The thesis is that our waking lives are not so different to our dream-lives; as these dream-lives occur during our sleeps.
The difference being one of degree rather than of kind; and the degree being various for various persons, and also for different topics and beliefs in the same person’s estimation
The thesis also says that societies, as we contribute to and create them, as individuals and in groups, are the umbrella units under which our collective and various participations in, and attempts at fulfilment of, the objects of our waking dream-lives, are played out by us.
Such a set of theses implies (correctly) that there is, and will always be, a disconnect between the actual state of affairs in the world as it is, and the manifestation of that world via the waking dream-life to persons living within societies. This ‘the world as it is’ being the natural world, and also it being the world of human perceptions and also the world of human interactions.
Such a statement of theses gives rise to a few problems; such as:
How can I know that this is so?
What might constitute ‘as it is’ anyway?
What kind of evidence might help establish these theses?
And for those in the present age: “Does it matter anyway?”
I want to say that this is not The Matrix theory. I postulate no “other more concrete world” from which we as a race are prevented; no conspiracy; no rebel/liberators; no top-down repressions or oppressions governing the situation; no evil intentions as causes. Like Kipling – things are ‘”just-so”.
Firstly to attack the question: How can I know that this is so?
A person who is in a field of runners is able to see at least some of those in front of her and those behind her; and thus she knows she is behind some runners and in front of others; she has some idea of her relative position. And for there to be a race and relative positions means there is at least theoretically either a start and/or a finish line or else an infinite distance behind and/or before her.
Thus any amount of runners distributed over a course implies nearer to the front and further from the front for each of them; and thus by analogy and in the same way any of us is able to assess and conclude by use of reason that there are in various mixes, issues and minds in lesser or greater stages, of “waking and sleeping” among the various consciousness of people in general, and likewise concerning those various “states of (non) wakefulness” within individual consciousness concerning any of their several “issues”.
The second objection, (what might constitute – “as it is”?) is more tricky to answer; and any answer to it will be hotly disputed by lots of people; but disputed not so much on the ground of its general principle, which will be accepted for the most part as necessary and true; but rather in the particulars which elaborate to describe in more detail the actual manifestation of ‘as it is’ as the people see this.
The smart answer, one which tickles each of us our vanities, and which also of a course and logically (within its own context only) relegates to ‘benighted’ and ‘still half-asleep’ any other person who objects to our way, is to claim “yes, there is an “as it is” – in other words there is objective fact and truth to be had – and it exists somewhere, somehow, but only we people who believe in X or in Y are privy to it.
And then within this coterie, in this, our ‘happy breed of men”, those blessed and within the pale which we have laid out, each is next one by one ‘picked off’ as are unfolded further and further by us the particularities of our own beloved singular objective set of fact and truth. Until lo, the Last Man Standing no less – is oneself! A surprise or no surprise? No surprise and you’re on the money.
So how do we ‘get out of jail free’ here, and without us sacrificing at least in part either our personal cherished strongly-held ideas about life and existence, or alternatively us going on to be claiming the whole earth and all things in it as our unique and personal prerogative?
One way I believe has some mileage in it for us in this regard. It is a way which closes down the desire in each of us to crow at the top of the tree that oneself is the only person to know ‘how it really is’; and further it is a way which knows no compromise yet is open equally to any and anyone. This way recommends to us that we;
- Theorise as little as possible
- Avoid as much as we can dogmatism
- Try to “think with our hearts” as much as we are able to (I’ll come to this later)
- Allow as being possible everything not manifestly witnessed to be, not clearly demonstrated as being, and by clinching evidence, a thing ‘untrue’ or ‘mythical’ and suchlike.
- Place a default trust in: (note I am asking for
nothing, only ‘blind’ (maybe ‘purblind”?) trust in)
- Nature and existence (an overmastering Yes)
- Meaning and purposefulness in things (in the world “as it is”)
- Hope (which follows I would think from the previous two items?)
- Desire for the good (in abstract general terms is good enough, since it’s hard for us to know, to see as far as to view, how things which we attempt actually turn out)
- Not seeking to look or to plan too far ahead
- Not seeking to analyse overmuch ourselves and our situations, nor the past
Such a regimen will require from us and help create in us:
- Faith in life and being in general
- Listening powers
- A default benefit-of-the-doubt trust in people new to us
As well as building some other valuable and useful items of character
Now this is no advocation of ‘go with the flow’ or ‘one day at a time’ for our lives. I am not suggesting that we wipe the slates of our minds clean from day to day, or that we lose all sense of participation other than to be a “passenger” on the journey of life.
The grist of such a regimen is about us “relaxing” our grips on massive intentional anxieties for ourselves and for our welfares (by my use of “ourselves” here I include for most of us our close family, and for some of us our broader family also, and for some few their friends too).
I think the one thing I can say which is probably indubitable about my suggestions is that, what I might call, our generality of “narrowness of emotional range” and alas too often our lack of depth, act as prime sustainers of and symptoms of (and they is the causers of and also are caused by) our various states of living out “waking dreams” in the societies in which we live.
This is if true, and I think it is, the explanation for the poor performances of our societies in regards to that string of ‘values’ I have listed hereabove, which are those same values which are extremely conducive to making and maintaining sound solid and worthwhile democracies, as we would claim to have them, and as we would like to live in.
Letting-go and relaxing in this way requires of us stopping thinking about localised and beeline desires for our lives as being “pressing needs” for ourselves. To be able for us to do this relaxing we need to reconsider ourselves, and also our relations with others like us, family and non-family, known and unknown.
As we learn to use the useful and conducive values I have listed we need to begin to and we shall begin to accept more and more a “letting-go’ not just of our life-anxieties for the longer term and local to ourselves, also we need to, and we shall learn at the same time and bit by bit a ‘letting-go’ of our sense of ourselves as us identifying ourselves with, of us being these longer-term anxieties for the future and locally. We shall then be learning each day that we, ourselves and each, are entities more and better and bigger than these constrictions (of our souls?) tied to hectic desires for long term local goals, and so we begin growing to feel that which is actually happening to us; we begin growing freer and our gratefulness for this sense of and actuality of a growing freedom becomes abounding and huge.
We become over a course of time – alive – (awakened out of?) – the cramps and the coils and anxieties for, and from, the ‘things” in the world; we receive in their stead “life, and life in abundance”. Then we see that indeed we have lost ourselves in order to discover we have (had ourselves) found – and come into – a new-in-kind type of life. This new-in-kind type of life gives us a freedom to be able, as I mentioned above, “to think with our hearts”; and this ability happens to us along with this same gifting of a new freedom, and of a sense of that freedom – freedom for life – and at its highest potential. Then you shall discover that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.
Us letting go and relaxing our anxious grips on our cherished local and longer term aims and desires for ourselves; us accepting into our lives those values which are ones constructive of, conducive to, a good life, in a good democracy, require of us just “one thing needful” – and so therefore I recommend you:
Choose that good part and it shall not be taken away from you.