The mind abstracts.
Abstractions turn into ideas.
Ideas become psychological realities.
We are dreamers in our own dreams.
The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our dreams.
Sweet dreams are made of sweet thoughts.
Sweet thoughts are nourished by the senses.
Sensuality is the realm beyond the mind.
Too much mind leads to sensual starvation.
Too much rationality to superficiality.
We long for depth and sensation,
Yet we are afraid to let go of the mind.
Whatever works to get us excited,
we fiercly guard like treasures.
Whoever opens us up,
we follow like head-less lemmings.
Better to realize its all a dream,
and open the tap to our own inexhaustible source of bliss.
The sweetness of the dreams has no limit.
Ritualize your life!
The only reality is the raw experience of life prior to the mind’s involvement.
We are constantly seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching nothing but the Truth.
The mind discriminates, interprets, evaluates and judges our sensory input. Thereby it creates a parallel world that does not exist independent of our minds, a mirage of ideas, beliefs and opinions about reality.
This dream world is the source of us living out imaginary stories of right and wrong, better and worse, me and other. And both, the most exalted as well as the most painful moments of our lives are simply caused by whether reality fits our mind-made stories.
The whole of humanity is a big act. As long as we are convinced that our fictitious stories about reality hold true, we are hopelessly caught up in our roles and ideologies and forever struggle and strive on the spot.
The only way out of the story is to fully see through and acknowledge it. Transcendence is neither being lost in the story nor denying or rejecting it.
The mind is not a mistake and, so, to be human means to put on an act. But at the same time, when we are ignorant about reality and take our role too seriously, our life becomes a drag.
For playing is fun when everybody tries to win without being invested in the outcome. Thus the sages consciously play out their fake acts in a genuine manner and with compassion.
Nothing – not even ourselves – exists the way we think it does.
What is ultimately real is … this, and there is no other Truth, ever.
Shed your illusions,
wake up to reality,
and be one.
This is a song I recorded recently with a friend
The universe makes most sense by not making much sense.
As its purpose is to have no particular purpose,
It has infinite creative potential.
It moves as it stays and stays as it moves.
As change is its only constant,
It remains forever the same.
It has always been going on without going anywhere.
As it has never started and will never end,
Time does not apply to it.
It gives rise to all pairs of opposites.
And as the source of everything,
Nothing exists apart of it.
You are neither its puppet nor its master.
These ideas are based on self and other,
But such separation never took place.
There is only all-self which is all-other,
Forever re-creating itself out of itself.
We are IT dreaming we are other.
Now, wake up.
The juice of life is in the dream.
Once we start to hang out in spiritual circles of the Buddhist or Advaita kind we soon enough come across statements like “life is an illusion” or “life is just a dream”. While teachings pointing to the “unreality” of the world as we perceive it through the filter of our minds are very helpful, I find spiritual seekers often get stuck in it. And whenever seekers get stuck, it is because they mistake the metaphor for the reference.
All the “dream”-metaphor refers to is the fact that how we perceive the world is fundamentally subjective. The image of the world as we know it is a function of our individual set of conditioned beliefs of good and bad (in time and space). The judgmental (good vs. bad) interpretation of the stream of experiences creates the illusion of an observatory experiencer, an entity separate from the stream. This split is the source of duality: there is a “me” experiencing and evaluating what is happening within and without. Accordingly, non-duality is realizing the “me” as another experience, as another aspect of the stream. It is the awakening to the truth that all there is, is the stream of experience. Thus, by entering the stream, “we”, the subjective “judge” dissolves. And by no longer objecting or trying to control the stream, we flow with it and suffering ends.
Unfortunately, for many people I have met, the metaphor seems to mean that they should suspend judgement or negate their subjective experiences. Both approaches, though, are expressions of a fundamentally judgmental nature. They can’t work, because whenever we do something to get something we are operating from a stance of good vs. bad. “I should not judge” is as judgmental as it gets.
Spiritual pointers and metaphors are not meant to make us do something but simply to acknowledge and accept how it is. Hence, to enter the stream (and dissolve the “judge”) all one has to do is to fully acknowledge our imaginary views of the world. Once we don’t care about judgement anymore, we have transcended judgement, and we enter. When we say “yes” to everything, even to our conditioned “no’s”, unity is restored. Nirvana is Samsara fully embraced.
There are certain ways to bring this state of surrender about. Ramana Maharshi for example would say that the world is unreal (a subjective image), that fundamentally only Brahman (the “raw” stream of experience) was real, but that in the end, the world was Brahman. So, even the subjective judgement (the “me”) is an expression of the sacred, because it is also an experience. There is only experience, unity, and “thou art that”.
The (teaching-)approach which works for me is a bit different, though. I compare living with going to the movies. We all know that the whole fun of going to the movies is to forget that is a movie and to get lost in the plot. So, if we kept telling us it was “just” a movie or “just” an illusion, we could have stayed home, because it negates the whole movie experience. The same applies to life. If we keep telling ourselves that life is “just” a dream, we keep ourselves out of, that is, detached from life (see an older post on detachment). To get the most out of a movie experience one has to get wholeheartedly involved in the plot. Hence, getting completely sucked in by life without wobbling or hesitating, to live for the sake of playing out our part on the world stage, whatever this part turns out to be, that is the enlightened life. It is a sacred “yes”, which is unconditional, which does not expect anything in return and which, for those reasons, will yield constant surprise, wonder and gratefulness. A “dream” it is, but what an amazing one!
“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
This entry is going to be short and simple. A few hints, that’s all.
As we are going through our lives we often refer to “our” body, “our” minds, “our” thoughts, “our” emotions, “our” memories, “our” sensations, “our” ego’s etc. As opposed to other people talking about non-duality or spirituality I love possessive pronouns like “my” or “mine”. I think they are a great doorway to liberation, little teachers in disguise so to speak, since they actually point right to the core of the most fascinating question of all: who is this “I” the pronouns “my” or “mine” are referring to?
Whenever we say “my”, we unconsciously objectify and separate some-thing from its immediate environment. An object that can be attributed to an “I” cannot be the “I” itself because it stands somehow apart from it. Or in other words, it is “had” by the “I”, but not itself a genuine feature of the “I”. Hence, when we say “my” body, we essentially disqualify the body from being our essential nature. Same with thought, mind, emotions, experiences etc. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting about the ultimate logic of our claiming of objects, we (unconsciously) identify with them. Once we gain enough awareness of them, though, e.g. through contemplative practices, we acquire a discriminating faculty to negate and disidentify from them.
By starting the process of knowing what we are not, we prepare ourselves for a showdown with our true Self. If we are not our bodies, minds, egos, thoughts, emotions, memories and experiences, what are we? We are that which can never be negated, that which is the eternal subject to all phenomenal objects: the bare sense of “I am” aka (pure) consciousness. All we always know for certain is that we are. And that’s essentially all we are. Simple.
All objects ultimately depend on the subject, the power of consciousness. The phenomenal world appears in and through consciousness. No consciousness, no world! Since it is forever the subject, consciousness, our essential nature, can not be objectified and known, it can only be intuitively realized as the foundation and source of reality. Just as an eye, the source of seeing, cannot see itself, whatever can be known is never consciousness but merely the content of it. All is content of consciousness.
In our dreams at night it is consciousness within and through which our dreams appear. The same applies for the waking state. Therefore, there is no way of knowing whether our waking state is just another dream or not. Neuroscience and physics do suggest that the world as we know it is in fact a virtual reality. Colors, for example, are but the perception of different wavelengths of light. In that sense the world is unreal, an illusion. Thus, in Hindu mythology we are said to be dream characters simultaneously dreaming the universal dream spun by the one dreaming faculty, which is consciousness, the creative principle of our world. All, including our selves, is One big dream of consciousness.
Since, however, this dream-world is of “divine” origin and the only world we can possibly inhabit, there is no reason to reject it. It is just the way it was “designed” to be. Absolutely flawless. All is but a perfect manifestations of the creative play of consciousness.
To stretch the metaphor a bit further, “awakening” does not point to waking up from the dream but within it. Just as within our dreams at night we can “wake up”, become aware of being in a dream and change the course of action (what is called lucid dreaming), we can “wake up”, become aware of the waking dream and live more freely (lucid living).
Living (lucidly) that way not only means to have realized that all is fine but that the self is a dream-character which can’t die because it had never actually been born. This liberating insight is the start for a whole new venture into the adventure that is life.
Enjoy the ride!
“Not what the eye sees, but that which makes the eye see, that is the Spirit.”