For those of you who might wonder if there is any way to fight the Cosmic Machine, if there is any place for rebellion and dissidence in the face of our vast multi-dimensional universe of form and structure, I offer the following Dream-Vision I had about 15 years ago. I think it sheds some light on quite a few matters, including this whole reincarnation scam we are stuck in.
I had this vision back in 1991 I think, while camping out with my wife and kids in Lassen National Park, one of the more beautiful places in the world. We found a remote camping ground about ten miles down a dirt road, at Juniper Lake, at an elevation of about 6000 feet. There was no running water or toilets, so we had to bring everything in with us, but the setting was incredibly gorgeous and restful. Spiritually, I was in deep crisis at the time. I had left Adidam a year before, and I had no real idea what I was doing. I would have to say that I was deeply dissatisfied with my life and what I had done with it thus far, which is one of the themes of the vision, but I was happy with my family at least, and pleased to get away for a week from everything.
The dream began in archetypal fashion. I was driving along a four-lane divided freeway in my minivan, talking on a cell phone to everyone I loved in the world. My wife, my kids, my relatives, all my friends, all kinds of people from whatever karmic past I had, they were all on the phone with me on a gigantic conference call, and it was immensely enjoyable to feel my relationships with all of them. It was so distracting that I began to veer out of the far right hand lane in the lane to the left, and I had to bring myself back so as to stay out of trouble. This happened two or three more times, and each time I was so absorbed in the phone conversation that I didn't notice I was drifting out of my lane until I had gone far to the left. My view through the windshield was being obscured as well my a number of very soft, comfortable pillows. The whole feeling of it was that I was so immersed in these loving relationships and the comforts of life that I wasn't paying attention to what else was going on. And then I drifted to the left one more time, and crossed over all four lanes of traffic, and by the time I noticed and tried to correct my steering, it was too late. The car hurtled over the left side freeway barrier, and flew out into the air. It was then that I realized the freeway at this point was actually a giant bridge, and that it was at least 200 feet above the ground. So the car and I plunged 200 feet to the ground below, and I realized in an instant that I was going to die, that I was going to lose all those loving relationships, simply because of one stupid lapse of attention.
And that's just what happened. I fell all the way to the ground, crashed, and died. Everything went blank. After a brief interlude, the dream resumed, but something had completely changed. Now I was driving the minivan on the streets below the bridge, as if nothing had happened. The car was fine and my body was fine, but I was a different person entirely. I could see Conrad driving the car, but I was no longer Conrad. I was viewing Conrad from a position slightly behind and to the right of Conrad's head. I was rather perplexed by the whole situation. Hadn't we just fallen 200 feet to our deaths? So why was Conrad alive and driving along as if nothing had happened? This didn't make sense. I knew this wasn't the way life worked. No one survives a crash like that. So why was Conrad still alive? Suddenly it all made sense. I realized that this was Conrad's dream. He had only dreamed that he'd crashed and died. And somehow, because the dream had seemed so real, we had become temporarily disconnected, and I had become self-aware again, able to see Conrad as a distinct, physical personae.
I was completely aware of myself as an astral being, as the “deeper personality” that had reincarnated as Conrad. There was no shock to this, it was just the most natural and obvious thing. It's only now, after the dream, that it feels necessary to describe it. In the moment, I was totally clear about who I was, that I was this reincarnating personality who had taken on the physical body of Conrad all these years, and who now, because of this dream of death, had been shaken out of that association, at least enough to see what was going on. I realized that this was a rather rare opportunity to evaluate how this reincarnation was going, and make some decisions about it. So I examined this guy Conrad and tried to see what was what with him. And my general assessment was, what a fricking lemon I'd gotten stuck with. There were some redeeming features to him, but in general he seemed like a very mediocre character who hadn't done much of anything in his life, either physically or spiritually, and who was struggling with so many basic things in life he seemed almost hopeless. I felt very much dissatisfied with Conrad, very frustrated and obstructed, and I felt as if I had to re-evaluate whether or not to continue with this incarnation or not.
So I tried to figure out whether Conrad was worth it or not. And on the face of it, Conrad really didn't seem to be worth my time and energy. I knew that if I wanted to stick with Conrad, I would just re-associate myself with his body and mind, wake up in the morning, and be almost completely subsumed in the identity of Conrad once more, and go along with that until he died a natural death, whenever that would be. This was not very appealing at all, and I felt rather repelled by the whole idea. I also realized that if I wanted to, I could chose to leave this whole Conrad incarnation behind, and go back to the astral worlds. But that option didn't seem all that great either, because it meant I'd have to just find another body to reincarnate in, and there's no guarantee it would be any better than Conrad. In short, neither option seemed all that great. In fact, the more I looked at the situation, the more intolerable both options seemed.
I realized that I didn't want to take either of those options, but I also saw that nothing else was being offered to me. And that made me angry. Really angry. I realized that if this was a moment to re-evaluate my situation and choose what I really wanted, none of these things were what I wanted. What did I really want? I wanted to be free of all this bullshit.
I looked around at Conrad's dream world, and realized how silly and stupid it was. I looked at Conrad and realized he was just a stupid tool who was oblivious to the realities of this universe. The dream was itself a perfect reflection of Conrad's attitude. One minute he's dreaming of death and annihilation, the next moment he acts as if nothing's happened, as if he's just out on a Sunday drive around town. He seemed oblivious and vapidly superficial, and not very bright to boot. This just pissed me off, the whole situation pissed me off, and I didn't know what to do except vent my anger. So I decided to have a little fun and blow off this dream world. I took control of the steering wheel, and instead of driving on the right side of the street, I began driving crazy and wild, all over the road, and the people in the dream world all got very scared and upset. They began running away from this madman on the loose, and I thought that was very funny indeed, since they were just dream people to begin with. It was as if I were violating the laws of the dream world, and this got them all very upset and they had to get away from me. Eventually I crashed the car into a gas station, and it broke the headlights on the car, and suddenly the whole world went dark, the sun went out, as if it were night. I said to myself, well, that's proof this is a dream world, because in the waking world the sun doesn't go out when you break your headlights.
I got out of the car, and now I was really pissed. I felt like a revolutionary just wanting to wreck this whole dream illusion. My anger was building and building, and driving me to some passionate end I couldn't even figure out. All I knew is that I didn't want to go back to being Conrad, and I didn't want to go back to the whole reincarnation game either. Both paths seemed futile and absurd, and no way to live. I wanted something else, but there didn't seem to be anything else, so all I could do was rage about it. And that's what I did. I just raged through the dream. I wasn't interested in buying into any of it. I began examining the world around me, examining everything really close, and saying “dream” to myself. I would look at things and say over and over again “dream”, until it became clear to me that each object in my view was merely a dream construct, a meaningless facet of my own mind. I could see that things were merely a dream, nothing more, nothing less, and as I did so my rage became intently focused on this process. It seemed that I knew that if I was going to get beyond this dream, I would have to penetrate to the root of it. So I kept inspecting everything until I could literally recognize everything as being a dream, not real at all, and there was a tremendous meditative intensity to this process, until the world around me began to change, to loosen up, to become less and less solid and fixed.
At a certain point in this process of dream-recogniztion I saw a small bridge up ahead. It was a simply wooden arched bridge, not very big really, maybe 60-70 feet long, resembling the famous bridges in Monet's water lilly paintings, but a larger and wider. The instant I saw this bridge I realized that it was merely a symbolic representation in the dream of the “Bridge to God”. That was a phrase out of a rather famous Adi Da talk about entering the psychic realm, and I recalled that in the dream, but I also realized that this was the real thing. It was just that my mind, being familiar with that phrase and concept, had constructed this dream-symbol to represent the passageway into the God-Realm. So I eagerly walked towards the bridge.
As I approached the bridge, however, I suddenly saw that it was guarded by two gigantic black dogs, resembling Tibetan Mastiffs. They were the biggest dogs I'd ever seen, and incredibly fierce looking. As I neared the bridge, they turned to look at me, and as soon as they saw me, they took off on a dead run towards me, teeth wide open as if ready to devour me. I knew in an instant that they were going to tear my face off and rip me to shreds, and my first instinct was to turn and run away as fast as I could. I had just begun to turn when the second thought occurred to me, “What am I afraid of? These are dream dogs, and this is a dream face and body. What do I care what they do to me?” So instead of running away, I just kept going forward, and as the dogs neared, I just looked at them and said “dream”. Sure enough, the dogs leaped at me, they tore my face off and began to rip me to shreds, but I didn't react at all, I simply continued in my conviction that they were dream dogs and could do me no harm. In short order the dogs realized that I understood this, and a spark of recognition appeared in their eyes. They backed down, a sign of respect on their faces, and they stepped aside to allow me to enter the bridge.
I walked up and over the bridge and as I crossed it the whole world began to change. I entered the God-Realm. Suddenly, everything in the world was sacred, was holy, was of the nature of God. It was an utterly beautiful thing. There were no “holy things” in this world, the world itself was holy. Sacredness pervaded the world like gravity pervades this world. One couldn't help but relate to everything in a sacred manner, because it was simply obvious that it was sacred. It was just like gravity in our world. One doesn't take a step, one doesn't even make a movement in this world without being utterly aware of gravity governing everything. It was the same thing in this sacred world. Holiness was simply the universal nature of things.
For a time I merely walked around enjoying this God-World, and marveling at the enjoyment of it. But fairly quickly I became aware that I was still in a dream world, though a sacred and holy dream world. And something about that remained unsatisfying. I realized that this still wasn't what I was looking for, that this was also part of the machine I was raging against, and my anger returned, even more powerfully than before. Except now my anger was much more refined and pure. It was no longer merely a violent emotion, it was a powerful and overwhelming urge to go beyond all dreams, even really good dreams like this one. So I returned to the process of inspecting this world, just as I had inspected the previous dream, looking at every little feature of it until it became clear to me that it was a dream. I continued to say “dream, dream, dream” to myself, until I could see that each object was a dream, no matter how sacred it appeared to be. And as I did so, the sacred world began to open up and dissolve, and another opening appeared, this time more like a window than a bridge, and I passed through it.
I then found myself in an even holier world. But soon I saw that it too was a dream, and I began the same meditative process of recognizing it as a dream, until it too opened up like a window, and I passed through to an even deeper world. And then I passed through that world as well. Each time a new world appeared, I inspected it again, and passed through it again. The process accelerated, so that I spent less and less time in each world, until I was moving through them so quickly it was hard to even notice them. Soon it was as if I was in a rocket ship just shooting through them all, and I began to rise up, passing through world after world in blinks of an eye. Soon I was inside a cathedral, shooting up through the nave and spire, no longer even seeing individual worlds, just flying at unbelievable speed through this narrow tube-like nave, only about ten feet in diameter, made of mostly white bricks with red lines running through it. I realized after the dream that this tube was the Sushumna, the spinal line where the kundaline flows, and the red lines in the walls were like blood vessels.
My determination was utterly exhaustive to break beyond every world, and yet finally I reached the very summit of the cathedral. I found myself hovering just below the domed ceiling of the nave, wondering what the hell was this? I felt hugely disappointed once again, as if after all I'd been through, this was all there was to find – a small domed ceiling. This was not what I wanted. I was not satisfied to be at the top of this whole structure of worlds. In fact, I was more enraged now than I'd ever been. I pounded on the bricks of the ceiling with my fists, yelling at the top of my lungs to let me through.
From beyond the ceiling, the Voice of God spoke to me. It was a deep, powerful voice, not at all unlike Charlton Heston, say. The Voice of God asked me one simple question: “Who is it who wants to pass through?” For a moment I was dumbstruck. It occurred to me that I had no idea who I was. I had once thought I was Conrad, but that was left behind long ago. I had thought of myself as this reincarnating personality, but those worlds were left behind as well. So who was I? As I asked the question, “Who am I?” the answer suddenly became clear. I yelled, while still smashing my fists against the ceiling bricks, “Da! Da! Da!” That, of course, was the name of God in Adidam, which I was most familiar with. I'm sure if I'd been a Hindu I might have said “Brahman!” or “Shiva!”, or if I were a Jew, “Yahweh!” In any case, it wasn't the word itself that mattered. It was the sudden recognition that I was the Divinity I had been seeking. And as I shouted out “Da!” the bricks crumbled under my fists, the ceiling broke open, and I passed through. As seems to be the case with such moments, there's no memory whatsoever I can bring back with me of what was beyond that ceiling. It was just perfect freedom.
I woke up in the morning from this dream as Conrad once more. I no longer had any sense of being that deeper personality, or “Da” for that matter. I was subsumed again by the physical persona of Conrad, in all his mundane mediocrity. Yet for some reason this dream has stuck with me after all these years in every single detail, as if it had been burned into my mind. It was obvious I wasn't enlightened, I wasn't much changed at all. But a deep impression had been made. I couldn't be so entirely blithe about my life anymore.
The general effect of this dream on me isn't what you might have expected. I didn't take up the practice of self-enquiry on its basis. I didn't start going around the world inspecting everything until it became clear that even this physical world is merely a dream. It seems that I really am an incredibly slow learner, just as my deeper personality had observed. But elements of this vision have certainly stayed with me, and continue to influence me. Every once in a while I re-immerse myself in the dream, as I've been doing now in writing about it, and there's definitely some kind of power to it that continues to draw me beyond the mechanical confines of this universal dream of ours. And yes, I finally did get interested in self-enquiry a couple of years ago. At the time of the dream, however, I took it to be a message to get more thoroughly re-involved in Adidam, because that was the religious karma I had. It took me years to realize that Adidam, too, was just another dream, and not a very good one at that. Whereas the dream itself clearly had no such message in it. Quite the opposite, it seems. It points to freedom from any such “cathedral” of conventional holiness.
There's plenty of other things in this dream-vision to discuss. I won't pretend that its symbols represent anything universal. But the mechanics of the dream do seem to represent a universal frustration and dissatisfaction with the whole business of reincarnation that can be the basis for an impulse to go beyond all of this. It's something of a Howard Beale moment, of yelling “I'm not going to take this anymore!” through the streets of the universe, telling the Cosmic Machine to just go fuck itself. We don't do that, because we don't see the whole picture in front of us, and see how endless and pointless the machine really is. We don't let our rage come to the fore in all its purity and singleness of determination. We don't take a closer look at the world we live in, and notice that it's all a dream, and that every object in it is merely a dream object, the good and the bad, the loving and the frightening. If we did, we might not put up with the options that seem to be put forth to us as inevitable and inescapable.
Maybe there's another way entirely.