Waking up from the dream
By Mark Robberds
Sitting in the early morning in the land of the rising sun
I`ve lived my dreams, they’ve come and gone
Still I’m searching, when will I be done?
Morning star gone in the sky
I feel like a bubble floating in a stream
My dreams had to die for me to come alive
And now I’m hoping to wake up from this dream.
This is a verse from a song I wrote a couple of years ago and it deals with a question that often troubles many aspiring Western students of Yoga who start out on the spiritual path. In our Western culture we are taught to follow our dreams and to follow our hearts. In the philosophies of the East, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, we learn that this life is just like a dream, the characters that we play have no reality, and the fulfillment of our purpose in this birth, is to wake up from the dream of the ego, and to awaken into the true reality.
For many years I was confused by these seemingly opposing views of life until I came across a talk given by American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, where he talked about finding both the ‘Emptiness of self’ and the ‘Self for this Lifetime’. The ’emptiness of self’ refers to the perennial teaching of the East that the Ego, which is the identification with thoughts of ‘me and my life’ is not a permanent thing, it is ephemeral, it is forever changing. It is said that because we do not accept that everything in this world is impermanent, and we try to cling to things, that we suffer.
On the other hand nobody can deny that a part of this life is the very real sense of a ‘Me’ that is living it. Can anybody deny that sense of ‘I Am’? So, from a pragmatic point of view we do have a life to live, our ‘Self for this Lifetime’, and the question that arises for the spiritual seeker is: ‘how can I live my life in the best possible way while still maintaining an awareness of the impermanent nature of all things?’ This is where the practices of the Yoga tradition come into play. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali he states that the best way to attain freedom from suffering is by Isvara Pranidhana, which means devotion to God, but we can use other words like The Source, Higher Power, Primal Energy or the Creator.
When we place our faith and our devotion into a Higher Power we recognize that the ego is very limited in its ability to understand the life that we are living. The ego has its function – we are not trying to kill the ego, but rather refine and polish it, so that it becomes our ally, rather than always making us feel separate and isolated from the world. When we start to feel as if we are being moved by a Higher Power and connect to that place within our own hearts, then we can trust that our actions are not being fueled by Ego, but are in alignment with the interconnected nature of life itself.
So the answer to the question of how to wake up from the dream and live our dreams at the same time is this: give it all up to the Creator. When we connect to our deepest hearts desire and understand that this comes from Divinity itself, then we are are no longer caught in the dream of the ego, the dream of isolation and separation, but we are following our hearts – which is the Creator’s will for us.
One of the most influential books in my life that addresses this question of how to live your dreams from a non-egoic place is ‘The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron. In this book she explains that life equals creation. The Creator, or God, or the Source, is forever creating and when we re-discover that creativity within ourselves then it is not the ego acting, but the Creator creating through us. She says that our creative dreams and yearnings come from a Divine source and when we move closer to our dreams we move closer to our Divinity.