If you ask a Chinese person what a dream means, they won’t come back to you with information about the subconscious or the collective consciousness; they won’t be quoting Freud or Jung (well, not many of them, at least), and they probably won’t tell you about our common Western notions of dream symbolism. What they will do is reference Zhou Gong—the Chinese god of dreams.
Zhou Gong, or the Duke of Zhou, was a Chinese nobleman during the Zhou dynasty. According to Chinese legend, he is credited with writing the I Ching, the Book of Poetry, and with establishing the Rites of Zhou along with creating the first Chinese dream dictionary. Additionally, the Duke of Zhou is known by many as the god of dreams. If something important is going to happen to you or someone you know, you may receive a visit from the Duke of Zhou letting you know what is going to happen. Confucius was even quoted saying, "How I have gone downhill! It has been such a long time since I dreamt of the Duke of Zhou."
Zhou Gong’s “Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams” divides dreams into categories based on subject matter such as plants and weather, gods and spirits, the body, music and disharmony, living beings, jewelry, clothing, etc. These categories relate to the meanings of these dreams. While many of these interpretations have seemingly no connection to modern-day interpretations, many Chinese people still take into account his interpretations. For example, the Duke of Zhou wrote that when a snake bites you or a house catches fire, it means you will come into a lot of money; when you dream of dead relatives, it is a sign of blessings and longevity; when you dream of a dog barking it is a sign of bad luck.
Have you ever considered any of the Duke of Zhou’s interpretations to your dreams? Do you believe that a dog barking is bad luck? Do you know any Chinese people who still interpret their dreams according to these ideas?
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