Alice in Wonderland - Disney PicturesAlice in Wonderland – Disney Pictures

When I was six years old I had a dream. You know how dreams are; how they feel when you’re inside them. Actually, they’re inside you – a topsy turvy fantasy world made up of all that you’ve ever known and felt – impressions and the associated memories – illusions. But in the moments of dreaming there’s no dreamer. The dream is your reality – until, of course, you wake up.

In this dream I was in a small garage with one car parked inside. I was just standing and looking around. Everything about the car and my surroundings felt absolutely familiar. There was no fear. Suddenly, a dreadful feeling came over me and the hair on my arms and neck stood straight up. Very slowly and quietly I knelt down on the floor, and placing my hands on the ground I looked under the car. What I saw was so frightening that my body jolted backward, my hands and feet scurrying quickly across the floor. I cowered like a cornered mouse with my back against the wall. What I saw from beneath the car was a pair of legs on the other side – the legs of a man standing quietly and perfectly still. Someone else was in the garage with me and somehow I knew that this man had come for me – come to GET ME. In that moment the dream turned into a nightmare.

The Scream by Edvard MunchThe Scream – by Edvard Munch

In those moments, this nightmare was my reality, and there was fear.

In my dream there was no little girl dreaming, but one who was wide awake. There was only the reality of the setting and this concealed shady man who I knew meant me harm. But I did wake up, at first shivering and shaking, my heart beating a little fast. Within seconds I realized that my experience wasn’t REAL, and within minutes the lingering disturbance within also began to fade. How relieved I was to be back in REALITY! How could I have believed that this dream was REALITY when upon waking it was so absurdly apparent that this was just a play of the mind? Still, every night I would fall asleep and dream, and every night no matter how outlandish or ridiculous or nonsensical the dream was, I never questioned its reality. Not, at least, while I was living the illusory story in my sleep.

Real or a Dream - by martinak15Real or a Dream? – by Martinak15

The question of how it’s possible to mistake a dream for reality haunted me almost daily for many years. Actually, it still bothers me. I know that almost everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers their dreams on a nightly basis. And not everyone feels that they’re living another life as though it were a fact until the moment they awaken. But I’ve always dreamed this way and still do, and this strange kind of double life led me to doors which I may never have otherwise opened. Searching for some kind of answer to the question of why I couldn’t recognize my dreams as dreams, I came upon a story which shook my foundation and led me to a much more fundamental question. A man known as Zhuang Zhu living in China over 2500 years ago related this short story:

Quotations sourced to the book known as Zhuangzi:

“Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.”

Butterfly by Peter WeemeeuwButterfly – by Peter WeeMeeuw

What a unique way to see! What a question to ask!! Why hadn’t I thought of this question myself? Is it possible that the ‘reality’ I’m waking up to every morning is actually the dream? Or even better, maybe I’m waking up from one dream only to walk into another? Is it possible that I’m not able to distinguish between dreams and reality since I don’t actually realize who and where I AM at any given moment? Why do I believe everything I think about everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell?

After internalizing the shock of these possibilities there was nothing I could do but search for an answer to the question: “What is REAL?” From this question another was born: “If I can’t distinguish between what is REAL and what is an illusion – how can I possibly know who I AM!?”

I walked the circular path of intellect questioning and reasoning using logic until I chewed off my own tail. I dove into the raging waters of emotionalism trying to fathom and nearly drowned. I leapt into the pit of faith and fell straight through to the other side, landing back onto the circular path of intellect.

Into the Rabbit Hole by Jason Mrachina

Into the Rabbit Hole – by Jason Mrachina

Now what do I do? Can I accept living in dreams? But no, because these dreams aren’t beautiful, they’re full of suffering and a subtle terror from which I’m constantly running. Can I continue to walk these beaten paths knowing they can never lead me to KNOWING, to REALITY, to the END OF FEAR?

Suddenly the most remarkable feeling of peace came over me. My mind was like the space in which space exists, clear of all debris, like a sky clear of all clouds. I heard a warm gentle Voice rising into the ineffable stillness:

Life is HERE – NOW and ONLY NOW. You are trying to find a path which takes time to traverse. Can you find Here and Now in time? What would happen if you forgot all questions and all paths? Any path is one among many, and Truth can’t be many. If you undo all the questions, all the paths, and all the concepts of who you think you are, what’s left is a Pathless Path. Here and Now – I AM.