A Poingnant Dream
A few years ago, I had a poignant dream. I was climbing along an old trail high up on a mountainside looking out over the vast Earth. Though it was day, I could still see the infinite cosmos sprinkled with diamond and sapphire stars and swirling galaxies all threading together in a flow of interdependency. I looked out and saw that the Earth was one vast living system, connected within the entire cosmos. I saw ecosystems merging into one another in one immeasurable energetic web of life, a web in which all species, including human beings, are participants. I saw that the jeweled earth is beyond beautiful. I took a deep breath and felt an amazing warmth and peace as I understood that just to be alive is miraculous.
In my dream, I walked along the rugged mountains, following no path but my own curiosity. I climbed along knife edges on top of granite peaks, wove through summer woods while listening to birds singing, streams caroling, the chimes of trees and wind, and felt the texture of rich soil beneath my feet. Seasons passed like minutes, and I saw summers pass into autumn, snow cloaking the earth while everything seemed to expire into a white desert. Yet, the earth kept spinning. Springs arrived and new beginnings were rebirthed and life streamed again. The seasons spiraled in an endless pattern and life and death threaded together in a wondrous mosaic of a living mandala.
Finally, I climbed and climbed to the top of a great mountain. From here, it was easy to see that there are no countries, no divisions and no hierarchy. I saw that all flows together, all is needed and nothing stands alone. All is Wholeness.
As I watched the unfolding, the past mingled with the present. I saw thousands of indigenous communities adapting to all the variety of ecosystems, developing cultures, and living in ways that connected them deeply to nature. These groups of people lived differently based on the ecosystems in which they lived and the community they dreamed up together. Some were more peaceful and some more violent. They would push at times against each other’s boundaries but never wiped each other out. Many of these communities had no concept of ownership. They moved with the rhythms of the ecosystem, rarely staying in one place. They lived this way, changing with their ecosystems over thousands of years.
They didn’t seem to have the pervasive anxieties, traumas, addictions, or violence that our culture has shown. I observed examples of this. I saw Columbus meeting the Taino people for the first time. Before he and his men brutally enslaved them and murdered them, he said they were the friendliest people he had ever met. “T]his people has no religion nor are they idolaters, but very mild and without knowing what evil is, nor how to kill others, nor how to take them, and without arms…” I then saw Hernando Cortez who, with his men, destroyed the entire Aztec Civilization. He shared, “We Spanish,” said Hernando Cortes, the conquistador of Mexico, “suffer from a strange disease of the heart, for which the only known remedy is gold.” I saw that this was just emblematic of the great disparity between the way the indigenous peoples and our culture’s people are educated to see the world.
I then saw Black Elk rise out of the mountains side and say, “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us…..” He then shared “I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.” He then disappeared back into the earth. As this part of the vision disappeared, I saw how these indigenous communities illustrate how humans have the potential to live in balance with the world around us.
And then my dream shifted into something insidious. I saw a culture emerging out of the fertile crescent and it began devouring the world. Their children were molded and educated into suffering beings with beliefs of separation. From this ideology was the birthing of hierarchy and psychological fear. So many of the people molded into this culture acted out their suffering upon each other and the planet as they became adults for they were ignorant of their conditioning.
I saw blood pouring out of the earth as this culture took over continent by continent. Blood of earth, blood of animals, blood of plants and trees, blood of any people’s that came across their destructive path. This culture spread its separatist ideology upon its children, forcing them to follow its authority and decrees, forcing beliefs and roles no matter what class station they belonged. Children had no choice but to follow unless they wanted to feel the wrath for going against the grain. The culture, overstepping the bounds of place, producing more and more food by taking and taking more land, grew and grew like cancer.
The people of this culture thought of themselves as dominant and had the right to all the earth’s resources and could control and manipulate nature. They poisoned the skies. and rivers, and tore down forests and made them into deserts. They imprisoned animals perpetually and abused them until they slaughtered them for food. They destroyed any creature that came across their crops. The leaders of this culture made excuses for the cancerous growth by calling it progress. I saw genocide after genocide with ignorant proclamations and hollow excuses. They wanted every inch of the land, and so they would devour every indiginous communities they came across. I saw many people turning their heads and ignoring what was going on or they participated without stopping to think about what they were doing.
I saw this culture create the multiplicity of oppression. A hierarchy that feeds off of conflict, violence and disorder as It breeds injustice. It craves more and more, greed and ignorance stemming out of its roots of separation. This culture energized by fear continued to produce and manufacture more and more sophisticated weapons to kill and defend.
They followed a known creed. Hate begets hate. Violence creates more violence. And instead of stopping to ask what is it that we are doing, and pausing to question, people just continue to follow the path of ignorance and let the leaders of this culture rush them along towards a cavernous pit. I saw how this culture fed off of isolating people from people and nature, to isolate themselves in despair, and then blind them through a maze of work and entertainment and war. In this way, I saw our culture bind so many of its people in a collective neurosis. And I saw how our culture’s neurosis, needed the collective unhealthy mindstate of its citizens to feed from, grow and devour more and more and more.
Yet, in the midst of all of this, I saw many people questioning this society, trying to break free, trying to wake people up from it’s relentless sorrow. They spoke up against the grave injustices calling for us all to wake up and change our course. Even though the powers to be would make it seem that their voices didn’t matter or they would kill the messengers, the voices continued to rise. I saw people rising together instead of in isolation. I saw that every voice mattered and everyone brought their unique skills to help wake us up from this maddening dream of despair.
And then I woke up.
Did I wake up from a dream in which I was sleeping. Or did I wake up from the dream in which I was living? Were they really different?
Understanding spread to where it contained all. Clarity arose. I saw clearly that I can’t wait for change to happen. I knew in this presence that awareness is,
and that wonder and curiosity empowered me to look and question everything to see what is actually true.
Here, as days and nights drifted together like the tai chi mandala, my ignorance began to shed, beliefs dropped away, and my enculturated thinking was seen for the suffering and divisiveness it is. As there was no place for thought to be, quiet entered. From here, right action came into being and there was no choice left to make. Instead of reacting to problems which is part of our cultural paradigm, I acted out of love and compassion. I met people and saw them in their holiness, and in that place we came together as one. From this place of freedom, I understood completely that by releasing our cultural dogma and idea of separation is when I act rightly; for otherwise, it will still be part of my dysfunctional, conditioned thinking. Within the confines of dysfunction, even if I think I am doing good, I will create more harm.
In presence, thoughts die down and one sees that everything is interconnected and that wholeness is the source of it all. From here I act, and from this action, comes love and goodness.
If we take a moment to listen in, we would see that rather than separation, we are meant to be in community with each other. We are meant to live in an egalitarian way that doesn’t pit people within the community against each other. We are meant to live with the land and see that we are dancers within the ecosystem’s community. I understood it was possible for every human to wake up from this bad dream our culture has taught into us, and begin to live in vulnerability, love, compassion, and in flow with the wild ecosystems that we live with. And, from this place of trust, we would see our children differently and let their wonder and innate curiosity lead the way to learning.
And then I woke up. I saw clearly that I can’t wait for change to happen. I knew in this presence that I must wake up and begin the process of shedding my ignorance, my inculturated thinking, and do my part to end oppression and suffering. By only stepping out of our cultural dogma and idea of separation, can I do anything at all; for otherwise, my inculturated thinking, even if I think I am doing good, will create more harm.
Waking up is stopping and being present to what is. In this place, thoughts die down and we see there is no separation, that everything is interconnected, and that wholeness is the source of it all. From here I act, and from this action, comes love and goodness. It is possible for every human to wake up from this bad dream our culture has taught into us and begin to live in vulnerability, love, compassion, inclusivity, community, and in flow with the wild ecosystem is that we live with. From this place of trust, we would see our children differently and let their wonder and innate curiosity lead the way to learning.
It is possible, if we can simply pause and stop running, stop reaching out of ourselves and thinking success, materialism, and becoming somebody is going to make us feel better. We are running in the wrong direction. We are already at home. Our inculturated thinking has just clouded over our wholeness and wonder. By stopping and seeing that all of our thinking has been taught into us by a deeply dysfunctional culture, we would see that we no longer need to hold onto those thoughts. Our culture is about holding on, attachment, and running away from presence. Wholeness is about letting go and being present. By letting go, we let go of everything that deceives us from who one really is. We are not what our culture tells us we are.