And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit,
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
—WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (excerpt)
I would like to write about two topics over the next couple of weeks – one on the subject of persona and the other on the subject of reflected love.
We live our lives as if totally convinced of our stories of others and ourselves until we have an experience of another reality, a hidden reality. Then the basis for all our beliefs wobbles and we see we have not been scraping the surface of bedrock, but the pillowed existence we have built on top of it.
Through this discussion my intent is not to bash the personality. It is with us as long as we are in human skin. It is shaped by all our life experiences and is part of the way we relate and make our lives work, pursue careers and have families. It is a necessary aspect of our lives.
My intent here is to give it its place. And to raise the question about who and what we actually are, and what is keeping us in hiding.
In this first dream, a decision is made to face myself completely, not realizing what that might mean.
October 12, 2011
Papji, a 20th century Indian sage, once commented that the presence of a lion in a dream was a sign of the Higher Self in pursuit of you.
I am both in the dream and witness to the dream.
There is a lion, so small and harmless. I have it in a bowl of peanut butter. I am looking at it thinking if I let this cat out I will prove I am ready to face myself completely, knowing it will be life size if I do. With that thought the lion is out of the bowl, life size, in the room, my bedroom. It is very frisky and is nipping at me like a dog but it is a bit stronger. I look up and now there are TWO wild cats in the room. I watch my character get up on the bed with my back to the headboard, as far back as I can get. One of the lions jumps up onto the bed and with one stroke tears off my face. I hear myself saying, “Well there goes my face.” I am thinking, “I wonder what it will be like to live without a face.” Scene shift. I am with the lions again; we are in my living room. They are very lively and moving around. “It is Sunday,” I say, “and I can finally get to really look at the details.” End of dream.
Initially in the dream I am looking at a tiny lion in a bowl of peanut butter. The lion is like a childhood toy in a bowl of childhood food. When I see it there I am aware I am living behind the façade of being a helpless child, playing at consciousness, and that if I really wanted to know what and who I am I would only have to say it and the lion would be life size. And with this thought—poof! The lion is full-grown, there in my bedroom – the place of intimacy. The lion is frisky, not calm or serene, nipping me – making full contact with its mouth and teeth. And then there are TWO lions…and I feel their intent and pursuit of me. (When TWO shows up in this context I am reminded of the two headed snake, the two headed elephant, the Adam and Eve myth, the Shiva/Shakti story—the duality speaks to the masculine and feminine aspects but also to the sense that the Infinite embodies wholeness and is not in short supply. They come perhaps to represent the creative force of the universe-the ever-generative power of creation from which we are born.) I climb up onto the bed and press myself back into the headboard. I know the inevitable is coming and in the dream I want to feel the solidness of something behind me, bracing me for when it comes. With one stroke the lion tears off my face; there is no pain. Only a true wondering: “What it will be like to live without a face, what it will be like to be seen by others without a face?” And then there is a scene shift – and I am in my ‘living’ room (I have brought this shift into my real life). The lions are there, very lively moving around. And almost in answer to my query of What will it be like, I say aloud, “It is Sunday—(Sunday- the day dedicated to the sacred-the sun, the source of light), and I can finally get to really look at the details—(I can finally look without a mask at all there is to see.)
My intent is not to bash the personality. It is with us as long as we are in human skin. It is shaped by all our life experiences and is part of the way we relate and make our lives work, pursue careers and have families.
My intent is to raise the question about whether we actually have any idea who we are. And if we don't, what is keeping us in hiding.
“The ancient Greeks, in their renowned comedies and tragedies, had their actors portray their characters by holding up masks in front of their faces. The masks were known as “personas”. And so it is. We have come to identify with our “personas” rather than realizing that we are each but mere characters in a divine play. We get to explore life as our character and engage in the game of hide and seek wherein we seek and find the divine in each other and in all things. [But] More often we hide our divinity and hide the divinity of others and all things.”
So to ask the question is to begin to lower the mask, to admit that we don’t actually know what and who we are. And perhaps opens the way for the God within us to reveal a glimpse of our true wealth.
Friend, this is the only way to learn the secret way:
Ignore the paths of others,
Even the saints' steep trails.
Don't journey at all.
Rip the veil from your face.
—SACHAL SARMAST, Translation by Ivan. M. Granger