[You can ask your own question here.]
Spiritually, I am feeling connected and so grateful. But for a long time now, I’ve also been having really dark, scary nightmares. I don’t watch scary movies, or listen to negative, pounding music. I don’t feel any big negative energy around me that I know of, so I can’t see that this is coming from within, like from some internal fears, especially this magnitude of darkness: storms, pain, death, chasing from shapeshifting demons. There is never an escape, but a long, painful, dark story/process. How can I get rid of these?
People often say: "God never sends you a test bigger than you can handle." This is more than just a pious maxim. It is a metaphysical law.
As you have learned from your study of Self-realization teachings, all the experiences of all our previous incarnations are stored as vrittis (whirlpools) of energy in the charkas in the spine. Since this is just a vibration of energy, there is no physical limit to how many vrittis can be stored there.
Paramhansa Yogananda tells us that in the course of our many, many, many incarnations we have had every life experience there is to have. Because before we are willing to give something up, we have to find out for ourselves whether or not it will bring us the happiness we seek.
Very difficult for the mind to grasp such a concept!
Metaphysically speaking, those vrittis are held in place by the ego attachment to or ego identification with that particular experience. Mostly we are not conscious of these attachments or identifications, since they happened in previous incarnations. But just because we don’t remember them, doesn’t mean they have been resolved or transcended.
Just think how many people die with unresolved issues in their lives. Same thing has happened to us -- repeatedly. Death itself does not resolve the hold those experiences have on our consciousness. Only divine realization does that.
As we begin to develop spiritually, our energy flows with increasing strength like a river upward through the spine.
As the flow of the river increases, the whirlpools begin to be drawn into that flow -- which is to say, dissolved into that upward moving river of Spirit. They only get drawn into the river when the power of the upward flow is greater than the power of whatever holds the whirlpool together.
Sometimes these vrittis are absorbed effortlessly and you don’t even know it has happened. You may feel an increasing positive flow without being aware of any particular cause. Sometimes the karma these vrittis represent makes an impact on the river, which is to say, on our consciousness.
To experiment with the dark side would be a natural stage on the spiritual journey. One we must have all gone through before we repudiate that seeming shortcut to power for the true bliss of God.
Dreams, however, are more often symbolic than literal. So your images may not be true past life memories, but the symbolic form your deep-seated fears are taking. In fact, your ego is facing a life-threatening situation since your commitment to God now means its days of power are ending. Perhaps that is why your dreams take the form of pursuit and annihilation. Ego is on the run! Could be a good sign.
Speaking again of a physical river, let's say the whirlpool included a lot of debris which causes some chaos when it is released into the river. Despite the chaos it causes, it would never be released unless the river itself had become strong enough to draw the whirlpool in and absorb it into itself.
Which brings us back to the maxim, "God never sends you a test bigger than you can handle."
As your spiritual dedication and understanding increases, buried subconscious experiences are being drawn to the surface, because now you are able to get rid of them.
The grace here is that they are coming only in your sleep. Apparently that is enough to purge them from your consciousness.
Even though the experience is far from pleasant, you can consider it the grace of God coming to free you from these past impressions.
A number of years ago, during a time of dynamic, positive spiritual change in my life, I too was plagued by nightmares. It was such a contrast to what was going on in my waking life! Eventually I understood it was a needed subconscious purge brought on by the expanding spiritual energy. The final result was a great increase of both freedom and joy. I am sure the same will happen for you.
Practically speaking, I would suggest a few things. Never go to sleep at night without first praying deeply to God to keep you in the Light. Put pictures of the Masters and other holy objects around your bed and where you can see them as soon as you wake. Perhaps keep a small light burning that illuminates some holy image so that you can see it even in the middle of the night.
Swami Kriyananda has suggested, when you are plagued with bad dreams that before you go to sleep, visualize blue light emanating from your fingertip and trace an AUM symbol on your pillow in that blue light.
Put pictures of the Masters or other holy objects under your pillow when you sleep.
You might consider rearranging your sleeping room to put your bed in the most congenial and uplifted place.
You could even play softly all night Swami Kriyananda’s recording of the AUM or the Gayatri mantra. You could also play it all day when you are away to uplift the atmosphere of the room.
These dreams will end. They have a life span from the past that will eventually be dissolved in the right spiritual effort you are making now.
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]