Mahakali On The Wall

By Douglas McElheny

Recently here at Harm’s End we were able to finally do something we’ve wanted to do for a while which is upgrade our satsung room with some dark blue carpet and a fresh coat of white paint on the walls. We also got some nice meditation cushions, and the final touch was some nice pictures of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to hang on the walls.

To get the pictures Donny and I went to a place in town called Harpagon Workshop, which is a department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and which has a very large photo gallery with thousands of pictures of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of all different sizes. In addition to shopping for the satsung room, I was also on the lookout for one more picture for my room, one that would be directly across from me as I’m sitting in my chair. Shortly after we arrived at the gallery one picture really popped out at me of the Mother standing at the top of a staircase. I was drawn strongly to the picture, and thought it would be good one for my room.

Later on, as Donny and I were admiring the picture newly hung on my wall, he told me that this particular photo was the first image he ever saw of the Mother. It had been on the cover of a book called The Sunlit Path, which is a compilation of the Mother’s writings. I was also already familiar with the photo as well as that book, but Donny told me something I didn’t know about it, and that was that it was taken on the Kali Puja day when the Mother came down the stairs, and then gave blessings to all the ashramites. I found that very interesting since I had drawn the card that represents Mahakali1 that day from The Eternity Game, and I took it as confirmation that this indeed was the photo that was needed for my room. I also thought this could herald more involvement from that particular aspect of the Divine Shakti in my sadhana which is good news since the name of that card in The Eternity Game is ‘Power’ and its aspects are ‘Transformation’, ‘Rapidity’ and ‘Height.’ In the description of the card Medhananda states that:

Her way is a rapid transformation by the sudden and immediately effective removal of all obstacles opposing her divine will.2

For that to happen though:

she insists that we take our seat on the highest heights of our consciousness; only then can she shatter our limitations and smallness. Only when our aspiration mounts like a flame will she remove the enemies from our path.3

So getting Mahakali’s help isn’t easy, but maybe I’m nearing the point where that sort of decisive and irrevocable help is possible. I hope so. I did have one experience of Mahakali’s help a year or so ago on a day when I was caught up in a strong movement of anxiety. I had drawn the Mahakali card for that day and remembering that prompted me to call on her for help. It wasn’t instantaneous, but shortly after that the anxiety quickly lifted leaving me feeling peaceful. That wasn’t the end of my trouble with anxiety, but it showed me the possibility of Mahakali’s intervention.

It bears mentioning as an endnote to this post that after these events occurred I saw they would make a good article showing synchronicity, and had been planning to write it over the coming weekend. On Saturday I also drew the Mahakali card, which prompted me to follow through on writing the article, and I also took it as a sign that writing it was timely and fit with my process.

Notes and References

  1. Mahakali is one of the four aspects of the Divine Mother referred to by both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their writings and talks.
  2. Medhananda, The Eternity Game, pg 53
  3. Ibid

 

Harm’s End or Boyz II Men?

By Douglas McElheny

Dreams, in addition to showing things going on with you as an individual, can also give you a look at a bigger process such as a household or an organization. I had a dream recently that I felt was of this nature that was showing the process of our house Harm’s End. Here is the dream:

 I’m with two of the members of Boyz II Men. Myself and another black guy have been hired to fill in for the other two members who have quit the group. It’s just for one show, and we’re practicing a song for the performance. Later I’m with one of the regulars from the group at a restaurant, and I’m laughing and telling him how funny it will look for a white guy like me to come out with the three of them who are black. Joking I tell him that I should tell people I have the disease that turned Michael Jackson white.

 For readers who don’t know, my friend Donny and I are living in a large multi-apartment house in India with five Tamil youths (four male, 1 female) all in their late teens or early twenties, and the main focus of our house currently is the maturation process of these youths into adults, a process aptly and somewhat humorously mirrored by the symbol of Boyz II Men in the dream. The waking reality, like the situation in the dream, is also unusual since it’s two white Americans guiding five Tamils into adulthood with all seven of us sharing the same house in India as a family unit. Definitely not something you see everyday.

The fact that in the dream the arrangement is only for one show is interesting since both Donny and I feel that this type of work is only a temporary situation, and not our true calling nor what we feel the divine ultimately wants Harm’s End to be about. We feel that the purpose of Harm’s End is to be what, for lack of a better idea, you could call an ashram in the midst of life, a place where people can work on going beyond ego consciousness, and ending the harm they are doing both to themselves and their environment.

As it stands now, the youths in our charge are preparing themselves for a normal human life with no aspiration for anything higher. There is one though that we feel has the potential to reach for something higher, but it may be a long time before he’s ready to make that kind of change. So our house really is more Boyz II Men than Harm’s End at the moment, but at some point it appears that will change. When and how that happens is impossible to say, though Donny and I are both looking forward to moving beyond this phase of things. People in this age group are tough customers, and it gets even more wearisome when they’re actively resisting growing up and maturing the way our kids are doing to varying degrees. Donny and I are well aware that even if Harm’s End does evolve into an ashram in the midst of life, it doesn’t mean that the other people involved won’t be hard to deal with, but it will make a difference if those people have or are nursing a divine aspiration, and are actively trying to be sincere and honest with themselves. For that reason, though we do care about our charges, I think Donny and I probably won’t grieve when this Boyz II Men phase of things comes to the ‘End of The Road.’1

 Notes
1. This is the title of a well known Boyz II Men song and their first international hit.

A Film Camera For Mugu

By Douglas McElheny

About nine months ago or so I was still living in the USA and corresponding via email with Donny about one of our young people at Harm’s End, Mugu, who is 17. The issue was Mugu had dropped out of the class he was taking to prepare him for what in India is known as the 10th Standard examination. It’s the equivalent of a high school diploma in the USA, and is a difficult exam requiring a long preparation, and Mugu didn’t have either the initiative or the discipline for it.

So we were wondering what to do with Mugu, and I brought up as I had in the past that Mugu seemed to have a thing for photography. Rather than putting him in some kind of class, Donny put forth the idea of getting him a film camera and teaching him film photography. My response was that nobody uses film cameras anymore, and that they’re a major expense compared to a digital camera, which, after the initial investment in the equipment itself, can take thousands and thousands of pictures. So I basically vetoed the idea, and as I would find out later Donny was actually okay with that. He thought a nice digital camera would be fine as well.

Then nothing happened for a while after that. I didn’t bring it up again because even though I was okay with a digital camera, I’m a cheapskate, and it would be a big chunk of change for a good digital camera with multiple lenses. I also know how irresponsible Mugu is, and was worried about the camera being lost or stolen. Then Donny brought up the film camera again, and again I argued against it. So he sent me a formation he had gotten from his muse on that matter, one that he felt had come from our teacher, the Mother, which said:

A digital camera
not the appliance he needs.
A professional camera
with lenses
develops his creativity.

Don’t mix tobacco in it.
A digital camera,
there’s a
camera
ain’t a camera
his art would say,
his art,
not mine, yours
or ours —
his camera.

 A boy and his needs.
He needs a camera
just to help him
become a good man.
Become a good man,
that’s our field.
Creativity lost his show
there’s no camera.
Digital not included.1

Now as clear as that was I still wasn’t ready to give up my position on the matter, mainly I think at this point because I didn’t want to be wrong, nor to be overruled by someone’s else’s guidance. My vital also has some problems with jealousy over the fact that I can’t get a formation like that from my muse, can only get some lines here and there or small groups of lines, and that also made the whole thing hard to swallow. So I continued to argue, pointing out that what might be spent on film alone over the course of a year would buy a very nice digital camera with multiple lenses. So Donny sent me another formation that had come a while before but that he hadn’t shared with me. This one said:

Professionality
a camera,
a camera
professionality.
Digital camera
is the wrong lens.
Now get it
Like you’re supposed to
a lens camera.
Douglas don’t want to buy the camera,
Don’t want to
Because it doesn’t make sense
to his practical
intelligence.

 Creativity deserves a chance.
You’re not thinking how involved he’ll be
with a professional camera.
A great occupation
color
photography.
Develop sway talent.

Would you listen?
Douglas has his own opinion.
How are we doing today?
Develop his own opinion.
That’s roll call,
Orange wares. 

Grand market
shopping
must be in town.
Oh it is.
Professional camera
with lens,
telephoto one,
wide angle,
and the one you use mostly. 

A lot of creativity
has room to play.
Amsterdam
doesn’t take him home.
Creativity rules.
What do we do for money?
Trust sweetheart,
just trust
and work.
There’s sadhana.2

Well after reading that I gave in, though the vital didn’t like it at all. By that point I was planning to come to India, but I wasn’t sure when, so Donny and I started looking online for a used film camera in India rather than waiting for me to buy one in the USA and bring it when I came. The search proved much more difficult than either of us were expecting and when we finally ordered a camera we didn’t read the fine print in the listing on ebay.in, and got one that was sold “as is”, and was basically broken. At this point I thought I could ask my mom if I could have my grandfather’s Canon AE-1, which had been sitting in my dad’s closet unused for years, to give to Mugu, and she said I could. So when I came to India back in December I brought that camera with me.

Then we ran into more obstacles. Both Donny and I had assumed that in a country as large as India there would be websites where you could easily buy the chemicals and darkroom equipment, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. You could find things scattered around on amazon.in and ebay.in but a lot of it seemed to be coming from the USA. So we went to a website in the USA, and could find everything we needed, but the shipping was almost as much as the cost of the chemicals and equipment. We had decided to just eat the cost, but then it occurred to me to call Auroville and try to find out if anyone there had a dark room, and knew how to order the supplies in India. From Auroville I got the name of an American man, John, who has lived in Pondicherry for many years, and was formerly an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I gave John a call and he invited Donny and I over to his house where we had a long talk, and he also gave us the name of man in Mumbai who could supply us with everything we needed. The way it all wonderfully worked out was just more confirmation for us that we were indeed doing the right thing with the film photography.

So we got all the chemicals and equipment to start Mugu with black and white photography. All that remained was a dark room, which is almost completed. Once it is John has offered to come over and give us some pointers from his long experience with film photography. There’s every reason to hope this will be a very positive thing for Mugu, and give him a much needed focus and creative outlet, one that will help him, if Donny’s muse is correct, to be a better man.

Notes

  1. Copyright Donny Duke
  2. Ibid.

Anti-Claus Is Comin’ To Town

evil santa by Cubosh, on Flickr
evil santa” (CC BY 2.0) by Cubosh

By Douglas McElheny

There’s a lot of traffic at our house Harm’s End in India, and some of those boys are thieves. So of course things get stolen, things belonging to people who live there, and also things belonging to guests. One of our live in boys, Asiya, had a friend whose cell phone was stolen at our house. A month or so after the theft Asiya showed up with the friend, and told Donny the boy was forbidden to return to his home until he got his cell phone replaced. Asiya claimed he and some other friends would come up with 4,000 rupees, and was asking, or rather demanding (Asiya was undergoing some rebellion at the time), that we come up with the other 2,000.

At the time I was living in the USA and would wire money to India on a weekly basis. Donny told me the situation, said he thought it was a need and that he felt sorry for the boy who’s sort of Forrest Gumpish, and mistreated by other boys as well as his family for that reason. To be frank, honesty is a problem to some extent with all the young people we work with, so I’m always skeptical of these kinds of things, and more so this time because of Asiya’s rebellion and attitude towards us. I found it hard to believe that the boy was banished from his house because his phone had gotten stolen, and wondered if the whole thing was a ruse to get 2,000 rupees for something else. I also didn’t think it was a good idea to give the money, and set that kind of precedent since we deal with people who wouldn’t have any moral quandary with lying about their phone getting stolen at our house in order to get a nice new phone on us. Also part of the equation was my general tightfistedness and dislike of charity that I went into in a recent blog post. There was even part of me that wanted to say no to Asiya because he was being rebellious and demanding, wanted to squash his demanding attitude and show him who was boss. So the answer I gave Donny was no.

Asiya persisted though, and when he would come to get money for his own needs he kept bringing it up, even brought the boy back a couple of times to ask Donny again. So I started to rethink things. I still didn’t believe that the kid was banished from home, but since Asiya didn’t drop it I started to wonder if maybe the boy really needed the money for some reason. So that night as I was praying I asked for some indication in the night of what I should do, be it a dream or muse or some kind of intuition. During that sleep cycle I had this dream:

I’m outside my maternal grandparent’s house in the driveway. I’m sitting in a car that looks like a station wagon, but it seems to me it might be a hearse. I realize this is a dream and I pass my hand through one of the windows to confirm it. Then I sit back and all of the sudden the car starts to move on its own. Things go dark around the outside of the car, and an image starts to appear on the windshield, but then the dream shifts to me being the observer. I can see this coffin with an arm sticking up out of it which is groping around. Seated next to the coffin is a Santa Claus, but one dressed in black not red. The arm grabs Santa and is pulling on him. Santa is talking to the person in the coffin.

The thing that struck me the most about the dream was the black dressed Santa or Anti-Claus as I thought of him. I felt that the dream was trying to show me that the desire not to give, to be stingy, to be Anti-Claus, was the main factor in my resisting giving the money, and not the objections I was raising such as not wanting to set a precedent etc. The black clothing also suggests to me that hostile forces were trying to influence me as well. The symbols of the hearse and the coffin suggest death of course, and maybe are showing that my Anti-Claus tendencies are a movement towards ‘death’, that is, away from growth and spiritual progress, a movement of decay. At the same time though, I have come a long way with my Anti-Claus nature compared to where I was a few years ago. So maybe the dream is also showing that movement is to some extent dead, but not completely. From that perspective the fact that the arm in the coffin is reaching out and grabbing Anti-Claus would show that I’m still not completely free of that movement of stinginess or the influence of hostile forces in this matter.

So I was basically convinced by the dream to give in to Asiya’s demand, but I guess there was part of me that still didn’t like having to admit I was wrong, so I thought I would wait until Donny mentioned Asiya bringing it up again. Donny didn’t though and maybe 10 days or so after the dream I finally broached the subject with him, and he told me he had given the friend the 2,000 rupees on his (Donny’s) birthday, and that he had sacrificed a few birthday treats for himself such as a cup of good coffee and a pastry at a local bakery, as well as a nice birthday dinner, to make up for the giving of the money. The vital initially got irked with Donny after hearing that, since as far as he knew at the time I still opposed to the giving, but I could see that feeling obviously wasn’t legitimate. Looking at it objectively I’d say I lost the opportunity to make the most progress in the matter by waiting for Donny to tell me Asiya brought it up again. I took the easy way out.

Still, I did see how my Anti-Claus nature was the predominant factor in not wanting to give the money, and not the other rationales I had. That was spelled out loud and clear by the dream, and I hope that will help me to see things more clearly in the future when other situations like this come up.

A Little Noxious Exciting

dog-and-cupcake

Recently I attended a conference called ‘Pain: Its Cause and Cure’ at the Sri Aurobindo Center For Advanced Research (SACAR) in Pondicherry India. I had arranged to stay at the SACAR guest house and arrived the evening before the conference began. While eating dinner I got to know a lady from Texas named Debbie who was attending the conference as well. I also took note of a pretty young Indian woman who came into the dining area briefly, but I didn’t actually meet her.

That night I had this dream:

I’m attending a lecture at the pain conference. I’m next to Debbie, though she looks much younger, and we just end up holding hands. I’m feeling desire and thinking we might hook up later. I end up resting my head on our clasped hands, but this puts my head behind a tall guy so I can’t see the PowerPoint presentation on the projector screen.

The dream was a little puzzling for me because, although Debbie was admittedly cute for her age (60), I didn’t really feel attracted to her sexually, though I liked her personality-wise. Anyway, at 9 a.m. we all went into the lecture hall and sat ourselves at two person desks. A very tall Indian woman sat down in the seat directly in front of me, effectively blocking my view of the screen, so that I had to lean to the side and peer around her in order to see it. I was struck by the exactness of the outer event matching what had happened in the dream, and I figured there was some meaning there, but I wasn’t sure what it might be.  Arriving a little late was the pretty young Indian woman from the night before, and as is often the case when such beauty is around, my vital wants to eat it through my eyes, sexual staring I call it. It’s an urge that still just comes, like a reflex even though there’s part of me that would gladly be rid of it. As I sat there listening to the speakers, the desire would come in waves, and I would repeatedly have to use my will to keep pulling myself away from it. Later that afternoon I found myself sitting at the same table as her at lunch and found out her name, Nilisha, but I didn’t talk much to her. Then that evening at dinner she arrived late, and she sat down at the table with me and another American man, Don. The three of us conversed for a little while, and I found her quite charming and sweet as well as pretty. There was something too about her vital that my vital really found appealing, and I could feel that vital thrill you experience when you’re interacting with someone you’re really attracted to. It’s a kind of feeding, one you can keep at bay, but I didn’t do such a good job of it here. This thing in her vital though wasn’t anything flirtatious or overtly sexual, but quite the opposite really. She was actually very much a lady, and if you give my vital the choice between the tart and the lady it will take the lady the majority of the time though perhaps not every time.

At some point I excused myself to go up to my room, and that’s when my vital problems really began. What happened was the vital latched onto the idea of inviting Nilisha to my house so she could see the work I’m doing here with some young tamil adults that live in a multi apartment complex with me and my partner in the endeavor Donny. It’s a work that’s been going on for a number of years, and Donny I both feel that what our house needs now, beyond some changes and structure within it, is for people in the community here to come and see what we’re doing. Since I knew I was going to this pain conference at SACAR and would be mixing with a large group of people, I was on the lookout for potential prospects to invite.

So with Nilisha my vital took that ball and ran with it with, producing waves of thoughts and fantasies about bringing her to the house. Most of the scenarios the vital was cooking up we’re just about being around and her taking in her vital energy the same way I had at dinner the night before, but there were to a lesser degree outright romantic and sexual thoughts and feelings. The morning of that second day at the conference it was hard to stay focused because of the vital tumult. I kept trying to reject it, and also to turn my attention away from it by focusing on the lecturers and what they were saying.  I’d succeed for a while and there’d be a space of clarity, but then another wave of it would come and it became quite apparent that my dream from two nights before, and the way my view of the screen was actually physically blocked the day before were foreshadowing this vital movement which was ‘blocking’ my view of the conference. And though the love interest in the dream was a young Debbie, it was Nilisha it was referring to.

One thing that really helped though as these waves of desire would come was something Donny and I had been talking about just days before that had come from his muse which said:

What is a victory,
getting over a temptation?
Getting over a limitation1

These lines may not look like much at first glance, but the idea here is quite powerful. Looking at something as a temptation automatically gives it the association of badness, and creates a resistance or aversion to it that just makes it harder to throw out. Looking it as a limitation though takes that charge away from it. You can still see it for what it is, which is something getting in the way of one’s sadhana and not make excuses for it, but you can deal with it in a more calm and detached manner. Which is what I was able to do.

Now in addition to taking that attitude of a limitation towards the vital desire, I also tried to reason with the vital, pointing out things like the fact that having Nilisha visit the house would mean wrestling with this desire, and the fact that even if she was game and I was willing to put a halt to twelve years of celibacy, my lower back problems would make it impossible to really enjoy intimacy with her or anyone else for that matter. I don’t remember exactly at what point in the day it happened, but there was a decisive moment where my vital basically said “Yeah, you’re right” and let go of the idea of bringing her over to the house. At that moment I felt something lift within me and instantly felt lighter and more clear to the point that when Donny came to visit me at the SACAR guest house late that evening he remarked that I seemed to be quite clear and focused. The thoughts and imaginings of bringing Nilisha to the house still came a little bit, but the vital push and urgency that had been behind them was just a fraction of what it had been before.

The next day however it became apparent that while the vital had let go of the desire to invite Nilisha to the house, it still hadn’t totally let go of the desire to be around her and to interact with her while the conference was still going on. During lunch an Austrian man and I spoke a little Spanish to each other, and Nilisha, who was also at our table, showed some interest by mentioning she really likes a Netflix series called Narcos which is full of Spanish. So I took that opportunity to teach her a few words in Spanish as a way to interact with her. That in itself may not have been inappropriate. You can do something like that in the right way and for the right reason, and when I woke up on the morning of the fourth and last day of the retreat I made a strong resolution not to follow the vital’s desire to interact with Nilisha and to try and handle whatever interaction came up in the right way, i.e. without vitally eating.

What was amazing though was that after having made that resolution it seemed like every time I turned around, there she was. So I taught her a number of Spanish words that day as well as explained some concepts in Spanish such as gender and different words for the verb ‘to be’. I also talked about places I’d traveled in Latin America and she told me she had a sister that was living in Mexico. I tried not to vitally eat, but I don’t think I was completely successful. The truth is I still have things to learn regarding the subtleties of when I’m vitally eating or not eating when having these more casual interactions with someone I’m sexually attracted to. Overall though, I felt pretty good about things at the end of the day, felt like I’d been the friend she needed me to be and it seemed that her interest had been perked further not just in Spanish, but also in the possibility of traveling in Latin America. I wondered if maybe that’s something that will be important in her process. That’s just speculation though.

Be that as it may, when I got home from the conference and was reflecting on everything that had happened, I was initially a little disheartened since I hadn’t had the romantic/sexual thing come up that strongly in many years, didn’t think it actually could come up that strongly anymore. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised though. Even though I’ve put a lot of effort into breaking the habit of following the romantic/sexual impulse in all its forms in waking life, it’s still there. It’s also in dreams too, though outright sexual dreams and nocturnal emissions aren’t nearly as common as they used to be. When the romantic/sexual impulse does come up in dreams it’s usually just on the level of feeling and flirting where often there’s the potential for sex later if I can find myself alone with this person. Even these types of dreams aren’t so common anymore, but even if I were able to free my waking and dream life completely from these movements, they could still rise up from the subconscient according to Sri Aurobindo2. What I think it basically boils down to is that until you reach a certain turning point in the yoga these things will always have the potential to rise when given the right stimulus. And with Nilisha I had a very strong stimulus both physically and vitally that was hitting on all cylinders as far as what gets me going sexually and romantically. I will say however that it didn’t get its hooks into me as badly as it has in the past, and I think that’s because of the effort I’ve put into breaking the habit of following that impulse over the course of many years, and also because mentally I understand I’m not going to get any lasting satisfaction from a romantic/sexual relationship.

Now of course it’s good that I didn’t get as carried away with the vital movement as I have in the past, but it seems like the process of getting free of these things is interminable, like the curve of a hyperbola which gets closer and closer to its asymptotes as it extends into infinity but doesn’t ever actually touch them. So what is the turning point? It seems to me it could be different things for different people. For some people it might be something really major like the vital being becoming fully converted and giving itself wholly to the divine instead of the pursuit of its desires, or the psychic being suddenly and irrevocably coming to the front. A letter I recently reread of Sri Aurobindo’s gives me reason to believe though that it can happen in a more subtle way. He tells us:

By constant effort and aspiration one can arrive at a turning point when the psychic asserts itself and what seems a very slight psychological change or reversal alters the whole balance of the nature.3

Now other people might read this differently than I do, but it doesn’t appear to me that he’s describing the psychic being coming completely forward in this quotation. I think what he’s talking about here is a turning point where the psychic being wouldn’t be fully out in front, but its influence would become more powerful than the resistance of the outer nature. Then it would only be a matter of time for things like the complete conversion of the vital, or the psychic being coming irrevocably forward to happen.

However that turning point happens though, you have to carry on with your effort and aspiration until you reach it, and that’s hard. I’m finding in my own case that the vital has become fairly neutral, and while it’s not opposing the sadhana much, it’s not putting its enthusiasm into it much either. It also gets discouraged and I’m finding the only way is to will myself forward despite movements of discouragement and loss of faith. It’s kind of like walking in the desert, and while you come across the occasional oasis, you wonder if you’re ever going to find your way out of it. I hope one day to be able to tell people what’s it like on the other side of that desert.

References

  1. Copyright Donny Duke
  2. ‘When the waking consciousness has renounced the indulgence of the sexual desires and impulses, these take refuge in the subconscient as impressions, memories, suppressed desires and come up in sleep as dreams and involuntary sleep emissions. If the waking consciousness is not itself clear, if, that is to say, though there is no physical indulgence, yet there are imaginations in the mind or desires in the vital or the body, then these dreams and emissions can be frequent. Even if the waking consciousness is clear, the subconscient emergences can still come for a time, but in time they diminish.’ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31 – Letters on Yoga Volume 4, pg 526
  3. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 28 – Letters on Yoga Volume 1, pg 121

 

 

 

Rick Can’t Find Me

By Douglas McElheny

Recently I was talking to my mom about prevision in dreams, and to illustrate the point I told her the best example I have of prevision from my own dream life. This dream happened in 1999 while I was living in State College Pennsylvania, where I had attended university at Penn State a few years earlier.  My brother Rick, who I hadn’t seen in awhile, was coming to State College with his fiancee to attend some sort of function and planned to stop by my apartment to visit me. The night before his arrival I dreamed that I was in an apartment with one of my roommates, Kevin, and talking to Rick on the phone. He told me “Where are you? I can’t find you.”

The next day I was sitting at home around the time Rick was supposed to show up, and I kept waiting and waiting. I realized something was wrong and then the phone rang and it was my mom who told me Rick wasn’t coming because he misunderstood where my house was and gone to the wrong side of town.  Once he realized the mistake it was too late for him to come see me before he had to be at the function, so he had mom call me and tell me what had happened. We were able to meet up though later at a bar, but as you can see the element of prevision here is obvious even though the details didn’t match up exactly.

It took mom a minute, but she was able to see the connection and of course her next question was how could a dream show that movement in advance. I told her to think of it like a seed and a tree. I explained that one way to think about it is that everything that happens in waking life arises from an inner reality that gives rise to this outer or waking reality in the same way that a seed gives rise to a tree, and so our dreams can show these things in a symbolic way before they happen.

Now mom and I didn’t get into it, but once you understand that prevision appears in dreams the next question is why is being able to see prevision in dreams important? Well on one level it could potentially give a person the ability to act and maybe change something, but prevision in dreams concerning outer events is usually so approximate and so mixed in with other dream elements that I can’t see it until after the fact. There is a type of prevision in dreams though that has more to do with your inner state, that is with movements of consciousness. If you know for example that getting bit by a snake in a dream is indicative of some kind of vital reaction you can be on the lookout for it and I have had instances where dreams like this have helped me to head a vital reaction off at the pass.

More fundamentally though seeing the prevision aspect of dreams as individuals and in the future as a society can help to provide a sort of reversal to our worldview. Right now most of us regard this waking reality as primary, whereas in actuality it’s just the final result of things going on on levels of reality that most of us aren’t conscious of. There’s an excellent passage in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri that explains this:

Our outward happenings have their seed within,
And even this random Fate that imitates Chance,
This mass of unintelligible results,
Are the dumb graph of truths that work unseen:
The laws of the Unknown create the known.
The events that shape the appearance of our lives
Are a cipher of subliminal quiverings
Which rarely we surprise or vaguely feel,
Are an outcome of suppressed realities
That hardly rise into material day:1

Now in complete candor I’ll admit that this reversal of worldview hasn’t gone any farther in me than an idea, and a fleeting one at that. I do feel though that with the right development the reversal can go deeper and change one’s entire actual lived experience of reality. You have to start somewhere though, and hitching your wagon to ideas like the inner reality giving rise to the outer, oneness etc. is a step on the way. As a society too, evolving towards its own sort of reversal, we’ll have to start with ideas, but big ideas like this coming out into the light of day on a societal level could be what gets us pointed in the right direction even if the actual transformation of society takes a long, long time.

References

  1. Savitri by Sri Aurobindo pg 52

Avoiding Trouble With The KKK

KKK by Arete13, on Flickr
KKK” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Arete13

By Douglas McElheny

Two nights ago I had this dream about my guitar teacher Tom:

I’m at Tom’s guitar studio and outside in the parking lot there’s a KKK rally happening. Tom is putting on a KKK robe because he wants them to think he’s one of them in order to avoid any trouble.  Then Tom and I  go and sit outside to practice guitar, and a black man comes up and asks Tom if he can go in the studio to use the bathroom. Tom tells the guy no and points out the klanners and says “Can’t you see who’s here?” Tom’s worried the klanners will give him problems if he lets the guy use the bathroom.  The black man just walks in anyway though, uses the bathroom and leaves without incident.

When I told Tom about the dream he laughed and said that was really funny because just the other day he’d told a friend of his he was going to get a Bass Pro1 sticker and put it on his car to give people the message “Hey everyone! I’m a white working class Republican!”  He then proceeded to tell me that in the past when he was going to a lot of concerts and music festivals and the like he put an american flag in his car and saw that he avoided a lot of trouble with police and security that way.

Now I think Tom may have been half kidding with his friend, but we can see via the dream that I picked up Tom’s apprehension and how he was thinking about how he could avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention in what he feels will become a more openly divided and intolerant America after Trump takes office. As Donny pointed out though the dream is probably also picking up on fears of coming intolerance on the level of the nation itself, fear in people that if they don’t go along with the hating herd they’ll suffer because of it. I can also see something of myself in this dream, how I also can put on a false appearance in order to avoid trouble. As an example of this I actually voted for a third party candidate in the election to avoid having to tell my parents (who I live with and are quite conservative) that I voted for Hillary should they ask who I voted for.  I now regret that because I live in Florida where Trump edged Hillary out by a small margin and to be honest in hindsight I feel like I basically cast a vote for Trump by going that route. Now it’s true that I was in fact put off by both candidates and also that I expected Hillary to win the election handily, but I took the easy way out to avoid any possible discomfort at home and didn’t cast my vote for the person who I felt was clearly the lesser of two evils. Now to be fair I think I should point out here that my parents aren’t neo nazis or the sort of people who would show up at KKK rally.  As I’ve pointed out before, dreams often show things in an exaggerated manner to get their point across.

Now the black man at the end of the dream would seem to represent things that myself, Tom and others feeling this collective fear wouldn’t want the intolerant or rigidly moral to see. Donny suggested the idea that the fact that the black man uses the bathroom anyway without incident shows that the future may not play out as badly as people are fearing. Let’s hope that turns out to be the case.

Now it’s already implied in what I’ve written but I wanted to explicitly state how this dream shows how we can dream not only about a collective process, but also about what’s going on with people we’re closely involved with such as friends, family, co-workers etc. I’ve been taking lessons from Tom for over two years and we’re of a like mind regarding many things, so we’ve delved a little deeper in conversation than who won the football game last night. Our relationship is to some extent a friendship, and since there’s a connection there I can receive inner communication from him. To see this inner communication is useful if for no other reason than showing our inner connectedness, which Donny discussed at length in a recent blog.

This type of dream or vision can also enable you to see what’s going on with someone in order to try and take some helpful action. That happened recently with me in regards to a friend who’s a recovering alcoholic. I had a vision of her making some objects like large coins out of clay and there was a muse line with the vision that said: Mine was destroyed. At the time I had the vision I was wondering if this person had had a stumble and I was looking online for advice on how to approach someone if you think that’s happened. In my research I came to know of something Alcoholics Anonymous uses called sobriety coins which are tokens showing the amount of time someone has remained sober. After learning that I figured my friend’s sobriety coin had been destroyed figuratively speaking, but the fact that she was making new ones in the vision probably indicated that she was trying to get back on her feet. Having the vision helped me to bring the subject up with my friend and to encourage her not to get down on herself about the stumble, but to just pick herself up and carry on.

This is a pretty vast subject and I’ll probably write more about it in future on this blog, but I think this is a good stopping point. It would be great though to hear other people’s experiences in the comments.

Notes and References

  1. For those who don’t know Bass Pro is a Hunting/Fishing/Camping superstore chain here in the USA.