Since I mentioned Eckhart Tolle in a previous article and video, I thought I will check what this teacher is up to, since I haven’t listened to him in years.
I was very happy to find that he was not seduced by the wealth his teaching generates, and that he is still his childlike self. This means that his awakening is genuine.
His teachings are so deep and powerful, how many really understand, I wonder. What he’s giving in every talk is gold, but how many realize that? I wonder if he is a fully liberated teacher in disguise (as I don’t think he ever mentioned being fully liberated).
I watched some of his videos, and as a result of also being interested in Taoism and having read many Hindu sacred texts, something clicked and now I finally understand one concept that kept evading me – how the dreamlike nature of this reality works.
The nature of this reality
The reason why in the past I struggled with this is because of the following. Do let me explain it more in detail so that you understand what I’m talking about.
I was wondering how come, if this reality is only a dream, it is so consistent. We get dreams every night, but they are almost always different and lack consistency in many cases.
We also get visions which are similar to the dreams we dream. Yet this reality greatly differs from our dreams or visions as it seems so consistent and much more tangible.
It’s the consistency that puzzled me. The reason it’s so tangible is quite clear. It’s because we are the characters in the dream rather than viewing it from outside. So naturally if we find ourselves in that very illusion as parts of the illusion, it will seem very real and tangible to us.
So it’s the consistency issue that mainly bugged me. And now I finally understand why this reality continues to be the same, no matter how many times we go to sleep and wake up (unlike our dreams which are almost always different every night).
But let me start explaining why this is the case by firstly giving more information about the nature of this reality.
The universe has no matter as we understand it
It’s fortunately now common knowledge, due to the discoveries of quantum physics, that matter as we know it doesn’t exist. Yet researchers still have questions such as whether the universe would continue to exist without anyone observing it.
These questions would never arise were they to discover the truth not through physical tests but by practicing mindfulness. By sticking only to physical experiments scientists and quantum physicists still remain largely cut off from existence, failing to gain a better insight into how it works.
The answer to this, of course, is that were there no one to observe the universe, it wouldn’t exist because those living beings observing it are the universe itself.
So we know, be it through science or personal experience, that we live in a dreamlike reality. But how come it’s so consistent if it’s a dream, so unlike the dreams that we dream at night?
The reason this reality is so consistent
That’s because it’s only one dream of the Universe. The Universe is now asleep, dreaming. And we are the characters in a dream. The dream seems consistent because it’s the same dream.
It’s not us dreaming this dream but the Universe. Yes, ultimately we are the Universe, but since It (She, He) is now playing, dreaming the dream, It separates Itself into different aspects.
We are only parts of the dream, its actors. So the consistency of the dream doesn’t depend on whether we go to sleep and then wake up. It depends only on the waking of the Universe.
The Universe dreams a complicated dream involving the lives and deaths of multitudes, and various experiences that all beings, be it birds, bugs, dogs or humans, go through.
Our dreams are usually inconsistent because we are just trying to become like our Mother – the Universe. So we do what She does, but less perfectly. Also, we get many dreams and the Universe does that too, but since we are the characters in the dream of the Universe, it seems like this is a very long dream.
The dream of the Universe is much, much longer than ours, of course. It could be said that one day and one night is like one breath in and one breath out for Her. Such a dream can span for millions of years. Our dreams, however, are very short, and can last only seconds or a few minutes.
Our dreams give a clue to the Grand Dream
As above, so below. We are the miniature versions of the Universe, so we do what It does but on a very small scale; and we are what It is on a very small scale.
So the mechanism is the same, whether we dream or the Universe does. The consciousness identifies with some player in a dream and as though becomes it.
We experience that in dreams every night. We don’t question how come we are in new circumstances when we start dreaming; we play that particular part as though we always did.
Neither do most people question their existence in this reality; they remain identified with their roles throughout their whole lives within the dream of the Universe (or rather, multiple lives, if we were to believe in the doctrine of reincarnation).
Fortunately, it’s possible to train yourself to wake up in your own dream, which is called “lucid dreaming”; and it’s also possible to wake up whilst dreaming the dream of this reality, which is called “awakening”.
When you can lucid dream, dreaming becomes very fun because you do it consciously, rather than passively playing the role assigned to you. The very same, of course, applies to waking up from the dream of this reality.
You can start lucid dreaming through employing various techniques, like every morning writing down your dreams, or by continuously asking yourself “Am I dreaming?” when you’re awake hoping that finally you will ask the question when you’re asleep, as habits do carry over into dreams.
How to wake up from the dream of this reality
You can also wake up from the dream of this reality, but not by using the same techniques of lucid dreaming. Instead, it is done through being present, and there are many ways to reach that state.
Some people awaken very quickly. They empty their minds, surrender to the present moment, and wake up to the true reality. Such a fast awakening is very rare, but this does happen; but it’s important to understand that the person is not liberated yet, but only awake.
Then others reach a crisis point where they either awaken, lose their minds or commit suicide. The surface mind has become so unbearable that they either destroy it, or it destroys them. This fortunate outcome has happened, for example, to Eckhart Tolle.
Some people reach it through thoroughly following some meditation or self-inquiry technique, like it happened to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. And for some it becomes an all-consuming desire until sooner or later they reach that state almost spontaneously, even without any formal teaching, like it happened to Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Some try many teachings and, when nothing seems to work, they become disillusioned, throw all the techniques away, and then suddenly discover their own way to liberation, like it happened to Buddha.
Other ways people wake up are by observing the observer, focusing on nothing at all during meditation, mindful walking, avoiding any labeling, and so on.
Reality is fun when you’re awake
From our dreams analogy we can also better understand, for example, that we are not free if we are not awake; that’s because when we dream our own dreams unconsciously, the role is being played without us even feeling much alive as we are simply being used by the dream. But when we learn lucid dreaming, we feel much more in control as well as freer.
The same, of course, applies to the Grand Dream. When we are unconscious, we cannot truly feel like living because we only react, depending only on the conditioned mind. But when we wake up, we become at one with the alive Universe which can consciously create through us.
Ultimately, we are the Universe so we can’t take action different from what It wants. So one could argue that since we are the Universe, whether we awaken or not, our role remains the same.
But I think it’s much better to live when you’re awake than to remain unconscious and totally identified with your role, going with heaviness through life without any awareness that it’s only the play of the Universe and not the ultimate.
How to know if you’re awake
There are many misleading statements about awakening in New Age circles, so I believe it’s good to clarify what the awakening is which is talked about in the New Testament, mentioned in Hermeticism, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, A Course In Miracles and taught by individual teachers.
Awakening is finding yourself aware that you are playing the role in the dream of the Universe.
Awakening means seeing life for the first time not through concepts but as it really is; not filtering your experiences through the screen of preconceived notions, but seeing directly into the nature of this reality.
When the person at least once sees the true reality, he is already awakened. Now the work of full awakening begins, by dwelling more and more in the present moment so that those magical moments of observing that which is extend.
Finally, only such lucid reality remains. The person no longer has any blinders such as beliefs nor does he anymore identify with unconscious thoughts which distort his reality.
When you are awake to the true nature of this reality, life becomes fun. The heaviness of it is gone, fears and worries are no more. You become a centered, sane and alert human being.
This is the “pearl of great price” that Jesus talked about. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”; Seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will be added to you.
By focusing on the external things we only get further stuck in the dream, but when we center ourselves, stay aware and embrace the present moment, we allow God manifesting in form as external reality to show Its True Self.
This enables us to recognize that we are the same God manifesting in form; that the Universe and us are one, and that we are actually never born, and therefore are indestructible.
This realization, of course, brings immense joy and we start viewing life as an exciting play rather than as drudgerous existence. We then start appreciating every moment, and we are no longer afraid of death which is not the end of Life, but simply the opposite of birth.