We will go metaphysical today. This is an important blog, so don’t discard it. If it makes no sense, ponder it anyway and see if something wakes up in you.
Many decades ago, I read about an incident in the life of the great Indian sage, Ramana Maharshi. Toward the end of his days cancer had spread through his body and he was struggling to get up from his bed.
An attendant, overcome with emotion, begged him, “Bhagavan, you are an enlightened being. You can undoubtedly cure your body of this disease. Please do this so you can continue to guide us.” With great compassion Ramana Maharshi turned to him, “My son, do you not see that the body is the disease?”
I could not understand it at the time, but I sensed that it was important, so I filed it away in my mental cabinet.
What Ramana Maharshi shared is profoundly life altering. In fact, it can completely upend everything you ‘know’, and think and believe.
Before I explain this, I would like you to remember that you are a liar. You have always been a liar. You are so entrenched in your lies that you do not even realize that you are a liar. Generally your lies have been of omission, not commission.
You go to bed at night, and you dream that you are Julius Caesar. You are fighting Pompeii and your legions clash with his and you pursue him over vast territories. You enter Egypt and help Cleopatra in her dispute with her brother. For good measure you have an affair with her. Then you return to Rome and the Ides of March happens.
Then you wake up and realize it was all a dream. It was all in your mind. You created all of it. You created the Roman empire, and Pompeii and Egypt and the legions and the battles and the centurions. Having created all of it you identified with a tiny part of what you created. The part of Julius Caesar.
If someone asks you who you are, you say something like, “I am John, a software engineer. I have two wonderful children and my marriage is shaky. I don’t like my job all that much any more….”
You do not say “Some of the time I am John, a software engineer and some of the time I am Julius Caesar and at other times I just seem to disappear…”
You lie by omission.
You are ready to push back. “That was just a dream,” you say. “I was never Julius Caesar.”
Fair enough. But, when the dream was going on, you were Julius Caesar. It is only when you ‘woke up’ that you realized you were not Caesar. In your dream you felt the thrill of victory as Pompeii retreated and his legionnaires deserted, the excitement of coupling with Cleopatra and the sense of betrayal when Brutus also stuck his knife in you.
So you were Julius Caesar – only it was a dream.
So how about you as John, the software engineer? How do you know that this John is not a dream character, exactly like Julius Caesar.
This is a conundrum that has intrigued philosophers for centuries. One expression of its importance is the famous question, “Did the sage dream he was a butterfly, or did the butterfly dream that it was a sage?”
I have dealt with this topic in an earlier blog.
So, are you a dream? If so, whose dream are you?
I will say more about this next week.