Nothing Exists Unless You are Aware of It: The Power of Lucid Living & Nonduality
When we answer the question “Who are we?” we might have so many ideas about who we are and we just assume they’re correct. But now we’re going to explore them and perhaps even change them.
For centuries people thought the world was flat until scientists proved that the world was actually round. It appears flat to most people, and the reason why we think it’s round today is because we’ve been taught that. Even though when we look out it seems very flat, we know it’s actually round.
Let’s look at our own assumptions and view the world differently, with eyes of enlightenment. First, we can explore time. We think that time has a history to it: there’s the past, future and present. But all we can ultimately know at this present moment is that the past and future are in our minds. They don’t exist in reality except when we think about them right here and right now.
Our dreams can have a history to them. We can have a completely different family or different experiences, and they can have a memory to them. But when we wake up, we realize that all those things were just part of the dream. Often, when a dream seems like it’s going on forever, it may only be happening for a few minutes. I’m sure this has happened to you: you’re woken up in the morning by your alarm clock, you press the snooze button and a few minutes later you have a complete dream with a whole story to it. When the snooze button sounds, you can’t believe how much happened in that short amount of time.
What we can only know for sure is that there is now and we’re absolutely sure of this because we’re experiencing it in the present moment. I am aware that there is, right now, a past and future, but we cannot know it except through conjecture. Let’s assume that there is no past or future; that there is only the eternal now. Doesn’t the world look differently when we start seeing it from this perspective?
Now let’s look at it from a different angle. Again, we can assume that we are a person and that everything external is separate from us. There’s “I” and there’s “you”, for instance, and they’re completely separate. But what if we saw the universe as a part of who we are? Everything, from our neighbors, the chair we’re sitting on, a drum in the galaxy, and the universe, is who we are and it only exists because we’re thinking of it right now.
This is a very different way of seeing things. We have a tendency to see things as “I, thou” but what if we see everything as “I am?” Because “I am”, the universe and everything that I conceptualize, is. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t conceptualizing it, there wouldn’t even be a universe. There’s a sense that everything is interconnected and it exists because we’re aware of it.
Let’s use the dream analogy again. In a dream, there is a complete story being created. It may not be as long or extended as our life that we’re experiencing right now, but when we’re dreaming the dream can be very real to us. Similarly, sometimes when we’re dreaming we’re aware that we are in a dream. The term for this is ‘lucid dreaming.’ What if instead of seeing everything as separate from us, we see that everything exists because we are? We could call this lucid living instead of dreaming because we’re aware right now that nothing could exist if we were not aware of it. From our own perspective, this is totally true.
There’s no way of proving that the universe in and of itself is absolutely true. There’s just no way of proving this because there has to be someone to prove it, and that person is part of the experiment. If you’ve ever heard of quantum mechanics, or you’re a student of quantum mechanics, you’ll find that what I’m talking about has a great deal of scientific validity to it. We, as the observer, affect the outcome of the experiment. We have no way of proving that the universe exists outside of us being aware of it.
What these two concepts, or as I like to call them ‘pointers’, do is allow us to stop being in our heads so much. We quiet the mind and just be. When we buy into time and external realities, we create stories that keep us from living really well in the here and now. If we stop creating these stories and we say, “Hey, everything exists; all that I need to do is flow with it” life begins to go really well. As our minds become still and we don’t rely on our intellect nearly as much, with our silent mind life flows beautifully.
We buy into thinking, thinking, thinking, but it really is a cause of all our problems. Are there any problems right here and now if we don’t think about anything? No. Our minds create stories and with these stories come suffering. If we stop buying into all the stories and we see everything as just a creation of the mind, then our minds become still. In this stillness, life really begins to go well.
Yes, there will still be thoughts, but we won’t participate in them. We won’t engage with them, so life can go well. It’s all about identifying with that which is ultimately true: the ultimate reality of what is, and all that we can ultimately prove is that we are. If you add anything else, then you can fight against it, argue with it or find that it has holes in it. The only thing we know for absolutely, positively sure, is that we are. That’s it.
So let’s live our lives this way. Let’s live our lives as pure, “being” a lot more of the time and relying far less on our thoughts, the past, the future and our concepts. Let’s see if life doesn’t flow beautifully as we live a more awakened, more enlightened life, right here and right now.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and meditation expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous books, including Spiritual Enlightenment: Awakening to the Supreme Reality and creates a weekly podcasts and articles on enlightenment, spiritual enlightenment, nonduality, Advaita Vedanta at: http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com