Awaken from the Dream of the World-Process
All religious scriptures of the world agree that the world of day-to-day reality is not a permanent habitation for the soul. Rather, it is a transient place in the journey of the soul towards its final Divine destination. This goal is defined differently by different religions; however, with penetrating insight it can be understood that in the final stage of attainment, the soul must commune with God. It must blend with the eternity of the Divine Self. Vedantic scriptures proclaim that the soul, rising above the illusions of the world-process, regains its identity as the Divine Self.
Yoga Vasistha, a classical scripture of Vedantic philosophy, describes the world as the process of a dream. While from the perspective of an individual mind this world may seem to be perfectly real, it is like a drifting thought process for the Cosmic Mind. An individual can perceive the rising and falling of his dreams without allowing himself to be affected by then. Similarly, the world process and its partial or total dissolution is seen by the Cosmic Mind as a dream – not as reality.
Dreams arise and vanish in the individual mind. So too worlds arise and vanish in the Cosmic Mind. When an individual ascends the ladder of yoga, he develops the ability to attune his mind to the Cosmic Mind by the practice of concentration, meditation, and profound samadhi (super-consciousness). As his vision rises from the prison bars of mental complexes and egoistic awareness and begins to soar in the expansion of the Cosmic Mind, he begins to discover that the world is nothing but a dream.
If you carefully analyze the state of your wakefulness, you will discover that although you consider yourself awake, you are not truly awake to the deeper reality which permeates the things of the world. You consider yourself awake because you are aware of the body, the functions of the senses, the desires of the mind, the deliberations of the intellect, and the deeper feelings arising from the unconscious. You deem yourself awake because you are aware of your friends, relatives, objects of the world, and your varying attitudes about them.
If you begin to exercise the light of your reason however, you will discover that you are actually confined to the world of your own concepts. You do not possess your own body, much less anything else from the mysterious world. All your relationships are transient concepts in your mind. As an embodied spirit, you have passed through numerous incarnations with numerous parents, friends, and possessions. Ideas like “this is mine,” “these are my relatives,” or “this is what I am,” are all founded on illusion.
Further, you will understand that when you allow irrational thoughts to persist in your mind, you convert an illusion into a reality. Suppose you entertained a fleeting thought, “How happy I would be if I were to live by the ocean! I would enjoy the expansion of nature.” If you entertain this thought day by day, you’ll find that a fleeting thought will eventually turn into an intense desire. Now, you cannot live without an ocean view. In the same way, by a process of repeated thoughts, you have woven the entire fabric of your waking realities. When you begin to exercise your reason, and repeatedly negate the illusions created by the limited mind, you will discover that the world is like a dream.
From a figurative point of you, this waking world is an intensification of your dream world. When you reduce your impressions of the objects of the world by the practice of meditation and Vedantic enquiry, you realize that your waking world is a drifting process of a dream. When you intensify your impressions of illusion however, you continue to convert your dreams into a waking state of reality. This is one meaning behind the statement that the world is a process of a “dream within a dream.”
An individual soul thus continues to wander in the darkness of the night. It continues to grope from one dream to another. Veiled by ignorance, it is unable to understand that it is basically the Divine Self. Therefore, the Scriptures sound their awakening call with the beat of a thousand drums: “Wake up! Arise! Take recourse to the guidance of the Sages, and discover your essential nature!”
You are not this limited personality. You are not confined to a life that terminates in death. You are not a person dependent upon a few fleeting conditions of the world. You are not a slave of desires. You are not food to be devoured by death. You are the Transcendental Self which is the sustainer of the dream of the world-process. You are independent of all objects of the world. You are the author of all that you experience and all that you encounter. You are the Eternal Self for whom death itself becomes like a morsel of food.
Develop vairagya (dispassion). Your progress on the spiritual path depends upon increasing dispassion. If your mind is not fettered by desires for the fleeting objects of the world, your placid heart will remember your essential nature. You will wake up to realize that you need not be haunted by a past, or a present, or an unknown future. You need not keep yourself involved in the vexations of acts that you performed in the past or things that you must perform in the future. Rise above the worries of past and future and delve into the Self that is eternally present.
Wake up! Arise! Do not entertain thoughts and sentiments that manifest like ghosts and goblins in the dark regions of your mind – unillumined by the lamp of reason. Place the Divine Name as a gatekeeper at the threshold of your mind and it will not allow unwanted thoughts to enter into the deeper parts of your being. Burn the lamp of reason by the practice of spiritual enquiry, and irrational thoughts and sentiments will not linger in the recesses of your mind. With the increasing light of wisdom, you will continue to break the illusions of your dreams. You will wake up from the world-process by tearing the veil of sleep and ignorance.
Wake up! Arise! Behold the Golden Dawn of the Eternal Day. You are Sat Chit Ananda – Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute. There is no pain or sorrow in you. The very cosmos becomes like a dust particle before your transcendental glory. You are ever free from the cycles of birth and death. You are the Immortal Brahman!