Gathering Pleasure-Flowers; Interpreting My Vivid Dream


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I am alone in a beautiful meadow on a sunny day picking some sort of edible flower or vegetable.  I see wheat in the distance which I intend to pick later. As I’m picking this flower or crop, I feel very happy, lost inside of my own joy, and I am enjoying my attainment of what I deem as a good thing in a peaceful setting.

As I am picking, I look up and notice a middle-aged woman who is beside me now, also picking things from the earth. This woman reminds me of someone I know in real life, but she is not the same woman. The energy this woman gives off in my dream seems to be motherly, peaceful, happy and simple; I feel that she is a very spiritual type of woman. I recognize her presence and we begin to chat. I ask her if there are any other good things to pick in the area, preferably  something that I can eat. The woman tells me that around us are many swamps with frogs. She says I can stick my hand in and attempt to catch a frog to eat, but she goes on to explain that most people, including herself, can’t catch them because they are so slippery and quick; she walks over to the nearest swamp and demonstrates, sticking her hand in, attempting to catch a frog, only for the jumpy creature to escape her grip and dive back into the murky pool of water.

I take a good look at the seemingly nearest swamp, which is maybe 15 feet away, and I notice that along with the frogs, there are also long, dark snakes slithering through the swamp. I tell the woman of my discovery and she seems to know they are there also, without a trace of shock or worry in her demeanor. Suddenly, I look down and I realize that the woman and I are actually surrounded by, and standing in this swampy terrain, and that the snakes are swimming all around us, gracing their slimy skin against our ankles and legs. The woman peacefully smiles and actually begins to pet one of the snakes on the head that emerges from the water, lovingly and affectionately. The snake allows her to do so, responding to her touch in a calm and unthreatened manner. I was envious of how gentle the woman treated the snakes, how much love she exuded, and I wanted to be like her. So, I tried to do the same with one of the snakes. However, when I began to pet the snake, I became very scared and I began to tense up tremendously. The snake was able to pick up on my fear and became aggressive due to the fearful energy I was giving off. The snake bit my hand. The bite was  surprisingly not that painful, however, I was intensely afraid of being bit again– just the anticipation of knowing that a bite could so easily occur again was what made me tremble; it was the anticipation, leading up to the bite that was much worse than the bite.

I squeezed  the snakes head in my hand in order to keeps it’s mouth closed and prevent it from biting me again, and I wouldn’t let go. The other snakes began to swarm around me, and many started biting me all over my legs and body. My anxiety and panic heightened to a new level and I begin tensing up more and more, and thus, being attacked by more and more snakes. I begin to have this fear, that I will be bitten to death by the snakes. It suddenly occurs to me, that the snakes are actually just feeding on my fear; if only I could develop a calm energy toward the snakes, like the woman beside me, they would not bite me at all.

In a panicky tone, I yell out to the woman next to me, “I need to relax don’t I ?!”

“Yes, relax!” She says.

The woman is standing beside me, watching all of this  occur, and she seems to be very concerned, yet in a passive, disengaged manner. She seems to be attempting to help me, but she knows that I am the only one who can truly help myself– I am the one who must relax, so that the snakes will cease feeding off my fear, and leave me alone. I try very hard to relax, and when I do, I notice that the snakes do ease off, most cease biting me, and gradually they all begin to leave me alone. However, just as I think I am finally relaxed, a fearful thought enters my mind again, reminding me of the danger of my situation. The thought jerks me out of my relaxation and the snakes begin to attack me again.

I try to loosen my grip on the snakes head in my hand, wanting to fling it across the swamp and get rid of it. I even tried to fling the snake, but as soon as I loosen my grip over its mouth, it tries to bite me again, and it did bite me. It sunk it’s sharp fangs into my hand, clinging on to the skin of my hand in an angry revenge. So, I return to tightening my grip over its mouth. I start to worry that I am hurting the snake, but the snake seems fine and totally unharmed despite my grip. I tell the woman beside me that I just want to leave, right away; at this point, I am in a complete panic and feeling utter terror that I will never escape my situation alive. The woman, in a lovingly and in a motherly tone says, “Okay, okay, we can leave now.”

Then I wake up.

My interpretation of the dream:

In my interpretation, the snakes are my thoughts, and in particular, my anxious or depressing thoughts. Like the snakes, the depressive or anxiety-causing thoughts are something that I greatly fear. The woman in my dream, I believe represents ideal qualities, that I would like to possess. I wish to attain peace, compassion and open-heartedness like this calm, spiritual woman.

The flowers or crops that I was attempting to collect, along with the frogs, which were very slippery and hard to hold on to, I believe  represent my pleasant thoughts and feelings. These are the pleasant thoughts and feelings that come and go, but those feelings which we as humans desperately try to hold on to, to collect like the flowers or grasp like the frogs; but like the frogs, they slip out of our grip and continue on their way. We cannot make a pleasant thought or feeling stay permanently. I realized from the dream, that like the woman in the dream, if I develop a peaceful, calm, and even loving attitude toward my “negative” thoughts, just as she was able to approach the snakes, then they lose their grip over me and are no longer a threat. Like the snakes in my dream, my negative thoughts fuel on my fear, and the more I attempt to avoid them or fear them, the greater their hold over me becomes, and the more they “bite me.”

The woman in the dream was a very loving, motherly character. During parts of the dream, I wanted this woman to save me from the snakes. The woman, with her compassion, also wished that I could become free from the snakes, however, she realized that only I could free myself. Thus, the same goes with our negative thinking: only we can liberate ourselves from the grips of negative thoughts and emotions; this liberation and release comes not from completely obliterating or getting rid of negative thoughts, because this is impossible. It comes from accepting the presence of negative thoughts and feelings, in a loving, calm, and peaceful way, as did the woman in my dream toward the snakes. The snakes never went away or left the woman’s side, even though she treated them with calmness and compassion– they were always by her side; However, the snakes never posed any sort of problem or threat to the woman, because she peacefully accepted their presence. In fact, the snakes even became her friend in a way, because she treated them with such love and calmness.

As stated prior, I was intensely afraid of being bitten again, which was more painful that the act of actually being bitten by the snakes. This is just like negative thinking– usually it is our fear of the pain that is far more painful than the pain itself. As famously stated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

Another interesting thing I derived from my dream, is remembering how it relates to a line that I read in the Dhammapada, which is an ancient Buddhist scripture. It reads:

“For one who has a clinging mind
and gathers only pleasure-flowers,
Death does seize and carry away
as great flood a sleeping village.”

When I awoke, I felt strangely as if the line in this scripture came to life in my dream, and it was a line that I had read a very a long time ago. As the scripture relays, for an individual who clings to their thoughts, either negative or positive, and for one who only seeks to gather what brings them pleasure such as the flowers I was picking, or the frogs I wanted to catch, they do not fully live, and death comes to sweep them away as if they were already asleep.

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