Yesterday I had a vivid, cinematic dream in which I was more viewer than participant.
It began with a montage of old sepia toned film clips-- one of which featured a lion tamer on stilts in a darkened circus ring. The tamer has his back to the lioness. He loses his balance and begins stumbling backwards towards the lion, sitting calmly on her pedestal. In a flash the lioness lashes out her paws, swiftly and effortlessly snapping the tamer's neck before he even realizes he's fallen within her grasp.
The montage stops. A new scene opens on a wide expanse of green field. I am outside, it is warm and bright under the midday sun. In the distance, I see a lion in the field. Slowly, the camera pulls out, revealing a tall chain link fence enclosing this field. The camera pans along the fence perimeter. A figure is standing on the outside of the enclosure. It is an aged (but not ancient) buddhist monk, clad in saffron robes. He is expressionless, yet somehow comforting. The camera pans to his left, and I see that directly in front of where he is standing, the chain link fence is broken in a four-foot gap of twisted metal. I gasp. Instantly I realize there is NOTHING separating the lion in the field and this solitary monk. I scream inside my head: "RUN! RUN! GET AWAY FROM THERE!" In my mind I envision the distant lion bounding towards the man. I panic. Can't he see the fence is compromised?? Why isn't he running away??? Yet the monk stares back at me, unconcerned.
Calmly and slowly he walks away from the fence towards some grass nearby. I'm overwhelmed with anticipation that any second that lion will emerge and there will be nothing to stop what may come. But the monk carries on, seemingly oblivious to the impending danger.
He takes out a deep blue blanket and lays it on the grass.
The final scene of the dream is in the form of an illustration, as if from a book.
White background. Birds eye view of the blue blanket and the peacefully sleeping monk. Curled up beside him is the sleeping lion (which has become a tiger). Together they are Yin and Yang.
I awake, the image lingering in my mind's eye.
This dream is so odd. So abstract and yet specific. I can't shake the feeling that it is trying to tell me something-- that encoded within the imagery and loose narrative is a message I need to hear.
The message I have found is this:
The monk was not unafraid. He knew the natural danger and threat presented by the lion and the faulty fence. But he also knew he could not control what may or may not happen to him. He acknowledges the existence of his fear, but behaves despite it. In so doing, he has mastered his fear and attained inner peace.
Only by accepting the existence of lions (or tigers) in our world can we find peace within it, and within ourselves.