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A dream of peace, spirituality, tranquility, sectarianism, and discord..

October 10, 2018

Peace, spirituality, tranquility, sectarianism, and discord.

A dream of true inclusivity.. a dream that eventually got worse, as inclusivity started to be enforced.. and the room changed, and the mood darkened..

This is a long post, and eventually, not a happy one, but still something to think about..

I just got out of bed a bit ago, and decided the first thing I should do would be, instead of my regular morning exercises, to type out what I had dreamed, how my dream changed, and share it with you, if you feel like reading onward..

Sometimes, I lay in bed and wake up very slowly. At first, I am in a dream state, and experience and realize what I’m dreaming.

Then, as I gradually wake up, my body starts to become tense, my mind starts to move on to its usual unpleasant preoccupations of worry, irritability, my own personal prejudices and fears, and the dream changes into my waking thoughts.

The dream this morning was at first quite peaceful, before my conscious mind began its intrusions.

In the first part, I was riding in a car. I was almost completely unaware of who was accompanying me, just some people, but this did not worry me, as I could tell they were nice, and I felt quite peaceful.

Just off a paved rural highway, there was an area with some trees, and a little dirt road that led to a building that was sort of a church, but not.

I don’t remember the outside of the building, because I saw the dirt lot we pulled into, and then I was inside the building.

Inside, It looked like it had been a small church sanctuary, but no longer was, and was without religious decoration of any kind.

There were cushioned church pews, arranged in two semi-circles, with an empty area in the middle. I had the feeling this might have been a Christian church of some kind, Protestant, but was not one anymore. It was a place for everybody, and everyone knew this without having to be told. It was why we came.

There didn’t have to be any sign on the door saying, “everybody welcome,” because everybody just knew.

The flooring that was visible in the empty space was a nice cream-colored whitish marble with little random patterns in it, as marble has.

In the empty space in the middle, there was a small, metal -frame portable podium, but there was no one standing there, and I understood that the empty podium was a symbol, that there would be no one standing there, no specific teaching delivered. No one to tell us what to believe.

No one sat in the pews facing us, and I had the feeling that no one should sit in the center part of the front pew, that it, like the floor in the middle, should be left empty.

It seemed we and the others who had just arrived were the first of the visitors of the day. It was late morning. We sat in the same section facing across the empty space, and other section of pews.

The little empty space was for anyone who believed in a god or gods, and they could imagine their god or gods being there.

The empty space was also for people like me who have vague beliefs in the existence of a god or gods, but don’t think as much about this anymore, and do not have any spiritual practice.

As this was a spiritual place, I didn’t think any atheists would be showing up. But the empty space could be for them too.

And the empty space could be for Buddhists as well, who are big on emptiness, so to speak. It would take too long to me to write about the huge significance Buddhists place on emptiness, so I won’t get into that now.

The space was there for whatever people wanted to put there with their minds and hearts.

In some of the pews, a few Catholics got out their rosaries, but they prayed silently as they moved their beads around in their hands. I didn’t mind this. There were also fold-down kneelers in some of the pews, and some people were kneeling.

It was very pleasant and airy in the room, and everyone was silent and glad to be there, and it didn’t matter what anyone believed.

There were no kids in the room. It was a place only adults went to. Perhaps, if I, the dreamer of this dream, were a parent in my waking life, and in dreams, maybe there would have been kids in the room, but maybe not, I don’t know.

There were a few caretakers there, three of them, I think. They were dressed like monks, in brown cassocks like Franciscan monks. But they were only part-time monks, who had not taken any official vows.

They were just some men who lived near the building we were in, and were part of a community.. a very small town somewhere behind us, kind of like Idaho City, where I went to this past Sunday.

I saw one monk pull on a cassock over his street clothes .. a button-up shirt and faded jeans. This monk outfit was just so he could be recognized as a caretaker of the place.

The only jobs of the monks were to keep the place clean and to keep art supplies stocked in another, smaller room.

There was a smaller room attached to the main one, with a table and some folding chairs, and some basic art supplies -pens, markers, little scissors, white paper.

People were happy to see this room, but no one, including me, sat down. We just stood around the table for a moment, smiling a bit awkwardly.. no one wanting to be the first to sit down and make art.

Why this room? And why was nobody making art? I’m guessing because, for over a month, I’ve been thinking about art but not making any while at home. I’ve had a table set up in my room with my art supplies, but I’ve not made any art yet. I keep avoiding doing this, and get interested in other things.

But even though no one had yet to sit down and make some art, the mood was still peaceful and good, and silent, and inclusive.

As my mind started to become more conscious, I thought I should get out of bed and write about this nice and peaceful dream, while it was still nice and peaceful. I know from experience that when I lay in bed longer, my dreams and thoughts get worse. But writing is quite daunting and very time consuming for me, and I don’t do it much anymore.

I knew that if I continued to lay in bed, the dream would change, that my negative, conscious thoughts would start to arrive in my mind, and I wouldn’t feel as good. But being a natural procrastinator, and with a habit of making difficulties for myself, I stayed in bed, and my dream became unpleasant.

There became a sort of forced inclusivity.

First thing I noticed was that the floor in the empty space which had been a whitish mottled marble was now covered with a black, rough, thin carpet with some lines in it, lines which made no design, but were just there.

In the middle of the carpet was a sort of black dot surrounded by a bit of white that you might see in a yin and yang symbol, which is a symbol of balance.

However, there was almost no white around the black dot, unlike in the yin and yang symbol, where the black dot is surrounded by white, just as the white dot is surrounded by black in that symbol. But there was only a tiny white circle, just highlighting the black dot, surrounded by the lined black carpet.

I had an image in my mind of a hologram being projected out of the black dot in the floor. A talking, flickering image of a robed, turbaned Muslim cleric, standing behind the portable podium. (Islam is on my mind these days because many of the ESL students I tutor are Muslims, and I want to learn more more about their religion).

This is not actually what I saw, this hologram, but I understood that the black carpeted dot on the floor was actually a projector of a hologram, and that after the Muslim cleric, there might be a talking image of another teacher projected up from the floor, like that of a typical TV televangelist that most of us avoid watching, unless we want some unintentional entertainment.

I did not like this black carpet covering up the beautiful and pure marble in its natural state, did not like the black dot, and did not like knowing sectarian teachings might be presented.

I went to sit in the front pew facing some of the other people. The color of the pews had been brown, but had turned black.

There were less people in the room. A very serious and irritable middle-aged woman informed me that I should not sit at the center of that pew, but only off to the side.

I was not trying to place myself in a position of authority, by sitting toward the middle of the facing pew. I was feeling kind of sleepy, not paying much attention to what I was doing, and wanted my own space, just a bit away from every one else.

I did not like how this woman talked to me.. her tone of voice, but I moved over anyway. Didn’t want to offend anybody.

Then the dream changed again, though I remained in the same room. I was sitting back with the others.

My parents were there, and my mom was looking over a small, printed pamphlet that everyone was supposed to read.

This place was now an officially inclusive place – by that I mean we were supposed to try to be inclusive of others, and we had to learn about various spiritual traditions.

My mom looked over the pamphlet that listed classes we could take, and that it was implied visitors were strongly encouraged to take these classes.

We had already been through one class. It was on silent meditation – which in the good part of the dream, everyone was happily doing, without being instructed to do so.

Next was a class on another topic, and the mood was not good. Mom was complaining about not wanting to go to another two hour class on some topic she had no interest in, and I felt the same way. Dad, being a more passive person, didn’t say anything. He would have gone along with whatever, and without much thought.

Then things changed again. People in the room that still had the black carpeting in the middle.. the people started talking about their sectarian differences, and were becoming irritable with each other.

I had the thought that, “oh, we should have a separate room for Muslims, without any pews, so they can lay down their prayer rugs and do their thing.” And later wondered where the Jews would go.

Inside the main room, which was mostly empty now, sitting next to me, were two people, a Protestant and a Catholic, who where not at this time talking over their differences, but were, for the moment, sitting in solidarity with each other over what they did agreed with each other about, and were disagreeing with a Mormon woman, who was sitting across from them, in the front pew, but off to the side, where I was earlier sitting earlier. Mormons have a very different view of Christ, and one that Protestants and Catholics do not share.

There was a definitely unpleasant vibe, and I didn’t want to be in that room anymore, and I kept looking at the floor in the middle at the black carpet, and especially at that black dot, with just a little bit of white around it. It really didn’t look right to me.

And then the dream ended, and my muscle tension and slight back pain which I have every day came back, along with my general feelings of irritability, dread of working on things I should be working on but feel I don’t much want to do, like finally getting myself to start working on my art, studying Spanish, exercising, planning and cooking a meal later on, and writing all this down..

I very much liked the simplicity and peace of the first part of the dream. Everyone who came to that somewhat remote place knew what it was for before they got there. Everyone wanted to have no differences with each other, and just sit in a spiritual place of peaceful, happy silence.

Things got worse when inclusivity was forced, and even worse, when things became sectarian, and there was overt division.

Are there any places in the real world that are like how the place was in the first part of my dream?

I doubt it.

Here in Boise, there is a small Unitarian Universalist church. I attended a few services and meetings there. I share Unitarian Universalist, very open and inclusive view of spirituality.

The congregation is made up of people of many faiths, and people like me who have studied and practiced several religious, but who are still not religious, and likely never will be.

I do not attend the UU church because although the people there are very open-minded about spirituality, they are for the most part VERY closed-minded about politics.

The UU church, at both the local and national level, is quite strongly progressive. I, who am politically moderate, and sometimes right-leaning, definitely did not feel comfortable there.

If the UU church completely avoided politics, this would be the place for me, and be more like the place in my dream, but alas..

No, I don’t think there is any place like in the first part of my dream. We are all too divisive in our own way. Me included.

Put enough people in a room (two is enough.. or just one of us sitting alone, because we even disagree with ourselves on so many things), and we will certainly find something to disagree about.

And so we go to our own little groups, churches, institutions, knowing that that even in these places, we disagree with others, and don’t feel entirely at peace with others, or with ourselves.

But those of us who care, even if we disagree with others, will try to be peaceful, and at least work at being kind, and try not to let our disagreements turn ugly, to at least be civil, even though this is not always easy to do.

I guess the first part of my dream was just that.. only a dream. Nice while it lasted, before real life intruded.. real life, where we actually have to put in effort and time to make life better, even if we don’t want to.

Ah well.. time to get on with the day, and try to do some good, and try to find some good in the day, and to find good in myself and others.

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