When we dream at night, do we realize that it is merely a dream that is about to vanish in a few seconds? No, we live in the dream as if that is the real world – the only reality, the only life. It is so concrete! We strive hard in our sleep to make a permanent mark of our existence in dreams. During a dream, we feel that whatever happens in the dream is of crucial significance to our existence, as if it can make or break our lives. Hardly do we realize how ephemeral it is!
In just a few moments that sleep we sleep through, a lifetime is experienced in dreams – a lifetime in a single flash of lightning. And, we try hard to shape our existence in that dream, only to see them vanish like lines drawn on water.
Seeing the futility of the hollow struggles you underwent, you will burst out laughing. Seeing the struggles that others undergo in their fleeting dreams of existence, your heart will go out with compassion to gently wake them up from their dreams!
Likewise, we hold fast to the visions of this waking state as if this is all we got, and as if this is going to stay. It feels so concrete. Lost in the never-ending rush till the day we fall apart, we keep on amassing wealth, status, fame, and so on. We are busy shaping our lives and chiseling our mark in this world. Alas! we do so, only to see them dissolve like any other dream on the day we fall apart! Then, impoverished, we flow into yet another dreamlike existence. There, we start again – chiseling our name all over again.
When the bubble of this life bursts, of what use has been the endless efforts and fights that we undertook to mark our existence in this world! All what remains are the terrible turbulence and the urges that we set in motion. Those go forward to shape another dreamlike existence. Of what use is whatever we amassed! All what goes forward is the bitter mood – of wandering like a lost one through the realms of craving and discontentment.
If you observe the dreams of night this will be evident. In one dream, you may be trying to run away from a tiger. The next dream may have nothing to do with the tiger, but the mood and anxiety of being chased by one or other fearful situations extend well into that dream. Likewise, in one dream you may be chasing behind a passion. You can’t take the object of your passion beyond this dream, but the mood of chasing behind objects and that of being deprived haunt you even in the next dream. Just in the same way, it is only those emotional undercurrents that flow forward from one life to another. They ripple through the stream of experiences dream after dream, life after life.
Visions of yesterday have already dissolved and vanished. Only its emotional undercurrents ripple through the river of experiences even today.
Let alone carrying forward, do we even remember the ‘realities’ of one dream in another? Most often, not. And, it is so with the life too. So, it doesn’t really matter if you were a king or a beggar in yesterday’s dream. Visions of yesterday have already dissolved and vanished. Only its emotional undercurrents ripple through the river of experiences even today.
Wake up from the clutches of taking dreams to be solid realities! Be mindful of how fleeting and hollow those are. Then, you would be able to handle the dreamlike reality of this life with ease. Seeing the futility of the hollow struggles you underwent, you will burst out laughing. Seeing the struggles that others undergo in their fleeting dreams of existence, your heart will go out with compassion to gently wake them up from their dreams!
Note: The empty and dreamlike nature of our waking state need not be accepted merely based on the parallels between dream state and waking state. There are logical treatises such as Acharya Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka-karika, Acharya Candrakirti’s Madhyamaka-avatara and Acharya Santarakshita’s Madhyamaka-alamkara, etc. to prove t the nature of dream and reality beyond doubt. Studying of these treatises can help in developing a certainty on this point. However, that is beyond the scope of this article.