Last night I had a dream that was so real and vivid, it was an all-encompassing sensory experience. I was eating octopus. It wasn’t what I wanted or what I thought it was, and the sudden realisation I had tentacles in my mouth was disgusting. I ran to the bathroom and spat them out in the sink.
I still remember the taste, (I know, weird thing to dream about – and it was more twisted than that with a flavoursome freudian skew but I’ll spare those details). It was disgusting and bits and pieces were stuck in my mouth. I vividly remember reaching my fingers into my mouth and pulling tentacles out, throwing them into the porcelain bowl. The resounding feelings were shock and disgust.
Dreams fascinate me. Many people have gone down in history theorising their purpose, right from being that which our subconscious cannot integrate from our day thrown back up to us calling out for healing and understanding. Others say that it’s relating to ourselves and our life in metaphors, with hidden meanings and messages. Others have said they are meaningless.
But what if they were our teachers? For years now I’ve been enthralled by the idea of the dream reality. A Course in Miracles teaches us that Oneness is literal and our reality is smoke and mirrors created by a single thought. That none of it is real and it’s all a fantasical light show created by yours truly. And when this idea triggers people, it’s hard to fathom that it could possibly be true.
Yet our dreams occur each night, at the transition from one day to the next, offering us an experience of a reality where, in the thick of it, we do not know we are dreaming. We forget. And the people in our dream seem separate to us, they chase us, they harm us. Our emotions feel real, we feel hurt, shame, sickness, panic. All of the emotions of life. We feel real fear for our safety and often we live within the confines of what we believe to be possible, using our legs for running or finding a car that we can drive.
And then we wake up.
The relief, it was just a dream.
We let go of the pain the other people or characters in our dream caused us (even if they were people from our current life) under the rationale that it was just a dream. There can even be some embarrassment when we study the phenomena that we created all of it ourselves. No-one else was there at all. The pain, the shame, the chase – was all played out by characters we’d created, puppets that we were leading. But it felt so real, didn’t it?
It really felt like they were doing something to me!
But it was all me.
There is a great Taoist parable called The Butterfly Dream. It goes something like this;
Once upon a time I had a dream that I was a butterfly, fluttering here and there, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was only conscious of my happiness and experience as a butterfly and unaware of any other life I may have been leading. Soon enough, I awakened. And there I was, a man again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was a man. Between a man and a butterfly there was no distinction.
Some time back when I was deep in meditation I had an experience where I was confiding to my trustee guides that people had been mean to me. I was very upset and stated my case. My perspective then zoomed way out and I saw that I was the only person and I was asleep. There were many guides and angels by my side, encircling me with love and support, yet I was asleep and I was the only person in the cosmos. The only human in existence. No one could have possibly done anything to me in reality because it was only me. There was no-one else.
I feel the purpose of our dreams is to serve as a constant reminder that while this reality may feel real, it is not. And we’ve been missing the message because we’re lost in it. We’re lost in the dream. We are convinced it is real. My story is real. My pain is real. How could it not be?
What are your thoughts on the dream reality?