January 14, 2014

Everything is a Dream.

Reality is not as solid as we think.

My life has been rather dreamlike for the past couple of years now.

The fact that I am ‘living the dream’ almost seems ‘too good to be true’—except that I have mostly let go of that pessimistic point of view.

If things are good, they can’t last? Apparent goodness is actually false? I think not. Sustainable happiness involves something more perennial than just pleasure.

Living the dream doesn’t mean everything is rosy and perfect all the time. It means I have identified what I need to be happiest (for example, living in a small town, being surrounded by nature, being in a loving partnership, serving others through my work) and have built my life around those needs.

My current, relatively extraordinary quality of life feels very much tied to the place where I live. I wonder and fear what will happen when we leave this magical lake that has been such a symbol for my personal transformation over the past four years.

Will I lose all the virtues that I feel I’ve worked so hard to attain? Is my joy tied to this spot?

I can feel tears welling up just thinking about leaving and moving somewhere new. I am clinging to this place and we’re not even planning on leaving for at least another year. And clinging is the opposite of going with the flow.

I strive to go with the flow, but if the flow takes me away from where I want to be—what then? That’s when I get irritated, fed up and self-righteous.

And that—that irritation, that righteousness, that sense of injustice—is the golden moment when all the patience and persistence gleaned from yoga and mindfulness practice come into good use.

Lately, I’ve been working with the Lojong meditation slogan, “Regard all dharmas as dreams.” As Pema Chodron explains in her book, How to Meditate:

When you say, “everything is a dream,” another way to say that is, “there is just so much room.” We have an enormous amount of room to move around in. But the opposite is our habitual experience.

Our experience is usually quite claustrophobic, and we carry with us a very strong sense of burden, of things being solid.

If we can loosen the grip of our thoughts, regarding them as dreams, we’ve just made the world and our ability to experience this world evermore larger.

In those moments of clinging and cyclical mental dramas, if I can take a breath and relax, I can remember: “Hey, life is but a dream! The concept of the self is but a dream.”

Think about it: thoughts arise, emotions come and go, ideas bust in, beliefs pervade and sometimes, sensations take center stage. The riveting story line of a separate, independent me, myself and I seems like fact but is actually a fiction constructed by conditioning.

It’s all in the mind. So, lighten up. Regard all dharmas as dreams.

Like a shooting star, a mirage, a flame
A magic trick, a dewdrop, a water bubble,
Like a dream, lightening, or a cloud—
Consider all things thus.

~ The Buddha


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: @Doug88888/Flickr

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