Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cosmic Dreamscape

Since much of the dynamics in the relationship between the Creator and creation is difficult for the mind to grasp, Jewish mystics have traditionally employed a variety of metaphors drawn from everyday experience to help explain this relationship. While none of these metaphors are perfect. Despite their limitations, to some extant each one is helpful in explaining at least some aspect of the relationship. One of my favorite metaphors is to describe the relationship between a "dreamer and a dream". In this metaphor the dreamer is the Creator and the dream is the creation. Both a dream and the interaction between Creator and creation share enough features in common that this metaphor can really serve as a golden stairway into the abstract thought where an understanding of this special relationship resides.

It's my hope that this essay will illuminate some of these common features in an effort to explain monist thinking.  A monist is someone who believes that that the Creator is really the only existence. Monism is special stream of monotheism, with a philosophy of its own. Standard monotheism proclaims that there is only One Creator. The monist agrees, but, goes further to proclaim that the Creator is the only existence. I've encountered this style of monotheism first in Chassidic teachings. However, this belief shared by most Kabbalists. It also exists outside Judaism. For example, Neo-Platonism, an ancient Greek philosophy, was known for monism. Also, the Sufis, Islamic mystics, are monists.

According to monism the Creator is an Infinite being whose seamlessly One. This means that He has no dimensions, borders or parts. This raises a very central question, “If He's Infinite in this sense then He fills the entire existence. Where is there room for the creation?"

The answer is that the creation exists seamlessly integrated in the Creator - not as an outside independent being. Here is where considering the relationship between a dreamer and dream comes into play.  A typical dream has a dreamscape, i.e. the mental scenery which serves as the setting. The dreamscape is typically inhabited by dream characters. They are the beings whom the dream is about. Both the dreamscape and the characters are happening within the mind of the dreamer. As independent as the dreamscape and characters may seem, the whole dream is nothing other then the dreamer's own mind. Every drop of the scenery is the dreamer's mind. Every character is the dreamer's mind. If the dreamer were to awake, the whole dream would merge back into its source - the dreamer's own mind. There would no longer be a dreamscape or it's characters. There would just be the now awakened dreamer.

Often when people are exposed to the view that the creation is within the Creator, their initial reaction is to think of the creation as being nested within the Creator, perhaps in a similar way that a fetus is nested in a mother's womb. However, in the basic sense the fetus and mother can be viewed as two different beings. With both the Creator/creation and dreamer/dream there's only one being through and through. Any sense of independence is purely an illusion.

Since the Creator is the only existence, He's also the only living being. Anything else which seems alive, is really only drawing on a feature of His life and not alive on its own - like a wave on the sea. This is similar to a dream character whose whole life is really an extension of the dreamer's own life. If the dreamer were to stop dreaming for even one moment the dream character's identity would merge back into the dreamer's mind - dissolving any sense of self identity. This is because the dream is not the default state of the dreamer's mind, but, an unstable temporary condition in constant need of second to second rebirth - like a light bulb lit on a constant flow of electricity.
Similarly, the whole creation is not the default state of the Creator's Infinity. Creation is merely a finite experience within Infinity, an unstable temporary condition in constant need of second to second rebirth.  If the Creator stopped bringing the creation into existence for even a fraction of a second, like a dream, the whole creation would merge back into its source, dissolving within Infinity. 

When a dream dissolves in its dreamer's mind, the dreamscape and characters lose any sense of independence. It's paradoxical how complete contact with their very source of life is the end of their own life; at least, as an independent beings. In this state their true state is exposed. They are just seamlessly part of their source - the dreamer. Similarly, if creation were to dissolve back into the Creator, it's Source, there would just be Creator - no creation!

Therefore, for the creation to exist, there needs to be a space cleared from the Creator's revelation. In other words, though the Creator is ever present simply as a condition of His Infinity, He chooses whether to reveal Himself. He can project or withdraw His revelation at will; like an on/off switch. When He withdraws His revelation there remains an empty dark space. It's this darkness, that allows the various creations to feel like separate identities. A similar pattern occurs during sleep. While the sleeper's soul is still present, much of his/her soul's revelation withdraws from the body.  The dimming of soul light creates a dark space in the psyche, allowing dreams to occur. In this dark space, the remaining fragments of the dreamer's identity can come to life as dream characters, who seem to exhibit their own identities - independent from their dreamer.

After the Creator withdraw His revelation, A tiny wisp of His original revelation lingers, like a faintly dim glow cast throughout the dark area. This wisp was potent enough to turn into dream identities, but, not potent enough to give those identities a sense of continuity with their Source Identity, like rays extending from the sun. Instead, these new identities feel very self contained - leading eventually to selfishness. Similarly, when a dreamer's soul withdraws her revelation during sleep, the withdrawal is only partial. The dark mind space is still inhabited by a dim glow of soul - sufficiently potent to allow a dreamscape and characters to form, but, not potent enough to give those identities a sense of continuity with their source identity - the dreamer.

The whole creation is in some way a metaphor for it's Creator. Any and every aspect of creation can illuminate lessons about the Creator's ways.  With some basic contemplation, one can explore the Creator's ways crystallized through the lens of creation. I just picked one aspect of creation, dreams, to demonstrate the Creator's ways, I invite you to explore another aspect of creation that interests you and do same. You can share your findings and insights as a comment to this post.

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