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Dreams, ahimsa and Ghandiji

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited March 17 in Buddhism Basics

Lately I have been having a series of dreams — 3 in a week — in which I have been a violent aggressor. I noticed that in these dreams I come under threat, and my response to the threat is through fighting and tactics. It is a response perhaps conditioned by the young monkey self, or perhaps movies, or maybe some of both.

When I wake up I realise that in real life this is not the path I might have chosen. There are a number of different things that play a role here, do I feel that courageous? Do I feel a certain berserker bloodlust when I rely on base instincts? Do I not feel ahimsa? In the dreams I feel a definite joy in battle and victory, but it is notable that my dream opponents never fight back. Tonight for example the man I fought had a frisbee for a weapon...

The path that appeals to me when I’m awake is the example set by Ghandi, of non-violent resistance. In real life it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a fight, even a verbal one. Perhaps it is repression... Most of this is just coming out in the last couple of days, and maybe the realisation will change something.

I wonder too if this has something to do with passion, as these dreams feel exceptionally alive and filled with adventure. It feels as if they are trying to tell me something. I keep coming back to ahimsa though, and how even when you’re under threat there is no immediate need for violence.

Have you ever had dreams like these?

Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    This might be about your relationship with yourself rather than your environment. Dreams are often like that.

    Kerome
  • techietechie India Veteran

    Your dreams are trying to convey to you that reality often contradicts principles.

    You may believe in the principle of nonviolence, but faced with a violent mob (for instance) your survival instincts may take over. In such cases, principles have no role to play.

    So the question is: is it better to abandon all principles and simply act based on facts alone?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited March 17

    Have you ever had dreams like these?

    Occasionally...

    It could have a lot to do with what one watches on the goggle box/screen....or have experienced during the day's activities...

    I guess working along similar lines to Pre-suasion, the mind records subtle information/fed data subliminally which is played back/projected onto the dream screen... and the mental movie evolves according to one disposition / creative imagination....

    Some minds no doubt are more susceptible than others...

    Maybe it would be a good idea (a subtle bit of pre-suasion on my part ;) ) to read some Dharma text or watch/listen to a Dharma talk (even a short one) before going to sleep...This may help to guide the mind's dream patterns along more wholesome lines...

    Normally when "I" am about to fall asleep "Anatta" and or "Sunyata" come to mind....(which I guess it plays on the mind throughout the day too) "I" have found it somewhat habitual...and calming to the senses...

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Tonight I watched a few dharma talks on YouTube which were calming, and had a dreamless sleep after that. But I do think that repetitive dreams like this try to tell us something, and this seems to be pretty clearly about violence as a response when feeling under threat.

    It’s curious because I’ve noticed a maturing in my attitudes since I was younger, when I had a view that in self defense violence was ok. I was not called upon to exercise this view often or even at all, but it was something that lived in me. Not anymore, in a way that’s come to rest.

    But I can’t help but link it to the excitement of thrillers or even drama’s such as NCIS where guns and the threat of violence make a regular appearance. I also link it to other ‘excitements’, such as sports. These things are more basal, they still appear.

    In the dreams I don’t get to think about it or respond from a mindful perspective. I just react, and violence is what comes out, more often than not. When I’m awake, it is different, my mind is quiet and empty, and there is no excitement or sports or violence.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    In the dreams I don’t get to think about it or respond from a mindful perspective.I just react, and violence is what comes out, more often than not. When I’m awake, it is different, my mind is quiet and empty, and there is no excitement or sports or violence.

    Read more Dharma text or listen to more Dharma talks throughout the day and before going to sleep...

    I guess it also pays to think in a Dharmic way about the 'scripted' situation (the plot) when watching shows like NCIS...What would you do/have done differently in a similar situation...Think outside the box

    Thus have I heard that the sub-conscious more often than not, can not tell what's true/real or what's not true/unreal...In other words the situation/data received by the sense doors can be corrupted ie, can lie to the sub-conscious which will take the faulty information as the truth...

  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    You recently posted about a "visceral" response to a Syrian poet. I don't know if your dreams are connected.

    ShoshinKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited March 20

    The dreams have continued, there was another one featuring a knife fight last night, again with feeling threatened beforehand, but then in the fight almost passive opponents. There were also some weird shifts in perspective, seeing the fighting aggressor character in third person. Almost like a video game...

    I found this useful...

    It’s interesting that Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu says that dreams are an opportunity to observe what your mind is doing, where your mind is going without the brakes on it that our waking selves impose.

    According to the Tibetans, you can decrease the ‘weight’ of any karmic effect by expressing how sorry you are that you’ve taken part in an action. So that is the course that I have taken, expressing my regret for the actions of my dream self and burning incense for it.

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Snakeskin said:
    You recently posted about a "visceral" response to a Syrian poet. I don't know if your dreams are connected.

    It seems unlikely, the dreams predate the poetry I believe.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited March 20

    Dreams are odd things. When I was a teenager, I dreamed for years about my parents trying to kill each other, and me running away and being chased down by a black suv and being unable to run. They were recurring themes over many years, but as I worked through the effects of my parents divorce, and they healed and could be in the same room together again, the dreams stopped. Sometimes it is easy to take them too literally. Maybe it is not violence or people you are looking to harm, but concepts.

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited March 21

    Tonight it was a magical battlefield, complete with skin-changers, magicians and summonings. But there was no actual violence, so that was allright... an uneasy truce held sway during my dream visit in which I commented on the high level of distrust in the dream, and something said “... but he’s right” just as I was waking.

    There was also a dream in which I was passing through a domain in a magical land and I was trying to grow trees in a desert to entice a particular kind of magical essence. And a motorcycle chase section when I was trying to catch something that had wandered in.

    Since I started journalling I’ve been able to remember my dreams nearly every night.

    But I think you’re right @karasti dreams ARE odd and not-literal, and difficult to interpret. Often the literal meaning has part of a message - that it’s about distrust and conflict - and a non-literal part another meaning. I found it interesting that Buddhist lore says that dreams are of little importance except those which foretell the future (which I don’t think these do, lol).

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited March 21

    @Kerome I seem to remember being taught once in TB that dreams don't cause any karma. But it's pretty hazy and I could be half wrong or all wrong. I'm just saying maybe look into it more as to whether there is any real karmic consequence to dreams.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I’ve done a little research, read some articles off google, and the consensus seems to be “it’s hard to tell”. For karma to be there there needs to be intention, and in any case dreams are thought, and so the karma produced would necessarily be weaker than that produced by real deeds. But the advice is to “practice repentance”, since it both weakens any karma and reduces the likelihood of the dreams recurring.

    person
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    You need to watch less TV and get out more.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    You need to watch less TV and get out more.

    Strangely enough I don’t watch very much tv, compared to some people. Usually no more than 2 hours a day and that often nature documentaries or chat shows. Occasionally I will watch some CSI or NCIS or a movie.

    But as a child I always had a very lively imagination, I watched quite a few cartoons, played Dungeons and Dragons with friends, and loved exciting sci-fi movies. Now I’m coming to appreciate real life, and it’s strange mixture of long termism and quiet, but I find my imagination lives on in my dreams.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    OK. Well....

    Maybe it's your Mind's way of getting it out of your system...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Funny, that’s what my father suggested as well when I discussed it with him. You are sure you are not in secret contact with eachother...

    But in all seriousness, I’m not bothered by most dreams, it’s just that being the aggressor in violence is something I’ve resisted for a long time, and I wasn’t expecting my dreams to be so persistent in showing this urge was within me. But then my dad also said he had done things far more shocking in his own dreams, including killing his mother!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Sometimes it's your alter-ego, the 'dark side' of your subconscious temperament, expressing itself.
    One might be grateful that it confines its violent actions to the dream-state alone.... Obviously it is not sufficiently powerful to manifest during your waking hours; something you have achieved by cultivating a positive and skilful Mind-set.

    I'm having a coffee with your dad, as we speak, btw.... ;)

    Keromelobster
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