How many have you read that enlightenment is waking up from the dream of the self and the world?
I have many times. This statement often asserts the metaphor that waking up is like rising out of a dream. Once we are awake we know the dream to have been just a dream, except that in real awakening the dream is what you and I take for the real world; the world where we eat, sex, read, and shit. All of that is a dream.
Or is it?
Advaita emphasizes the seeing presence that sees the eating, sexing, reading, and shitting, but is none of those. It is the unborn presence on which everything dreamlike and ephemeral plays out. To me Advaita seems to place 100% of the emphasis on the presence, while negating the solidity of the seen. This is, truly, life out of balance.
I would much prefer a spiritual philosophy that negates the seeing presence for the solid and real. Of course the Advaitan negates the real as unreal, since what is perceived by the mind as solid is really only awareness, which is ever-changing and ungraspable.
To this I say bullshit.
I ask you this: what would motivate you to find and explore a philosophy whose whole purpose is to negate the real? I urge you to ask yourself that question. For prior to our introduction to awareness philosophy what you I see as real is already agreed on as real. There is nothing wrong about challenging the information recorded by our senses, but to negate as unreal is to undermine the world in preference to a trance-like and self-negating philosophy of elevated words.
Isn’t the appeal of such a philosophy really the flight from pain and suffering? Isn’t that the real – true answer? Is it not true that suffering is real and that there is someone who truly suffers and on account of that suffering we seek out philosophies that will enable us to transcend what we find painfully disturbing and painful?
But you say that that person who appears to experience suffering is an illusion. And to that I would reply now we are back in the world of negation. Eastern religions love negation, for they hate attachment.
But such a vision is one-sided and, ultimately, of little value. I should say as a proviso that there are many Buddhists, Taoists, and Advaitans who have seen beyond the strict and life-invalidating points of view that I am exploring in this post.
Let’s take a look at that feeling soaked word: love. A Buddhist might say that a love that is full of attachment is possessive and prone to violence. I could not agree more. Attachment is the problem in all matters of the bodymind. The authentic self does not want to possess nor be possessed.
But authentic love cares and loves another for just as he or she is. When she suffers, I suffer. Why she laughs, I too laugh. For me, she is real – completely real. Her thoughts and feelings are the very substance and fabric of life. I love her reality, her substance, her smell, her presence. If that love were to ebb and fail, then the ties that have kept us together would become weaker. And such is life. It is a river whose final destination we may know, but whose twists and turns challenge our ability to find balance in its many undulations.
This is the wonder, mystery, pain and joy of the life of the real – really real! It is the in between state that keeps us so stuck in boring monotony. You see – life is really real! The moment we interject the separation of self and other, then we have moved into that twilight life of neither real nor unreal. Can you see this?
So life has profound suffering. If you are afraid to experience the suffering, then you will not be capable of experiencing the joy. This is how feeling works. It’s not a one-sided phenomenon.
Is that what you would like to transcend? Is that what you would like to say is only a dream – unreal and ephemeral? If so, then live your life in the dream of dead philosophies. It is, as if, we were to have a choice. We can be like nearly everyone else who lives life as wanly real or we can be like the pure Adivaitan who negates the real as a dream or we can take the boldest step of all – to live life understanding that it’s all real. What matters to me is what is real, what you and I can see and touch and feel. What we can talk and joke about about – what seems to cause us misery and irritation, as well as pleasure and freedom.
What matters to you? Don’t tell me the answer – tell yourself. Tell yourself what matters to you. Open your heart to this vision of meaning and purpose. Feel it – touch it – be it.