Suppose you have a dream…
You are walking through a forest and you can hear two sounds above all the others. You can hear beautiful birdsong, but you can also hear a wolf howling. You start to wonder what it means. As you focus your attention on the birdsong it grows louder, and you are captivated by the beauty. If you divert your attention to the wolf it too grows louder, and you start to feel fearful.
When you wake up from your dream you realise you are in bed and have been dreaming. Your dreamed self, the bird and the wolf were all experienced inside your mind while you were sleeping. They were made of “dream stuff” but while you were dreaming you experienced them as solid and real and they evoked real emotions for you.
Suppose your day-to-day experience is very similar to a dream experience. You are always there in your waking experience just like you are always there as a dream character in your dream, involved in the action or witnessing it. In your day-to-day waking life what you put your attention on comes into focus and intensifies in your direct experience. The content of the experience changes but awareness of it is ever present and stays the same.
In our waking experience we may be present to what is happening around us. We may be in a real forest and aware of the beauty all around us. We may focus on the birdsong for a while and then be drawn to listen to a babbling brook or the wind in the trees. Depending on where we are in the world, we may hear a real wolf howl. If we become very settled, we may notice that we are able to perceive it all together until something specific catches our attention.
We could also be in a forest thinking about a painful experience. It might be an experience from the near or distant past. This is where our attention them goes and it becomes our present moment experience. We could also be thinking about a problem we are facing, a choice we need to make or worrying about some aspect of the near or distant future. This too becomes our experience.
When we wake up from the “dream” of our experience we discover we are in the present moment again in the forest.
Our painful experience is made of dream stuff too.
Realising this is waking up to the dream-like nature of our waking experience.
However, there is a difference between waking up from a dream and waking up to the nature of our experience. When we wake up from a dream, we are no longer in it. When we wake up to the nature of human experience, we are still in it. We are still in human form and this is the nature of human experience.
From the moment we are born to the moment we die, our waking experience is being created via the three principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness. As Sydney Banks says in The Missing Link:
“Life is a divine dream suspended between time, space and matter.”
Waking up to the divine dream of life, to the truth of human experience is available to all of us. What is written here on this page is not ultimately true but it is a metaphor that points towards Truth. A purely intellectual understanding of what I am pointing to is of limited value but it can pique curiosity. A curious mind is an open mind. To gain an insightful understanding, one needs to look beyond the signpost.
When we start to intuit that life is not quite what it seems and start to see through the illusion, it becomes less stressful and frightening. We get more opportunity to be more present to life and the challenges we inevitably face. Just like a child who learns not to hold onto the fear after a nightmare we start to be less afraid of our own experience when we see that it is made of the same stuff as dreams – Mind, Thought and Consciousness taking form in the moment.
The human intellect can’t understand the nature of the divine dream (although it might pretend to!), yet many of us can intuit the truth of it. A first inkling of it may arise as curiosity about the great illusion. It may show up as a yearning to escape current experience or to know peace. If you have read this far, keep going. Explore. Heed the pull of your spiritual impetus to discover your true nature and the nature of the human experience. There are many spiritual paths. Learning about the Three Principles uncovered by Sydney Banks is one such path, a practical but profound teaching for our time.