Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Musings.10: Barbara

This last dream of Melissa's perplexed me for a bit. Something obviously was trying to come to light, but why a dagger? What was I supposed to do with a dagger? What was the dagger meant to symbolize?

Then, as so often happens, that Creative Voice whispered and pointed me towards "The Sword and the Mind: The Classic Japanese Treatise on Swordsmanship and Tactics." I opened it to find a 17th century verse entitled "Dream": One hundred years, thirty-six thousand days. Maitreya, Avalokitesvara, how many yeses and nos? Yes is also a dream. No is also a dream. Maitreya is a dream. Avalokitesvara is also a dream. The Buddha said, "So is all to be seen."

Ah. Dream. Familiar territory. It seemed that two figures, Maitreya and Avalokitesvara, were to be considered teachers for something in this dream of Melissa's. Little is said about Maitreya beyond his identity as the buddha of the future, the last earthly buddha, who is regarded as the embodiment of love.

Avalokitesvara has several names: Lord of Compassionate Sight; Lord Who Looks on from High; Lotus-bearer - the lotus signifying non-attachment, freedom from ignorance, and the path to enlightenment. Avalokitesvara is considered the bodhisattva of universal compassion, the ideal of commitment to and involvement with all living and suffering. To the Chinese he appears as the merciful goddess Guanyin.

He resides in the Western Paradise, yet he remains in the world. He is considered the bodhisattva of the present age and is said to have emanated from Amitabha. From notes I wrote about a stone mural from the sixth century, during a visit to the Sackler Gallery (Wash., D.C.) in early December 2005, I know that "The Buddha of Infinite Light, known as Amitabha in the Indian language Sanskrit, is Lord of the Pure Land called the Western Paradise." Amitabha represents the pre-existent Buddha who already spontaneously exists.

Both Amitabha, the Lord of Infinite Light, and Avalokitesvara, the Lord of Compassionate Sight, forewent Nirvana to help the weak and suffering. With Maitreya (maitre in Sanskrit translates as loving-kindness), this trio of Lords offers the symbolic presence of figures of light, compassion, and love from the past, present, and future. Their presence radiates empathy with all living and suffering. Their presence signals a commitment to and involvement in the enlightenment of humanity.

In simple terms, these figures are committed to seeing that all of humanity comes to dwell in the state of true understanding of both inner and outer reality. Until we have this true understanding we dwell in a world of phenomena. The Diamond Sutra, as quoted in "The Sword and the Mind," teaches: "Every phenomenon is like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow; it is like dew and also like lightning. So is all to be seen."

Alistair Shearer writes in the introduction to his and Peter Russell's translation of selections of "The Upanishads," spiritual texts of India: "...the sages of the Upanishads were concerned with finding Truth, but they realized that as all experience is, and always must be, mediated through the mind, knowledge of the world can only go so far as the knower has knowledge of himself. (emphasis mine) Moreover, they considered our normal waking consciousness too limited and too unstable to comprehend any ultimate reality, for as Truth is that which does not change, it demands an equally unchanging consciousness to appreciate it."

The similarity in thought between these Indian sages and the Powhatans of North America is simply striking! (Scroll down to read Musings.9)

The interest of the sages of the Upanishads "was to transcend the ostensibly rational processes by which we normally try to make sense of the world and reach a state of pure Being, which, lying beyond all thinking and feeling, is the very basis of the mind. They called this state the Self and, as it is unchanging and impartial, considered it the only reliable basis for true understanding of both inner and outer reality. To live in this state of expanded awareness is to be enlightened ... "

This character, Melissa, has chosen to heed these dreams to learn of her Self, a process few Westerners consider 'rational.' Both the 'Dark Lady' and a dagger are presented to her in this ultimate reality. The message inherent in this is that the 'Dark Lady' is to be seen as a bringer of light and compassion, as Guanyin, an emanation of Amitabha. The dagger points to the pen as an instrument of enlightenment.

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche writes (Shambhala Sun, March 2009): "The Buddha said, 'Mind is the main thing and it is the leader.' The body is not our identity. Mind is our identity. It is who we are. So from the Buddha's perspective, working with the mind is the basis of health and healing ...... So if we honestly wish to take care of ourselves and serve this planet in a meaningful way --to heal ourselves and others - it is true loving-kindness that we must generate firmly in our own heart and mind." Loving-kindness must be a meditation one practices, regularly. Devotion to, practice of, loving-kindness brings one into touch with "the energy that opens our heart with joy and trust."

This energy explains the significance of the pen in the dream, I believe. In many ways a pen works with the mind to use language to manifest art. Language, to many people, is words. Joseph Campbell taught that all words are fragments of AUM - AUM which represents to us the energy of the Universe. To hear and feel and write the sounds Melissa hears in her world brings her to that expanded state of awareness and opens her heart with joy and trust.

AUM puts humanity in touch with the Universe. Language with its bits and bytes of AUM, meditated upon, practiced as art, can bring humanity to Truth, for it is written, "In the beginning was the Word."

[A bibliography for this post includes:

Cotterell, Arthur and Storm, Rachel. "The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology". London: Anness Publishing Ltd., 1999, 2008

Russell, Peter and Shearer, Alistair. "The Upanishads". New York: Bell Tower, 2003

Sato, Hiroaki. "The Sword and the Mind: The Classic Japanese Treatise on Swordsmanship and Tactics". New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004

Thundup, Tulku Rinpoche. "Loving-Kindness is the Best Medicine". Shambhala Sun, vol. 17, no. 4, pps. 51-53, 97]

[[Stone Mural: "Western Paradise", China, Henan Province, Southern Xiangtangshan, Cave 2, Northern Qi dynasty, ca. 570]]


kcrouth said...

I love this picture!!!

Barbara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.