The great psychiatrist Carl Jung once had a dream in which he found himself behind a meditating yogi, in a temple. On walking to the front of the yogi he discovered that it was himself.
In his dream he knew, at that moment, that when the yogi's meditation was over, he, Carl Jung, would die as a human.
It is a very ancient Hindu concept that we and the universe are fragments of a dream, or a meditation of God.
The book Alice Through the Looking Glass, was obligatory reading for part of my math course at the University of London. It was a chess problem and a series of Boolean logic problems, written as a story by the Cambridge mathematician Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Lewis Carroll. In it the Red King is asleep in the forest. The characters in the book are all aware that they are all figments of his dream, and that if he wakes up they will cease to exist.
The philosophical puzzles derived from these possibilities were beautifully summarized by Chuang Tzu the Chinese philosopher, in about 410 B.C., when he woke from a dream in which he was a butterfly. Was he a butterfly dreaming he was a man, or a man dreaming he was a butterfly? Which of them woke up; and how could you tell?
Hermes the wise owl in The Adventures of Topsy Lambert had the same problem. He too had once dreamed he was a butterfly, and he sympathized with Topsy the lamb who had a dream in which she was a lion, and was confused about her real identity.
James Lovelock is the famous British physicist who invented the Electron Capture Detector, that can accurately measure and identify ionized gases in concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion. It is used for finding tiny amounts of contaminating chemicals in air, soil, and water. He asked himself the question, ‘If I were on Mars how could I prove that there was life on Earth?’
His investigation of this problem led him to the conclusion that our planet is a living entity, which he called Gaia. The idea is gaining support among the scientific community right now.
Fechner a great German physicist, founded the science of psychophysics, and was the first to show the laws obeyed by the senses when they perceive the world around them. He did this in the 19th century, and was convinced even then that the Earth is a living being, though of a totally different kind from the creatures that live on her and call her home.
He thought that the myths and gods and goddesses of the ancient world were memories of the dreams and creative imagination of Gaia, and that poets and artists of all kinds were the more sensitive sense organs of the planet creature.
In dreams, he thought, we could get closer to the sleeper who dreams us into existence if we knew about Earth as a living creature. You can look up Fechner's physics in any standard science encyclopedia. His work is still basic in the physics of sensation. The wonderful novel The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood is based entirely on this theory of Gaia and initiated my first cosmic consciousness experience.
To find out about his 19th century Gaia hypothesis look in the William James section in the psychology area of your library and read The Pluralistic Universe fascinating stuff from a clear thinker, a psychologist and philosopher who founded the first laboratory for psychology in this country. His most famous book is Varieties of Religious Experience.
Another example of the world as dream concept comes from the experience of Ouspensky the Russian mathematician. When I was young he was one of maybe half a dozen people who really understood Einstein’s work of relativity. He became a student of the Georgian mystic Gurdjieff, and was given an exercise of continuous awareness, 24 hours a day for three months. When it was completed he was asked to go down town with his teacher.
The town was Tiflis. To his amazement Ouspensky saw that everyone in town, except himself and Gurdjieff, was asleep. They were walking, talking, shopping, and going about their lives, but they were doing these things as if they were sleep walking, in a light trance.
On his previous trip, three months before, everyone seemed ‘normal.’ It took some time before he realized that he had not been hypnotized. He had been de-hypnotized! His exercises had awakened him from the light trance shared by everyone else, and called by them the waking state. The whole town woke from their private dream, and entered the public dream, just as people do now. The public dream is called reality. Wakening from it to the next evolutionary stage is called enlightenment.
Ouspensky's experience is available to anyone who is willing to read the little books of Thich Nhat Hanh; the little Zen Master from Vietnam who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Path of Mindfulness that Ouspensky experienced is explained beautifully in Peace is Every Step. ( Books, tapes, videos by Thich Nhat Hanh are all available from Parallax Press, P.O.Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707. Their web site is http://www.parallax.org)
The philosopher Bishop Berkley was a formidable opponent of Darwin, had a first rate mind, and dealt with the 'life as dream' issue completely. He proved that it was not possible to show that this life was not a dream. His explanations are models of clear thought but they cannot explain away the dreamer. He is necessary.
This very old idea is now becoming current among many physicists who deal with quantum mechanics and chaos theory. It seems to many in the top rank that the universe is made from an all permeating subtle energy that resembles consciousness and that thought affects this energy.
The secret of positive thinking, or getting something you want by affirmations and prayer, and the newly touted Law of Attraction seems to lie in this new-old fact. The constantly held thought force or intention, affects the universe, which locally changes form according to the thought. Remember my example of how Napoleon Hill’s constantly held thought eventually brought about a new neural network in the head of his son, born entirely without ears or the nerves associated with hearing.
Sages, seers and the wise men and women of every age have said, 'As ye think, so you become' in one phrasing or another. They have insisted that thinking of an action is the equivalent of doing it in the spiritual realm. And everything in this material realm has its beginning in the spiritual realm.
Poets have grasped the concept of 'universe as mind' for aeons. Remember Prospero in The Tempest, 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.' Prospero didn't mention that dying to this dream is being born into the subtle world. Hamlet was put off suicide because of the possibility of dreaming after death. He didn't realize that he had been in the subtle body all of his incarnation.
Yet sage after sage has told us for millenia that the world is an illusion—like a dream.
A careful reading of the words of Lao Tzu, Mahavir, Krishna, Jesus, Sozen, and dozens of other leaders of mankind over fifty centuries shows that they are not saying that the world is illusory.
They are saying that there is something there, but that our perception of it is through an illusion, just like the people in the movie The Matrix. The report of the senses distorts the reality which actually consists of bundles of energy like whirlpools in a river of energy.
During a dream we create our own universe all from mental energy. The dream is real to us and obeys the laws of the dream world. The world of our waking dream is made the same way.
If a mother sees that her child seems to be having a bad dream she will wake the child up, without fear, knowing that waking to reality will solve all the problems in the dream.
Similarly, the great ones of mankind invite us to realize that we awaken from our private dream into a public dream, and that it is possible to awaken even further from this dream that we call 'reality,' to a clearer perception, undistorted by the interpretations of the mind.
A child is born and acquires a mind through geographical and social circumstances. The world is seen through the distorting lenses of childhood programming from parents and society. Our programs determine what we can see and do and think.
A policeman seeing a man breaking into his own car will jump to his own conclusion.
A lover waiting for a sunset date and the condemned criminal waiting for a sunset execution will not see the same sunset. Twenty people see an accident, and police experience is that it might as well have been twenty different accidents as far as testimony is concerned. If there are 250 million people in a country, there are 250 million mind-made universes in which those people live. There is plenty of room in a small house for two people, but not necessarily for two universes, as the divorce rate witnesses.
Only those who wake up from it see the world as it is—before they were born, so to speak. To see the world as it is without the judgment of the mind is to be among the wise ones. They do not live in the same dream as the rest of us. They live only in the eternal present, the now.
They are the normal ones. So many of us live in a trance that we call these beings abnormal. But our judgment of them has no value. We are still dreaming that we are awake. There can be little hope for permanent improvements in physical, social, or political conditions when all the people making the decisions are asleep.
Despite the problems of the consciousness changing 60's, it was in many ways a step in the right direction. The Eastern religions that so many people are studying, or dabbling in today have techniques based on the 112 different methods used over the centuries to enable people to awaken from the public dream.
Early Christianity and the Desert Fathers knew and used some of these same techniques before repeatable verbal formulas became the ID method of religion..faith instead of experience. My own book, Meditation, the Bridge from the Apparent to the Real is based entirely on those centuries old, true and tried techniques. Good fortune to all who go on that search. In the final analysis it is the only real show in town. Maybe we should go take it in.