Death, Dreams, and the Dawn of My Next Existence

One of the great benefits of my impending death is a very active dream life. As my energy wanes and my aches and pains increase, I sleep more — and that means my dreams increase in frequency and intensity.

This might sound strange to you, but it seems the dreams give me a glimpse of my soul’s destination and the things my soul needs to do in the time I have left.

In my latest and oft-repeated dream, even though I am a psychotherapist in real life, I am working as a nurse for one day in a hospital. The day shift is ending, and I am supposed to report to the head nurse and evening shift nurses. In my dream, I suddenly realized that I had not done what nurses are supposed to do — check the patients for their vital signs while looking in on each one of them. 

My patients are in a few large open wards with many individuals in each, and the wards are spread throughout the large wing of the hospital building. In my dream, I really could not say or know what I had done that day. All I knew was that I did not want to be there to begin with — I was forced somehow to work as a nurse. A sense of fear comes over me, along with the resentment of why I was required to be working there as a nurse — since I have been away from that field for decades. I also feel very embarrassed at my incompetence.

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Actually, this dream partially and factually recounts my earlier professional life. I worked in the field of nursing for 20 years, where I was very unhappy almost from day one, even though I always regarded that field as an honorable one. 

When God opened the door of a professional change, which I always craved and realized was my true calling, I became a psychotherapist. In that work, I’ve always been happy, and I am still happy when I get a chance to help others. So, I am wondering — in my dream, am I spiritually accounting for what I have done and am doing in my daily life? This passage from Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, impels me to consider that possibility:

Set before thine eyes God’s unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that Balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life. Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning …

When finally I am summoned to account for my doings, as we will all eventually be, what will I present to my Creator? 

Am I going to go there with the fear, shame, and regret I feel in my dream? 

The questions that arise from my dreams help me realize that I still have a lot of undoing to do and a lot of cleaning of my heart and my soul to work on. 

I still have the same two physical issues, for example, that are a frequent source of irritation and impatience for me. One is the control of environmental temperature, both heat and cold. I find it a little easier to deal with cold by putting on more layers of clothing, but the heat is very difficult because my skin feels like I am living in noontime dry heat in the desert. It burns and itches and is very dry all over and uncomfortable, and it takes a lot of energy and self-discipline not to give in to the urge or desire to scratch because, through my long experience with hives, I know if I start to scratch, my whole body can become inflamed. 

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I am thinking, if for such minor physical discomfort, I lose my patience and feel irritated, what would I do if I was called upon to sacrifice my life for my belief in my Faith if some torture were involved? 

All of this internal work of bringing myself to account causes me to take an inventory of my faults, failings, and foibles. I’m so far, far away from the more spiritual inner existence I would like to lead — and yet I’m about to be ushered into the spiritual realm, where I will need all the spiritual attributes I can muster. In a speech he gave to the Theosophical Society in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha illuminated this whole question:

In the spiritual world the divine bestowals are infinite, for in that realm there is neither separation nor disintegration, which characterize the world of material existence. Spiritual existence is absolute immortality, completeness and unchangeable being. Therefore, we must thank God that He has created for us both material blessings and spiritual bestowals. He has given us material gifts and spiritual graces, outer sight to view the lights of the sun and inner vision by which we may perceive the glory of God. He has designed the outer ear to enjoy the melodies of sound and the inner hearing wherewith we may hear the voice of our Creator. We must strive with energies of heart, soul and mind to develop and manifest the perfections and virtues latent within the realities of the phenomenal world, for the human reality may be compared to a seed. If we sow the seed, a mighty tree appears from it. The virtues of the seed are revealed in the tree; it puts forth branches, leaves, blossoms, and produces fruits. All these virtues were hidden and potential in the seed. Through the blessing and bounty of cultivation these virtues became apparent. Similarly, the merciful God, our Creator, has deposited within human realities certain latent and potential virtues. Through education and culture these virtues deposited by the loving God will become apparent in the human reality, even as the unfoldment of the tree from within the germinating seed.

Despite my complaining, I am, at this time mostly happy and grateful and am working hard to overcome my pettiness. I hope that God the All-Forgiving Father will forgive me and laugh at my childish thinking and behavior. I hope, as a mere seed, my next life in the spiritual realm will plant me in a place where I can flourish, grow, and blossom.

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