Is life a dream?

Is life a dream?
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Is life a dream?

Highlights

When we dream, dreams seem so real but I know these are illusions. Is that the same thing for my life right now? How real is this life?

Questioner: When we dream, dreams seem so real but I know these are illusions. Is that the same thing for my life right now? How real is this life?

Sadhguru: The problem is that you have been reading bits and pieces of Zen. Bits and pieces of Zen are dangerous. Bits and pieces of anything are dangerous. Now, what you are saying is true in a way because ninety-nine percent of your life is just thought and emotion. Thought and emotion are only a projection of life; they are not life.

Now that you are on to Zen, you must know about Chuang Tzu. He was a great Zen master, and many monks lived in his monastery. One morning, suddenly, he was in a great state of misery. When the monks saw the master in misery, everybody was terrified. If the master is in misery, something really bad must have happened, because he was always joyful and nice. So the senior-most monks slowly approached him and asked, "Master what is happening?" Chuang Tzu said, "Don't disturb me, I am in deep distress. Get away!" The monks said, "If you are in distress, that should be death for us. Please tell us what is causing distress to you!" Then Chuang Tzu said, "Oh, yesterday night in my dream, I was a butterfly."

The monks said, "What is wrong with being a butterfly? Sometimes we have been pigs, birds, we have been many things; that is not a problem. A butterfly is quite good, what is wrong with a butterfly?" He said, "You idiots, you don't understand. When I was a butterfly, I actually flew, I went and sat on the flower, I could feel the flower, I could smell the flower, I could taste the flower. My life as a butterfly was so real and true for me. But morning when I woke up, I found myself as Chang Tzu. And my life as Chang Tzu is also so real and true for me.

Now, I don't know whether yesterday night, Chang Tzu was dreaming as if he was a butterfly, or now the butterfly is dreaming as if he is a Chang Tzu. I don't know which is true. Because both look equally vivid and real." When you live just through the thought process, this is how it is. He was using it as a method to shock his monks out of their stupor of spirituality, because people read sutras and books and think what they read and think is spirituality. Chuang Tzu was trying to knock their psychological structure out, so that they become existential. If you are experiencing life as such – not thought, not emotion – then such a question will not come. But when most of your life is just thought and emotion, it is very true, it is very much a dream. It is just another projection.

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