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Nightmares & Awakening

We are living a nightmare right now. Most of our problems are illusory—only part of the dream. If we dream that a saber-toothed tiger is chasing us to kill us and feast on us, what are our options? We can escape the tiger to safety; we can fight and overcome it; we can wake up and realize it was only a dream. An alternative is that the tiger devours us, but even our terror in the presence of the danger is bad enough. If we have a nightmare after a nightmare like that most of our experience is negative—even if the outcome is mostly positive and we do dream of escaping the tiger in the end. Even if we wake up in time, every time, but we gather memories of being chased—is that a positive outcome? Something we want more of? And the crux of the problem is that we don’t have any control over the content of our dreams. I see that it’s not that different in our daily lives. It’s the prevalent mood we live in that matters, not the problems and their solutions. And life is something we don’t just awaken from unless death is such an awakening. Or, enlightenment, if we define it as detaching oneself from life enough to not be affected by it anymore. In my book that is just another way of dying. What I believe is the best option is to wake up from the nightmare yet stay within the dream all the same. Stay alive, fully present, with a clear awareness of what is what: what is real and what is illusory. We still may not be able to actually control the events and results of the “dream”, but we’ll be on top of our prevalent mood: we’ll be able to consciously choose our responses to not only the external but also the internal circumstances, such as our feelings, emotions, thoughts. And perhaps that is true enlightenment.

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