The first step to awakening: Admit that YOU DO NOT WANT TO AWAKEN!! (Father Anthony De Mello was the first person I ever heard say this, and the moment he said it something in me knew it was true.)
Realize that a part of you (mostly unconscious) enjoys the dream and is not ready to give it up. Even if consciously you say, “Yes Michael, I really want to awaken.” Bullshit. You are still identified with maya, and like a drug, are not ready to give it up. Like in AA, admitting that you are addicted to the dream world is the first step to recovery!
When I was discussing this with a friend of mine last night, about it all being a dream, at least he was honest when he said:
“I guess in some ways I still see it as a helpful ‘metaphor’ — not completely accepting it as the way it truly is. I can see it on many levels but probably not completely. I still want to go play tennis and go out on dates as though they’re ‘real’.”
He suspects this is all a dream, but because it pulls the rug out from underneath everything he has spent his life “working for/towards,” it’s just too much to fully accept right now.
Yet, we use phrases like, “It felt like a bad dream…” or, “I couldn’t wait for the nightmare to be over…” or, “And in what dream universe are you living in?”, but in a half-hearted, sort of joking way to keep it at a safe distance.
Either this is a dream or it’s not. Either its ALL real or none of it is. If it is a dream, than death is in fact illusory as well. Again, you can’t have it both ways… well, actually you can… because in a dream, ANYTHING is possible.
You will know when the “shift” has occurred because when the “world” is seen as a dream projection of the ONE unconscious insanely guilty (guilty for imagining it has turned its back on god, even though this is not possible) egoic Mind (without any caveats, exceptions, or “yeah buts…”), there is a lightness and ease in every moment, regardless of circumstances, regardless of what you are doing.
Even if you are sick or suffering, or in pain, there is still enough space where even that is seen as part of the dream. And the running negative commentary that most of us have in our head goes silent… because it has been replaced with a knowing silence and inner love and light that the world, the dream, can never give you.
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of god.” -ACIM