I do a lot of studying and contemplating about Zen, Taoism, Enlightenment, Suffism, etc, etc, etc… (Also, every time I say, or even think, the words “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,” I always hear them coming through in Yule Brenner’s voice from ‘The King and I.’ Am I the only one?)
A common theme in all paths of enlightenment is the idea that we are to treat this life as though it were a dream. This is usually interpreted as something along the lines of: “This life is transient and all material is passing so don’t get attached.” Lately though I’ve come to think there’s another lesson that can be learned from that. Maybe even a better one. (At least a better one for me.)
Whenever we dream, we just kind of accept what’s going on. We understand on some buried level that: ‘No, it’s okay that the blue monkey is talking.’ We accept the world for what it is. This is especially true in our nightmares. The whole reason we’re terrified is because the monster is real and going to eat us, or whatever.
Then there are the other dreams. There are the dreams we question, the ones we don’t believe. We spend the entire dream screaming about how none of this is real, or none of this should be happening, or we race around trying to figure out what’s really going on so we can find our way out. Here’s the catch: we still believe those dreams. We believe in those dream worlds enough to know they’re wrong, enough to fight against them.
Back to real life: What do we do? What do we all do? We run around looking at the world around us going “I don’t believe that.” And because we don’t believe something, most of the time we ignore it. Or we shout in frustration, “This Can’t Be Happening!” or “It’s not supposed to be this way!” Or the ever-ubiquitous “What the Hell is Going on?”
Most of us go through our daily lives denying half of it even exists. We ignore the world. We focus only on what we want to see or what we expect to see and deny the rest. When we are forced to see and accept the parts of the world we usually deny we go into shock and have to force ourselves to adapt or the consequences can be bad. We suffer from traumatic exposure, we break down, PTSD, etc. We don’t even accept the world around us to the point where we’re running around screaming it doesn’t belong. We just pretend and pray it won’t kick us in the butt.
If we treat life the same as we do a dream we can see it for what it is, all of it, and accept it. By accepting it to it’s fullness we can let stress out of our lives. No more mindless resistance. If we accept the situations we’re placed in then we don’t have to fight ourselves. We can save all that trauma and stress and deal with the situation as it comes.