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DREAMS AND THE NATURE OF REALITY

September 18, 2015

The following is a long dormant draft. Over the years, it has gone through several rewrites and edits.  It is actually a rewrite of another post on another blog of mine that is long out of commission.    I tarried about posting it wondering if this is its right place.  

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It was a dream I had many years ago which remained vivid in my mind to this day, first time of its kind it happened to me.  Later I would learn they have a name for it–  lucid dreaming.   Dreams of flying were recurrent in those days, but this was special.   I was soaring  high up past clouds as usual then taking a loop then a steep dive  then zooming up high again, on and on, countless times, not unlike Superman sans the costume, except that I was going higher and faster than ever, exhilarated like never before.    Suddenly,  as I was among the clouds,   something in me just tuned out,  and as it came, hey, this can’t be real, I thought to myself, this must be a dream!  I realized then that, indeed, I was in dreamland.  Normally, I would wake up in a jolt to find myself in bed but strangely,  that time, I did not.    Instead,  I remained in the realm floating in the sky, surrounded by milky white clouds and the wide blue sky.  Mystified and befuddled, I soaked myself in the extraordinary experience for as long as I could, filling up my senses, like a kid in wide- eyed fascination of a new discovery.   Wow, what in the world is this!    Then as sleep slowly drifted away,  I descended back to earth as if being softly pulled down by it.  As I did,  I willed myself to observe and get an eyeful of the scenery, curious at how things in these parts would look and feel, even smell.    The panorama down below was a vast swathe of green fields that looked so vivid and genuine, with details so sharp and real not unlike wakeful reality that I know from that perspective (on a plane).  Closer and closer, details came rushing into the eyes.  There were the corn  farms, grasslands, brown earth where there was no growth, a lake of water to the right, and a huge tree in the direction of  my landing.   Before touchdown, as I passed by the tree top, I intently plucked out one single leaf.  Finally,  touching ground, I beheld the leaf in front of me both hand spreading it out  and examining the thing in earnest curiousness.   It looked in every detail real as the real thing I ever knew;  “this is real, not illusion!”  my thought exclaimed.

Image borrowed from i.huffpost.com

Soon, the dream dissolved completely and I was wide awake.   Quickly,  I gathered my senses and scanned my room  for things to test my awareness— and compare.  I stared at the ceiling and surveyed for raw details, the cobwebs and darkened wooden trusses and beams and iron roofing, the capiz windows and the  shadows they form across from the street light outside.  I raised my hands then pinched my skin to ascertain my consciousness.  I grabbed my pillow,  squeezed it hard, and stared as close as I could get to the tiniest fibers of the pillow sack, then ran my hands across the edges of my bed.  I wondered to myself,  they all seemed the same.

Something in me changed ever since.

In another year, a week or two after the burial of my mother, she showed up in my dream.   She was all by herself on a grassy hillside overlooking a river bed where only a stream now flowed and far beyond were greenfields and rows of majestic trees.   Down below, by the foot of the hill, a large building of sort was under construction.  “That one… it’s for new arrivals,”  she volunteered as if to let me know the place was going to be her home.  My mother was at that age when I was a child, though it did not seem to matter then. (  She died way older, withered by a chronic lung disease.)  She said, ” I had you summoned so you  can see for yourself too how it is here, and you would not have to worry about me.”    My being summoned was hazy as  I just found myself by the hillside emerging from the woods nearby.   The part I remember most about this dream though was where she said,  somewhat delighted, “It’s the same here as there, the only difference being, here, you can fly!”   Then, in a while, she sent me off to go wandering about.  ” Go take a good look around if you want but don’t go too far.  I will call you when it’s time to go.”  So off I climbed uphill and came to a clearing where oddly a small airplane was moored among a surrounding outgrowth.   An anomaly in the landscape, the huge steel form was quite worn-out  and rusted but with some shiny silver parts still remaining.   There, I chose to hang around, played like a little boy  jumping high and flying low inspecting the bolts and screws and the openings of the craft.  I was jumping several meters high and flying low just floating about.  At this point I remember slipping in and out of twilight zone but I managed to hang on shifting from curiosity to enchantment.  It did not last very long for soon, my mother called me out, “it’s time to go, son.”  She signaled me to what looked like a small granary a hundred meters away. A casual wave and  I got going.   The outhouse surprisingly opened to an elevator.  It was a wide spacious one that could contain a crowd, but there was only me and one other.  At this point,  I became fully aware that I was in dreamland.  Strangely, I sort of knew somehow that I would wake up as soon as I reached ‘ground floor’.  Meantime, I took a glance at my companion.  He was a  guy of a small frame on a hooded shirt, bowed.   He was not looking at me.  I turned my attention on the walls.   When you know you are dreaming, you get very curious of the details around you.  The walls were glossy white vinyl.  I placed both my hand on the surface, half-leaning, testing texture and permeability, pressing a bit,  if I could force my hand through.  No, it was a regular wall like any wall in the real world I know– solid and impenetrable.  The elevator room itself had no dream-like quality, just a regular box of an elevator but quite a spacious one.  I noticed that my companion was no longer around.   Moments later, as I was about to hit ground floor, I tried  savoring the last moment inside the realm like a moment I wanted to commit to memory.   Finally,  it stopped, the door opened, then the floor heaved and hurled me out,  and out I went rolling!  I was finally awake, in my bed, amused: what kind of elevator was that?!

Most other experiences with lucid dreaming were relatively short and incoherent. The longest I could remember was about going to a village where a relative was living.   I do not know why I was going.  I was walking by my lonesome on a dusty road when it dawned on me I was in dreamland— again.    So off  I went running as fast as I could and soon I was zooming past farms like a wind, dust trailing by.  I ran for miles and miles  on end until I arrived at the village panting.    A few children and adults were milling around at the approach to welcome me.  I knew no one among them, only they wore splendid smiles and I thought smiling children were a joy to behold in reality as in a dream.  The houses were old typical ones made of wood and elevated, like many you see when awake in rural environments, but the neighborhood had abundant crystal-clear water flowing in a wide and deep waterway cutting through the yard.  It seemed customary to take a bath there so I jumped into the water at once with my clothes on and stayed there very long.  I do not remember how this dream ended.

Definitely,  there comes an intensified fascination of the things around you when you know you are in a dream.  You become so observant and extremely attentive of the details.  It has to do with being aware it is all a dream, therefore ‘unreal’, and naturally you get curious at how it compares with the reality you know.    Astonishingly indeed, at least in terms of material quality, dream does resemble reality very much.

There are even short episodes allowing you only a moment to look around.  In one, I conducted a nasty experiment.  I was in a crowd.  I made a fist and bam I hit the guy next to me on the upper torso.  Before I was fully awake, the guy hit me back in the head.

I love solitude.  When circumstances allow me to escape, I take my bike and hie off to places where I can be alone with nature.   There, I would sit down alone in quiet serenity, allowing myself to absorb the sound and sight undisturbed, and often I get lucky nature exposes itself to me in a dreamlike ambiance.

What is the nature of reality, I often ask.

We regard the images of our dreams as some contrivance of the brain, illusions generated by neural firings mixed in a mental soup.  But anybody who had experience with lucid dreaming  will have a hard time to be convinced.  They are all too real, there simply is no way these could be regarded as illusions of the mind. The phenomenon must have a better explanation.

Unless, by inference, reality is also but an illusion itself!

Aren’t dreams giving us hint to the nature of reality?  Lucid dreaming (at least as far as my experience tell me) allows you to experience a rich, resplendent,  thoroughly elaborate, ultra realistic environment, a whole universe on its own as real as reality is,  but one that could as quickly melt away as you wake up to the dimension of reality.   Perhaps, because we get so used to it, we have let go of the mystery.  But something there could be a clue to a bigger one.   For if  attributes of “reality” could be manifested in a dream as it does in the waking state,  what does it suggest if not that an entire universe is possible too in the mind of a man asleep?

Reminds me of  these quotations:

Albert Einstein: Reality is merely an illusion although a very persistent one.

Tennyson:  Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?

 

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