Consider All Phenomena as a Dream

CreativityI train people to be Awakening Coaches. One of the most fundamental tools we use is called “Radical Awakening.” In just a few minutes, a coach is able to guide a client into direct recognition of their true nature as limitless, as unborn and undying, as essentially free. It is a powerful shift for anyone: to discover their true nature as the source of all creativity, of all solutions, of all love.

The key to the whole thing is for the coach to have unwavering certainty about their own true nature, and therefore also about the client’s true nature as well. I tell coaches in training: this does not mean who you could be, or what your ultimate potential is, but who you already are now, to have certainty about what is already true in this moment.

This requires us to examine, and to let go of, the beliefs that obscure that recognition. For example, the belief in being a seeker on a spiritual path: that belief is going to obscure the certainty of who you already are. Or the belief in a future state of enlightenment that you are working towards, that belief is going to obscure the certainty of who you already are. The key to the whole thing is that you are so relaxed in knowing your true nature,  you are also absolutely relaxed about knowing your client’s true nature.

Sometimes it happens that a coach in training says to me that their client has difficulty: that somebody has trouble in relaxing this way. The question I always have for the coach is: “What is your belief, what is your perception of the reality of all this?”  I usually discover that when the coach thinks that client is having difficulty, the coach himself has some kind of perception of ‘this is difficult’ or ‘it is not for everybody’ or ‘it has to be earned.’ The difficulty always resides in the belief system of the coach.

There is a text that is very famous in Tibetan Buddhism: Atisha’s Seven Points of Mind Training. Here are the opening lines:

Consider all phenomena as a dream,
Examine the unborn nature of awareness.
Everything in the way will vanish on its own.
Everything depends upon resting in pure awareness.
When not in meditation, consider all phenomena as illusory.

consciousnessAtisha is not really a religious man. He is a scientist of consciousness. He is an awakening coach, he is exploring the nature of consciousness.

When he says “consider all phenomena as a dream,” I don’t think that it matters so much if it is true or not. We don’t need to worry if things are ultimately real or illusory. It does not matter. It is a trick, a device. We can consider the impact that it has upon you. What is the impact of considering all phenomena as illusory? What does that do? Let’s think specifically about what it does to your performance as a coach, or as a therapist or bodyworker, if you consider that your client is actually a figure in your dream. What does that do to the relationship with your client, when you no longer think of your client as independent of you, but a phenomena arising in your dream?

Imagine you go to sleep at night, and in your dream you meet someone who says “Leave me alone, I can’t take it anymore, it’s all too much…” Then you wake up. What conclusion would you come to about that dream?

When I ask coaches in training this question, they always say the same thing: “I would conclude that there is some aspect of myself that is overwhelmed.”

You would not conclude that there is a man trapped in your head, independent of you, who is having a hard time. The dream is telling you something about yourself.

Atisha advises “Think of all things as illusory.” It is very practical advice, especially if you work with people. You have a coaching client who is not relaxing as deeply as they could, or has resistance. If you consider all phenomena as a dream, then you don’t ask “what does it mean about this person, this person has got a problem.” You realize: “this is a figment in my dream, I am dreaming this right now.” If you are dreaming something, and you don’t like what you are dreaming, you need to change the dreamer, not the content of the dream. That is how coaching works, or at least the kind of coaching that we do. If your client is not dropping in deeply, what does it mean? It means that at least part of you is not dropping in deeply enough.

So what is the solution? To drop in more deeply yourself.

Awakening-2So that’s the way that this works: Radical Awakening. The way to really get incredibly good at this, to get to the point that you can guide anybody, is to recognize your own true nature, dispel all doubts about it, and then to see anyone who sits before you as a figure in your dream.

Since you know yourself to be infinite, you know that the dream figment is also a fluctuation, a vibration, in infinity. It doesn’t matter who the person is, it’s just the reflection of a part of you, and the solution is always to drop in more deeply.

Then, there is no human being on the whole planet who can escape your invitation to melt into being infinite. All you have to do is to face and dissolve your own doubts. The rest happens by itself.

There are no other people. They are all reflections of a part of you.


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5 Responses to “Consider All Phenomena as a Dream”

  1. Daniel Sieff May 8, 2015 at 7:46 am // Reply

    Hi Arjuna,

    I actually might print this out. Very practical for a current client-
    thank you. I do realise that everything is a dream sometimes. That is a beautiful thing. So much love brother and many thanks.


  2. enku May 8, 2015 at 7:54 am // Reply

    beautiful true living wisdom 🙂


  3. Joe Gagliano May 8, 2015 at 1:32 pm // Reply

    Incredible my friend. Truly incredible.


  4. James Koewler May 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm // Reply

    woke up this morning out of a dead sleep with an emotional hangover probably from a dream …….as I went to my computer for a daily guided meditation (as is my habit) I stopped and open your email and read your article ” Consider All Phenomena as a Dream”. I wasn’t half way through it when I became so transparent that I could see through everything, include the emotional discomfort I was carrying. Thank you for the ‘wake up’ call……… Jim of Sacto, Ca.


  5. Van Langendonck July 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm // Reply

    Hi,I m such a figment of your dream. Full recognition of true nature never happened. I wonder, if awakening is so easy as you say it is, then why did you have to go all the way to India for it and then all the way to Lucknow to meet that one awakening-specialist?


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