We are in a dream, but we are not a dream.
Some people say that everything is an illusion, like a dream.
Yes, spiritual traditions do compare our present existence to a dream. But such comparison is primarily to stress that whatever seems real is only temporarily so. In a dream, if a tiger chases us, we may start panting and screaming. When we wake up, we see that we are safe on our bed – the tiger that in the dream seemed real and lethal doesn’t exist.
Gita wisdom explains that we are eternal souls on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution. Whatever appears real and consequential to us during this life will in our next life become inconsequential and even unrecallable. Because consequential things in our present experience turn inconsequential with the passage of time, as they do in a dream, we can be said to be in a dream.
But we ourselves are not a dream. When we wake up from a nightmare and feel relieved, who experiences that relief? We, the locus of consciousness, have to be real to experience that relief. Even to discern that an experience is a dream, the experiencer has to be real, not a dream.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.07) indicates that we are real, for we are eternal parts of the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna. Even the world, having emanated from him, is real, albeit temporary. What is unreal is our conception that worldly objects will provide lasting pleasure. When we use worldly things not for our material pleasure but for our Lord’s service, we become purified, and our consciousness rises to the spiritual level.
Thus, we can go out of the dream to eternal reality not by deeming everything a dream, but by becoming conscious of Krishna as the supreme reality and by realizing the connectedness of everything with him.