NOTE: I understand that I regularly take on the topic of sleep, and this blog post is no exception. Although this time, I am talking in terms of dreams: wild, crazy, jumping down the rabbit hole dreams.
You know, the Morrissey “last night I dreamt that somebody loved me…sort of dream.
In yoga, there are these pesky little things called vrittis, or fluctuations of the mind, one of which is nidra, or sleep. Another one is vikalpa, the fantastic or imagination driven idea. Mix the two together and you have me pretty much every night at 2am.
In general, I have pretty fantastic dreams. Baz Luhrman meets Avatar meets some pedestrian tasks like laundry.
But I believe many of them, especially after meditation and prayer time, provide clear guidance on certain things in the way only the subconscious can illuminate. Around the full moon, and especially working with Moldavite while I was in Hawaii, I woke up stone cold from a dream. It really opened my eyes to certain things, intellectual fixations that I have been attached to over the course of my life. With time, these fixations have apparently embedded themselves even deeper into my psyche through the exploration of yoga which is kind of the opposite of how it should work, and yet we are all students on the journey.
My teacher was in this dream, although this teacher was not my yoga teacher, per se, just someone like a Virgil, a guide into the infernal dream realm. In this dream, I saw this man as compassionate and wise, whose authority on topics could be trusted implicitly. In this dream, which lasted a fraction of a second he told me that in my next lifetime I would reach enlightment.
Imagine that?! By 2080 or so, I will have arrived! But wait, like all good myth, there is a caveat.
I would do so as a male Hare Krishna. I woke up with chills. The waking up has nothing to do with the literal verity of the dream: whether or not I can reach enlightment, or that soon, or whether or not I could reincarnate, etc. were not the yogic concepts keeping me up that night. What kept me astir and wrought with contemplation was the fact that this dream awakened me to the two pillars of intellectual fixation that I am boldly attached to: being a woman and my faith.
I have studied about the Hare Krishnas, read their books including the cornerstone text of the Bhagavad Gita, know their maha-mantra, and have a tremendous admiration for their compassionate world view and Krishna (pictured above) centric approach to bhakti (devotion) yoga. Though a 20th century phenomenon, the Hare Krishnas resort to aspirational texts from five thousand plus years back; the intricate combination of the ancient and the modern. But there is nothing in my current makeup that draws me to becoming a Hare Krishna. But what if, indeed, the only way through the window of enlightenment was to become one as the teacher in my dreams professed? Or better yet,
what if walking through the door meant becoming the exact categorical opposite of all things you think you are? Or all things you think you ‘should’ be?
Could I overcome peach colored robes, shave my head and devote my life to chanting? Looking at the folks below, looks like no ones complaining, and yet I wonder.
There is a block. In terms of my physical existence, and my spiritual pursuits, this dream really struck me with the fact that I am wholly a woman, unabashedly feminine minded, double D type of gal.
I like my long, thick, rope like ebony hair, and I love being a part in this time in history, when women are becoming CEOs, Presidents of countries (not our own yet though) and leading the Western yoga movement with collaboration and pure Shakti mojo.
Even more, the path for enlightenment meant having to become a man. I have nothing against men, I love them alot; but I am not interested nor can I imagine having to live life through the body, brain or soul of a man. For someone who spent a lion’s share of her adulthood embracing corporate life, I guess my ‘masculine’ approach to business is a bit shrivelled come to find out. No offense, but I don’t want to be a male Hare Krishna. Luckily, I can seperate the meaning from the metaphor, knowing not to take dreams literally: I am attached to the identity of being a woman of Western spirituality and proud of it.
The term for nonattachment in yoga is vairagya; the idea that there is no need to externally project or to identify with anything to define the essence of who you are. I felt that on the material side of things, over the years have I been able to slowly shrug off my attachments. I guess where I really need to look are the dynamics within: my attachment to the principles around advancing womens’ causes and being an advocate for women and their children. I think of the values that I am sharing with my child, a six year old girl, about self worth, respect and dignity, all have a feminist bent to them.
And then there is a matter of faith; could I find full expression in God through alternate means? Is it possible to one day be a Christian, influenced by Western culture to another day move into an entirely different form of spiritual expression? Naturally, these are answers that I do not have. All I have is a physical shell with female plumbing, and a heart and mind devoted to a God of my calling. Willingly, I enter into these castles a joyful servant. If we are all comprised of mayakoshas around atman, as yogic philosophy suggests, then perhaps there will be a time of the peeling off of layers, the striping of veneers instead of altars, where the essence of what makes us all both human and divine rises from a place without attachments of any kind. Is that idea in the dream realm a happy one or a nightmare? I cannot say other than to sleep, perchance to dream.