The difference between dream and vision || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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Listener: Sir, in the last session we were told that all dreams arise from past experiences. I agree that dreams arise from past but then how do I dream of something which is not at all present in my past? How do I dream of something that I have not heard of, not read of and not experienced in past?

Speaker: To how many of you dreams are important? How many of you dream of something?

(Everyone raises hands)

Almost everybody, so is it good that this session opens with a discussion on dream. Should we proceed?

Listeners (everyone): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: Dreams are of two kinds:

The first kind of dream takes you away from yourself. This type of dream tells you that right now you are inadequate, incomplete, that there is something missing in you. This kind of dream is about becoming something. What is it about? Becoming something. I dream of becoming a millionaire, of having a lot of respect, of becoming university topper, of having a grand mansion for myself. I want to become successful and that’s my dream. This is the first kind of dream.

Beneath this dream is an assumption that there is something missing in me right now and when I become something else, I will be better. ‘Right now I am unworthy, incomplete, unsuccessful and I dream of reaching there.’ This dream is essentially about becoming somebody else. ‘I am not happy with what I am and I want to become something else.’ Of course, such a dream will arise from the past and will be about the future. Such a dream would invariably say that I want to be successful in the future; arises from the past and wishes for the future. How does it arise from the past?

You will not want to become something of which you have no experience. Experience in the sense you have not heard of it, nobody has told you a story about it, you have not seen about it in the movies, you have not read about it; then you will not want to become it. So it arises from influence of the past and creates a wish for the future. This is the first kind of dream. Are we sure we have understood the first kind of dream?

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

This is the common dream that we all have, this is the common dream that we all nurture; arising from the past and wishing for the future. It is severely limited, as you see. If I had lived in a small world, I obviously cannot wish for anything beyond that small world. If I have had limited experiences, I cannot want to become beyond those experiences. Are you getting it?

The frog in the well. even if he dreams big, what will he dream of? What is the maximum he can dream of? Coming out of the well is unknown to him, to him well is the world and nothing beyond the well exists. He will not dream of coming out of the well, the maximum he can dream is that I will make a long jump inside the well. Now inside the well how long a jump can you make? Will the frog in the well ever dream of the ocean?

When you were kids, what were you dreaming of? You were dreaming of those limited things that you had come across. Somebody would have wanted to become astronaut, somebody a police officer, somebody a fighter pilot, somebody a teacher, somebody a Barbie doll, somebody a superman and that’s it, because you did not know anything beyond that, so you couldn’t dream of anything beyond that. Is that clear, very clear?

Today, as I mentioned that a five year old or ten year old wanted to become a Barbie doll or a superman, I heard many of you laugh. Why are you laughing at it? It’s a dream of a five year old and he is very serious about it, just as you are about your dreams. He was very serious about becoming Superman, his mind was limited. What makes you think that your mind is not limited? If you tell him that his mind is limited, he will be as unwilling to believe as you might be.

Many of you would be unwilling to believe that our minds are limited and our dreams are shaped by our limited experiences. You would be unwilling to believe that and it’s a humbling experience. Similarly, that five year old would be unwilling to believe that the world is beyond Superman. He will say, ‘No, I have decided and becoming Superman is my dream and I want to chase my dream.’ Today you laugh at his dream. Why should somebody else not laugh at your dreams? Because your dreams are only as big as your experiences and your experiences are always limited. They are limited today, they will be limited tomorrow and they will be limited when you are eighty years of age. This is the first kind of dream; coming from the limited experiences of the past and wishing for the…

Listeners(everyone): Future.

Speaker: Also remember that in the first kind of dream, there is past, there is future but something is missing; the present. When you are really in the present, will you have space for the past or the future? Anybody here who would say that he or she has been listening attentively even for a few minutes?

(Some listeners raise their hands)

Speaker: Many hands. When you are present and listening and immersed, are you still thinking of the past or are still dreaming of the future? Are you? Now this is something very significant about the first kind of dream, it arises only when you are not present in the future.

The one who is joyfully immersed in the present will have no time and space to dream.

You dream only when you are suffering, you dream only when you are inattentive. When you are wrapped in attention then there is no question of dreaming. When you are with a problem of mathematics, deeply engrossed in it, are you still dreaming of something?

Dreaming happens only when the mind is wandering, only when the mind is not there in the present. Are you getting it? As we said, these are the significant features of the first kind of dream: arises from the past, wishes for the future, limited by the experiences from the past and happens only when one is not attentive.

Now there is the second kind of dream. I know you that have been waiting for this but then most of us have nothing to do with the second kind of dream. We all are dreamers of the first kind and dreams of the first kind are just suffering. Why? Because I cannot be attentive in the present, so what do I do? I conveniently start dreaming of the future.

The first dream was about becoming somebody else; the second dream is about coming back to what you are. The first kind of dream is about going away from yourself, becoming somebody else; the second kind of dream is about rediscovering your real, essential nature. The first kind of dream is about cultivating a personality, wearing more and more masks, reaching somewhere in the future, the second kind of dream is about coming back to your home, getting rid of your masks, seeing your real and beautiful face, getting rid of all artificiality, getting rid of all bondage, that is the second kind of dream. You see when you go to a hill station and you look at a hill, a hill that has been deforested, how do they look ? When they are devoid of trees, how do they look? Do they look good?

It is quite a sad sight isn’t it. Now when I look at that hill side there can be two types of dreams:

One, ‘the trees would be chopped off and I will construct a shopping plaza and a few expensive hotels here.’ You look at the hill side and you say that trees have been chopped off and now I will construct some man-made buildings here. Which kind of dream is this? First or second?

Listeners(everyone): First.

Speaker: The second kind of dream would be….

Listeners(everyone): Plant trees.

Speaker: Very intelligent. Second kind of dream will say that this hill should re-become what it was, what its essential nature is. Both are dreams and two people standing side by side might be having these two different kinds of dreams.

One might say, ‘Trees are anyway gone, now make this hill into something else; the hill will become a tourist destination.’ The second one will say, ‘The hill is beautiful as it is, the beauty of the hill does not lie in having hotels and shopping complexes, the beauty of the hill lies in its clean, pure nature.’ This is the second kind of dreamer. You know what is this second kind of dreamer called? He is called a visionary.

Most of us are not visionaries. We are just dreamers and a dreamer is a very violent person. Think of that man who says that he will construct hotels, this and that on the hill side. Isn’t this violence? And then there is another one, who also wants to do something. He looks at the hill side and says that too bad, we have ruined the hill, and the hills pristine glory must be brought back. This is love.

The first kind of dream arises from violence towards others and towards self. The second kind of dream arises from acceptance of the self. The first kind of dream says, ‘I am not good enough.’ The second kind of dream says, ‘I am already good enough. I just need to get rid of all the artificiality. I just need to regain my essential nature.’

What is our essential nature? Freedom is our essential nature. Anybody who does not want to be free? We all want to be free.

Vision is about regaining your freedom, a freedom that was rightfully ours but we traded it away in our ignorance. Vision is about regaining that freedom, regaining our simple innocent joy just as a kid has simple, innocent joy.

Do not just keep running after dreams, they will not take you anywhere, instead come back. Already you have gathered so much fakeness, get rid of that. Getting rid of that fakeness is vision. That is real success, that is real enjoyment, that is real confidence. ‘I do not need to fake, I am already good enough.’ What is this? This is real confidence. ‘I need to put up a lot of makeup’. And why do you need to apply that makeup? ‘Because I think I am ugly.’ Do you think there is any confidence in this?

I am already good enough, I am a beautiful mind. Let nobody tell me that there is something wrong with me. The only thing that can be wrong with me is my ignorance; that I don’t know that I am good. The visionary knows that he is already good. All of you are already very good, each one of you is not only alright, you are superb, but you have forgotten it. You have started thinking that there is something missing in you.

There are so many voices- family, media, friends, society- who have constantly told you that there is something wrong with you. Aren’t there these voices who keep on telling us that there is something wrong with us? And the only mistake we had done is that we have believed those voices. Most of us in some way suffer from an inferiority complex, in some way or the other. You see you cannot dream without having an inferiority complex. Isn’t it the obvious that only the one who feels inferior, dreams? The one who feels alright says, ‘I am alright why do I need to dream?’

Each one of us has been repeatedly told that you are not alright. Become something so that you may be alright. Has that happened with you or not? In what ways does that happen? ‘You are good only if you secure X percentage of marks. You are good only if you study in a particular institution. If you don’t clear the entrance you are unworthy. You will be coveted only if you look beautiful. If you look ordinary than there is nothing in you. You must earn a certain amount of money and if you don’t earn that then you are nobody.’ All these are very dangerous voices and in our ignorance we have believed them. Let nobody tell you that there is something wrong with you.

Only ignorance is our mistake and that is not a crime, it is our mistake. We were just not careful enough, we just believed. The only mistake we have made is that we have been ignorant. We have believed too easily, we have not bothered to inquire and that is the only little mistake we had done and we can very easily get rid of that mistake. Take this as a clear understanding.

Anybody who tells you that there is something wrong with you cannot be your friendsuccess and failure. Anybody who constantly tells you that you have to become or achieve something cannot be your friend. Your real friend is one who says that you are alright and now do whatever you want to do. You succeed, good. You do not succeed, again good.

Do whatever you are doing with full immersion in the present. Be completely into it, stop bothering about the past and the future, whatever you are doing be completely into it and then whatever happens is alright. Don’t bother about success, no success can make you great and no failure can diminish you. You are already perfect in a sense. You may have lot of successes but that does not matter and you may have lot of failure then also it does not matter. Just enjoy. When you are reading, enjoy. When you are listening, listen fully. When you are playing, be fully immersed in the game.

What would you like to have, dreams or vision?

Listeners(everyone): Vision.

Speaker: And to have vision you must…

Listeners(everyone): Be present.

Speaker: Open your eyes. You cannot look through somebody else’ eyes. You already have sharp and beautiful eyes, just open them and that is vision. But to dream, you have to close your eyes and that is the essential difference. A visionary wakes up, he opens his eyes and a dreamer is ignorant, fast asleep, just dreaming. The visionary wakes up and looks at the reality. The dreamer keeps sleeping and has no understanding of the reality.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: The difference between dream and vision || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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