The Keyring of Attachments
Dreamed 1974/5/31 by Chris Wayan
Doctors remove something from my brother, not an organ, not a tumor. They won't tell me what it was--they just say "You should remember." Me? They won't tell my brother either. Whatever it was, the operation was outdoors, on the slope of a hill when I found them.
In the brush near my brother's feet on the gurney, I find a machine with blinking lights of all colors. I trundle it out; the doctors are embarrassed but still won't talk. On the ground, I see circular spots: planets. On the planets' faces are cartooned my sister Althea's hidden motivations. No privacy with this machine! The populations of the planets swell, swarm, ruin the worlds... Uh-oh, too many motives, is Althea tripping herself up?
I sit on a little cliff-shelf above this whole medical drama and try to puzzle it out. My Chinese teacher comes over and sits next to me, and says, in the same firm, methodical manner she taught me Ma Jiang today, "Inspect each thing you have, closely, and determine the nature and degree of your attachment to it."
I pull out a key-ring holding keys to several "attachments": an old calendar-coin that tells the day of the week for any date, like the Hobbits' calendar. They were very "attached" people, clinging to their mathoms. Or were they? Only hobbits had the strength to throw away the Ring--throw away domination... But it's MY ring I have to deal with now! My key ring... What else is on it? Old keys to things in my past: childhood home, sand box, summers, farm, schools; keys to cars and bikes, to houses and rooms, to workplaces; one by one I note them and their uses, consider their encumbrance on me, and set them down on the ledge beside me. The last key on the ring is my penis, somehow separate from me.
And I realize it's really like all the others, and toss it away.
That night I'd gone to a dinner party at my Chinese teacher's house. She taught us Ma Jiang--at first I felt slow and stupid, then suddenly got it. In the dream, there was still something I wasn't getting...
I don't have a brother. My double, my shadow? Giving up attachments. It all sounds very Buddhist... only he wasn't renouncing things--they TOOK something! Not Bodhisattvas--pickpockets!
I seem to be divesting myself voluntarily... but is that wise, with such sneaky surgeons around? Maybe I let my teacher talk me into too much. Should I go against the Buddhist flow?
Attach to things! Cling to things! Buddha may sometimes need play trickster and pick your pocket... but are all pickpockets Buddha?
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