Dreams enable us to transcend the boundaries of time and space to peek into the future. Seers often report that their dreams convey information about upcoming events, and we find many examples of dream prophecy in spiritual texts. In fact, precognitive dreams aren’t particularly rare––lots of us have them, yet we may be baffled or unnerved by their appearance. How can we know about things that haven’t happened yet?
Einstein’s work showed that time isn’t linear. Rather than being like an expressway from the past to the future, time more closely resembles a winding mountain road that bends around and occasionally curves back on itself, so that you periodically catch glimpses of the same scenery in the course of your journey––hence, the experience we call déja vu or “already seen.” Some Eastern spiritual traditions believe that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously, like a mountain range with peaks and valleys.
One night I dreamt I found a black cat on the side of the road. At first I thought it was dead, but when I touched it the cat woke up. I took it to a vet who told me the cat had distemper and suggested performing surgery immediately. The cat didn’t seem particularly ill to me, so I refused to let him operate.
The next day while I was out walking I spotted a black cat lying in the gutter. It appeared to be paralyzed and I thought it had been hit by a car, although I saw no sign of injury and it didn’t seem to be in pain. I knocked on the doors of all the houses in the area, but no one answered, so I took the cat to a vet. The vet surmised that the cat must be near death and recommended doing an autopsy to see if it had a contagious disease that might infect my cats.
Remembering my dream, I refused and took the cat home instead. Later I returned to the neighborhood where I’d found the cat and again knocked on doors until I located the cat’s confused owner. She told me she had no idea how the cat had gotten out––it had been paralyzed from birth because its mother had contracted distemper during pregnancy.
When I related my dream, she grew even more amazed. The previous night she’d dreamt her cat had disappeared!