Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Off the mat -- Dreaming up obstacles

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali lists seven different practices that “settle” consciousness. One of them is reflecting on insights culled from sleep and dreaming. (I:33, 38)

I’d have to be pretty oblivious not to note the trend in my dreams the past couple of weeks:

  • Driving into the wilderness on a familiar road, I find the way getting unexpectedly steeper and steeper. Finally, I have to stop and retreat to keep the SUV from toppling backwards and down.
  • Practicing yoga, my poses are disrupted by some thing’s fingers and then hands pressing up, through the floor and the carpet, like weeds. As I continue, the weed-hands continue to emerge – arms, obstructing the poses, entangling my limbs.
  • Searching in the basement of a building for a way into the inner-most part. When I finally find the way, it is doll-house-sized, and absurdly smaller and more narrow than I could possibly fit. Nonetheless, I start trying to puzzle out how I can get in.

* * *

Yesterday, I read this, from a dharma talk by Adyashanti:

Ego is a movement. It’s a verb. It is not something static. It’s the after-the-fact movement of mind that’s always becoming. In other words, egos are always on the path. They are on the psychology path, the spiritual path, the path to get more money or a better car. That sense of “me” is always becoming, always moving, always achieving. Or else it is doing just the opposite – moving backward, rejecting, denying. So in order for this verb to keep going, there has to be movement. We have to be going forward or backward, toward or away from. … As soon as a verb stops, it’s not a verb anymore. As soon as you stop running, there is no such thing as running – it’s gone; nothing is happening. The ego sense has to keep moving because, as soon as it stops, it disappears, just like when your feet stop, running disappears.

When we really let it in and start to see that there is no ego, only egoing, then we start to see ego for what it really is. This produces a natural stopping of a pursuit toward or a running away from something. This stopping needs to happen gently and very naturally because, if we are trying to stop, then that is movement again. As long as we try to do what we think is the right spiritual thing by getting rid of ego, we perpetuate it. Seeing that this is more of the same egoing will allow stopping without trying.

Emptiness Dancing: Selected Dharma Talks of Adyashanti, Open Gate Publishing: Los Gatos, CA, 2004, p. 106

And last night I dreamt this: Driving through the red-rock deserts of western Colorado and eastern Utah, I’m trying to get to a destination, and my car breaks down at sunset. I decide to proceed on foot, but it’s moonless and dark. I go to store after store, looking for one that has flashlights for sale. I can’t find one. As I’m walking from one store to another, I catch sight of a man with a twisted, spastic body, lurching inch-by-inch across a parking lot on the knee of one leg, the heel of the other foot, the elbow of one arm, the hand of the other. He’s glistening with sweat. I don’t stop to help because, I think to myself, “he seems to be making decent progress.”

* * *

The truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing.
--Tao Te Ching