Sunday, November 1, 2009


Several years back, I was away on retreat at a spiritual center in South Carolina and I had a glimpse—just a glimpse—of how much of an illusion (what the Hindus would call Maya) this world really is.  Everything around me felt as insubstantial as heat trails wavering on the highway on a hot summer day.  The people I encountered seemed like they were weightless, unreal:  made of morning mist—or perhaps pixie dust.  I mention this because I’ve been reworking an old story of mine that deals with the idea that this life we’re living is as much a dream as the ones that fill our heads when we’re asleep; that, in fact, we’re asleep and dreaming right now—and, if we knew that, really knew it, we could become lucid dreamers and transform our world.

If this is true—and the older I get, the truer it becomes, not just philosophically but experientially—then it means I’m dreaming everything around me.  The entire universe (including all of you reading this) doesn’t really exist, any more than the people and things you encounter in a dream exist.  You are all reflections of my consciousness, of my vision of the world, of my vision of my Self.  A movie projected from my unconscious mind.  And here’s the paradox:

The same is true for you.
  Everything you see, everything you experience, is a dream dreamed just for you, for your amusement and unfoldment, for your awakening and ultimate joy.  I am just a dream you have dreamed.  This blog is just a dream you have dreamed.

And here’s the kicker:  You don’t exist.  And neither do I.  We’re both thoughts floating in the mind of the One Dreamer, the Only Dreamer, God Himself.  (I say He, but I could just as easily say She or It.)  It’s God’s dream, all of it, and He’s dreaming it through us and with us and—best of all—as us.

Think of it like this:  You’re writing a novel and become so immersed in your story, so in love with your characters, that you completely identify with your fictional world.  When you write the hero, you are the hero, when you write the villain, you are the villain.  Sometimes you even forget that you’re you, the writer, and that what you’re creating is just a story—and then the tale seems to start telling itself, your characters take on lives of their own.

This metaphor breaks down after a certain point, because—if a multitude of spiritual paths and traditions are to be believed—in the cosmic drama that is Creation, in the dream that the Only Dreamer is dreaming, the Divine Author doesn’t just imagine the tale, He consciously descends into his own story in order to awaken his characters to the truth that—much like a hologram—each one isn’t just a piece of the tale, each one is everyone and everything in the tale.  And more:  each one is the Author Himself, in an extremely clever disguise.  Some of the characters embrace what the Author is saying.  Some deny it.  Some hate the idea and oppose Him.  Yet, to the Author, it's all an essential part of a wonderful story.  Even the opposition.  Especially the opposition.  (Let’s face it, what good’s a story without a strong antagonist?  Well, I have a theory that it could be even better—but that’s another post for another time.)

If you accept this, even for a moment, the inevitable question that arises is:  What kind of dream are we choosing to dream right now (and if each one of us is the Dreamer, then it absolutely comes down to personal choice)—and what miraculous new dream can we manifest tomorrow?  Even if this is nonsense—the biggest load of pseudo-mystical, New Age, quasi-Eastern moonshine ever concocted—how much about ourselves and our world could we change if we lived as if we believed it was true?

This universe we inhabit is so unfathomably huge that no one perspective could ever capture more than a splinter of its magnificence (in other words:  everything I say is true—except when it’s not), so take the preceding as a Sunday morning brew of faith, hope and imagination.  I invite you to pour your own faith and imagination into the mix.  

And let’s see what miracles we can manifest, in this strange and wonderful dream we’re dreaming.

Next stop:  Imaginalis.

©copyright 2009  J.M. DeMatteis


  1. I was watching a television show last night where one character tells another, "That's impossible!" and he responds, "Possiblity and impossibility are states of mind. In my mind, there is only the possible."--David

  2. What show was that, David? Sounds like something I'd like to see.

  3. It was, of all things, an old episode of GI Joe!


  4. Now there's an answer I didn't expect!

  5. Yes, the names were changed to protect the innocent--namely me and my nostalgic, guilty pleasures!

    It is fun to revisit some of those old shows from time to time, though, and realize my guilty pleasures aren't as guilty as I might have thought.

    And I think it's in keeping with your point about the characters God dreams. If you write stories with distinct characters, then certain concepts inevitably break through. GI Joe actually had quite a few characters bouncing worldviews off one another. Their paramedic refused to touch a gun, for instance, even to save his life.

    GI Joe--A Real Philosophical Hero!!(:


  6. I have to be honest, David, I don't think I've ever read a GI JOE comic book in my life, nor have I ever seen the animated show. But now that I know JOE is actually a profound treatise on the nature of reality, I'll have to rethink the whole situation!

  7. You've done so much to expand my horizons, it was the least I could do! Maybe the very least, but still...

    Speaking of expanding horizons, I'm really looking forward to hearing about IMAGINALIS next week.


  8. I hope to have the IMAGINALIS post up by the end of the week, David. (But don't hold me to it!)

  9. Nice Dream, J. M., I really resonate with your line that "the older I get, the truer it becomes" but have been kicking around lately if perhaps it's more like "the older it gets, the truer I become". The long, strange journey to get to where I started has become marvelously encouraging to me. With so many endings and beginnings and Fool's Leaps available every day, it's a good thing I love roller coasters.

    PS: Specific thanks for your dedication in Seekers Into the Mystery (or was it Moonshadow?) which prompted this here figment of The Imagination to look into Meher Baba. Lotsa gold in them thar hills!

    Pleasant Dreaming!

  10. "The older it gets, the truer I become"? I like it, Tim. And I agree that, in the end, this is a long, strange -- and wonderful -- journey to get back to where we started. Or, put another way, to remember who we really are.

    Glad to hear you're investigating Meher Baba. The thing I always stress to people about MB is that it's not about the words in a book or anyone else's experience of who or what Meher Baba is. It's intensely, totally personal.

    Let me know what gold you find along the way.

  11. Will do. And I agree about the importance of personalized experience. I once heard a line that took me a while to begin to understand: "The last thing I want you to do is believe me".

    I find the writings/teachings/sayings I encounter to be the hints and "didjanotice?"s I need to find the doors that I must then open and walk through on my own.

  12. "The last thing I want you to do is believe me." Another great one, Tim. And so very true.

  13. This might be a little long to post here, I'm not sure, but Edgar Allen Poe's "A Dream Within a Dream" has always been a personal favorite of mine:

    "Take this kiss upon the brow!
    And, in parting from you now,
    Thus much let me avow--
    You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?
    All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

    I stand amid the roar
    Of a surf-tormented shore,
    And I hold within my hand
    Grains of the golden sand--
    How few! yet how they creep
    Through my fingers to the deep,
    While I weep--while I weep!
    O God! can I not grasp
    Them with a tighter clasp?
    O God! can I not save
    One from the pitiless wave?
    Is all that we see or seem
    But a dream within a dream?"


  14. Thanks for sharing that, David: it's an amazing poem. I believe, to the bottom of my soul, that "all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream," but, unlike Poe, I don't see that as a tragedy, I see it as a doorway into miracles. But I suspect you knew that already!

  15. I do indeed. It's one reason I appreciate your work so much. The universe is a miracle full of miracles--why should we treat it any less?


  16. I'm glad you called my attention to this on twitter today.

    I have trouble organizing my thoughts on this topic, which is why i love to read other people doing so. It's so telling that every culture has this masked-trickster-dreaming-and-the-dream-becoming-something-else story. Its ubiquity should be a signpost on the road through imagination.

    Or something like that! This is one area I can never achieve anything like clarity on. It's a dreamer's dream dreaming itself.

    I'm about halfway through Imaginalis, by the way - I need to wrap it up so I can read the blog entries on it...

    Just curious if you've ever seen the movie Waking Life? I've found that among the people who have, the ones who can/ enjoy entertaining ideas like the ones expressed in this blog really love it. (Whereas those who can't/ hate entertaining these sort of ideas, do not, with a passion.)

  17. Yes, it's hard sometimes -- if not most of the time! -- to wrap one's hands around dreamstuff... even when that dreamstuff is composed of our own consciousness. But it's certainly a fun arena to play in.

    Yes, I've seen WAKING LIFE and enjoyed it. Thought it was fascinating and engaging.

    Very glad to hear you're reading IMAGINALIS. Hope you're enjoying the trip!