Living Sans Illusion
using my dreams as a guide
I’ve had two lucid dreams in the last two months. In both, when I suspected that I was dreaming, my immediate reaction was to ask the nearest dream character a question.
(1) Movie Theater: I’m naked, walk to the front row of the theater, sit next to a woman, watch teenage kids smoking weed on the silver screen — during which I started to feel stoned — and then, suspecting I was in a dream, turn to the woman next to me and ask, “Am I dreaming?” She looks at me and, leaning into my ear, says, “Yes, you’re dreaming. Wake up.” The words “wake up” entered into me, the volume multiplying, as if it were being said inside my head. Simultaneously, I felt her flow into my mind, return with shock and electricity — perhaps to represent that she were a projection of my dream-making self.
(2) Bathroom: I’m pissing in a urinal of a public bathroom when I begin to suspect that I’m dreaming. I turn to my right, and ask the man at the urinal next to me: “What does this mean?” He says, “Read as much as you can.” I wake up.
Over the next two days of my waking life, I tenaciously finished reading “The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays” by Albert Camus, and am currently re-reading the same essays. I entered into the perspective, felt the earth swirl around me, and am only now leveling off and trying to remain focused on my own lucidity. How do I discern between illusions and reality?
If I can produce a believable dream world, I can produce a believable waking world laid over the top of “mere perceptions.” The “mere perceptions” being analogous to lucid dreams, as waking illusions are analogous to believable dreams. (Of course, even “mere perceptions” are analogous of the thing itself — we can never grasp things in themselves, or even know if there is a thing in itself behind the perception.) Think of it as a scale from more awake to less awake, the middle point being the transition from literal waking to literal sleeping.
|< mere perception—perception and illusion <-> lucid dream—illusion (dream)>|
My means of dispensing with illusion in the dream was to question. It was an intuitive response, but successful, and in both cases I immediately had my question answered in a clear way.
The illusion-making part of myself harmonized with my reason.
What are the metaphysical implications of my intuitive response to question? I suspected that the objects of my perception were created by me. If they were, my questioning would break them down. They revealed themselves as illusions; therefore, they wanted to be known. The illusion-making part of myself created the dream for the sake of revealing truth to my conscious self.
But illusions in waking life want to stay, and only disperse reluctantly. Presumably, the illusions in waking life and the illusions in a dream are produced by the same part of myself.
I’m going to follow a rocky line of logic; my dream-making self told me to read as much as I can, and the book I happened to be reading was Camus; therefore, my dream-making self wants me to dispel with illusion. It’s as if my dream-making self were waiting anxiously for me to become lucid: “finally, he’s aware.” The first thing my dream told me, in Penelope-Cruz-“open-your-eyes”-fashion, was “wake up.” The second was, “read as much as you can.” That is, finish reading this book about dispensing with illusions.
Based on this line of reasoning, I’m going to perform an experiment. I’m going to attempt to treat each experience as an isolated event, disconnected from any greater meaning or purpose. If I have a doubt about the reality of a thing, I’m going to question — whatever question intuitively burns within me at that moment. Perhaps I will continue waking from the illusions I cast on the world.