I finally dove deep into the dream metaphor of Mary and Jane from Rupert Spira.
This post is synthesized from several public videos of Rupert Spira describing the metaphor in slightly different ways.
🔒 Premium members also have access to these Rupert Spira companion posts:
· Rupert Spira Synthesis: Everything about Nonduality (+ Infographics)
· How to See with the Screen Analogy from Rupert Spira (+ Infographic)
- I’ve minimally paraphrased direct quotes.
- I’ve organized everything into as seamless a flow as possible.
- Emphasis has been added in bold for readability/skimmability.
The Dream Metaphor of Mary & Jane (Rupert Spira Summary)
“This is a metaphor which I feel has almost more explanatory power than any other metaphor including the screen and the image.” — Rupert Spira
It’s a metaphor pointing to the similarity between the dream state (many personas, one mind) and the true perspective of Consciousness (many minds, one Consciousness).
Mary or Mary’s Mind = infinite Consciousness
Jane or Jane’s mind = finite mind
Mary falls asleep in London and dreams that she’s Jane walking in a forest in Peru.
From Jane’s point of view, she thinks she’s seeing 10,000 things in the Peruvian forest—a world of multiplicity and diversity with separate objects, and she is one amongst innumerable such objects. Everything on the inside of her is made out of ‘mind’, and everything on the outside of her is made out of ‘matter’ (in other words, made out of stuff that is other than herself). Jane thinks, ‘My mind is looking out through my eyes at the world, therefore my mind must be contained in my head. My mind exists in my body’. But, Jane doesn’t really have her own mind—she is not a separate person.
Jane’s mind and everything that seems to take place inside it and outside it, all take place in Mary’s Mind. It’s all Mary’s Mind! Jane is seeing by borrowing Mary’s awareness, but it’s really Mary that is seeing through the agency of Jane. All Jane is really seeing is the inside of Mary’s Mind. From Jane’s point of view, she has no idea that she is a temporary, finite, localized, limited contraction of Mary’s Mind. She knows nothing of Mary, although all there is to her is Mary. If Jane realizes that her mind really belongs to Mary, then what she sees will be relieved of the limitations that her mind superimposes upon it, and all of this will appear not as a multiplicity and diversity of objects but as God’s face.
Mary wakes up. What was the stuff out of which the 10,000 things seemed to be really made of? Mary’s single, indivisible Mind. It was her own, single, indivisible Mind that appeared to Itself as a multiplicity and diversity of objects through the agency of Jane. Mary in London cannot know the Peruvian forest—she can only know her own Mind. If Mary wants to know the Peruvian forest, she has to fall asleep to the nature of her own Mind and imagine that she is Jane—it is only from Jane’s point of view that Mary can know the Peruvian forest. Mary freely overlooks the knowing of her own Mind and assumes the form of Jane—it is through Jane’s mind that Mary knows the inside of her own Mind. Mary’s Mind pervades Jane’s mind—it’s all there is to Jane’s mind—but Mary’s Mind extends way beyond Jane’s mind. Mary’s Mind is extended across the entire universe that Jane perceives. The whole thing is Mary’s Mind. From Mary’s point of view, both the subject and object are inside her—the world is made of her own Mind (Consciousness).
Taking the metaphor further:
Imagine that the dream were to continue but Jane was to die. Jane dies, so Jane’s body leaves Mary’s Mind, but Mary’s Mind remains intact, exactly as it always is. In fact, Jane’s body doesn’t leave Mary’s Mind because there’s nothing outside—it cannot go outside Mary’s Mind. So, what appears to be the death of Jane is simply the unlocalizing of Mary’s Mind. Mary’s Mind ceases to localize itself in the form of Jane; Mary ceases to localize herself as Jane’s mind. Nothing happens to Mary—she doesn’t die or change.
Each of us are Jane—a finite mind or a point of view in Mary’s Dream. At a certain stage, there is this recognition: there is no such thing as Jane’s mind. That is the experience of peace. It’s the recognition that our minds are Mary’s Mind—our finite minds are only modulations of infinite, indivisible, inherently peaceful Consciousness. Just as the Peruvian forest is the activity of Mary’s Mind, so the universe is the activity of Consciousness’ Mind.
Finite & Infinite, Localized & Unlocalized:
There is something beyond the finite mind, but it’s not stuff called ‘matter’—it’s stuff called ‘Consciousness’. You, your finite mind, are the agency through which Consciousness knows the world.
- Consciousness assumes the form of the finite mind and seems to become a separate subject of experience from whose point of view it knows a separate object or world.
- From the point of view of infinite Consciousness, it is dreaming the universe within Itself. In other words, the universe is the activity of its own Mind. It’s a vast Mind with a capital M—a vast Consciousness that is dreaming, imagining the universe within Itself.
- When infinite Consciousness ‘wakes up’ to Itself, it realizes in order to manifest the universe, ‘I’ divided myself in two: not just one subject of experience, but numerous separate subjects of experience. ‘I’ localized myself as numerous separate subjects of experience, that is each of us. The unlocalized portion of myself is what appears to these subjects as the world. So, all of this is what the unlocalized activity of Consciousness looks like from each of our localized perspectives. When viewed from each of our localized perspectives, the universe seems to be made out of stuff outside of ourselves called ‘matter’.
Our Dream & God’s Dream:
We are all dreams in the Mind of God.
- When we have a dream at night, we dream a world within our own mind. But, in order to view that world, we have to enter into our own imagination, and we view the dreamed world from the perspective of a separate subject of experience in that world.
- Could it be that we are now having a kind of waking dream, and that what appears from the point of view of each of our bodies to be a multiplicity and diversity of objects is in fact all made out of the single, infinite, indivisible stuff called ‘Consciousness’, or ‘God’s infinite being’, or a common name for it, ‘I’? Is that not consistent with our experience? Nobody here has ever or could ever experience anything other than the knowing of experience. Knowing is the only substance that anyone has ever found.
- Each of our minds are like points of view within God’s Dream—through which God knows Itself as the world.
- Each of our minds are like windows through which God sees Itself as the world. And, each of our minds realizes or actualizes a segment of God’s infinite potential. God needs our mind to know Itself as the world, but it doesn’t need the mind to know Itself as it is.
- Each of our minds is a dream in the Mind (with a capital M)—the infinite, indivisible Consciousness. In other words, each of our minds is the agency or the activity through which Consciousness is able to realize a segment of its infinite potential. Consciousness looks through each of our finite minds and sees Itself as the world. This is what the Sufis mean when they say, ‘There is only God’s face.’ Infinite Consciousness is freely assuming the form of the finite mind, and through the agency of the finite mind, is seeing Itself as the world.
From Rupert Spira’s book Being Myself and Being Aware of Being Aware:
- “The great recognition at the heart of all the religious and spiritual traditions is that the am-ness of our self and the is-ness of things is the same infinite and indivisible whole or reality, made of pure awareness or spirit. This reality, shining on the inside as the knowledge ‘I am’ and on the outside as the knowledge ‘It is’, is modulated by thought and perception and appears as a multiplicity and diversity of objects and selves, just as everything that appears in a dream at night is the activity of a single, indivisible mind.”
- “The mind is in the same relationship to awareness as the character in a dream – from whose point of view the dreamed world is known – is to the dreamer’s mind. All there is to the character in the dream is the dreamer’s mind, but the dreamed character does not know this. As long as the dreamed character is focused exclusively on the objective content of her experience, she will never recognise the nature of her own mind or, therefore, the reality of her world, and will never find the peace and happiness for which she longs. In order to know her own nature, she must turn her attention away from the objects of experience, towards that with which they are known. She must know the nature of the knowing with which all knowledge and experience are known. She must become aware of the experience of being aware, which is the essence of her own mind.”
- “In order to know objective experience, infinite awareness assumes the form of the finite mind, but in order to know Itself it need not assume the form of the mind. In other words, in the form or activity of the mind, awareness knows thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions, but in the form of the mind it cannot know Itself. Awareness cannot know Itself in the form of the mind because the mind is an apparent limitation of awareness, just as a character in a dream cannot know the dreamer’s mind because she is a limitation of that very mind. Everything the dreamed character knows is a reflection of the limitations of her own mind, and therefore she cannot know the dreamer’s ‘unlimited’ mind, although her own mind is made of it. The limitations of her own mind prevent her from knowing her unlimited reality. For the same reason, the finite mind can never know unlimited awareness, although it is a modulation of it. Just as a movie could be said to be the activity of the screen, or a current the activity of the ocean, so mind is the activity of awareness. As such, mind is awareness in motion; awareness is mind at rest.”
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