Life is just a dream. It is not like a dream, it is a dream and nothing other than a dream.~Detong Choyin
The word “Buddha” literally means “one who has awakened to the dream-like nature of reality.” The Buddha wasn’t teaching that this universe was like a dream, he was pointing out that our universe IS a dream, a waking dream we are collaboratively dreaming up into materialization. The Buddha prophesized that an even greater incarnation than himself would soon be born whose name would be PadmaSambhava. PadmaSambhava was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the Tantric Buddha, the incarnation or emanation of the enlightened mind itself appearing in human form. Interestingly, PadmaSambhava is considered to be the Buddha of our age. By the power of his awakening, he “conquered” the country of Tibet, transforming the evil forces into protectors of the sacred Dharma (teachings of the enlightened ones), and turning everyone into Dharma practitioners. PadmaSambhava is the supreme alchemist and exorcist: the greater the negativity, the greater his power of transmutation.
PadmaSambhava started the “terma,” or hidden treasure lineage, which is particularly unique and psycho-activating, awakening the unconscious beyond belief. To insure the propagation of the purity of the teachings, PadmaSambhava concealed these sacred teachings and holy treasures throughout the many dimensions of this universe: in the earth, sky, lakes, dreams and visions, and in his disciples’ hearts and minds. PadmaSambhava would inspire his disciples to discover these terma, synchronistically, at just the right moment in history when they were needed. The revelation of a terma was an atemporal, higher-dimensional process materializing into linear, historical time. Termas are not make believe, like some sort of fairy tale─the terma tradition has been deeply studied and highly venerated by both scholars and practitioners alike (see Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche). Like alarm clocks hidden in this waking dream of ours, waking us up at exactly the right moment, these terma are like time-release vitamins that the universal dream-field organically secretes when needed, so as to compensate an unconscious one-sidedness. When we connect with a terma, it is as though a sleeping, unconscious part of ourselves awakens. Termas are like charms that break spells, or like keys that open locks.
One such terma is the Tibetan Book of Great Liberation. In this hidden treasure, PadmaSambhava said, “As a thing is viewed, so it appears,”[ii] which can be essentialized to: “As Viewed, So Appears.” As Viewed, So Appears is itself the equation or formulation of how we co-create reality with this dream-like universe of ours. As Viewed, So Appears is describing, while simultaneously being an expression of, the dream-like nature of our waking reality. As Viewed, So Appears is as all-pervasive and universal a law in the realm of consciousness as gravity is in the physical dimension. Contemplating As Viewed, So Appears can be a catalyst to awaken in us the realization of how in this very moment we are dreaming up the universe into materialization out of the infinite field of unmanifest potential. Contemplating As Viewed, So Appears is a portal through which the realization of the dream-like nature of reality that it is an expression of is itself actualized.
When we are in an actual night dream, if we change the way we view the dream, the dream has no choice but to spontaneously shape-shift and mirror back this change in perception, for a dream is a reflection of the mind observing it. A dream is nothing other than our inner process projected seemingly outside of ourselves. If we change the way we view our dream while having it, the dream will spontaneously change the way it appears, for a dream IS nothing other than our own consciousness externalizing itself. The dreamscape is an instantaneous reflex (reflex-ion) of the way we are viewing it…As Viewed, So Appears.
Similarly, quantum physics points out that it makes no sense whatsoever to talk about the universe as if it exists objectively, separate from us, or to talk about us existing independently of the seemingly outer universe. We and the universe are inseparable partners in a timeless embrace. We are collaboratively dreaming up the universe, while the universe is simultaneously dreaming us up. This interplay reciprocally co-arises in a non-linear, acausal and atemporal, synchronistic and cybernetic feedback loop. Buddhism calls this beginning-less process interdependent co-origination: every part of the universe evokes and is concurrently evoked by every other part in a seamless expression of undivided wholeness. This is to say that the idea of separation between ourselves and the universe is an illusion.
Quantum physics has discovered that our perception of the universe actually evokes the very universe that is observed. If we change the way we view the universe, the universe itself spontaneously reflects this change back to us, as the universe is not separate from our perception of it. Physics itself is pointing out that our universe is arising exactly as a dream arises: As an immediate reflection of the observing consciousness. Is the nature of light a wave or a particle? Quantum physics points out that it depends on how we are looking. I call this the “physics of the dream-like nature of reality.”
Our creative imagination is truly divine, in that it literally affects the suprasensory blueprint underlying this seemingly mundane and “solid” material world of ours. Our divine creative imagination is the part of us through which God imagines this world into materialization. This waking dream we are living in, however, being of a more dense vibration than a night dream, is more solidified, crystallized into materialized form, and is, hence, “slower” in the way it is a function of our creative imagination. Due to the seeming solidity of this waking dream, the effects of the creative imagination on how our universe actually gets dreamed up are visible only with much more subtle, refined, and rarefied vision. Our physical universe very convincingly appears to have the continuity of being something that seems solid and objectively existing, but we shouldn’t be fooled or entranced by the seeming concreteness of the universe’s dream-like display.
For example: Is what is happening in our world right now our worst nightmare that will end up in unimaginable destruction? Or, is what is playing out on our planet catalyzing a global awakening previously undreamed of? Is what we are viewing a wave or is it a particle? It all depends on how we observe it, or dream it up…As Viewed, So Appears. The key agent in how things manifest is none other than our own consciousness. Talk about responsibility!
The “unconscious” of our species is getting dreamed up and played out destructively in the world for all to see. Will we realize that we are all collaboratively dreaming up this universe into full-bodied materialization so as to shed light on the unconscious and awaken ourselves? Or, will we not recognize this, and destroy ourselves in collective suicide, a species gone mad? We live in a quantum universe of open-ended potential at each and every moment. We are all complicit in what is being dreamed up in our universe. There’s no one to blame. How our universe manifests depends on how we, both individually and collectively, dream it up.
This is not to negate that certain events are actually happening. People ARE dying. Rather, it is to recognize that in the act of investing our universe with a certain meaning, we are playing a role in not only how we experience our universe, but in how our universe continues its creative unfoldment. Our interpretation of our experience is the part of the universe through which we can change the universe.
Years ago, when I first began teaching, I didn’t have a lot of money. One day, I found a brand new bottle of contact lens solution in the bathroom closet the day after I had just bought one in the store. I remember thinking, “If only I had found this contact lens solution yesterday, I could’ve saved the money I had spent.” I started feeling depressed. And then I realized that I could just as easily interpret the exact same experience in an empowering, instead of a dis-empowering way. I could interpret finding the extra contact lens solution as evidence that I was living in an abundant universe where my possessions had started to magically multiply. Instead of having one bottle of contact lens solution, in reality I now had two. Why was I depressed about this? It was clear to me at that moment how direct and instantaneous a link there is between how we interpret our reality and how we experience life. Our experience itself is a function of which interpretation we invest in at any and every moment─one in which we give away our power to the outside world, or one in which we realize our co-creatorship with the universe. It was clear to me that, depending on my interpretation, I would attract experiences to me that would further confirm my point of view. The self-fulfilling prophetic nature of my experience could not have been more obvious.
As Viewed, So Appears is such a profound articulation of how we create our reality, that if we think As Viewed, So Appears is not true, the entire universe will shape-shift and reflect back to us that As Viewed, So Appears seems not true. This apparent negation paradoxically is As Viewed, So Appears’ strongest affirmation, as it demonstrates its all-encompassing validity. Which, of course, is just further proof of the all-pervasiveness and profundity of As Viewed, So Appears. We are like magicians, enchanted by our own creation.
When we inquire into the dream-like nature of our reality, we begin to touch what I call the “meaning of meaning.” We begin to discover that there’s no intrinsic meaning embedded in our waking dream separate from our own mind’s interpretation. We are “meaning generators.”
By connecting the dots in the inkblot, so to speak, we are superimposing, or mapping a meaning pattern (projecting, i.e., dreaming) onto the screen of our experience. Being that the seemingly outer dreamscape, like a Rorschach test, is nothing other than our own projection, our own reflection, it has no choice but to spontaneously shape-shift and reflect back our interpretation. The universe reflects back to us our point of view in such a way so as to confirm our perspective in a self-validating feedback loop. The meaning appears to be inherent in the outer inkblot, whereas in reality, the origin of the meaning is our own mind.
A dream is a reflection, a projection of the Mind (I am not talking about the conceptual mind, but Mind with a capital “M.” This Mind is the dreamer of the dream, what I call the “deeper, dreaming Self”). And a projection is an inkblot reflecting back to us ourselves. As soon as we connect the dots on an inkblot, the inkblot instantaneously shape-shifts and mirrors back our projection. It is not as though one moment we view the inkblot one way and two moments later it appears that way. The very moment we view the inkblot a certain way is the very same moment it appears that way. As Viewed, So Appears. The inkblot just reflects back to us our own interpretation. This process doesn’t happen in time, or over time, it happens outside of time, faster than the twinkling of an eye or the speed of light. Once we project onto the inkblot, the inkblot will provide all of the necessary justification and convincing evidence to prove the rightness of our projection in a self-confirming and never-ending feedback loop that is completely self-generated. Because this process happens in no time, we don’t see it and we get fooled by the reality-creating power of our own divine imagination. It is as if we are creative geniuses who, by our power of evoking reality, have unknowingly entranced ourselves with our own God-given gift.
Once we project onto the inkblot and it reflects back to us our projection, we imagine that the form the inkblot has taken objectively exists, as if it is separate from us. We then react to the inkblot, imagining we are reacting to the external universe, when in fact we are reacting to our own projection. We are like a kitten in front of a mirror endlessly reacting to its own reflection, imagining it is separate from itself. If we don’t recognize we are reacting to our own energy, we fall into a never-ending vicious cycle, dreaming ourselves back into samsara or cyclic existence in this moment and in this moment and in this moment…ceaselessly, until we recognize the nature of our situation, and snap out of our entrainment.
It is as though we are looking in a mirror and deeply frowning, saying, “We’re frowning because of how the outside world (our mirrored reflection) is. We’re not going to stop frowning until the outside world (a reflection of our own face) stops being so negative, stops giving me reasons to frown.” Not recognizing our mirrored reflection, we have all the evidence we need to justify our frowning. We imagine we’re only reacting, just like any sane person would, to how things really are. And yet, our having fallen into this infinite regression is a form of madness. We’ve become bewitched, as if under a self-generated spell.
This activity of endlessly reacting to our own energy is a crazy-making activity, as over time this tends to generate insane behavior. Our species is in a state of mass trauma, as we are collectively acting out the “repetition compulsion” of the traumatized soul on the world stage. In the repetition compulsion, the way we try to heal our trauma is the very act re-creating the trauma from which we are trying to heal. And yet, our doing this is the very medium through which we can potentially integrate and transcend the unconsciousness that is at the root of our doing this. Hidden in the problem is the key to its resolution.
Inherent in this process is that at any moment we can effortlessly step out of our dilemma, stop endlessly re-creating our trauma, and spontaneously cease frowning, for frowning is an activity we are actively doing in each moment. The energy that was bound up in our unconscious compulsion to frown and hence re-create our trauma ad infinitum becomes liberated and available for creative expression (and smiling).
Frowning itself, however, is recognized to be the very medium through which we learn how not to frown. This is analogous to our species acting out our “unconscious” destructively in the world as being the very way we learn how not to destroy ourselves. Clearly, we have not learned any other way, or we wouldn’t be destroying ourselves. The key is whether we recognize how moment by moment we are feeding into, supporting, and helping to create the very problem we see out there and to which we are reacting. This is to recognize the dream-like nature of our situation and become lucid in the dream of life.
There is a self-secret dimension in our universe through which we interface with the creation of the universe. Accessing this dimension gives us the capacity to consciously effect change in the universe. I call this “intervening in the dimension of the dreaming.” We can co-operatively hook up with each other and intervene in the dimension of the dreaming so as to conjure up a field of force that literally cultivates and generates the light of consciousness. This lucid force field has the power to attract and integrate more and more of the universe into itself, which is to say that it’s a creative life-form that is birthing itself into incarnation through us.
The universe is waking up, and we are the instruments through which this process of divine incarnation becomes accomplished and actualized in time and space. If you tell me that this is merely my interpretation, I would say “Exactly.” As Viewed, So Appears.