April 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dream or Vision?

In the night, a man with a white beard wearing a monk’s robe appeared at my bedside. He looked like Sean Connery in the 1986 film The Name of the Rose. He did not speak. He held out his hand, palm up, wide sleeve draping from his wrist. In his palm was my ipod. Or maybe it was my eye-drops. It was something small.
I recognized that he did not belong by my bed in the night, and I was both afraid and angry that he was there. “Who are you?” I yelled.
Beside me in bed, Ann patted my thigh. “It’s okay,”she said, “You’re having a dream. You can go back to sleep.”
“It’s not okay,” I told her. “Who is that man by the bed?”
“There is no man. You were dreaming.”
“Don’t you see that man?” I asked, pointing in the robed man’s direction.
Then, more awake now, I looked again. “Oh, he’s not there. Sorry. I had a dream, but he was so real.”
In the morning, I wondered again who he was and why he was there. Was he a vision or a dream?
The man’s name was Sri Krishna. Though I knew his name, I did not know who he was. Strange.
Last night before going to sleep, I read the first few chapters of Ekreth Easwaran’s Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation, and Indian Philosophy. Easwaran explains the Gita’s opening chapter, a scene of armies facing one another for war, and two men in the middle space between them. One of the men, Arjuna, a practical man, seeks wisdom from the other man, a philosopher, about what to do in this moment before battle.
The philosopher’s name is Sri Krishna. The same name as the man in my dream. Hmmm.
Easwaran explains that the Gita's battle symbolizes a person’s internal battle between the true Self and the temporal self. “In Ghandi’s view,” Easwaran writes, “the real battlefield is one’s own life, where the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, rages from birth to death.
Easwaran explains the Gita’s central concept: “We don’t know who we are. We don’t know what we are as human beings, so we are divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we behave like separate creatures engaged in a struggle for survival with the rest of life. Yet at some deep level, we also know that this image of ourselves is inaccurate: that we are not separate from nature but part of a much larger whole, motivated not merely by personal survival but even more by love, ideals, beauty, a sense of right and wrong—values that can’t be denied without losing something of our humanity.
When I awoke in the morning after my dream, I thought, “I need to start reading lighter material before I go to sleep.”
Then, when I checked my email, I had a poem from Little Brother Matt that spoke to much the same theme. (I love poems from LBM!)  Derek Walcott’s poem “Love After Love” is about this divided self coming back together in celebration:
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
The coincidence of this dream and this poem, of their common theme and call for internal wisdom, surprised me.
Then in yoga class this morning, my teacher Victoria read this poem from Rumi:
When you fall asleep,
you go from the presence of yourself
into your own true presence.
You hear something
and surmise that someone else in your dream
has secretly informed you.
You are not a single “you.”
No, you are the sky and the deep sea.
Your mighty “Thou,” which is nine hundredfold,
is the ocean, the drowning place
of a hundred “thou’s” within you.
Like Sri Krishna and Derek Walcott, Rumi writes of the divided self. Perhaps Rumi is writing about Sean Connery coming to see me in the night, and Sean Connery has something to teach me. Perhaps Derek Walcott would say that Sean Connery is me. But why the ipod or the eye-drops?
I have been feeling pretty peaceful, so what do I have to learn?
I hear echoes of Yoda to Luke in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones:
"Much to learn you still old padawan... This is just the    beginning!"
Maybe this cloaked man was no dream. Perhaps he was a vision. Chivo! I have always wanted to have a vision.
I wonder what I am to learn from this.
To be continued when I know something more.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Mary, I love this so much. I love everything about it. I just wrote down the Walcott poem, and will share it with my Grandpa, who is dying.


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