I had a realization one recent morning. I wonder if it will last, or if it’s just a flash of insight. Last night, I went to sleep reading Atmananda. He said, “To an ordinary man, life constitutes actions, perceptions, thoughts and feelings—one of these alone being experienced at any given time. In other words, you stand detached from all activities, excepting the one in which you seem engaged at the given time.”
So we thread each one of these little beads of experience onto a string. We do this all our lives, and this is our “story,” what I call “me.” I continually reinforce it, connecting the strings and beads into a net.
This morning, I remembered pieces of a dream I had. It was a nervous dream about traveling and trying to make sure I had the essentials I needed for a trip. In that same section of Spiritual Discourses as the other quote, Atmananda said, “the world is examined and proved to be non-existent…1) by comparing the dream and waking-state experiences, and finding them to be exactly similar; 2) by proving that the objective world has no existence, independently of the subject ‘I’ of consciousness.”
I looked out at my room, realizing, “I’m putting this together with every thought, every perception. Maybe it ‘exists’ in some form, but it’s still the stuff of consciousness. Maybe it’s the raw material of a larger consciousness than my own “I-principle.” I don’t know. But every perception today seems like a bead in a story. And today, I’m just noticing the beads, not stringing them.
Did the stuff in the sleeping dream “really exist”? Was it the same as the stuff in the waking dream? Is the sleeping dream “my dream,” while the waking dream is more of a collective, agreed-upon dream? I don’t know. But it’s all the stuff of Consciousness.
It’s very clear to me today that Consciousness is all that connects everything and is beneath and surrounding all: It’s there in the sleeping dream, in the waking dream, it’s there whether I let the bead fall or string it. Only Consciousness is there all the time. And it’s only the stringing of beads that creates “time.”