I set my intent and then I dream.
For the past week the Dalai Lama has come to me in my dreams. Sometimes when we wake up in the morning Chuck tells me that he has also been dreaming with the Dalai Lama. This is significant. What I am learning from the Dalai Lama is important. He has been teaching me how to handle the energy of now, the pushing, almost volatile energy of late that has been unrelentingly asking us all to face ourselves, what comes to us from within, while simultaneously withstanding the onslaught of the turmoil of what comes to us from without. We have all been suffering lately through the same kind of energy that Buddha encountered during his 49 days under the bodhi tree. And, as Chuck mentioned in a recent blog, the energy is not going to stop, it is coming at us with the speed of light!
This kind of energy circulates through our lives often enough that by the time we are adults we should be pretty used to it, but that doesn’t mean we handle it well. It takes awareness—recognition that we are in this type of energy state again—as well as a concerted effort to achieve balance and calm so we can not only maneuver through it but learn something as well.
In my first dream, the Dalai Lama handed me a fifty-pound bag of sand. He then instructed me to create a circle with it, large enough for me to walk around in. He showed me how to use the sand to build a little wall, just a few inches tall, sloping upward to a point, as if to create a small mountain range. The point, he told me, was to create a barrier between what was outside and what was inside. I worked on building that wall all night long, getting it just right, refining the edges, perfecting the circle. It was satisfying work and by the time I was done I had created what I set out to do.
The next night, the Dalai Lama came again. This time he instructed me to define quadrants within the circle, four equal areas that defined my life. The first quadrant became my inner world, the second my work in the outer world, the third my relationships with others, the fourth my home and my personal life. These quadrants, he said, must always be in balance.
When I woke up from the first dream it was pretty clear that the Dalai Lama was instructing me in making a mandala, a dream mandala, I thought. Little did I know that it was more than just a dream manifestation. By the third night I understood that it was a working mandala, merging the Shamanic process of recapitulation with a most important Buddhist practice. On this night, the Dalai Lama taught me about detachment, probably the most important practice in both recapitulation and Buddhism.
On this night, the Dalai Lama taught me that I must constantly utilize and hone my practice of detachment as I encounter the onslaughts of energy that are constantly present, whether from within or without. He instructed me to face what comes to me, to dissect it thoroughly, understand it completely for what it is and what it is teaching me, and then to let it go and move on. I sat in the different quadrants of my mandala and did as he instructed. His hand gestures were always prominent in these dreams, but this night they were broad sweeping movements as he demonstrated pushing the finished product of my inner process away, actually expelling the energy beyond the walls of my mandala. “Be done with it!” he said. “And then move on! That is detachment!”
By the fourth night I was beginning to wonder if he would come back. I wasn’t really surprised to find myself in his company once again. This time he spoke of compassion, instructing me in achieving calm within no matter what came from without, but with gentleness and compassion for myself as I went through the process of detachment. He told me that I had to get to a place of detachment in order to fully understand compassion, and that I had to get to a place of compassion for myself if I was going to truly be able to be compassionate toward others. He told me this was an endless process of facing both the inner and outer world, for there will always be something new each day to figure out and detach from with compassion.
The next night, he instructed me, in a final note, to remember that all of this had to happen with awareness that I—my ego self—was not all that important. What was most important in all of this practice was honing my awareness so that I might also hone my energy. This is the ultimate reason and the goal in life. The daily challenge, he told me, is to face what comes in life in full awareness that it is the path to enlightenment, to full awareness and use of energy. How I express my energy through this body that is me—how I meet others in the world, and how I elect to live my life—all matter.
In essence, the Dalai Lama was pointing out that we are already on the path. We have always been on it. Our path is personally significant; we are the only ones who can walk it, taking the journey that we got. We are all, however, equally outfitted with what it takes to make the trek along that path to enlightenment. As my dream encounters suggest, it just takes utilizing a few practical tools in how to use what we innately possess: the means to achieving full awareness in our dreaming and waking lives.
In my dream encounters with the Dalai Lama, I was being reminded that we all face lessons in detachment in our daily lives, every day. The four quadrants of my dream mandala are the places that my personal challenges occur. But the Dalai Lama was also reminding me that we are all Buddha, going through the same kind of suffering that the Buddha went through in his 49 days of suffering. We must learn the same lessons that the Buddha learned, how to withstand the tension of what comes to us, investigate it—in a deep process like recapitulation, for instance—then let it go having learned what is most important. And then move on. There is always something new to move onto.
I learned, once again, that although the process is endless, the rewards are immediate. Each day, as I move around in my dreaming-waking mandala, I find that as I face what comes, the world without eventually changes, meeting me differently too. Where I am, so is the world. If I am in balanced calmness then I meet similar energy without. If I am avoidant, that too is what I encounter without, avoidant energy.
One day I may find myself in the relationship quadrant and another day I may find myself in the outer world quadrant. It doesn’t matter where I find myself, the work is the same, to face what comes with awareness that my reason for being here is so that I may evolve. What must I face today and how will I face it? Will I remember that I already built a magical protective wall to hold in the energy that is important and to keep out that which is not?
I must remember that I am well prepared. All I really have to do is set my intent. And what was my original intent that brought the Dalai Lama’s energy into my dreaming-waking life? What it always is: to change. I find that there is really no other intent I need to put out there. Every day I ask to change, to keep changing, for I find there is no end to the magic and awe of life in change. “Let me change,” I ask. “Let me change.”
By constantly returning to my mandala, I am offered structure when I often feel that I have no structure, nowhere to turn, or no anchor. I do have it, a gift from the Dalai Lama himself. His own energy utilized far beyond his own physical body. That is his intent.
I sit in my mandala and set my intent to change. Try it. It really works!
Most humbly offered, with love,
See also Chuck’s recent blog: Achieving a Quiet Heart.