Monday, August 15, 2011

DREAM: PLAYING DEFENSE ...jan 24, 2010

1.This dream was the image of an older man of oriental descent and his wife. They lived in a typical American middle class subdivision. They were in their backyard working on their vegetable garden. They both took great care with their plants. At one point I was able to warn them something  about poisonous heavy metal chemicals in their plants whose fruit was going to be used in the tooth fillings of their son was dangerous. They were unaware and graciously accepted the advise. The wife was clearly a 'help mete' to the man but in no way his inferior . They worked as a perfect team, both listening to the contributions and concerns of each other. There was no authority hierarchy regulating their relationship. At one point all the neighbors, of varied ethnic backgrounds, stood by their own vegetable gardens and the old man pronounced a blessing over them all.

Elderly Chinese Couple
 2. With the G. family I visited a high hill in the forest. It was after an unusual amount of rain and the hill revealed its inner structure in ways we knew was not commonly seen. It had a skeletal kind of inner structure to it. And there were ants living all through it. These two things were not usually observable. We were digging up large buckets full of the the soil and ants. We planned to use this to enrich our own gardens at home.
3. Talking to the wife of the old man in dream one, I was attempting to give directions to a special organic products store. In my mind it was in the town of Jacksonville, IL. I asked her if she knew where Palisade Drive was. I was aware as dreamer that one of my high school boy friends lived on Palisade Drive near the Tennessee River bank. I spent a lot of time there close to the nature of the River.

REFLECTION: Dreams 1 and 2 reflect the importance of humans individually and as community giving proper attention to taking proper defensive measures in life. This is pictured as being carried out in very practical and concrete ways. Finally dream 3 gives a precise image of such defensiveness in the palisade fence. I did not recall the meaning of Palisade until I looked it up. The internet dictionary defines a palisade as a steel or wooden fence or wall of variable height, usually used as a defensive structure. This is such a good example of how the unconscious can direct the personal ego consciousness to totally unexpected ideas, but ideas that are in perfect harmony with the subject at hand. The Palisade image seems given to tie these dreams together in one theme.

1. Dream 1 is a version of the timeless, cross-cultural and cross-religious archetype of the 'wise old man'. This may be the most typical 'image of God' that Western people still have of God. Though present day Christianity sometimes speaks of a more complicated and more attuned to nature God, and theologians present other intellectual models that are more complex; to the average person in the hospital Emergency Room, traumatized by the threatened death of loved one, it seems that God is often reduced to 'an all powerful man in the sky' . The image of the 'wise old man' in oriental culture is more a godlike image who encourages the human to reflect within herself and to practice some art of inner wisdom. But in the West He is usually the 'all powerful creator who runs all the specific events of individual life and the world according to His own will.' The usual human response to Him in calamity is to 'beg for a blessing and a salvation from whatever threatens.' This is what I mean by the 'ER god image.'

Not only was Pat Robertson's highly criticized response to the Haiti earthquake backed by the ' superman in the sky' image of God but also was President Obama's reference to God. Obama used the worn out euphemism, 'there, except by the grace of God go I.'. This , just as strongly as Robertson's statement, invokes the same kind of God. Again, this is so typically American. This is saying, 'God , for some reason for which I am grateful, decided to bring great suffering on some one else instead of me.' Exactly the same view of God is reflected every time a person confesses, ' I thought I had troubles until I saw someone else who is in so much worse shape.' These deeply believed expressions about God's nature, when broken down or when they unconsciously evoke powerful emotions and motivations, are just as presumptuous and self-serving as Robertson's judgmental and assumed favored position before God. This may lead one to ' do something to help the suffering ones out of thankfulness for being 'passed over' this time by God's wrath. Most would agree on reflection that such a view of God and the motivations it engenders are hardly a complimentary perspective of the Divine or the human.

This dream offers the more oriental version as an appropriate image of God or archetype. He is not likely looked to as having total power over nature or each of our individual problems, but is one who brings wisdom to help a person be in ongoing harmony with all the forces of life, seen and unseen. This is closer to the image of Wisdom or Sophia of Proverbs. It is very much the image of God that is presented by the ancient IChing. I have found  IChing to be extremely meaningful and redemptive at times.

This 'wise old man' is companioned by an equally caring and interested female. If this is presenting a 'god image' which I think it is, it is including the female as a fully equal half of that image. They have no 'power over' each other. Their relationship is based on mutuality, trust, love. Notice this God image is not on a throne or located outside creation. It is fully invested as a dependent part of creation, even if in some way it may also be transcendent. This is a God image that is fully ' Emmanuel.' I am not surprised that it is the female part of the image that I end up conferring with privately. For she could be viewed as sustaining the anima factor, so alive in my psyche.

The dream stressed that a way of needed wisdom in present Western society is to take more personal responsibility for using nature as a means to healthy food. Here each person is actually growing vegetables in their own yard. This implies that people should not only be aware of nutritious eating but also seek to be fully touch with the earth and the wonders that it brings forth when properly attended. This is in harmony with the responsibility given to humans in the 'Eden Story.' It is significant that the image shows the neighborhood as world wide. An 'oriental' God here realizes, and encourages me to also, that we now live in a global 'economy' and culture in an ever growing sense.

2. Dream 2 seems to be coming from a variation of the 'Holy Hill' archetypal image. How frequently does God in the Bible appear on the 'Holy Hill' whether Sinai, Ararat, Nebo, the sermon on the Mount, transfiguration hill or Golgotha. The 'Holy Hill' usually 'just looks like a hill' but when seen through fully 'conscious and open' eyes it reveals itself transparently to be a part of Holy creation, just as all else is. I recall as a kid I complained to my Dad of our slowness to reach the Smokey Mountains. He said ,'well this is a small mountain we are on now.' I lazily said, 'No. It's jus an ole hill.'. Daddy said, ' You are right. It is just Snow Hill.' He explained that 'Snow Hill' was the hill we were driving up. The 'Holy Hill' in this dream is an image that could help heal the split between the 'Sacred and Matter', the 'Spirit and Earth.' This Hill is in the forest. Its rich earthiness is stressed. This Hill is seems miraculous in that it exposes itself here for its true identity. This is a kind of 'transfiguration story' only it is to show the holiness of matter, of the Earth. It shows itself with a skeleton and so is connected to the creatures who are alive. It is not just 'dead matter'. A Biblical prophet once said that, ' the stones will cry out.' The message here is that 'everything coming from the source of all that is' is Holy. We, when more fully conscious, are always 'on holy ground.' The warning is ' do not call anything unholy that I have called Holy.' This is a powerful symbol aimed at healing the split that has existed in various ways in all God images since creation. Those splits include 'Spirit vs matter.' 'Soul vs Body', 'Heaven vs Earth', 'Female vs Male', 'Flesh vs. Spirit', 'Eros vs Agape' and 'Power vs form' and 'sexuality vs spirituality.' The source of the dream calls us back to a more full humanity, a return to Eden but now with open eyes and with full responsibility. This means perhaps literally, and certainly metaphorically, getting our 'hands in the dirt', celebrating our connection and dependence on the Earth as Soul  and on all creatures, even the lowly ant. We are called to take this new definition of the Holy and nurture ourselves with it. (The G's were a family in one of my country churches.)

3. Dream 3 is reflected on above in the introduction. There are ancient and modern versions of the' palisade.' The older version usually consisted of upright pointed tree trunks that were put into the ground to make a temporary protective fence around a village. My friend's home on Palisade Drive on the bank of the River was on high ground, well 'defended' from the River's threatening floods but also near the 'water' , always an image of the 'collective unconscious' and the treasures it seeks to bring into human consciousness.

Together these dreams are saying that humans need to defend themselves against the assaults that surely threaten our survival as a species. These assaults are from without and within. This defense includes taking our rightful 'holy place' with the rest of creation, nurturing ourselves and each other with what is physically and spiritually healthy; visioning ourselves and the whole world as absolutely under the blessing of the Sacred; seeing ourselves as co- workers and co-creators with others and with God; taking full individual responsibility for becoming as truthfully and as fully conscious as we are graced to become. Defending ourselves also means to take responsibility for the God Images we choose to worship and follow. It means to be open the the Images of God that God, as the Collective Unconscious, brings to our post modern attentions.

No comments: