Another pointer to what we are that I want to touch on is the concept of life as a dream. This sounds like the fanciful realms of poetry but it has been referred to so many times in the past by philosophers and poets that it just might be a pointer to the truth. An object cannot dream, it must be dreamed. That surely goes without saying. All phenomena are objects as appearances and therefore are dreamed. An appearance in itself cannot dream. In our look at the mechanism of perceiving, we saw that there must be something beyond that is doing the perceiving. But in the beyond there is no such thing as a perceiver not any such thing as a dreamer and equally there is no thing perceived or dreamed other than an appearance. There is only dreaming, just as there is only perceiving and cognising. The apparent universe so dreamed is composed entirely of Mind that is dreaming. And don’t forget that neither exists because one is apparent only and the other cannot exist because it is Subject. So each object dreamed and the experiencing of the dream is itself the dreaming. Both comprise the alternating dualistic mechanism of the appearance of manifestation, which is the dream. Manifestation itself is the dream.
It should be clear that the waking dream that makes up our world as we know it is the same dream that all human beings experience. The dreams we undergo in sleep are private, individualised or second-degree examples of the same thing. The origin, which is Mind in static mode, and the process, which is subjectivity in active or functioning mode, is the same in both types of dream. And this is simply Mind or Consciousness operating through the phenomenal machine that we think is us. The fact that all the members within each species see roughly the same world is because the receiving apparatus (the body/brain) is the same. Because the apparatus differs markedly between species, the worldview of different species is bound to be different. But there is only one source, one manifestation and one dream – it is the receiving apparatus with its unique ‘perspective’ that makes it different.
The difference between the two dream types, awake and asleep, is that the sleep dream occurs when there is release from inhibition of the more primitive parts of the brain, generating enhanced imagery and emotion to add to the dream plot. This is effected by chemical changes in the brain. At the same time, two de-activating chemical processes come into play. One is the exclusion of input from the senses that connect us to our world and the other is the selective closing down of the part of the brain that provides us with self-awareness and what we think of as executive control.
What appears to be the case is that the process of manifestation, which is the dreaming, is continuous and we, as the receiving apparatus, experience the dreaming in one of three modes: the awake mode when the body is fully functioning, the half asleep mode of dreaming when the body/brain is partially switched off and the deep sleep mode without dreams, when the body/brain is almost wholly switched off. However, whatever the mode, we are nothing else but the dreaming of our lives.
It is interesting to speculate that the direction of Time in our dreams might be the opposite of what we experience in our waking dream. The scientist will tell you that there is no logical reason why time couldn’t operate both ways – forward or back. If our conditioned perception of time is upset during sleep, this could account for much of what seems odd about our dreams when we try to recollect them in our waking dream. While we are dreaming, nothing appears odd. In fact, it is conceivable that elements of the fourth dimension may be released in our dreams and add to the strangeness when interpreted by our limited three-dimensional faculty when we wake up. In other words, our dream life in sleep may be four-dimensional, operating either forwards or backwards, while our waking life, still the same dream, is limited to three dimensions, operating only forwards as we are conditioned to perceive.
The realisation that we, as we think we are, are dreamed confirms that we cannot have free will. What is dreamed can clearly have no free will and neither is what is appearing to do the dreaming an entity that can exercise free will. What is actually doing the dreaming and what we are is Will itself. We, as what we think we are, are not the dreamer and not the doer – we are the dreamed and the done to. There is only doing, acting, thinking, experiencing which is the functioning of what we are as ‘I’.
This also ties up with what I said about us being nothing more than another form of animal. We are all dreamed. Surely we must recognise ourselves as absolutely one with nature, an integral part of the whole one dream and in no way significantly superior, different or apart from it. The development in humans of the ability to cognise (being, as we have seen, the only significant difference between us and other animals) cannot in itself have resulted in the blossoming of an ability to exercise free will and choice. The most it could have done is to allow us to believe we have that ability.