Inception Part Last: Was It a Dream?

Warning: If you are planning on watching Inception and still haven’t, you may want to wait until you do to read this blog.


Who knew a spinning top could cause so much disturbance in the galaxy? Who knew the last shot of a movie could cause people to scream at the screen, to complain loudly, to light up the Internet with blog posts, infographics,  and a lot more?

That spinning top… ugh! How to interpret it? It was a dream all along? But then, what was the point of it all? Why should we care?

Or maybe it was about to fall? Maybe the world really was real, but Nolan was just trying to get us to think about our own world?

Or maybe, somehow, all of the above?

The Top Level

Luckily for us Chassids, our own personal Director has provided us with a blueprint for understanding the end of Inception.

In our first blog, we talked about the importance of getting to the Top Level. Of getting to G-d, and escaping this physical world.

In actuality, the truth is so much deeper than that.

There is one basic fact we must understand: While G-d is always directly and completely involved with our lives, he is also completely incomprehensible, completely beyond us. He is beyond any creation, even the spiritual.

The levels of dreams in Inception are the different levels of reality. The levels of spirituality. The bottom level, Limbo, is the lowest level, but it is still a level, it is still a creation. Just like our physical world.

But the truth is, even the higher levels are dreams. The Ice World. The Zero Gravity Hotel. The City.

And yes, even the Top Level. Even when we have supposedly gotten rid of all our demons, we’ve saved Saito, we’ve accomplished our mission. It’s still a dream.

And so it is in our Universe. No matter how high we get, G-d’s true essence will always be infinitely beyond us.

So, was Mal #2 right all along? Should Cobb have just accepted his fate, chosen the Shade, and spent the rest of his days in Limbo? Wow, depressing.

Don’t worry, friends. Like Cobb, we have more than one level on this elevator. Let’s go deeper.

The Bottom Level

There are people that would have us believe that because G-d is so beyond all creation, both physical and spiritual, that there is no way we can truly access him. That even if he does exist, he does not actively act or maybe even care about the world.

These people often call themselves agnostics. People that believe they’ll never be able to access G-d, so why bother. Many Chassids used to be agnostics.

The problem is that, the more we believe this, the more we start to worship things instead of G-d.

Like totems.

As Inception progressed, it seemed as if Cobb became more and more obsessed with his totem. He had to keep spinning it, keep making sure that he wasn’t in a dream, that the level he was on was, in fact, reality.

The problem for Cobb, though, was the he began to forget what reality even was. His father begged of him, “Come back to reality, Dom… please.” The guy at the bottom of the cellar seemed to know just how stuck Cobb was in his own inner limbo.

In a sense, Cobb’s totem became his reality. His totem became his focus, and not the reality he was trying to connect with.

The same can happen in our own lives. Remember that food I described in Part 2? We can just as easily begin to worship it, as use it to help worship G-d. And how about money? Yes, there are plenty of examples out there of people who worship money.

The problem for both Cobb, and for us as Pop Chassids, is that the more we believe that there is no way to connect to a true reality, the more we believe that G-d is impossibly beyond us, the more we get stuck in the muddy waters of this world, and the more we start to grasp for things like totems for a firm grasp.

So how to connect to G-d if he is so impossibly infinite, so beyond the physical and the spiritual? One level deeper.

Beyond Levels

It has been suggested in a number of blogs that Inception can be seen as an allegory for movies. Cobb seems to be more controlled by the timing of the audience than the timing of the movie. At one point, he tells Eames that he has “one hour” to accomplish his mission. Exactly one hour later (from our perspective, not the movie’s) Eames is sitting on the bank of the river with Fischer, mission accomplished (one blogger actually timed this).

But the truth is that there is an even deeper allegory going down here. The allegory that Cobb, in a sense, is just as imaginary as we are. The allegory that we are characters in a movie. Our existence is an allegory in and of itself.

And that, even deeper than that, because it is an allegory that comes from the only real thing, from G-d, then it is real for that very reason.

A movie is real because it exists in the minds of viewers and the creator. Cobb, to us, is very real.

And we are real because G-d imagined us. Because, if G-d is all that is real, then surely his dreams, surely his imagination are real too.

The truth, then, is not that everything is an illusion because it is a dream. No, the truth is that everything is real because it is G-d’s dream.

All that we need to do, like Cobb, is let go of the top, already.  Forget about that last shot of the movie.  Let go of the fake totems and hold onto the real ones, the ones that remind us that although this world is a dream, we can realize its true existence by connecting to the G-dliness around us. By raising the Saitos. The G-dly sparks. By helping to create a movie that is full of beauty and wonder, with no Cobal Engineering, or Crazy Mal #2’s.

Until we have completely spread the word, shared the G-dly truth with everyone, and helped them realize that although it is all a dream, it is a beautiful, true dream, straight from deep within G-d’ mind.

  • Ari S.

    Thank you for writing this, I really enjoyed it. On “more than one level.”

    It was a great way to wrap up the other posts on the subject thus far.

  • jm

    You did not answer the question or should I say the Title that you put….

    • The blog is essentially saying that yes, it’s a dream. But the dream is real. Cool?

  • Ari S.

    > There are people that would have us believe that …
    > That even if he does exist, he does not actively
    > act or maybe even care about the world.

    > These people often call themselves agnostics. People
    > that believe they’ll never be able to access G-d,
    > so why bother. Many Chassids used to be agnostics.

    > The problem is that, the more we believe this,
    > the more we start to worship things instead of G-d.

    Upon further reflection on this part, I would be curious to hear more. It’s certainly plausible that some start to worship “totems” instead. But what about the ones who do not, or do not yet, but are having the same “agnostic” thoughts about G-d not actively acting. You said Many Chassids used to be agnostics. What has changed in their thinking from that point that lead them to that way, as opposed to totems? That question I believe is not answered if it even can be.

    You write the way to connect is to go one level deeper. To let go of the totems, to connect “to the dream”. Makes sense, but it still sounds one-directional. It may be a great way to connect, but doesn’t answer the question agnostics may have: does G-d connect back? It may be “His dream”, but how do you know he is aware of you are connecting to the G-dliness of it? Well, one answer is “faith”. That He is, and he does. But I think agnostics may indeed be lacking this, maybe there is more. So if that’s all they are missing, does that mean the former agnostic Chassids “got faith”?

    Shana Tova!

    • First of all, sorry about the late reply. High holidays and all 😉

      Anyway, wow, intense question and very well thought out.

      Here’s what I can say. First of all, my blogs are usually written very quickly, and I try not to get too caught up in the details. So, there can be misunderstandings. I think that I use the term “agnostic” very loosely here. An agnostic is really just someone looking for answers, but unwilling to take a leap of faith. An agnostic is someone that needs proof before allowing themselves to delve into a belief.

      But of course, a belief is something beyond proofs. It requires faith. A certain degree of letting go. You ask how Chassids turned from agnostics to Chassids. I think the answer lies in the fact that somehow, they learned to let go. They experienced a Shabbat meal the way it was meant to be experienced. They had a Farbrengen. They read a book that connected them to something deep.

      And no, you’re right, it can’t be one directional. What happens when someone “lets go” is not just a feeling of excitement, but a true connection. A connection is always 2 ways. So G-d connects with you, and you connect with him. Because really, it’s about realizing that the connection was never broken, you were just ignoring it.

      So yes, the Chassids “got faith”, but there’s more to it than that. They experienced something real. They realized how different like can be when they stop hanging on to their totems and start connecting to absolutely nothing. And because of that everything.

      Hope that’s not too cryptic for you. Feel free to ask anything else. Love the questions 🙂

  • Ari S.

    Not too cryptic at all, thanks and Shana Tova!

  • Yosl C

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been dying to see Inception and I managed to see it the other day and so following that, the first thing I did was read the blogs you had previously published on the subject.
    I am very glad you ran a review on this film and the deeper perspective on the themes involved really helped me in understanding what I can take away from it in terms of self-development.
    Very well-covered review. Thank you for it 🙂