.Sleeping With Specters

Kevin Kovelant believes that the dead visit us when we're asleep.

A 16th-century Chinese dream-interpretation manual, Chen Shiyuan’s
Wandering Spirits, includes the exhortation: “Any dream
interpreter who doesn’t acknowledge the possibility of ghosts has no
business interpreting dreams.” Key battles in ancient Chinese history
were waged based on information allegedly imparted to the living in
dreams by the dead. Medieval Sufi philosophers, too, wrote extensively
about “visitation dreams”; in his book The Remembrance of Death and
the Afterlife
, Abu Hamid Muhammad Al-Ghazali wrote that sleep
“signifies the quieting of the senses so that they convey nothing to
the heart,” which “allows the veil” between the living and the dead “to
be raised up.”

In 1925, a North Carolina man awoke from a dream in which his late
father — looking very much alive — instructed him to “find
my will in my overcoat pocket.” Checking the pocket, the dreamer
discovered a note leading him to a certain chapter in the family Bible.
Between two pages in that chapter, the will was cached, according to
1927’s Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.

Such dreams have peppered world literature for thousands of years,
notes consciousness researcher Kevin Kovelant, who teaches at
John F. Kennedy University and will discuss visitation dreams at the
Fremont Main Library (2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont) on
Saturday, October 31.

“Lucretius devoted an entire paragraph of On the Nature of
Things
to dreams of the dead,” Kovelant says. “And even though his
point was that these dreams were nonsense, clearly it was such a
popular topic in ancient Rome that he felt it was worth
mentioning.”

Some psychologists say that dreams of the dead are merely the mind’s
way of grappling with grief and guilt: of seeking reassurance and
striving for final good-byes. But having studied the history of
visitation dreams and written extensively about them, Kovelant believes
that many if not most are actual encounters with departed spirits.

“The potential exists. I can’t say with 100 percent certainty how it
works.” He suspects that quantum physics plays a role, “but if we’re
going to be scientific about this, your guess is as good as mine.”

A few years ago, his late grandfather appeared to him in a dream.
“He died when I was eight, and one of my big regrets was never really
having gotten to know him. It was actually a very long dream. We went
and saw a Bruce Lee movie. It was — well, like spending the day
with my grandfather. When we were saying good-bye, he said, ‘Kevin, if
you want to know more about me, read my letters.’ At the time, I didn’t
have any of his letters.” But when Kovelant’s grandmother died
soon afterwards, he found among her possessions “a three-inch stack of
letters that he had written to her during World War II.” From these, he
learned a lot — just as he’d been promised in the dream. 1:30
p.m., free. ACLibrary.org

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