Let me tell you a dream. It was the night I mixed Sound for a show featuring a
high octane singer/songwriter guitar wizard with songs of fear, death and serial killers accompanied by loud, piercing guitar runs and effects. Also on the bill was a quieter, more constrained teller of musical tales from our nation’s Colonial past: the massacres and the love stories, the farmers and the philanderers. Let’s call them Player A and Player B.
As the three of us packed up after the show they talk about the making of songs from the raw material of pain and suffering. I mostly listened as I coiled up cables and demounted speakers.
In bed, later that night, I dreamt.
I was in a tram in Melbourne, travelling through the “old city”, a maze of alleyways, lanes and arcades like an Escher drawing. Small, arcane shops. One a Theosophical Society Bookshop which reminded me of my Melbourne girlfriend from back in my days with Theosophical interests.
The tram morphed into the lift (elevator) in the luxury hotel where I was staying. As often happens with lifts (elevators) in my dreams, riding it was a strange affair. It never delivers me to my destination without long and involved stops at wrong floors and journeys to other buildings (and other lands). An elevator (lift) ride in my dreams is like being in a UFO.
But I got there, down a corridor with a carpet from The Shining. In the room was a small and ugly little dog. Like my estranged Ex’s mother’s snappy little terrier. Yet I picked it up and cuddled it. As I cuddle it, it becomes a telephone (but still a terrier).
I answer. It’s Player B and he’s calling me from London. He’s now a Social Worker and he wants me to heal a client. How? By chanting a song-like chant to them. The person will listen and be healed. OK. I begin to improvise a chant. It works! They’re healed. Player B is impressed. There’s a lot of people will respond to this therapy and we’ll make a lot of money, too. We’ll split the money 50/50.
But the dog has run off. I chase after it, still keeping in contact with Player B even though the dog’s nowhere to be seen. I see it in the park behind what was my marital home decades ago in another city.
I get back on the dog-phone to B. A woman answers. He’s at a dinner party in London and she passes the phone to him. He’s got a new client with him .Someone who will really benefit. But this time the healing must be done by dance. I must make a dance that will heal. But the patient says he is an Atheist and there is no way this can possibly work.
I’ve never done dance-work before. In fact, Dance is the one art-form of which I know nothing. Zero. But I try and find the mental space in which I can imagine myself into a dance. I’m confident I can make it work even though I don’t understand how it works. And so the dream ends.
And my Wise Woman, Gloria, responded
In the dream there are two methods of healing (like there were two performers at your show)– the one in which you ‘performed’ a healing and the one in which you were required to engage with the person in a dance. As this person is an atheist and skeptic it is probably addressing an unhealed aspect of your Imago Dei. Are you at peace with yourself (‘your’ Self)?
The earlier healing was about you being the healer and the possibility of there being a financial reward. I equate money in dreams and life as symbolic of energy. This could be addressing the part of you that feels you have to perform in order to be loved and accepted. The second conversation on healing is about being in equal partnership – about co-creation. Even though you are the choreographer, you are to be involved in the dance.
I feel that the last paragraph is the key to the dream. Player B could be seen as a psychopomp character. White folks who have deep connections with Aboriginal people often have a shamanic aspect to them. He is a social worker and coordinating the healer – you – and the one who needs healing – the atheist who isn’t sure he can be healed. You are confident, even though it will be a challenge. This seems to me to be the telos of the dream and a metaphor for life even. It feels like a statement of the true self – the one who is in synch with the healing power in the psyche even though you don’t understand how it all works.
It’s an awesome dream. There is a lot in there about the past but I get the feeling that it’s secondary in the dream, it could be just the residue now floating up to the surface. The incident of the dog as a communication device and your associating it with a nasty dog that belonged to your ex-partner’s mother could be a reference to the negative mother complex in your partner that affected your relationship that is now being used to facilitate communication and healing.
There is a lot in what you’ve said here and in the dream and its prequel about observer and observed. Given that the healing was to be effected in this manner, maybe that is the core issue that is trying to find resolution? It’s probably the ultimate question - who am I, really?
And Josephine replied:
Yes. Am I the performer or the performed? Or am “I” the performance? “I” as in the ego ,the persona, whatever, that which is made visible to the world - and which in making itself visible becomes the consciousness which is “I”?
But behind the performance is something else. I reach for my TS Eliot.(Burnt Norton.)
"At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered."
Non-duality seems to be the heart of the matter. Eliot is obviously writing from the place of knowing. That knowing must be in us in order to recognise it but how to live from that place? Jung’s concept of individuation whereby the ego is anchored in harmonious relationship with the archetypal Self is a pretty good framework but the ego gets hammered in the process of developing that relationship.
That just reminded me of the disappearing dog but I’m not sure of the relevance so will leave it with you.
So I sit here writing this, seeing myself as the Atheist in need of healing by the Theist who is myself. The doubter and the doubted. The doubting healer who doubts their ability to heal. And the unloved little dog from a time in my life when I was bitterly wounded. It is my wounded ego through which I can now communicate with this psychopomp and bring healing to others. From our wounds do we heal. In making our lives so do we un-make our Life.