The Long Shadow of the Dreamer
We humans tend to be silly creatures even at the best of times. Compared to even our grandparents we have all we could ever want or need, let alone compared to what the thousands of generations before them had. Yet here we are floundering amid a sea of plenty because we spend so much of our precious time wanting, needing, hoping and searching for nameless outcomes. We should be both gracious and joyous that we have so much more than our basic needs met, just as we were as children, but most are not. Instead we allow our mind to gradually obscure our true nature and in a way we become lost to it.
Is it s not that we lack the ability to be free, at least for the most part, of the restrictions of our needs, we simply have not. We don’t start off with many needs, only those related to our life lessons, the rest we take on as we grow up and then add to through becoming accustomed to certain circumstances. We heap them on like extra sprinkles on our cake, or gravy on our potatoes. Not only are they a challenge in and of themselves, they tend to lead to structures of needs that wind us up so tight we seem to have nowhere to go.
"The rational mind creates need in the process of integrating experiences and their outcomes. The rational mind is a controlling awareness, and over time develops needs based on preferred outcomes. These needs are for “certain circumstances, situations or even outcomes” to occur. When they do not occur, we become uncomfortable to varying degrees. The result is our emotional state is greatly affected by our rational minds desire to meet our needs. This is why a focus on identifying and reducing need based programming is so important to personal and spiritual growth.” (1)
There are techniques for dealing with needs but addressing them one at time is like playing whack a mole. No sooner have you worked on one that another rear’s its head. It can lead to cycles of need, often feast or famine scenarios, such that we never find a comfort zone in there where we have some peace of mind. The problem isn’t the need, it’s the personal beliefs such as our wanting, cravings and desires and so on that give rise to our needs. It is these underlying beliefs that we play cat and mouse with over the years. We stalk them, but never face on, and we circle like a vulture, but we continue to circle, like a vulture who has forgotten how to land. I thought of this as I read a posting by Alistar Valadaz, where he stated:
“for the Dreamer knows not what they DO... But many will deny IT and not look deep within, escaping the truth, and remain living a pattern of habits that they will never SEE or KNOW” (2)
This is the crux of the biscuit, denial. The denial is not rooted in thought or reason; it is rooted in joy and fear, pleasure and pain, love and hate and the shuffle we do between the two. For our minds attempt to give us what we want, but we never focus on what we want, instead we follow a path of never ending reactions to experiences over which we exert little control. Despite the fact that true control is an illusion, what is lacking is our tendency to follow the road we are on, one we rarely step off of. The only way to do that is to consciously choose.
Life will have its way with us if we do not make choices. Not casual choices in the heat of the moment or in reaction to a particular experience, but choices to which we are fully and deeply committed. How often have we stopped to consider what we stand for, what we are committed to and what we believe in? I am not referring to the kind of beliefs that we have come to accept merely because we were raised with them or that fits with what we believe to be already or that sort of make sense to us in one way or another. Rather I am referring to beliefs we have examined fully, from all sides possible, such as ones we have debated with others.
In addition, we hold far too many beliefs and they are built into webs of notions. A great many are formed at the non-conscious level so we are often not aware we even hold them. Further, we tend to not have bothered to contemplate the ones we are aware of more than casually and certainly spend little time looking for those we are not aware of. The interesting part is when we do this we find that many cannot “stand the light of day”. That is once they are exposed and examined we can see the folly of them and how they inhibit us.
We create beliefs of all shapes, sizes and forms almost as easily as we change our clothes. We even add beliefs related to the same “things” but which are not only dissimilar but can be in opposition to ones we already hold. Beliefs are volatile by nature and so once again it comes down to choice. So, do we allow ourselves to base conclusions on superficial observations and poor reasoning or do direct this process by using the power of our intellect and our consciousness to see through the illusion our minds have created?
"To illustrate this point, let us say we reacted to a new experience in a particular fashion. Our initial reaction to this experience manifested a thought form(s) such as “this happened, I hurt and I do not like it”. We may not like it because it just is not compatible with us, not that it is bad, or we could have improperly assessed the consequence to the wrong experience (the cause of the hurt) or what we do not like could even be another A-R set that was also activated by the experience. We do not consider that the “I” we refer to is not the true “us” rather it is the programmed us. Nonetheless, this thought will trigger an emotion. Subsequent experiences that included “this happened” may reinforce it or they can actually modify and even negate it if we act or reacted differently.
Reinforcing thought forms sets up an A-R set (an if-then scenario) such as “if such and such happens, I must leave, avoid it or I will feel hurt and scared”. Any future experience that meets the “if” part of this statement, that is it has a strong enough commonality with “such and such”, will activate and connect to this new thought form which is the "then"part. What we will notice is our emotional reaction to it. We now express ourselves through it, through this part of our web. This is being the “I”, the ego separate from who we really are beyond the layers of webbing. Do note that while we are looking at the A-R sets that manifest lower emotions, these are only some of the sets we have. Others trigger higher ones or other beneficial actions or reactions on our part.”(3)
Note: an A-R set is a stereotyped Action-Reaction sequence that has been manifested by our minds, one that forms a “rut in space”. That is a particular experience leads to the development a certain reaction set. Examples would be those such as how we react to particular thing such as our liking certain foods, the way people look or even catching and throwing a baseball.
This process is gradual; starting the day we are born. Over time our minds become like a snake that has wrapped itself around us confining us, hypnotizing us with its eyes and raspy hiss. We become confused by our false reasoning, superficial observation, misinformation and misdirection and surrender ourselves to it as if it were us all along. Before long we are staring out with its eyes not our own. It is a cunning creature constructed from the tangled web of our thoughts and because it is familiar and always there we escape into it. With the woes and challenges that ensue one may think it a cruel master, it is not...it’s just misguided. What has happened is the result of what I have mentioned and in the process we become, as Alistar suggests, the dreamer.
“As they continue to live the UN-conscious life of the dreamer, pretending they have control of their life, but in reality they ARE only actors lost in a role!”(2)
The dreamer seeks to awaken, but can become lost in the labyrinth. It confounds and leads us down corridor after corridor chasing the elusive ghosts in our minds. One can succumb to its siren’s call or find a way to come to the realization that the labyrinth isn’t real. When we awaken it too will fade just as dreams do once we are up and about. The only way this happens is if we have thoughts and hence beliefs so our mind allows us to accept the idea that all we believe could be “false”. Only then can we begin to wrestle back control from our mind and the myriad of entangled thoughts and beliefs that we have been allowing to choose for us. Accept that all you know and believe and so on may be an illusion.... and to do this you must believe or know that you are not your mind.
“As we walk the path of the pathless along our spiritual quest, many will have the intention of BEIng the best spirit they can express, but our intention is only the spark, for IT is our action which is the expression that truly defines us. Every day we face choices which help us in our expansion or serve as platforms towards our decay. Stepping through fears is how we walk the path up the evolutionary ladder, as that is what life IS all about, growing through facing our most extreme moments. And these choices must BE made by YOU, or our unconscious will only keep us fooled. For we are like a ship on a vast blue ocean, if there is no captain on board we drift forever on the ocean currents, passengers only enjoy the scenery, but to reach a goal or destination does require YOUR steering.” (2)
We are that ship, just as we are also the one who designed, built and maintains it, even if we do not do so as consciously as we believe. We can become the captain of our ship though to truly do so we must not forget that as important as the direction of the ship is so to is its substance, that being the “stuff” of which it is made. And that ship is our mind. Do we celebrate the joy of life? Do we act in compassion not because we think we ought to rather because we are compassion? Do we try to be honest, think clearly and hold no absolutes? When we are this way, or we even give it an honest and committed attempt, our ship is capable of greatness and unlimited horizons. On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to judge and dislike, which is a rejection of something, we then have taken on the capacity to judge and dislike other things and the ship has lost its captain. All we need is a reason or justification, and we become quite good at contriving them, to apply them in another situation.
People are where they are for a reason, experiencing what they need as part of their journey. It is not up to us to judge them for it. Nor do we have to like or dislike something or someone and their choices. We can learn to accept even embrace that this is where they are and through our compassion view them in an entirely different light. Once again, it comes down to choice. We must recognize that by reacting in a negative way we are only feeding that negative aspect of our minds and it will reflect it back at us.
“For you 'create' the life you live, and this includes ALL the good with the bad, for IT is only our judgments that 'create' conflict within our lives.” (2)
Let us say a child is playing with a new toy and they are getting right into their imagination and curiosity; however, in doing so they become overly exuberant and break it. The parent may then say to the child something such as “Now that was stupid! Look at what you have done, you have destroyed it!”. Such comments almost always come with some amount of disdain even anger and in that one statement they not only stomp all over the good and beneficial aspects of their child’s actions they indicate that in our opinion there is something wrong with them.
The beneficial aspect of their actions was their expression of imagination and curiosity for a child will not associate the reaction of the parent, their energies and judgments, with the particular behaviour or activity they had in mind when they said it. Instead the child’s mind will often associate the judgment with all that it was doing, including the positive aspects I mentioned.
“While it is always important for parents to always be unconditional and supportive of their children, repeated emotional reactions to similar circumstances can have a significantly affect on the child’s developing mind. What is important for parents to focus on is to not react with strong emotions to what their children’s actions, not blame the child for things as they hardly know better at that age. You may want to justify negative or emotional reactions to a child’s actions based on what they did, but that is simply an excuse. It can take a great deal of patience with some children, but that is part of the responsibility of being a parent. If you do not have that kind of patience then your child will learn this trait and others like it from you. If it is reinforced it will be built into their mental house and affect their thinking processes
Over the years many parents have told me that they believe their child can properly associate their reactions and the various energies they perceive with what they did, but this is unlikely until a child is much older. To do so requires sufficient grasp of what precisely what is deemed “good or bad”. There is no way to know what thoughts the child was having at the time, hence it is more likely the child will associate whatever thoughts it was having about what it was trying to do with the anger than the actions it was doing. Of course, if a parent repeatedly does this the child will eventually make a better connection, but the child will also integrate the experiences improperly, it will perceive itself as being blamed, of being guilty of something or it may have thoughts of shame, resentment and so forth.”(5)
I try to never use the word “stupid”, though the issue is not the word “stupid”, it is the intent and the energy behind its usage. The intent behind use of the word almost always contains or is being used almost exclusively as a put-down rather than simply a label. The reality is people are not stupid, they are ignorant. By this I mean they do not know better for if they had they would have done differently. Each of us judges to a certain extent, some of us frequently. Even if we consciously override it after initially judging we still have something to work on. What we should do is take some time to contemplate our judgments to reflect on them and try to understand why we judge and this way start to clear ourselves of its burden.
“It is during our time alone that we can expand through self reflection, thus why monks and those on the inner path go to mountains or retreats to discover their inner mirror, as we sometimes need to get out of our minds to return to our senses” (4)
It is through such reflection that we not only discover our inner mirror but use it to see ourselves in a clear light. This is because if we are truly reflecting then we must not be judging what we see in the mirror, we are just observing and examining our thoughts, feelings and the choices we have made and by doing so we may discover why. It is our fears that keep us from doing so, and our fears are the “boogie man” our minds conjure up to protect “itself”. If, when we reflect on ourselves, we do so honestly, consciously and take full responsibility for our lives that inner mirror will begin to fade. If we persevere we will eventually find there is no more “I”, nor more ego to reflect on and we will see past the mirror and beyond into the wonders that are all around us.
We do not do this our ego, which has been built up and conditioned through its experiences will continue on its merry way interpreting and reacting as it has always done. This conditioning occurs for many reasons and it can be resolved though one must decide to do so consciously because without conscious intervention the mind will continue on as it has been doing.
“For the ONE who truly understands the Self, KNOWS that there IS NO controller of thoughts, only the awareness that stands behind IT! But this insight never arise until One faces their own Shadow, which is our unconscious mind, not by suppression but by direct observation, which is silent and non-judgmental, then transformation can occur”(6)
There is no magical bullet to end the hold we have given our minds over us. Without examining our non-conscious or subconscious thoughts we will remain subject to our ego and not our “true Self” or as Alistar refers to it as our “own Shadow”. This is the path one takes to becoming aware beyond that which is directed and confined by our Shadow. It is not something new as this has been known for a long time, the challenge is found in accepting and then acting on it.
When we are young we see the world differently, we perceive it without the power of the adult mind though also without the experiences necessary to interpret what we perceive. Our time of innocence is actually short lived for as we grow up we are also gradually introduced to the long shadows our ignorance has cast over the hearts and minds of humankind. I remember thinking that adults must be wise, honesty, smart and caring yet this is not what I found to be the case once I experienced more of the “real world”. The words of another friend brought this back into my awareness when he stated:
“Strength and weakness, wholeness and affliction, courage and fear. I remember when I was younger I saw the world much differently than now. I saw hate, greed, selfishness in all forms. I saw anger and fear, and I was angry and afraid. I was confused as to what true courage and strength are, I was blind to all but the crudest and most obvious laws of cause and effect.” (7)
We must begin our own grand adventure and set aside our fears, hurts and anguish for they are the stuff of the past and not of the now or the future. Nor can we or should we wait around for someone else to interpret or explain the Cosmos to us so that we might understand. Their understanding is theirs and while they can offer suggestions and ideas each of us must come to our own understanding, make our own piece with life or we will remain a dreamer mired in Shadows.
“Yet we keep searching from others for the answers to this great mystery, but searching for answers from another is only searching for the limits of another person’s conditioning and thinking.” (6)
We must accept our ignorance so that we can move past it. Once we realize that our ego or mind is the “cause” of our challenges and that we are not our ego we can set about unmasking it by any number of means. This is the only way to cease to just be the Dreamer and get our self out from under the long Shadow cast by our ego. There are many more today that are exploring these ideas and not just talking about it. While a number of us have been doing this for a long time it is the youth of today that are pushing it forward faster and further than we ever could. Young minds I have a great deal of respect for people like Alistar, Nathan and many others who are setting aside their fears and have taken the lessons learned in the past and dare to explore them in new and exciting ways.
In the process they share their experiences and knowledge with a growing number of others who are trying to not just hear the words but to understand and act on them. He and others like him are the vanguard of such ideas and are armed not just with the knowledge of the past but are almost fearless bold, which is needed to make a difference. If there is a brave new world, one of freedom from conditioning, where more have the opportunity to live life in peace and harmony it is such as they who will be at the forefront of ushering it in. For as different and unique as each of these new bright lights is, they share similar perspectives on how to move forward, how to find one’s way out of the shadows of dreamland. In the process they will add to and nurture the cacophony of expression of many disparate voices into a song that will carry on and may one day become the norm rather than the exception.
“Searching within is what dissolves our false sense of self, and what arises IS the great silence of Self. And by this direct silent observation, just like when One observes any danger, the power of the influence of our thoughts simply dissolves away like the wind and the rain!” (6)
“To act without awareness is to express whatever behaviour our past has conditioned into us narrow mindedly. To keep our mind open, clear, and present is to make freedom and new possibilities available right now.” (8)
The shadow cast by our ego or mind, with it's needs and wants, can be long indeed and so long that we cannot see the light beyond it save as a faint glimmer on the horizon. It becomes the proverbial carrot on a stick. And within that shadow lies labyrinth of our thoughts, mistaken and conflicting beliefs and that confound us with their twists and turns that we make our reality. We can try to become free of it, to see beyond it but we cannot so long as as we remain conditioned by our past. So long as this is the case we remain busy searching for an exit which doesn't exist because the labyrinth and the shadow it lies within are a fully self contained illusion. We don't see it because to us all appears normal and so we keep thinking and try to find our freedom from it through "doing". But our thinking and doing are precisely why we cannot get free of it and if we cling to them we remain in denial about the nature of the shadow and hence who and what we are. We become like the proverbial ship in a bottle.
Freeing that ship and hence ourselves requires us to make a choice, namely do we continue on as we are or accept that what we believe to be the case isn't? In a very real sense this is harder than we believe for even our belief that what we believe to be real isn't is part of the illusion. If it weren't a challenge many more would be seeing through the illusion and the suffering, the pain, angers and hurts and so on that arise from our experiences would fade away. Buddha told us this when he said that suffering is at the heart of man and it is suffering of our own making. We must quit playing whack a mole with the needs, wants and desires that are the product of our mind, that great snake we have unleashed upon ourselves.
So where does this leave us? It leaves us with a decision to make. Do we trust what our minds tell us or do we not-do as it suggests or accept that our answers do not lie there and take a different road even though we really cannot see it yet? This takes a leap of faith, but it has it's basis in sound reasoning for as Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. This is not a new idea, it has been spoken about in different ways by many over the years. It is echoed in the idea of taking the road less travelled, in the idea of learning "to be and not just do" and in the notion that if everyone is going one way the other is probably the better choice. We can look at the programming of our minds, our beliefs and thoughts that lead to needs, wants and desires that are of the mind, and see that it's conditioning leads us to routines that we repeat continually. Years ago I read a passage in a book that spoke to this and while I did not fully understand how to do as it suggested the idea itself became firmly rooted in my mind and I try to practice it to this day.
"To be a hunter is not just to trap game," he went on. "A hunter that is worth his salt does not catch game because he sets his traps, or because he knows the routines of his prey, but because he himself has no routines. This is his advantage. He is not at all like the animals he is after, fixed by heavy routines and predictable quirks; he is free, fluid and unpredictable." (9)
Our beliefs, needs and so on are part of our routine and are what we need to be broken of if we are to find our way past the shadow and the labyrinth within it. We can start by doing things differently than we have, though this requires us to actually observe ourselves in that mirror I referred to earlier. In order to break ourselves of our routines, we must become aware of them. This is a challenge for our world is built up from routines because in a way society almost demands it and in our minds we fall in line.
Routines appear to make life simpler, more ordered and easily managed, but this is where we get lost . Routine is part of what traps us and lures us into a false sense of security. That said, unless you live off the grid or are self sustaining some routine is inevitable. What we do is go from some routine to ALL routine, but life isn't meant to be ordered, it isn't meant to be simple or manageable, it is meant to be lived. Each moment should be experienced as precious and unique rather than a continuation of past ones. If you want to start to steer your own ship rather than have the ship steered then this is one place you can start to cease being just a dreamer and free yourself from the long shadow of your mind.
© 2013 Allan Beveridge
Last edited December 23, 2015
References (*- denotes essays only available to site members):
- *Preference versus Need: Resolving Needs Based Programming
- Alistar Valadez: “The Time IS now to Awaken to who You Really ARE! For you 'create' the life you live, and this includes ALL the good with the bad, for IT is only our judgments that 'create' conflict within our lives. They say let thee free of sin cast the first stone, yet this world is filled with those who pass judgments on each other. One must BE Awake to KNOW what they are DOing, for the Dreamer knows not what they DO. To hold One accountable for their actions is to show some-One who they really ARE, breaking the illusion of who they thought they were, and then transformation and change can occur. But many will deny IT and not look deep within, escaping the truth, and remain living a pattern of habits that they will never SEE or KNOW. As they continue to live the UN-conscious life of the dreamer, pretending they have control of their life, but in reality they ARE only actors lost in a role!...We all come here to work on our personal spiritual growth, to expand our being and empower our spirit. Yes, some get tougher lessons then others, but its not about being right or wrong, IT is about using these lessons as a tool for our personal expansion. If One has IT really hard in life, that is only the result of the Universe giving You a path that will lead to your further and greater expansion. Do not cling to these lessons and conflicts, let them dissolve as fast as they rise, for looking in the rear view mirror in life only keeps our EYE off our true destination!”
- The Webs We Weave
- Alistar Valadez: "Even the mightiest god, started as a small seed, some are more like warriors, some are more like peace keepers, as long as you SEE evolution rising within,and not the decay of habits and routines, then One can become anything. As we walk the path of the pathless along our spiritual quest, many will have the intention of BEIng the best spirit they can express, but our intention is only the spark, for IT is our action which is the expression that truly defines us. Everyday we face choices which help us in our expansion or serve as platforms towards our decay. Stepping through fears is how we walk the path up the evolutionary ladder, as that is what life IS all about, growing through facing our most extreme moments. And these choices must BE made by YOU, or our unconscious will only keep us fooled. For we are like a ship on a vast blue ocean, if there is no captain on board we drift forever on the ocean currents, passengers only enjoy the scenery, but to reach a goal or destination does require YOUR steering. Looking closer at our daily choices, shows how our actions and non-actions create our reality. Just as every seed does not become a mighty tree without a direct relationship with the elements of nature, sometimes we have to return to our core essence to remember who we ARE and our place in nature. It is during our time alone that we can expand through self reflection, thus why monks and those on the inner path go to mountains or retreats to discover their inner mirror, as we sometimes need to get out of our minds to return to our senses, and remember what we ARE truly meant to BEcome!"
- Nurturing the Future Part 1: Baby Steps
- Alistar Valadez:"Thoughts arise within us due to our conditioning, which is a product of our past and upbringing, this is one thing we cannot change, but if we can SEE IT we can allow IT to dissolve away. Looking closer at our thoughts, looking closer at our sense of self, and what is revealed IS that for many our sense of self is but a thought chasing a thought. Thoughts come through us beyond our control due to this conditioning, we can choose what to say or not say, but there is no choosing in the thoughts that come through us. We can only choose to act on these thoughts or ignore them, if One cannot SEE this difference, blind to the unconscious are they, and One is left almost like a slave blindly reacting to emotions. This why all ancient religions, Zen masters and such, psychologist like Carl Jung, they ALL say the first step to understanding our-Self is to KNOW thyself. But that comes not by splitting the self into two parts, good and evil, mind and spirit, thought and controller, self and other, for the great spirit created our mind, so take a look a little closer inside. For the ONE who truly understands the Self, KNOWS that there IS NO controller of thoughts, only the awareness that stands behind IT! But this insight never arise until One faces their own Shadow, which is our unconscious mind, not by suppression but by direct observation, which is silent and non-judgmental, then transformation can occur. This is not opinion, but comes from the experience of DOING the deep inner work, just as many spiritual masters confirm that this IS the path to transformation. IT is even one of the basic steps in AA, for overcoming addictions and past traumas, for without embracing the spectrum of BEing, one is only modifying their behaviours, which in turn only strengthens the illusion of the ego. Thus why anger still arises in many, even in those who self proclaim themselves as good, as few of us seem to want to look at that Shadow Dragon that stands behind us, clutching our hearts with a closed fist. Yet we keep searching from others for the answers to this great mystery, but searching for answers from another is only searching for the limits of another persons conditioning and thinking. Searching within is what dissolves our false sense of self, and what arises IS the great silence of Self. And by this direct silent observation, just like when One observes any danger, the power of the influence of our thoughts simply dissolves away like the wind and the rain!"
- Nathan Small: “Strength and weakness, wholeness and affliction, courage and fear. I remember when I was younger I saw the world much differently than now. I saw hate, greed, selfishness in all forms. I saw anger and fear, and I was angry and afraid. I was confused as to what true courage and strength are, I was blind to all but the crudest and most obvious laws of cause and effect. There is a test one can use to identify weakness and bondage, fear, and also courage and strength. Walk up to someone you don't know and tell them you love them. Many of us will feel the chains in our heart, these are to be broken!”
- Nathan Small: “To act without awareness is to express whatever behavior our past has conditioned into us narrow mindedly. To keep our mind open, clear, and present is to make freedom and new possibilities available right now.”
- C. Castenada (1972). Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan. New York: Simon and Schuster