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Dreamed before 1986 by Anonymous #7

SOURCE: Inner Work by Robert A. Johnson (1986), pp 56-57, 105-106.


The woman who had this dream comes from an Italian Catholic family. As she grew into adulthood she found herself rebelling against her Latin background and her childhood religion. She became involved in Zen Buddhist philosophy and meditation. This dream signaled a return to her cultural and religious roots, yet a graduation out of her childhood version of them. It showed her that she could make a synthesis of East and West within her own self that was true to her own character.


I am in a monastic cloister, in a room or cell attached to the chapel. I am separated from the people and the rest of the chapel by a grille. Mass begins. I participate alone in my cell. I sit with crossed legs, zazen style, but holding my rosary. I hear the murmurs of the responses through the grille. The voices are tranquil. I close my eyes and I too receive communion, although no one and nothing physical enters my cell. The mass finishes. I become aware of flowers blooming at the side of my chamber. I feel a deep serenity.


After this woman worked on her dream, she saw the implications for her religious life and practice. But she couldn't think of anything physical to do about it. It seemed to be a matter of inner vision, of understanding inwardly. No outer act was implied: In fact, if she ran out and began searching for a religious group to join it would violate the spirit of the dream, which was to be quiet in her own awareness of the spirit.

Finally the young woman thought of a simple symbolic act she could do that would express her feelings about the dream and its meaning to her: In the dream, when she had received communion she saw that flowers had burst spontaneously into bloom at the side of her cell during the mass. She went and gathered flowers like those in her dream. She drove to the ocean with the flowers and made a solemn ceremony of going to the edge of the sea and casting the flowers into the waves.

She did this as a physical, yet symbolic, act of giving the gift she had received back to Mother Earth, back to the feminine sea of the unconscious. She felt at the time that this was too little, that she should think of something grander to do in honor of such a wonderful dream. But it was all she could think of, so she did it. She felt immensely grateful for the dream, and this was an act of gratitude toward God and toward the inner feminine.

Leaving the ocean, she drove quietly back to her house and found that a friend had come to visit while she was at the beach--a friend whom she did not see very often. Together they took a short drive around the neighborhood. Then several things occurred in rapid succession that seemed like coincidences, yet could not be.

First, as they drove, she discovered that there was a monastery in her neighborhood, just a few blocks from her home. She was startled, for inwardly she had been in a monastery all night and all morning. Her friend was one of the few laypeople who had permission to enter the cloister, and she even had a key for the gate! Her friend suggested that they stop and visit the chapel and greet the nuns.

When our dreamer walked into the monastery chapel, she felt as though she had walked back into her dream. The chapel, which she had never seen before, was identical to the chapel in her dream. Every detail was the same. She settled down by herself in the chapel to meditate in zazen posture, and all the meanings, feelings, and intense serenity of the dream experience flowed through her again.

In the days that followed she too was granted permission to visit the monastery regularly to meditate, spend quiet time, and nourish the part of her that is a monastic. The Dream of the Monastery became an external, physical reality...

--Robert Johnson

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