This is an essay about permanence and change, about our real home and our temporary state.
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
—Edgar Allan Poe
Imagine that you feel within yourself perfect joy and love, and that these things are accompanied by absolute peace. Imagine that there is nothing that you don’t know, nothing outside your awareness, and nothing that you can lose. This state is your natural state, and it is the only state in which you feel at home and at peace.
However, we are now living in a different state, a state in which there is no absolute peace, perfect knowledge, or unending love. What we have in this world is continual change and constant flux. How can we adjust to these changes when our “hometown” was completely changeless and never disappointing?
We can use an analogy here. Our natural state is to live on the stable land, while, in our current state, we are sailing on a sea of changes. In the process of obtaining our sea legs, we experience nausea and discomfort. We feel anxiety because everything is changing so fast. There are waves of differing magnitudes, and storms of varying intensities.
We attempt, with our scientific laws and general rules, to make the sea like the land that we vaguely remember. However, the sea is still the sea, and it will never be the land, no matter how calm it may sometimes appear to be. Therefore, our generalizations are not justified when they are applied to physical phenomena. Physical events are not regular or reliable, because this world at sea is more like a chaotic dream than like a stable land of peace.
Because of what we are, we long to return to the familiar state in which nothing is uncertain, and everything is peaceful and reliable. When we are confronted by this changing sea, we often feel anxiety, and we hate and attack the sea for not being the land that we are used to. When there is a storm, we are afraid that we will lose our lives or our sanity.
However, we can view the sea as a way of getting back to the familiar land of peace. We can view our lives on the sea as a voyage of rediscovery, a voyage in which we gradually become aware of our real self, which does not change or die. We can believe that someone is guiding our ship back to the land, and that all things will turn out well in the end.
On the sea, everything that we see, and everything that we seem to be, is like an unstable dream. However, once we get back to the land, we will realize that the land has always been beneath the sea, and that our real self has always existed at peace on the eternal land, even while we thought we were lost at sea.