There are hundreds of different philosophical views on what life is and many people have their own versions of what life actually is. Is it a drama as Shakespeare said or is it a game like Sai Baba say or is it a spiritual journey as many of the religions preach or is it just electrical impulses interpreted by the brain as the movie matrix depicts or is it Maya as Buddha has taught.
I am not a Buddhist nor a spiritualist .What is a dream and why do we call a dream a dream and real life real. A dream is something of very short duration say 10 minutes while our life is comparatively long say 100 years or 876060 minutes. In life, life can be experienced by the five senses and can be measured by scientific instruments similarly in dream, dream can be experienced by the five senses of the character in the dream and the scientific instruments “available” in the dream. The effect of the dream is limited to the dream only once you wake up your life has no effect on what kind of dream you have had similarly once you go out of life or you life end there is no effect of your life on your state after life .Just as a the dream ends without a trace your beautiful life ends without a trace of the person who lead the life.
So the real difference seems to be just the differential in the duration of time we spend in our dream and in the real life. Spiritualist may disagree with me because I don’t refer to soul in dream and life but ironically it is much easier for a spiritualist or anybody who believes in soul to convince himself of the irrelevance of our glorified life and why it is no different from a dream or a nightmare. If you believe in soul then you can now clearly imagine a situation where the soul has several lives one after another of different duration in different parts of the universe and many other lives are of duration of 10 100 solar years then the life we spend on this planet as humans would certainly as irrelevant as a dream .The planets and the stars revolve and rotate at the same place as before, universe keeps on expanding irrespective of what kind of life we lead.
For non spiritualists who believe in things that can only be measured scientifically life is a dream because when one person finishes his life just as he finish his dream he no longer can feel the life he had with his five senses neither can he use the scientific tools he had in his life to feel his life he had.
Well what difference does it make to our lives whether it is a dream or it is an important affair as most of us like to believe? Is it not better to end a life when one find it to be a nightmare, if life is just a dream or a nightmare? Well we could do that but the sad truth is that even if we end the nightmare we go through, there is no assurance of a beautiful dream after it so what best we can do is to try to convince ourselves of the irrelevance of the nightmare and have hope in the nightmare we go through that our nightmare has brighter, beautiful future. For all people who run hard among the rats to be the first it is always better to convince ourselves that it is just a dream and no matter how hard we try to decorate it, it has to end .We can have a life like a dream if we can convince ourselves that life is a dream and all the heartburn and stress and strain is just part of our attempt to glorify our humble existence to satisfy our mysterious ego.