THE WORLD OF DREAMS
By Arun Babani
Sages have always been insisting that man is fast asleep. He goes about his entire life sleepwalking in dreams. It is not the common every day sleep they talk about, but a kind of an existential sleep, a state of unawareness and unconsciosness.Let us find out more about it by going into the issue of ‘Life spent away in living’.
A child is born. His state is known to be an empty space, a blank page, tabula rasa.Then on he catches all the nouns and verbs and within six months begins to blabber words and sounds. This is where it all begins, the dream state, the network of thought. The dream is nothing but the thoughts hovering around, inside and outside us. It’s the language, the words, gestures and signs. The dream soon takes shape. First coming from outside and then being repeated and formed from within us. This is how our identity slowly takes shape. I am such and such, I want to become so and so. Starting from parents, teachers to the entire social fabric surrounding us ignites and enforces all the self ideas that we develop in growing years. Doctor, actor, writer, all these ‘ters’ are formed and through any one ‘ter’you can connect and network with all the other ‘ters’. Here we begin to include others in our dream. ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ Further, when one of our dreams is complete we immediately pick and replace it with another dream. We just don’t seem to live without dreams. Besides the professional dreams there are other multifarious dreams we live in, like the Indian, Socialist, Middle-class, Muslim and so on.
Why does this happen? Man, in his natural state as he was born, is seen to be nothing or nobody. This ordinary state, the nobodyness, the insignificance is the main reason for opting out of a natural (normal) state and here begins the rush to ‘join the ranks’ and ‘to become somebody’. So a socio-cultural programming (the dream we spoke of) is created and adopted and adhered to all our lives. Hindus called this very programming the MAYA, the dream state, the illusion.
It sounds OK to have a calling to survive, but very soon the lure turns into obsession and into neuroses. A normal professional soon gets into the rush of being known, recognized, appreciated, photographed as the most, the greatest, the one and only. The dream gets bigger and the fight leads to war and war can only lead to more wars, destroying everything within and without. Unfortunately the dream, the program, the MAYA has not been given the ‘off’ button. No one can get off the bus once on it!
This is the work situation and dreams arising from it. The other polarity is the home, the love, the family. Here the dream begins with a simple exercise to forget your aloneness as in work situation it all began as an exercise to forget your insignificance. But both these aspects, the insignificance and the aloneness are very natural and real aspects of man. But the socio-culture has invented millions of ways to short-circuit these two realities and has given games to people to play in order to avoid them, which has played havoc with man’s life so far.
How does the dream life work? It works with hope. Thoughts, which form most of our waking and sleeping life, go on and on dreaming, making programs for future, and this process is fueled by hope and search. If there were no thoughts there would be no hope and therefore no search. The dream life that the society leads has been issued with a fixed timetable.Schooling, college, job, marriage, family, kids and then their schooling and so on. In this fixed cultural pattern no one is lost, no one raises questions, there is all confidence, attitude and plenty of answers.
Once adorned, the veil of dream is almost impossible to toss aside. The whole spiritual tradition is all about unveiling the MAYA, unlearning the program. But in the entire history of saints and rishis, rarely any one succeeds, because in a way the spiritual game too produces differently abled dreamers. All of us seem to be stuck with a mirage and there seems to be no way out.
After profession and family, the third and last polarity of dream is the God, the Creator, the Superman. This aspect comes into force as an exercise to avoid fear. Religion and God comes into life as a Divine protection. God is to man what a teddy bear is to a toddler. A sort of father figure protecting and watching you.
Most people panic if they don’t have a dream to live in. Shah Rukh Khan was once asked by an interviewer “What if you wake up one morning realizing that all this success and fame have been a dream that you’ve been dreaming?” He replied “I would quickly go back to sleep” So if you ask what colour is life without a dream, hope and search? The reply is that it is an ordinary, normal and sane life. But you might say ‘ordinary? I’d rather be dead.’ Because a life in dream is an extremely enjoyable and exciting experience. But then there is a price to be paid in terms of being unreal, false and being cut-off from reality. A dream after all is a dream. Nothing constructive and positive can ever result from it. There have been some rare people living in a natural state, free of dreams, free of themselves. Very rare a Buddha here and a Jesus there comes into reality and becomes a true living legend of the times.
Here arises the question of ‘how’. The method. The Sadhana. The discipline. A man came to a Guru crying about his life which he said was full of misery and suffering. The Guru replied “ Simply Stop. Give Up. Stop the way you have been living so far”. Going by the long history of man’s search for enlightenment and Nirvana, this seems to be a neat little Mantra: Simply stop the way you’ve been living. Shake yourself awake and the dream is there no more.
Sitting silently sometimes in the dark of the night all by yourself, just feel your insignificance, aloneness and your insecurity. Soon, if you’re lucky, you would feel you don’t need any artificial props to feel human, because you’ll already feel divine in that space.!