“This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.”
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
~ Buddha (The Awakened One)
“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
“Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
~ Buddha: Diamond Sutra
“We are like the spider.
We weave our life and then move along in it.
We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.
This is true for the entire universe.”
~ The Upanishads
Life Is But A Dream
Q. “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”
A. Yes. Each person’s life is like a dream story within a dream of space/time reality.
For millennia, mystics have revealed that all we see or seem is mental illusion, ‘samsara’ or ‘maya’ – like a very persistent day dream from which we can awaken, just as we awaken from nocturnal dreams. And scientists like Einstein confirm the mystics, saying e.g. that
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”; and, that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
Just as nighttime dreams are mental images arising during sleep on a ‘screen’ of formless awareness, our daytime “reality” arises from mental images projected on the same screen of formless awareness that perceives nocturnal dreams.
Both mystics and scientists say that all the forms we perceive as “reality” are impermanent – ever appearing and disappearing in timeless formless awareness; awareness which is universal and beyond time and space, beyond birth and death. That formless awareness is in the Bible called “everlasting life” [Daniel 12:1-3] and “eternal life” [e.g. John 17:1-2] And it is our Essence and Ultimate Identity.
We can realize the biblical/mystical promise of eternal life upon awakening from illusory egoic self identification as mere mortal bodies, their thoughts and their stories, and thus awakening to self identification with that timeless, formless awareness in which we perceive our lives and all we call “reality”.
AND SO IT SHALL BE!
*Edgar Allan Poe, “A Dream Within A Dream”, 1849
Ron’s Commentary on Life Is But A Dream.
Have you ever yet thought about a “dream” as other than a nocturnal sleep experience? Or as an unfulfilled ‘utopian’ aspiration such as expressed in Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech,
John Lennon’s “Imagine” lyrics,
“You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”
or by master lyricist Oscar Hammerstein in “Happy Talk” from “South Pacific”:
“You got to have a dream,
If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”
To help us validate and actuate those “new age” ideas, I have explained in the above essay why “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream” in response to an insightful 1859 rhetorical question by poet Edgar Allan Poe; and why – as mystics and seers have told us for millennia – what we believe to be reality is, like a dream, just a play of universal consciousness.
From my “dreamlike” perspective, the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president was a major disguised blessing which wouldn’t have happened if Hillary Clinton had been declared the US election winner. It has sparked an unprecedented mass political awakening to insanely dystopian secret government threats to everyone everywhere.
Because a critical mass of awakened Humankind worldwide are now adamantly demanding and intuitively envisioning a new era of peace and justice for all life everywhere – an era which ends and transcends unconscionable and unsustainable exploitation of our societies and planet to obscenely enrich a tiny group of psychopathic billionaires – I see this as beginning of a new era which will advance the highest good for all life on our precious planet.
In a recent Happy New Year posting, I said that:
“The personal and planetary are intimately connected.
Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’,
dreaming our world into being; and,
consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’”
Quotations from Rumi, Buddha (The Awakened One), and ancient Upanishads which precede the essay, elucidate and illuminate our common dream “reality”. And here are more quotations which can help us realize why our supposed waking life is like a dream:
“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream?
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung
“To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil…”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet (c. 1599), Act 3, sc. 1.
Especially since modern medical technology has begun resuscitating apparently dead heart attack victims, many survivors have recounted amazing near death experiences (NDE’s) helping us to learn societally about what happens “when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”. And such NDE’s have been portrayed in movies like the 1998 Robin Williams film, “What Dreams May Come”, which paradoxically dealt with post-suicide experience.
Paramahansa Yogananda poetically observed:
“The mysterious soul abides forever’ changing never….
It loves to live in the grottos of change, ever steadfast and immovable. It never dreams ought but eternity.”
May our awakening Human ‘dream team’ ever more self-identify as “the mysterious soul [which] abides forever” . And may we apprehend as adults the esoteric meaning of this nursery rhyme we recited as children:
“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream”
Thereby may we at long last create an ever nobler ‘common dream’ that honors the equality and divinity of everyone everywhere, thus transcending exploitation and discrimination against the most vulnerable people and other sentient beings, by using our common sense and our common wealth for our common weal, and to end the iniquity of inequity in our society.
And so shall it be!