M1. Enchantment is the state of being under a magic spell or the state of being captivated or bewitched by a vision, sound or idea. It’s a state of being controlled, often by an external force. To be entranced by wonder and delight is a weaker form of enchantment.
In the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, after the whole court, along with the princess, have been asleep for a hundred years, the enchantment is broken by the prince’s arrival and actions.
When Buddha asks us to quench that fire of the soul, he is awakening us to enlightenment. The same is true of other spiritual leaders too in challenging us to wake up and to actually become disenchanted.
As Iris Murdoch, the philosopher and writer said,
“We live in a fantasy world… The great task in life is to find reality”
Even the late Christopher Hitchens, who was an ardent atheist, acknowledged the enchanted realm to some degree when he said
“We have a need for what I would call ‘the transcendent’ or ‘the numinous’ or even ‘the ecstatic,’ which comes out in love and music, poetry, and landscape. I wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t respond to things of that sort.”
But it is also the vision of the numinous, the transcendent and the ecstatic that has the power to jolt us out of our reverie and become disenchanted to we see the world for what it truly is, a place of wonder and freedom rather than enslavement.
To recognize the fantasy of dream in the dream is to become lucid, which is a step on the way to further disenchantment and awakening. This process uses the strangeness of dreams to enable lucidity, which is fun. But finding lucidity in waking life is something many people dislike. They feel uncomfortable with any meddling with their primary reality and will continue their enchantments with a high degree of conviction, even to the extent of claiming that such people are suffering from mental disorders such as delusions and hallucinations.
The Reality of Disenchantment
Bringing in consciousness in to the picture brings an explanatory force around the very things that must remain unexplained for enchantment or fantasy to exist. True enchantment must be it’s own driving force that exists outside oneself. And that raises more interesting questions about reality that is not relevant just here.
Let me quote the poet Novalis where he says:
“It depends only on the weakness of our organs and of our self-excitement, that we do not see ourselves in a Fairy-world. All Fabulous Tales are merely dreams of that home world, which is everywhere and nowhere”
Some people argue that normal dreams may, in fact, be more powerful than Lucid Dreams precisely because consciousness is absent. Dreaming is authentic enchantment but we only know it when we awaken. Lucidity is false enchantment but useful and fun.
Deep sleep is beyond images but can still carry consciousness.