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Ameican Tanka

Dreamed 1989/7/26 by Chris Wayan

INTRODUCTION

This was a wild Buddhist/shamanic dream, painted as a Tibetan tanka.

Shamanic? Well, my soul rose, journeyed, made an ally, challenged powerful spirits, returned with a prescription for personal and social ills...

Buddhist? In the course of the dream I climbed through the Wheel of Life. Now that Wheel, at least as Tibetan Buddhists paint it on their tankas, usually has six Buddhist realms of being--heaven, hell, humanity, hungry ghosts, animal and... uh... vegetable? I never can name all Seven Dwarves either. Oh well! I dreamed the Wheel had changed. They were six American realms--

  1. industrial hell--consumerism and its ecological consequences
  2. the rickety steps of the Pursuit of Happiness
  3. the big city: American Dreamers (re?)inventing themselves
  4. webspace (Talkshow of the Gods!)
  5. the hills of present living, experimentation, change-sprouts
  6. suburbia (hungry ghosts?) where we raise the next generation of revolutionaries
Fresh maps are best! So let me show you round
the American wheel of being:
DREAM-PAINTING:  a tanka, telling a shamanic dream of the wheel of life.  Click to enlarge.

Dream-painting:  I climb out of the Dark Satanic Mills of modern America
DARK SATANIC MILLS

"My soul rose up,"
as mystics say.
But in the pall of factory
and labyrinth of mall,
it's not so easy,
the soul coming up roses:
I dreamed I was clawing
up a cold clay
slope, the clammy
ochre breast
of the golem
you call world...


HORSE SENSE

I met a mare, a talking mare,
A Night Mare. She was scared.
"You're BEAUTIFUL" I blurted.
Shyly, we made friends, and then
together we climbed
up the terrible stairs
(each step a challenging dream)
in the chill night wind
both clumsy, numb,
up bleachers of endless stadium,
to the end, where the rickety rim
looked out on a spangled plain...

Dream-painting:  I meet the beautiful Nightmare on an Endless Stair. Click to enlarge.

Dream-painting:  With the Night Mare, I look down on the material plane: a dream I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAINTOP

Nightmare and I shivered
in wind and wonder
above that galactic sight:
Infinite City lit the night.
Below, each blue or baleful sulfur light
was a lone soulspark
in the world's dark.
Looking on the millions,
We feared we'd slip and fall:
Nightmare's hooves are clumsy on
Steep steps and wooden slats:
this was no easy astral plane.
Many levels make no level at all.
We'd gone too high: we had room to fall.


TALKSHOW OF THE GODS

And then... a fog and a shift and a flat--
A mezzanine-cloud on the spirit-stair.
Dragon-angels waited there!
Bright unreadable faces, Bali masks,
fierce butterflies carve-painted
Spoke hanging in the air.
"What do you want?"
"We---"
"No. What do YOU want?"
The god waits.

"I.. I want a mate" says Nightmare,
"who'll lick me and mount me and
never try to tame me.
Oh, and I want more carrots.
I love carrots!"

My turn. I ask the god
"How can I help others?
What's my right livelihood?"

Dream-painting:  Nightmare and I are trapped on the Talkshow of the Gods

And the floating god says
"Okay, here's a list of nice charities you can send checks to, and when you're done with that and you're ready to stop wasting my time with bullshit questions, come back and answer my riddle about your own feelings, your own life.
"Oh, and by the way," it adds as a rumbling afterthought, "you should get back together with your ex-wife."

Slapped by God!
But I'm excited too:
I forgot I had a wife!
But now I recall,
She was sweet and hot and yet
I gave her up for a fierce old shamaness,
to learn of the hidden realm.
But it's time for open joy again!
God knows. At least that God knows.


SPROUTS OF RIGHT DESIRE

A gentler goddess, with a body at least,
a gauze-gowned, moth-winged Glinda,
asks "How's the weather, down in Matter?"
I glance downslope. Slate thunderstorms batter
the hills between world and dream,
but below it's clear and bright.
So we all bike down from Heaven...
But find the clouds are stone!
A hard birth-tunnel back.
Steel curtains drop from the roof, chomp chomp.
Leap! Leap! We're caught--
Aw, they're just wimpy jaws. Push on! Push on!

Now time forks, and on the other branch,
I'm hiking out of heaven, down redrock domes,
on narrow crumbly deer-paths worn into the slick.
The Goddess of Liberty guides me with her torch.
A stern young face, but clear--no cynic's mask.
Seedlings cover the canyon walls, still thin,
so slopes above look luminous green,
but slopes below have just a leaf-mist,
for the rock's seen full-face, the plants edge-on.
Liberty says "These hills between waking and dream
Were clear-cut, years ago; they're only now reforesting."
The seeds are carrots--a host of roots come true.
Rain-puddles gleam on the path down dream.
Slippery danger-mud, and yet
the pools feed freedom-seed.
Up slope, contented nightmares feed.

Dream-painting:  Golden hills where a black horse grazes: the carrot fields of the Goddess of Liberty.

Dream-painting:  Suburbs are now one of the fundamental realms of existence: a dream. HUNGRY GHOSTS

Far down the slope now,
House start to grow,
But souls are still distinct,
No urban termite-mass...
Ah, we're getting close.
The world's complexity pounces on me,
And a Jungian voice announces
"There are a million relationships
Down in Body City."

Yeah, okay, that's true,
But what, O Jungian Voice, am I to do?
Seek carrots and my mate, I guess.

Full circle on Buddha's lottery wheel!
What do YOU think? Did I progress?

Dream-painting:  A coiled dragon forms a yinyang, with a motto: Dragon's advice hurts, but really useful pain is not easy to come by.

TWO NOTES



LISTS AND LINKS: Buddhism - shamanism - mandalas and other symbols - life-paths - dragons - gods and goddesses - dreaming personified - dream advice - dares and challenges - horses - Silky, the nightmare I married - sexy creatures - a dream about that Goddess: The Shadow Of Liberty - round and nonrectilinear art - dream paintings and picture-stories - a second dream of Right Desire/Appetite: Lucid Living

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