Going Up?

A couple of weeks ago I had two dreams in the same night featuring a skyscraper.  Here are the dreams:

I’m at the Steel Building1 in Pittsburg and I go rapidly up the elevator to the top floor.  The top floor is like a lounge.  I’m sitting in a chair for awhile and then get up and go to another room.  I realize I don’t have my wallet so I go back to the other room to look for it and  I find it on the floor.  Then I’m talking to two kids in Spanish, showing off my Spanish skills.  They only seem to speak English though and don’t seem to understand me.  Then I take the elevator down to the ground floor to look for my mom.  I go outside the building and find her there.

I’m on top of a skyscraper sitting at an outdoor restaurant.  I’m waiting for some people to show up and finally they start showing up and sitting at my table.

For me going to the top of a skyscraper is an obvious symbol for some kind of ‘rising above’ so to speak consciousness-wise, so I wondered how it might manifest in waking life, if at all.  I would guess most people who study their dreams have found like me that you can have a dream like that, or even a negative dream like getting bitten by a snake, and no outer event happens that seems to correlate with it.  Such was not the case here as I will describe, but let me give some background first.

For a number of days prior to the dream, my vital and mind were wrapped up in some things I was concerned about going on in Donny’s life in India.  The morning after the dream, as I was observing the charge in the vital and the unrelenting grinding of the thoughts on this matter, I just threw up my hands, so to speak, realizing that while I had to buckle down and reject the mental movements, it would probably take some time for that vital charge to move out of the system, and I would just have to ride it out.  One thing I’ve observed in myself  when the vital gets taken over by strongly charged emotion, such as worry in this case,  among other things, is that the worry takes hold of  the mind and creates worried thoughts.  Those worried thoughts in turn feed the emotional charge of worry,  which produces more worried thoughts in a vicious cycle.

What’s important about this I’ve found is that the thought is where you can break the cycle since it’s easier, in my case at least, to reject a thought than to push out an emotional charge.  It’s still not easy though, and it’s not something you do once and it’s over.   I stop the thought for a little while, but then as long as the charge is still there the thought comes back, and has to be stopped again and again.  But what happens is that you can get the thoughts under control, and even if the emotional charge lingers you’ve put a little distance between yourself and the emotion, so it’s no longer in command of the mind.

There are ways, however,  that an emotional charge can go out of you quickly.  For example the thing you were worried about gets resolved or the vital’s attention goes elsewhere for some reason, hopefully to something positive happening in your life or that of someone close to you.  Another thing that can happen though, often for no discernable reason, is some help comes from within, and that’s what happened to me that day.  Late that afternoon as I took our dog Rosie for a walk I noticed that my mind had suddenly gotten quiet and that the emotional charge had given way to a slight but very palpable sense of ease and contentment.  I realized this little uplift was what had been indicated in my dream by being on top of a skyscraper and was grateful for the alleviation.  It didn’t last long maybe 45 minutes or so and then the vital charge and thoughts came back since I guess it hadn’t moved completely out of my system.  It wasn’t as bad though.

Regarding some of the other symbols in the dream, the wallet seems like it would be money or money concerns, and there were definitely some money concerns for me in this situation.  I’m not sure what to make of my speaking Spanish, or being in a restaurant.  Regardless I think what’s mainly important is the movement of uplift and being able to connect that to the actual manifestation of that in waking life.

Here again as in other past posts I’ve put this out mainly to show what’s possible, and I think I should say that such experiences as this are the exception and not the norm for me.  Why such an experience comes in one situation and not in another I have no idea.  The subliminal parts of ourselves seem to have their own law and process which are a complete mystery to our waking selves.  What I think is important to realize, assuming one is on some kind of spiritual quest, is that these things are little glimpses or promises of states that can become fixed and permanent in our waking life.

What’s also important I think from a practical viewpoint is what I pointed out about the vicious cycle of thoughts feeding emotions feeding thoughts, and then showing how you break the chain at the level of the thought.   For many people that’s Mindfulness 101, but for some reading this article that could be a real and very significant revelation, and there are few things I think that are as fundamentally important for a person to see as this.

Notes
1. It might be worth pointing out that the Steel Building is the only skyscraper I have been to the top of.

Living The Dream (literally) As A Street Performer

Dreams can offer guidance on all kinds of things.  Many years ago I had a dream that sent me on a brief career as a street performer.  Let me tell you the story.

Back around the turn of the century, I was living in Cusco Peru on tourist visas.  Those visas were only good for 90 days, so every three months I would head to the Bolivian border to go out of Peru for a few days and then come back with another 90 day stamp.  On one of those trips I was staying in a hotel in Copacabana on Lake Titicaca and had this dream.

I’m in front of Buckingham Palace in England and I have a crowd around me. I’m street performing telling jokes and doing pretty well.  When I’m finished I’ve got a large stack of dollar bills for my efforts.

Since I was a teenager I’ve loved telling jokes and could remember just about any good joke I’d hear.  Before the dream, I’d never thought though of doing it as a busker.  I didn’t really need the money, but it seemed like a fun way to meet people and hopefully pick up some chicks.  So I started to compile a list of my jokes, but it wouldn’t be until I left Peru for good some months later that I’d begin my career as a street comedian as I traveled through Bolivia.  I started out working in plazas in front of big crowds and passing the hat like I was doing in the dream, but gave that up in lieu of going to places where people were sitting outside drinking and then telling a few jokes at each table.  As the dream indicated I did pretty well, though the dream exaggerates as dreams often do.  I had good jokes and I am funny, but the secret of my success was I told the jokes in spanish, and for the Bolivians my gringo accent was hilarious.

Later when I got to Brazil, I was able to speak passable portuguese in a few days and continued my comedy career.  In fun loving Brazil though, I found myself being invited up on stage at times at bars and clubs and handed the microphone to tell a few jokes.  I also did a few actual shows where I was the headliner.  As in Bolivia, I was a hit with my gringo accent.

Since I was doing it mainly for fun and not for money, I mostly worked on weekends.  All that preparation was good though, because after a few months in Brazil I suddenly found myself cut off from both my bank accounts and having to rely on jokes to survive.  My debit card for my account in the United States had expired a few months before, and since I had a bank account in Peru with over $5,000 in it I hadn’t bothered about getting another one.  The ATM fees for the Peru account we’re quite high though, and I would only withdraw money from it once a month.  That was fine for a while until suddenly I found the account had been frozen due to lack of activity and was basically told I would have to show up in Peru to get it unfrozen.  So for about two weeks, as I waited for a new bank card from my USA account and fruitlessly tried to get the Peru account reactivated, I lived off jokes.  It wasn’t easy, and if I hadn’t been staying with friends I would have had a hard time paying the cost of a hotel and covering my food too.  Finally Fed-Ex brought my new debit card, and I celebrated by buying pizza for my friends. Eventually too with the help of another friend I was able to get my bank account in Peru reactivated and withdrew all the money as fast as I could.

After this financial crisis my comedy career continued in Brazil as well as in a later trip to Central America. While in Central America though, I came to the firm resolution to leave things like sex and partying behind to begin the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s yoga in earnest.  It would still be a few months before I went to live at the Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham Ashram in Lodi California, but that was the turning point.  After going to Lodi and later to India, I continued to tell jokes from time to time to friends and people I’d meet, but after a while that just dropped away and I haven’t told anyone a joke in years.

In closing, I should say that, as in a recent post I wrote on dream drugs, I haven’t shared this dream and subsequent happenings because they hold any insight as far as sadhana goes.  It’s just to show people what’s possible, and also to show how dreams meet you where you are.  To be honest, when I look back at that epoch of my life, I still can feel a little vital thrill at the memory, but the more enlightened parts of me wish I had spent that time doing other things.  I guess though I just wasn’t ready to leave the vital life behind, and my inner being knowing that provided the guidance via the dream.  And while I am funny and the gringo accent was truly hilarious, the other and perhaps primary reason for my success was that it fit with my process, was what I needed to be doing.  I think that’s why in the dream I was in front of Buckingham Palace, it was my ‘royal road’ at the time.  And though I’ve moved on from telling jokes, the comedian is still there and he comes out sometimes in my writings and video work in the form of satire.  Perhaps one day I’ll return to performing comedy, but if so it will definitely be in a different form, one that would have the divine and the quest for the divine in some way as its basis.  We’ll see what unfolds.

A Soul-dialogue Between a Poet and the leader of Islamic State

(What ISIS has let rear its head, what’s in the pit of humanity)

Believe me you need some introduction to what you’re about to watch. The dialogue, in the form of a poetry video (at bottom), is probably the most gory-graphic video using real-life footage you have ever seen, more graphic than ISIS videos themselves because it uses many clips from their videos, most often the worst parts. Why in the world would I make something like this? Why would you want to watch it? I’d say both are needs, and it’ll take some explaining as to why.

They pride themselves on their videos, act as though they’re creating art, mistaking commercials for art just like most everyone else does, and one of their major past times is reciting and writing poetry, as if they are cultured people, we the barbarians with our electronic escapist past times, our porn, but from what I’ve seen of their stuff, they have even less of an idea of what poetry is than mainstream contemporary English poetry, which seems to me to have only the faintest idea.

It would bear mentioning that the poem you’re about to listen to is a complete break from the poetry of today, and, though it embraces the spirit of the poetry of the past, that of it that it looks deeper or beyond the world, it’s a break from the past too – a new and genuine style. I can’t tell you it’s poetry in the sense of the word, but I can say I’ve created something uniquely different in poetry and claim it’s a style. I should also mention that it’s a style that requires multiple readings, or viewings as is the case here, and that’s an element of its style, and there’s no way to convince you it’s worth that much attention other than to say you probably won’t understand much of it the first time you see it, or maybe even the second, but when you begin to, you’ll be in a position to see something’s coming in from beyond the world. That’s a big payoff.

I don’t know if and how you feel the world, but I feel it like it’s me, identify with it, and this is because of a long process of development that came about as a result of healing myself of wrongdoing, and so it’s no saint’s boast. It’s the degree we feel others like unto ourselves that determines the harm we cause others, and all of us cause harm because none of us yet have a ‘world consciousness’, where the identification is so complete you do no harm at all in thought, word, or deed, but we can be on the way to one. I’ve opened to the world and feel it acutely, and right now on it at the places ISIS is, the harm is reaching holocaust-pain, points of it here and there, and I feel it.

So, since I make videos too and aim for art, and I write poetry and aim for the word, I decided to write this poem and make this video and show ISIS themselves and at the same time what art and poetry is, a very tall order to fill, but I don’t write poetry and make videos like most do. I bring down verse from overhead, inner regions directly above us, and I listen to my soul. All of the poem (music too, another element) and much of the video is inspired. It came from within, inner voice and vision, the kind that takes trance or sleep to get to because you have to get past the waking thinking mind. I can only tell you that I did my best as a listener and seer, and what I chose to keep, and what I chose to throw away, and what I chose to focus on, were what my muse wanted, what I call my inspiration. My thinking mind was held mostly at bay. Whether or not my muse has created art and poetry, that I’m at a place of artistic and poetic maturity where it can, at this point I really can’t say. That will be for time to tell.

I also want to show what’s going on, so you can feel it. We are desensitized to violence we see so much of it virtually, or so it’s said. It’s my view that if we really saw it, saw in the seeing what it does to everyone involved, victims and victimizers alike, and in that seeing identified with that harm, then being shown violence would help and not hurt because we’d feel it, and we don’t like those feelings, and we’d go about to put an end to what causes them or at least give strong moral support and goodwill towards such an end. My attempt here is to show violence in that way, so that it will heal and not harm, and I’m speaking of harm harm, not being offended over a graphic video.

I don’t like those feelings either, do not enjoy watching gore, and making this video was a task I did not relish nor even want to complete. I was in and out of the hospital throughout, experiencing intense physical pain (in the solar plexus, where we field what comes to us from the world), and so I can tell you that I feel it, and if you don’t, don’t feel the horror of some of the moments in those parts of the world especially ISIS and those like them are occupying, then you need to watch the video because you need to see this, even if you don’t want to. Why should art always make you comfortable and relaxed?

It’s what I call an electronic graffiti poem, which is slightly different than street graffiti because in e-graffiti you always aim for art and because your art isn’t defacing whatever wall or property. It aims to compliment whatever painting, photo, video, webpage, what have you, to fit so well it appears inevitable. It’s working for a higher culture free from all that harms us, has that in its eyes: the healing power of the soul, in this instance that power is directed towards Islamic State, especially al Baghdadi, its leader, and it takes the form of poetic seer-vision which includes past, present, and future. The future, however, is pretty hit and miss in seer-vision, but even if the predicted future is wrong, there’s some soul-story being told that bears listening to and interpreting. In this video poem the future is not engraved in stone. A lot like street graffiti, the video’s warning people about something, that if they don’t open their eyes, change, something terrible will happen to them. It’s warning Islamic State.

E-graffiti also, by it’s very action, is calling for change in the copyright laws just as it’s calling for social change, and when there’s significant change in the former away from a self-centered sharing towards sharing for the betterment of humanity, they’re be change walking swiftly towards social revolution . It’ll be art, as I see it, that will change the world, not politics, science, or even religion – because it can do at the drop of hat what religion can rarely do: reach your soul. Art from the soul is a collective endeavor as this video poem is. I created it mostly myself, but I recorded the music in a studio, and I had the help of my household taking some of the photos and videos and the help of an artist friend to film the guitar playing and perfect ending, and I have to say, using all the different artwork I did, it felt like I was carried on the shoulders of many an artist, carried in the arms of many a soul.

It’s obvious ISIS needs to be stopped, and that will take military action (It has to be said it was the wrong use of that that helped cause ISIS in the first place.) That’s the way we deal with human evil: destroy it and get retribution. We stop evil. We don’t heal it. ISIS will be stopped, but will it be healed? By that I mean the root causes in a particular incident of evil are exposed and uprooted so that everyone involved and alive is healed of the situation, victimizers and victims alike, and if such healing were to happen in any particular situation it would insure eventually and inevitably such barbarity in the name of religion no longer happens, anywhere. Only the soul has the power to do that. But soul healing is very different from how society heals if society even tries to heal a situation. The soul uses compassion and understanding as opposed to hatred. And it not only allows for mistakes, they are an integral part of the process.

How can it do that and at the same time address evil head on so to both stop it and heal it? By the power of the soul. This video is an example of that. It’s also an example of how to deal with the evil of other people: you point the finger at your evil at the same time, and you speak as directly to them as possible, or try to, so to be a friend, but one that will except nothing less than their friend’s best. In fact, if the need to address someone’s evil out there in the world does indeed come from the soul, the match will be perfect, and you will be trying more to save them than destroy them. You’re on their side too, not only on the side that’s trying to stop it. Your goodness goes full circle; you’re not only good to the good but to the bad too. We haven’t learned this yet, but it’s the only way to stop human evil once and for all.

You might imagine it will take us a thousand more years to realize that. I do hope not, but it seems human society in general, not just ISIS, is flirting with barbarism, that old evil we been trying to eradicate since day one, the beast in us, with the advent of the internet and the bringing to light of all our dirt that entails. But what we don’t understand is that self-righteous, another old evil but not recognized as one, causes as much harm as evil itself, if not sometimes more. Isn’t ISIS operating from self-righteousness? They don’t think they’re evil; they think everyone else is. In that they are just like all the rest of us.

At any rate, I hope you understand this example I provide. I’m providing it because my own personal change from a bad man to a better one has reached the point where my healing and the world’s healing conjoin. I’d rather not post this if you really want to know, since I’m a sitting duck, and it has the potential to destroy my home and family. It’s not ISIS I’m concerned about harming me though; it’s all good people good only to the good, maybe even you. I should hope not, but if push does come to shove this is self-sacrifice. When it is genuine, people eventually validate your sacrifice and except it, not everyone, but those in touch with their humanity and with their soul. I would ask for compassion and understanding. Will you give it to me? Give it to ISIS too, even if you’re a soldier required to kill its members. There’s a way to do that from the soul, their soul, your soul, and the world soul. Coming from the soul, you don’t soil yourself, and you meet the soul need of the person you must fight. But you can’t come from the soul until you find it, and it’s the most hidden part of us. Only slightly hidden in the poem video is how to do that, find the soul.

Donny

The Rape Of The Vital

A few months ago, I was going to the garage to make sure the side door to the outside was locked. There’s a flight of three stairs you have to go down to get to the garage, and I stumbled on the last one, but was able to put my hands out on the door to the garage and catch myself. Everything seemed fine, but some worry arose that I might have really tweaked my back, and it took a little while for that anxiousness to die down.

Now I don’t remember if it was before or after the stumble, but sometime that evening I read this in Sri Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga:

Yes, the difficulty is always that something in the nature gives a hold to the attack. It either still indulges it and likes it or even, if wanting to be free, is too accustomed to receive and respond to the old feelings, thoughts, suggestions and does not yet know how not to respond. The first thing is for the mental being to stand back, refuse to accept, say “This is no longer mine.” Then, even if the vital feeling responds to the attack, one part of the nature can be free and observe and discourage it. The next thing is for this free part to impose the same will of detachment on the vital so that after a time this also when the attack comes feels that it is something foreign, not its own,—as if a stranger had come into the room and was trying to impose his ideas or his will on the inmates. After that it becomes more easy to get rid of it altogether.1

The next morning I awoke a couple of hours before I needed to get up, and the worry that I may have really tweaked my back the night before hit again, creating anxious thoughts. I was able to go back to sleep though and had this dream:

These four guys in their late teens have broken into a house and are robbing it. The woman of the house is there, and one of them drags her into the back yard. She’s in her thirties or forties and is slim and attractive. She seems to be a housewife and I know that she actually knows all these boys from the neighborhood. She’s wearing a skirt, and the guy is trying to pull her panties off, but she’s resisting him. Then it changes and now it’s like she’s given in. The guy is on top of her and having sex with her. She seems to be taking pleasure in it, but she also seems to be out of it, like she’s drugged or something, and the whole scene has a sickly sort of blue color to it. It’s not seen but I know the other three boys each have a turn with her as well.

When I awoke from the dream I found myself struggling with the anxiety again. Then I recalled what I’d read the night before, and the meaning of the dream came clear. The woman is my vital and the four boys were the anxious thoughts and feelings having their way with it. I saw my vital was responding to the suggestions more out of habit then anything, like the woman in the dream who, although she struggled at first, gave in to the rape, but it was like she was drugged and wasn’t totally with it. The vital even takes a sort of pleasure in these negative movements just like the woman was taking pleasure in the rape in the dream.

As you might expect seeing what was happening so clearly gave the impetus and will to do as Sri Aurobindo recommends and detach and witness the movement as a foreign invasion. It died down for the most part after that though it did linger for a little while after I actually got out of bed and went about my day.

In closing, I’ll say this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this idea in Sri Aurobindo’s writings nor the first time I’ve tried to put it into practice. It’s so easy to forget though in the heat of a vital movement. Maybe this time however the reading coupled with a dream like that has made the lesson stick in such a way that a step forward has been taken in handling these kinds of vital uprisings. I hope so.

References

  1. Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo Vol 31 Letters on Yoga Volume 4 pg 792.

Dream Drugs

peyote flower by zapdelight, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  zapdelight 

I would imagine many people have had the experience of taking a drug like marijuana or alcohol in a dream and feeling high or intoxicated while within the dream, but having the effect disappear upon awakening. This has happened to me a number of times over the years. What’s perhaps less common, but in my experience possible, is to take a drug in a dream or vision and have it produce an effect in the waking consciousness. I’m going to share two examples of this. In one instance, the effect was immediate, and in the other there was a slight delay.

The first example I’ll give occurred about 16 years ago in Mexico in the part of the country where peyote grows wild. I was out there with a group of people including Dominique, a French Canadian woman and peyote connoisseur. On that day I had not eaten any peyote. It was about mid-afternoon, and I was having a sinking spell so I laid down to rest. I didn’t fall asleep but entered that twilight space between waking and sleeping and had this vision:

I was with a group of people gathered around a fire. A deep, and powerful voice kept repeating the word “Amor” (which means love in Spanish) and I could actually feel the sound waves from the voice penetrating my dream body. Then Dominique put a piece of peyote on my tongue. As soon as the piece touched my tongue, it sent a jolt through my entire body and I was abruptly brought back to full waking consciousness.

At first nothing interesting happened, and I just got up and started to resume waking activities. After a few minutes though, I suddenly found myself filled with a large upwelling of love wanting to find some means of expression. Fellow Harm’s End editor Donny was there in the desert with me and my first instinct was to go and find him. On my end I was irked with Donny about some things, and the love helped to see that those feelings really weren’t legitimate. When I found him I told him that, and was able to clear the air as well as my vital. After that the love began to fade and then was gone. All in all I would guess that the experience lasted about 30 minutes.

Roughly a year later I had another memorable experience with a dream substance. This time I was in Nicaragua and was once again with Donny. We were staying in a hotel near the border with Costa Rica and had plans to cross the following morning. At around 4 am, I awoke from a dream in which I had been drinking coffee. Since it was still dark outside I tried to go back to sleep but found it impossible to do so because I was COMPLETELY awake. Normally I feel quite horrible if I try to get up early in the morning, but this time there was no grogginess whatsoever and my body felt energized and ready to go. As I lay there I sensed that Donny was also awake, so I told him about the dream and what I was experiencing. We concluded that there must be some purpose behind it, and that the most likely reason was to give us an early start. So we got up and went to the border only to sit there and wait for three hours for immigration to open at 9 o’clock. Go figure. Despite that however, Donny and I remained convinced that forces had moved us out of there at an early hour for a reason even if we couldn’t see it.

Unlike other posts of mine there’s no real concluding lesson or moral to my sharing of these experiences. I’ve really just thrown this out to show what’s possible and maybe spark the interest of a reader or two towards their inner life. If this possibility perks your interest then why not try for yourself? Put your intention in that direction before sleeping and see what happens. Give it a fair shake if you don’t have immediate success. I do recommend though that you approach this exercise and dreams in general with the intention to learn or to grow. While dreams can serve as entertainment for the human vital, especially if you’re a skilled lucid dreamer (I myself am not), that isn’t in my opinion their true purpose. Rather I feel dreams are an aid for our growth and development and should be approached as such.