Sleep: The Practice of Death and Alternative Reality

Have you ever considered the fact that every time we go to sleep, we are in a sense, dead to the world? I mean, think about it: When we are asleep, we are not aware of anything that is happening around us, and life as we know it, goes on without us! When we are asleep, we do not participate in any of the activities or functions of people who are awake! When we are asleep, we are totally unaware of the world around us. So, in a sense, when we are asleep; we are dead!

However, during sleep, while we may be ‘dead to the world,’ we are by no means in a state of total unconsciousness! The medical community says we don’t go to sleep without dreaming. I read one report that said everyone is thought to dream 3 to 6 dreams each night with each dream lasting from 5 to 20 minutes! The report also said that about 95 percent of the dreams are forgotten by the time a person gets out of bed and that dreaming can help a person learn and develop long-term memories.

Think about it! Not only are we dead to the world every time we go to sleep, but also, every time we go to sleep, we participate in and experience an alternate reality! Yes! We participate and experience! The report said; we don’t remember 95 percent of our dreams, but the 5 percent we do remember often have a lingering effect upon us after we wake up! Have you ever had a dream that you were falling and you woke up in a cold sweat; screaming and clutching the sheets? If you were not alone, someone probably assured you that everything was all right and that you should go back to sleep because it was ‘only a dream.’ But when you were experiencing it, it didn’t ‘feel’ like it was ‘only a dream’ to you! It wasn’t like you were in a movie theater or just watching television. No! You weren’t merely watching it; you were experiencing it! You were an active participant! You had stake in how things turned out; so much so that your body reacted in the same way it would if you actually had that experience during your conscious waking hours!

Now, I don’t know about you, but in the dreams I remember, I was always able to do things I could not possibly do in my waking conscious state. For instance, in one particular dream, I was able to move from one location to another in a matter of seconds by just thinking! I was able to fly and do other things that were physically impossible to do in my conscious state. The weird thing about it was that in my dreams, I didn’t think of those things as impossibilities, they were normal, because in my dreams, I was actually doing them!

Now before you brand me as a heretic or as being unstable, I’m qualifying what I’m about to say as just musing. But what if the lyrics of the song: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” are more true than we realize? What if this life, as we consciously experience it for 70 years or so, is merely ‘but a dream?’ What if, when we close our eyes for the final time and experience physical death, at that point ,we wake up to real life and discover this life was but a dream? Only time will tell, because those who have actually experience it don’t come back to tell; it’s a one-way journey! But in the meantime, every night and every time we go to sleep; we are practicing death and experiencing alternative realities.

Keeping It Real?

kid keeping it realWhen I talk with many young people about the lyrics of the rap-songs that glorify the violence that has infected many of our urban communities, their response is that those songs are not part of the problem, but rather that they are just “keeping it real!” In other words, what they are saying is that the rap artists and the rap lyrics are not part of the problem; they are just telling it like it is!

But, even if they are just telling it like it is, or as they say; “keeping it real,” the very act of focusing on and glorifying the negative experiences of our urban communities is, in fact perpetuating the problem! The very act of “keeping it real” is what in fact, helps to keep it real! Now, I am not advocating we completely ignore the reality of the situation by closing our eyes and pretending that it does not exist. What I am saying is that I think there is no really positive purpose served in constantly verbalizing how bad things are! In fact, as I stated earlier, the more we talk about the way things are; the more we keep things the way they are! There is no solution to the problem in glorifying the problem!

So, instead of the rappers and the like, trying to “keep it real,” why not rap and sing about an alternate reality? In other words, instead of focusing, singing and rapping about the way it is, why not focus, sing and rap about the way it ought to be, or the way it could be? It’s just a basic human fact; whatever we focus upon, we attract and it expands in our life experiences! Rapping and singing about the violence in the streets breeds even more violence! It really is serving to “keep it” real!

Think about it! Why keep it real when you really don’t like the reality you have? Instead of keeping it real, let’s work on the dream of making a better society real! We can do that by no longer financially supporting the negative messages that are being broadcast on the airways. The average person thinks there is nothing they can do, but if the records, albums and CD’s don’t sell, the artists, producers and record companies will not make money! If the public decides to no longer tolerate and support the negativity on a massive scale and the radio stations find the moral courage to no longer broadcast toxicity in the name of art and free speech, I guarantee the messages will change!

You say, you’re keeping it real? Well, it doesn’t take much to talk about what is, but it takes insight, foresight, creativity and vision to talk about what ought to be and what could be! Why focus on keeping it real when the same energy could be better used to make a new reality?

Just Your Imagination


I remember when I was young, I was afraid to go to sleep with the lights off because I would often hear noises that frightened me. I always thought the “boogie-man” was under my bed, but my mother would tell me that it was “just my imagination!”

Well, as it turned out, mother was right! It was, just my imagination! But, at that time, my imagination created the reality of fear in my life. So, although the “boogie-man” didn’t exist in the physical realm of my existence, he was very real in my mind! And because he was real in my mind, I exhibited the consequences of that reality in my physical world.

That is how the human mind works! Whatever we think about with intensity and emotion on a consistent basis in our minds eventually affects our physical reality. In fact, not only will it have an effect upon our reality, it will eventually become our reality. Now this works for better or for worst! We are constantly creating our “real” world in and with our imagination.

Now, in order for this to work for our benefit, we must be aware of the process and come to re-define some terms. From now on, instead of thinking of your imagination as thoughts of something that is not real, I want you to think of your imagination in terms of “the images you hold in your mind.” (If you really look at the word “imagination” you can easily see that the root word is “image.”) When we were young, we didn’t know how to control our thoughts and so our imagination would often run wild. But we must learn to harness our thoughts (the images in our minds) and think only of what we want and what would be beneficial in our lives. Most people don’t realize it, but it is possible to control your thoughts! In fact, if you want to have peace and harmony in your life, it is essential that you learn how to control your thoughts! If you don’t want something to happen; don’t think about it! Focus your thoughts on what you want; not on what you don’t want! The reason for this is because we eventually move in the direction of our thoughts and the object of our thoughts eventually make their way into our objective realities. Our minds are magnets, constantly attracting the objects of our thoughts (imaginations).

Keep that truth in mind the next time you hear someone tell you that you are just imagining things or it’s just your imagination. The images you consistently hold in your mind will eventually objectify themselves in space and time in your life! You will become what you think! So think positive thoughts! Think about what you want and not about what you don’t want! A good formula for directing your thoughts comes from the Apostle Paul who wrote to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (KJV)

Remember everything that’s tangible now was, at first, just someone’s imagination! Your present thoughts (the images you are presently consistently thinking and entertaining in your mind) are the creator of your reality. If you want to change your objective tomorrow, you must change your thoughts today because in a sense, your tomorrow is already here today; it’s just your imagination!

The Shadow of Reality

Several years ago, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world was Muhammad Ali. Ali was noted in the boxing ring for “floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee!” His jabs were so fast that by the time his opponents saw the punch it was too late! In many ways, life is like a Muhammad Ali punch; by the time you can see it, it is already too late to duck!

Most people are confused about what is really real; they believe that what they see is reality. But the fact of the matter is; the things that we can see, touch, smell, hear, etc., with our physical senses are really just the shadows of reality! Let me show you what I’m talking about: A building does not first exist when the foundation or the first brick is laid or even when the ribbon is cut at the grand opening; a building exists first in the mind of the architect! It is just as real, in his mind when he first conceives it, as it is when the last brick is laid! If you want to affect life as oppose to always suffering from the effects of life, you must realize that by the time you can see it, it is already too late to duck!

In order to make a real difference and gain some measure of control of your life, you must learn to deal with life in the “real” domain of reality, which is the spiritual and not the physical. Most likely you have heard the phrase: “Seeing is believing!” But actually, by the time you “see it” you are really just beholding the shadow of the real reality! The Bible says, “Look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are seen are temporal (temporary, subject to change), but the things that are not seen are eternal. (permanent and fixed)” (II Corinthians 4:18, Author’s paraphrase) How can one make “real” changes in the spiritual arena? By understanding and properly using one’s mind and spirit! The Bible says, “As a man thinks: so is he!” Your thoughts are “the first cause!” I know this might sound a bit strange and mystical to many, but this is the way life works and this is the way God works! (This is the essence of faith: “Now faith is the substance <the reality> of things hoped for and the evidence of things ‘not’ seen: faith perceives as a real present fact, that which has yet to be experienced by the senses!) God created this world first in His imagination. Creation first existed in the mind of God; it became a physical reality as he “spoke” what was in His mind!

Much in the same way, we “create” our world (our circumstances and situations) by speaking what is in (or on) our minds! Whatever the conditions are that exist in your life at this very moment, they are the direct results of your thoughts and speech in the past! If you want to change your tomorrow, you must change the substance of your thoughts and speech today! If your “thinking and speaking” is based on what you see, you will always get what you have instead of having what you could get because what you see is what you get! If you want a better life, you’ve got to “see” it in your mind’s eye! Use your imagination; it is a gift from God! Once you have created your world firmly in your mind, begin to speak as if the things you “see” in your mind were a present reality! Have you ever noticed, in the Bible, how Jesus spoke of many things that had not occurred in the past tense as if they had already happened? He understood and lived the principle that I am attempting to share with you now! He understood how to “think” and “talk” like God: “For God calleth those things which be not as though they were!” So remember, what we see in the physical realm is really just the shadow of reality! The really “real” is in our imagination, and life has a way of making our imaginations (the mental images we hold in our minds: the blueprints of life) of today our realities of tomorrow!

Don’t be afraid to use your imagination! Everything that we can see and lay our hands on today existed first in someone’s imagination yesterday! In essence, the real reality occurs first in the mind and then we live the “shadow of reality” in the physical realm! Everything we experience on the physical plane is not the cause, but merely the reaction, the reflection, the response to, the shadow of, the experiences that have already taken place in our minds and spirits! What you experience in day-to-day living is really just the shadow of the “real” reality! Remember, life is like a Muhammad Ali punch; by the time you can see it, it is already too late to duck!