Vanity thought #1203. Sadr city dream

In real life Sadr city is a suburb of Baghdad but the one I saw in my last dream was nothing like that and had nothing to do with Iraq war (real Sadr was a place of a fierce battle a few years ago). I don’t know why it was called Sadr in my dream, probably because I don’t know any other names like that. Something like Al-Qatab was close but it sounds too Arabic while my Sadr was prehistoric, but let’s start at the beginning.

I was a kid and a part of some kind of boy scout outfit or more like a field trip thing. There were like a hundred of us and we were moving through the streets of some kind of Muslim town. Crowded does not even being to describe it, if you seen pictures of Hajj, with millions of people packed shoulder to shoulder as far as eye can see, it was like that, and we were all moving.

We couldn’t look where we put our steps, we were told to hold onto each other and move as a unit, support each other if someone tripped on something, and there was a lot of stuff lying on the ground. It was a typical third world Muslim town somewhere in the desert. Typical one-two story buildings, sewage running on the side of the road, and the road itself wasn’t paved.

So there we were, following the crowd towards this “Sadr”, which was the most amazing structure I’ve ever seen. It was an ancient tower, maybe fifty stories high, and it was evidently pre-Arabic, probably a leftover from Babylonian times. Unlike the gray, dusty town beneath it was build from some dark, rich stone, it was huge, with a square footprint and it just went up and up. It had this overwhelming personality about it, being in total contrast with busy modern life. It didn’t care if people crawling at the bottom were Muslims, Arabs, Iraqis, Afghanis, it had this immutable dignity of its own.

Basically, it was just a giant staircase to the top but with a twist – it was built as a puzzle. You wouldn’t know how to get to the next level, you had to try everything, every passage, every nook, until you found a secret opening somewhere. Being thousands years old it was also heavily damaged, with visible gaps and debris everywhere, which made climbing even more difficult. If I were to compare it with anything it would be a giant Jenga tower just before it’s about to collapse.

So we were making our way to the top, not as a unit anymore but sharing discoveries and passing clues to those still stuck on the level below. Being young and energetic we weren’t really tired but we couldn’t wait until the climb was over. It so happened that we emerged to the top level in a wrong place and didn’t know what to do next until someone said that we are already there and there’s dinner served at the north-east corner. We ran there enthusiastically, and this is when my dream really started.

It was a massive hall, something like at Hogwarts, people were eating enthusiastically and the headmistress of our school was waiting for us in our designated area. I was one of the first to reach our table but it wasn’t ready yet – food was there but no chairs, no plates, no utensils, nothing. The headmistress sternly signaled that I should behave like a civilized human being and wait until everything is ready and we are properly invited. I just froze at the table edge, disciplined, waiting for proper arrangements.

That’s when the rest of our party arrived and they couldn’t be stopped, they just jumped on the food, eating it with their hands. The centerpiece was a huge cake in the middle and no one waited for knives and plates either. Eventually chairs were provided, one by one, but I didn’t get one and still stood there, waiting, following the orders of the headmistress.

Nothing ever came, I stood and stood until the cake was gone and table was nearly empty. I signaled to the headmistress but she looked at me sternly again, as if I was an annoyance. “You want a chair,” she said, “get a chair,” and she asked someone to bring it for me from an adjacent room.

“What’s the point,” I retorted, “there’s no food left, there is only a pile of leftovers and I don’t even know if all of it is vegetarian.” I planned to ask the waiters for clarifications but it was out of the question, the dinner was almost over. Most importantly, cake was gone, completely cleaned up.

That’s where I went completely off the rails, ranting and ranting, almost screaming that I did everything I was told to and got nothing in the end. I threatened to write about the cruelty of the headmistress when we were to write essays about our trip back at school. I started pacing all around the dinner hall, looking inside every booth by the perimeter but the picture was the same everywhere – happy people stuffed up to their necks having lazy conversations about how good their lives are.

At one point I ran into headmistress again and started my rant again. She went to some teachers at the table, told them about my problem, and asked them for their leftover cake that they put in plastic boxes to take home. They didn’t show any interest in my fate and simply waived their hand. Headmistress brought the cake to me but I screamed that I don’t want their cake, I wanted MINE. “Where is MY cake!”

Then I declared that I will not be eating tonight at all, even after the long march and tiring climb up the tower, I would fast, and if anyone cares, the karma should go to the headmistress. I was like a brahmāṇa cursing the king for mistreatment. I wasn’t a brahmāṇa, of course, but as a child I felt perfectly entitled.

I woke up on the way down, still angry and also ashamed of this anger, of letting it take over me. I knew I was in the wrong but this temporary identification with a child expecting food and care was very strong.

I suspected that the headmistress hadn’t eaten her dinner yet, too, and neither had she had cake. She took it as an adult, though. She knew it was her responsibility to provide me with food and she knew she failed but that was her problem, not mine, I had no right to lash out at her like that whatsoever. She didn’t mean to leave me without dinner, it just happened, but I behaved like a child and acted out of sense of entitlement.

So here’s the point of the whole dream – sense of entitlement. It’s bad, it ruins our spiritual lives. When I woke up I felt like I did something really really wrong, felt a very heavy burden on my heart. Luckily, chanting was just minutes away and I took it seriously, hoping to cleanse my mind from this pollution, and it worked.

Right now I can’t replicate the same emotion anymore while right after I woke up it was still there, ready to be recalled. Dream or not, but I really invested myself into that false identity. It felt very real, and the dream was in colors, too.

I feel that this sense of entitlement and resulting anger is the stuff that gets us booted out of spiritual world – no one ever owes us anything. We are only entitled to results of our karma, nothing else. Even if we were sitting in a row of Lord Caitanya’s servants and He was personally distributing prasādam with His own hand, we would not be entitled to it. He could just pass us and serve the next guy in a row, we have no right to protest whatsoever.

Kṛṣṇa is the only enjoyer. “Only” being the key word there. Sometimes He makes us happy and satisfied but we cannot get attached to it and can’t stake our claims on it. We should be prepared to look after His pleasure, not our own, even when everyone around us is happily enjoying their lot.

Normally, kids at school always get their food. It’s easy to overlook someone when things get messy but, generally, caretakers manage to feed everyone. No one gets left out at family dinners either. It should be certainly within the capacity of our spiritual leaders to make sure that all devotees in their charge are provided for and looked after. If they fail in that they’d probably suffer the consequences but their fate should not be our concern – we can be sure that we get overlooked on purpose, that this is what Kṛṣṇa wants, and He is always right by definition.

Sense of entitlement puts us into an illusion that we get to make calls of what is just and what is not, that according to OUR calculations things should go this way or that. Nope, only Kṛṣṇa is the controller, we just have to follow regardless of whether we understand His reasons or not and regardless of how we personally feel about it. He is always right and we have to enthusiastically embrace whatever fate He prepared for us.

We always have this urge to step into our own shoes and see the world through our own prism but it’s an illusion. Our shoes are not for serving Kṛṣṇa, we should take them off, they’ll only make everything worse.

I was hoping to somehow connect this to pride I was talking about yesterday but I don’t think it’s necessary anymore, I feel the above arguments are compelling on their own, so I’ll just leave it at that.

2 comments on “Vanity thought #1203. Sadr city dream

  1. Dear B2K Prabhu,
    Me again. Great post! I particularly liked your point that even if Lord Caitanya was handing out prasadam, what makes us think we are entitled to some, or to anything? Krsna IS the only enjoyer, as you said.

    Now, about that dream….perhaps you should talk to someone. 😀 (kidding)

    • That point was the only important thing in that post. This was the first time in my life when I was so shaken by my sense of entitlement AND had presence of mind to realize it was wrong. Maybe it was easier because it was just a dream, when we actually get passed in the prasādam line it’s much harder to contain ourselves.

      Another thing that came to me after this dream – devotees are recommended to rely solely on Kṛṣṇa for their sustenance but in reality sometimes Kṛṣṇa leaves them without food and in these situations we should never ever complain, accepting lack of His care as His mercy. I find it hard to catch myself before I go ballistic and demand my fair share.

      Perhaps I SHOULD see someone about my dreams – I just had another one where I learned how to fly simply through will power, and it’s not the first such dream either.

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