Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Is this a dream?"

Have you ever had something happen, something shocking or so unbelievable that you had to question, just for a moment, "am I dreaming?"

In this case, Reality seemed so "unreal" that we didn't believe it - we had to question Reality itself as it unfolded before us. So the question came - "is this a dream?"

Maybe we asked someone to pinch us, because we wanted to see if we would wake up. Yet that wasn't really a remedy because the person pinching would also have to be in the dream. The pain would be "dream pain".

As the odd sensation passed, maybe we were still left wondering if we, at some point, might wake up. For a while, we didn't look at the world in the same way - we looked with eyes of disbelief - all belief was suspended temporarily as we suspiciously looked upon everything as potentially "only a dream."

We really were lost because there wasn't anything we could do to PROVE that it was a dream, nowhere to go, nothing to seek out - every single thing we could find, every answer we could get, would be just more dream stuff. The only thing we could do was wait it out and see if we woke up from the dream.

There is something very telling in this type of episode. The fact that we might question Reality during the "waking state" as possibly a dream shows that there is something aware of both the "waking state" and "dream state" - something that knows the illusion of the dream while it's happening, and therefore knows the illusion of the waking state also.

That "something" is Consciousness.

Consciousness is prior to both of these states - aware of the unreality of the dream, aware of the assumption of Reality of the waking state. It is Consciousness that recognizes the unreality inherent in the dream - that's how that "state of illusion" is recognized as a possibility during the "waking state". That familiarity of feeling "is this a dream" comes from Consciousness, the presence which is aware of both states.

Asking "is this a dream" shows that there is a familiarity with the fact that a dream is an illusion, knowingly, while it's happening. The same is true for the "waking state" - although Consciousness is aware it's an illusion while it's happening, it's "willingly" playing along, just as it does in the dream, willingly participating through identification with the body, all the while never unaware that Consciousness is the very essence or substance of both the dream and the "waking".

Therefore when that shocking situation is happening, it's so unreal that the usual groundwork of assumptions in place to keep the "waking state" as real are shaken. At this point the dream character, the person you take yourself to be, is directly challenged. If you say "is this a dream" you directly and purposely negate that very "individual" you've identified with. You have to. At that point you seriously doubt the reality of the individual self. Isn't that the case?

And if you can seriously question the reality of the individual self, how solid is it? How Real is it? If it can be directly challenged it must not be the unquestionable Reality you thought it was. Even though it seems to be operating as usual during the "waking state", that very presence of an individual, separate self is actually KNOWN to be a mechanism, a thought process, a belief structure only. The entire assumed Reality of the "waking state" depends on this belief of an individual ME.

But it isn't "you" questioning this - it's Consciousness questioning it's own display - Consciousness is the "dreamer" - the "you", the individual, the dream character, is ultimately known to be a passing "state".

And in the dream, we don't get up and walk around, being chased and winning the lottery and finding monsters and all other "dream stories" - we simply lie on our pillow and the dream unfolds, AS Reality, made up of nothing but Consciousness. The substance of the dream itself IS Consciousness. All objects in the dream are MADE OF that pure subjective Consciousness.

And if these "objects" are MADE OF Consciousness in the dream, if this "dream situation" is so much like the "waking state" that we may, at times, question if the "waking state" IS a dream, then there must be no difference between the actual experience in either "state". In the "waking state", so-called "objects" are MADE OF Consciousness also. The "objects" are nothing but that pure subjectivity itself - the knowing Consciousness which is, at all times, prior to both the "waking" and "dream" state.

If allowed to permeate, if the usual intellectual "blocks" don't immediately come up to apply knowledge, to directly contradict actual experience, it may become clear and obvious that the "objects" in the waking state are actually nothing BUT this "subjectivity" - nothing BUT this Consciousness, just like a dream.

What is the real difference, then, between the "waking" and "dream" states? At this point, the boundary betweeen "waking" and "dreaming" starts to become transparent. As the mental, conceptual difference between the two is seen to be merely an idea, a belief, Reality begins to shine without obstruction. Reality is apparent as the obviousness that - we don't know what the Hell EITHER state is - we don't know WHAT is dream and what is waking - we don't know - we just "make believe" - make belief - belief is the only difference between the two "states".

Belief is the only factor which separates "dreaming" and "waking". And who is the "believer" when the individual is only an appearance in both states? Belief is simply the mechanism in play as Consciousness veils itself FROM itself. It's sometimes called "lila."

So the statement "you are dreaming" isn't speaking to the individual "you" - this "you" isn't dreaming, this "you" is an appearance in the dream. The "YOU" being referred to is Consciousness. Consciousness is dreaming a "you".

So right now are "you" reading a blog? Or are you dreaming? With honesty, how certain can you ever be?


Anonymous said...

Randall said - "So the statement "you are dreaming" isn't speaking to the individual "you" - this "you" isn't dreaming, this "you" is an appearance in the dream. The "YOU" being referred to is Consciousness. Consciousness is dreaming a "you"."

Yes. The key is that this thing we label 'Consciousness' is not an identity. I am not the assumed character with name and form, that identity - but the mind then comes up with an image, of a bigger, larger, more all-encompassing, sort of universal identity, a super-ego - which is actually no different than the 'ego' except conceptually bigger and 'universal' and 'loving' or whatever - and thats all rubbish, more mind games.

When you say 'the you being refered to is consciousness' its actually not even refer-able as a 'you' right? because this thing called consciousness is not a thing, a you, it is whatever, we don't know, but it has no boundaries, no properties, no cannot be contained by definitions (like the ego can obviously be).... then there is no 'you' as THAT. But IT still IS obviously, unarguably.

If i stay with the consciousness with no concepts overlayed (which is not easy) then there is clearly no One being Conscious. There is only consciousness. Because the one supposedly being/having consciousness only exists because consciousness is conscious of 'me' - consciousness precedes even the one mistakenly believed to possess the faculty of consciousness.

The one who reads your blogs, hoping for relief, a way out, peace...doesn't get any of those things. That one just starts to fade like a movie where the projector light starts loosing intensity.

What next? I think....
Who's asking?
thank you Randall

Anonymous said...

...words and speech cannot occur without Labels.....words are labels that abstract out, approximate, reality - "I see a beautiful rose" can never be the actual experience of seeing a rose.

Hence, any reference to this that we call 'consciousness', or 'the real You" or whatever, is by definition always slightly off the mark - its almost like one has to read between the lines, get the jist of the pointers without getting hung up on the words! There is no way to directly Point to THIS with speech or instruction without objectifying it, abstracting it - and in objectifying it, we are back to indirect Pointing, having to read between the lines and get the message without getting off on a tangent based on literal interpretation of the words!


Randall Friend said...

Hello again my friend.

Yes, very clearly put.

The intellect tosses and turns, each step a movement in concept away from the Consciousness or Presence which is always prior to and the foundation for the search to be undertaken.

Even the container in which the search appears, this "waking state", is passing content to this Presence of Knowing.

The intellect can't "get to" that Presence - simply because it's vehicle is concepts. That which is prior to and contains all concepts cannot itself be conceptualized.

Yet in the pause, when no concept arises, when no outside or inside world is projected, when the "waking, dreaming and deep sleep" states are recognized as coming and going to that Presence, then what is needed to be what you ARE?

What direction can you go? What additional knowledge/concepts need to be added? What is the next mental leap necessary for the intellect to take?

Nothing at all. It is the very recognition that these are happening within the already-present, non-conceptual, nondual Reality that you ARE. And there was no effort required to BE that.

All else has ever-been "becoming".

love to you

Anonymous said...

All that you are saying in all of your writings and podcasts rings Completely TRUE. There is absolutely No disagreement with any of the pointers and concepts used in the pointing. However this Deep Knowing does not fill the hole that has seemed to be here for as long as this body/mind can remember. Is there a point where the knowing suffuses with the being or is it Really already here right now, manifesting as anything from excruciating pain, loss, death, to ecstatic "states" of complete union with the ALL?
Thanks in advance.
J Hart

Randall Friend said...


Hello my friend.

Knowing doesn't suffuse Being - they are one and the same - Sat Chit. Whatever THIS might be, bliss, pain, loss, death, pleasure, a blade of grass, a sunrise, war - whatever THIS right HERE and NOW IS, is Being/Knowing - Life, aware of itself, seeing itself through a human perspective. Yet if the human perspective is taken to be a reality apart from Life, a separate entity apart from Life, then suffering comes due to these passing conditions.

Separation can only be found in concepts. Actual experience is only Being, aware of itself.

What concept stands out in opposition to this pure Reality? It can only be a ME. And ME is a creation of mind only.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Randall,
Can you speak a little on this "fictional character" that were calling Me? Does the conditioning or belief in the "me" have to be dispelled or does it just naturally fall away as Presence, Awareness or whatever its called is "rested in"?
This Here Now is filled with herenow, but also reeks of past thoughts, habits, conditioning, experiences.

Are these memories and such even real, and when they seem to enter the thought stream in the HereNow,,, Why do they feel so solid and substantial?

Sorry, I'm really new to this Advaita stuff and I love the way it feels So Much Like what is REAL.
But I also feel like 46 years of concertized habits/beliefs cannot just fly out the window in a heartbeat of realization.

There are those of you who say it happens Just Like That, but is feels like a process in time that I have to DO something in.

It seems like I am hearing that Just Being is sufficient and that Any Doing implies a "Doer" which is missing the point.

If the Point is that I Am Already THAT, then I just go about this life thing and pay no attention to anything except what is happening Right Now?

Do I stop reading, listening and studying Advaita? Right now that feels like trying to stop a natural occurrence like enjoying ice cream?

Thanks Randall,
J Hart

Anonymous said...

Hi There,
I have been reading some of your comments on the UGC and really resonated with the way you share this message. I posted this comment on that site but wanted to copy it to you because I feel like I understand your language better than I do, Gilberts.

I have, since yesterday, listened to about 10 or 12 of your podcasts and some questions keep arising here and those are….. How come I am hearing about methods like self inquiry or this Full Stop thing and about how certain podcasts, (if I open to them) are “Healing” for ‘me’. Then there are ones that imply that there is absolutely Nothing to DO and that I AM Already THAT and that there was Never anyone here to Do anything in the first place. So I am left, seemingly with a whole lotta Nothing to Not Do and a whole lotta Something that I never Did???
Confusing, to say the least. Please Help>>>>>>

Anonymous said...

Gilbert's answer was Rocking and Clear, so you don't have to reply if you don't want to.
Thank you Randall,
Jason F

Randall Friend said...


Either way - look for the ME that is assumed to be beyond question, or negate all that you are not. Both ultimately amount to the same thing.

You are not what you objectify - you objectify the world, perceptions. You objectify the body, both perceptions and sensations. You objectify the mind or thoughts - sensations.

Memories are thought. Thought is sensation first - raw data - before it's conceptualized as "thought" then later as "memory" and then even later "my memories". Are they truly solid and substantial if seen this way?

But do you objectify the awareness? Does awareness appear as a perception or a sensation? If it does, then something remains beyond or prior to to objectify that.

What remains when everything is known to come either in sensation or perception prior to concepts? Pure Subjectivity. Awareness. This pure subjectivity is what we actually mean when we refer to "I".

Loving Advaita is more conceptual bullshit - words are all false - look to where they point - see beyond the concepts to actual and direct experience.

Do you not witness the passing of the "waking state"? Are you not there to receive the appearance of the "dream state"? Isn't this direct experience that's simply overlooked as unimportant?

If this "J Hart" comes and goes with the "waking and dream states", how solid and substantial can it be? What you are remains prior to all states.

There is only a process for the seeker. And the process isn't about getting the questions answered, correctly analyzing the pointers, finding the perfect spiritual "state" - the process isn't an achievement for the seeker - it is a dissolution OF the seeker.

Yet if we look, no actual seeker, no "J" can be found. There is only pure seeing in which the conceptualized sensations and perceptions come and go.

"You" can't do anything - if reading, listening, and studying happen, then they happen. If not, then that is so. All is Consciousness, aware of itself. Life, living itself. The only thing that stands in the way of that is a ME - and that ME is entirely conceptual.

Look for it - it must come and go like the rest of knowledge.

Only YOU remain. Your True Self.

love to you

Anonymous said...

Pristine Randall, Just THIS**

Roeland said...

Thank you for this great post and for posting the MP3's about consciousness and awareness. I have learned a lot of them.
I agree completely that the waking state is a lot like the dream state.
However, one distinction is that my dreams are often wilder and show less logical connections then the waking state.
So there seems to be some difference between the two states. Many laws of consistency seems to apply more to what we experience in the waking state then in the dream state. For example in the waking state I do not see suddenly an umbrella changing into a cat or something like that.
Can you say something about why both experiences seem to be different in some ways?

All the best and thank you,


Randall Friend said...


Hello my friend. Good to hear from you.

What is the assumption? The assumption is that there is a "ME", a separate entity, that is present and awake, then sleeps and has dreams.

Yet in direct experience, that "entity" called "roeland" dissolves with this "state" which may be called the "waking state". Isn't that direct experience? Then that "state" is followed by the "dream state", where "roeland" reappears, the exact sense of "I AM-ness" appears as convincingly?

This post talks about a time when we may question the very "waking state" as potentially a dream. If the dream is so obviously different, why would we question? How could we posit the question? If, in the dream state, that sense "I AM", that feeling of "roeland" wasn't fully intact, fully identified with, then how could we possibly confuse the two at times?

The consistency isn't in the appearance. The consistency is in the identification. Roeland is there. Roeland is here. Roeland is that identification, carried over into the dream.

And the dream is only MADE OF Consciousness, yes? There are buildings and umbrellas and cats. Apparent solidity and separation.

Just like the waking state.

These "states" come and go. There have been a "lifetime" of passing "states" - waking followed by dreaming followed by waking... over and over and over. Yet we conceptually take it as Roeland is awake then sleeps, then the dreams come TO Roeland.

If we simply pay attention to direct experience - Roeland is an appearance in these passing states. The states come and go to Consciousness, within Consciousness.

Roeland is a character in the play. That play has Act 1 as the "waking state". Act 2 is the "dream state". And the final act is the "deep dreamless state".

Then the show starts again tomorrow.

love to you

Roeland said...

Thank you, after I have had a dream it is often hard to believe that all the figures in the dream where nothing more then consciousness.

In everydream there is a character which is called "I" and there are other characters that sometimes seem to oppose that character I.

When I wake up it takes some time to realise that the opposing characters are also part of the "I".

Thank you for your insightful answer.



Randall Friend said...


Yes. Everything in the dream is made of Consciousness.

When we realize we are dreaming a "waking state", that the character "ME" is no different than the dream "ME", then everything in the "waking state" is also made of Consciousness.

Whatever question arises, any answer can only come from within Consciousness. Wherever we go in seeking, the seeker has always and ever been part of the dream itself, from which we seek to be free.

We don't wake up from the dream. We realize the dream is a dream, just like the mirage is not water. It still appears as water yet we don't seek to quench our thirst.

Life goes on - yet there is nothing separate - nothing outside of Consciousness.

You ARE Consciousness - dreaming a "roeland". Wonderful, isn't it!

love to you