A friend of mine from the Zen center is in prison and is given a death sentence. I and others of his friends read through the documents but don’t understand it all at first glance.
When I woke up following this dream, I took the opportunity to be with the experiences that came up, including a slight sense of dread. Allowing the experience gave a sense of softness around it and a sense of sweetness mixed in with the initial emotions. It then opened up and the experience shifted into a sense of a nurturing fullness, mixed in with some sadness and a sense of being sobered up.
After a few minutes, I explored how this is true for me. How am I already in a prison? In what way am I given a death sentence?
The most obvious is that I am already in a prison as soon as a take any story as true. I try to limit reality through a belief, and reality cannot be limited in that way. What is limited is how I filter experience and act in the world. (When I see this, it seems silly to take any story as true. It is a form of magical thinking, assuming that life will conform just because I want it to. Life is more kind than that.)
Also, I could say that I am in a “prison” since my senses are limited by biology, my views on the world is limited by the stories I am familiar with, my experiences are limited, and so on. But limited is not quite the same as a prison.
How is it true that I am given a death sentence?
Well, this life is a death sentence. What is born dies. The only difference from this life and a death sentence in prison is that I don’t know the date, so can pretend – for a while – I won’t die.
Also, any content of experience is born and dies, including this sense of a doer, observer, human self, identities, emotions, sensations, images, stories, this room, this house, everyone I know, this city, this country, the Earth as a whole, the universe as a whole, and so on.
And really, it is all born and dies instantaneously. It lasts for no time at all.
So I am already in prison in different ways. And what I take myself to be, and everything else, is born and dies continuously.
What happens when I feel that? When I allow that to sink in? When I take it in, with heart?
The end of the dream also points to what is here now. I read the documents about the case and the death sentence, but it is massive, in several quite different sections and formats, and I don’t quite understand it all.
So it is with my own prison and death sentence as well. I investigate what is here, but don’t understand it all. All I need to recognize is the prison and the death sentence, and some of the main dynamics of samsara.