LIFE IS A DREAM: By Alan Jacobs

Bhagavan's smile

Bhagavan’s smile

“To know that the world is a dreamlike illusion. Know that all of the following are a dreamlike illusion. The world, the body, the universe, all dimensions, time and all events, motions and actions”. ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

215. “The world appears distinctly only in wakefulness and dream with concepts filled. In concept-free, all empty sleep, one sees no world; so then conceptual is… the world’s whole substance.”

Taken from Step Two of The Seven Steps to Awakening. All of the Ramana quotes in The Seven Steps to Awakening are taken from K. Swaminathan’s English translation of The Garland of Guru’s Sayings.


One can regard one’s Life as a Dream which has been pre-programmed for one’s spiritual development. It is like a Cinema Show, displayed on one’s screen of consciousness- awareness, and planned by Iswara (Almighty God) before ones birth*.

One has to treat this Film, in which one is the dreamer and act a part, as if it is Real, along with the other Dream figures, even knowing in the background that it is all unreal, as the law of cause and effect operates in this particular movie-dream and there are consequences for folly..

All in this film show has been pre-determined, thus using free will, apparently making choices, is only a part of the process of the Pre-Determination.

The only freedom is to turn inwards and practice Self Enquiry and Devotional Surrender to the Sat Guru Ramana (alive in one’s spiritual heart on the rt.side of the chest) for Grace to operate. Then vasanas will be gradually and safely cleared for Self Realisation to eventually take place.

Almighty God rules in the Dream, so Devotion and Surrender to God or the Guru are also necessary practices; handing over the whole burden of one’s life to Him as a matter of Faith. Then along with Self Enquiry, gradually and gracefully, the end of the fixation with the egotistic body-mind takes place and Self Realisation follows.

“The subconscious of man is a warehouse of good and bad karma. Ishvara chooses from this warehouse what he sees will best suit the spiritual evolution at the time of each man whether pleasant or painful. Thus there is nothing arbitrary”

*(Source of this observation is derived from ‘Conscious Immortality 4th edition- conversations between Paul Brunton and Ramana Maharshi Page 127 in answer to Brunton’s Question as to what is Karma?)

Here is a poem I have written inspired by this reflection:


Let’s now unveil life’s magical mystery,

The world’s a vast field of deepest destiny.

Each soul’s life’s preordained before its birth,

By Almighty God for all that’s really worth,
To dream a dream on a strange mental screen

Of conscious awareness; things aren’t what they seem.

Ego body mind strives its very very best,

To comprehend all that happens and the rest.

But misinterprets this dream as truly real,

In ignorance it thinks what’s real is what we feel.

When the film’s shown by a projector arcane,

Lit by Self’s own light for every single frame.

The film rests waiting in the can,’tis already there,

To develop each soul spiritually beyond all care.

All strange moving actor figures seen on screen,

Are working out their destiny like some machine.

But it’s all benign and full of unconditional love,

Great mercy from our benevolent Lord above.

There’s no death but ’till Self Realisation dawns,

There’s another birth to live again and be reborn.

*Polonius in Shakespeare’s Tempest.

And here is another poem written by Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi Himself


Extract from Ramana Puranam By Ramana Maharshi

Verses 451-462

This world is a moving picture show

of sights and sounds,

driven along with a great hubbub

by a whirlwind fuelled

by the unreal effects of former deeds,

which have no reality other than

in the imagination of the mind.

It is like an insubstantial mirage

that appears as a pool of water

to those who suffer,

tormented by their desire for water.

They are indeed the ‘wisest of the wise’

who, seeing such a world, abandon you.

They are like those who, failing to see the screen

that is the underlying reality,

see only the images of light and shadow

projected upon it, and are delighted,

or like those who study and rejoice in

the music made of the seven principal sounds, and so on,

ignoring the fundamental note

which is their indispensable source.

No trace of doubt or contradiction

can arise within one’s own nature, existence,

as it does in the world of the illusory objects of sense

which appear to be ‘other’.

From line 235 of this long poem by Muruganar, Bhagavan transferred the remainder of the unfinished poem by telepathy to Muruganar. The lines I have chosen above are especially interesting as it explains the mechanism as to why we perceive a world as real which truly is like a dream or a cinema show on the screen of consciousness awareness.

And in Verse 6 of the Eight Stanzas on Arunachala

He writes:-

6. Thou art Thyself the one being, ever aware as the Self-luminous Heart!

In Thee there is a mysterious power (Shakti) which without Thee is nothing.

From it proceeds the phantom of the mind emitting its latent subtle dark mists,

which illumined by Thy light (of consciousness) reflected on them, appear within as thoughts whirling in the vortices of prarabdha,

later developing into the psychic worlds and projected outwardly as the material world transformed into concrete

objects which are magnified by the outgoing senses and move about like pictures in a cinema show.

Visible or invisible, oh hill of grace, without Thee they are nothing!

Both of these poems of the Maharshi show us how this world appears as a dream or cinema show and then makes it clear.

Alan-ji at Arunachala with devotees

Alan Jacobs and other Bhagavan devotees visiting Arunachala

4 thoughts on “LIFE IS A DREAM: By Alan Jacobs

  1. “I am telling you of those things that lie hidden in your own heart, in the heart of every man in the world. It is not a new revelation. Most religions are founded on revelation, because people seek the mysterious without understanding that which is plain, simple, lovely. To discover that certainty for yourself, you must look at what I say, impartially, with utter detachment, from an impersonal point of view. When you go to a play you watch the actors and their pains and pleasures, their laughter, their speech, their tragedies. In like manner you must become a spectator of yourself, a spectator who watches, discerns; and out of this discernment must be born certainty, so that your personal preferences do not pervert your clear understanding. Your personal preferences, your personal likes and dislikes, have nothing to do with truth.” – Krishnamurti.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    “To know that the world is a dreamlike illusion. Know that all of the following are a dreamlike illusion. The world, the body, the universe, all dimensions, time and all events, motions and actions”. ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi. Read on….thanks Alan Jacobs and Harsh Luthar!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.