The Art of Learning During Sleep
Dream and Sleep Can Be
Sources of Divine Inspiration
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
The act of sleeping has many a sacred potentiality
Once an individual starts to seriously study the classical theosophy as taught by H. P. Blavatsky, it is a relatively common experience that inspiring thoughts will begin emerging in his consciousness from time to time as he awakens in the morning.
Inspiration may also occur as the student is about to sleep. Some of the insights and perceptions that come to his mind are answers to questions. Others show new ways to understand old problems. These are tenuous ideas dealing with the abstract aspect of situations, and it is difficult to have them firmly recorded in one’s memory.
Such an inspiration takes place because a calm and profound study of theosophy changes much more than the quality of life during waking hours. It transforms the substance of sleep and dreams, and one starts to have access to unworded, vibrational teachings while his body is asleep.
According to theosophy, the learning process of one’s higher self includes levels of reality which one can only experience while being outside the physical body. The results of such learning fall like the morning dew upon the physical brain, as it awakens. The flow is subtle and the brain can scarcely record it in words or remember it with precision. After a few years of theosophical studies, this difficulty will lose strength. However, even when the physical brain can grasp a significant part of the process, it is able to bring down to rational thinking only a “slice” of what really happened on subtle levels.
Of course, nothing of the out-of-the-body teaching and experiences is really lost. What the individual learns on the subtle realms inspires and transforms “by osmosis” his whole existence. His waking life acquires a renewed relation with life during sleep and dreams. Spiritual learning now includes the 24 hours.
Sooner or later, every earnest student gets to perceive the ways he is helped by his own higher self and by other beings.
Although the principle of individual independence is of fundamental importance, no earnest student is ever isolated or forgotten except in appearance. The nature of the help to be received, however, depends on his discernment, his efforts, and his merit. In order to deserve better help, he must help others and be self-responsible. He must know his path will not be comfortable. The flow of learning is impersonal: he will not be helped by “someone”, or in his lower and personal self. Help will come from the very Life and the Law, even if it comes through one or more individuals.
In the Mahatma Letters, a Raja-Yogi of the Himalayas mentions various ways Masters have of communicating with their lay disciples around the world. Among such mechanisms, one finds the practice of placing ideas or seeds of ideas in the aura of the apprentice, so that he notices them upon awakening.
In the majority of cases, the inspiring thoughts we have during the process of awakening come from our own consciousness and result from the higher aspects of our sleep. They get tenuously impressed for a moment or two over the physical brain and in a few cases may get recorded in the enduring layers of memory.
When necessary, Masters use this same way of communication with those who place their lives at the service of the ethical awakening in our humanity. There are “unconscious lay disciples” who don’t have a clear brain-consciousness of the fact, and yet take part in the subtle current of planetary awareness inspired by the Masters and their Disciples. While their bodies are asleep, thousands of lay students participate in the magnetic chain of universal good will.
Their out-of-the-body actions are performed with full autonomy and free will; however, due to reasons depending on circumstances and individual karma, upon awakening they may remember nothing in their physical brains. The connection between different levels of consciousness is complex and often faces challenges. At least one outstanding example of that is given in the Letters. Ms. Laura Holloway, an active theosophist, took a solemn pledge of probationary discipleship while her body was sleeping, and her physical brain knew nothing about that. Referring to Ms. Holloway, a Mahatma wrote in a letter to H.P. Blavatsky:
“ ‘I am not a chela’, she keeps on saying, ignorant of having pledged herself as one unconsciously and when out of the body.” 
There are several reasons why subtle facts of a sacred nature are often not noticed by the denser areas of the brain. The common level of brain-activity can only detect information in visual or verbal ways. Images and sounds depend on the five senses, even if they are subjective. These two processes have a close relation with the left hemisphere of the brain. On the other hand, the teachings and experiences which are really spiritual occur above or away from every sound, word or image, and take place mainly in relation to the right hemisphere of one’s brain.
When the student is able to express in words part of the inspiration obtained during sleep and dream, he is also aware that, into the very extent that he records the facts in words, he leaves aside most of what was grasped by him on the higher dimensions.
The difference between the records in one’s memory and the perception in itself is like the contrast between directly looking at the sunrise and reading its description in the newspaper, the following day.
While the memory and the description are useful, they are limited reflections of the facts. For this reason, some students focus on the “spiritual sensation” and give up transforming that perception in precise words. The silent perception sums it all.
For other individuals, however, the best thing to do is to sleep while having a pen and paper on the bedside table, and write down emerging ideas any time during the night. Important insights may result from a dream and should be put on paper before disappearing in the involuntary corridors of one’s consciousness. Such images and lessons often awaken the student in the middle of the night, and he realizes he must write them down before going back to sleep. 
Each student must decide which method is best for him. It is perfectly correct to use both methods. Many a student puts the insights on paper in some occasions and doesn’t record them in other ones. It depends on the nature of the impressions: some of them may “become verbal”, others cannot. 
Regardless of our degree of awareness, every day new ideas and perceptions potentially emerge in the sacred area of transition among sleep, dream and waking state. In that confluence of states of consciousness, one can find the door to true meditation.
A calm and regular study of classical theosophy expands the contact and interaction among the states of sleep, dream, waking and contemplation. As the walls between these states become thin, the lower self has a more direct dialogue with the immortal soul.
 See letter IV, “The Mahatma Letters”, TUP, p. 17. The Master mentions both dreams and “waking impressions” as ways of communication with lay disciples.
 “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”, edited by C. Jinarajadasa, TPH, 1973, first series, p. 156, Letter X of “Letters to and about Mrs. L.C. Holloway”.
 Damodar Mavalankar wrote about the transcendent practice of meditation around the clock, or across the cycle of 24 hours. This is the most effective method of contemplation and meditation. Click to see in one of the associated websites the article “Contemplation”, by Damodar.
 Silence is gold: the more sacred he considers them, the less he will be able to share them with other people without a loss of energy.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.