2. Look at all experience as a dream
The way in which all external objects appear to exist independently, by themselves, without any relationship to your perception or the mental labels you impute them, is the view of ignorance. In truth, there is nothing whatsoever that exists in this way. You are convinced that everything has true, inherent, independent self-existence because your mind is obscured by ignorance. Desire, greed, hatred, pride, and all other afflictions of the mind arise from this mistaken view.
With increased awareness of how your perception functions, you will come to see the fallacy of your present mode of experience. Examine how you perceive all things through the five sensory organs (ear, body, eye, tongue, and nose) in relation to the five sensory objects (sounds, touchables, forms, tastes, and smells). For example, when you look at an ‘external’ object, the way in which this object is presented to your mind is far from a direct perception. In fact, the eye receives stimulation in the form of light, generating a series of nerve impulses. These impulses then travel through the optic nerve, and are presented to the mind as a pattern of points of light and darkness which the mind interprets according to previous experience. The representation of the object is an internal image generated by the mind on the basis of a recognizable pattern.
Phenomena —that is, the world and its inhabitants— are objects that you grasp at with your senses. These appearances are simply your mind’s manifestations of confusion. In the end, they are not actually existent in any way whatsoever, but are like the appearances in a dream. By thinking along these lines, train yourself to look at the world in this way.
When dreaming, everything seems to have physical reality and to be fully capable of causing benefit, suffering, or fear. In fact, a nightmare may be so vivid that you awaken, panting and drenched in perspiration. However, all that you feel and see in a dream is merely illusory and does not have any real or true existence.
Even though the images that appear in dreams seem to be very real, they are actually internal representations in your mind. Likewise, viewing waking phenomena as existing by themselves, completely independent of their surroundings, and your labeling of them, is the same as regarding dreams as real.
Regard all that you hear, touch, see, taste, smell, think, feel, value, or believe, as if you were dreaming it. After all, it is a perspective generated by the predispositions of your mind. Repeat to yourself: “This is a dream. It is an internal representation. It is insubstantial and impermanent, just like a dream.”
Releasing the habit of perceiving waking reality as solid and permanent allows for greater flexibility, and prevents you from fixating on perceptions as if they were true.