I am sitting at my computer, struggling to put the finishing touches
on this article. Out of the corner of my ear I am listening to the
closing ceremonies of the Olympics, when, all of a sudden, everybody
on the television starts singing about "the power of the dream."
I start crying, due to the deep personal significance of this synchronicity,
and realize once more the deep fluidity between the inner and the
Every great spiritual master says that this very life is like a
dream. The Buddha, which literally means "the awakened one," says,
"My form appeared like a dream to sentient beings who are like a
dream. I taught them dreamlike teaching to attain dreamlike enlightenment."
The great teacher Meher Baba says "Your life is a dream within
the mighty Dream of God which is the Universe."
The great saint Paramahansa Yogananda even goes so far as to say
that the purpose of our dreams at night is to awaken us to the dream
nature of the universe.
What do these great masters mean? I would like to suggest that
they don't mean that life is "just" a dream, in the sense that it
is a meaningless illusion, but that waking life is of a similar
structure to a dream in certain very revealing ways.
In the ultimate sense, dreams themselves are projections (the mind
projected outward), or reflections, of the mind (when I use the
word mind, I don't mean the intellect, but the deeper Mind, which
is the creative source of all experience). The mind then experiences
the dreamscape as being other than itself, taking it for being objectively
real, reacting to and becoming conditioned by the dream.
The situation is exactly like a kitten looking in a mirror and
seeing her reflection and reacting to the reflection like it is
other than itself.
The great masters tell us that this is exactly our situation in
waking life. Most people are so enmeshed in their life and so identified
with their roles, it's exactly like they've gotten absorbed in a
dream, fallen asleep and under a spell, thinking that the seemingly
external universe is both real and separate from them.
Physicist John Wheeler says "Useful as it is under everyday circumstances
to say that the world exists "out there," independent of us, that
view can no longer be upheld. There is a strange sense in which
this is a "participatory universe."
The quantum physicists, in trying to find the nature of objective
reality, discovered not only that they couldn't find anything objective,
but that the very act of observing the universe actually changes
the universe. They discovered that, just like a dream, this isn't
a universe that we are passively observing but one that we are actively
participating in and co-creating.
Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe, says that "One
implication (of the new physics) is that objective reality is more
like a dream than we have previously suspected."
This is why one of the most profound wisdom teachings in Tibetan
Buddhism is to view every moment in our life as if it were a dream.
If all the mystics and physicists are correct and our life actually
is some sort of dream, once we stop superimposing our mental constructs
upon reality and start allowing it to manifest as it truly is, it
will reveal its dreamlike nature.
And just like a dream, we play a much more central role in creating
this reality then we could've imagined. To quote Gary Zukav, author
of The Dancing Wu Li Masters, "A powerful awareness lies dormant
in these discoveries: an awareness of the hitherto-unsuspected powers
of the mind to mold "reality," rather than the other way around."
Once we begin to realize the dreamlike nature of our situation,
it is exactly like a wave that thought it was separate from the
ocean discovered it was one with the entire ocean. Our sense of
separate identity does not have to be gotten rid of, merely seen
through as the illusion that it's always been. Our identity then
expands to include and embrace the entire universe, as we have recognized
our true identity, which is both to be a unique expression of, as
well as deeply connected to and not separate from, the entire universe.
When we become lucid in a dream, we realize that who we thought
we were, our sense of identity itself, was not only an arbitrary,
limited and contracted habitual imagination, but was being imagined,
or dreamed, by a deeper part of us.
We realize that this deeper part of us is not only who we truly
are, but it is who we all are. This realization takes our life out
of a purely personal framework, deeply connecting us with other
people, as we are all seen to be fellow actors in a divine drama.
This realization gives life a deeper sense of meaning, which makes
suffering so much more bearable. Out of this awareness naturally
arises genuine compassion. In essence, we discover that the Self
is having a dream and we are it!
Jung had this realization in a dream that he had during the last
years of his life. In the dream he entered a church, and much to
his surprise saw a meditating yogi sitting in front of the church.
Upon closer inspection, Jung saw that the yogi had his face, and
Jung then realized that the yogi was not Jung's dream, but that
he was the yogi's dream.
In the words of the noted mythologist Joseph Campbell, "one great
dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream,
Sir Laurens Van Der Post, quotes one of the "people of the desert"
as saying "There's a dream dreaming us, and we must get back to
that dream, and the vision, the power, and the energies at the disposal
of man's dreaming self will help us to win the battle."
When we begin to awaken to the dreamlike nature of the universe,
we realize that the same dreaming mind that is dreaming our dreams
at night is dreaming our life. We become more able to embrace the
situation we find ourselves in, realizing that if we see every event
that happens in our life as the perfect vehicle through which we
can awaken, it will become exactly that. But being like a dream,
this only becomes true if we see it as such.
And if you say to me that I'm only imagining, or dreaming that
this is so, I would say "Exactly!"
For more articles about dreaming, see www.communityconnexion.com/levy