There is No Test

I don't know if all dreams are significant, but it does seem that some dreams have something important to tell us. Through the unique and universal symbols in our lives, dreams are a way for our unconscious to speak with us in our less guarded state of sleep. The meaning and depth of significant dreams can sometimes take days, weeks, even years to unfold. But other times what a dream has to say can be quite transparent, and it is of this latter kind that I'd like to share with you. 
A couple weeks ago I had what seems to be a pretty common anxiety dream: I was at some sort of seminar where there was a final project due. I kept putting it off, and suddenly I realized everyone was about done with theirs and I had barely started mine! Of course, the project was now due in moments and I wasn't prepared. The dream was so upsetting I awoke, pushed myself up from my bed, and as a way of reassuring myself that it was indeed just a dream and there was nothing I actually needed to do, I heard myself say aloud, "There is no test!" Feeling quite relieved, I sunk back into the pillows. It took a moment, but the words I said aloud soon took on a more profound meaning: There is no test in life
How often during the course of a day are we evaluating ourselves: How did I do on this project? Did I spend my day well? How well am I leading my life?! While these can be helpful questions in figuring out what is truly fulfilling for us, they often are rather filled with self-judgment and criticism, with a real "Pass-Fail" quality to them. Deeper yet, I realized that I live in fear of the ultimate test: how I will judge my own life when I realize the end is nigh. This fear of ultimate judgment may be part of the human condition. It also may be something I learned from the years I spent in a religion that taught me "God" was indeed going to judge my life and either send me to heaven (Pass!) or hell (Fail!). Although my concept of "God" has long since changed, I realized that I had internalized this rule, and am still operating from this deep programming. Sure, others may judge us, but most critically, we judge ourselves based on some set of rules of success and failure. Regardless, the rules and judgments are bogus. They are of our own making and hold no truth in reality. We are but a small yet meaningful part of the unfolding universe, no more subject to condemnation than our pets, the trees, the mountains, or a distant galaxy.
So, relax. Rest in the simple goodness of Being. At the end of this "course" in life, there is no test. 

"To identify oneself with the body (ego) and yet to seek happiness is like attempting to cross a river on the back of an alligator."
- Ramana Maharshi