Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dreams and reality.

Awhile ago I came across a greeting card, intended as encouragement, that said, “Don’t let reality get in the way of your dreams.” The implied message was that we should not be discouraged by events that can can bring us down. There was something that troubled me greatly about the message and started me thinking of ostriches with their heads buried in the sand having dreams that ignore what surrounds them.

Back in July of 2014 I wrote a post titled, The high price of choice: winning battles, losing wars, and in that post I spoke about our normal way of discerning reality, delusion and how these relate to dreams. The conclusion of the post was, according to the Buddhist way of understanding reality, the vast majority of humanity imagines reality in a distorted way that leads us to remain completely unaware of what is ultimate reality. Consequently we walk around in a dream state, all the while thinking our perceived world IS reality.

Persuading anyone of this view is most difficult. Instead we prefer fantasy to reality and this dream state is very often based on fear, and consequently adopting an attitude of denial, pretense and unrealistic hopefulness. In the Nipata Sutra there’s a conversation that occurred with the Buddha that said: “What is it that smothers the world? What makes the world so hard to see? What would you say pollutes the world and threatens it the most?” The Buddha replied: “It is ignorance which smothers and it is heedlessness and greed which make the world invisible. The hunger of desire pollutes the world, and the great source of fear is the pain of suffering.” Clear examples of this dilemma surround us.
  • It is far easier to ignore advancing devastation of global warming and our contributions that exacerbate the growing threat. It is fear of suffering and losing one’s livelihood, or alienating those attached to vested interests with whom we align ourselves. The desire for shortsighted greed in maintaining a destructive status quo traps us all in states of fear. 
  • It is easier to ignore many aspects of family discord that corrupt ones spirit and fills us with fear of suffering the loss of expected love that could come from a family based on openness and acceptance. 
  • It is easier to ignore our civic obligation to vote as an expression of our moral convictions than it is to risk having others discover our true values that conflict with theirs, and thus suffer the loss of facile relationships, which we reason are better than none at all. 
  • It is easier to maintain a duplicitous relationship of pretense where we risk standing nakedly exposed than it is to risk being discovered and suffer loss from being ourselves.
Dreams that are built on the sands of delusion are doomed, and insure our ultimate suffering in many ways, none of which we hope for. The very first of the Buddha’s four noble truths is that we all suffer—none can escape. And the second of these truths is the cause of suffering is attachment to the blowing sands of change. If there were only two noble truths then despair is the only possible result. However, he didn’t stop at two. The third is there’s a solution and the fourth directs us to the Eight Fold Path that leads to experiencing ultimate reality and the discovery of our always loved, and always loving true nature. When we arrive at that place of enlightenment we find that we were living, not just in a dream, but in a horrible nightmare that was, and is, based purely on an expected fear of suffering.

Post a Comment