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15. Pursue your Dreams | Discover the Reality

A travelling circus had arrived in town, and thousands flocked for a piece of the fun. The rule, however, was ‘one in, one out’ – only a single customer at a time. When the first lucky punter entered the blacked- out tent in anticipation, two wrestlers jumped out from nowhere and gave him a good lashing! He scrambled away, gasping for his life, exiting via the doorway he came through. There he saw all the eager faces waiting for their turn. “How was it?” they excitedly asked. He thought to himself: “I queued up all day, paid good money to get in, and if I tell them it was miserable they’ll think I’m a fool!” He feigned a smile and bluffed – “Brilliant show! You’re in for a treat!” The next person got the same beating and was faced with the same expectant crowd on his exit. “How was it?” they asked. He thought to himself: “The last person had a great time, these people expected me to have a great time – I better tell them I had a great time.” And so he did. Like this, hundreds of people went into the circus, paid good money, had a terrible time, but all convinced each other it was wonderful. Fool’s paradise!
Sound familiar? We’re programmed to pursue material dreams in this temporary world - a successful career, the ideal family life, and an abundance of wealth, comfort and prestige. Following the trends, we’re told to pump our time, energy and resources into living the dream. Most times we fall short of our dreams, and even when we realise them, the experience is not as exhilarating as we imagined. Often, we put on a façade to convince the world it’s all going well. A projection of happiness; smiling faces, starving hearts. Perhaps we’re looking for the right thing, but in the wrong place?
In Chapter Fifteen, Krishna compares the material world to an upside- down banyan tree. He describes how the real tree is the spiritual world, and the reflection in the water is the material world. In a reflection there is no substance, and therefore no satisfaction. Our expectations always exceed the reality, and we’re left let-down and frustrated. Krishna coaches Arjuna to redirect his attention from ethereal dreams to eternal reality. All ‘reality’ outside of the spiritual world is ultimately a dream, and all ‘dreams’ in the spiritual world are tangible reality.
In the metaphysical realm, every step is a dance, every word is a song, every action is motivated by pure love, and the atmosphere is infused with ever-increasing transcendental happiness. Sounds good... maybe too good. Sceptics may posit that such ideas are embraced by escapists desperately seeking solace from the inevitable aches and pains of life. Krishna, however, describes this physical world as unreal – although it can be perceived by our human senses, it is constantly changing and has no endurance in the context of eternity. Far from the spiritual world being a distraction, the actuality is that the material, physical world is a distraction. To live in reality means to be fully conscious and aware of one’s eternal identity, purpose and true home.
The soul has three intrinsic qualities - eternality (sat), sentience (cit) and bliss (ananda). When fairy tales tell us they ‘lived happily ever after,’ it’s actually an expression of these innate qualities – lived (cit) happily (ananda) ever after (sat). To fulfil our most cherished, innermost dream, we have to reinstate ourselves in reality.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.” (Bhagavad-Gita 15.1)

References

15.1 – The material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world.
15.6 – The captivating beauty of the spiritual world.