Hello, and welcome to my Field Note for November 2022, The Dreaming Community, which is a sequel to my previous Note for October: Dreaming the Way: Inner Work on Your Own. In that Note, I mentioned the dreaming community and its vital role in my inner work. Briefly, the dreaming community is comprised of people who hear our dreams, share their responses, and who now have our dream as part of their consciousness.
What I am offering you in this Field Note is a way of engaging the world: at least your personal and known world, and your creative and imaginal experience of life—your life. In the example that I am sharing with you here, the content is the dream that I shared with you last month (October Field Note, about eight paragraphs from the beginning, under the heading, “My Dream as I Recall It at This Moment”) in relation to my personal inner work on my own with that dream. The key idea here is that once others hear a dream, and it is in their consciousness this dream is now also their dream. Why do I say this? Once someone’s dream is in another’s consciousness, it has become part of their life experience. This means that not only can they comment on the dream but also the dream has potential to affect their understanding of their own life as well.
The following is a series of excerpts from my dream community’s responses to my dreaming.
July 20, 2002: I am at the Second Annual International Conference on Personal Meaning. I have an idea and decide to act on it. I make a direct request to meet with one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Ernesto Spinelli (2002, personal communication, Richmond BC), Professor of Psychotherapy, Counselling and Counselling
Psychology, and Academic Dean of the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent’s College, London, GB. Dr. Spinelli is one of the top existential analysts in the world and a multi-published author. He enthusiastically agrees to meet with me. At the outset of our meeting, he describes how he works with dreams and characterizes this as representative of his work that is based in existential therapy. He tells me that from the existential perspective, a dream is taken as real: not that it takes place in the world but that it is a real event in consciousness, and the starting point is acceptance of the dream in content and process as is. He goes on to say that dreams are statements, in the sense that they, too, express the dreamer’s way of being.
He says that the dream can be broken down into world components, characters, environment, and action. He offers some questions in relation to dreams—how does “I” in the dream engage with elements of the dream, how do the elements of the dream relate to the dreamer and to each other, and what is the mood of the world? He summarizes his comments: “Something occurs in the interaction and relationship.”
He reads the description of my dream and asks me some questions and then asks me to be Rocky being me. This suggestion paralyzes me temporarily. I can identify with Rocky, but somehow the request to be Rocky—the instinctual part of me—confounds me. I am confused. Slowly, I realize that this is the problem, my problem. My instinct is encased within my identity, my identity that has been bestowed by my mother by her presence and by my father in his absence, and most profoundly by the culture within which I have resided. It is an identity that is cautious and fearful.
As Rocky I want to follow my instinct, but I cannot move because of the outer shell that is not me. From an existential therapy perspective, this is just how it is with me: who I have become. It is not necessary to do anything, but now I am confronted with choice. I have the option now to change how I am in the world. This is both liberating and angst-creating for me. I can no longer stay as I am without guilt for not living out my potential, and it does highlight my responsibility to make meaning and continually explore the questions that life poses. And, of course, this means I have to face all the components of my egoic structures and my related personal history; a lot of work!
July 21, 2002: I have a conversation with Dr. Arnold Mindell (2002, personal communication), the founder of Process-Oriented Psychotherapy. (I call him “Arny,” as do others who know him personally.) He is a much-published author and an innovative and stimulating thinker. I tell him the dream. He suggests that the bear and Rocky are parts of me that I disown when I am in a state of fear. He suggests that the bear is G_d and that Rocky is the free, instinctual part of me. He further suggests that the bear appears dangerous, as do my “critics,” who “show up” most noticeably when I am in a situation that will elicit my performance anxiety. He “reminds” me that the bear is G_d and that my connection with the truth of the Bear and Rocky is a connection with my authenticity and my spiritual nature.
I feel inspired…
Arny’s suggestions are like the other side of the coin from the insights that came from my discussions with Dr. Spinelli. He has identified that which is me, potentially, and
that with which I am not identified, at least not when I am under duress. I am more aware of my edge, my personal identity limit, and my “secondary process,” as named by Arny in his process work conceptualization. Secondary processes are those aspects of a person that lie behind a veil in one’s consciousness.
. July 25, 2002: I have lunch with my friend and colleague, Larry Green (2002, personal communication), a psychotherapist. I tell him about my dream community and that I want him to be part of it. He agrees to join. I show him the dream and start to tell him
what some others have said. He stops me, saying, “I don’t want to be polluted by the other ideas.”
Larry says, “Rocky represents the innocent, naïve part of you that ignores practical, world-wise advice. The bear can see something that you can’t see. He knows what’s really important.”
July 25, 2002: That same night I invite my friend, Camellia Rumball (2002, personal communication), to be part of my dreaming community. She says, “I am going to have a dream in relation to your dream. When I do, I will share the dream with you.” Two days later, she reports that she had had a dream but could see no relationship between her dream and my dream and would try again.
She describes her dream, “I am on a stage and am teaching a yoga class. The audience wants me to bring my friend May, who is also a yoga teacher, up on stage to instruct as well. I smile and agree, but internally I am not happy about this but do not show my displeasure; and I continue with the class, acting as if everything is fine, but it is not, and I am not.”
When she tells me her dream, I see no obvious connection to my dream, which is unusual for me. I can usually see a connection between almost anything and everything. The next morning, I awaken, and while sitting in meditation, I am remembering that Camellia had a dream that did not relate to my dream. I cannot even
remember her dream. Suddenly her dream comes back. I put myself into the dream.
Since it is in my consciousness, in a very real sense, it is now my dream. In particular, I am focused on the moments of peak feeling such as are described by Mahrer (1989) “when you actually have the experiencing, when bodily sensations come alive” (p. 191) and the sentient experiences as described by Arny:
Ask yourself about your sentient experiences while in the neighbourhood of the dreamer. What is your deepest sense of being while you’re with this other person? Unspoken feelings you are having when you are near the dreamer give you a sense of his or her non-local Dreaming. Do you feel dizzy, happy, sad, tired, hemmed in, or…? Sentient experience is non-local; that is, it knows no spatial boundaries. Therefore, you can explore how such experiences apply to both you and the other person. Sentient experience connects you to the other. Pay attention to your own sentient experiences whenever possible (p. 86).
I return to Camellia’s dream that is now my dream. I am on stage. I am teaching. The audience wants me to bring someone I know up to instruct, as well. I smile and agree. Inside I am very upset and angry. I can feel this in my body. I do not have any thoughts that explain the feelings and their strength. I am acting as if everything is fine. I am a good actor. I have put myself in Camellia’s position and I have the dream. I suddenly know with complete certainty that her dream is totally connected to my dream. In this iteration, the Bear is my mother, and Rocky is my younger brother, Stephen, who was born when I was 4. He is instinctual and heads unerringly for Mother Bear. I am frightened by the threat to my connection to my mother which he now represents. I love my brother and fear his instinctual nature and his needs. At this point Rocky represents my brother. I call him to come as I am simultaneously trying to move away from him and my now-threatening mother and towards security. I cannot get there. I am caught in an impossible dilemma. The house that is unreachable represents my mother. At four I have nowhere to go and no one to whom I can turn.
Camellia has requested a dream that relates. She has received a dream (and so have I, her dream), and she sees no relationship. Initially, I do not either. Now I do! The dream is about my aloneness with which I am not able to cope at four. I have been the one and only. In Camellia’s dream, she is the one and only. We are both delivered competition. I am at a loss. At four, I am too young. And then, a half year later in the actuality of my life, we moved from Toronto to Vancouver. As well, I lost my special friend who lived across the street from us in Toronto. I was separated from my grandparents and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It is an existentially poignant time, and I have no words, and my parents do not possess the knowledge that would enable them to provide the reassurance that I certainly need.
Life’s exigencies are apparent at too early a point in my life. My choices are to give up or to struggle for meaning. At four, an inward quest is catalyzed by life that continues to this day.
Camellia did not want to share the stage; nor did I. I did not have the required inner resources. I needed support that was not available. She had to acquiesce in her dream to the demands and requirements of the environment and community, as did I. She acts
in an apparently gracious manner and hides her anger. At four, I did not act graciously, and I did not hide my upset and anger, although I could not articulate what it was about.
These feelings continued for many years, and apparently, the vestiges may still lurk in the dark recesses of my consciousness. I cannot GO HOME!
The theme I see in Camellia’s dream is loss of primacy. I see the same pattern in my dream in a more symbolic form. Her request provides a dream that reveals my dream as a major pattern from my personal history. My little brother, represented by Rocky, is drawn to my mother, represented by the Bear. I am struggling to get to my mother, represented by the house. The stairs, which represent transition, are very steep and hard to ascend, and I am not able to climb them to get to what I believe will be security. I am becoming aware that there is no one home. My mother is not there anymore. She has given birth to my brother, my rival, and she has been reborn as a new mother and from my four-year-old perspective she has moved to another world.
My difficulty is both terrifying and protective. I do not have the capacity to recognize and cope with my essential aloneness, and the new reality into which I have now been hurled: I am alone in the world. I am at the beginning of my existential dilemma in life. Camellia also is a first-born, and, like me, she was the only child for four years. At four, I am confronted with the beginning experience of a life-long question: “Am I able to take responsibility for my life?” And at age 4 a more basic question is, “Can I survive?”
August 2, 2002: I am having coffee at Seattle’s Best in Vancouver and working on this chapter. One of the employees, Jim (2002, personal communication), the assistant manager, comes over, introduces himself and asks what I am doing. I tell him and ask if he wants to know the dream. He indicates that he does. He reads it and says, “It’s a test.” This fits for me. It is a test of my identity and what I value. There is a pull for survival and toward an apparent higher calling.
Jim goes back to work and then comes back a little later. He wants to know what the dream means to me. I tell him about identity edges and being caught in-between. He says, “That’s me. I’m always in the middle. I want to change.” I suggest that he can delve more deeply into his middle position. I also suggest that he can move more into the position of stepping back to get a better overview and see what might emerge. I talk about the Dao and when a person is stuck, out of the Dao. He likes this. He tells me that he and his girlfriend are trying to make a decision about splitting up or staying together. The dream community is ‘at work.’
My connection with Jim demonstrates nicely that the dream community is populated by anyone, everyone, even a passing stranger.
August 3, 2002: Steve Schklar (2002, personal communication), an analytic psychotherapist, is visiting from Toronto. He agrees to be part of my dreaming community and starts by suggesting that the bear is my mother and that she is disassociated, showing no interest in the children. In the light of day, when I am conscious, there is no security and no place to go. It seems that the mother bear is not concerned if the cubs are in sight. She is focused on the far off. Nurturing is missing. There is no emotional contact. He wonders if I want to go into the house to move into what is not conscious.
Steve suggests that the external territory doesn’t make sense and is scary. He asks what happened at age 12. The first thought that comes to me is that I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah and that I had a great deal of anxiety about this. For me, the performance aspect was in the foreground, not the ritual passage into manhood. Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish ritual for boys transitioning into manhood.
Steve suggests that the dog represents a pre-oedipal state. There is no language and no separation between me as Rocky, and the Bear. This is the symbiotic state between mother and child. He says: “The three living things represent parts of you that are not integrated, stages of my development, and the dream depicts the struggle for
August 5, 2002: I meet with my friend, Alison Beaumont (2002, personal communication). She is a social worker with a background in Jungian and process-oriented therapy training, and she is also a writer. She has many years of experience working with dreams. She posits that a part of me wants contact with the bear and that the animals represent instincts. She notes that in my description I refer to the bear as “he.” She also asks about what happened at age 12. She notes my Bar Mitzvah as a transition into adulthood and/or to my spiritual self.
She asks, “What are bears to you?” I respond: “Powerful, big, animal, scary, interesting.” She says that I seem more frightened for Rocky than for myself
and that it is difficult for me to get to safety, which requires movement upward. She sees that I am working on my PhD and notes that this will “move you up in the world,” “take you to another realm,” and “move you up towards the spiritual.” She suggests that I am fearful for an unconscious part of me that is much loved and that is in danger from an unconscious and very powerful part of me that wants to be known. This latter comment reminds me of the statement of one of my original mentors, Dr. Peter Lavelle, who told me in 1969 in no uncertain terms: “You are sitting on your power.” Alison says, “You mustn’t forget to love, and your dream seems to be about innocence!”
What arose for me subsequently about the dream, and my related thoughts about my dream, follows. I have another dream that is related. I am at the University of British Columbia with my very beautiful and appealing girlfriend. A friend, with whom I am not on good terms, is suddenly there. He starts to insinuate himself with her. I feel very uncomfortable, protective, and threatened. Carl, my senior academic supervisor, is there. I introduce him to her.
I had, for many years, gotten into trouble by following what I believed to be my instinct and then withdrawing. The bear—here representing the feminine—has been unhappy with me. My dream certainly seems to be about how I follow instinct that as I eventually discovered was not instinct so much as my wishes disguise as instinct. As Rocky, I am unconscious. As me, I am unconscious. Either way, the bear becomes a thing and loses its individuality and ‘humanness.’
I can now see that this is a remnant of my relationship with my grandmothers. I want to like them. I am drawn to them. I am threatened by them. I am afraid of them and of being “drowned” or suffocated by them. In the new dream, I am happy to be with my girlfriend. My friend from whom I am alienated is there. I feel threatened and helpless. Carl is there. I acknowledge him, and he meets my lover. Perhaps, I am introducing my feminine aspect to him. As me, I am driven by what I am convinced is instinctual. I am fear driven. I am the opposite of Rocky. He moves toward and feels excited. I move away and feel terrified. The bear is what it is and what it is not! Can the instinctual be conscious? I feel now that the bear needs protection from instinct. It will either attach or be left alone and be lonely. I am the bear, also, who is attached or abandoned. That is also me.
If Bear is G_d, he is not the all-knowing, all-powerful G_d, as described in the Judeo-Christian tradition but a G_d full of angst and despair and also containing a huge sense of vision and potential. If Rocky represents a part of me that is drawn unerringly to G_d, then Little Avi represents a part of me that runs in fear from G_d and runs toward security and comfort behind a door rather than face the truth. Apparently, G_d is struggling in a similar, though different way with His relationship to humanity.
The divine and the human seem to be longing for connection. The divine seems to lack the knowledge as to how to manifest this union, make it known that the union is already there, or is capricious or mysterious in its implementation of the connection; the human has a crisis of courage related to the desire for this union. The conflict is played out on the earth, under the sky, in an open space between the forest of the unknown and the house of security, behind a door that would block contact and even vision.
All this seems to be both a human and divine dilemma, and as Buber (1979) says: “When we walk our way and encounter a man who comes toward us, walking his way, we know our way only and not his; for his comes to life for us only in the encounter” (p. 124). The human and the divine are struggling together to have the encounter and to avoid it. Both actions take place in the same moments.
As Bear, I have an incredible vision and love, and I often feel alone with it and lonely. As Rocky, I have no pause for reflection. I am strongly inclined to be near Bear. If I pause, I will recognize that Little Avi is afraid and is going the other way. I know the joy of being with Bear.
As Little Avi, I am full of fear. The divine is only dimly recognizable. I am fearful and alone, and I am alienated from the part of me that knows a relationship with G_d through Rocky who is a Christ-like figure and has no choice but to be with G_d.
I am Bear. I am Rocky. I am Little Avi. I am an all-too-frail human being.
Deeper into the Bear
Thursday, August 7, 2002: I awake feeling anxious and lonely, in a dark place within myself. I decide to look for the personal meaning buried within this experience. I am aware that I feel a lack of connection to people at the moment I am writing this. I
realize that many people see me like the Bear. At times, I feel like the Bear when I move in the world and see in powerful ways. I feel strong and independent. At other times, as the Bear, I recognize my own isolation and otherness. A memory emerges. As a very young child, I recognized that being smart had a cost. Other children referred to me as an “egghead.” Some just drew back. I knew that my mental agility had the potential to cause me to be rejected and alienated.
BEAR: I am powerful. I see far. I have moments of great connection, and I am often alone and not always easy with this. I am forever an outsider. I have always been the Bear with the little kid and the dog inside me.
A memory emerges; I remember my teacher and Gestalt therapist, David Berg. David was a philosophy professor at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia). He trained as a Gestalt therapist with Fritz Perls at Lake Cowichan, British Columbia. He had a huge intelligence, and he was a very large man physically. I always remember thinking, “No one could get their arms around him.” He was married and had children. He, too, was caught somewhere between his own bear, kid, and dog. He took his own life. I was devastated. If David couldn’t get out of the bear trap, then, what was the meaning of all that work I had done with him? I began to realize that question may be the way in. I have continued to search for the elusive grail. Searching seems to be an answer of some sort. What else is there to do?
What is the Problem?
Part of my problem is what was suggested in my meeting with Dr. Spinelli. I have trouble as a result of the instinctual side of me being contained within my persona. The personality that I present to the world is in conflict with my inner experiences. Another way of characterizing this is with the term incongruence. One appears one way but is being another. This is not a problem that is as simple as mere dishonesty, although it is that, at some level.
The problem is about the fundamental or core conflict in me between my being and my representing who I am. What is most important to note in this conflict is that the personality serves as a prison. Literally, my life energy is held in a confinement experience. My life energy cannot emerge full-force and through personality structures that come and go as needed. A further major dilemma implicated in this situation is that the life energy of others and the world cannot readily enter and get inside my interiority. Consequently, I am living separate, in a kind of splendid and terrible isolation. As it turns out, my loneliness is the loneliness of my heart seeking connection and increasingly full recognition of my being a part of all things: the whole world and the full cosmos.
How to Have a Happy Ending
I thought that the previous paragraph was the end of this piece of writing, but then a thought occurred to me: “Hmm, maybe it’s all a bit too heavy and no one will want to read this.” As you can see by this thought that you my reader are incorporated ever more deeply into my thoughts and feelings about all this. I am now dreaming about you, me, and our relationship, and I am hopeful that you will read this essay and find it meaningful. This is a moment of writing and “living” in a space of nonlocality and non-temporality, as described by Arnold Mindell (2001):
The Dreaming is similar… Furthermore, what you notice in this world, as it arises into Dreamland and everyday reality, greatly depends on how open you are to your arising experiences, your consciousness subjectivity, and to your personal dictionary of descriptions and definitions.
From the viewpoint of Dreaming, the ever-changing patterns attributable to the interactions between Dreaming and everyday life are awesome: the perpetually changing awesomeness is the point. (pp. 152–153)
Arny says more:
If you experience the altered states of consciousness connected to the Dreaming, however, images become less significant than the sense of eternal change and the energy of impermanence…
I try to understand the significance of apparent memory loss. It often seems that when some powerful part of me is not interested in something my memory begins to give me trouble. (p. 155)
Bear is the big me who doesn’t remember feeling lonely. At these moments, I have trouble. If I want to live well, I have to acknowledge that I am, at times, living as the persona that is represented by Bear and that is not who I am at certain moments. I am frozen into this role and the vulnerable me, Little Avi, the more free Avi, and Rocky, are captured inside. Little Avi has been and continues to be an escape artist, a frequent
flyer, and Rocky has always been magnetized to whatever attracted him.
I remember a time when I was about eight. I was an excellent reader and was chosen to participate in radio shows at the CBC for school children. I took great delight in this and had no fear, only joy, at the performance opportunity. I remember on one occasion feeling I had done something particularly well, and subsequently, I almost missed a cue, but I didn’t. I was slow by about a half a beat. That was the last show I recall doing. I don’t know if my memory is accurate, but there is an internal connection: “Mess up, lose out!”
When I was in grade 12, I was reading aloud in Mr. Hunter’s English class. I noticed I was very shaky and having trouble speaking. I had no idea what was happening. I subsequently became increasingly avoidant about public speaking opportunities.
Recently, I can feel the little boy, who is longing to run free, is like the little dog, having a resurgence, pushing to transcend the Bear persona, integrate the ‘Bearness,’ and move toward my destiny, my potential.
At this point, I will let my dream go into space—your space. If you have been with me this far, you now know my dream pretty well. You are a part of my dreaming community. Since you now know my dream in your own consciousness, in a very real sense, it is now your dream.
Perhaps, you would like to dream this dream in the ways suggested by the dreaming-on exercise and see what experience emerges, or you may have some other way of having the dream and the dreaming, or maybe just integrate it with your own dream. I encourage you to invite me and others into your dreaming community.
I imagine some of you asking me: “What is the true meaning of your dream?” As you see, I have imputed different meanings at different times. In the spiritual domain, there are suggestions and experiences about altered states, the dreaming process, and G_d. All has substance and meaning for me at the moment. In particular, the inherent contradictions are also meaningful for me.
That Bear is slow moving. That Dog is fast moving. That boy is trying to get away. I am slow moving. I am fast moving. I am trying to get away. I am the Bear. I am the Dog. I am that boy. I am forest. I am sky. I am ground. I am stairs. I am home. I am calm. I am excited. I am afraid. I am more empty space than solid mass.
I AM that which is all these things. I am that which knows. I am the story teller and the story. I am the sum of all things that converge at this point, and I am becoming that which is still being created.
I Am New!
I had another dream a month after originally writing this piece. I am in my office. I open the door. It opens directly onto the hallway—unlike my actual office, which opens to the waiting room. I see an estranged male friend and a woman whom I know well, hugging. He is apparently on his way to the doctor next door. I know this woman to be very vivacious and as someone who loves to learn by experience. I am surprised. They separate, and he continues down the hall. I say rather lamely, in an attempt to be ironic: “They’ll let anyone in here.”
This dream seems to be a different form of my Dog-Bear-Avi dream. I am observing. I am shaken. My former friend is like Bear. He is a threat to me. The woman is like Rocky. Running toward whatever attracts her attention in order to find out what “it” is.
I realize that I am often in the observer role and, simultaneously, the role of Rocky the bold adventurer. But I readily disown the latter. I used this observation in a circumstance where I was scheduled to speak in front of a large number of people. I recognize that the audience is Bear. In my state of fear, I am Little Avi. I become Rocky, and I cannot wait to be with Bear. In the actual event prior to speaking, I am Little Avi. As soon as I stand up, I am Rocky and I want to engage with Bear. It goes very well. I feel calm.
June 28, 2003: I meet with my friend, Hamid. He has read an earlier version of this essay. He suggests that when I am struggling to get up the stairs, I am climbing Jacob’s ladder and that perhaps there is something I need in the house. I feel an internal resistance to this idea. I don’t want to go back. I realize that I must. There is something there that I still need, and without it, I cannot leave the inner world of the house behind and live fully in life.
Hamid gave the perfect name to the stairs in my dream: Jacob’s Ladder. The name comes from a story in the Old Testament, the book of Genesis, about a dream that young Jacob had:
And behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it
reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending
and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it,
and said, I am the Lord… I am with thee, and will keep thee
in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into
this land. (28: 12-15, King James version)
There’s a subsequent story (Genesis 32:24-30) of what may have been part of Jacob’s struggle for self-definition: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day…” The outcome: “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Jacob is depicted as asleep and dreaming of a spiral staircase by which angels commune between man and God. The inclusion of humans on the ascending staircase emphasizes the interpretation of this dream as a metaphor for the soul’s aspiration to be reunited with God.
I dream on. I am climbing the stairs and leaving the worldly experience behind. I reach the door. It opens by itself. I enter. It is like no home I have ever known, and it is home; it is the home of all homes. I feel a great sense of piece and security. There is a
brilliant light that seems as if seeing would be impossible, and yet I can see, although I have no words for what I am seeing. I am seeing the essence, the essence of all things. Suddenly a fireball comes toward me. I am not afraid. I want to experience this fireball. It enters my chest. I am infused with a burning energy. I am whole, and in my wholeness, I am not any solid matter: only space. I am empty, and the emptiness has consciousness. I have to descend the ladder and return to life in the material world. I will
return with what I have gained and share this with Bear, Rocky, forest, ground, sky, empty space, and you.
Even More… July 27, 2003: There is seemingly no end to this writing and dreaming. Some experiences never go away. I talk to Arny again. I once again talk about the Bear, Rocky, and Little Avi. It has become apparent to me that the fear within me is not easily put to rest. I relate my fears of Bear to my fears of body symptoms, which relate to my fears of the embodied Nazi. Bear represents a power to kill. I get a glimmer of how this power used consciously can work for me and others. As Avi, I am living out the message from my mother, “Be careful! If you get all worked up, you will get sick!” What a message to give an energetic, not-fearful kid. “Geez, Mom, give me a break. I need to live.” I am dissociated from the Rocky in me. That’s why he appears in my dream as an out-of-control dog. If I run wild, I could die. If I say what is true, it could be dangerous.
I remember in my family that there was a huge prohibition on talking about “unpleasant” things such as accidents, sickness, and death. I guess that, if such isn’t talked about, then it didn’t exist: fertile ground for fear/full/ness.
I have a memory of being at the doctor’s office with my Mom. I am about four. He wants to look into my mouth. I am not favorably disposed to this. He holds me down on an examining table with his body weight and attempts to open my mouth. I respond. I dig my teeth into the fleshy part at the base of his thumb. He stops. I am relieved and frightened. What will be the consequence of my action? I learn another bad lesson. Defending myself against the attacking bear leads to anticipation: the anticipation of retaliation. I don’t recall that anything actually happened, but I know I have frequently had fears about being very assertive.
Little Avi is like a natural child. When unsafe, he runs away to his mother. If I don’t like what is happening, I can do this. I can also sniff it out like Bear, and I can dive in like Rocky.
The dreaming process is in my body. I need to pay attention to the dreaming. If I am afraid, I need to explore the fear, which means to feel it. There is wisdom in the dreaming of the body. Historically (and I am aware that I am generalizing), the Jews have learned to be afraid of the body. It can do a lot of damage, and it can suffer. I am living out the fears of my cultural heritage. This is not an easy edge to transcend. My work is not just for me. It is for all the Jews, even the ones who are not Jewish.
The Never-Ending Dream
You and I have a bear that is visionary and completely serene; a dog, Rocky, who is absolutely curious and has to know without any real concern for consequences; a Little Avi who is young, terrified and conflicted, a sky that is overarching and above, a ground that is supportive and basic, an underground that is hidden, a forest that beckons, threatens, and contains treasures, dark, bright, and unknown, and a spaciousness that, in its emptiness, is connective between all the various parts of you, me, and all things.
My dream is now your dream and our dream. There are mysteries yet to be uncovered. I anticipate their discovery by us.
This Field Note is encouragement to share your waking and dreaming life with others: not everyone, of course, but ones with whom you can take risks. You won’t know, if you don’t do so, what you will find out by so doing. As well, you do not know what benefit your sharing might offer another, unless you take the challenge. Keep in mind that no matter what happens, you will have an opportunity that is opened up for you to learn about life, relationship, and whatever else there is.
I will be taking a break from Field Notes writings in December and January. The next Field Note will appear February 1, 2023…
Yet again (and again), many thanks to Heesoon for her stellar help with this Note.