Dream: The Open Door
By David Sunfellow
I was abused as a child, on many different levels: physically, emotionally, psychologically. I internalized, very deeply, the idea that the world (and the people in it) hurt us and I developed a philosophy that reflected that. In my particular case, that meant I thought a monastic path, away from the troubles of relationships and cares of the world, was the way to go. I spent years living in swamps, forests, abandoned houses, churches, refusing to work for money or participate in the craziness of the culture at large. For years, I meditated eight hours a day and struggled to reconnect with God, and stay connected. I was deeply attracted to eastern philosophies that taught the world was a dream and the solution was to wake up.
Basically, I wanted out. But try as I might, I couldn’t get out. No matter how hard I tried to wake up, connect with God, and maintain a sense of inner peace, issues always surfaced. My inner guidance, mostly via my dreams, eventually turned me around. They insisted that instead of pulling back from the world, I needed to dive in: maintain my inner connection but get back in the world and start changing things. One dream, in particular, rushes to mind.
In that dream, I am in a small dungeon-like cell with my younger brother, who has been one of my main companions this life. The grimy cell is dark, cold, and damp. And we are cold and hungry. There is a feeling of hopelessness in the air and I am struggling to find a way for us to endure this awful situation. Finally, I remember if I quiet down, meditate, and connect with God, I will feel better. All will be well. So I tell my brother that’s what we need to do. “We have been in situations like this our whole lives,” I tell him. “We just need to accept where we are, turn within, and reconnect with God. Then everything will be OK.”
As soon as finish telling my brother this, something primal snaps in me. Feelings that I have suppressed for decades rush to the surface and I lunge for a guard who is standing on the other side of the cell door. But as soon as I slam into the cell door, it swings open and I realize, to my astonishment, that it was open the whole time. I also realize that the guard had no ill will towards us. He was just playing the part of a guard and had no intention of harming us, or keeping us locked up. So we walk out and I wake up, continuing to be amazed that we have been held captive in a cell that we could have left whenever we wanted to.
Since that time, that’s how I lived my life, with the knowledge that I can have peace on the inside AND peace on the outside. Not only does one not exclude the other, but when they are working together, everything — inside and outside — gets better. And everything in my life has gotten better, on every level, inside and out. I still have many issues I am dealing with, but they are all improving, many dramatically, with this two-sided — vertical and horizontal, being and doing — approach.
To read the illuminating thread that the above comment appears in, go here.
To read a related post on this website, see:
Rethinking Buddhism: A New Way To View Suffering
To learn more about dreams and how to use them to transform your life, go here.