I keep coming back to this simple reminder from India, via Alan Watts:
Say you could decide the content of your dreams, what would you chose? How may this change over time?
I find that I would first chose to experience what I wish for in waking life. I would chose to live and experience a good life in all areas of life. Live it. Be it. Soak it up.
This would certainly be exciting and satisfying for a while. And yet – after some time – I imagine it would get somewhat familiar and predictable. To spice it up a little, I may chose to let go of control to some extent, and include surprises.
That would make it more interesting. But if these surprises are minor or always to my liking, that too gets stale after a while. So why not add some challenges?
I find this more interesting. But if I am aware I of dreaming while dreaming, these challenges won’t have much of an edge. So why not chose to forget that I am dreaming? That makes the challenges more juicy. They appear to me as real challenges.
That’s fine for a while too, but if these challenges always remain medium or small, this too will get boring in the long run. Why not add some larger challenges – some that goes to the core of what this dream character takes to be most important?
To make this even more juicy, why not include a twist to the themes above. For instance, some glimpses or intuitions that it is a dream, and what I take myself to be is a dream character in a dream. With these glimpses and intuitions may come a natural desire for recognizing I am dreaming in a more clear and stable way, and a path going from not knowing it is a dream via glimpses and intuitions to this more clear and stable recognition that it is a dream. And all of this is just another twist to the dream. It adds to the drama and interest.
If there is a more stable and clear recognition that it is a dream, what’s next? How can I continue to make it interesting? One way is to explore how it is to help other dream characters recognize they are dream characters in a dream.
And finally, since it is a dream anyway, why not do it all over again? There is no need to let any one phase, including the stable recognition, stay around for too long.
After going through this imagined exploration, one thing stands out to me. This is exactly how my life is, up to the last couple of steps.
I have forgotten it is a dream. I have challenges, some going straight to what I take as most important for me. I recognize it is a dream through glimpses and intuitions. And there is an apparent path to a more clear and stable recognition of the dream, and this path has it’s own ups and downs and drama.
I am, quite literally, living my dream life.
Some additional notes:
For the purposes of this analogy, it doesn’t really matter how this life is similar to a dream. The analogy is an invitation for inquiry, and for recognizing that if this life was a dream, I would most likely chose it to be just as it is. This inquiry is an invitation for me to find more peace with myself and my life.
And yet, the question is important. It is another form of inquiry. How is this life similar to a dream? What do I find when I explore this for myself, in immediate experience?
Here is what comes up for me now, although it will be different for everyone:
When I explore my experiences through the (imagined) filter of the sense fields, I find that any experience is ephemeral and insubstantial, just like awareness itself. It seems made up of awareness – the play of awareness as form – just like a dream. Also, this character – this human self – appears the same way, as awareness and the play of awareness as form. And any sense of “I” is an image and a story identified with and taken to be true, and yet still just an image and a story. That too is the play of awareness, temporarily appearing to itself in a certain way. As usual, this is only helpful as a question and a pointer for own exploration. As a belief, it is just another way I limit reality in my own mind, and as a question and pointer for inquiry, it opens up my world.