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.

I’m Not Picking Up Stump Posts

photo by Dhina of Lisa Rottweiler posing here as my altar ego.
photo by Dhina of Lisa Rottweiler, my dog

For the longest time, I had thought that all we needed to do to see we communicate with one another on the inside in the inner life was to become conscious of dreams. From there it seemed to me we could easily come to know our communal identity, human unity, something we can infer from the inner communication, but not confirm until we get beyond both the outer world and dreams and directly experience it ourselves. We could infer it, I’d figured, because our dreams are chock-full of such inner contact with each other. To my surprise, I’ve found that’s not the case. Most of the dream workers I’ve seen in discussion groups on the net and those I’ve talked to in person seem to be unaware of our inner links.

While it’s the needed direction, towards the inside, we seem to be going pell-mell into dreams without knowing either how to interpret them or even that they often tell us about incidents and situations in our waking life days before or days after. Most people into lucid dreams and those giving workshops on the same, of those I encounter, do not have this very basic foundation. Douglas has been showing the connection between dreams and waking life in articles on this blog. In this article, I hope to demonstrate something of our hidden inner communication by illustrating a dream, one that doesn’t, as is often the case, show it as only an aspect but as its focus and intention, showing me what was going on between others and myself.

I am at an American diner but in India, and I have a gift of $365 I want to give to my stepmother Ruth. It’s been a long time since I called her and my dad, but I’m confident she will accept the collect call, which I know has to be collect and somehow know she’ll be the one to answer the phone. There’s a pay phone in the restaurant, right among the tables, though it’s at night, and there are only a few customers, and after reflecting a moment on Ruth’s hatred of me, I make the call. It’s accepted, but I don’t speak to Ruth but my dad, and I tell him about the gift to Ruth, and he starts talking very fast about why I haven’t called in so long and at the same time not happy I’m calling.

There’s a dream shift. It’s very dark outside, and I’m alone sitting on the passenger’s side of the front seat of a car parked outside a bar talking to my dad on a cell phone. I’ve not gone into the bar and have no intention of doing so, but the bar has something to do with my dad I can’t figure out. On the other end I hear silence but know my dad is there. I try and talk to get him to talk, but he’s very reluctant, and maybe I hear him say a  word or two and maybe I don’t. I can’t tell because he is so distant on the line in terms of his willingness to be there. I begin to cry the kind of cry I do in dreams sometimes right before waking, where I’m dreaming I’m in my bed in my room but know it’s a dream still, a place I release emotional pain, a place I use for a lot of things. As I release the emotion I begin to become aware it’s a dream because I’m consciously now feeling the pain of being an outcast by my yoga, by almost the entire world. I hear thunder and see faint traces of lightning flashes, as though they’re not in the dream yet but are coming.

I don’t become lucid. Instead another dream shift catches my attention, and I’ve just gotten out of a car having driven home. It’s night still but not late, as I see my uncles and dad working on an old car not far from the house. It’s an old wooden one-story country house, and I walk past the front and stop to look at my dad and uncles working on the car, which is just on the edge of the light from the house on the other side from where my car is, and something I can’t quite relate happens, a different kind of shift, where my dad’s no longer with my uncles, and I realize he was just there, had been there a long time, and I should’ve talked to him when I had the chance because he’s gone, as in passed away, and I won’t have the opportunity to see him again in this life. As sadness wells up in me I walk to the backyard, and that scene takes my attention, the sadness leaving.

It’s now the backyard of the house I was teenager in, only much bigger. I walk up to a shed and suspect someone’s been in there and gotten some of the special kind of organic material I’ve made and allow the neighborhood to take if they want to, but I’m not sure. There’s no light in the backyard, and it’s very difficult to see. I follow faint tracks, like from a small tractor and wagon, and come to the back fence, a wooden one as at my teenage home in waking life. It’s been opened, and the tracks are very visible going into the backyard and coming out, and it confirms that someone came and got some of the material. I’m not bothered by it, just don’t know why they did it the way they did, at night in secret, not coming to the front like good neighbors, and they took down  part of the fence too, which does bother me a little until I see the fence can roll back in place without damaging it, sort of like a hidden gate, and I understand people can take the material that way too, understanding too that’s how people have been taking it for the most part. All I have to do is close it, but there’s no latch or anything, just roll it shut so it looks like there’s no seam in the fence there, and as I do I wake up.

Why it’s so hard for us to see the inner communication between us has to do with the nature of dreams, which don’t often or always depict the actual people or situations they are about but are symbolic in nature and tell a story of the story, some representative scenario often using our own family and the scenes most familiar to us as the symbols for the dream. Our creative reflex, what I call that in us which fashions them, can do this because dreams mean more than one thing, have more than a single interpretation, can be about your family and at the same time about whom or whatever. That’s the case in the above dream, but dreams are also irrational, that is, they don’t come from the rational thinking mind which likes order and symmetry, does not like loose ends, prefers a one to one correspondence in the making of analogies. Dreams more often float their different interpretations, rather loosely, making it not possible to interpret them the way the mind likes to do that: this means that, not this means that here but not also there.

We are also rather ignorant about universal symbols in dream, have some sense they occur, but for the most part, from what I’ve seen of dream dictionaries that now abound upon the net and what I saw available before the web, we are much more off base than on in what the symbols mean, for the mental reasons I’ve mentioned above. We tend to assign meaning to symbols with the thinking mind, or the talking, reading, networking thinking mind, and we don’t understand that we learn what the symbols mean from the very fashioning of our dreams, that is, as we open the inner consciousness, that part of us in which we experience dream, the meaning of the universal and personal symbols reveal themselves, as though we’re being taught, and we are. There’s a soul behind all doing that instruction, the psychic being.

With these things in our awareness, I’ll now interpret the above dream, assigning meaning to symbols as they occur therein. On the surface the dream is about my relationship with my dad and stepmother. We are estranged. I’m in India and they the U.S., but there are other gulfs of distances between us. The dream is symbolizing inner communication between us, but it’s not that contact that’s the focus of my interpretation, or not that interpretation, a contact that happens all the time between ourselves and those we are bound to by family ties or whatever, but an inner contact hard to see with the reason, though once it sees it, it doesn’t take being spelled out each time to see it. Though it would seem the dream is about that familial inner contact, what triggered the dream to show the disguised contact I’m focusing on, what the dream’s more about, is a situation I was involved in at the time in waking life, some two weeks back, and is the interpretation I’ll be  demonstrating. It bears some elaboration, which can be done in process, though you’ll have to keep picking up the thread of the dream so as not to lose it in the elaboration.

The contact the dreams shows isn’t just a representation of an event in waking life but a live streaming as it were of inner contact occurring at the ‘global’ moment of the dream, the timeframe of the unfolding of the incident the dream represents (along with the frontal or obvious familial interpretation). Before the dream, and after, I was seeing/hearing in my muse the discourse I was having, via a Facebook page, with the editors of a major publication of our yoga, the Integral Yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. That communication resulted  in a muse poem specifically to them and which I would post as a comment after one of their Facebook posts so they would accept a friend request I’d sent. That  poem  came during the day after the dream. Since the poem has that inner contact as its content, something they would recognize, since it reveals their thoughts and feelings on the matter, they friended me shortly after posting it. The dream I’m demonstrating, which occurred the night before they accepted the friend request, shows the ‘fury’ of inner communication between us revolving around that friend request as well as  a comment I’d put on their page asking them to read a poem of mine on our page Harm’s End that I’d written and posted before the dream, called “Pardon / Tell the Truth / You’re a Satellite”, a poem about atheism.

The diner, the first scene of the dream, represents Facebook, and that few people are there would indicate, though it’s a public place where people eat (we’re consuming for good or ill in the posts we read/watch-eat), there are only a few people listening or reading in on the event in question, that is the communication via Facebook  with that publication. That it’s night means, in this situation (night would mean something different in others), the whole event is under wraps, something done not in secret but, though occurring openly, not one anyone would want to see. The gift I have is the poem about atheism, and I can tell you what the numbers in $365 mean, but that’s too much detail. I’ll just say it has to do with the cost in my consciousness of the poem. That’s it’s both to my step-mother and that she’s the one who has to accept the collect call (collect because it’s their page they maintain) has to do with her hatred of me, what would be unbelievable if I tried to describe, what it was like being her step-child as a small boy.

The hatred of my yoga for me would also be likewise unbelievable in terms of its unwillingness to ‘accept’ me. That hatred is what I must go through to communicate outwardly with anyone in my yoga that knows my story (everyone gossips everywhere), with anyone in the world for that matter, and, because my writings are a bit revelatory and at the same time revealing, showing not only good stuff that attempts to sound the depths of the world but also stuff that sounds the bad I’ve been a party to, I seldom get a reply to any communication I send, to the yoga or us, us being humanity. In the dream, however, I’m confident the hatred will give way, and I’ll be able to get through.

Your dad in a dream is both your dad and representative of an authority figure in your life. Whether you accept their authority doesn’t matter. It matters that they have power to punish you. In the dream, the people behind the aforementioned publication, people with authority in the yoga, are represented by my dad. It’s been years since I called him, as it’s been years I’ve been a more or less quiet outcast in the yoga, though there have been periods in the past 12 years I’ve been in this exile, especially in the beginning, where I sent out a flurry of communications, but now, for the first time, people are talking to me, what the dream’s showing, since my dad, who are the people fielding the Facebook page and possibly their superiors, are at the same time ready to hear from me (full of questions about me more like it) and angry I’m contacting them. The gift, the poem, is of no consequence to them, only those questions and anger, but I do feel the gift has been accepted, and as I do find myself in that car outside a bar.

The windows are rolled up, and the doors shut, and I am very alone inside that car, much like I’m inside my room, where I spend most of my time, but the dream’s also demonstrating that the communication with my ‘dad’ has gotten real personal and private, between he and I, how it’s being experienced by us, regardless it’s still on a public Facebook page. A bar in dream symbolizes lower vital indulgence, whether that be drinking itself or other substances, or sex and the like. In the dream I don’t know why I’m parked outside that bar, only that it has to do with my dad, as though I’m waiting for him to come out, though I know he’s not in there and know he doesn’t drink. I’m there because my dad thinks that’s where I go a lot, or, to say it literally interpreting the dream symbol, the people of that publication, as well as my yoga in general, and the ‘world’ for that matter, see me parked at a bar indulging my desires when they think of me. You might notice that in the dream I haven’t parked myself there and don’t know why my dad has me waiting there, outside a bar.

Though it might be too much detail, why I’m in the front seat and not the back, and why I’m in the passenger’s seat, has to do with the fact I’m not driving either the car in the dream or my room in waking life, and it’s not the Devil driving let me tell you, but neither am I  just in the back seat a passive passenger; I’m riding shotgun.

The silence on the other end of the line, me trying to get my dad to talk, not knowing if he’s saying anything or not the darkness is so thick, night here again meaning what it does in the diner, jars me a little towards awareness. Pain tends to do that also in dream. The dream symbol begins to come off, and I start feeling what pain the dream’s surfacing, the position of being an almost total and absolute outcast in the household in which I live, on the inside of things, the house of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I release some of the emotional pain associated with that, and as I do I begin to wake up in the dream and also hear and see the play of thunder and lightning, as though it’s there but at the same time not yet, it being more an outline of the phenomenon than the full monty, a common characteristic of dream and its manner of revealing our reality. I’d be bold enough to say that it’s presence shows our communication, between the publication and I, to be significant at the very least, and that it seems more on the way than all the way there to be indicative perhaps of some coming climax in regards to my acceptance as a sadhak in the Integral Yoga with a contribution to give: understanding, though that contribution is an elaboration here, not a facet of the dream.

The dream shift captures my awareness back in the dream which is a much different scenario, and the only link to the other parts of the dream is the car, which I’ve just gotten out of after arriving at my house, which is also the Duke family house, my dad’s side of the family and made up of country people. As I walk across the yard/driveway, I see my dad and uncles working on an old car, just in my awareness, what it means when the action’s taking place on the edge of darkness. That my dad’s suddenly died, and I regret not taking the long opportunity I had to see him before that, is the dream shifting more to the frontal interpretation of it being about the relationship with my actual dad, and once again I begin to become aware it’s a dream, the regret pushing the boundaries of the dream-movie before my eyes, but it’s not enough to make me lucid , and as I walk to the back of the house, I see the shed, and the dream captures my complete awareness once again. The shed represents our Facebook page Harm’s End, and the special organic material are the muse poems posted on it. I can see that people have been on the page reading the material, though I see that in the symbols of the dream, not aware of what they represent.

The evidence, however, isn’t substantial enough for me to be sure neighbors have come and read some of the poems, taken the organic material, and so I follow the faint trail leading to the back fence to investigate. I should say, leaving the dream a moment, that I usually get no reactions from a muse poem post, except sometimes likes from my kids and their friends who like the pics, or a like from Douglas, my partner on the page. So I have no idea if anyone’s reading them or not except for the little round world on the top of the page telling me I’ve had pageviews, something that isn’t daily nor ever very many except when we’ve boosted a post, where most of our reactions for posts have come from: paid.

Nighttime here in this part of the dream has more to do with my neighbors getting the organic material, reading the poems, under the cover of darkness, not letting on about it , leaving no likes or comments, unless, like I said, it’s from our family or a boosted post. Once I get to the back fence it’s very clear neighbors have come, with a small tractor even, and gotten some of the reading material. It being the back gate represents the same thing it being night does; they came in secret, almost as if they stole. They left the fence open even, and it wouldn’t be stretching it to say that represents the two page views I saw the next morning after the dream, what had lit up in my little world at the top of the page. It’s no problem closing the fence again. All you have to do is read the message, and the number in the little world icon disappears. I don’t like it that neighbors are coming in secret to get what I’m giving openly and for free, want them to come around to the front, give some appreciation, but I do realize some material is being taken at least, posts are being read, and so, as I close the back fence, click on the little world, I’m not unhappy about it.

Although I don’t absolutely know that publication read the atheist poem that I asked them to in the comment I left on their page, the dream, along with the two page views, gives me good reason to believe that they did. The dream and other inner communication between us resulted in a poem I put as a comment on their page, during the day after the dream, and as I said earlier, they befriended me soon after posting it. For the past two weeks I’ve been waiting for them to like my page, and not even another poem has moved them, but I don’t see them ignoring me. What I do see is the necessity of showing I really see. Especially religious authority, as history bears witness, when it’s confronted by what it fears and doesn’t understand, is not a kind father.

Though you might think I’ve read too much into this dream, that it’s not possible to interpret them in such detail, even if I’ve gotten a symbol or two wrong, I haven’t over-stepped the boundaries of dream. It takes a lifetime to learn to interpret them, as much study as we put into books and other outer media, and few seem willing to do that, wanting just to jump to dream powers such as lucid dreaming and out of body experiences and the like, or even straight to spiritual experiences. Becoming conscious of dream initiates a multifarious process that eventually culminates in understanding not only the nature of dreams and their symbol meaning, understanding how to consciously use them to investigate reality, find the soul and look for God, seeing in great overabundant detail our hidden inner unity, how we communicate with one another on the inside of ourselves, but also, coming to the understanding that outer reality is as well like unto a dream in that it’s a story of a story, though a more substantial story we might say than our personal pell-mell dreams, a real story that represents layer upon layer of deeper reality that when you get to its bare ground, you find God.

I can’t lead you there, but I can try to show you how to see our underlying hidden unity, at the very least, how much we talk to one another in our inner life, and that the most readily available window to see that is the field of dreams. We don’t normally see it because, as I said in the beginning, we don’t yet know (have lost really) knowledge of the interpretation of dreams. This article might be called a field guide, looking however at only one species, but you have to use more than your reason to use it.

How in the world do I tell you, you only use your soul in a manner of speaking? To see what I’m talking about, your soul shows you that it’s using you. I don’t really think language can get here, it being itself a story of a story, representative by nature, and the soul, speaking of it in itself here and not its evolving personality the psychic being, well, how to say it? It doesn’t represent; it just is. It’s where dreams are born and all this communicating in them, sleeping dreams and world dreams, from where the seed is cast.

Can’t Get Rid Of The Zombie

By Douglas McElheny

When I was living in India, myself and two friends, David and Donny, started a kids program for urban village children. That program later evolved into a home for five of those children with us as the primary caretakers. As it turned out I left India when those kids we’re on the cusp of adolescence, but I’ve still stayed involved by funding the project. For most of the time I was in India as well I was funding The Lighthouse, as we called it then (now Harm’s End like the blog), with money that I had.

In addition to the five residents (now three) we also had and still have what you might call an ‘extended family’ of Lighthouse kids that we’re involved with. Because nearly all the kids we were dealing with were from severely impoverished families we were getting asked constantly for money for all kinds of things and not just for the children’s needs. The situation has continued with me in America and I sometimes get emails from Donny voicing someone’s request for this or that. The whole situation hits a trigger in my vital and was a struggle for me then as well as now.  Part of it is selfishness as well as a conflict with the conservative values I was raised with.  As a result I’m pretty tight fisted by nature. Donny is the opposite though and we often found ourselves at odds on the giving issue which created resentment in me towards him and towards the giving in general which was something I sometimes felt was forced on me. This was made worse by the fact that the people we were dealing with would try to play Donny against me in order to get what they wanted. There was also a lot of lying where we’d be asked for money for something, but find out later the money had actually been used for something else. That also created resentment.

Both now and in the past I either decide to give or am convinced to give more often than not it seems, so that really hasn’t changed.  I have mellowed out some though in regards to the giving, see the need for it in some cases, and I’ve gotten a lot better at not getting taken over as much by the feelings of annoyance etc. that come up nor letting the decision about a certain request take over my thoughts.

I still have reactions though to the requests, sometimes big reactions where this unintegrated resentment from the past comes surging up. I had one of those reactions recently when Donny relayed a request to pay for drum lessons from Samuel who is part of the extended family.  I said no since Mugu, a resident, had been asking for the same thing, and would probably have gotten irate at us giving lessons to someone else.  That in itself was a valid point, but as I said the resentment towards the giving came up as well as another source of resentment. Let me explain. Over the years I’ve given a lot of money to Lighthouse kids for this or that class (usually something with getting a job in mind), and I know the way these urban village children will quit things at the drop of a hat if they decide they don’t like it or find it to be too much effort.  And even in the instances where a class was finished, in every case they’ve either not used the education at all or gotten a job with it and quit within a matter of weeks. The hours are long and the pay is crap in India unless you have a lot of education so I can’t not empathize a little, but as you might understand, there’s a part of me that’s really tired of watching money go to waste in the attempts to help these people better themselves.  I figured if history was any indication there was a good chance Samuel wouldn’t stick with the drum class, and it would just be more money down the drain.

So getting back to the story, even after I told Donny my answer, the vital was still miffed about the whole thing, and the mind kept mulling over things such as what I’d say if Donny didn’t drop it etc.  Then that night I had this dream:

I’m in a town and Eli Manning is there as well as a guy who’s running amok.  A car almost runs the crazy guy over, but then some people manage to capture him and put him in an old car like a Model T that has no roof.  I get in the car too as a passenger.  We’re interrogating the crazy guy, and it’s apparent he’s completely nuts.  I finally just get sick of him and throw him out of the car.  I’m glad to be rid of the guy and he’s gone for a while.  Then he’s suddenly back crawling up the outside of the car, but he’s a zombie now. We manage to dislodge him again, but then he comes creeping again up the side of the car.  Somebody suggests we go play a video game about zombies, that doing so might give us a clue as to how to get rid of him.

Shortly after waking up the next day I decided I’d had enough of all this ruling my mind and vital so I made a firm resolution to throw it out.  It wasn’t so easy to get rid of though.  It took quite a bit of work and even though I wanted it gone the thoughts and antagonistic feelings kept coming back as the thing expended its emotional charge. The dream shows this process very well, first with the crazy guy, who represented these irrational thoughts and emotions, and how I threw him out of the car, which shows my decision to throw out the vital reaction I was having. Then we see how even after I’d ‘killed’ the guy, i.e. the vital movement, it kept coming back and this is shown by the guy becoming a zombie that I can’t get rid of.

Regarding some of the other symbols in the dream I have to admit I don’t know what to make of the part at the end about playing the video game, but Eli Manning is an interesting symbol. As any football fan knows, Manning and his team the New York Giants have toppled arrogant quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots twice in the Superbowl, the first time giving New England their only loss of the season. In addition to their reputation for being arrogant, the Patriots are also known for the two times they’ve been caught cheating in recent years. So if you look at the Patriots as cheating jerks with big egos, as many non-Patriots fans do, then you could see how maybe Manning represented some force or movement helping me to throw out the nasty vital reaction that had taken me over.

Another interpretation though is that Eli Manning might represent the nice guy in me since Manning, a two time Superbowl MVP quarterback, always comes across as a humble, well meaning fellow as well as a good sportsman except, of course, for when he was drafted1. The truth is there was part of me that wanted to give Samuel what he wanted because I feel sorry for him. He never stood a chance in the cutthroat Indian public school system and ended up dropping out. The future looks pretty bleak for Samuel, and the Eli Manning part of me wanted to give him something that he might take pleasure in.

So after I’d cleared out the vital reaction the Eli Manning part of me was still pleading Samuel’s case, but in the end I decided that since Donny didn’t voice any objection to my decision I would let it stand and see if Samuel pressed the issue. If he did I figured that might mean it was more than just a fleeting fancy or just arising out of a desire to make noise. Another reason, however, that I decided to let the thing drop at the time was because that I knew after I saw the meaning of the zombie dream that I’d eventually be writing this article, and that would be a chance to take another look at things.2

So in closing, while I think it’s been valuable to go into the nuts and bolts of my vital reaction, I want to reemphasize a really important lesson in this article, which is how these vital movements won’t go without a fight once you’ve let them get in and really take over. The best thing of course is to not let it get to that point, to detach yourself from them immediately if you can and don’t let yourself get fully pulled into the vital vortex. That can be hard to avoid though with things that really get your goat the way this situation did with me.  Once it’s really gotten to you though, the best thing to do, once you’re able to, is make a firm resolution to throw the vital movement out and then be more stubborn than it until it’s gone.

Notes and References

  1. Manning stated publicly that he would refuse to play for the San Diego Chargers should they draft him.  
  2. After proofing the article Donny revealed to me that Samuel had in fact been persistently asking for the class for a while before he finally relayed the request to me. Donny also said that Samuel kept asking for a while after I’d said no, but that he kept telling Samuel the answer was no. When I asked Donny recently if he thought we should give Samuel the class he said he thought we shouldn’t at the moment, because Samuel didn’t seem to be interested anymore, but that somewhere down the road it might be appropriate if he asked again.