Back in the fourth century BC there was a Chinese poet, Chuang Tzu who wrote a very seminal poem, He dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying about enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he awoke and became the venerable Chuang Tzu again. Upon reflection, he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or whether it was the butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Tzu.
Have you ever woken up from a dream only to find yourself really waking up a few minutes later? Scientists have defined this perplexity as a, “false awakening.” It is an eerie feeling that comes over you when you’re not sure if you’re still dreaming but hope you are really awake. It is a shock of disbelief to our normal concept of direct contact with reality when the illogical things that come from dreamland start assaulting us. The immediate fear that showers down on you like cold water is that you believe you are awake, when you are really still dreaming.
What makes this all the more unbelievable is being convinced that the dream you are in has astonishing details from your waking life and circumstances Dreams can bend reality at the same time and make things appear hyper-real. You may find yourself performing routine tasks which further contributes to the illusion that you are awake. It is not the things we do every day that gives this such an emotional charge. It is the more interesting scenes that are less mundane that further create the imbalance between accepting it as a dream or realizing that reality may have a different interpretation; one that you have not seen before.
One of the common themes one in this twilight state is an uncanny sense of being watched by someone else. It is part of the overall miss assumption. Going back to Chang Tzu who has no difficulty when he is in the human mode, but has a tremendous self-conscious of being watched, as a butterfly.
Eventually, the dreamer begins to notice anomalies in the dream, and as these begin to build up, he is forced to give up the assumption that he is awake. With this comes a tremendous reversal of a locus of control. Just as we feel so firmly in control during our waking moments in reality, we feel equally out of control when we are in a dream.
Like antimatter is to astronomy, Dreams may be considered dark holes in our consciousness. Being able to travel through that dark hole allows us to be in contact with parts of our unconscious that we normally would feel are out of reach. Yet the connection between those unconscious forces and our reality is so tenuous that we cling to the idea that we are awake until the evidence becomes overwhelming to the contrary.
Although this is not a new concept, we simply don’t have enough subjective reports of cases of false awakening hopefully as we gather more information about the netherworld of dreaming these anomalies will become more understandable.
Windt, Jennifer M., and Metzinger, Thomas. (2007). “The Philosophy of Dreaming and Self-Consciousness: What Happens to the Experiential Subject During the Dream State?” In McNamara, Patrick, and Barrett, Deirdre, 193-247. The New Science of Dreaming Volume III: Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives. Westport: Praeger.
Dream and Reality
McNamera Ph.D., Patrick (2011).”How do you know that you are not dreaming?”Dream Catcher