The hardest thing I’ve done in a dream was teaching myself to die. When I lived alone in grad school I had little to do and could devote hours to meditation. It took me months to figure out, each time waking up before the explosion, the bullet, the impact. When it finally worked (car crash) it was life altering. Suddenly something we are taught to fear was inside me, and I was still me.
I find myself on a similar quest, not for the experience of death, but projection. Plato taught about people in the cave staring at a wall, believing the shadows dancing there were reality. It was a metaphor, but what for? Thinkers since have noted that our eyes are not simply receptors, but projectors, screens on which we display our reality. The optic nerve is coaxial cable bringing data from some other source. Your baby-blues are the sharpest retina screens. There are even vestigial parts of our lizard brain that still possess photo receptors in the darkest bits of our skull.
And so I set off to think about what might be doing the projecting, to envision my eyes as a proscenium, to sense where the light might be coming from. But, like a muggle in Harry Potter wondering towards the World Cup my mind remembers an important appointment, some piece of news it would rather consider. Hours later (or just minutes) I wonder what happened to my quest for that corner of the lizard brain and set out again. Sometimes while watching the sun rise I try to get myself aligned with scientific truth, that the sun is standing still (relatively), and it’s the earth and I that are turning. I know if I focus with enough awareness I can make myself feel it. But the earth and my feet appear so still, with such permanence. I haven’t succeeded.
We have a bias against truth, towards our own experience and persistence, towards survival. Toying with death or the earth or our lizard brain seems against our preservative nature. But I’ve lost all hope of making it out of here alive. I fell through that veil years ago, and know that each of our times are temporary. And so I am more intrigued by hiding from the ushers, meeting the stage crew, sneaking into the booth. In my experience the nerds up there love to talk shop and would happily explain how the mechanism works. It’s just a matter of getting there, somehow, from here.