Life is a dream—for some a nightmare.
Real spiritual experiences always increase our joy. This is partly because true spiritual experiences always involve an element of greater inclusion, expansion, and connectedness.
It is a sad and tragic commentary that dualistic religions (religions still caught in the trap of ego mind and its fixation on good and evil) have been the cause of so much pain and discord, each one believing they somehow represent “God’s Will.” The fact that there are 50,000 different denominations in the Christian world alone, each with their own interpretation of “God’s word,” should tell you something about human thought-based perception as a means of maintaining separation and egoic specialness.
History tells the story. Religion, a human invention, tends to separate people into “believers” and “non-believers,” despite many creeds and injunctions that altruistically suggest otherwise. Upon truly awakening, many people naturally drift away from the spiritual kindergarten of religion. This is not to say that someone can’t have a genuine spiritual experience within a religious context.
Religion Does Not Guarantee A Spiritual Experience
Spirit is not limited by any time or circumstance at all! For some, a religious context may offer the ideal environment for their emerging spirituality. But religion itself does not guarantee a spiritual experience or connection.
The arrogance of dominating hierarchies, of dogmatic separation and “holy wars”, is a sure clue that the ego is in the mix, as only ego is invested in hierarchies that separate rather than join. You can inherit a religion like you can an accent or hair color, but your spirituality is entirely up to you!
Sadly, many religions become happy havens for the ego and offer institutional support for propagating fear, intolerance, anger, and even war. If you doubt this last statement, have you seen the evening news lately?
The only way this could make any sense is if somehow this dualistic “god” of religion was not the true God of Unconditional love, but instead the projection of collective ego tortured by its own inner divisions. If the conflicted ego is your god, then I suppose you would be justified in worshipping a god of fear who wages wars to punish “sinners” and “evildoers”—basically those who don’t agree with our interpretation of truth and thus pose a threat.
Religious Dogma: The Cause Of Much Suffering And Division
I have touched on only one aspect of the insanity of the world here. No matter where you look in the man-made world of madness, you will find the same glaring inconsistencies, and the cause of much suffering and division in the commonly held thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of many as held in our institutions and unquestioned historical patterns.
If anything today challenges the deeply revered “myth of progress,” I would say that the tenacious hold of pre-literate and dualistic religious dogmas on society proves that we are still, in many ways, in the clutch, if not the shadow, of the Dark Ages.
Is The Movie Over Yet?
This brings us to the question of “ending the drama.” How do we solve the problems of this mess of a world on the brink of self-destruction and oblivion? I will not even consider offering political, economic, or philosophical solutions from the same level of mind that created the problem. Most “solutions” in the world today simply do not work because they are only addressing the effects of a deeper, hidden cause of our woes.
As in our symptom-suppressing disease care system, Band-Aids can only cover up symptoms; they cannot address root causes. I’m just going to say it: Solutions for the problems of the world and your life do not lie in “fixing” anything, but rather in recognizing the world has no more reality than a dream and is thus not real at all!
This statement definitely strikes at the heart of the ego’s thought system, which we grew up with and accept without question. The ego’s version of you and the world, as convincing as it may be, is essentially limited to the realm of sensory input and conditioning from others who likewise are limited to a conditioned material orientation. Just because the majority of people around us think and feel the same way does not make the consensus viewpoint right.
The part of you that chafes at the notion that there is no world is the part that may unconsciously suspect it is true . . . and if it is true, then the whole house of cards built up by our belief in ourselves as separate and independent egos could come tumbling down. To this I say “Great!” That belief system is going to come down sooner or later anyway, as any structure started in time will end in time. The idea that time-based structures are by necessity temporary is a basic tenet of Buddhism, a largely non-dual thought system.
We Are Living In An Illusionary World?
“Where does the suspicion that we live only in dreams exist?” you may ask. Remember that spark within? The fact that the world is an illusion is one of its key messages, and this realization is a crucial step in your awakening.
I am happy to tell you that the illusion is not only “unreal” but also destined to evaporate back into the nothingness from which it arose. It is just a matter of time.
How can I be so confident? It’s simple, really. Any belief or thought system based on error must eventually implode, because errors have absolutely no foundation or reality in and of themselves. Only truth is true. Only what is true is real. All the rest is simply nothing—even an error that is held so deeply and dearly by the part of the mind invested in separation.
What is this error? It is simply our belief in the possibility of separation from our Source and hence from our True Self and each other. As we recover from all our illusions of separation, even the distinction between Source, Self, and others must yield to the Oneness, which has never changed, remaining as it always has been.
However, the mind begs to argue. One cannot maintain a dualistic perspective without the presence of the opposite point of view. This is not a criticism or judgment—it is simply an observation.
Here is where the error of separation becomes a lie that we live by. Conditioned thought systems only appear solid because of the many complex falsehoods built to prop up the weakness of the original error.
The Ego Is A Master Of Smoke And Mirrors
The ego loves complexity, because with more complexity comes more confusion and ultimately surrender to something we are convinced is beyond our grasp. Yet the ego, as a construct based on unreality, can only come to insane conclusions. As long as it operates, the ego is a master of smoke and mirrors used to distract from the simple, obvious truth that we remain One and that the separation it imagines is completely meaningless.
The ego’s greatest fear is that once you awaken, you will realize (make real) the fact that you no longer need an ego. As a limited, self-contained, and self-perpetuating program, the ego has no single delete button, like a nasty computer virus. It is up to another part of the mind, the part that is real, to create and push that button often until the job is done and the virus is eliminated for good.
The Game Of Life And The Survival Of The Ego
The way the “game” of life is constructed seems slanted toward the survival of the ego. After all, we made up the ego, and we are Divine co-creators. Anything we do, we do very well! The dualistic thought system is airtight inside its own operating system. In other words, “alternate” thought systems like that of non-duality make absolutely no sense within the ego’s thought system, and are therefore easily discounted, if not arrogantly mocked and denigrated.
This is why hearing “the world is an illusion” can bring up anger and fear in some. This is also why it is not wise to attempt to convince anyone of anything against their will. Rather, the awakened one simply understands where the ego is coming from, and gives it no power whatsoever to shake the rock-solid foundation of Spirit’s truth. We forgive, which means to overlook the impossible, and choose peace over conflict.
I have always felt that if there is such a thing as Universal Truth, then it has to be very simple and accessible (and it is!). After all, most of us are essentially simple beings once we discard the ego’s façade of false complexity. In fact, most humans on Earth today do not deal with the same level of complexity that plagues the technologically advanced but spiritually impoverished peoples of the civilized (read: “citified”) world. As they have been for millennia, most people are simply involved in the day-to-day concerns of surviving and supporting their families and loved ones as best they can.
Which World Is Real?
To say that the world of human ego-drama is not real flies in the face of our trust and confidence in our own senses. The modern scientific method is built on the foundation that what can be seen and measured is real; all the rest is not real (or suspiciously dubious at best!). This blind trust in our senses as the final arbiters of reality is flimsy at best and ludicrous at worst, especially when you consider how severely limited and thus unreliable our senses really are!
The flat world and Earth-centered cosmos of the recent past were both firm beliefs based on the logic of the senses. It is our sensory perception of the separation of bodies in space that offers some of the strongest support to the ego’s credo of separation as universal and irreversible. Yet do our senses really make sense at all?
An insect with different sensory apparatus exists in a completely different world. Which world is real—yours or the bumblebees’? To ascribe ultimate and exclusive meaning to a universe based on one species’ sensory apparatus is tragically reductionist, and most of all reduces you and your creative, infinite mind to a lump of conditionally cultivated neural circuits.
Challenging Your Own Assumptions
Psychologists know that even sensory perception can be mediated by expectation and bias, as when witnesses often attest to differing accounts of the same event in court. If one criterion of true reality is that it must be consistent and changeless over time, then we could say that whatever is changeable does not qualify as essentially real. If something in our world can change with the flip of opinion or desire to see things differently, is anything we perceive in fact “real” at all?
Optical illusions where two contrasting images trade places with each other depending on your point of view illustrate this fact. Only you can answer the question of what is truly “real,” and only if and when you are ready to identify and challenge your own assumptions.
Once we understand that the horror flick of human drama is simply a movie based on our conditioned assumptions, we have the freedom to get up and leave the theater altogether.
Subtitles by InnerSelf
Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser LLC.
©2015 by David Ian Cowan. The book is available
wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher
at 1-800-423-7087 or www.redwheelweiser.com.
About the Author
David Ian Cowan is a biofeedback trainer and teacher in spiritual communication and the art of dowsing. He is a counselor, alternative health practitioner and trainer living in Boulder, Colorado. He is also the author of Navigating the Collapse of Time (Weiser Books, 2011) and co-author with Erina Cowan of Dowsing Beyond Duality (Weiser Books, 2013). Visit him at www.bluesunenergetics.net