A Dark Day In The Driveway

sore loser

In Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri there’s a series of cantos where the heroine, Savitri, journeys inside of herself to reach her soul. This, however, is more than just a story, but Aurobindo’s presentation of a significant step in the process of the integral yoga. A few years ago I started aspiring to try and remember to use my instances of lucidity in dreams to try and reach my soul. Though I have not yet succeeded in doing so, along the way I have had dreams where I think I have made some progress toward that goal. I want to share my most recent example of a dream like this, but I need to physically describe where the dream started which was in the driveway of the house I lived in during high school.

driveway house in Richmond

I was able to find this picture of that driveway on the internet. What you don’t see that’s important is a descending terraced path that runs along the left side of the driveway down to the back yard. The path was gravel and each terraced step was about five to ten feet long or so and ended in a railroad tie turned sideways to hold the gravel and that particular step in place. There are also railroad ties running along the side of the driveway all the way to where it meets the house. Where the latticework fence is there’s about a 12 foot drop to the back yard. That fence was not there when I was living in this house. There was also a basketball hoop over the middle garage door, and we often played basketball in the driveway.

So having set the scene let me share the dream:

I’m in the driveway of my old house in Richmond, and I am looking at some improvements the new owners have made. The rail ties that run along the edge of the driveway are covered with something smooth and white like the cement in a skateboard park and decorated with rows of something like painted stones or pottery. The pieces are circular and of all different colors. The path that goes down to the yard is also paved and decorated like this. The whole thing is very beautiful to look at. Right at the curve of the driveway a piece of the rail tie has been removed, and it’s possible to go down a step and reach the path here rather than where the path starts. In the dream though it was only a foot or so down to the path at this spot, whereas in waking reality it’s almost the full 12 foot drop. I walk back up the driveway toward the street, and I’m with a couple of other guys. Then I realize I’m dreaming. I jump up into the air and start being taken up by a force. I ask the Mother to take me, and I’m going up fast as things fade to black. I move through the blackness for a long time and see some different vague images and patterns. I remember some five pointed stars and also a sun either setting or rising. There’s one part where the space I’m in seems constricted like I’m moving through a tube or something. Then I notice I’ve come to a stop, and I open my eyes and I’m lying in a bed. The bedspread has been pushed back and is rumpled at the end of the bed. It’s a light blue color if I remember right. Lilo, our yellow Labrador, is at the end of the bed, but it’s strange, like she’s melded with the bedspread. I’m still lucid, but I start losing the dream and have a false awakening.

So what I believe happened here is, as in other dreams I’ve had, I was journeying toward the soul and reached a waypoint, a deeper level of dreaming. Some of these deeper levels of dreaming can be kind of weird like this one with the dog strangely melded with the bedspread. I’m not sure what that might mean, but on one level maybe it’s showing something about my relationship with the dog who sleeps in my room frequently, though I don’t allow her on the bed. The light blue color of the bedspread, if I’m remembering the color correctly, would probably have some spiritual significance since blue, according to Sri Aurobindo, can represent the spiritual consciousness that lies above the normal human level of consciousness. It’s possible I was actually in my bed in the cataleptic state, but I don’t think so, as the usual sensations I have of a sort of numbness in the body and difficulty moving were not present.

Regarding the events of the dream before I went into the blackness, I would guess that the beautifully decorated descending path to the backyard represents the journey towards the soul since that’s where I went as soon as I became lucid. Donny suggested though that the path might also show the light getting down into the lower levels of my being as part of the process of sadhana. I think it may have that meaning as well for reasons I’ll explain later. The gap in the rail tie with the step down at the curve of the driveway (basically a shortcut) is maybe showing a way is open to some of these deeper levels of dreaming, showing that if you reach there once, the way is clear to get there again, though you may not find yourself there frequently. So maybe in this dream I reached a level I’d already been to before and didn’t actually go any further. It’s hard to say because I’m quite far from being any kind of expert on how to differentiate between these different dreaming levels.

Now in the first part of the dream I only observed the beautiful downward path but didn’t actually go down it. Everything I did took place in the driveway, and before this dream I’d never given any thought to what a driveway might mean as a symbol. Though I think there’s much of dubious value in dream dictionaries, I do consult them online frequently because I’ve found they can be quite insightful at times. So when I looked this time I found a couple of sites saying a driveway represents the end of a journey. That interpretation would make sense and fit in this case I think, even though I didn’t reach the end of the journey and actually arrive at the soul. And a driveway of course leads to a garage or in this case a three-car garage. Donny has come to believe that a garage1 represents your dream life and if that’s right that would fit into things too, even though I never went in the garage, nor were the garage doors up. All of this would be enough to explain why my dream builder chose this particular location to represent where I am in the process of completing the journey to the soul, but I think there may be another reason why this particular driveway was chosen, and it relates to something that happened there in waking life, something that was a manifestation of a major character flaw of mine. Let me explain.

As a child and a teenager I was basically skinny and a wimp as well as fairly unathletic, though not to the point where I had the unenviable distinction of being last kid picked for kickball. But I more or less always found myself on the losing end of any individual contests in sports, video games as well as the wrestling matches that boys often engage in. You could imagine that was very frustrating in a culture that places so much value not just on athletic prowess, but also being strong and tough. What made matters worse though were some things that had to do with my brother who was fourteen months younger than I. Despite the age difference Rick, who was very strong and a star athlete, could basically whup me from the time we were small children, and that was a bitter and humiliating pill to swallow, since the big brother is supposed to be able to whup the little brother. In addition to that, since he was my brother there was sibling rivalry, and the fact that he was so much better than me at sports was very frustrating for a couple of reasons. One was just competitiveness. I wanted to be as good as him at everything and got very angry about the fact that I wasn’t. The other was the fact that his athleticism won him the approval of my father, who wasn’t so interested in the things I was good at like theater. Another thing about me I should mention is that I didn’t like losing in general, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to do something like flip a board game over in frustration if things weren’t going my way.

So with that as the psychological backstory let me tell you what happened in that driveway in Richmond, Indiana. It was a winter day, but it wasn’t too cold, and there was no snow on the driveway. I was sixteen or seventeen. I was playing one on one basketball with my friend Jeff. As usual I was on the losing end of things, and there was some roughhousing on both our ends, though nothing unusual for boys playing sports. As Jeff continued to best me, I got more and more angry and frustrated. At one point on the crest of it Jeff and I were both going for the ball near the edge of the driveway, but near the top of the downward path where the drop was only a few of feet. As we went for the ball I didn’t outright shove him, but leaned hard into him knowing that that would be enough to send him over the edge. And it was. I’ll never forget the utter horror I felt as I saw Jeff fall back flailing over the edge as the more reasonable part of me kicked back in. Fortunately as I said, the drop was only a few feet, and Jeff landed flat on his back on snow-covered gravel, his fall further cushioned by the winter jacket he was wearing. So he jumped up unhurt to my great relief, and we continued playing. The way I had done things had been quite sneaky, and just appeared like normal roughhousing. If Jeff had noticed or sensed that I had purposely tried to hurt him he didn’t give any indication.

Now while I had had plenty of tantrums and outbursts over losing, I had never done anything quite like this. And unlike a lot of descriptions of people’s reason being unseated by the vital, I didn’t have the sense that I was watching myself do it or that it was like I was another person. It was more subtle and insidious than that, but it was still an act that went beyond my normal ethical boundaries. Fortunately it didn’t end in a way that would have haunted me for the rest of my life, because even though it was a short drop, Jeff still could have been seriously hurt or killed if he had landed on his head or hit one of the railroad ties. I think there may be more people out there than we realize who could relate an instance like this and who through luck or grace were spared a lifetime of regret or even imprisonment. And then there’s the cases where things didn’t turn out so well, people who, even if they’re not sitting in a prison cell over what they did in the heat of a moment, are sitting in an inner prison of guilt and regret wondering how in the world they could have acted that way and wishing very much that they hadn’t.

One thing it seems obvious we’ll have to do in order to evolve as a species is we’re going to have to start bringing these sticky and unsightly things into the light of day and start talking about them. If enough otherwise ‘good’ people came forward and admitted they’d been temporarily taken over in the way I’ve described here, we could perhaps start to realize that we aren’t the masters of ourselves that we think we are, and that in the right conditions many of us are open to what for a lack of a better word you could call temporary insanity. And it’s not just on the level of the individual, but also in groups, as the examples of angry mobs and Nazi Germany will attest. Understanding this would be one of the things that would get us on the way to a right way of dealing with harm and wrongdoing, forgiving others for the hurt done to us, and forgiving ourselves for the hurt we do to others. Punishment would eventually be taken out of the equation, but that wouldn’t mean you still wouldn’t have to try and take responsibility for harm done even if it was done in a genuine moment of temporary insanity. There couldn’t be any fixed formula though for how you would take responsibility, since for whatever reason it might not be possible or appropriate to help the person you wronged. If you were open to it though the universe would present you with opportunities and situations to balance the harm done by helping or being involved with other people that had nothing to do with the original harm, or even just having to endure a difficult trial or situation as a way of balancing things out. It would take a very plastic society with spiritual growth as its aim to implement this sort of thing, and it would be hand in hand with many other changes. The time where we’re doing this as a global society seems to still be a ways off, but a beginning could be made now on a small scale in small organizations or communities. This was a bit of a digression here, but one that I think was worth taking the time to make.

Getting back to me though, how does this event from my teenage years relate to the dream. Well as I said earlier Donny suggested the dream was showing the light getting down into the lower parts of my being. That interpretation makes sense since this competitiveness in me is a major stumbling block. Perhaps this particular locale was chosen to show not only that this character flaw is something blocking me from finding my soul, but also that I’ve made progress with it. Some aspects of this weakness I let go of many years ago. I no longer get really bent out of shape about losing for example. The only area it really comes up is with the only thing I really value or have a strong interest in anymore and that’s spirituality. And it’s mainly something that comes up in my relationship with other seekers I’m around which most of the time is just Donny. With all the spiritual experiences he’s had and the mountains of muse he’s had come down on him, it’s hard not to feel that I don’t measure up, since I’ve no ‘big’ spiritual experiences I can talk about, and what I get from the muse is hardly a trickle, which I often can’t interpret. And while my mind can see that all Donny’s grace is one level a sort of compensation for a difficult issue in his vital, my vital, like everyone’s, is an irrational creature and has more difficulty grasping that. Nor could my vital grasp when I was a boy that I had talents and abilities that were more developed than Rick and be content with that. Ultimately I think feelings in the vital of inadequacy or lack or not measuring up are what usually underlie most movements of competitiveness or jealousy, and it’s also a lower movement, though perhaps it’s more legitimate because it’s emotional pain. It’s still egoism though and has to be dealt with. One thing too about competitiveness I’ve found, is it breeds on proximity, and if I didn’t know Donny and wasn’t close to him, and just read about his experiences online or in a book, and never saw him or had anything to do with him, it might still hit that painful inadequate spot and produce jealousy, but it would be much less significant. But because he’s close to me I compare myself to him, and also since our work is side by side online I don’t like feeling like I look like a second fiddle.

Some people might be shocked at what I’ve divulged here or wonder why I’d be willing to admit to such a thing. As I said though we need to start talking about these things so I’m talking about them. What it boils down to is that all of us still living in ego consciousness are dysfunctional to one degree or another, and that’s a key truth to see: that ego consciousness itself is intrinsically flawed. The other key and complimentary truth is that there’s the possibility of getting out of ego consciousness2. Understanding these two truths can provide a framework in which, as I’ve suggested, small groups and communities and eventually all of society can safely talk about and work on integrating our darkness. This is what Donny and I are trying to do on a very small scale here at Harm’s End, with basically just the two of us at the moment, though other people live here. We hope though that in the future more like-minded people will join us here and take part in the endeavor, and that eventually we’ll have a little model here that other people can use as starting point for similar undertakings. Anybody interested?

Notes

  1. Dream symbols often have a simple logic to them, so I asked Donny what he thought might be the logic behind a garage representing your dream life. He said that a garage is where you store things, and also where you work. He also said it’s not where you live. You don’t spend as much time there as you do in the rest of the house.
  2. I don’t know this from personal experience, but I’ve read a lot of accounts of people who’ve made this leap, and in a few cases even spoken to people who had had glimpses or permanent realizations beyond ego consciousness. So I’m convinced enough that I feel comfortable saying the potential to go beyond ego consciousness is a truth.

I Volunteer A Dream

By Douglas McElheny

This article will be a continuation from my last blog where I argued that major news regarding the G.I. Joe and James Bond movie franchises manifested in my dreams without my waking mind knowing about these events. Recently I had another dream I feel is an example of this, though this time the dream had to do with a sports team I have a connection with. Here is the dream:

I’m in what’s supposed to be Mr. Godfrey’s1 classroom at RHS, but it’s a sort of amalgam of his classroom and the eating and family room area of my mom and dad’s house in Florida. There are a number of other people there including Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. They are at the front of the room, and Peyton is standing wearing a University of Tennessee football jersey. Eli is sitting, and has a jersey on for some other university. They’re arguing about an upcoming game between the Volunteers and the school Eli’s jersey is from, arguing about who’s going to win. Peyton starts to get angry and tells Eli ‘Let’s step outside!”, and Eli is sitting there looking kind of sheepish and intimidated by his big brother, who is acting uncharacteristically aggressive. The argument does seem feigned though to some degree, and that they’re just egging each other on. They still go outside though through a sliding glass door, and Mr. Godfrey says “Let’s leave them out there for a while.” I figure they ought to stay outside, because Mr. Godfrey has just passed out a test. The test has something to do with these pieces of cookie dough we’re all given on plates.

In the interest of finding further evidence for my hypothesis from my last blog that our dreams can pick up on such mundane things as what’s going on with a movie franchise, I decided to google first Eli Manning and then Peyton Manning. Eli I discovered has been in the news the last couple of weeks because of some new email evidence for a lawsuit against him where he’s accused of selling helmets to collectors that supposedly had been worn in a game, but really weren’t. I found that interesting, but didn’t see how it might relate to the dream, other than the sheepishness of Eli. When I googled Peyton Manning though I found something much more interesting. Two hours before I had woken up and recorded this dream on my voice recorder, the official twitter account of the University of Tennessee football program posted a short promotional video which was designed to generate interest in potential recruits for the quarterback position. The video featured an interview with Peyton Manning woven amongst highlights of some of Tennessee’s most famous quarterbacks (including Manning) with some energizing music as the backdrop. It’s an exciting video to watch, and even more so if you’re a Tennessee fan. At the time of this writing, that tweet has gotten 867 retweets and 1,767 favorites which isn’t a lot compared to what a lot is on twitter, but it had much higher numbers than most of the recent tweets from that twitter page. The tweet I found that came the closest had 407 retweets and 1,200 favorites, but most of them had much lower statistics than that.

The reason I find this interesting is because things go out fast on twitter. And this tweet, because of the exciting nature of the video, and also because it features Peyton Manning, seems to have generated a little bit of a buzz, a little incident in the collective consciousness or whatever you want to call it. So it was in the midst of that buzz that I happened to have this dream of Peyton Manning in a Tennessee Volunteers football jersey, which, if you consider also the fact that this is the only dream I’ve had with Peyton Manning since at least February 15, 20162, seems hard to chalk up to coincidence. The dream parallels the video as well in the sense that in both instances Manning was promoting his alma mater’s team. Given this, I think any open-minded person can see why I’d be willing to postulate that I picked up on this buzz in the collective consciousness, and it worked its way into my dream. It makes sense that if you’re a strong dreamer you would pick up on things of interest to your vital on personal, local and global levels. Donny likes to call this being an ‘area dreamer.’ Perhaps in future article I can show other examples of this, but closer to home, such as a dream I have showing me something going on with Donny or with one of the young people living here.

It seems to me that dreams could potentially pick up on any event, but what’s interesting about this case, as well as the case with the G.I Joe and James Bond dreams in my last blog, is that they correlated with major developments, things that created a buzz, albeit a small one compared to the population of the earth, but regardless ones that involved thousands of people or more. The other thing noteworthy is that in all three cases the subject matter was something I had an emotional connection to. In my last blog, I pointed out how I loved both G.I. Joe and James Bond as a kid, and I also have an emotional interest in the Tennessee Volunteers from the three years I lived near Knoxville when I was a kid. I wasn’t totally bonkers for them in the way I was for the Pittsburg Steelers, but, as an adult, if I happen to turn on a football game the Volunteers are playing in, they’re the team I’ll be rooting for. Unless of course it was against my alma mater Penn State.

When Donny and I were discussing this latest dream and its apparent connection to the tweet, he pointed out that this line of inquiry into dreams is something that could potentially be tested experimentally, and he’s right. You could conceivably take a group of strong dreamers, isolate them from media, and over the course of weeks or months collect their dreams, and on the days they have dreams about things like celebrities or movies or sports teams you could look to see if they correlate to anything recently creating a buzz in the news. Then upon completion of collecting the data you would take the dreams from each dreamer that seemed to have this kind of connection to an outer event, and ask them if that particular movie or sports team or whatever is something they have an emotional connection with. This is just an idea, and there might be a better way to conduct an experiment like this, but I think you get what I’m driving at here, which is that you might be able to find convincing evidence for a collective consciousness, results that defy statistical probability. And anything that contributes more evidence for the existence of a collective consciousness or inner connection between people, that we live together in a field of consciousness as opposed to each living in our own separate bubble of consciousness, would be a good thing. The understanding of this amongst a more general element in the human population seems indispensible for man’s evolution. You’d need a well thought out and conducted experiment though for the data to stand up to the onslaught of materialist skeptics and debunkers that something like this would bring down on your head.

But getting back to the matter at hand, what might the dream mean for me personally if anything? The symbol of the Volunteers could refer to altruism or service, and that does fit since I’m trying to take more of that attitude toward the people in my immediate environment, most of whom are selfish and lazy to an extreme degree. Then there’s the element of a trial or test, and the cookie dough would maybe have something to do with a vital indulgence of some sort. It’s hard to say since many dreams are just kind of a mishmash of things that may be symbolic along with things that may just be impressions of mental activity, as well as other things that may be rising from the inner, but never manifest in the outer. Any experiment like the one I proposed above would have to take that into account and look for very loose connections between the dreams and outer events.

The fact that many dreams are such a mishmash is one reason why in my articles I usually only write about dreams that I can connect directly to something in my waking life. With this latest line of inquiry though I’ve had to get a bit less concrete and more speculative. Like I said in my last blog though I think it’s well worth exploring these avenues even if in the process you make mistakes or find out later you were wrong about things. An experiment like the one I proposed above would be valuable, but what might be even more valuable about what I’ve been discussing in these last two blogs is that it’s something that, with a little effort and with the right capacity, people can confirm for themselves, and through the lens of their own dream life see the collective consciousness and inner connection we all share.

Notes and References

  1. Mr Godfrey was my high school biology teacher.
  2. This is the date I started my latest dream journal. I didn’t look back any further than that.

 

My Name is Joe. G.I. Joe.

blowtorch

Most people who pay some attention to their dreams have no doubt noticed how they will draw upon things from our modern mythos like TV shows and movies for symbols. I’ve also found that dreams seem to mainly use things you like, especially things you liked as a kid. So my dreams will frequently use characters and scenarios from things like Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Men, G.I. Joe, Transformers and James Bond as opposed to Care Bears and My Little Pony. So given this, it wasn’t unusual for me to have a dream like this one I had recently:

As the observer I can see a room where some of the characters from G.I. Joe are lying on bunks. I don’t recall which characters were there, except I’m pretty sure one of them was Blowtorch. An officer comes into the room and rouses the Joes, telling them he has a mission for them. The Joes get up out of their bunks and start to file out of the room.

I took this dream to mean some kind of positive movement in the sadhana. Later though, as I was typing this dream up in my dream journal, the vital had a desire to look and see what was going on with the G.I. Joe live action movie franchise, since it had been a while since the last movie was released. I hadn’t seen the second one, G.I. Joe Retaliation, and probably won’t see any future G.I. Joe movies, but I gave in to the vital’s desire and did some googling, and found it quite interesting to see that, starting a little less than two weeks before, articles had been hitting the internet announcing plans to reboot the G.I. Joe movie franchise. Then I remembered that two days before I’d had this dream about James Bond:

I can see a submarine moving through a manmade passageway that is underneath a city. The sub is beneath a warehouse or something and is looking for a way up into it. The warehouse seems to be falling apart, because stone blocks are sinking down all around that are falling from above. The submarine stops at a place where you can go up into the warehouse, and James Bond (Daniel Craig) comes out of the submarine in a wet suit along with someone else. Two other frogmen show up who are bad guys. Bond and the other good guy point their harpoon guns at the baddies, but neither one of them has had a chance to get completely ready and don’t have their regulators in their mouths.

Curious, I googled James Bond and found that, starting a few days before the dream, articles had been published announcing that Daniel Craig had been more or less convinced to reprise his role as Bond one last time. Now I found this all very interesting because the dreams, especially the G.I Joe dream, seemed to be showing what was going on with these movie franchises. Like the Joes in my dream, the G.I. Joe movie franchise had been lying idle, but now had a mission, i.e. a reboot. The Bond dream is less clear-cut, but maybe the element of danger has to do with some obstacles still standing in the way of one more Daniel Craig movie. After all, an article saying Craig has been more or less convinced to reprise the role one last time, and his signature on a contract are two different things. In addition, as I write this article a couple of weeks after these dreams, the latest Bond news is that five studios are in a bidding war for the rights to the franchise, and people are speculating that a new home for Bond might spell a complete reboot, and sayonara to Daniel Craig, regardless of whether he wants to do one more Bond flick or not.

Now I think probably most of the time if you googled G.I. Joe or James Bond there would be something in the news about it. Maybe an actress who played a Bond girl had died, or there’d be an article somebody wrote ranking the top 20 issues of the G.I. Joe comic book series. Perhaps dreams could pick up on things like that too, but these were major developments for these franchises, which are beings or entities in their own way. Sri Aurobindo points out that our inner or subliminal consciousness has a knowledge of many things of which the external being is ignorant, so it makes sense to me that if you had a strong childhood affinity in the vital for something like James Bond, or G.I. Joe, you could pick up on major developments like this. It’s quite possible things like this are common, but I didn’t pick up on it since I didn’t look online to see what was going on with the X-Men or Star Trek or whatever when I dreamed about them. I wouldn’t think though that a dream about G.I Joe for example would always correspond to some outer event like announcing the movie franchise reboot, and it would often just be something personal, using that as a symbol. Donny said he thought the fact that the two dreams corresponded with outer events puts emphasis on the personal meaning, and he may be right.

Needless to say, I’ll be doing more googling in the future when I have dreams like this to see if it I can find these kinds of connections again with significant outer events. This is still a hypothesis even for me, let alone for a skeptic. As it turns out though I had a short dream about Spider-Man a few nights ago, and while I was sleeping it hit the internet that Spider-Man will be appearing in both the fourth Avengers movie, and also a second stand alone movie with the new lead actor, Tom Holland. All I remember from the dream was Spider-Man sort of dancing around with this dorky kind of music in the background. Is this how the Tom Holland version of Spider-Man will be perceived? We shall see.

One thing I should point out as possible support for this hypothesis is that since I began my latest dream journal on February 15, 2016 I have recorded no other dreams with James Bond, only one other dream that featured a G.I. Joe character, and only one other dream with Spider-Man. I don’t record all my dreams, just the ones that seem more significant, but usually I’ll record a dream featuring characters like these since I know dreams will use them as symbols. So that makes it easier to argue for a connection here. I will say the over the course of studying my dreams for nearly 20 years now James Bond, G.I. Joe and Spider-Man have all made frequent appearances, especially in the past. In some of my older dream journals the appearance of characters from comic books and movies were much more frequent, but that is something that has dropped off over the years. Why that is, I’m not sure though it may have something to do with the fact that over time I’ve become more interested in and one pointed in the sadhana and less interested in these vital interests.

As I said earlier however my first thought about the G.I. Joe dream, and also the James Bond dream, was that they were showing a positive movement in the sadhana, though not one without some difficulty as shown by the Bond dream. I don’t remember anything really noteworthy going on at that time, but I was fairly focused until a few days after the G.I. Joe dream when I was hit with an illness, one that I feel was a hostile attack, and perhaps the Bond dream was showing how I wasn’t prepared for that. The question is though, were the dreams showing both the significant events with these movie franchises as well as a personal movement in me, or was I just picking up on what was going on with the movies? Or as a third possibility, were the dreams just showing my individual movement with no connection to the developments with the franchises?

The G.I. Joe dream in particular so parallels the outer event that I think I can dismiss the third option, so my feeling is the dreams are showing both, but whether that’s always the case or not I don’t know. For example, that snippet I dreamed about Spider-Man strikes me as possibly just referring to the outer developments of Spider-Man with Avengers 4, though it also seems quite possible to me that it refers to something personal with me. I’m not sure what though since the day after that Spider-Man dream my vital was feeling pretty unenthused and deflated. It could very well have had to do with someone else since Donny and I have both seen that we can dream about what’s going on with each other.

There’s another question though I have regarding all this. As I said earlier, I think the fact that I have a vital affinity with G.I. Joe and James Bond is a sufficient explanation for why I picked up inwardly on what was going on with the movies, but was there some kind of deeper connection between what was going on with me personally and these events? Sri Aurobindo has convinced me that the relationship between the inner and the outer is like the proverbial iceberg with the overwhelming bulk of our life taking place on the inner worlds and planes, and with the inner actually giving rise to the outer. So is it possible that the dreams are expressing some kind of shared inner cause, or did my dreams just take what was going on with those franchises and weave that into my dreams as a way to show me what was going on with me, and also to show me how inwardly I was picking up on these developments? I think to really answer that question you have to be a lot more conscious than I am, be able to actually concretely perceive the hidden forces at work, as opposed to glimpsing them indirectly as I am, in the same way you know the wind is there because the flag is moving. As to what my mind thinks about it, part of me admittedly has difficulty with the idea of a shared inner cause simply because it seems to me that the forces trying to bring us more Bond and G.I. Joe movies are mainly lower vital, and not working for the benefit of humanity, whereas the personal interpretation of those dreams as a positive movement in my sadhana would seem to me to indicate the action of forces that would be working for the benefit of humanity. But since things often don’t work according to how our ignorant minds conceive of things, I certainly can’t rule out some kind of inner connection. As I said, I just don’t have the knowledge to say one way or the other.

Getting back to things a little more concrete, I think I should say a few words about some of the symbols in the two dreams. In the Bond dream, being underwater in the sub would seem to me to indicate some action in the subconscient or subliminal parts of myself, or maybe just my deeper emotions, since the sub wasn’t very deep. Also in the Bond dream, the enemy divers would represent hostile forces, and if I’m correctly remembering the presence of Blowtorch in the G.I. Joe dream, I would guess that has something to do with aspiration, since Blowtorch’s weapon is a flamethrower.

Anyway I’ve gone out on a limb here more than I usually would in this article with these ideas, but if you’re going to delve into dream interpretation I think you have to be willing to take some risks and put out some tentative hypotheses for the sake of eventually getting at the truth. It’s not easy though because there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about dreams, just themes, trends and tendencies that are very wide and plastic. If in general, though perhaps not in all the details, I’m onto something here, it would be more evidence for the inner connection and larger consciousness we all share beneath the surface.

Yo Joe!

 

The Emperor Has A Scheme

By Douglas McElheny

Back in 2004 I was living at the Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham Ashram in Lodi California. While I was there we had a weekly dream group, and I remember one meeting very well because both myself, and another resident, Dakshina, had a cold. The dream I shared was one in which a zombie had touched me, and then I woke up ill the next morning. If I remember right Dakshina also had a dream that showed her being attacked and then she came down with the cold, but I don’t recall that for sure. Regardless, all of us there saw the connection between my cold and my dream, viewed it as an attack of a hostile force against me.

Roughly a month ago I had this dream:

It’s the scene from Return of the Jedi when the Emperor shows up in his shuttle at the Death Star. He is talking to Darth Vader telling him some scheme he’s cooked up and wants to show him something that has to do with it. They both board the shuttle and the Emperor shows Vader these two aliens that are basically just heads with tentacles coming off of them. They’re very ugly. I guess they are babies of an alien species, and were kidnapped by the Emperor. Vader thinks this is really cool that they’re going to be watching over these babies.

Now if I remember correctly the day before the dream (Friday) Jana got sick in the afternoon. Then on Saturday, the day of the dream, Dhina caught it too, and Lydia went down a day or two later. Jana and Dhina had it really bad with a fever and body aches, and were spending most of their time in bed. Lydia stayed sick the longest, and had a relapse after initially feeling better. Mugu got it too, and was mildly ill for a couple of days. Donny and I managed to keep it out for days, but then we also came down with symptoms, Donny with chest congestion and myself with a bad runny nose. We were both however only sick for a day. I drank two cups of the Indian version of chicken soup, called rasam, before going to bed and woke up feeling fine the next morning.

Now this dream isn’t as clear cut as the zombie one I had at Lodi, since I myself got sick the very next day, but this illness really lowered the energy of the house and made things difficult since some of the kids weren’t able to give even the grudging help we can normally get out of them. The Mother does say in Questions and Answers that a hostile attack “takes often the form of illness”1, and given the impact it had it seems to me a reasonable hypothesis that this illness, represented by the ugly aliens, was the scheme the hostile forces represented by Vader and the Emperor were hatching. As to why the attack was launched at the particular moment, I would guess it was because it was a few days before a darshan day at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and I suspect the attack was trying to spoil the darshan for us not just on the level of the individuals, but also on the level of the house itself, since it also is an entity in its own way. Unless you already believe in these sorts of things, there’s no way I can convince you the darshan days observed at the ashram are power days like a solstice or an equinox is, a day where there’s a force available to help you make a progress or have a powerful dream or some other kind of inner experience, but if you can at least accept that idea in theory, then I think you could see why forces hostile to spiritual progress would try to sabotage people in the yoga on those sorts of days.

It bears mentioning that the day before the darshan another thing happened that really lowered the energy of the house, which was getting the house sprayed for ants. Now in the USA when we get that done the exterminator will spray a little poison in the corners of your house and maybe put down some poison bait, and that was what I was expecting to happen. Here in India however they went all through the house spraying poison heavily along all the walls, so there were literally puddles of it all along the inner perimeter of the entire house. The stench was horrible and after the first round had dried they came along a few hours later and did it a second time. That second round took a couple of hours to dry, and then we were finally able to mop the floor, but the smell lingered for days. If I had known what they were going to do I would have never had them come and treat the house except for the ground floor, which had to be treated for termites. I’m sure it was even more grueling to endure for the people who were really sick, so it seems to me that the forces attacking us had a hand in seeing to it that the exterminator showed up on that day.

Now as it turns out I myself still had an okay darshan day, felt some calm that day, but nothing really interesting happened, nor did I have any powerful or lucid dreams. I did have a little inner opening and got a short formation of lines from my muse and then another longer formation two days later before things went back to the way they usually are which is a line or two here and there. Neither Donny or I had much luck interpreting those formations though, since it wasn’t clear who or what they were relating to, but it was nice to get that little opening. So what was accomplished by this hostile attack is hard for me to say, but I know that even though I wasn’t sick, when I was sitting in my room in the stifling stench of ant poison, the energy of the house felt very, very low, and that even the house itself as an entity was affected. None of our young people here are trying to follow the yoga of Sri Aurobindo or any other yoga for that matter, but we still have a collective process here. So maybe it was that collective process that lost the chance to make a progress. That’s just speculation however.

A question though this dream brings up in my mind is how do you know when a symbol in dream or vision actually relates to an illness? In the dream I had years ago in Lodi, illness was represented by a zombie, and in this dream, if I’m interpreting it correctly, the illness was represented by the ugly aliens. In addition, I wrote a blog post a while back in which a zombie seemed to represent a vital movement I was trying to throw out, so there doesn’t seem to be one universal symbol that can be pinned down as always being the symbol for an illness. If there is some way to know though when a dream is forecasting an illness, and that dream comes before the illness actually hits you, you could prepare, but like it is so often in dreams you usually don’t know what a dream means until afterwards.

This post is mainly just food for thought, but the knowledge, however, that there really are hostile forces and beings trying to keep us from progressing is important to see, and it’s something that at some point we’re going to wake up to as a species. The fact that it isn’t known or being talked about presently except on a very small scale is aiding the cause of these hostile forces. So if an article like this has helped someone to see that or opened their mind to that possibility or even just validated their beliefs about such things, then it’s served a purpose.

References

  1. The Mother, Questions and Answers 1929-1931, pg 55

Harm’s End or Boyz II Men?

By Douglas McElheny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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