The dream…dreaming us
March 21, 2010 by Bill
I close my eyes, put my memory in rewind, and am once again experiencing a moment that transcends language. I was sitting in front of a glorious wood burning fire in a cabin by Redfish Lake in the magnificent Sawtooth mountains of Idaho. It was early morning, my favorite time of the day. I was reading “The Labyrinth of Solitude” by the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Octavio Paz. When I finished this exquisite closing paragraph, my eyes were moist.
“Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide awake. But this wide awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason. When we emerge, perhaps we will realize that we have been dreaming with our eyes open, and that the dreams of reason are intolerable. And then, perhaps, we will begin to dream once more with our eyes closed.”
Behind my closed eyes a dream did begin to take shape. My dream saw the religions of “the book,” the bible, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, evolving toward a higher consciousness. It is these religions of the book that have historically produced the vast majority of the violence in our world, from Moses to the Crusades, Henry VIII, Salem and Kosovo, the West Bank and the Gaza strip, along with Northern Ireland. In modern Europe, Serbian leaders have killed people en masse to safeguard what they call “holy places.” In “Mein Kampf” Hitler wrote that “I am completely convinced that I am acting as the agent of God by killing Jews. I am doing the work of the Lord Jesus. I am now a Catholic and will always remain so.” Hitler was never excommunicated and Mein Kampf was never banned by the church.
It is religion that has produced the vast majority of violence in the world, historically. Those countries without religion, even in our own time, are the least violent.
Western Christianity has now degenerated into hundreds of squabbling, fighting, creeds, denominations and sects, into “mazes of nightmares.” Churches in Europe are empty. Cathedrals are for tourists. Church attendance in America continues, year after year, to go down drastically.
In my dream I saw this phallic imperialism of the last 2,000 years coming to an end. I saw the three religions of the book in the throes of their own Ghost Dance. Our “dreams of reason have been intolerable,” and perhaps, yes, just perhaps we are in the birthing period of a slow evolution toward a rediscovery of the sacred that could lead us out of the “mazes of nightmares.”
The giant barrier that is standing between us and a rediscovery of the sacred is the desperate clinging to an archaic, anthropomorphic, supernatural God, “out there” somewhere, watching over us as a divine window peeker, or waiting, in the role of a cosmic bellhop.
The sacred is not just a prehistoric stage in the history of human consciousness; it is an element of that consciousness that has been crowded out by the “dreams of reason that are intolerable.” Just to live as a human being is a sacred act. The true atheist is not that person who no longer believes in the existence of supernatural Gods, but the true atheist is that person who refuses to recognize the sacredness of our very existence, from the very breath of our bodies to the rhythmic ballet of the constellations, and the mystery within those expressions. What remains of our spiritual quest without supernatural Gods? The answer is EVERYTHING REMAINS. Sacred reality remains. It would be a way of life lived in the pursuit of truth. A life lived in the pursuit of excellence, wisdom and love. It finds holiness in natural realities that include not only celestial bodies, rocks, waters and evolving life, but also human beings with body/brain/mind/spirit. It is daily, standing in awe and wonder before the unfathomable mystery that dances through electrons and galaxies.
Our sense of the sacred is awakened…seeing the rise of a peak in the morning mist…the glint of moonlight on an icy ridge…the gold of sunlight on a distant summit…and we are awake to a world of glorious beauty and mystery. We respond with awe and wonder and a sound of joy pours forth from our throat that we cannot hold back. “Ah” we say. “Ah”…and it is in that “ah” that the depth of our spirit comes forth and we are “awake,” as we sanctify the place where we are. To sense the ultimate in the common, and in the rush of passing stillness the eternal, is to live with wonder, and with “ah” and to once again “dream dreams that are not intolerable.”
Millions, in their unfolding spiritual maturity, are moving away from the dead forms and defunct symbols of the dogmas and doctrines of orthodoxy to the beauty and revelation of direct experience. A new consciousness, not any theological “belief,” is at the heart of this resurrection of spirituality. At a conference of Nobel winning physicists with the title of “New Dimensions of Consciousness,” their press release said this: “we are on the brink of a new synthesis, pioneered by visionary men and women, leading to a new consciousness.”
Perhaps it is not too late. We can see that our “dreams of reason have been intolerable,” and we can once again “dream with our eyes closed” and with clear vision, see the part that we, you and I, can play in restoring a consciousness of the sacred to our collective memory.