The Dream of Life

The Dream of Life is a sonnet by ‘Xanadu’ which is followed by a short meditation on the same subject by Alan Watts in the form of a 4-minute video. The beautifully produced video, with its background music  and array of stunning pictures, is of course infinitely superior to the poem which has to rely simply on words to say what it says.  Xanadu is well aware of this, and hopes that her poem will serve as a modest introduction to the video. (JSM)

I used to think: Cogito ergo sum.
This idea I have long since left behind.
No longer do I feel so sure I am.
Is life a dream, I wonder, in God’s mind?
Strange thoughts like this I have incessantly.
Maybe you think I’m mad to feel like this?
Maybe you think I speak nonsensically, 
Like some crazed mystic who has lost his wits.
But no, old Plato had a point, I think:
Life’s just a shadowshow on some cave wall.
Maybe Titanic didn’t really sink, 
Except in Someone’s dreams—the One in All.
I look around me everywhere and see
Tomorrow’s corpses marching by like me.

VIDEO   :   3.40 mins

13 thoughts to “The Dream of Life”

  1. ADMIN
    Good evening, Sir!
    Here is my reply to your “Not chat house”
    Yes, Sir! Not chat house. Monkey house! And you will see that below.
    First I’ll tell you a short story, post-war joke from Belorussia: One day bearded man in shabby clothes came out of the forest, approached cautiously to the village and addressed an elderly peazant-lady, who toiled in the garden:”Hey, mother, are there Germans in the village?” – Nope, war ended 20 years ago. – Hm…and I still derail the trains…The same with you: WWII ended 75 years ago, Cold War ended almost 20 years ago, Stalin was derailed 67 years ago, but you continue derailing him, albeit he as a villain ranks third after your arch-scoundrels Churchill and Roosevelt. You are just beating dead horse. Harness one more dead horse to double traction. Stand up side down and your 66 million of the dead christians will look more formidable – 99 million, just mountains of dead christians. While there was none. Your KGB-friends supplied you with baby’s dummy, you habe been sucking it zealously for 47 years and still are not tired. -Edem das seine. It is not for nothing that Erasmus Rotterdamsky wrote his “Praise of Stupidity” travelling across Britain. You are not confused with the fact that your esteemed Solzhenitsyn fled from the battlefield (may others die), took refuge in GULAG and ultimately, with the help of those who jailed him, took his reward. That means that in his shoes you would do the same. Abominabla mizerabla.
    So, “…you have made your way from worm to man and much in you is still worm. Once you were monkeys, and even now some of you are more of a monkey than monkeys themselves.” Shalom.
    P.S. Titanic mentioned …

    1. A wise and perceptive comment. I’m sure the writer of the poem, Xanadu, is aware of avidya (Sanskrit for “ignorance”). The famous a priori Cartesian phrase COGITO ERGO SUM (“I think, therefore I am”) has been criticised by many subsequent philosophers after Decartes came out with it and regarded it as axiomatic. Rightly so, I think, was it criticised. Because of the failure to define the meaning of “I”. The “I” has no permanent reality, you see.

      Even Gautama Buddha, if you remember, denied that the individual identity known as the “I” had any permanent existence. He maintained that the so-called “I” was just a continuous flow of fluctuating mental states. Hence the frequently quoted comment, “No one steps into the same river twice.” Not only has the river changed with each passing moment, but the person who steps into the river has changed also.

  2. I prefer the poem over the video. Just silly old me, again..

    Srila Prabhupada: But the advantage of having this human body is that in this dream, you can realize the reality—God. That is the advantage. So if you don’t take advantage of this dream, then you are missing everything.

    The Night-and-day Dream

    1. Homer,

      Thanks for that brilliant link. I’m sure this will please and impress our Xanadu. I enjoyed reading her sonnet, but I also found the video very stimulating and beautifully evocative. Alan Watts, I imagine, was deeply influenced by Aldous Huxley and both thrived in the guru-haunted groves of sunny California. I sometimes wonder if it’s true that California has an aura of weird spirituality about it that is lacking in other parts of America on the east coast? California is where Yogananda lived too. Do different states in America, I wonder, send out different spiritual vibes or emanations?

      1. Saki, I honestly believe California has more to do with the aura of super nice weather combined with the very attractive emanations of prodigious affluence. The golden state formula!
        But that’s just cynical old me, again..

        1. Yes, I understand what you’re saying. California is the nearest thing to heaven, to the earthly paradise, provided you are young, healthy, and have all the good things of life in abundance. And yet it is no fun place to be if you are down and out, decrepit, and spiritually lost. To thrive in California however, I think, you need to be more than materially rich. You need to believe in God also and have a worthy goal and purpose. And yet, paradoxically, you cannot achieve any spiritual advancement without suffering.

          Aldous Huxley springs to mind. He had suffered with ill-health throughout his life (from childhood) and was going blind. Yet he was gifted with some inherited wealth, high genius-level intelligence, and found his own version of Utopia in California … while at the same time imagining a dystopian future for mankind in “Brave New World”. He was a believer in a syncretic world religion: one that combined all the best elements in the world’s major religions. He would have approved, I think, of neo-Christianity, neo-Buddhism, neo-Hinduism, and maybe even neo-Judaism.

          I speak speculatively here and am not altogether sure whether what I’ve said is correct. I could be wrong.

      2. Saki, both Yogananda and Huxley and in fact all of the Advaitans and impersonalist religionists and philosophers prefer (even insist upon) a Bhagavad Gita without Krishna as the Supreme Personality, instead entertaining a Krishna as merely a great personality. Aye, there’s the rub..

        To showcase this is in reality as simple as pointing to their own greatest spiritual master and preceptor Adi Shankaracharya who did indeed “confess” at the end of his mission by offering all of us this “Bhaj Govindam” (aka) MOHA MUDGĀRA (the hammer for smashing delusion), as well as this commentary Meditation on the Bhagavad Gita

        I believe you’ll enjoy this if only for the beautiful poetry alone.

  3. So “the dream of life” is all about realising the SELF. Get up to all the adventures, as I have, and you end up with the Godhead, which because we all experience reality in our own particular way, is the SELF. A prisoner dreaming on his 35th year in a small cell may dream of escape, but his SELF is a tiny cell. Even when my latest gal friend drops of to sleep, I am left by myself. We are all alone is this world and die alone. But then the bells ring, infused with bright lights, fine music and song. In Heaven there is no loneliness,only beauty, creative, loving conversing and peace. By looking over the edge you can just hear the tumult and the fires of Hell. The Jews are trying to build a Tower of Babel to reach our Heaven, but the devil laughs as he pushes it down for the umpteenth time.

    1. “In Heaven there is no loneliness, only beauty, creative, loving conversing and peace.”

      This sounds like a contradiction:) When there is conversation, there are separate beings. Where there is separation, loneliness comes …

      Don’t build yourself an ivory tower” the moralists say. But I am an ivory tower by the mere fact that I am. On the crude physical level the body is a frame of (ivory) bones on which the muscles are stretched, crowned by an (ivory) bone pill-box turret housing the brain — shielding it from the blows of ‘reality’ so that it can get on with its absurd work undisturbed. On the non-physical level my I-ness is an ivory tower of orderly individual views and vistas shielding ‘me’ from being swallowed up in chaos. Dear moralists: don’t they see that life is a constant flight up and down the endless steps of the dark ivory tower seeking to escape from the horrid chaos of real freedom? ↓

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