Let us begin by considering the dream pictures we have around or before us, which in general are more fleeting, less sharply outlined than the perceptions of ordinary life. These pictures seem to flit past our souls. When, afterward, we come to analyze them objectively we can be struck by the fact that in most cases they have some kind of connection with our life on the physical plane. Of course, there are people who are only too ready to see something high and wonderful in their dreams, or to interpret them at once as revelations of higher worlds. There are those who really believe that a dream has given them something altogether new, something that has never been there before. In most cases we shall be mistaken in interpreting our dreams in such a way. In our careless haste we fail to recognize how, after all, some experience or other we have had on the physical plane more or less recently, or perhaps even many years ago, has reappeared in the changing, weaving pictures of our dreams. For this very reason it is quite easy for the materialistic science of our age to reject the idea that there is anything remarkable in the revelations of our dreams, and instead point out that dreams are simply copies or reflections of what has been experienced in external life. If you are acquainted with the present-day science of dreams you will realize that it is always at pains to prove that a dream contains nothing more than the reflections of the physical world that the brain carries in itself. It must be admitted that such an attitude can easily reject any higher significance in our dream life, showing that the higher revelations many people claim to have are pictures characteristic of the age in which they live, pictures that could not have been seen at all in any other age. So, for example, people today often dream in images derived from inventions and discoveries only made in the nineteenth century. It of course is easily proved that images derived from external life steal their way into the ever-changing play of dreams.
A person who would gain a clear idea of his dream experiences, learning something from them to help him in entering the occult worlds, must therefore be exceedingly careful in this realm. He must make a habit of carefully following out all the hidden connections. If he does so, he will realize that most of his dreams give him no more than he has already experienced in the outer world. But it is just when we become more careful in analyzing our dream life — and every aspiring occultist should do so — that we shall gradually begin to notice how one thing or another wells up before us that we could not possibly have experienced in our external life during this incarnation. One who follows such indications as are given in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment will notice that his dream-life gradually begins to change. His dreams do actually begin to assume a different character. One of the first experiences he can have may be the following.