Letters To Aletheia

A Mind Within A Mind And The World Of Dreams

There is a concept we encounter again and again in ancient writings, and that is the illusory nature of this world. Various traditions have various opinions on this, as we will see, but I can’t help but feel that in the modern age it has been abstracted too much. Put behind a ritualistic veil. To see this one should practice meditation in a far off retreat, enter an hallucinogenic trance state, or pray for insight, or so it is said. In addition to this there often comes a body of philosophy or theology attached which, in my view, clouds the raw perspective.

My view is that the same conclusion can be reached quite directly from a simple and reasonable line of enquiry from the commonly held position about the nature of the mind. I do not need to refer to any external bodies of work nor do I need to be in an altered state of mind to perceive it. It goes something like this.


Imagine yourself sitting somewhere under a beautiful blue sky. Imagine the warm breeze, the smell of summer, whatever works for you.

We focus our attention of the blue sky. Is this sky, as we perceive it, a full and accurate depiction of reality? Or is there much that we do not see?

From the commonly held position, the sky as we see it is a representation of what is there. It is known that the birds see a different range of colours than we do, deep into the ultraviolet. The ants similarly see polarised light in the sky and use this to help them navigate the world. We cannot see this yet we know this to be so.


It follows that the sky as we see it is some representational model of reality, a product of our mind. It is not perfect but what we experience is certainly a good approximation.

Now, if the sky as we perceive it is a construct of the mind, it must exist within the mind. It is not the direct reality. So where is the mind?

Again, the commonly held perspective is that the mind is within the head, within the skull, consciousness is generated by the brain. If this is so, then that image of the sky you are seeing is, in fact, an image generated within your brain, within your skull.

If the sky as perceived above you is within your skull then the question immediately becomes apparent, what is this skull through which I perceive the sky? This skull, these eyes, this body I seem to inhabit is in fact also a construct also of my mind. An approximation of what is but not the reality.

So where is your real skull? It must, in some fashion, be ‘out there’, beyond the sky, beyond the stars, beyond everything you have ever known. The universe itself, as you know it, is a construct of your mind, a representation.

Given the above, we must ponder, do we have any other reference points of the mind generating universes? Well, yes, yes we do.


Every night, whilst you sleep, you encounter dream worlds. These many contain any number of things, sometimes nonsense, sometimes not. However, in this dream state we experience something akin to our waking reality. We look with our eyes, talk with the dream characters, we eat, make love and whatever else happens in the dream. There is a you in the centre of this swirling dreamworld.

This immediately tells us that the mind is capable of creating holistic realities, with you sitting in the centre, which, at the time of dreaming, are totally believable. Your eyes are shut, you are lying in bed, you perceive a world as though one’s eyes were open. Yet we know that is is merely the product of our mind.


So, what can this tell us as we look at our deep blue sky?

It would suggest that reality, as we perceive it, is some sort of modified dreamstate. There is of course data coming in from our senses which we use to update the nature of the dreamstate, but it remains a form of dreamstate. Given this, this ‘I’ sitting in the middle of this universe is but a small part of the complete mind, an avatar looking out upon itself, just as the ‘I’ in the dream is not the complete you. The mind is also the birds, your friends, your lovers, the warmth of the Sun, your memory of watching your first child be born, everything. Just as you are the dream, not just the dreamer, so you are the world.

So, what is this process we are describing? It is a mind observing itself.

So, the natural question is, how can we wake up? To do this we need to ponder the nature of the dreamstate. 


There are two methods by which our mind interprets reality. Both happen near instantaneously and before we become aware of the process in our smaller, local mind. This is where we find the roots of the nature vs. nurture argument. 


The first of these is the natural representation system. What is it that converts the photons scattered by the sky into what we perceive as blue light? There is some sort of transformation which occurs. Who taught you to see this blue as blue? No one. It is some sort of default human programming.

It is from this level of the mind which most of nature appears to operate. When the days shorten, the trees know to drop their leaves. They know to blossom in spring. No one teaches them, they just know.

In similar fashion, you do not need to be reminded to breath, to circulate your blood and so on, it just happens. You know what food you like, what characteristics you look for in a romantic partner. You know you like warmth and comfort. Much of what makes you you was written in by nature and nature alone. This is the nature of Gnosis, however, this can be corrupted.


We, as humans, are not limited to this level of mind. We exhibit a certain behavioural plasticity which allows us to overrule our innate natural drives. We can hold fast on attacking an enemy, we can modify what we choose to eat and so on. This gift, as we will see, is a double edged sword. It can lead us both to wisdom and destruction. But before we discuss that, let us look at the learnt interpretation which occurs in the dream state.

Look at these words. What are they? They are squiggles and markings on the screen in front of you. To an Egyptian they would mean nothing. To a Persian, nothing. Yet, between you and I, there is a shared understanding that these symbols transmit meaning.

We are all taught how to read and write from a young age. Such a young age that it becomes ingrained in us. Look around you, look for words, try and see them as just symbols and shapes. If you are like me you will find that the meaning of the words helpfully insert themselves even though I make a conscious effort to not read them.

From this experience we can see the impact of our culture upon us. Because I was born in a tribe of humans who used these symbols, be they letter, sounds or otherwise, to transmit meaning, I am, in some way, now hardwired to read the shared meaning of these sounds and symbols as though the meaning was intrinsic to them. But it is not. We must separate this perceived meaning from what is really there. In the words of the Taoists on this matter, “One must separate the real from the apparent”.

This is the same exercise as trying to listen to your own language as a foreigner would hear it. To try and just interpret it as the grunts, hums and whistles that it really is. Whilst it can be done, it can only be done with considerable mental and conscious focus.


So, is this where it ends? Do we just see words as having meaning and this is the end of the impact of the dream state? What about all you have learnt? Good, evil, and everything that stems from it. Perhaps, through watching TV for example, a similar mental imprinting occurs?

In truth, almost everything in society is designed to harmonise you with the collective dreamstate. From learning how to speak, to learning the social values and constructs of your society, everything is an attempt to create the psychological structure which will make you functional within the larger tribe. This extends also to media and the human love of stories. Television, films, music, all of this echos a view of the world into your waking dream. Your subconscious mind does not know that it is false, it processes it as it would real experiences, and, in this way, your perception of reality is modified. This is the core technique behind advertising. It is also the core technique behind propaganda and subversion so should be studied closely.

Perhaps your very moral codes, your belief structures, have no more substance than our shared understanding of the meanings of words? How can we escape the world of illusion and liberate ourselves from ignorance?

To do this one way, from a rationalist perspective is that we must turn to dialectic, one of the foundational Liberal Arts, part of the Trivium of the Septrivium.

To have any chance of waking ourselves from the dream state we must answer just one simple question. What is the nature of Truth? We will discuss this in later articles.


This is not a new concept, however I have tried to frame it without relying on any pre-existing belief structures. It is, to my mind, self-evident from even a cursory analysis of consciousness.

There are of course many ways to experiences and ‘see’ this for yourself, but they are not necessary, merely useful tools for observing the nature of the dream state in your personal reality. Whether you choose to use trance, meditation, drugs or ritual to see this is largely arbitrary. What matters is you have a direct understanding of it. It’s not a mere intellectual idea. You should perceive it in every waking moment.

Plato’s cave is an allegory for this observation. It is also found in the philosophy of the Gnostics. In more ancient fashion it is found in the Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist traditions under the name, Maya.

In the Bible it can be found in the following quote where Jesus says:

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you”

– Luke 17:20-21

Doubtlessly many more people and cultures have observed this as it’s a fairly elementary observation, but it is an important concept to grasp with one’s own mind in order to understand the allegorical concepts they go on to discuss.


Given the above, it should perhaps also be considered, what should one do if the group dreamstate becomes a nightmare as so often happens? When this happens there is only one solution, the same solution to personal nightmares. We need to wake up. 

Leave a Reply