The world around us is not real. It is a projection of our soul/psyche through the filter of being human. the outer world is an expression of our inner world, like a dream. The nature of reality is more like a dream than anything.
This is not common knowledge; almost no one believes this, especially today, and yet this is something the wise have known for thousands of years, is expressed in many cultures, in a great variety of ways.
When a zen monk senses his death, he withdraws to a cave to write a final poem, his death poem. In the 14th century, one such monk,the Zen master Takuan Soho, sensed his death approaching. Takuan was famous in feudal japan, a brave iconoclast once exiled by the shogun for advocating church/state separation. He also wrote thousands and thousands of pages concerning zen philosophy — including some very famous commentaries on swordsmanship and martial arts. He also invented a pickle called the Takuan. It is sour.
So Takuan sensed his death coming, and he gave a few instructions to his fellow monks: unmarked grave, no ceremony, just bury my dead body and be done with it.
And in the end, he didn’t write a death poem, he just wrote one word: dream. Then he got up and walked into a cave with a grave and sat down comfortably in it and died.
Takuan Soho isn’t the only famous thinker to see the world as a dream. The teachings of Buddha are also concerned with the dream-nature of reality, of being asleep and “awakening” to your Buddha-nature, seeing all of existense as impermanent, without such thing as a separate self, made from the one #fabric, like waves on a lake. The deep wisdom of our ancestors is clear: you are god dreaming you are a man.
But what does this mean for every day life? How is this helpful? How does it benefit a person to contemplate any of this? Life is so complex, I think some contend a philosophy based in practicality is superior. Understanding how to win is a more effective way to navigate through life to find happiness.
Indeed, living life is about finding happiness, lasting and authentic happiness. The problem with thinking about winning is that even if you’re successful, and win and win, the threat of loss still looms ahead, lurking somewhere in the future. The joy of winning, of being successful, of having money and fame and beauty and health — these are merely a coin-side, a contrast to the sorrow of losing them. Suffering becomes an inevitability.
If these things are what make you happy, you will suffer from their loss — you might be anxious and stressed just thinking about losing them! Thus the flimsiness of this sort of happiness is exposed.
This is the danger of attachment. The world-dream is full of amazing lovely things like money and women, and being upper-class and the envy of the masses, but if winning is your game, the danger of failure will always be present. Fear and worry will haunt your every step, and even if you get used to it, it doesn’t matter; the fear of loss makes one push and strive to make more money, to be more famous, to be bigger and better and more. As the Chuang Tzu says:
“Sometimes clashing with things, sometimes bending before them, he runs his course like a galloping steed…is he not pathetic?”
In this current time, 2017 earth, it seems that we have collectively dreamed a world covered in people that have almost entirely forgotten the deep nature of our reality. These wise men and women of old found the very seed of happiness! The world is a dream! But most people pay them no mind, far too many things to do, far too many bodily desires moving them to and fro, chasing and fleeing and chasing into exhaustion. It works for a while (like a good dream) but then it falls apart (like a nightmare) but one way or another, our destiny is not our own; we are simply the result of our next experience, at the total mercy of chance, all the while believing because we strive, we have control. We run like a horse, we do not know how to stop.
But this is all conjecture. These texts and beings are thousands of years old, from are different time, before true science was born, before our mastery of the medical sphere, before our miraculous technilogy reshaped the very earth. We are the advanced ones, we are the ones with the greatest understanding human beings have ever had. these priests and monks and Buddha, they all belong to a bygone, unenlightened age. right?
I can’t say. This is up to you, up to each of us. Words, even the words of saints, are just words; truth is born from personal experience. When you learn something, that is one wheel of the cart, called Theory, and when you actually try it out, that is the other wheel, called Practice. one only spins if they both spin, they spin together; two wheels, one cart.
So the idea of the dream-world is a theory, it means nothing on its own. But combined with personal practice, it becomes active, it becomes alive through your application. If it’s unhelpful, discard it forever, for practice is the process of forging theory, throwing out impurities and keeping what is real. And I contend that what is real is that this world is a dream, and playing in the dream will never make you properly happy, not infinitely happy, peaceful and strong and unafraid of death, forever. This, I contend, is every human beings real destiny, and we should not settle for the luke-cold life of a half-successful animal.
How can any reward in the world compare to knowing you are the energy that has created it?
“Every good fortune, wives, friends, houses, lands, all these gifts and riches…
They are a dream, a juggling act, a traveling show! here for a few days, then gone.
Enough of the pursuit of pleasure, enough of wealth and righteous deeds! In the dark forest of the world, what peace of mind can they bring you?” -Ashtavakra.