Whether we realize it or not, we are all dreaming the world into being. What we’re engaging in is not the sleeping act we’re so familiar with, but rather a type of dreaming we do with our eyes open. When we’re unaware that we share the power to co-create reality with the universe itself, that power slips away from us, causing our dream to become a nightmare. We begin to feel we’re the victims of an unknown and frightening creation that we’re unable to influence, and events seem to control and trap us. The only way to end this dreadful reality is to awaken to the fact that it too is a dream—and then recognize our ability to write a better story, one that the universe will work with us to manifest.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world. —BUDDHA
The nature of the cosmos is such that whatever vision you have about yourself and the world will become reality. As soon as you awaken to the power you have, you begin to flex the muscles of your courage. Then you can dream bravely: letting go of your limiting beliefs and pushing past your fears. You can start to come up with a truly original dream that germinates in your soul and bears fruit in your life.
Courageous dreaming allows you to create from the source, the quantum soup of the universe where everything exists in a latent or potential state. Physicists understand that in the quantum world nothing is “real” until it is observed. The distinct packets of energy known as “quanta” (which consist of particles of matter as well as light) are neither “here” nor “there”; in a sense, they are everywhere in space/time until you or I decide to take note of them. When we do so, we tease them out of the web of infinite possibilities and collapse them into an event in time and space. These energy quanta like to link up with each other once they’ve selected a particular form of manifestation. As soon as they manifest, reality becomes fixed: Our reality is “here” instead of possibly everywhere.
But quantum events do not occur in the laboratory only. They also happen inside our brain, on this page, and everywhere around us. Even if they’re separated by millions of miles, or by days or weeks, these quanta of energy remain intimately linked; consequently, if we interact with one, we affect the entire system that this energy is part of. When we access any part of the dream, the great matrix of energy, we can change reality and alter the entire dream.
Modern physics is describing what the ancient wisdom keepers of the Americas have long known. These shamans, known as “the Earthkeepers,” say that we’re dreaming the world into being through the very act of witnessing it. Scientists believe that we’re only able to do this in the very small subatomic world. Shamans understand that we also dream the larger world that we experience with our senses.
The Earthkeepers I have studied with in the Andes and the Amazon believe that we can only access the power of this force by raising our level of consciousness. When we do, we become aware that we’re like a drop of water in a vast, divine ocean, distinct yet immersed in something much larger than ourselves. It’s only when we experience our connection to infinity that we’re able to dream powerfully. In fact, it’s our sense of separation from infinity that traps us in a nightmare in the first place. If this sounds like circular thinking, you’re right. Which came first, the nightmare or the sense of separation from infinity? The answer is that they occur simultaneously.
To end the nightmare—to reclaim our power of dreaming reality and craft something better—we need more than the recognition of how this process works. We need to have a visceral understanding of our dreaming power and experience it in every cell of our bodies. The intellectual comprehension of our ability to create reality mimics but then forestalls the kind of dreaming we’re capable of. If we don’t get beyond mere intellectual comprehension of this concept, we’ll end up lowering the bar and creating a far less glorious and beautiful experience of the world than what we’re capable of crafting. With a visceral understanding of our power to dream, we realize that we can share this experience of infinity right here, right now, and stop feeling dissociated and disconnected.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D. is a psychologist and medical anthropologist who has studied the spiritual practices of the Amazon and Andes for more than 25 years.