Sunday, January 27, 2013

Waking up

Greetings all, I am taking the blog back from the cats -- call it a guest column since they've been the ones posting over the past few years. I've struggled with finding things to say. Everyone duck. I found something after a dream I had last night. This is the dream: Some other people and I were giving a class or presentation to jail inmates, both men and women. Some of it had to do with Plato, whom I read way way back in college about forty years ago. The people were very interested in what we were there to do. We were in a cluster of small cities at a location about three hours' drive from where I live. The custody staff/supervisors were courteous but one of them, a tall stocky man with light hair, got right up to me and questioned me about the fact that I was staying in the area by putting my family's white tent up in the middle of a park. He said it was dangerous out there. I told him I was very comfortable and felt perfectly safe and knew it was a good place. I remember the face of one of the women. All the jailed people were interested in varying degrees in what we were doing. She stood out. She was slight, frazzled, and shaky, looking strung out, scars of struggles with addiction and being a victim, and needy. We were partly there to teach them life skills for when they got out, or to provide them somehow with a way to help themselves move on. The dream gets harder to recall here. We finished up, I went somewhere to eat, and then drove the three hours' drive home. When I got home I realized I'd left the tent and all my camping stuff behind in the park instead of going back to get it and pick it up and pack it back with me. I thought hard about what I should do: Go back right away and spend another six hours on the road? Wait till the next day? Or give it up and replace the items? That the gear might be stolen was simply not much of a worry; it still felt "safe". I work with incarcerated youth and some adults for a living, being a criminal defense lawyer. I have done this for 25 years. So it is not surprising that a dream took on this setting. What's different -- including being able to see through this clearly to a meaning -- is that elements from my recently intensified interest in Western Mystery Traditions and their schools came into play. It came to me that some involved in teaching traditions see their programs as liberating others who are imprisoned by their self limiting mindsets, who think they are stuck because of outer circumstances and their own screwups, and want to help free people and give them tools to open into a more joyous and full life with expanded abilities. That was the picture presented to me. Then I thought: People could easily see this as condescending. And I also thought: Perhaps that is a trap some teachers fall into; it would be easy to do. But also, assuming that's the only mindset of a teacher would be a trap a student could easily fall into. Both teacher and student need to work around these traps. And teaching and learning should never be a two way street. Plato's cave comes to mind, too. For brevity's sake I commit the offense of quoting Wikipedia: "Plato lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners." So what about the tent? I can only conclude that message is the oh-so-basic one that when you set up a safe place as a base (camp) -- such as in magical working within circle or astral temple -- duh! remember to take it down and take it with you after you get done. Ordinarily my dreams are not as clear. This one kept unfolding in layers. Eventually I will return the blog to the cats, who probably know all this already but wink and keep silent.