To know of you are still dreaming,
strive to further awaken yourself.
In ‘Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious’, Christopher Nolan, the writer-director of the movie ‘Inception’ says, ‘For me, one of the key components of dreaming is that you don’t feel yourself enter the dream. You can feel yourself come out of it. You can very specifically wake from the dream and know exactly at what point in the dream you’ve woken from it… And so, in portraying dreams and the entry into dreams in the film, it was very important to me to try and really do it the way it felt. And the way it feels to me is that you find yourself in the middle of a situation, in the middle of an environment. And as the experience ends, you become aware of where you are physically in the world above the dream, if you like. So the way we portray the dreams is we throw the audience into the middle of an experience and then they become oriented through coming out of that dream.’
Likewise, due to lack of mindfulness, we are unaware of how we entered smack into the centre of this present life with our existential crises. We can’t even recall our ‘earliest’ memory as children vividly, what more to say countless memories from many past lives. Though we are too deluded to know how we became dreamily deluded, we can become less caught up. Just as we know when we awaken from a dream, we can be aware of when (and thus how) we awaken from this dream-like life of transient forms and experiences. As it is possible to dream within a dream, there are layers upon layers, like bubbles within bubbles, of delusion to break through. Though we are ignorant of how we came to have ignorance, we can know and see the ending of ignorance as we become increasingly enlightened. Understanding this life to be dream-like is the very means for awaking from it.
One of the intriguing ideas from Inception is that our mind works so intricately and swiftly that we can create and perceive at (almost) the same time in dreams, which are fleshed-out three-dimensional expressions of our habitual, stray and hidden thoughts, which are as ‘real’ as they can get to fool us into taking them for reality. This parallels exactly with this life we experience, which is simultaneously an illusory shared yet distinct dream. The common experiences we have are based on our collective skewed perceptions, while there are more minutely skewed ones for individuals. Indeed, we don’t run on reality but our dreamy perception of it. Yet, the rich mechanics of dreams speak of the infinite potential of the mind to conjure fantasy and to align with reality. In Tibetan Buddhism, lucid dream yoga is practised, where yogis use the dream state as a skilful means to awaken to broader reality…
One first recognises when one is dreaming, so as to overcome fear of illusory harm. Next, one reflects that life is also dream-like – insubstantial due to constant change of mind and matter. This is followed by mastery of control by manifesting and transforming things at will, before realising one’s dream form is just as insubstantial as the other dream objects. Images of enlightened beings are then visualised and concentrated upon as guides to the clear light of true nature. As what we are often mindful of is often that dreamt, one who practises sadhanas (spiritual homework) regularly might dream of doing so, which furthers one’s practice. Many ‘impossible’ things can be done too – such as visiting past teachers in distant lands. Waking and dreaming moments thus become interchangeable or even one, with dreams being more than mere sideshows of life!
One who lives unmindfully,
as dreams are part of one’s life too.
The ‘Inception’ of Reality or Illusion? (Movie Review)
What Is Your Totem of Reality?
What If The Top Doesn’t Stop?
Are We Caught in the ‘Matrix’ of Dreams?
The Butterfly’s Dream
Dream-like But Not a Dream