Saturday, January 11, 2014

If We Shadows Have Offended: On Dharmas and Dreams

Robin Goodfellow

Knowing that I'd half-promised you all and mostly promised myself that I'll write this blog weekly (or as weekly as I can) really helped this last week. It reaffirmed my determination to work through these teachings, and for that I thank you.

So, without further ado, the second teaching:
Regard all dharmas as dreams. translates this one as: "Look at all experiences as a dream," and then goes on to explain:
"Regard all that you see, hear, taste, touch, smell, think, feel, value, or believe, as if you were dreaming it." (Source.)
This is the slogan that first attracted me to lojong, it resonated so strongly. I've long ascribed to a constructivist philosophy of teaching, so the idea of my everyday experiences being a fabrication isn't too far of a jump for me. It's like that panic you get when you're dreaming you've been in a class all semester but never attended and today is the final exam. When I have that dream, I wake up, realize I was stressed about something else entirely, and get on with my day. I'm not saying that I think getting over the day to day stresses is as easy as waking up from a nightmare. Trust me when I say there are plenty of past experiences that I wish had just been nightmares instead of actual events. It's about the leaving the emotional upheaval behind.

Shakespeare, good ol' Willy, gave me another way to think of it. The parting monologue of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as spoken by the strange creature shown above, comes to mind when I think of this teaching:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
In my mind, this isn't really about convincing myself that my world is fakey fake, a la The Matrix. Instead, regarding dharmas as dreams is about letting go of my emotional attachments in each moment. So that's what I'll be working on this week, so cross your fingers for me that I won't have to seek redress with Robin Goodfellow.

Until the next time, namaste and all that.

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