Friday, January 01, 2010

End of a year off; now to the hardest task

I dreamed I was traveling on a train with lots of friends. Everyone was happy and talking with each other and visiting around, from seat to seat. Scenery whizzed by, and gaiety reigned inside. We were one, big, happy group all together on a trip -- of some kind. Rather suddenly, however, the train reached its destination and in an instant, everyone was off the train except for me. I went back to my seat where I saw at least 6 bags of different shapes and sizes in a pile, all made of that army drab grayish green canvas, with buckles, straps, and outside pockets. The pile was a mess. I knew I had to consolidate the bags somehow, in order to carry them all, and I started trying to figure that out when my kitty wandered into view and I realized that I would never be able to get her to stay with me when we got off the train. Indeed, she had been wandering around the train the whole time we'd been on the journey, just like we all were doing. It was not a problem before, but now that I had to get off and keep all my stuff together, wherever we were, I knew I would not be able to manage her. She would be uncontrollable. She'd have to go inside one of the bags and I knew she would never stand for that. I realized that I could not get off the train with all my stuff.

When I woke up, this dream reminded me of the conversation between the Buddha and the first person to encounter him after his enlightenment, to whom it was clear that the Buddha was a remarkable being:

Who or what are you? -- Buddha answered, I am awake.
How did you wake up? -- Buddha simply dropped his bags.
What will you do now? -- Buddha picked up his bags and was on his way.

There's a lot there. Dropping bags sounds simple, but it's not easy. Nevertheless, I know what will happen if I don't. I visited my mother yesterday and learned something new from the endless repetition of her complaints: we take with us into whatever comes next what's in our hearts. We may "forget" many things, but we don't forget how we feel. And if we've carried fear, hurt, anger and resentment with us, that's what's left when everything else is gone. With all she has lost, with all the things that have dropped from her repertoire, you'd think, you'd hope, that anger and hurt would be among them. But they are not. I guess clinging occurs at some very deep level. Maybe it's simply a function of repetition. I don't want to get that good at it. I'm dropping the bags and getting off the train. Now.