The Movie Experience

Student: Why is it that we remember most of what happens during the day but little of what happens when we dream at night?

Master: Are you sure that you are dreaming while you are sleeping, or is it possible that you are awake in your dreams, and dreaming while you think you are awake?

Student: This is not a dream. This is reality. I’m sitting here talking to you, and you’re not a dream. I’m quite sure that I know the difference between being awake and being asleep. Things happen in dreams that are not real. You can do things in your dreams that you could never do while you’re awake.

Master: What is it that you can do in a dream that you cannot do while you are awake?

Student: Well, lot’s of things happen in dreams that can’t be real, I mean, you can even fly through the air in your dreams.

Master: And this is not possible while you are, ah, what you call, awake?

Student: You mean levitation. I suppose it is, but when it happens it’s an exception.

Master: There can be no exceptions in an absolute reality. Exceptions only happen in dreams. Perhaps you have not yet awakened from your dream.

There can be no exception in an absolute reality. Think about that a moment. It is a scientifically logical statement, and a fact. Although the question was asked by another member of our group, the answer my Master gave remained with me. She is saying that the physical universe we have learned to trust as reality may be nothing more than a dream. To conclude that our reality may only be a dream seems a bit of a stretch, but there are exceptions in our reality. Our reality is not absolute. Can we take this challenge seriously? Is it possible that our reality might be just a dream? Can we devise a test to prove that we are not dreaming? While you think about that, let’s consider how reality is presented to us by our mind. We could say that reality is like a movie. It’s happening out there, on a movie screen, and we are watching in here. Sometimes we are involved and participate -- sometimes we just watch. It’s all happening on a view screen -- the view screen of our awareness.

We go into the cinema expecting an experience. Experience is the purpose of being there. It can take a while, however, for the experience to begin having an effect on us. When we first enter the cinema, we are immediately aware of the change in lighting. Yes, it’s darker in there, but it’s light enough to find our way to our seat. Our seat? We have already begun a process of participating in experience -- of finding a place for ourselves. Once seated, we go through a routine of observation. We may notice the younger crowd is a little noisy. There are couples that have come together to be together; they are easily spotted by the attention they give to each other. The ceiling, the walls, the seats, the floor, all have a fascination of their own as we give our attention to them. We may hear the sound of an airplane overhead, perhaps even a horn honking outside. We notice how comfortable or uncomfortable our seat is. Does it recline? We try it. If we are early and have a long wait, we may drift off and think about things we have to do, or things we have done. Our thoughts, our attention, can take us out of the cinema and into world of imagined reality while we are waiting for our movie experience to begin. Wherever our attention is, we see a movie in our mind. Our focus of attention creates a movie on the view screen of our awareness.

Then the lights go down, the curtain draws back, and the projector lights up the screen. With this change, our awareness undergoes a shift. All those things we were experiencing just a moment ago are filtered out. All the other information is still there -- the thoughts we were pondering, the lovers in the back row -- and it is still processed in our mind. But we’re not aware of it. It’s all filtered from our awareness by a natural process in our mind. Our awareness of our surroundings dims as we focus our attention on the presentation -- on the movie. It has to. We would have no experience if we remained fully aware.

We may be taken into the movie. A good one will even cause our mind to filter out the fact that we are in a cinema, and our reality unites with the action of the movie. We laugh. We cry. We have a sense of good and bad, right and wrong. We may cheer for the hero and boo the villain. We lose touch with our normal sense of time. The individual frames of film flow over the projector lamp giving the illusion of unbroken motion. Somewhere in our mind, we still have the facts. This is a roll of film produced earlier, but we are experiencing it as if it is a current event. This is a movie, and we are watching it. There is no motion in the individual frames of film. But these facts are hidden from us for the time. Again, they have to be. We cannot have the experience of the movie if we retain the awareness that it is but celluloid frames passing before the light of the projector.

All the events that led up to the movie are contained in a larger experience, that of going to the cinema. And that experience is contained in yet a greater experience, that of who we are -- our family, our friends, our work, our play, our best and our worst. All this awareness is set aside, virtually eliminated from the view screen of our awareness so we can experience the movie.

The mind is the mechanism that produces our experience, and the process it follows in creating experience -- any experience -- is automatic. A host of experiences is available to us in the cinema, even while the movie is running. We could, for example, spend our time focused on the person next to us and never partake of the movie. Look around. There may be lovers in the "movie of life" doing just that right now.

The entire experience of the movie becomes available to us because our mind has the ability to filter out information that does not fit in with our current sensory experience. This process is active all the time. The mind presents us with a "movie" while we are awake and while we are asleep. This movie appears on our "view screen" of awareness. In our waking state, we call this movie "reality." In our sleeping state, we call it a "dream." But both movies are a presentation of our mind on the view screen of our awareness.

While awake, our mind relies on incoming sensory information and experience to create our movie, and it presents the movie on our conscious view screen. While we sleep, we are isolated from most incoming sensory information, so our mind creates it according to our dreamed experience. We still see, hear, taste, touch and smell in our dreams.

During sleep, our mind presents the movie on our unconscious view screen. Even though things can happen in dreams that do not usually happen in our waking life, our expectations remain the foundation for our dreamed reality. We have a body in our dreams. And our dream world, though often altered, remains a place for us to experience the dream. The dream continues while we focus our attention on it -- and fades away when our attention shifts.

The process of creating the dream movie and our movie of waking reality is the same, and both movies appear as if they are "real." This is why dreams seem so vivid, and why what we call "reality" can seem so real. Again, the mind uses the same mechanism to produce both movies, and it operates automatically. And both movies remain on our view screen, and remain our reality, until our attention shifts.

We will discuss the process in depth, but for now, know that all experience, be it a "dream" or "reality," is created in the same place and by the same method -- in our mind.

Copyright (C) 2000, Copyleft )C( 2000, Raissa Publishing, P.O. Box 295, Port Angeles, WA 98362 -

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