“…supposing you were given the power to dream any dream you wanted to dream every night. Naturally, you could dream any span of time – and it could be anything you wanted – because you make up your mind before you go to sleep. 'Tonight I’m going to dream of so-and-so.' Naturally, you would start out by fulfilling all your wishes. You would have all the pleasures you could imagine, the most marvelous meals, the most entrancing love affairs, the most romantic journeys; you could listen to music such as no mortal has heard, and see landscapes beyond your wildest dreams.
And for several nights, oh maybe for a whole month of nights, you would go on that way, having a wonderful time. But then, after a while, you would begin to think, “Well, I’ve seen quiet a bit, let’s spice it up, let’s have a little adventure.” And you would dream of yourself being threatened by all sorts of dangers. You would rescue princesses from dragons, you would perhaps engage in notable battles, you would be a hero! And then as time when on, you would dare yourself to do more and more outrageous things, and at some point in the game you would say, “Tonight I am going to dream in such a way that I don’t know that I’m dreaming,” and by so doing you would take the experience of the drama for complete reality. What a shock when you woke up! You could really scare yourself!
And then on successive nights you might dare yourself to experience even more extraordinary things just for the contrast when you woke up. You could, for example, dream yourself in situations of extreme poverty, disease, agony. You could, as it were, live the essence of suffering to its most intense point, and then suddenly, wake up and find it was after all nothing but a dream and everything’s perfectly OK.
Well, how do you know that’s not what you’re doing already? You reading, sitting there with all your problems, with your whole complicated life situation, it may just be the very dream you decided to get into.”
- Alan Watts