Philip Chard, a psychotherapist, author, and trainer, writes a regular column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, entitled Out of My Mind. In a recent column, "Row, row, row your imaginary boat. . ." he talks about working with a client who is asking if life is but a dream.
"Do you ever fell like life is a dream?" Linn asked.
"Sure, but why do you ask?" I replied.
"Sometimes I get a distinct sense that all this is just an illusion, that I'm just dreaming it," she explained.
Before taking a look at Chard's answer, I am going to step in and answer her question from my point of reference. Having awakened from the dream through the mind training of Jesus' Course in Miracles, I recognize the state of mind in which I am dreaming a false dream, and the state of mind that is real, where I experience, for a moment, the end of the illusion, and the peace of God.
I would say, Linn, trust your "distinct sense that all this is just an illusion." Just stop right now, be still an instant and trust. In your stopping you allow something else to enter in. In being still you can catch a glimpse of reality. In fact, your "distinct sense" is really a call, a memory of your real Home, a reminder that you are not what you dream you are.
It is necessary to establish that 1) this waking dream is unreal, and 2) reality is an experience that is available when you stop your dreaming projection for just a moment. The best way to clarify these ideas is to compare sleeping dreams and waking dreams. First, let's look at five characteristics of a sleeping dream.
1. You are the center of your dream. All the events going on around you are seen through your eyes. It is as if you were a movie projector.
2. You are the narrator of your dream, describing events as they unfold.
3. What you see in your dream are images as if projected on a screen.
4. You are entirely responsible for your dream. Everything you see is coming from your mind, based on your past experiences.
5. When you awaken from your dream, the images disappear.
When you are dreaming, you cannot know you are dreaming because you have no point of reference outside of your dream. That is why I appreciate my wife, Christine, for being a point of reference outside of my dream. When I am having a nightmare, she gently nudges me, saying softly, "Wake up, you are dreaming."
Right now, Linn, I am your point of reference outside of your waking dream, nudging you softly, saying, "Wake up, you are dreaming."
Here's the nudge. I invite you to sit quietly and slowly look around you. Every once in a while, look again at the characteristics, above, of the sleeping dream, one at a time, and apply them to your waking dream.
You can see now that sleeping dreams and wking drams have precisely the same structure. You see that you are the center of your waking dream. You are narrating it. You see only images. These images are simply thoughts you have made. You are entirely responsible for what you are making up. Someone else sitting next to you would be having a different dream. The moment you wake up, all this will disappear.
Just sit there for a moment and entertain the idea that you are dreaming, and be still so that something else can enter in. You just need practice training your mind to see in a new way. That is why Jesus nudges you gently in His lessons, one for each day of the year. Just look at the titles of His first ten lessons:
1. Nothing I see means anything.
2. I have given everything I see all the meaning that it has for me.
3. I do not understand anything I see.
4. These thoughts do not mean anything.
5. I am never upset for the reason I think.
6. I am upset because I see something that is not there.
7. I see only the past.
8. My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
9. I see nothing as it is now.
10. My thoughts do not mean anything.
Each lesson is a gentle reminder that your waking dream is what you make it, and it is not so.
You are not at home here in your dream, and your real Home awaits you as you begin to recognize that you are dreaming. You already have a "distinct sense" that this is so, or you would not have asked the question. A memory of where you truly belong is in your mind, and it is beginning to haunt you. Listen to Jesus tell you this in the first paragraph of Lesson 182, I will be still an instant and go home.
This world you seem to live in is not home
to you. And somewhere in your mind you know
that this is true. A memory of home
keeps haunting you, as if there were a place
that called you to return, although you do
not recognize the voice, nor what it is
the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel
an alien here, from somewhere all unknown.
Nothing so definite that you could say
with certainty you are an exile here.
Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not
more than a tiny throb, at other times
hardly remembered, actively dismissed,
but surely to return to mind again.
Chard ends his column with this quotation from Einstein: "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." I would say, "Unreality is merely an illusion. . ."
Chard recognizes that we are looking through "lenses that distort and obscure."
What few realize is that we perceive the world by using cognitive representations created by our brains, like looking through lenses that distort and obscure., and not in a direct and factually accurate manner. So when we experience life as a dream, we may be removing these lenses and glimpsing the enigma that constitutues existence.
I would say that the waking dream is seeing through lenses of false eyes, and by removing these lenses through mind training, we learn to see with vision, no longer distorting what is real.
"You don't think I'm losing it, do you?" Linn asked, concerned.
I would say, yes, you are losing it, and that's good, because what you are losing is your firm grip on the dream, you are loosing the world as you know it, allowing for the experience of your Home.
We speak today for everyone who walks
this world, for he is not at home. He goes
uncertainly about in endless search,
seeking in darkness what he cannot find;
not recognizing what it is he seeks.
A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents
his restless mind. He does not understand
he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not
be made by him. There is no substitute
for Heaven. All he ever made was hell.
Linn, the Christ Child is being born in you now.
When you are still an instant, when the world
recedes from you, when valueless ideas
cease to have value in your restless mind,
then will you hear His Voice. So poignantly
He calls to you that you will not resist
Him longer. In that instant He will take
you to His home, and you will stay with Him
in perfect stillness, silent and at peace,
beyond all words, untouched by fear and doubt,
sublimely certain that you are at home.
Jesus is saying, "Wake up, you are dreaming. I am your reference point outside of the dream."
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
I invite you to read Jesus' Lesson 182, I will be still an instant and go home, in its entirety by clicking on the link below.
Please click on the link below to read Philip Chard's column in its entirety.