Monastery dream

This post has been sitting as a draft for more than half a year so it’s not “just had a very vivid dream” and some details have become hazy, some disappeared altogether, but I still remember it and want to say a few words about it before letting it go. If I started this post from scratch I would have done it differently, but, in respect to my memories from back then, I’d rather edit what I started and continue from where I left the draft. So, here it goes.

Still don’t know what to do with this blog but I just had a very vivid dream that I want to save for posterity. A few years ago I had a similar dream that I still remember in detail and it became a model of our journey through this world, possibly permanently etched into my memory. These dreams capture essential ideas of our experiences and express them in unusual but highly memorable ways. Clicking on dream/dreams tag brings up probably a dozen mind blowing dreams I documented over the years. The one I mean here was the first, from 2012.

New dream was about my life in some sort of a monastery. It wasn’t ISKCON exactly because it lacked certain identifying marks – there were no deities, it was not really a temple, and there was no ideological rigidity, but there were feasts and there were some real devotees present – Bhakti Vikasa Swami, for one.

Somehow physical description of the place was very important. It felt like it was traditional cave dwellings for sadhus, like a line of caves I’ve seen in photographs of Petri or some places in India. The spirit of cave dwelling was there, the place was curved into natural rock, but it also had features of a traditional ashram – long verandas with entrances to each monk’s quarters, and top floor had windows from which you could climb out onto the roof over lower floors. That area was like a beach where residents would come out to take in the sun and relax, but what was beyond that roof was not really revealed. It wasn’t a building, it wasn’t planned this way, and it wasn’t level – I lived on a far right side where there was only the top floor and veranda leading to other monks quarters was a downward slope. Today’s insert – I remember it as a face of a cliff with ground level starting to rise from left to right, eventually reaching the top – that’s where there were windows and “rooftop” access. The dream started at the bottom and progressed to the top, or left to right. “Caves” were huge inside at the bottom but at the top, where we got windows, they turned into small one person rooms.

Because of this location I was kind of an outsider to the community – the main part where there were many more rooms and bigger halls used for gatherings and serving prasadam. They were all below top level and had no windows, it was always dark and damp inside, and very austere. In the beginning they were populated by the “first people” and I sort of knew them but not by names, and pretty soon they disappeared somewhere and were replaced by new generations. There was a hierarchy there, there was seniority, there emerged “meisters”, but “first people” were very few and they were all equal. I wasn’t really one of them, as I said, but due to me being there long enough I got to be treated as a senior myself, which will come up later. Today’s addition – physically, I saw only the artifacts left by the first people – piles of things in the corners, occasional metal dishes etc. First people appeared in the dream as shadows of themselves, or, actually, as shafts of light. They spoke, but not in words – they spoke truths. Words to describe these truths weren’t invented yet. I don’t know where first people disappeared to, but I was one of the last ones to catch their glimpse. The cavernous halls where they originally lived stayed empty and untouched out of respect. The populated part started immediately to the right (the dream always progressed from left to right, which was also up the slope) so people would always remember that their history is on the other side of the wall but never actually go there because first people’s presence there was reality no longer possible to grasp by mundane senses. 

We were all there to seek after Absolute Truth. There was no label attached, the Truth was not defined – it was a matter of discovery, not assertions, and it was obvious to all that the Truth must be found “inside”, through the process of self-realization and looking beyond physicality of our perceptions.

One of my first memories from that time is that of a female devotee who I intended to marry when I was still living in the temple. I knew who she was in the dream but she was present more as an idea – there was no face, no bodily features to remember, nothing. Just something vaguely gray, as in dressed in gray robes. We did communicate, though, and we both knew that the proposition was about sex, but we understood that spiritual connection was first and foremost. After talking about our respective paths to the Truth we realized that our roads are going to be different and physical union would be detrimental to our spiritual progress. And so I left and didn’t think about it again. She disappeared somewhere along with “first people” and that was the end of it.

When I later went to the same place it was full of devotees and they were having a feast. It was in a cave like cavern, though, so there was no light. I could not make any devotees’ faces or features, only their aluminium lottas were visible in the darkness. They were sitting in a line coiling around the room like a snake and this room also had a second floor, more like a gallery along the walls, and it was also filled with feasting devotees. I got myself a place at the end of the line but someone spotted me and invited me to talk with one of the elders, who was very kind and appreciative but I don’t remember any of that conversation. We shared memories and appreciation for the first people, much of it non-verbal. It was nice, devotees offered me a seat and fed me sumptuously, but I didn’t know anyone either in his entourage or among devotees feasting in the main room so there was nothing for me there apart from eating and I never returned to that place again.

Next I turned my attention to the girl living right next to me, literally the first room as I would go from my place down to that main area. I had no illusions what I wanted from here, it was the same proposition – sex. This time we talked for a long long time, on multiple occasions, and got really really close – only spiritually, however, as there was no descending into physicality of any kind, and it ended in the same way – getting married deemed to be detrimental to spiritual progress. Close association with that girl, however, made the biggest impressions of my dream. I saw her making progress, moment by moment, from one encounter to the next, and soon I wasn’t able to keep up.

Our community didn’t have any rules or regulative principles, we were simply searching for Truth, and if members thought that sex was part of that path then it wasn’t a question of breaking any taboos. When I was with that girl we didn’t discuss sex, we rather talked about the Truth. Initial attraction to sex itself was there in both of us but as we meditated together – I don’t have a better word for what we practiced – we both found that physical expression of our relationships would only be distracting to the “union of souls”, so to speak. We had much better time in each other’s company without descending into physicality of our bodies. As I said earlier – in our community it was obvious to all that Truth is hiding within us and is approached through introspection and transcending material bodily level, and somehow there was none of that all pervasive attitude that “bodies have needs”. We all knew that it’s not true and that it’s actually “mind over matter” in every respect.

As we spent time together I noticed that our goals and values started to diverge, that she was making some real mystical progress but I wasn’t. She was going deeper and deeper into states I wasn’t allowed into and physically it resulted in walls going up at the entrance to her room. They were like barriers I’d have to go around to see her. Then they started to multiply with lots of twists and turns to reach the inner chamber, and when I reached there she wasn’t too happy to see me. It was like passing through a labyrinth and then passages became narrower so that I physically couldn’t make turns there. These walls were not built, they just appeared there by her mystic power.

In one way I was upset at losing her association but at the same time I had absolutely no problems with my own life – I rather felt that it was her who was going in the wrong direction instead.  Her progress wasn’t a challenge for me, I really appreciated it, but I didn’t want any of it for myself. Eventually she stopped talking to me, barely acknowledging my presence, but knew I was there and that we had some shared roots.

Then it happened. Like a butterfly in a cocoon one night she came came out as a completely different creature. Physically, she was the same, a small skinny girl, but no more meditation and no more austerities – her path was complete. She stood on the roof of some building on THIS side of the cliff, not on the other side where our windows were, sort of in a courtyard. Everybody poured out to see what was going on, no one stayed in their rooms, the place was filled with people going “ooh” and “aah”. She stood on the edge of that roof and divine light was shining on her and she commanded it. She commanded everything. She shed her clothes but somehow a myriad of butterflies showed up and covered her naked body to protect her. She commanded this butterfly cloud as well. She commanded rain and thunder, she became a Goddess.

Then somehow she appeared right in front of me and offered herself. Not sexually but I was invited to take part in the spiritual union with her. She was naked, as I said, but her private parts were covered by butterfly made “bikini”, and where her body was open her skin became golden and self-effulgent. She was enticing me, displaying her mystical and spiritual opulences. She was not standing on the ground but hovering just above it. Everybody offered their obeisances, every eye was fixed on her form, but I somehow wasn’t impressed and simply passed on her invitation. I turned and walked away, up to my own room. She was disappointed but she had hundreds if not thousands of new admirers who became her servants, followers, disciples, her flock – I didn’t care.

That was the first time I was aware of my own room in this dream. It was high up, meaning to the extreme right in my dream’s geography, and therefore it had a window, a huge opening, actually, on the other side. Early morning sunlight, very orange, was pouring in and reflecting off the walls, off the bed, off the table. It wasn’t furniture, actually – it was all made of polished cement so by itself the room was dark grey or brown but the sun filled with with light and incredible sense of lightness as well. I don’t know how I meditated there before or what kind of spiritual activities I practice, but now it was obvious – the truth was on the other side of the window.

Somehow I have a feeling that, like with that girl undergoing a transformation, my window got much much bigger this morning. Like before it was small and high and therefore impossible to look out of but today it was like the entire wall disappeared and my room just opened up on that side. So I just walked out onto the roof, which was like a beach area because many saffron clad devotees were out there enjoying the sun. That’s where I met Bhakti Vikasa Swami, btw. He didn’t talk to me personally but was glad I joined the party.

This roof wasn’t wide, maybe a dozen or so steps to the edge, and it was made out of wavy roof tiles, of a reddish brown, almost orange color. Beyond the roof, however, started gardens that stretched as far as eye could see. Perhaps they were very beautiful but I didn’t really look. As I said earlier, it was like a beach – very long but not wide, and instead of the blue sea there was a sea of green trees, pastures etc. Devotees were chanting and singing there, blissfully, and it was the world unlike the caves/monastery I started this journey from. I didn’t feel the need to return to the monastery or to my room either, and yet the roof was clearly a temporary location, too.

Unfortunately, that’s where my dream ended.

When writing about my dreams I traditionally explain their connection with Krishna consciousness but at the moment I’m exhausted from typing. I do see this dream as a reflection of my personal spiritual journey, however. Actual ISKCON devotees appearing on the roof top beach was also very appropriate, but I have no clear explanation of the “goddess” part of the dream. I just feel like it’s some form of śaktism. It brings perfection but on THIS side of the border whereas the Truth clearly starts at the rooftop and then stretches into the ocean of green and that’s all I can say about it at the moment.

I just wanted to resurrect this old post before I start writing about something else, something that has been on my mind for a few days already, so forgive me for not rounding it up nicely.

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