Huh, you think, what was that? But, you won't find out. It was not a voice with sound and yet it was as if you were being addressed by a close acquaintance. You have nothing to establish that it happened, but you can’t stop thinking about it. Why, you wonder, should I wake up; I wasn't asleep, was I? Yet the world is not like before, because you look at things differently. The routine is completely gone; now your life is full of questions.
Such an experience is indeed possible. It is similar to what happens to Jim Carey as Truman in the movie "The Truman Show": he is just living his life and suddenly a light bulb falls from the sky. There is nothing to see up there, and yet a lamp falls from the sky. From that moment on, Truman suddenly sees that the same people keep saying the same kinds of things to him, that the world around him turns out to be a play, and that he has fallen out of character. Everything he liked up to now, he now doesn't like at all and he wants out.
Another example: there is a German documentary about a boy of about seventeen who is found one day on the beach with total amnesia. His friends made the documentary. The boy was close to his home and everyone recognized him, but not he himself. He looked at the sea with new eyes and said, "What an energy!” Because his friends and family, his classmates and neighbours knew him well, they addressed him as he was, or at least, as he had been. But he was totally different. He didn't like the things he used to love: going to the café with his friends. He had completely different tastes, so he was reinventing himself completely. He could think just fine, but everything was new. He had no disabilities from the event. A new person, but who had he been before that? What was his "previous" life: a dream?
According to Don Miguel Ruiz, a Toltec whose family, he says, has preserved ancient Toltec wisdom for this day and age, this is indeed the case. In his book The Four Agreements , he puts it this way:
People dream all the time. But before we were born, the people before us had already created one big dream, as it were, for everyone, which we will call the dream of society or the dream of the planet. The dream of the planet is the collective dream of billions of smaller, personal dreams that together create the dream of a family, the dream of a community, the dream of a city, the dream of a country and, finally, the dream of all humanity. The dream of the planet includes all the rules of society, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways of being, its governments, schools, social events and holidays.
We are born with the ability to learn to dream, and the people who were born before us teach us to dream in accordance with the dream of society.
Once we begin to awaken, however, we can choose how to proceed. We can change so completely that we are truly new. So is it still a dream? Perhaps it is. A group of indigenous people in Malaysia, the Senoi ("the dream people"), suddenly became world famous in the 1970s, especially in America. Dreams have an important place in their lives. They are always explained in a positive way. For example, if a child there dreams that he is being chased by a tiger (which is a real danger there), the elders tell him not to be afraid of the tiger and that the next night in his dream he should overcome him with a stick or a spear. If he is not strong enough, he should call a friend to his aid. If he dreams of a fire, he will hear that you can put out a fire with water. The Senoi are further notable for being very balanced and almost never aggressive.
Psychologists jumped at this opportunity and started teaching people to dream "lucidly" and to change their dreams. As is usually the case with discovered natural characteristics of other peoples, a method was developed and it grew into all kinds of attempts at dream control that were far removed from the Senoi's original. People started flying in their dreams, projecting all their own wishes. Learning to dream lucidly became a sport in which you could satisfy your own desires in all sorts of ways even at night. The serious question here is whether all this manipulation does not completely bypass the function of the night and the function of the dream. Conquering your fears is something quite different from making pleasure trips while taking your daytime consciousness with you, while the night should be the domain of the soul par excellence.
The sleep of the body is the sobriety of the soul,
says Hermes Trismegistus to his disciple. Also with dream interpretation you can go in all directions: you can start looking for the meaning of symbols, while perhaps those symbols in the background of the consciousness would have a completely different effect if you left them alone.
There are impressive dreams of which you realize upon awakening that they have something very special in store for you, even though you really don't know what they mean. Many years later, such a meaning can suddenly become clear, especially if you do not think up an explanation yourself because you want to know.
Of course, the question is: if you have 'woken up', are you really awake, or is there another level of awakening above you, and perhaps above that one and above that one again? That may well be, but it would be pointless to try to force such an ascent, because just as a baby becomes a toddler and a toddler becomes a preschooler, there is a natural growth, also of consciousness. Those who tamper with this only sink into an even deeper dream.
As a child, the writer Elisabeth Haich dreamed that she was the daughter of a pharaoh and that her uncle was a high priest. She wanted to become a priestess and in her book Initiation  she describes a test she had to undergo, lying in a sarcophagus, during which images appeared before her consciousness. She gave in to the temptation of a man and what happened as a result was that she really had to live it. So you can imagine that we are really on earth to learn to resist all those temptations and start living as we want to be in the deepest of our hearts: priests and priestesses of the Light, king-priests and queen-priestesses. Now there are an awful lot of temptations and "the flesh" is often weak. This makes it conceivable that the true essence of a human being must 'live' many dreams before all the aspects stand strong and steadfast. But we do not have to do it alone. All awakened people, of whatever level, help the sleepers and dreamers with insight, if they are open to it. And with strength. With power that is stronger than temptation but which you only get if you ask for it and that fades into the background if you don't use it.
That is something quite different from trying to improve your personality, or your position, or become happier, although the latter is a natural consequence of every step taken on that truly beneficial path of life. Beneficial, not only for the one who goes, but for everything and everyone he passes. They are touched by the radiance of the light that can dwell in such a person. The further he goes, by living according to his insights, the more powerful the radiance. And just as the sun is not a sphere that we can see in the distance wearing special glasses, but a core of light that also touches us, in which we therefore are, so the radiation of an enlightened person goes further and further, infinitely far, to enlighten everyone whose heart is open even just a crack.
For the dreamer, the dream is real at that moment. And that of which he is aware, he can act upon. Then he approaches awakening and... he can only do the same again: always trying to act correctly, according to the insights he has. That is growth, and that is reality.
A text by Valentinus, from The Gospel of Truth 
Thus they were ignorant of the Father; he is the one whom they did not see. Since there had been fear and confusion and a lack of confidence and double-mindedness and division, there were many illusions which were conceived by him, the foregoing, as well as empty ignorance - as if they were fast asleep and found themselves a prey to troubled dreams. Either there is a place to which they flee, or they lack strength as they come, having pursued unspecified things. Either they are involved in inflicting blows, or they themselves receive bruises. Either they are falling from high places, or they fly off through the air, though they have no wings at all. Other times, it is as if certain people were trying to kill them, even though there is no one pursuing them; or, they themselves are killing those beside them, for they are stained by their blood. Until the moment when they who are passing through all these things - I mean they who have experienced all these confusions - awake, they see nothing because the dreams were nothing. It is thus that they who cast ignorance from them as sleep do not consider it to be anything, nor regard its properties to be something real, but they renounce them like a dream in the night and they consider the knowledge of the Father to be the dawn. It is thus that each one has acted, as if he were asleep, during the time when he was ignorant and thus he comes to understand, as if he were awakening. And happy is the man who comes to himself and awakens. Indeed, blessed is he who has opened the eyes of the blind.
Fragments from: The Four Agreements 
We are born with the capacity to learn how to dream, and the humans who live before us teach us how to dream the way society dreams. The outside dream has so many rules that when a new human is born, we hook the child's attention and introduce these rules into his or her mind. The outside dream uses Mom and Dad, the schools, and religion to teach us how to dream.
Attention is the ability we have to discriminate and to focus only on that which we want to perceive. We can perceive millions of things simultaneously, but using our attention, we can hold whatever we want to perceive in the foreground of our mind. The adults around us hooked our attention and put information into our minds through repetition. That is the way we learned everything we know.
By using our attention we learned a whole reality, a whole dream. We learned how to behave in society: what to believe and what not to believe; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable; what is good and what is bad; what is beautiful and what is ugly; what is right and what is wrong. It was all there already — all that knowledge, all those rules and concepts about how to behave in the world. (…)
The outside dream hooks our attention and teaches us what to believe. (…) It was not your choice to speak English. You didn't choose your religion or your moral values — they were already there before you were born. We never had the opportunity to choose what to believe or what not to believe. We never chose even the smallest of these agreements. We didn't even choose our own name.
As children, we didn't have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, but we agreed with the information that was passed to us from the dream of the planet via other humans. (…) As soon as we agree, we believe it, and this is called faith. To have faith is to believe unconditionally.
That's how we learn as children. Children believe everything adults say. We agree with them, and our faith is so strong that the belief system controls our whole dream of life. (…)
I call this process the domestication of humans. The outside dream teaches us how to be a human. (…)
All our normal tendencies are lost in the process of domestication. (…) The domestication is so strong that at a certain point in our life we no longer need anyone to domesticate us. We don't need Mom or Dad, the school or the church to domesticate us. We are so well trained that we are our own domesticator. We are an auto-domesticated animal. (…)
Each of us is born with a certain amount of personal power that we rebuild every day after we rest. Unfortunately, we spend all our personal power first to create all these agreements and then to keep these agreements. Our personal power is dissipated by all the agreements we have created, and the result is that we feel powerless. We have just enough power to survive each day, because most of it is used to keep the agreements that trap us in the dream of the planet. How can we change the entire dream of our life when we have no power to change even the smallest agreement?
If we can see it is our agreements which rule our life, and we don't like the dream of our life, we need to change the agreements. When we are finally ready to change our agreements, there are four very powerful agreements that will help us break those agreements that come from fear and deplete our energy. Each time you break an agreement, all the power you used to create it returns to you. If you adopt these four new agreements, they will create enough personal power for you to change the entire system of your old agreements. You need a very strong will in order to adopt the Four Agreements — but if you can begin to live your life with these agreements, the transformation in your life will be amazing. You will see the drama of hell disappear right before your very eyes. Instead of living in a dream of hell, you will be creating a new dream — your personal dream of heaven.
 Elisabeth Haich, Initiation : mystic-biographic novel. Origo, Zurich 1954; Hungarian edition: Beavatás : óegyiptomi misztériumok. 2 vols. Édesvíz K., Budapest 2004
 Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, chapter 1: Domestication and the Dream of the Planet, 1997