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Entering the Dream of All Beings

Entering the Dream of All Beings
Joan Sutherland

Between the world of form and the world of emptiness there is another world, the world of the dreaming of all things. It is the place we are never alone, where all beings interpenetrate and transform each other, where life dreams itself into existence moment by moment, over and over again.

This is the place where emptiness begins to swirl and take shape, where anything is, for a moment, possible, before the pattern is set. It is the place of poetry and lovemaking and visions that arise in our meditation. In Kabbalah this is described as a tree, down which the energy of the ineffable, the vastness, travels like a thunderbolt through the dream to enter the world of form. And we return to the vastness like a snake coiling back up the tree, through the realms of the dream.

This is the ocean of all beings, where we are permeable to the other, where we can be changed and enlarged by taking the other into ourselves, offering ourselves to the other. Out of this common dreaming we create what the world has not yet seen, in our art and our children and whatever we make from the marrow of our lives. To live without the awareness of this dreaming is like sleeping without REM states—it makes us crazy. It leaves us in the cramped world where the only story is our personal story, grandiose or impoverished, which we can only repeat over and over to ourselves, because we have lost the ability to hear all the other stories, and behind the many voices—accessible to us precisely through the inclusion of the many—the place of perfect silence.

Here we experience the awesome grandeur of the simplest things: the dream of douglas fir and redwood, of coyote and Tupperware. All things are preaching the Dharma all the time; the world is that alive, vivid, enspirited.

And so we embrace the dream as positive—fluid, mutable, many-layered--not as delusional. We embrace the opportunity to experience the dream more fully, to break down our fixed ideas, our habitual patterns of thought, and our attachments to things as we think they are or want them to be by deeply entering into and participating in the fluid nature of reality.

I am this self experiencing itself. Inhale and exhale. Something is gained, something is given away. Now I am this self experiencing itself. In other words, the self is fluid. The self is fluidity. The self is just fluidity experiencing itself in this particular pattern. And so we get curious about all the other fluidities. Does this building in which we sit carry the remembered dreaming of the wood, clay and minerals of which it is made? Does it dream of rainstorms and of falling back into the earth? Do the cities dream? Do the skyscrapers dream of silica, molten metal, ground pebbles from the stream? What does plastic dream? Does it remember back through petroleum to dinosaurs? How do we participate in the city's dream, and how does it affect us? How does it affect us to so rarely join the dreaming of the savannahs and forests with which we evolved?

This dreaming invites us to understand that the world is very different than what is ordinarily visible to us. This is the opening of a different kind of eye. It is the opening of ourselves to the community of all beings, an enlarging of our practice to include the wisdom and experience of all beings. Let all things fertilize your dreaming. Bring the fruit of your dreaming back into the world when the time is ripe.