The Essence of Dreams - What are Dreams Made of?

By forum guest author: Aaron Jolly

What are dreams made of?

You may say imagination, mental constructs, projections. While that may be true these are conceptual frameworks for understanding the processes of dreams, not the actual substance of dreams. What is the actual substance of dreams? The most accurate description is mind. It’s not a particularly satisfactory answer though as the nature of mind is basically a complete unknown. Again, we can understand mind in terms of processes but what actually is mind?

If we say that dreams are of the nature of mind, I would argue that our experience of waking life is also comprised of the nature of mind, and that the substance of dreams is the same as the substance of our experience of waking life.

A simulation of waking life

The world that is perceived in waking life is a mental simulation of external information. The eyes are passive receivers of photons that stimulate the cones and rods of the retina. This produces electro-chemical reactions that travel from the retina, along the optic nerve to the occipital cortex, which processes image formation. The brain generates a mental simulation of the information received from external reality and this mental simulation is our experience of waking life.

As you can see, the eyes are not windows that we look through. The eyes are passive receivers. The eyes do not actively see. The experience of seeing takes place in the mind and all that we see is a mental simulation. This is our experience of waking life.

What is the substance of this mental simulation, what is it actually made of? The same as dreams, it is mind. While it is true that external reality is comprised of particles, our experience of that reality is a mental simulation of that external information, and the substance of this simulation is mind.

It is clear that our conceptual frameworks for understanding the processes of waking life and dreams are considerably different but our direct experience of waking life and dreams are the same.

So what?

In waking life, we experience ourselves as separate from the world around us. There is our internal experience of the body-mind and there is the outside world of external reality. However, in lucid dreams this sense of being separate from the dream may soften and relax, as the division between internal and external becomes less clear and more fluid.

If we accept that our experience of waking life is a mental simulation that is comprised of the nature of mind - the same essence as dreams - are we truly separate from the appearances of waking life and the world around us, or are we deeply intimate with the appearances and experience of our waking life and our dreams.

I invite you to consider how this may affect your identity and sense of self?

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