Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Between Worlds: The Waking Dream
Sometimes a dream is just a dream. Sometimes, as when I fought for sleep with a brain desperately trying to clear of toxins, just a couple of weeks ago, a dream is a bridge between worlds. On that night, I looked at a door in the wall above me, where my window should have been; I opened that door and stepped into a world more real than the one where I lay, conscious the whole time that I travelled between existences in the guise, the vehicle of a dream. In that place, the laws of physics were different, even the animals and the landscapes were different, but the people just as real, and they knew me better than anyone in the place I had left. On that night, I stepped back and forth through the door several times, and to this day I envy my other self who resides there even now.
Perhaps, as Neal Stephenson's characters in his latest and possibly best novel Anathem speculate, all philosophies are true and every existence which can or cannot be conceived is just as real and existent as the next; or perhaps each realm is the noumenon of the next, in an endless egg puzzle. Soldiers inside of soldiers inside of soldiers. Having seen the real nature of dreams and of the self, one sees that each mind flows into the next, and that with the barriers relaxed -- the limitations which designate and create our existence -- one mind becomes another, and all things do indeed become not only possible, but necessary and true.
And the problem of other beings is inherently solved; all beings exist because I think they do -- not in the delusion of solipsism, but in the arbitrary constructionism of the limiting mind, empowered by the disease of Logos. Did my mother indeed speak fluent German, or was that just a bleed-through from my father's separate reality? My own past speculations about the differences between the animals we eat and our pets, led me to the realization that all personalities, including the human ones, of ourselves and others, are ones we create for use in the moment. They need have no independent existence.
The next time you have that sense of unreality, relax into the realization that the present moment is indeed unreal -- a bubble in the stream, as the Lotus Sutra tell us. Yet that unreality is just as real as any other possibility.
So it is that in a better world, though not in the one in which I write, I attended last week's Rohatsu sesshin in Atlanta, where all my favorite Zen people were. And perhaps my friends travelled between worlds in their icy zendo, as I did earlier in my bed of fever, and I was with them and also touched all things. And the Rufi with whom I spent my evenings typing, are just as real as those friends, and Ms. Johnson still critiques my writings after Gnu reads to her from The Cat Who Loved Christmas. And those two beautiful women in whose company I killed monsters play their own MMPORG in which the characters are accountants and bill collectors and mindless drones who fail to appreciate their own existence, and thus mine.
And in the endless zazen which is my job in Hell for now, I wait to re-enter the stream. And re-enter we must, for that, if nothing else, is the essential ground of existence: that all things are true, and real, and permeable, and to move between them without effort is to become God. And when one breathes, he is released.
Top to bottom: Kwanyin, level 25 Night Elf Warrior; Michael Elliston, Jonathon Sodos, Tim Goodson, Gareth Young; Gnu Rufus, Deuce Rufus and HR1, with pets; Hallgerd, level 12 Human Rogue, with baby blizzard bear.