What does "dream-like" mean here? If we understand it superficially to mean unreal or dreamy in a vague, unfocused sense, we miss the whole point. Other analogies may serve as well: the apprehended world is compared to a mirage, a magical illusion, an echo, or a reflection in a mirror. But a dream is especially apt.
Think back to an actual dream, a vivid one. While we dream, the events in the dream seem really to be happening: we find ourselves on another continent, a conversation takes place, we are punished or rewarded, perhaps even die. Anything can happen. All the appearances are there. But in spite of appearances, no such events are occurring. A woman dreams that she gives birth to a child, the child grows up, then is killed, and the woman grieves. She has experienced the whole process, but wakes up to recognize that there was no birth, no child, no death. In this sense phenomena are dreamlike; there is no substantial reality that accords with appearances. We observe phenomena as being far more concrete and tangible than in fact they are, and this is misleading. It occurs because of the mental process of reification.
Sechibuwa explains that there is no entity apart from the mind that is anything more than a deceptive appearance to the mind. Nothing exists independently of consciousness or mental designation. At first glance this looks like idealism, a denial of external reality: everything is just of the stuff of the mind.
Even through Physics we could build a strong case that the world of absolute space and time as we experience it with our senses is an illusion.
Phenomena exist as dependently related events, but they do not appear that way. When I look at the mountain across the valley, do I see that its existence depends on its attributes? Do I perceive that the existence of this mountain depends on the mental designation of it, and depends also on its own causes and conditions? I have to say no. The mountain appears to exist entirely in its own right, resting there, utterly self-sufficient. And that is an illusion. In that sense the mountain does not exist as it appears, and in that sense the mountain is . This is true of all the environment, and also of our bodies.
Excerpted from: The Seven-Point Mind Training(first published as A Passage from Solitude : Training the Mind in a Life Embracing the World), by B. Alan Wallace. Copyright 1992 by Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York 14851.
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