The Great Cosmic Dream O

ur lives are but a long sleep and dream, not of a mere personal nature but of our soul, which has had many lives in many different bodies and worlds of expe- rience. Our physical lives are based upon forgetting our

eternal origin and falling into the allure of a transient external reality, in which we lose our true spiritual identity and come to think of our- selves as only the physical body. How long does our physical life continue unbroken? Most of us

will reply as long as a lifetime. The fact is that our physical aware- ness is broken every day by the state of sleep. We spend around eight hours a day, or a third of our lives, in the sleep state. We know much less about the sleep state than we do about the waking state. We do not take sleep seriously or regard it as having any validity of its own except as an epiphenomenon of the waking state. Yet, there is much hidden within it, including the secret of what the waking state is based upon.

The Fact of Impermanence What most characterizes a dream is that what happens in it is but a momentary affair, with no lasting result or continuity in the out- er world. You cannot visit your dream locations in the waking state. Once a dream is over, it is quickly forgotten. We can experience great 3

ô33 5 ô õ ^ ô3 ô õ ô 3 ôL U õ

take them seriously once we awaken. Though the waking state is more enduring than dreaming, it has similar limitations in time. It also eventually comes to an end and must be forgotten. The waking state is a kind of prolonged collec- tive shared dream. We experience a common waking world that ap- ô

3 ^Tôõ 3 ô ôL S ô3 Sô ô ô S õK ñ õ ô ô 5U ^ô õ3 R 3 ô ô Sô

deeply we see that physical reality is changing every second. Modern physics has deconstructed physical reality and shown it to be an illu- 3

ôõ -

verse of space and light. Behind the apparent stability of the material world are ongoing changes that reveal its illusory nature. The movement of the day shows its transient nature, with morning

quickly turning into afternoon and evening. An hour can pass by so quickly that we fail to notice. The shift of the seasons through the year is the prime factor of change and transformation in the world of nature. The outer rush of prana in the springtime is followed by its inward withdrawal in the autumn. Most important is our own aging process through our biological clock, showing that our physical body 3 ^Tôõ ô

U ôõ Rô ô ôK õ õ

changes more quickly than the body, having ups and downs, even in the period of a few minutes or hours. The transience of our lives indicates their dream-like nature. In the

end—however things may appear to last, however much we gain or lose—they come to an end, which is to end up as nothing, whether it is yesterday’s food, our own childhood experiences, or the achieve- ments of our adult life. The tragedy of those individuals who die U

5 3 ô_ô 5 ôX3 õô ôõ U ô 3 ô ôK ! ô3L ôT ôL L ô

us can be guaranteed that this current day is not our last! Most of us have experienced this truth of impermanence in dra- S U3L 5

õ ^ õ-

ing that they have radically changed or that they are no more. We all lose our friends and family members in the course of time. Some- times the world loses interest in us, particularly as we become older. Even if great world leaders pass away, in a few weeks they, too, are forgotten. The movement of time is relentless and leaves nothing standing in the end. The experience of impermanence is the basis of much great art and

42 hinduism today april/may/june, 2017

literature, particularly tragedies. We all are unhappy facing the fact that we ourselves will eventually die. But we fail to see that our longing for eternal exis- ô

ô ô_ô 3 ô õôô ô ô U 3 L S 3

not bound by time. To discover that immortal soul, we must move beyond the illusion of time that is cre- ated by our daily cycles of waking, dream and deep sleep. In the ignorance of deep sleep, we forget our cosmic

reality and fall into a limited, outward-looking self- awareness. This is the stupor of the ego that causes us to take our physical body as our true nature and for- get the wellsprings of consciousness within us. The obscuring power of deep sleep remains with us in the background through waking and dream.

The Illusion of the Senses Our physical world is a reality or phantasmagoria put together by our physical senses. Our sense of sight provides us with our main image or idea of the world. Sound provides us with communication. Touch, taste and smell provide more physical sensations. Yet, the senses do not provide a perception of the

true nature of things. Sensory images are sugges- tive and easily stimulate our imagination, which is a dream-like function, projecting fantasies of what we would like to happen or to achieve upon what our senses present to us. For example, the sight of a beautiful woman affects the male senses differently than the female. The smell of food to a hungry man is more powerful than to one who has just eaten. Pro- voked by our senses, biological imperatives compel us to act. We spend much of our time evaluating our chosen

reality, whether it is what to buy, our relationships or who we are really. The development of intelli- gence requires learning to discriminate between how things appear and what they may actually be. Vedic thought tells us that the entire universe is but a re- _ô

L ô 5ô3 3ôô õôô ô

consciousness. Indeed, our sensory perception is as much a type of

dreaming as it is a seeing or cognition. Our senses are as much faculties of dream and desire as they are a means to objectively determine the nature of any en- during reality. .ô

ô S ô K ' ^Rô 3ô 3ô3 õ ô ô ô ô 3 3 U ^Rô

blind men, each coming to a different conclusion about the nature of an elephant, owing to their lim- ôõ S

R õô 3 ô ^Rô 3ô 3ô3 U3 õUK -

mation about the world that can obscure or confuse us as much as bring clarity. We must strive to under- stand who we truly are as conscious perceivers be- õ

In today’s information technology era, many people are living more

in fantasy reality than in clear waking consciousness. We have in- vested our lives with virtual reality, social media images and digital bios that attempt to represent us to other people. Indeed the desire and fantasy nature of our physical reality is easy to see if we but ex- amine our mental activity throughout the day.

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