Modern Mythos

Skipper and Professor
The Skipper and the Professor of ‘Gilligan’s Island’.

By Douglas McElheny

Recently, after I posted my latest blog, I was thinking about what my next post might be. I had two ideas and started writing a little bit for each one. Then one night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I heard a voice say loud and clear, “Modern mythos.”

This is a theme I’ve touched on over the years in my writings, how all the different characters we’re exposed to in modern media serve as a modern mythos for our dreams to draw on for symbols. And since there can be a lot of variation in the characters we’re exposed to, because of what part of the world and what generation we grew up in, the modern mythos can be quite customized you might say per individual. When I grew up I was steeped in not just movies and television, but was also an avid comic book collector and know a lot of comic book characters, particularly Marvel comic book characters my dreams can use to show what’s going on with me the same way Greek and Roman gods and heroes would have been used by the dreams of people in those times.

Since the line ‘Modern mythos’ seemed like guidance I decided to write a blog post sharing and exploring a couple of these types of dreams. There was nothing really recent though in my dream journal that I could use, so it seemed possible to me that perhaps the dreams for this new post were yet to come. That proved to be the case, and two nights later I remembered two suitable dreams, both of which I will share as an examples of this type of dream. I’ll start with this one:

I’m with Darth Vader, but he’s actually my ally and we’re going to attack the Emperor. I’ve done something that has gotten the Emperor on the ground face down, and he seems to be unconscious. I want to stab him through the heart and kill him, but I have to leave for a moment to get someone to do something for me. When I come back the Emperor is awake. I stab him in different places with my lightsaber, but I can’t get him in the heart, and my attacks don’t seem to be doing anything. But then the Emperor changes into something like a big piece of plywood, and I’m smashing it with a hammer and telling people to take the pieces and burn them. While this is going on someone is organizing all the comic books that are here in the room in order to store them somewhere. The only one of the comic books I remember seeing was an issue of Daredevil, who’s on the cover dressed in a suit as his alter ego Matt Murdock. He’s with a woman who’s his girlfriend and who has stretching powers like Mister Fantastic.

The main part of this dream I think could be viewed as showing something universal in the sense that it demonstrates the plight of anyone struggling with their nature, shows how the spiritual warrior is dogged by hostile opposition in the process of purifying and converting all the parts of himself. The Emperor would seem to be some kind of hostile or anti-divine force opposing the spiritual endeavor or maybe the vital part or parts of us that are subject to that influence or perhaps all of those things. Darth Vader, in this dream at least1, would stand for a part or parts of one’s being that are in darkness, but are turning toward the light, a part that is being converted. That makes sense because Vader turns back to the light before he dies. Then there’s the character I play, the hero in the sense of the spiritual warrior, fighting the battle against one’s own nature and the forces of darkness that oppose.

Since this first part of the dream does seem to show a universal situation you can see how the three main characters could be swapped out with others. For example someone who was growing up in the first part of this century when Harry Potter was all the rage could have this same dream using Severus Snape in place of Darth Vader, and Lord Voldemort in place of the Emperor. The dreamer might also regard himself as Harry Potter or perhaps just play himself like I did in my dream: I didn’t regard myself as Luke Skywalker. And of course in the Harry Potter scenario the hero would be wielding a magic wand rather than a lightsaber. Here though we’ve reached a point where my dream steps outside the Star Wars mythos and starts using more mundane objects for symbols. My lightsaber, with which I was fighting ineffectively, becomes an ordinary hammer and the Emperor becomes something like plywood. Now what could that mean?

Donny feels that wood in a dream often represents something vital. That certainly fits here and would confirm that the Emperor is showing something in my vital that is under the influence of or has its buttons pushed by hostile forces. I’m not sure what a hammer might represent as opposed to a lightsaber, but a hammer is usually used to do work so maybe it signifies a labor I have to undertake. It’s also a very blunt instrument and certain types of hammers are used to break and destroy things. In this dream I used it to destroy the plywood, and then the pieces are taken to be burned. Donny said this movement suggested to him the idea of destroying something utterly, of burning it down to ashes, and that that could represent thoroughly rejecting whatever the Emperor/plywood represented, of giving it no quarter. Fire might also represent the fire of spiritual aspiration and tapas being used to burn up this particular wrong movement.

It’s interesting that the Emperor was vulnerable and seemingly unconscious at the beginning of my dream. Maybe whatever he represents could have been completely defeated at that time in my life, but the opportunity was missed. I wouldn’t bet on it though. It’s not easy to get rid of these things.

So now let’s examine the last piece of this dream: the comic book cover. Daredevil’s epithet is the ‘The Man Without Fear’, and rightly so since he literally has no fear and can resist fear toxins used by super villains. The other thing that makes Daredevil cool is he’s blind, but has enhanced senses including an additional radar sense he can use to negotiate the world. Given this Daredevil could perhaps represent occult powers or senses that can perceive beyond our normal five senses. I could see how a dream might highlight that feature of the character, but in this dream we find him as his alter ego Matt Murdock whose profession is a trial lawyer. This seems to me to be the key to interpreting the symbol at least as far as this dream goes.

Now a lawyer’s weapon is his mind and not his fists, and Donny also pointed out that a lawyer is an advocate, someone acting on your behalf for your wellbeing. Now at the time of this dream I was having a particularly rough go of it with the chronic pain I’m afflicted with in both my lower back and my knees. One problem I have regarding the chronic pain is the fear about it and the gloom and doom thoughts and feelings that can come up in reference to it, especially during a difficult period. So perhaps the dream is urging me to be ‘The Man Without Fear’ in the sense of being my own advocate and combating the fear, not just by rejecting it, but also by using my mind to reason with the vital and calm it down the same way a lawyer uses reason to present his arguments and win a trial. Or maybe the dream was showing me that some helpful force or entity was acting on my behalf to bring me courage, an intervention that might have been represented in the dream of an ancient Greek as the goddess Athena or perhaps by a hero like Perseus. I don’t think though that these two ideas are mutually exclusive, if you’re being guided to do something that would indicate the power or capacity would be there to help you do it.

So with that idea in mind we can take a look at the character of the girlfriend with the same elastic stretching powers as Mister Fantastic. This could simply be showing the capacity of being flexible, and since this character was a woman maybe it’s in the vital that I need more flexibility. What that might mean though in terms of some kind of action or effort on my part I’m not really sure. Maybe it has something to do with not resisting the fact that there’s chronic pain since resistance is something inflexible and unyielding that just creates more misery. That’s admittedly just a guess though, but not one that seems totally ludicrous. I’d add that fear and resistance do go hand in hand a lot of the time.

*****

The second modern mythos dream I had that night features the iconic American television show Gilligan’s Island. This was a show that was getting a lot of airtime in reruns when I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s and one I would watch frequently. Here is the dream.

I’m with the Skipper and we’re on Gilligan’s Island. We’ve managed to get a hold of a working radio and have called for help and are talking to someone. Just as we’re about the give our coordinates, we lose the connection, and we figure we’ll have to try again later. The radio has changed into a book now, and we want to put it in the Professor’s hut for safekeeping because we know there’s one castaway that’s a bit crazy and doesn’t want to leave the island and who will try to sabotage our efforts. I’m trying to put the book in between some other books under the Professor’s desk. The Professor doesn’t seem too concerned about this crazy castaway, but I am.

This dream also seems to me to depict something universal about the human condition, and that is that we’re all basically marooned consciousness-wise in a small, cramped, miserable type of existence. And while we may have the aspiration to get out of it, there are still parts of us that don’t want to change and are sabotaging our aspiration at every step.

So from this outlook the radio suggests to me the idea of one’s call or aspiration to the divine as well as one’s receptivity to the divine power and influence, but it’s not easy to keep that call and that receptivity going all the time. The crazy castaway seems to be illustrating the fact that we’ve all got parts of us that sabotage our efforts whether consciously or unconsciously. The Professor would seem to represent the mind or something mental and perhaps is showing in the dream how we can be unconscious of these things that are sabotaging us. I’m not sure what the Skipper might represent, but he’s to some extent the de facto leader of the group as well as a good-hearted mama bear who takes the care and safety of the other castaways very seriously. Given this, could he represent the higher vital, or as Donny suggested, due to the fact that he’s the leader, the ego? It’s hard to say.

The fact that the radio turns into a book is interesting. Perhaps as Donny suggested it simply has to do with my daily reading of spiritual literature, which for the most part is the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and the effect that has on the consciousness. At the time of the dream I was noting how reading Aurobindo’s The Life Divine would sometimes noticeably raise my consciousness and elevate my thinking for short periods of time.

One question I have, since I had both these dreams in the same night, is do Darth Vader and the crazy castaway represent the same thing or part of me? If that’s the case that would show how this part is still pretty mixed up, still stuck in a middle ground between conversion and following its lower bent. I often see swings in my dreams regarding Darth Vader where sometimes he’s my enemy and sometimes my ally. In fact while writing this article I had a dream where Anakin Skywalker was fighting with Yoda and other jedi masters. So because of this and also because I had these two dreams on the same night it seems logical to me the two symbols could be connected. And I think together these two dreams compliment each other in terms of painting a complete picture of where I was at and what I was facing at the time.

Before I wrap up here I’d like to point out that like with my Star Wars dream you can see the potential with this Gilligan’s Island dream to swap the main characters with different ones from other tv shows or movies and the dream would still carry the same message. For example, if you were a fan of the show Lost, that aired in the first part of the century and which also featured a group of people marooned on an island, your dreams could use those characters. The same essential scenario could also be shown using the storyline and appropriate characters from shows like Lost in Space or Star Trek: Voyager since the characters in those two shows are lost and trying to find their way home.

Now in closing I’ll admit there isn’t really anything earth shattering or unusually revelatory in these dreams, but they are good examples of modern mythos dreams and show how our dreams can take these cultural figures and use them to communicate with us. I hope to have more to say on this fascinating subject in the future.

Notes and References

  1. I think it’s possible Darth Vader might just represent a hostile influence in some cases, such as the dream I shared on my post ‘The Emperor Has A Scheme’.

Forecasting A Facebook Phenomenon

By Douglas McElheny

Recently I had a dream that I feel foreshadowed an interaction that took place on facebook two days after the dream. The dream and the facebook event both revolve around my friend Angelo with whom I lived for nearly a year twelve years ago when I was residing at Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham a.k.a. the Lodi Ashram near Lodi California. Angelo and I haven’t communicated with any kind of regularity over the years, but he’s a frequent figure in my dreams, often in regards to the Lodi Ashram, but also in regards to Auroville of which he recently became a member. This dream had the flavor of Auroville though it didn’t take place there and is a excerpt of a longer dream. Here it is:

Donny and I are in a busy part of a city, and there is at least one other guy with us. We stop in front of a counter that is selling pieces of cake, and the guy with us wants me to buy him a piece. Some other people show up who are trying to get me to buy them things too. Donny and I go into a restaurant to get away from them. Inside is a table with 8-10 people sitting at it, and Angelo is sitting at the head of the table. Most of the people have the look of Aurovillians (permanent residents of Auroville). I call out to him and run over and give him a hug. Donny and the others head to another part of the restaurant to find a table and leave me to talk to Angelo. We talk for a few minutes, and then I tell him I’ll let him get back to his party. There is a girl there with dyed purple hair. In the dream we’ve met online but never in person, and she tells me it’s nice to finally meet me in person. I tell her I feel the same.

This dream took place on the morning of August 26, 2017. On August 27th Angelo updated his profile picture on Facebook, and a number of people including me liked the post. Many of them were people involved with Auroville and also the wider community of those connected to Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. Angelo doesn’t post frequently on Facebook, but I clicked through to his timeline to see what I may have missed if anything. I didn’t see any posts I’d missed, but one of the people he was friends with caught my eye because of the name she used, which obviously wasn’t her real name. We’ll call her Barbara. So I clicked through to Barbara’s timeline and when I got a better look at her I was pretty sure she was someone I had briefly met before, first in Auroville eleven years ago and then not long after that at a retreat center near Tiruvannamalai. I wasn’t 100% sure though since back then she had long hair.

So, a few hours passed and I went back to look at Angelo’s post to see who had liked it etc., and I saw that Barbara had left a comment on the post. Then, in one of those sweeping ‘aha!’ moments, I remembered the girl in my dream with the purple hair, and it struck me she might represent Barbara, and that the dream was representing this Facebook interaction on Angelo’s post. As I thought about it, it made a lot of sense. Angelo was at the head of the table like the guest of honor, and all these people had gathered for him in the restaurant just like all of us gathered together around him on his Facebook post. And many of the people who liked the post were Aurovillians, just like many of the people at the tables in the dream were Aurovillians. I can see the logic too of why the Facebook interaction was represented by being in a restaurant and also perhaps by the cake at the beginning of the dream. Restaurants are places for social interaction as well as eating, and looking at things on Facebook is sort of like having a meal for the vital. It’s something the vital can sink its teeth into for a moment’s or hour’s diversion, something that scratches the itch of desire. But also something that gives a very real social interaction by way of the comments, likes etc. and thus entails an exchange of vital forces the same way a conversation at a party does despite the fact that the person or people aren’t right there in front of you.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Facebook phenomenon could be forecast in a dream, but I guess since things on Facebook occur online they seem somehow less real than a party or gathering you actually to go to physically. So as a result I was initially ‘wowed’ by this realization. Now that I’m awake to the possibility, perhaps I’ll find more examples in the future to share.

It’s So Easy To Forget

By Douglas McElheny

It’s so easy to get irked with people about the same faults we have or have had in the past, so easy to forget what we were like when we were young when dealing with young people and the difficulties their immaturity presents. It’s a blind spot that seems to afflict a lot of us when we become adults, this lack of tolerance and understanding for the young, like they should somehow not have the same faults we had at their age. I needed a dream recently to remind me of this. Let me share.

As I’ve pointed out in other posts we have an ‘extended family’ of people we are still involved with in addition to the young adults that reside here with us in our house. One of these young men is homeless, we’ll call him H. for short. H. shows up every once in awhile and wants to stay couple of days, would like to live here actually, but we’re not taking anybody else on at the moment. We have a general guideline that we let people stay two nights per visit, but since H. claimed he had both lost his job and had a fight with his mother we let him stay for four. After those four days both Donny and I, especially Donny, were glad that he left. H. usually keeps to himself when he’s here, but on this particular occasion he was frequently going into Donny’s room and wanting to hang out there. Both Donny and I like our privacy and don’t really want anyone else just hanging out in our rooms so that was bothersome for him as H. couldn’t take the hint. H. was also coming to my room to ask for money and the keys to the moped to go get this or that indulgence for himself, a soda or a snack etc. I’m used to our residents showing that kind of boldness when they want something, but the repeated coming for money on H.’s part got kind of annoying. I think it’s like the saying goes that “the fish had started to stink.” Anyone that we’re not accustomed to being around gets on our nerves eventually. I will say that something seemed to be bothering H., but we never figured out what that was.

A day or so after H. left I had this dream:

I’ve been staying at Billie’s house for a few days, but I’ve decided I’m definitely going to leave tomorrow. I’m pondering how I should spend my last day, and I think it would be nice if Billie and I went somewhere that we could hike. So I go upstairs to find Billie. I tell him my idea and he angrily tells me no he doesn’t want to go hiking. I’m taken aback by this and ask him if this is just because the fish have started to stink. I say “Maybe four days here was too much and two would have been enough. Please be honest if this is the reason so I will know if I ever come to visit again.” In a huff he admits it. I go downstairs and tell his mom Mary Margaret what happened. She says that she herself hasn’t been bothered by my being there, but that “it’s his daughter.” By this she means that my being there is getting in the way of Billie spending time with his daughter.

 Back in 1999 I had gone to a Rainbow Gathering in Pennsylvania. When it was over I managed to catch a ride out of there with a group that was headed to Bloomington Indiana, so I figured I would get off at Richmond Indiana where I had gone to high school and see some old friends. The first place I stopped was the home of a mother of a friend of mine, Dave who wasn’t there, but actually living in Colorado. Karen let me stay a couple of days before she drove to Colorado to see Dave, and she made it clear I wasn’t invited though I wanted to go. Next I went to my friend Max’s house and slept on their couch for a few days before his wife told Max to show me the door. So I ended up at Billie’s where I stayed maybe a week, before I took a bus to New Jersey to stay with my brother for a few days before I got on a plane to Europe to go and see the total solar eclipse in Hungary.

Now at the time I was kind of baffled as to why Karen hadn’t wanted to take me to Colorado with her, and also why Max’s wife had wanted me to leave, because I couldn’t see what a mooch and a parasite I was being. Billie was more accommodating probably because he was my hands down best friend from high school. He didn’t say anything, but I surely wore out my welcome there too, eating his food and not contributing much except for buying all the marijuana we were smoking. I’m not sure how annoyed Billie got with the whole thing, but probably more than he let on, though I think he did enjoy having me there. I’m quite sure though that his girlfriend (with whom he was living along with their four kids) got annoyed by my presence.

So when I was looking at this dream it made me take a look at the way I was acting back then, how I’d made people feel the same feelings that came up in me towards H.. There’s part of me that realizes just on general principle that I need to get to the place where I don’t get annoyed by things like this, but the dream also brought the point home that I’ve acted the same way and really have no justification for getting annoyed with people who are still immature in the same way that I was back then. We have a number of people from our ‘extended family’ who come over here just to indulge their vitals and eat our food and don’t give nary a thing back, and if they’re asked to do something they’ll get in a huff about it or do a half-assed job. Our residents aren’t much different. That’s hard for my ego to take, but it’s largely immaturity on their part and I was the same way. The other big factor however is boys in this culture are waited on hand and foot their entire lives as they’re growing up, and feel like they shouldn’t have to do anything even when they’re a guest in somebody else’s home.

This wasn’t the end of the lesson though because a day or so after the dream another young man, we’ll call him Fred as in Right Said Fred showed up. Now Fred isn’t part of the extended family, but a nineteenth cousin or something of three of our residents. Fred is young, and extremely conceited, thinks he’s a big somebody because he’s a fashion photographer and has over 3,500 facebook friends following his personal page. He doesn’t get paid as far as I know for his photographs, just takes a lot of pictures of himself and his friends dressed up with sunglasses, and showing off their six packs if they have them. It’s the sort of thing young Tamils would like, glitzy and shallow, but I will admit that he has talent and thus he’s built his small following. Fred also has an amplified vital and wants a big party whenever he’s here. Usually he comes on a Friday and leaves on Sunday, but on this particular visit he came on Sunday and wanted to stay four days. It basically threw off our whole schedule as far as satsung goes, since our boys (who worship Fred) were running around with him taking pictures. They also bought beer and were drinking which is something Donny and I allow occasionally, but we want to be informed about it, and in this case, as is often the case when Fred is here, we were not.

Fred and I got off on the wrong foot from the get go after I first got back to India when he brought three extra people with him when he came for New Year’s Eve and then proceeded to tell me they were staying for two days when I told him to get them up and out of here on New Year’s Day. He’s just one of those personalities that will push things as much as he can, and the alpha in me doesn’t like being defied by someone trying to come into our house and do whatever he wants. Neither am I impressed with Fred’s 3,500 facebook friends, and find him mainly a disturbance who makes the house harder to manage while he’s here. During his visit this time though I realized my dream about Billie related to him too, and that he was just acting the same way I was back in 1999. Given this it’s interesting that both he and H. stayed for four days just as in my dream I was at Billie’s for four days. Maybe there’s some reaping of what I sowed going on here too. The other thing I tried to recognize is that, although I find Fred’s visits unpleasant, it’s a vital treat for the young men here who feed off his amplified vital energy and ‘let’s party’ atmosphere and who think he’s basically living the dream with his 3,500 facebook friends. I also found myself feeling a little bit sorry for Fred too, since he is good looking and with his swagger he’d do well with the ladies in a more liberal country, but here in India with this traditional culture it’s not so easy carry on a relationship. I guess that may be kind of silly on my part, but empathy is still empathy I suppose. I will say though that in general I feel sadness for the plight of young people here because of all the sexual repression and the archaic system of arranged marriages, but I digress.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t react to Fred’s antics during this particular visit, but there is a sort of epilogue to all this. A month later I came out of my apartment and heard a very loud voice downstairs that I recognized as Fred and was irked since he hadn’t called to ask if it was all right to come, something we’ve asked him to do as a courtesy. That night I had this dream:

I’m reading an account of something that happened at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, but at times it shifts visually to snapshots or short clips of what’s being recounted. There’s a group of people outside the ashram doing something with the Mother, and an obnoxious jogger passes by and yells “Byyyyyyyyeeee!” as he goes by. Then he stops and gets on the phone at a telephone booth. Everyone is just gawking at him until the Mother comes and tells us to get back to work and stop paying attention to the guy, that he has no importance.

 The first conclusion I came to about the dream is that the obnoxious jogger who got on the pay phone represented Fred, who is both physically fit and also always on his smartphone. I took it that the message for me was to not get aggravated by him, see him for the thing of no importance that he is and carry on with my work. Now I think that’s true, but I think at the same time, and more importantly, the obnoxious jogger represents this part of me that reacts to Fred and creates an inner disturbance, because the real problem isn’t Fred or H. or whoever or whatever else I’m reacting too. The problem is my reactions.

I don’t know if I’m cured or not as far as reacting to Fred, but this dream really helped me, and I wasn’t bothered by him much when he was here this time and even felt some good will for him. The thing is though sometimes you have to lay down the law when you run a house like this, but the problem with me is the alpha male part of me overreacts and wants to bring the hammer down hard on challenges to its authority. It’s a continuing issue because if Donny and I didn’t assert ourselves at times our house would be overrun. What I need to do though, I feel, is work on getting a handle on myself in these situation and dealing with things firmly but with understanding, and not let my ego turn things into a pissing contest. Alas, yet another thing to work on and another thing it seems can only be completely solved by a change in consciousness since the human ego self, this way of knowing in which all these outer persons and events appear as something separate and distinct from ‘me’, is a thing of reactions and resistances. I don’t have the feeling though that if you shift to a higher way of knowing that lives in the oneness and unity of existence, that you turn into a passive candy ass. But I do think that there wouldn’t be any ill will or animal aggressiveness when you assert yourself, but rather a sincere compassion even when you’re acting in a heavy-handed way or with severity. Other people might still react to you as if there are still those baser feelings at play in you, but that won’t be the truth, just their reaction and misinterpretation. So I guess the final word is that living in a higher consciousness won’t save you from offending people. In fact, you might offend more people than you would otherwise, but you won’t be acting from ego and that’s what counts.

 

The Hostile On Top Of Me

predator cloak

By Douglas McElheny

In my last blog I gave an example of a dream where I feel I had an actual encounter with a hostile being, that is, a being of conscious darkness. I have another example I wanted to share in this post.

This dream happened quite a number of years ago when Donny and I were living in Cusco Peru. We stayed there for a span of months and shortly after arriving we befriended a group of holistic doctors there. Two of these doctors, Carlos and Luis, had a small apartment in Cusco, but on the weekends went to their homes and families in the small town of Urubamba nearby. Donny was a frequent weekend guest at Carlos’ house, and I went less frequently to stay with Luis. Luis had four children who were all teenagers or in their early twenties. One of them was a daughter, Chani, if I remember her name correctly.

The first few times I stayed with Luis and his family, I slept on the floor in an unused dental examination room. On one of those early visits I had a dream I was there on the floor in that room and Chani was on top of me, but fully clothed. She lowered her face to mine and we started kissing, but the experience was rather unpleasant, as she was moving her tongue around rapidly and violently in a circle. I opened my eyes and instead of Chani there was a being like the alien from the movie Predator in the sense that it was transparent, but I could still make it out and see its features to some extent. It was humanoid, but more bizarre and alien looking than anything Hollywood has ever managed to come up with. What I remember most clearly about it though was a small beak like thing it had for a mouth that had a tongue like thing that was circling around the outside of the beak the same way it had been doing in my mouth just few seconds before. Then I woke up and it was either still dark out or dawn was just beginning while in the dream the room had been fully lit.

If I remember correctly I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that the being I was kissing and that had appeared to me in Chani’s form was a hostile vital being. I also realized I had probably been in the cataleptic state back in my body, yet still in the dream state when the encounter occurred. The whole thing made a strong impression on me and I’ve never forgotten it over the years. I’ve also had other dreams where I was kissing someone and there was something unpleasant about it, -usually it’s something they’re doing with their tongue, but sometimes their mouth has a really gross taste- and I’ve wondered if at those times I was kissing another one of these beings in disguise. I honestly don’t know though nor do I know if it’s possible to have intimacy in a dream with one of these beings and have it be marvelous. I just know what I experienced that one time.

Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have spoken at length about these types of vital beings in their talks and writings. According to their experience there seems to be a whole spectrum of them from fallen divine beings to small mischievous entities that like to cause accidents. And some classes of these beings it appears are actually spawned from our own lower desires while we’re still alive or from parts of our own vital makeup after we die.1 And for all these types of vital beings their food is the energy we give off during lower vital movements such as lust, anger, depression etc., and they’re pushing our buttons and setting up situations both in dream and waking life to get us to give off these types of energies. My feeling on the matter is that if our eyes were suddenly unsealed and we saw how pervasive their influence is, how much they’re pulling our strings, not just individually but collectively, we’d all be in for one hell of a shock. In his epic Savitri, Sri Aurobindo speaks about their pervasiveness in a very striking passage. He tells us:

Their whispers come, an inarticulate force,
Awake in mind an echoing thought or word,
To their sting of impulse the heart’s sanction draw,
And in that little Nature do their work
And fill its powers and creatures with unease.
Its seed of joy they curse with sorrow’s fruit,
Put out with error’s breath its scanty lights
And turn its surface truths to falsehood’s ends,
Its small emotions spur, its passions drive
To the abyss or through the bog and mire:
Or else with a goad of hard dry lusts they prick,
While jogs on devious ways that nowhere lead
Life’s cart finding no issue from ignorance.
To sport with good and evil is their law;
Luring to failure and meaningless success,
All models they corrupt, all measures cheat,
Make knowledge a poison, virtue a pattern dull
And lead the endless cycles of desire
Through semblances of sad or happy chance
To an inescapable fatality.
All by their influence is enacted there.2

Now I think it’s necessary to point out that in this passage he’s describing their action and influence in the vital planes or the ‘Kingdoms of the Little Life’ as he puts it. As the passage continues however he goes on to point out they’re doing the same thing here in our material world.

Nor there alone is their empire or their role:
Wherever are soulless minds and guideless lives
And in a small body self is all that counts,
Wherever love and light and largeness lack,
These crooked fashioners take up their task.
To all half-conscious worlds they extend their reign.
Here too these godlings drive our human hearts,
Our nature’s twilight is their lurking-place:
Here too the darkened primitive heart obeys
The veiled suggestions of a hidden Mind
That dogs our knowledge with misleading light
And stands between us and the Truth that saves.
It speaks to us with the voices of the Night:
Our darkened lives to greater darkness move;
Our seekings listen to calamitous hopes.
A structure of unseeing thoughts is built
And reason used by an irrational Force.3

Discussing this article with Donny, he pointed out again something we’ve talked about before, and that’s how the knowledge of how much these ‘crooked fashioners’ are involved in our lives and in all the harm that’s done on this planet is something that has to come out on a societal level and be looked at squarely in the face if we’re going to effectively deal with human wrongdoing and evolve to a state beyond these hostile influences. In science fiction there’s the common theme of humanity uniting to face a common alien invasion, and I can see how this knowledge of hostile forces and beings manipulating and controlling us could serve as a catalyst, or one of them at least, that will give humanity a reason to unite and a common enemy to fight against. This would be a battle of a different kind though since the fight would to free ourselves from their influence, the kingdom conquered our own purified nature and we would all be allies trying to help each other win that personal and at the same time collective war. I honestly don’t expect to see this sort of shift in my lifetime, but I do think it’s coming. How it will all be played out though remains to be seen.

Notes and References

  1. One place where the Mother discusses this particular type of vital entity is in Questions and Answers 1950-51, pg 192
  2. Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, pg 152-153
  3. Ibid, pg 153

The Hostile Behind Me

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The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli

By Douglas McElheny

For a number of years now I’ve been living with chronic pain in my lower back and my knees. There’s not a whole lot I can say about it other than it was a major life change that came on suddenly, and one that took a long time to even begin to adjust to. As you might imagine I’ve been searching for answers via my dreams as to what’s actually caused these disorders and preventing healing, since I suspect it’s something deeper than just physical injury or wear and tear. I hope one day to be able to know and be able to share insight into the deeper causes of my physical state, be they emotional, mental etc., but I can’t do that now with any kind of certainty. One thing though that I’ve suspected for years is that a hostile force (and by that I mean a force of conscious darkness) may be a factor involved in aggravating the pain, and maybe also in preventing its resolution, and I recently had a dream that for me verifies this.

Before I share the dream let me say that I had an actual injury to my lower back from a fall almost eighteen years ago that healed after a few weeks, and which I believe was a manifestation of the same causes that have brought about the chronic pain.1 The chronic pain itself didn’t begin until about eight years ago. The knee pain is more mysterious, and began suddenly about a year and a half after the back pain started, and was so intense for a while I didn’t feel the back pain very much. Some other pertinent details to know is the back pain started while I was staying at Nilambe Meditation Center in Sri Lanka, and that there was an Israeli man, Adi, who was giving me massage to help and actually succeeded in eliminating the pain for a couple of days before it came back.

So having given a little background here is the dream:

I’m at Nilambe. I’m in my room there, and it has amenities like a small refrigerator and microwave as well as a coffee maker. There is also a TV and DVD player. Outside my room I can see some people having a drum circle, and I’m thinking about how much this place has changed and become like a Rainbow Community2. I leave my room and go into the new library but am shocked to see only something like 25% of the books are there, and I’m wondering what happened to all the others. I figure they must be in a room somewhere else. I talk to Upul (the leader at Nilambe) a little bit, and at one point I’m outside by the dining area. I’ve got a motorbike I’m going to use to drive back to my room. I start driving, but then I’m walking, and I become lucid and don’t remember exactly what happened after that, but at one point I find myself lucid again and am laying in a bed lying on my side in the dark. Behind me I sense a disquieting presence and can sort of sense its form without actually seeing it. It’s humanoid, but very strange with some appendages on it a normal human body doesn’t have that come from the front of its trunk and are of different lengths. The appendages are stiff and wood-like but flexible at the same time and have blunt ends. I turn and start to struggle with the creature calling on the Mother as I do so. One of the appendages is attached to my lower back and I knock it off. Now the light is on in the room and I’m on top of the creature, which has changed into a blond woman. I’ve got her by the throat with both hands and am trying to choke her to death. I can’t seem to kill it, but I leave it on the bed in a seemingly incapacitated state. Now though it’s a brunette woman. Then I’m talking to Adi about what happened.

I can’t report the back pain being resolved or even greatly relieved on that day, but the dream did finally offer some proof to my suspicion that a hostile being or force is involved in the pain. The Mother speaks about this in her Questions and Answers, pointing out that sometimes behind an illness there’s also “an attack, a pressure from adverse forces who really want to harm you…encouraging the illness to become as bad as it can be.”3 I imagine her statement is also applicable to disorders like chronic pain syndromes, and she goes on to say that the right spiritual force can remove or destroy the adverse force “if you have this Force at your disposal or if you can ask for it and get it.”4

It was this passage in Questions and Answers that planted this idea in me some time ago, leading me to suspect that this was the case with me. So even before having this dream I’ve been asking for this Force to act and remove the hostile influence and also asking to be shown and to get help to change whatever mental, or emotional elements there might be that have given rise to this. I believe there might also be some kind of blockage or resistance in the body consciousness itself, and so I ask for help with that, help with making the body plastic and receptive. I also try to exercise regularly and stay as active as I can.

Ultimately what’s hard for me is letting go of getting any results, to ask and aspire for healing, but to put whether or not that happens in the end in divine hands and to try to keep my focus on doing the sadhana, on the goal of surrendering completely to the Divine in order to gain release from ego consciousness. But I’ve come to believe you even have to let go of whether or not your sadhana bears any kind of fruit as well, but yet still make the effort and aspire. It’s a level of sincerity I’ve yet to reach. A few days ago I read another passage of the Mother’s in a later volume of Questions and Answers that I’ve been trying to take to heart and would like to share since it spells out what the right attitude needs to be. It’s a rather long quote, but one that I think ought to be read in its entirety:

As with everything in yoga, the effort for progress must be made for the love of the effort for progress. The joy of effort, the aspiration for progress must be enough in themselves, quite independent of the result. Everything one does in yoga must be done for the joy of doing it, and not in view of the result one wants to obtain…. Indeed, in life, always, in all things, the result does not belong to us. And if we want to keep the right attitude, we must act, feel, think, strive spontaneously, for that is what we must do, and not in view of the result to be obtained.

 As soon as we think of the result we begin to bargain and that takes away all sincerity from the effort. You make an effort to progress because you feel within you the need, the imperative need to make an effort and progress; and this effort is the gift you offer to the Divine Consciousness in you, the Divine Consciousness in the Universe, it is your way of expressing your gratitude, offering yourself; and whether this results in progress or not is of no importance. You will progress when it is decided that the time has come to progress and not because you desire it.5

 Now THAT’S sincerity.

***

When I originally started writing this article I considered leaving the first part at Nilambe out, but decided to keep it in for two reasons. One, it seems significant because that’s where the chronic problems started and two, because of something that happened at Nilambe a couple of days before the chronic pain commenced. Let me explain.

Since Nilambe is a mediation center, I was obviously doing a lot of daily meditation as well as yoga classes in the morning and afternoon. One day after the afternoon meditation I found that I was very peaceful and relaxed and also had a very pleasant feeling throughout my body. I found it was a physical joy just to move as long as I moved slowly, and a walk up the hill to the lookout which normally took less than five minutes, took more like fifteen as I enjoyed the experience. After that I seem to remember the experience faded. Then like I said a couple of days later during the afternoon yoga class the pain started up. Given this I’ve had to wonder if there’s a connection between the two things. I’m unsure what that connection would be if indeed one exists, but one possibility that occurred to me is that the positive experience in the body may have been brought on prematurely by all the meditation and asana, and the result was that a resistance in the body which could have been worked out more slowly and less traumatically by the progression of the sadhana was brought up in a very abrupt way. There isn’t this kind of correlation of a nice bodily experience with the commencement of the knee pain, but following my neurologist’s recommendation, I was doing a lot of physical exercise at the time including two weekly one-hour power yoga classes when that pain started up. Maybe overdoing it with exercise, especially asana, brought up more resistance in the body. It’s hard to say, but it seems possible.

Now I’m not sure as to what symbolic meaning the part of the dream with Nilambe may have had. The dream did prompt me though to look up their website and see what was going on with them. When I was at Nilambe it was a fairly open place and you could show up and stay just one night if you wanted to and long term stays were also possible, though most people were backpackers who would stay for a few days or a week or so. At some point though since the last time I was there in 2010 they have changed things considerably and are only running seven day retreats that you are required to attend for the whole seven days. My dream showed an even more bohemian and unstructured arrangement than when I was there and not a more structured one, so this dream doesn’t seem to reflect those changes. This leads me to believe it perhaps had more to do with where I was at in my life at the time of the dream. Our house here is pretty bohemian as far as things go with the young people that live or visit here, none of whom have any interest in the spiritual life and just want to get as much vital pleasure out of existence as they can. There’s a freedom here in our house for young people that probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in Pondicherry, though nearby Auroville has a more western and free atmosphere throughout the whole community. I can see how the dream might represent the state of our house which for Donny and I at least is our ashram in the midst of life, but overlaid with the vital atmosphere of our young people.

I will say however, if I can get up on my soapbox for a moment, something that Donny suggested, and that is that my dream might more truly represent the spirit of Nilambe, which is actually stunted by all this added structure. There of course was a daily schedule when I was at Nilambe, and people were expected to participate as well as maintain the Noble Silence, but if you slept in and missed the 5am meditation one day no one gave you a hard time about it. I missed that particular mediation often during my stays there. People would also do things like go into the woods to get high or even for romantic/sexual liaisons, and even though that was against the rules, the staff didn’t try to crack down on it much. I would guess there is a lot less tolerance for that sort of thing there now. I do think that Nilambe is a retreat center, and you can’t just let it be a free for all, the same way Donny and I can’t let the unregenerate vital just run riot here and completely rule the house. I imagine the purpose of these changes at Nilambe is mainly to change the clientele, so that even if backpackers show up, they’re serious about doing a seven day retreat. It also probably makes things easier on the staff there since the retreats are done one week on, one week off. I have to say that I do understand why Nilambe has made these changes, to do things dynamically requires more work, and it’s easier to just lay down hard and fast rules. I have to wonder though if the center’s lost something of the magic it had by being ramrodded into something like a vipassana.6 Nuff said.

So to sum things up I haven’t been able to provide any answers regarding my physical problems in this article. I do feel though some kind of victory is possible in this situation, whether that would be healing for the body, or reaching a state of consciousness where I’m free inwardly from what’s going on with the body, or some combination of the two remains to be seen. I do think though if the influence of the hostile being could be removed or negated I wouldn’t have as difficult a time, but to do that seems to be something beyond my personal power and would require grace. In the end, it seems what I need to do is carry on persistently with the sadhana as sincerely as I can. There’s one particular quote of the Mother I call to mind frequently to help during trying times and will share to end this article. Very simply she says:

To the most stubborn goes the victory.7

Notes and References

  1. At the time of the accident I was experiencing a very joyous state brought on by an acid trip and was wondering why I couldn’t remain in that state. I guess the accident or what it represented was my answer. For those who are interested, I have incorporated a more detailed description of that joyous state in my short story Slumdog Epilogue which is posted here on our old blog The Chipmunk Press. Scroll down a little to read.
  2. Here I’m referring to the Rainbow Family that puts on the Rainbow Gatherings not the LGBT community.
  3. The Mother, Questions and Answers 1953, pg 185
  4. Ibid.
  5. The Mother, Questions and Answers 1957-58, pgs 316-317
  6. If you want to read my account of what Nilambe used to be like follow this link to The Chipmunk Press and scroll down a little to read.
  7. The Mother, The Mother’s Agenda Vol 1, entry January 28, 1960 pg 235

 

Blah Blah Blah Blockchain.

Recently as a favor for a friend I gave a talk on blockchain technology at a conference he was holding at a resort near Mamallapuram here in Tamil Nadu. He and a business partner are trying to get their own cryptocurrency off the ground and need to get people not just using, but also mining the currency.  So one of the purposes of the conference was to get people interested in buying the hardware and software needed to mine this type of cryptocurrency. I didn’t really know anything about cryptocurrencies (other than the fact that they existed) before preparing for this presentation, but what my friend was interested in was to have a native English speaker give the talk. There were actually three of us giving the presentations. Two were native English speakers and the third was not, but she was quite fluent.

The last dream I had that morning before I got up to get ready to go to the conference, I was watching a music video of this alternative rock band. They were singing normal sorts of lyrics up until the end where they literally starting singing, “Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.” When I told Donny about the dream he laughed and said he thought that was indicative of what I would be doing that day at the conference, and it was true. Though I tried to speak clearly and slowly while giving the presentation to my all Indian audience, I was giving a lot of technical information and I’m sure for a lot of the attendees it was like me going, “Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah” or like the way adults sound in Peanuts cartoons if you’ve ever watched those. I kind of felt like a rock star too afterwards when myself and the other two speakers were besieged by people wanting to take group photos and selfies with us. When I decided to leave I actually had a big muscular security guard escort me out through the crowd in case anyone tried to accost me further.

No real lesson here. This is just another example of how dreams present things, which is often in a humorous or ironic way. I think you could also call this dream an example of prevision. Blah Blah Blah Bye!

Picking Up On The Stanley Cup.

2017 Stanley Cup logo

In some recent blog posts I’ve been looking into the phenomenon of outer events that I’m unaware of in my waking life making an appearance symbolically in my dreams. Rather than restate things I’ve said elsewhere I will refer the reader to both of these older posts if they want some background for this post.

My Name Is Joe. G.I.Joe.

I Volunteer A Dream

I will reiterate however that I’m finding that the occurrences making their way into my dreams relate to significant developments with things that my vital has an interest in such as movie and sports franchises. I’m going to share another example of this with this dream:

 I’m watching a lead in for the World Series where Bob Costas is talking about all these different pitchers for this one team. He’s talking about one pitcher that got benched during the semifinals, but that he was very supportive when his teammate pitched a shut out.

 The morning after this dream I found out via my mother that the Stanley Cup finals had started while I was sleeping, and that Pittsburgh had won the first game. Now I was neither aware of the finals starting nor that the Penguins were in it for the second year in a row. I’m a lover of all things Pittsburgh when it comes to sports, so even though I never watch hockey, I had tuned in some to the Stanley Cup finals the year before just because the Penguins were in it. And of course my vital got a thrill out of their winning the Cup.

But you might point out that I dreamed about the World Series and not the Stanley Cup. My answer to that would be that if you have any experience with dreams you know that this is how they operate a lot of the time. Things aren’t always or even usually exact, just approximate or analogous. I did come to discover later though, that for at least the first two games of the series one of Pittsburgh’s top players, Carl Hagelin, was benched due to poor play during the post season, and, before game 3 when he was asked by Pittsburgh Post Gazette reporter Sam Werner about being benched, his response was “When you find out … you’re pissed off. But it’s the Stanley Cup final. It’s not about me, it’s about the team.” So if you can accept the analogous nature of dreams I think you can see I was picking up on what was going on with the Stanley Cup final and this particular player even though it was all presented in the garb of the World Series.

As in my last two articles I’ll take a stab at a personal interpretation for me in this dream since, as Donny pointed out while we were discussing my first draft of this article, one could assume the dream builder has a reason for weaving these events into the dream. One also has to ask if the appearance of something you love in a dream, like Transformers for example, always correlates with a significant outer event happening close to the time or at the same time as the dream. I have to admit I haven’t found that to be the case so far, but I do think I can say it’s the case sometimes, and for the moment I’m going to assume it’s going on even when you aren’t looking for it, and not just once you become conscious that it’s possible.

So getting back to the personal interpretation I would point out that this dream took place a week before I got about a two-week break from my life in India. That life involves dealing with a household of maturing youths in their late teens and early twenties and all the difficulties and responsibilities that entails. The first week was more or less a complete break, as I went to Sri Lanka by myself on a visa run, and then in the second week Donny and I left our charges here and went for a few days to stay in a quiet area near the holy mountain Arunachala not far from Pondy. There we were still in contact by phone with the house back in Pondy and were periodically checking up on things. Perhaps like me you can see how that final week before my break could be shown as going into something like the World Series, capping off a process. And even though the break was short, it may have been long enough that I was able to process things a bit and ‘start a new season’ so to speak when I returned, one not the same as the preceding season, at least as far as myself and my dealing with it are concerned, a bit of a fresh start to some degree. At the same time though, something like the World Series is quite significant, implies perhaps that I was being tested or challenged at that time. If I had snapped to this idea at the time I had the dream, I may have been able to connect it to something going on during that week before I left, but I didn’t, so I’ll just have to put that idea out there as speculation.

And if you didn’t already know the Penguins did take the cup for the second year in a row.