Waking From the Dream

The dream metaphor is very beautiful and powerful. It is no wonder that it has been used so frequently by teachers, especially of the Direct Path: Ramana Maharshi, Atmananda Krishna Menon, Papaji,  Wei Wu Wei, Francis Lucille, Rupert Spira, Lester Levenson, Karl Renz, and so on.

The only metaphor that is comes near is the ocean and wave one. We'll save that for another time...

I will just say first that there is a caveat to all of this, and that is that we are talking in a world of duality here in a seeming attempt to talk author to audience, and expressing with language — and language, as a tool, as a pointer, has its limitations. But that is part of why this is an art form, and not a science per se, and such a wonderful and beautiful challenge. We see patterns...

We are really talking awareness to awareness – and there is only One awareness! Why does awareness need to talk to itself, if there is just One? Think of the expression of love: if it's not expressed, it's simply a potential, like magnetism. Same with Beauty: when it's seen, then suddenly there is Art in a real sense: in the sense that the senses now experience "It". Why not?  That's why it's "art", in that timeless Beauty; that's why it's Love, that's why it's Truth – it is the non-phenomenal expressing itself phenomenally. The intemporal manifesting temporally. So smile, your in God's eye, on camera, and have a little laugh.

On Having a Better Dream: Regarding the "Spiritual" Scene, Self Help, New Age Stuff, etc.

There is an outlook I encounter oftentimes. People that are interested in “manifesting”, etc.

Sometimes I hear it put it as, “if it’s all a dream, why not have a better dream?”

By way of contrast, and expressing it with the dream metaphor, ultimately for all of "us" it is about waking up from the dream. Cutting the tree at the root as it were, rather than pruning it leaf by leaf. Dreams are by a dreamer, so it's not true it's all a dream. The unknown dreamer doing the dreaming is real. The buck has to stop somewhere.

Would you rather be a leaf drifting down stream with the other dreamers, or wake up to your true self?

Interesting difference, which we shall explore...

Is there anything wrong with wanting to have a better dream?

Of course there is nothing wrong with having a better dream. We all want that, as dream characters. But why not go free? Why not “wake up”?

“There is a river of thought-waves. Everyone is being washed downstream. Everyone is clinging to these thoughts and being washed away.

Just give rise to the single thought, ‘I want to be free.’ This thought will rarely come out of the entire population. The entire population of the planet is moving downstream. They are not destined to give rise to the thought, ‘I want to be enlightened in this very span of time.’

So I call this thought of freedom going against the stream and towards the source. It does not require any effort to give rise to this thought. The thought ‘I want to be free’ is itself free. This thought will take you to freedom. It is the most rare thought. Out of the entire population of 6 billion, only a handful give rise to this thought.”

~ Papaji, from the book Wake Up and Roar: satsang with H.W.L. Poonja, ed. Eli Jaxon-Bear


“A better dream will never lead to waking up.” – the author to a friend

One scenario in the dream is doing some kind of therapy or “ceremony”, such as psychotherapy sessions, “shadow work”, various practices, or psychedelic treatments (such as macro doses of Ayahuasca, psilocybe mushrooms, etc.), that kind of thing, in order to clear out, clean up, dissolve whatever is in the way of what one wants, whether it’s material or spiritual – such as health, money, “abundance”, relationships, travel, or enlightenment, awakening, or whatever is you see as the desired objects or goal (if you have a clear goal). Or simply to get rid of the “bad” in order to be good. A catharsis or purging.

In the clearing out is an assumption that something happens in time and space, towards an improvement. An "urban renewal project", as the very funny non-dualist presenter Paul Hedderman put it.  Isn't there a person, an object behind that assumption? It is seen is in some sense independently real, along with the world. This is still the dream.

There is also the assumption that something is bad or wrong or needs to be fixed: namely the world and the self, even if, or especially if, they are connected. After all, God is doing bad job! Isn't this arrogance?

I’ve heard phrases like “It’s all included” from those deeply committed to the self-help and New Age paths.

Well, is the false self really included? Why would you include that? Would the drug addict or the alcoholic want to include the drug addict character or the alcoholic character when it’s time to "wake up" or recieve a download of Grace, and free themselves of the addiction? What about this personality, this fictional character that’s been built up as an image of what you want to be seen as? It has to go to... all dream characters disappear, but the entirety of the universe of reality is gained.

Even if the dream character is near perfection, it is a lot of work to maintain a dream fiction. Wouldn’t you rather let go and relax, or allow new things, a new dawn, a new life to arise… and live now, not in the past or future? Where are you going?

Question: I have the feeling that I'm slowly beginning to wake up, more or less.

Karl: That's impossible! Since in this eternal Now there's only the experience of the pure Self, there's absolutely no sense of "more or less." There's no "closer" to it, "more advanced," "less advanced," or everything else. Nobody's enlightened or unenlightened; in fact, any idea of awakening disappears.
There are no sleeping or awakened ones anymore, no more hocus-pocus of trying to get anywhere and have special experiences, or any other such nonsense.
– Karl Renz, The Myth of Enlightenment (74)

From the point of view of the mind, life is a problem to be solved. For the point of view of "Consciousness" (just another word or concept for the Unseen See-er) – which is no point, or all points at the same time – there is no problem.

Another thing I hear often is a rejection or disappointment about a teacher because of some particular behavior that did not align with the student or observer's expectations or assumed rules and standards about good, bad, etc. Or the assumption is that because a "sage" is happy all the time, and "established", they would never, for example, change life or romantic partners. This is completely untrue and a fundamental misunderstanding. The assumption is "enlightenment" has to be in some particular form for a "teacher" or "the enlightened" bodymind. I've also heard it expressed as, "they should be soft and gentle if it's an expression of our True self". In fact, Nisargadatta, Yogananda, Francis Lucille, and many others, could sound quite harsh and even outraged at times, depending on the circumstances of what was presented by a student or by other circumstances. At other times quite the opposite. But there was still love always behind it. And everywhere, forgiveness, like in one big happy family.

You see it's all placing a requirement on what is being called "enlightenment" or awakening or Being or whatever – but Enlightenment or true Self is what it all appears in, so has no requirement and no form.

I scribbled this down the other day in response to a friend who claims to have met "enlightened bodies" (and went on and on in a word salad about their special qualities etc.):

"There is no difference between 'them' and us. That’s the whole point. That’s what they keep trying to point us towards. We are fundamentally the same all expression of the unknown source. People do not become There is no becoming and no people.
There is no separate entities in existence, and no reincarnation. That is just part of the dream. Like Ramana said, “there is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny, nor free will, neither path nor achievement. This is the final truth.” Though I would leave off the final truth part.

Is there a fear holding it together, holding it in place – are you afraid the whole thing is going to fall apart and you will be back to the badness you think you started with, or are running from – or how it might be seen, and/or what will happen to “you” – either a bad self or a bad past or death, certain feelings, or the absolute disappearance of your self. Such as all the memories and good stuff. You want to go along for the ride when you “wake up”. But how can the dream character stay alive when you are awake? And, every night you are some other dream character, or a collection of them. So in the waking dream, what happens?

And more critically, is anything really lost?

How can the Totality lose anything: again, using the metaphor of the night dream (very powerful and beautiful), when one wakes up, what is lost? Nothing but illusions.

Q: In terms of how you talk about it... if you say we are all just appearances in consciousness that is kind of the Idealist point of view."
Francis Lucille: "No. I would never say 'we are just appearances,' I never say that, you say that (thoughtful pause)... We are that to which the appearances appear.”
(from video "2021 08 08 Francis Lucille Dialogue About Teachers"

I know this essay raises a lot of questions. But there is an answer. But if I just give you an answer, it’s not going to help much, or nearly as much as if you find it yourself. In fact, you have to find it for yourself anyway, in the sense that what is being pointed to is 100% absolutely subjective, and therefore not part of this dream that this pointer is in. Dream characters do not wake up, they disappear. Strange but true. That is why it is said to be “invisible” (by various pointers). Here is one direct path teacher, Atmananda Krishna Menon:

Realization is nothing but shifting the centre of gravity or emphasis from the object to the subject in every perception. For example, ‘I see the chair.’ Here ‘I’ comes first and ‘chair’ next. But the ordinary man ignores the ‘I’ and emphasizes only the ‘chair’. Correctly speaking, he ought to be emphasizing the subject ‘I’ and ignoring the object ‘chair’.
The God-given universe is God itself, and can be nothing else.

Invisible means not visible to the ordinary sense organs, but cognized by some higher faculty.
– Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda

If you keep having fears and badness or wrong come up from the unconscious in the dream, and clearing it out in the dream, and then rinse and repeat, why repeat that dream? Just wake up from the dream (as a whole) and all the badness and fear, the nightmare and the good dream disappears, and everything else in the dream becomes, or is seen for what it was just dream stuff, regardless of what the objects of the dream were, so-called good and bad.
If you place a condition of waking up, of getting rid of the badness and only having a good dream – or any condition whatsoever, you will never wake up, since it’s still dream stuff, dream content.

This can be experienced as: for example, seeing how myopic the mind is, as it focuses on one thing, one problem, or one persona, than another. Do you see how it zooms in down to one small thing, and just how small it is? Then to another thing... well what happened to the other thing?! You forgot it – poof. Part of the dream... you then start to see how it is all like that: very small, and appearing in something so wide as to be invisible. They use "space" as the metaphor, Or "emptiness".

(By the way, Emptiness is not a thing, and is not a non-thing. "Neither emptiness nor non-emptiness").

Dream characters do not wake up. That includes both oneself as a dream character, and others in the dream. When you wake up, the characters in the dream dissolve, poof, disappear. So even if some other character in the dream wakes up in the dream, or becomes enlightened in the dream, they are still your dream character.

Therefor what you want to know is the nature of the “your” in the dream. The “your" or "you" that is dreaming. Who or what is this dreamer? They are not visible in the dream.

One starts to get a sense of a freedom in that "invisibility", in its reality. It has no real limitations.

Eric Platt


  1. Bagpuss on January 13, 2024 at 2:58 am

    And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

    • Eric Platt on January 13, 2024 at 8:09 am

      Yes indeed. And there is no God, or all is God, or You are God – You as the All.

      “So smile, you’re in God’s eye, on camera, and have a little laugh – because you are also the camera!”

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