Dream Life

Sometimes it is as though the real and the unreal are both in some way the same. And it seems like increasingly we can justify anything and use any logic or reason for any cause or idea. The dream world, and the waking world, are metaphors for each other. In the dream world, contradictory logic can exist, and certainly that occurs in the waking world. Sometimes two opposing ideas or images from a dream are so contrasted that it is difficult to say they can exist in the waking world.

What we do not always know, while we dream, is that we are alone in our dream, forced into a spectacle of imagination. It is essentially a sleeping hallucination, similar to hypnagogia. There is no pill to eradicate dreams, and if there were, the subject would begin to behave as though they have lost sleep. So while we are alone in our dreams and potentially hallucinating, they are still necessary and unavoidable. Nightmares and terrors of course disrupt the logic and reason that govern sanity, thus scaring the dreamer. Whether or not it is real is less of the issue; the significant issue is how we respond to what is and is not real, logic and illogical. Then again, logic can be made up, although many arguments only contain enough logic to make them seem believable. It is called manipulation, and it can happen without realizing it.

On page eight of The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment, Ven. Guo-go Bhikshu translation, it reads that

Since there is no bondage or liberation, one begins to realize that sentient beings have intrinsically accomplished Buddhahood, and that birth and death and nirvana are like yesterday’s dream.

He is saying that life is like yesterday’s dream, it is illusory, and yet we are not kept in a state of varying somewhere around misery and joy. The bondage that we must become enlightened is illusory. We have already won the dream, because we did not play the game. According to the Buddha, we are already enlightened.

In The Perfection of Wisdom in 8000, on page one hundred ninety eight, Edward Conze translation, it reads:

Subhuti: If it increases through development by day, then it also increases in one who dreams [about it]. For the [Buddha] has said that dream and waking are indiscriminate, [essentially the same]. If a Bodhisattva who have received perfect wisdom, day by day courses in perfect wisdom, then he also in his dreams remain quite close to perfect wisdom, and develops it even then in abundance.”

So we are told that what occurs during the day, also occurs while asleep in dreams. What we practice when awake, translates to a sleeping self. Our sleeping self makes an influence on our waking life. So there is a cycle occurring in which our waking life gives information to our mind, that information is processed in the form of a dream, which influences us when we wake up. It is possible to believe that dreams have no effect on anything in our lives. Dreaming occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep; this is the part of sleep that most makes you feel rested, so perhaps it is a lack of dreaming that will lead to sleep deprivation.

Could dreaming really be an attempt to stay alive? Freud said that fear of death influences many of our regular behaviors, including spending. So could the fear of death propel us into needing to maintain a conscious presence, the ego, even while asleep? Are humans so afraid of disappearing, that we witness every night – whether we realize it is happening or not – the subconscious and other faculties of the mind attempting to escape death? It is a difficult thing to measure.

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