Appearance in Dream

Dreams touch the magic chord in the human psyche: alluring realms of pure illusion that arise, deceive, and dissolve on a nightly basis.  And we are continuously, almost pathologically, suckered into the cycle over and over and over again.

When we consider the appearances of dream from within the dream, we find that they truly seem “real.”  We may touch a table, kiss a dream character, eat an apple, or dive into a deep lake, and feel that not much is really different from our waking life.  Dreams pass the “sensory” test for reality.  What then, does that make reality?

Relatively speaking, dreams are different from waking life in a number of ways.  If I leap from a building in a dream, I will fly.  If I try it in waking life, I will fall.


Dream is only bound by what you are prepared to believe.  Any sensory experience can be replicated effortlessly, at times with greater clarity and precision than waking life.

But if we are able to look past the numerous relative differences, we will realize that dreams and reality have the same basic nature.  They both appear as landscapes in the realm of awareness.


For this reason, trusting appearances in dream, while it may come second nature to our mind, represents the folly we persist in in our daily lives: trusting the appearances of our waking life.

Dream yoga attempts to loosen the mind’s fixation on appearance through various tasks or explorations: shrinking and expanding objects, multiplying them, disordering dreams, and so forth.  This weakens the mind’s belief in appearance.  The results not only linger in dream, however.  They carry over into our waking life as well.

witch enchantress.jpg
The old woman in Beauty and the Beast warns the prince not to be fooled by appearances.  He fails the task miserably.  We, as well, fail on a daily basis: we are attracted to beautiful objects and repelled by hideous ones, whether they be people, places, thoughts, emotions, or feelings.  For this reason, we constantly seek out new experiences, and flee from who we are in this moment.

The importance of appearance is that it reflects the truth of our world: utterly open for play.  Appearance-reality is dynamic, fluid, and always shifting into something new and fresh.  The appearances may be pleasant or painful, but they are never the same for long.  It is only when we attempt to fix reality conceptually that we run into trouble.  If we believe our own labeling of reality, bigger trouble.

Furthermore, we can’t actually escape from our thoughts or emotions–they constitute the human psyche at that particular moment.  It would be like trying to run away from our blonde hair.  We can struggle as much as we want, but the hair is coming along for the ride.  That doesn’t mean we have to identify with the hair, and be sad whenever the hair appears in the mirror.  In and of itself, it has no real meaning.  It just appears.  Just like everything else in our world–waking and dreaming.



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