Your life is consumed by a series of dreamlike states: memories, daydreams, fantasies, future plans, emotional states, imagination, fears. Like nighttime dreams, all these mental states are partially based on reality and partially based on our interpretations, projections, and extrapolations.
The mind that functions like a magician generating illusions. It is taking place all the time, both inwardly and in the way the World arises. Like a magician’s illusion, like a flash of lightning, like a dream – all phenomena that arise from causes and conditions are like these. If you can recognize this, then it is like lucid dreaming during your daily life.
If you are not familiar with mind’s dreamlike propensities, you make your afflictions into your reality. If your habit is aggression, you can read anger into everything. If your habit is insecurity, you can read self-loathing into anything. You project your own emotions onto others. Acting on these misperceptions is how you produce negative karma. When you live caught in a dream that you do not know you are dreaming, you suffer.
To wake up and apprehend that dream for what it is – this is why Buddhists meditate. Meditation is a way of getting to know mind. Far beyond exotic fantasies of enlightenment is the everyday wakefulness of simply coming to understanding how mind functions. Only then can you function appropriately and freely within the scope of mind’s propensities.
Dreamlike phenomena must be treated with respect and compassion. When you see projections for what they are, your mind becomes supple and agile. Yet the dream still matters. The goal is to gain the freedom to respond to it with presence, altruism, and an explorer mindset. Having apprehended the dream through meditation, explorations of ultimate importance may now ensue.
By waking up to the dream, you open the doorway to a supple mind and a more wakeful exploration of life.