Oakville Zen Meditation

#140 Outside reality: our 24h dream world. A Zen perspective

Outside reality: our 24h dream world

                                                            A Zen perspective

We say that we are dreaming during the night and thinking during the day.

Indeed, few times during the day we are truly thinking but it is only when we have to focus on something for a specific task, purpose or decision. But how often and how long go we do that? .

Even so when we are focusing on something how often our mind starts wandering about something, somebody, somewhere else. When you are driving, where is your mind? When you cook, where is your mind? Even when we work in front of the computer where is your mind?

Why that ? Because most of our activities, even those requesting some attention and decisions are routine and we are on automatic behavior like having a car on cruise control.

Few words about night dream:

Adults have around 5 to dreams per night for a total duration of around 45 +/- 10 min. Kids dream more than adults. The first dream called REM (rapid eye motion) occurs quickly and is very short (only few min.). The others appear around every hour or so. During our life we are going to dream around 100,000h. Some people dream more than others. Some dreams are memorized, others are not. Subjects of dreams vary greatly from one night to the next, from one person to the next.

Dreams can be fun, scary, erotic, weird, related to something or somebody, etc..

How and why we are dreaming while asleep is still totally unknown.


As mentioned previously and beside few moments of intentional focusing on x or y, we are in perpetual dream state. Zen called this state  “sleeping zombie” or “day sleep walker”

Out of our 80,000 daily thoughts or so, probably over 95% are dreaming thoughts and not intentional thinking. Our awake ego-driven mind is a wonderful and powerful space-time dreaming machine.

In order to control us, our mind is constantly projected us either in the past or more often in the future.

By creating a virtual “past me and future me” our ego-mind can do everything he wants.

This mind-made illusion is a fantastic manipulation and perfect control strategy since we strongly believe in these fictional past me and future me do exist and usually there are in a state of emotional behavior because:

1) Projected in the past brings back nostalgic or dreadful events triggering strong feelings such as regrets, guilt, resentment, doubts, anger, hatred, bitterness, grief, remorse, sorrow and so on.

2) Projected in the future triggers expectations, desires, hopes, fears, anxiety, uncertainty etc...


Is it OK to go back in the past or move forward in the future?

 Going back in the past or projecting ourselves in the future is not only OK but also necessary.

Obviously, it is important to learn from our past mistakes and to do some planning for the future.

However, it is more important to realize that:

Past and future are only mind creations. They are immaterial, fictional and pure illusion.

We cannot say that the past exists since it is dead nor we can say that the future exits since, even being on the calendar, it is not born yet.

Calendar time is a 4,000 year old or so mathematical invention for the purpose of science and day-to-day planning. Our ego knows very well that the true self is alive and real only in the present moment, the NOW and the “past me and future me” are just holographic pictures with no existence nor substance. This is how our mind can manipulate us.


Go in the past and future only when you need them. Otherwise try to stay in the present moment which is the only moment where and when we are alive and in control. This present moment can be routine, boring, exiting or painful. No problem, it will not last. There is not reason to be manipulated by the mind and transported elsewhere when you dislike the present moment for whatever reason.