Lets Stop Daydreaming
Once a king summoned his ministers in the early morning hours and asked them, “Last night, I had a very vivid dream. I was a butterfly, going from flower to flower, drinking honey. My dream was so clear and real that I have a grave doubt: Am I a king who was dreaming that he was a butterfly? Or am I a butterfly now dreaming that I am a king?”
The commonplace phenomenon of dreams constitutes one of the greatest human mysteries. What is a dream? Is it real? If not, then why does a nightmare have real effects on the body like sweating and panting, something which happens only when we “really” run in fear? Considering the similarity between dreams and real life, could our waking life be also some sort of dream?
If we look back at a past experience from a dream and our waking life, is there any substantial difference? Both are gone and done and we can do nothing about them now except remember them. We call what we experience when asleep as a dream because it ends when we wake up. Will death be like waking up from the dream of what we are experiencing when “awake” now?
Many people speculate different things about dreams, but one thing we can surely infer from them: our identity is different from our body. When we dream, our bodies lie on the bed, experiencing nothing physically. Yet we experience being chased by a tiger or sporting with a princess. This means I the experiencer of the emotions – am not the body
The Vedic scriptures explain that we are spiritual beings, souls, currently in a dormant state of material consciousness, oblivious to our real identity and purpose. During our spiritual amnesia, our consciousness shuttles between four states – jagruti (normal wakefulness), svapna (dream), sushupti (deep dreamless sleep) and samadhi (divine wakefulness). Our actual identity as souls, beloved children of God, is experienced in samadhi. Presently, though physically awake, we are spiritually asleep.
A sleeping person cannot perceive the existence of the shining sun, though the sun is sustaining his very life. Similarly due to our spiritual slumber, we cannot perceive the presence and love of God, though He is sustaining our very existence by providing heat, light, air, water and food. But just as a sleeping person can be awakened by sound, we can wake from our spiritual slumber through spiritual sound – the holy name of God.
Most people don’t consider the insubstantial, illusory nature of our current existence as a serious problem; instead they busy themselves in trying to make their dream more pleasant with a better job, a bigger house, etc. Unfortunately no matter how pleasant we make the dream, it ultimately transmogrifies into a nightmare when our bodies subject us to the tortures of old age, disease and death. And then we transmigrate to another body, where we pursue another dream, which too perverts into a nightmare. Thus the horror movie of our life repeats again and again; but here we are the hapless victims, not the safe spectators. In the human form of life, our consciousness is developed enough to see through the drapes of illusion and wake up to our immortal blissful life in devotional service to our loving father God.
Therefore let us chant and wake up from the dream of material life – before it turns into a nightmare.