can remember, I knew of the Baha'i Temple. We all called it "God's orange juice squeezer" and felt we knew something about the Faith, despite knowing nothing of its teachings.

The Guardian, as you can imagine, was a bit more respectful. I have heard that he referred to it as a "lighthouse", illuminating the far corners of the North American continent, but I have not been able to find a reference to that. That image, though, of a lighthouse shining as a beacon, has stayed with me.

Why? Well, to start, the darkest part of a lighthouse is right at its base. This is how I view the Temple. I have often found it easier to introduce the Faith to someone who has never heard of it, for they have no pre-judgement about it (note how I avoid the word prejudice). Everyone around Chicago, though, knows the Temple, so it's never the first time they're hearing of it.

As I have mentioned in other posts, when I first became a Baha'i, I began working in the gardens of the Temple. That was a summer filled with hard physical work, and deep spiritual joy. It was a wonderful experience, only to be followed by the even greater joy of working on the Temple itself with the restoration crew. Of course, thinking that was as "high" as I could go, I was then asked to serve in the World Congress Office, and nothing has compared to that. Except for pilgrimage, and other services in the Faith, but I won't go into all that here.

When I was working in the gardens, there was a dear friend of mine who used to come over and visit me either on my lunch breaks, or just after I got off work. We used to sit in the gardens and talk for hours (well, less than an hour if it was during my lunch break). Usually, we would lie on the little hills of grass that bordered the gardens, under the cypress trees.

One day we were sitting there talking about the institution of marriage. You see, he was having marital problems at the time (all solved now), and I was not yet married. As I lay there listening to him talk, I fell asleep (not the usual response for me), or some may call it a trance.  We had been talking about the eternal nature of Baha'i marriages, and how we are with our partner through all the worlds of God.  The following question was bouncing around in my brain: What would I call my eternal consort in the next world?  A voice answered, as clear as a bell.  It answered with such startling clarity that it actually woke me up.  The answer was so real that I even wrote it down, as best I could.  What I wrote was "mahree-ell-oh-day".  It was not until many years later, after I met my wife, that I realized it was her name: Marielle Audet.  The reason I hadn't realized it earlier was that I had never heard someone pronounce her name with a French accent before that.

At the time, however, I was just very curious, as my fiancee's name was nothing like that.  Now, today it merely reaffirms my belief that my wife and I had very little to do with our getting together.  It also proved to me, although it does not constitute a proof for anyone else, the mystical power that can exist in dreams.

Another dream I had was a bit more mysterious.  It occurred just before the World Congress in 1992, during those few hours that I actually got any sleep.

I dreamed I was standing on Linden Avenue, in front of the Temple, watching a construction crew dismantling it.  A man was standing on a hook at the end of a giant crane, and was being lowered to the top of the dome.  He deftly put the hook through one of the panels and motioned for the crane to raise.  As it rose, the crane just tossed the piece aside, as if no longer needed.  While it was swinging away, another crane was coming in with the new piece, which was so much brighter than the previous one.  As it was being lowered into place, the next section was already coming out, and a new one going in.  Faster and faster this was happening, until the whole temple shone with such brightness that it woke me up.

What stuck with me upon waking was the realization that the pattern for our community was there, but that the reality was so much more than we imagined.  I knew that something was about to happen to reshape our conception of what the Faith looked like, and that this new reality would be so much more glorious than we had previously thought.

Today, as I look at the new vision of the Faith laid before us by the Universal House of Justice, and see these new people coming into the Faith under the influence of the training Institute, I feel that we are now begining to get a glimpse of that bright new Temple.  In fact, when the pattern of action laid out by the intensive programs of growth becomes the pattern of action for our community, we will tell our children and grandchildren about life before this Plan, and they will look at us and say, "What did you do with all your time?"  It will be like trying to imagine the community before clusters existed.

The third dream was quite different, but just as powerful to me.

A friend and I were driving across country when I suddenly fell asleep (no, this is not a usual occurrance).  Fortunately, she was driving.  Later, she said that it really freaked her out, as I was in the middle of a sentence and just suddenly was sound asleep.

I dreamed that I was standing on a grassy hilltop talking with the Ayatollah Khomeini.  He was very pleasant to talk with, and quite an interesting conversationalist.  At some point, he realized that I was a Baha'i and began to get angry.  As his anger grew, the sky darkened and the hill began to tremble.  A preternatural calm came over me, and this seemed to fuel his anger even more.  The angrier he grew, the darker the clouds, the more violent the shaking of the hill, the greater the calm in my heart, until finally it all broke.  The storm swept over us as the hill exploded in volcanic eruption.

I found myself merely fascinated by all this as the clouds slowly began to disperse.

The hill under us calmed again, as he struggled to catch his breath.  He seemed puzzled by the fact that I was unhurt.  As the grass began to quickly grow back, a little girl came up the hill and handed him a flower.

We both realized that she was a Baha'i, and his eyes grew wide with that understanding.

More Baha'i children came up the hill to hand him their flowers, until he practically overwhelmed with flowers.  Thousands upon thousands of these children were handing him their flowers, and we were amidst a sea of beautiful children, all smiling up at him with love.

By now he was openly weeping as he realized what he had been doing to these children and their families.  He fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands as the clouds began to rain, cleansing him of his pain and hatred.

That was when I suddenly snapped awake, only to discover it really had started raining.  To this day I can still feel that cleansing rain on my face from that dream, see the drops splashing on the windshield in front of me, and the wipers cleaning them off.

I was practically shaking from the intensity of that dream, and immediately told my friend what had just happened.

She merely said that it was spooky, and decided to turn on the radio as a distraction.

The news was coming on, and they announced that the Ayatollah Khomeini had just passed away in Iran.

Dreams and visions, as you know, are merely meant for the recipient.  I have only shared this last dream with a couple of people in my life, but now it just feels right to put it out there for you, dear Reader.  Perhaps given what is happening today in Iran, it might serve a reminder that we must pray not only for the release of the friends in prison who are suffering over there, but also for the poor souls of those who are inflicting the suffering.

And maybe, just maybe, this forgiveness needs to be part of the foundation for this new Temple that is being raised within the hearts of those in our community.


  1. Hi Mead nice accounts.Shawn C.

  2. These dreams are just incredible and so heartwarming, particularly the second two. Do you feel you are especially tuned in to these things? I have often asked Baha'u'llah to allow me to have dreams that will strengthen my faith but nothing so far.

  3. Thank you for this. No one is lost, as far as we know. We are not to judge what we think of as the sinner (that is, in our own minds - there may (will) be needs for communal judgments).

    I might use your Khomeini dream. For two reasons. One is that people can be saved (using the Christian thought). As well, you experienced what Carl Jung was trying to convey with his synchronicity concept. We need more of those events documented.

    Myself. I have always had dreams. Since becoming a Baha'i decades ago, a different characteristic was obvious (all of the Principals, etc. - scientists - of old like they want to come back). But, dreams of those recently departed are one (constant) type.

    I had several of Hitchens. In the first, it was like he didn't want to recognize where he was. Life was flowing around him, as he scrunched to the ground. As I walked by, he grabbed some notes that I had with me and read them, eagerly. There were others. In the last, he was with my college roommate (departed 2011) as they visited where I was (it has been been, over the years, some type of desk in a large building - even my mother visited me there). They were excited about some type of new educational institution. Since then, the whole situation of my desk changed.

    Hitchens was really into comprehension (think of the Master's model of cognition). So, he twiddled with people who were not so endowed. Comprehension will run around rationality (any time). Since then, I really chuckle when I listen to the seriousness of the humanists. Truth comes from many types of avenues.