“Sleep is always a good adviser. Unlike wakefulness.”

Frei Bento Domingues, 80, Dominican friar, thinker and columnist, says he believes in a God who does not sleep and “is unceasingly looking for our happiness”. He recalls the Bible passage in which Jesus Christ is asleep before calming the storm.

 

Does Jesus Christ sleep according to the Gospels? In the Gospel According to Matthew (Matthew 8: 23-27), God sleeps before calming the storm. “He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.”

What do you think about the saying according to which God does not sleep? It depends. If interpreted in the sense that God is the great eye of an eternal police, I find it terrible. But if it means the wake of a God who is unceasingly looking for our happiness, then He is the God of the New Testament. I believe in that God!

Aristotle wrote about sleep and wakefulness in Parva Naturalia more than 2000 years ago… He was not the first! There is a very ancient tradition of thinking about sleep and dreams in several ancient cultures. In Bantu culture, for instance, the dream has had a key role for hundreds of years and is still very present in people’s lives. Upon awakening, rather than asking whether one has slept well, many Bantu ask whether one has dreamed well… Sleep is a key aspect in their lives. When they dream of something, they must be sure if it is real or just pure fantasy. They might even make long trips just because of a dream.

Descartes believes that we never stop thinking, even in deep sleep… What is your opinion about this cartesian conclusion? Its neuroscientific aspect has been studied by António Damásio. It does not appear to be enough…

Literature is full of references to sleep, to sleep disorders, dreams… How do you interpret that fact? If literature failed to integrate this dimension of life, it would definitely lack an essential part.

Proust devotes almost 30 pages to describing how the narrator has trouble sleeping… For such a meticulous writer, it does not seem exaggerated.

According to British legend, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are asleep somewhere in a cave and they will wake up in case Great Britain needs them in a moment of national emergency. According to the Portuguese myth, King Sebastian will return on a misty day… The myth of King Sebastian has no such precision, it is too misty.

Do you ever wake up in the night or in the morning with an idea? Do you usually write it down? Yes. But it is not always worth it…

Do you recall some point in your life in which sleep has been a good adviser? Sleep is always a good adviser. Unlike wakefulness.

Have you ever counted sheep? Or does no one ever do that? My grandmother used to recommend another kind of counting: the Rosary…

Freud said that “dream is the faithful guardian of our mental health, our joy of life, since life is nothing but a continuous search of pleasure, contradicted by reality”… Freud knew a lot. But there is nothing like a good night’s sleep.

frei bento 1

Frei Bento Domingues, 80, Dominican friar, thinker and columnist, says he believes in a God who does not sleep and “is unceasingly looking for our happiness”. He recalls the Bible passage in which Jesus Christ is asleep before calming the storm.

 

Does Jesus Christ sleep according to the Gospels?
In the Gospel According to Matthew (Matthew 8: 23-27), God sleeps before calming the storm. “He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.”

What do you think about the saying according to which God does not sleep?
It depends. If interpreted in the sense that God is the great eye of an eternal police, I find it terrible. But if it means the wake of a God who is unceasingly looking for our happiness, then He is the God of the New Testament. I believe in that God!

Aristotle wrote about sleep and wakefulness in Parva Naturalia more than 2000 years ago…
He was not the first! There is a very ancient tradition of thinking about sleep and dreams in several ancient cultures. In Bantu culture, for instance, the dream has had a key role for hundreds of years and is still very present in people’s lives. Upon awakening, rather than asking whether one has slept well, many Bantu ask whether one has dreamed well… Sleep is a key aspect in their lives. When they dream of something, they must be sure if it is real or just pure fantasy. They might as well make long trips just because of a dream.

Descartes believes that we never stop to think, even in deep sleep… What is your opinion about this cartesian conclusion?
Its neuroscientific aspect has been studied by António Damásio. It does not seem enough…

Literature is full of references to sleep, to sleep disorders, dreams… How do you interpret that fact?
If literature failed to integrate this dimension of life, it would definitely lack an essential part.

Proust devotes almost 30 pages to describing how the narrator has trouble sleeping… For such a meticulous writer, it does not seem exaggerate.

According to British legend, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are asleep somewhere in a cave and they will wake up in case Great Britain needs them in a moment of national emergency. According to the Portuguese myth, King Sebastian will return on a misty day…
The myth of King Sebastian has no such precision, it is too misty.

Do you ever wake up in the night or in the morning with an idea? Do you usually write it down?
Yes. But it is not always worth it…

Do you recall some point in your life in which sleep has been a good adviser?
Sleep is always a good adviser. Unlike wakefulness.

Have you ever counted sheep? Or does no-one ever do that?
My grandmother used to recommend another kind of counting: the Rosary…

Freud said that “dream is the faithful guardian of our mental health, our joy of life, since life is nothing but a continuous search of pleasure, contradicted by reality”… Freud knew a lot. But there is nothing like a good night’s sleep.