In today’s concluding post about a young man falling on a bus and hitting his head (He’s OK.), I want to explore further the idea that the dream experience doesn’t stop when we’re awake.
The structure of life
What do waking dreams imply about life? We make many assumptions: While we’re asleep, our imaginations, fueled by our subconscious minds, invent bizarre stories. Many of them make little sense and come to us in wild, fantastical scenes, like YouTube clips gone mad. Obviously, somewhere in the deep recesses of our minds, we created these things.
Then, while we’re awake, we deal with real life. It goes along in its mundane, sometimes frantic way. There are hassles, but they are manageable. Then, every once in a while, a real zinger comes along that throws us off balance. We find ourselves struggling simply to hold ourselves and our families together; we are overwhelmed. And the trouble is that these events—crises of health, finances, interpersonal conflicts, accidents—are randomly perpetrated on us by the mercurial nature of life. We have no control over them, and we are caught in the middle of them as victims.
Not so! Not so!! Not so!!!! This is a myth, one that is so ingrained in the human consciousness that we take it totally for granted. Until we are willing to step back from these preconceptions of how life works, we are stuck in this illusion, constantly allowing ourselves to be persecuted by it.
The fact is, we have a great deal of control over these unhappy events. Why? Because we made them up in the first place. They are dreams—waking dreams—and they are the product of our own subconscious minds. They come to us not in order to make difficult lives even more intolerable, but to teach. They come to highlight internal conflicts that we are struggling with. Often, they do this by simply describing the conflict back to us. But in doing so, if we are aware enough to pay attention, we see our dilemmas held up in front of us. Even from that small distance, they are often clearer and easier to grapple with and find a solution to.
These waking dreams do not come to us to torture; they come to assist. Once they have done their job—helping us to understand a conflict—they go away. The trick is to start looking at life with this in mind. These events tend to begin gently—the equivalent of a wake-up slap. If they are ignored and the issue is important, they return, this time more like a punch in the nose. And if they are still disregarded, they become ruthless, expressing themselves through major issues, like chronic or terminal illnesses, financial ruin and other catastrophic events; they try to force our awakening; that's how they work.
For many, the above represents a radically different way of looking at life, but one that brings long-lasting, peace-inducing benefits.
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