The World is a Dream in The NOW
By Fred Campbell
[Fred’s like any ‘guy-next-door.’ But his friendly and unassuming simplicity hides a wisdom that is the ardent pursuit for many a seeker. He has a remarkable story to share. I was fortunate to get to know him at a Non-duality group which meets every Sunday at a private home in Bellevue, WA, USA.
Even as a young man, Fred was deeply philosophical. Hardly did he cross his twenties, when some strange “experiences” gripped him and changed his worldview. Though he studied architecture and finance at the University of Washington, he discovered that his heart was not in either of these urban-oriented vocations. He was drawn to living close to nature and working for the betterment of humanity. So he chose a line of work that facilitated his spiritual quest in finding a meaning to his uncommon “experiences.” He was very hesitant to start with, but has finally consented to recount at this Blog his Non-dual experiences (if we can call them to be “experiences”) that can’t be, as he says, really captured in words. I am grateful to him for this lovely and affectionate gesture.
Fred lives with his wife in Seattle, WA, USA. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org – ramesam.]
The World is a Dream in The NOW
By Fred Campbell
"It is not true that Infinity will be Infinite only when would-be finite experience fades away. There is only the Infinite Being I Am -- and where I Infinitely Am, there is no finite experience to fade away. To assume matter must be laid off or risen above, would be to start with matter, not the Awareness I Am. The Pure Awareness I Am can't lay off materiality, for I have none, Now – Peter Dziuban
First, the background in brief: I felt disenchanted with the pedantic character of the Educational system soon after my graduation. Deeply attracted by the natural elements, I moved to the rural woods for several years. I lived a simple "back to the earth" life in the 70's, with my focus on becoming increasingly self reliant. I actively participated in those days in numerous counter cultural activities – anti-war, civil rights, gender equality and environmental awareness. After spending life in this way for many years, I entered the traditional working world, accepting a job with an agency that promoted housing for disadvantaged people. I worked in this field for over three and half decades. Much of my effort was focused during this time on providing and preserving affordable housing, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and promoting research into alternative energy systems and housing/health issues.
My philosophical and spiritual quest kept pace all through my educational and professional career. Beginning in the 70's, I explored a variety of so called new age modalities, including progressive psychology approaches and Eastern spirituality that had become relatively new to the West. In the 80's and 90's, I spent time with a local group and various retreats around the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. Those groups were focused on a dialogue approach. My interest in the increasing confluence of science and spirituality led me to helping start a local Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS) group. Over time, I studied a great number of Non-dual teachings, including those of Eckhart Tolle, Wei Wu Wei, Jean Klein, Rupert Spira, and others.
When I was 21, a strange sense came over me. While preparing for dinner with my family, long before I had any exposure to any spiritual teachings, somehow it struck me that all experience is in this ‘moment,’ not a moment in time but the only moment ... “NOW.”
It seemed that experience is very much like a dream, where the dreamer finds activities and objects within the dream to be very real. A whole believable history spontaneously presents itself. Something appears to come out of nothing. Even so called "memory" appears in the now, providing meaning-making interpretation of what appears to be happening now. In the sleeping dream, there is a very real sense of being chased by the tiger, even though the apparent reality of the dream proves to be nonsense when awake.
Similarly, it seemed to me this waking state, with its apparent history and meaning, may only be spontaneous appearance manifesting as a dream.
I described this sense to a few people, some of whom looked at me as if I were crazy. Years later, when attending Krishnamurti dialogue groups in Seattle and California, I again described this sense. And again, even among folks interested in so called Non-dual teachings, it clearly did not resonate. For over 30 years, I had never met anyone who found this experience or sense to be valid or even interesting.
Ten years ago I met a long-time teacher of the Course in Miracles at a silent retreat put on by a couple of local Non-dual teachers. When we were able to break our silence, I described to her this sense. To my surprise she told me the Course describes reality in a similar way. Later I learned this sense I had decades earlier was consistent with some advaita teachings.
This odd sense of reality continues to show up to date. When it does, it seems clear this moment, the only moment, is in fact the so-called "big bang" of the original universe. A whole universe of apparent objects, space and time presents itself together with meaning-making conceptual notions, including the sense of "me" ever fresh and new. It's as if arising within the ever present timeless now, holographic-like experiencing takes place, bringing an impression of time and space dimensions. Even that's not quite right because in timeless presence there is nothing that "takes place". It's simply here/now.
Memory, embedded in this presence and not of the "past", is no more "real" than all the believable "causes" that apparently led that tiger to chase me in the sleeping dream.
If in fact all appears here/now, how could there be birth or death? After all, they’re both events in time. How could there be change or, for that matter, any experiencing where there’s something experienced? This doesn’t suggest there is nothing real about our claimed experience; just that its reality is not what we typically believe. It suggests that our perceived experience appears within the timeless presence of NOW and, therefore, has no independent objectivity. The dream is conceptual meaning (thought) apparently expanding the ever present now to encompass a universe of time and objects.
So, does any of this have any significance regarding day-to-day living? Or is it just so much conceptual gibberish?
Seems to me it is simply intellectual conjecture if limited to considerations of the mind. It may, however, touch on something beyond mind. It may give pause to habitual identification with that to which mind brings meaning. In the midst of seemingly very palpable experiences, there may be a concurrent sensing or knowing of the timeless essence in which this apparent time-bound experiencer and its experiences appear.
Some may dispute whether the experience I've described is in fact consistent with the essence of Non-duality. No matter, for, the point for me is simple. This sense of reality noted here, together with deepening understanding of Non-duality, brings home a distinct sense that this life, this apparent reality (as described by the mind), is not at all as it appears to be. It seems increasingly clear that, as Rupert Spira points out so well, the substance of our experience, this knowing or aware-ing, is not only the ONE reality but also the only "thing" experienced. And it all appears here/now ... neither in time nor space.