“Waking from the dream is our purpose now.” -Eckhart Tolle
Over the ages, theorists, psychics, dreamers, philosophers, and even scientists have suggested that reality as we know it is a dream. Ultimate reality exists within us, as us, but we have forgotten. We are too preoccupied with our everyday dramas to remember. We watch CNN, bitch about Obama, read disturbing articles, blame our families, and grump our way through life instead. So our joy remains locked inside, patiently waiting to be awakened. Its slumber is fed by dulling routines, its vitality is robbed by unhappy, stressful thoughts.
But it is not our life situations that need to change immediately- it's our perceptions. This is an inside job. We must begin with our minds. Do you take responsibility for your mind? Did you even know you could?
(This is where I could go off on a beautiful tangent about meditation, but I'll save that for later. Just trust me on this- meditation makes life SO MUCH BETTER. And if you're about to say, 'But I can't meditate- my mind's too busy!'- stop right there. I've heard it all before, and that's exactly why you SHOULD meditate.)
So. Let us consider the possibility that our day to day reality is a sort of dream. Yes, it's real in the sense that you can knock on wood and feel it under your knuckles, or taste that lovely butter and honey on your toast. But imagine that you had far more power than you realized. Imagine that you were living in a dream that you could manipulate. Suppose for a minute you were lucid dreaming every moment of your life. What if that encounter with your boss wasn’t really real? What if you could say anything you wanted to him? What if you could steer this “dream” in any direction that struck your fancy? Where would you take it?
I considered that possibility yesterday. I took it very seriously, because I had nothing to lose. Sitting on colorful floor cushions in a restaurant with billowing curtains, I sipped mint tea. No one was there but me. I typed, and I thought, and I nibbled on my parantha, and I typed some more. Then a bright-eyed Indian man walked into the room. I have met him before. He is a very kind, respectful man who has studied Ayurvedic massage and different types of yoga. He always presses his hands together before his heart when he greets me, and a smudge of orange powder marks his forehead, between his eyes.
He sat down. We talked for a long time. He told me about Shiva, the powerful mountain-dwelling god of the Hindus, smoker of chillums, and master yogi. He described Shiva’s royal consort, the beautiful Parvati, his student and mythical lover. He told me about Gobind Singh, the first guru of the Sikh religion. He described meditation techniques to be employed morning, noon, and night in order to refresh one’s spirit, and strengthen one’s body.
As he spoke, I thought, “What would happen if I was dreaming right now? What if this is a dream? What would I do? What would I say?” Strangely, I had no strong impulses to fly to the ceiling, or start shouting obscenities just for kicks. I just listened. But as he continued to speak, I not only imagined that I was in a dream, I felt like I was in a dream. I allowed myself to believe that. And all that happened was that a smile came to my face. I got so happy. I must have looked goofy, smiling like that. He wasn’t talking about anything particularly happy. But I was happy. I thought, We are in a dream right now, you are a character I have conjured up, talking philosophy and theology and meditation and mind. You are so convincing with your orange dot and your brown skin, but really, we’re both just dreamers. How fun!
It was fantastic. I did it again today. Stretching out over a yoga stool, calves extended, fingers pressing down, I thought, Pretend you’re in a dream right now. What would you do? Again, I didn’t fly to the ceiling, or start free-style rapping to impress all the other students. I stretched further. If I was dreaming, I wanted to be a badass yogi, focused on the breath entering and leaving my lungs, squarely planted in the moment as my beautiful yoga teacher told us to press down on our heels, lengthen our torsos, soften our faces. If I was dreaming, it was a perfect dream, all of these people in an arc around the studio, legs crisscrossed like scissors, rain beating down on the roof. It was great!
Imagine you’re dreaming. Maybe your boyfriend is sitting on the couch in the living room right now, watching TV. What would you do to him, what would say? If this was a lucid dream you were in, you could do anything! You could sit on his lap, give him a kiss. You could tell him that you loved him, tickle him until you are both laughing and breathless.
Maybe right now you are on your way to the lake. Make it a dream. How does the water feel on your skin? I bet it feels beautiful. It probably makes you laugh! Kick and splash and call your friends into the water. Make it the best dream possible! You are lucid dreaming, so anything is possible. Maybe you haven’t learned to sprout wings yet, but I bet you can have a great time pretending you’re a mermaid, or enjoying that barbeque on the beach. I bet laughing with your friends feels fuller, more free. Anything is possible here. Anything is possible in dreams.
Of course, if we are living in a dream, and anything is possible, it might be tempting to pull an “Office Space” and tell your boss to fuck off. Maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe it’s the best thing. But if we are lucid dreaming, or lucid living for that matter, why not make this the best experience possible? Screw the boss! (But only if it's fun!). There are so many ways we can play!
Walk to work. Smell the roses. Ask him his name. Read Rumi. Feel the rush that makes you exhale, tingling. Flirt. Be bold. Sunbathe naked, and masturbate at 4 pm, bathed in yellow light. Wear sexy clothes. Do it. Press your legs against his, and enjoy it. Start breaking little rules, then bigger ones. Savor each delicious moment. Create more of them. Why not? We're dreaming :)
The more beautiful we make our living dream, the closer we come to waking up. I’m sure of this. The more awake we are, the more that gorgeous possibilities begin to pop. The world is our oyster. Serendipity happens. Perfect coincidences. The Universe's deft hand, guiding us fluidly through Life. Beautiful smiles, appreciation, soft fur, dappled light, bald eagles, June flowers, airplanes, holidays, laughter, comfort, and ease become ours. It's always been there, we've just forgotten to look. Instead, we focus on lack, war, broken systems, and ugly drama. We must guide ourselves back to the blessed perspective we were born with, and evolve from there. Deeper, bluer, truer realms exist now, where dolphins jump, lovers kiss, and every moment is a sacrament. Train your eyes to the beauty, flow, and magic of the universe, and it will be yours.
Wake up, dreamers! It's all right here!