This is the only distinction between the dream and the real: reality allows you to doubt, and the dream does not allow you to doubt. Obviously you are Chuang Tzu, don’t be worried. Certainly you were not a butterfly; it was a dream, because it did not allow you to doubt.
To me, the capacity to doubt is one of the greatest blessings to humanity. The religions have been enemies because they have been cutting the very roots of doubt, and there is a reason why they have been doing that: because they want people to believe in certain illusions that they have been preaching.
A man who believes that if he prays earnestly, sincerely…Then Krishna may visit him, or Jesus may appear before him. These are ways of creating dreams while you are awake, with your eyes open. But because you are awake, you can doubt. So first doubt has to be destroyed; otherwise Jesus may be standing before you and you may start doubting – who knows, perhaps it is just an illusion. What evidence have I got that it is not an illusion?
There are thousands of people in madhouses around the world who believe in their illusions so deeply that they talk with people whom you cannot see – only they can see. And they not only talk, they also get a response; they do the work of both themselves!
The strangest thing is that when they speak from one side, their side, they have their own voice, and when they answer from Jesus Christ’s side, their voice changes. It has a different quality to it, a different authority to it. You can see that they are doing both things – the question and the answer – and that there is nobody else. But because they cannot doubt, their illusion becomes a reality.
Let me tell you:
If you can doubt, even the reality becomes illusory.
Why have the people like Gautam Buddha been so insistent that the whole existence – except your witnessing self, except your awareness – is just ephemeral, made of the same stuff as dreams are made of? They are not saying that these trees are not there. They are not saying that these pillars are not there. Don’t misunderstand because of the word illusion.
In English you don’t have an exact translation of the word maya; in English, either something is real or it is illusory. Maya is just in between the two: It looks real, but it is not real. It appears real, but it is not real. In English there is no word which exactly translates maya. It has been translated as illusion, but illusion is not the right word. Illusion does not exist. Reality exists. Maya is just in between – it almost exists. As far as day-to-day activities are concerned, it can be taken as reality. Only in the ultimate sense, from the peak of your illumination, it becomes unreal, illusory.