A literal dream within a dream, fanciful play, reality phases in and dashes back out. Personal tuning’s at the wheel. No one does it like anyone else… And now, we know it might be even zanier.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
By David Stone
Ever have this experience?
You’re hanging out. Something catches your eye. Say, something natural but striking, like a violet rose.
You make a remark about how beautiful it is before you find that your friend didn’t see it.
Your universes are different. Yours is personal, individual, unique, and so is his or hers. Beyond a few natural requirements, radical differences emerge. You see what you prefer to see, and so does your friend. Even when you see the same thing, you may see it differently.
Reality’s not the same for everyone, not the same for even any two.
Sure, the same ingredients are stirred into the sauce, but you patch the picture together differently. You drop this, pick up that, and all those around you follow their tastes in the same way.
You see your own world, one sculpted to fit your tastes.
That’s the simplest illustration, and it comes with the standard disclaimer that your mileage will vary. That is, you may be more or less different, but different you certainly are.
And it’s expressed in how you chose to create your world. It’s your outward expression of your truest, most realized self.
The thing is, though, masked behind this simple reality is a vast complexity of visible and invisible possibilities, all just as real and just as influential.
That’s where the fun — and the wonder — comes in.
Your Dream Within A Dream Phases In and Dashes Back Out
When Edgar Allan Poe wrote his early poem, A Dream Within A Dream, he was downcast. “Grains of golden sand” slipped between his fingers, and he ached over the futility of stopping it.
But that’s not necessarily how it happens because it’s all in your point of view.
Every time you lose any part of your reality, it’s instantly replaced, and you have a lot to say about what trots in from the bullpen. You probably just don’t know it.
Humans in the 21st Century, around 14 billion years after the Big Bang — or as some prefer, the Big Whoosh — we ride the cusp of an awakening.
After countless before, stimulated by discoveries in physics uncovering truths from which we can’t run away.
We face the music that reality’s a constant sea of potentials we and other sentient beings harden momentarily on the fly, all as individuals, all in a group.
But if you think that’s weird, there’s weirder. Much weirder. Like I said above. Fun.
And wonder. Gobs of it.
Let’s take a moment… How about this one?
Thinking about a moment toys with a falsehood, but it’s so familiar we can use it as an example here.
In this very moment, then, trillions upon trillions of waves vibrate against, in and through your senses.
Consensus among modern scientists is that we discard upwards of 95% of those electrically charged waves, but that claim’s ridiculous. In fact, it can’t be true.
While it is true that we put together a visual reality, our “mind’s eye,” out of a small percentage of waves detected, it’s inconceivable that we throw anything away.
For a simple reason.
We must recognize anything before we discard it. We must make a decision about it; otherwise, reality’s a total crap shoot, chaos. Anything goes, and we have no say in the matter.
And the ultimate conclusion for that is that no reality exists at all, just an invisible, vibrating field of nothing.
Making a universe demands desires, and it’s foolish insisting we whisk something away just because it doesn’t make the cut in our mind’s eye. It’s not all photons, you know.
We have other senses and attributes, and they all do their things unseen.
Every vibrating wave contributes to the dream within a dream we call our lives, and that’s exciting, rich with chance.
Imagine the potentials, all those things we can welcome into our hearts but haven’t roped in yet.
One more consideration…
While our senses receive countless impressions without interruption, best known of our three brains also must manage messaging from our gut brains, sometimes called the enteric nervous system, and our heart brains.
Inescapable fact: Surviving the next second requires a fantastic, complex beyond imagination system for managing all that input. You decide in a million different ways, never pausing to forge a single moment.
You also reach as much as you receive, but that’s another chapter.
They say you’re on autopilot, but you’re more sensational than that.
Drum Roll: Your Dream Within A Dream’s Master Sensory Organ
The very term “mind’s eye” says it all. Our eyes tell us what the world is, what reality’s made of, but that’s a deceptive shortcut. A helpful one, but also one that should be better managed.
All it really tells us is what our preferred version of reality looks like, not what it is.
Yes, your eyes absorb billions of photons constantly. They flip them upside down and instantly assemble pictures of what’s before you. Cats and dogs. Spaghetti. A dead bug. Clouds. Tom Hanks.
It’s beyond miraculous when you learn about vision’s mind-boggling complexity, that it works at all, that it even evolved.
Now, consider that that wonder is just one piece of a larger, tasty pie.
All we know from our eyes is what things look like, what we sort into a moving picture.
But it’s deceptive, and it’s extremely limited.
And as years of research into eyewitness accounts show, we miss a lot of what’s there, and much of what we do catch is wrong.
We don’t need Paul Simon telling us that “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” because we already know it.
There’s a famous experiment in which viewers are told to keep track of how many times a team of basketball player passes the ball. In the middle of the video, a gorilla enters, thumping his chest. When asked later on, it turns out that most viewers never saw the gorilla.
We see what we chose to see as well as hearing what we want to hear,
But sadly, that’s only the visual limitation.
Common examples of all we never see…
When we talk about invisible reality, it might sound a little spooky, a bit of woo-woo, but it’s not. It’s classic, and it happens all the time.
In fact, you’re so used to it, you probably don’t notice.
Have you ever, for example, seen wind? Not the effects, but the wind itself.
A breeze is completely invisible, but we take for granted that we know what it is.
How about a thought? Ever seen one? You’ve heard one expressed, and you’ve read them, but thoughts are outside the visible range.
And emotions… gravity… ideas… music… Of course, they’re all there, and being invisible doesn’t stop them from entering our lives.
Contenders for reality…
What most easily opens up the enormous potential for reality universes yet to pop into our minds are the invisible senses.
To be clear, none of this is up and coming. It’s here and now, but we miss most of it.
- Touch: Every surface of your body receives external signals without letup. We probably feel more than we see, but we don’t let it intrude on our image of reality. We may not have the tools yet.
- Taste: Few people visualize tastes, but that makes them no less relevant to the creation of reality. And we’re not just talking about mealtimes. We get tastes constantly telling us about what’s around us.
- Sound: You may be familiar with the idea of dog whistles, that is, sound vibrations that we don’t hear, but that’s too easy. Just because we don’t mentally hear them, that’s no good reason for assuming that they don’t affect us. Sounds outside the hearable range may trigger all sorts of internal actions.
- Smell: We can track a scent, and we can evacuate elevators after a fart. But we still can’t see them. Probably wouldn’t want to in some cases.
To be perfectly honest here, those are minor considerations. Vaster invisibles are all around us, day and especially at night.
How Reality Phases In And Out
Did you ever daydream or even deliberately imagine something?
Of course you did as we all do from time to time.
Was what you imagined “real?” And if not, what is it?
That distinction is not as important as a lesson it teaches, and that’s that the dream within a dream we live shares a lot in common with any kind of dream. We make it up, and imagination is always in play as is creativity and understanding of what we care about.
Our worlds come in countless variations.
We make up our minds, that is reality itself, by assembling what we want out of an unending shower of possibilities, filtering it through our preferences. This never stops.
Mostly, we don’t think much about how we make a world because we’re busy doing it.
Variations on the theme…
We fear certain things, even when it makes no sense, and we love some colors and tastes more than others. It’s not that any of its more threatening or intrinsically more lovely, but it’s what we like.
Who knows how or when? Maybe we inherited some of our preferences at birth, or maybe Mom taught us. It’s possible our friends conditioned us to like the same things, a consensus for continuity and acceptance.
But the fact remains, the real world we live in isn’t concrete at all. It’s an instantaneous compilation of our preferences, and it’s always subject to change. It has no beginning or end, just a sort of vibrant is-ness.
But everything we described so far happens when we’re awake. What about when we’re not? What about that freewheeling life swinging through the night?
Don’t worry about it keeping you awake because sleeps freer and can be more fun. And it has fewer tangible consequences.
The incredible dreams within dreams of sleep…
Here’s the big one, the lie we accept because… well, just because they told us so.
Researchers say we sleep in cycles, starting with REM — rapid eye movement — and on until deep sleep where we stop dreaming. Our minds empty.
Sure, we’re all aware that we don’t remember much of what we dream. Some experiences stand out because they’re so dramatic or emotional. They might even wake you up, maybe escaping to safer space.
Much of it, though, researchers say, is blank, the deeper the sleep, the deeper the blank.
But what if…?
What if that’s all experimenter bias? What if researchers are conditioned to expect that, when they’re instruments don’t detect activity, there is none.
But it could just as easily be that activity’s going on that their instruments, keyed to electrical impulses, aren’t designed to detect. We can’t record what we’re not looking for, after all.
It’s one of the big dilemmas within science, especially when working to uncover the big mysteries, like dark energy and dark matter. These enigmas are hard to solve because scientist don’t even know what to look for.
Someday, a bright mind will develop a testable theory, and that will set a path to discovery. But as anyone who loves science learns, any opened door, no matter how miraculous, leads to multiple other doors hiding secrets.
The easiest examples of what detectors might miss are emotions and thoughts.
Instruments respond to brain activity, electrical impulses spurred by thinking and emotion, but let’s not confuse that with thoughts and emotion. Mechanics of brain activity are no more the whole enchilada than carburetors and fuel pumps are the reasons why we drive a car.
Our brains are recording devices, creating memories, tracking experience, but they are not our minds. Minds are undetectable until they swing into action, that is, when creating universes, very personal ones.
Thoughts and emotions are mental, not brain activities. By that, I mean they are nonphysical and undetectable to outsiders apart from their effects.
After all, as science knows, we have never detected dark matter or dark energy or even gravity, but we know they exist because of their influence on other things we do register.
We may eventually find different, more representative definitions for all of them.
And for emotions and thoughts. But for now, they are all invisibles, and they have enormous impact on us, every day of our lives.
The sweet thing though is, if we pay attention, we can build something all our own and more fulfilling than any instrument can measure.