As a spiritual teacher, what I teach is constantly evolving. As I continue to explore, learn, and grow, what I teach reflects my current interests and discoveries. For the past few years I’ve been fascinated by the deeply co-creative aspect of spiritual growth. You see, I don’t believe that reality exists independent of us. I believe that reality, including spiritual reality, emerges into being as we experience it. In other words, I believe that we are profoundly involved in the creation of what is real.
The story about reality we are told, in the scientific age, is that we live in a universe that emerged out of an explosion that generated all the fundamental building blocks of reality. Those initial particles and energies have been combining and recombining ever since, leaving us with the universe as we know it. It is a view of reality that leaves us with no part in the creation of it.
What if none of that were true? What if we didn’t appear in the middle of a material universe that was here before we got here? What if reality was not an infinite expanse of empty space filled with things? What if reality is more like a dream?
Look at your experience of reality right now. Is there any way for you to prove that all of this is not more like a dream than a material universe? If you think about it, you’ll see that there’s no way to prove it isn’t. Of course, there’s equally no way to prove it is either. At the same time, you can’t prove that we live in a material universe, and in fact, the closer scientists look at matter, the less of anything solid they find in it.
We’ve all been deeply conditioned to assume that we live in a material universe. That means we assume we have physical bodies that move through space and interact with material objects. If we’d been born a few hundred years ago, we would have been conditioned very differently. At that time, we would have been trained to imagine that we were living in a dream that existed in the mind of God.
My deepest spiritual experiences have led me to believe that reality is more like a dream in the mind of God than three dimensions of infinite space filled with things. I also believe that we are part of the dream and the dreamer simultaneously. We are the ones that dream reality into existence.
Am I right? I couldn’t possibly know. What I do know, is that the more I have left my materialistic assumptions behind the more miraculous my life has become.
I’m talking about questioning materialism, I’m talking about not being bound by it. I believe that when we deeply question our materialistic understanding of ourselves and the world, we unleash radical spiritual potentials within us.
What happens for instance, if we meditate without assuming that we are a person doing a practice? What if the person doing the practice really is more like a character in a dream? What if we are not the meditator, but the dreamer of the entire reality? Who is meditating, and what does it mean to meditate then?
Enlightenment means realizing that you are the dreamer of the dream, not one of the characters in it – not even the character that is meditating. Even a dream of being a person meditating is still a dream. The goal of spiritual life is to wake up from the dream, not to have a dream about a person waking up.
If you want to experience spiritual breakthrough, you must be willing to radically question all your assumptions about what is real and what is possible. Only in the space of that much uncertainty is transformation a possibility. Only when we let go that deeply, can we discover how we are holding the dream of reality together, and therefore how it can change completely.
When we do spiritual practice like meditation while simultaneously letting go of our assumptions about reality, we are engaging in what I call creative illumination. This is when our true spiritually creative potential is unleashed.