So, back in the day, 1991 or 1992, I was ensconced in seminary at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. I was raising my niece who was ten at the time basically as a single parent. I was working at least half-time and taking huge credit loads at school. I was exhausted, and over-stimulated.
I was studying Buddhism from some excellent teachers, as well as Christianity.
It was the time that “Northern Exposure” was being aired and I enjoyed it tremendously–it was like a breath of what life might be like outside of the rat race I was in. So when I had the following dream, it was not surprising, but has given me pause many times since then. I was 36 when I had the dream.
Here then, is the dream. I’m in a bar, much like The Brick from Northern Exposure; it is a bar in Alaska somewhere. There are many locals, and it’s dark and cozy there. I’m at the bar, when a reprobate-looking native man walks in, obviously drunk. The locals all scorn him and turn their backs. He is with a pretty dark-haired young woman—maybe 17 or 18 years of age, with long straight hair. I instantly know that he is the Buddha and I am stunned by the locals’ disrespect. They consider him the town drunk. I struggle with my conflict for a bit–try to get several of the people around me to understand who he really is–that he is incognito. They will have nothing of it. I buy the Buddha and his consort a drink and then they go up a steep narrow stairway to the attic and are obviously going to lay down, perchance to sleep. My conflict continues, but soon I overcome it and also go up the dark stairs and find them lying, spooning, with the Buddha’s back to me. I immediately lie down behind him and spoon with him, as he spoons with the young woman. I go to sleep.
That’s the dream, and it has haunted me. I’ve asked myself many questions about it. Like why would I have any conflict at all–if he was the Buddha and I knew it, no matter what he looked like, why would I just not get up on the bar if I had to and say it? What is the significance of the young dark haired woman?
And then today, as I’m lying in bed with a head cold, I read a Hafiz poem that shed some light on this dream, all these years later.
Among Strong Men
My soul is like a young doe-eyed maid with lips still bruised from last night’s divine passion. But my Master makes me live like a humble servant when any king would trade his throne for the splendor my eye can see.
Call it many things, give your desires polite names if you must; mask the primal instinct from your reality if you cannot bear that sacred edge that will hone your ken against the sun and earth.
Among strong men in the Tavern I can speak a truth no one will laugh at: My heart is like a wild alley cat in heat;
In every possible way we conspire to know Freedom and Love.
Forget about the common reason, Hafiz, for it only enslaves–there is something holy deep inside of you that is so ardent and awake
The needs to lie down naked next to God.
That is what I need. That is what I needed those some 20 years ago. I keep looking for God to show up and lie down next to me. It is an act of faith to finally see ‘that sacred edge’ that is the invisible dividing line between God and God’s Created Universe. And an even bigger act of devotion to move past all my ego-inspired inhibitions and lie myself down square in the middle of that naked Love.