Dream: I am a young black man at university

I am a young black student at a university in the US. I get the sense it’s the 1950s. In a math class in the first semester, I do far better on the exams than the white teachers expect. They are convinced I cheated but can’t prove it, so they make me take the class again. Again, I do very well and they assume I cheated. They consider their options, which is to make me take it for the third time or expel me from the university. I beg them to sit down to me, ask me to explain how I would solve the different types of math questions, and see me work it out. That way, they can easily see that I can do it. It will give them peace of mind, and it will allow me to move on.

I seem to be able to remember dreams again.

SHIFTING SURFACE IDENTITIES

In this dream, I am someone different from my identity in waking life. That, in itself, is a reminder of my more fundamental nature. To myself, I am not fundamentally this particular human self with these particular identities. The surface identities are more fluid than that, and I can be any number of other people and beings in my dreams, and during visions. (In this dream, and in some visions, my waking life identity is completely gone.) More fundamentally, I am something else. I am what it all happens within and as.

WAKING LIFE

In terms of waking life, it reflects a recurrent theme: Someone assumes something (wrong) about me, and whatever I say or do doesn’t help. It happened several times in school when other kids would tell the teachers I did something I hadn’t done, I got called into the principal’s office, and I didn’t even know what he was talking about. My brother did the same with my parents, who believed him and not me. And it has happened several times since then too, with other people.

In some cases, I contribute to the situation by not telling people something relevant about me in advance, and also not doing much if anything to clear up the misunderstanding. If someone misunderstands something about me, I typically – at least in the past – don’t say much if anything to correct it. (For instance, when I joined a nondual spiritual group in Oregon, I didn’t tell them anything about my background. They assumed I was a novice, and kept assuming it while I was active with them. When I shared a link to this blog with a teacher I met with regularly, he seemed upset and assumed I had taken the content from somewhere else.)

Why haven’t I spoken up? A few things come up. There is a part of me that enjoys seeing how the minds of others work, and they seem invested in a certain story for whatever reason. I also don’t like to appear to want to present myself in a good light, even if it involves correcting a misconception. In my childhood, it happened several times people had strong ideas about me based on what someone else had said, and whatever I said to correct it didn’t work. (My brother and his friends would blame me, much younger than them, for what they had done, and my parents believed them and not me. Students at school would blame something on me, and I got called into the principal’s office for something I hadn’t even heard about.) My experience is that it doesn’t work.

More to the point, all of this is in me. These dynamics happen in me. How do I not listen to myself? When don’t I trust and believe in myself? I can find many examples of that. I remember several times when my inner guidance was clear, and I chose to do something else – usually out of fear of losing the love and approval of others. I didn’t listen to myself and lived the consequences. (Some examples: Moving to Wisconsin after my initial marriage and leaving my graduate studies, my Zen community, my friends, and a place I deeply loved and felt at home. Not telling my partner I have studied architecture at a graduate level so she dismissed my design proposal for our tiny house.)

In the dream, I do speak up. I am standing up to myself, eventually. I propose a solution that may work for everyone.

ALL PARTS OF THE DREAM MIRROR SOMETHING IN ME

All parts of the dream mirror something in me. It all comes out of and happens within and as the consciousness I am. Also, everything in the world in general mirrors something in me.

The young black man faces discrimination, just like my system (it’s more than just my psyche) discriminates against parts of me. He represents parts of my shadow, and he is brilliant and goes to university. By not including that part of me, and other parts in the shadow, I miss out on a lot of brilliance. More to the point, I miss out on being more real, authentic, and human, and on the rich diversity in me. I miss out on experiencing the fullness of me. I miss out on perspectives that can help me understand myself and others.

I am spending time with my birth family these days, and there are dynamics there I assume are partly in my shadow. There are things my personality doesn’t particularly like, I see it more in them than in myself, and there is a richness there if I can embrace it more in myself. If I can find more peace with it, and also acknowledge it in myself.

What does he represent, more specifically? I am not quite sure. He is someone who is brilliant, and his brilliance is not recognized because it’s not in the form that’s expected and approved by mainstream white society. My mainstream orientation doesn’t approve of or recognize the brilliance of something in me because it’s not in the expected or desired form. I’ll have to be with that for a while to see what comes up.

THE ESSENCE

What’s the essence here? I can find a few:

One is to speak up for myself. In what situations do I not do it? How can I do it more?

Another is to listen to and believe in myself, which in this case means my inner guidance.

And yet another is to keep an eye out for parts of me I disown, dismiss, and overlook, and see how it is to include it more fully. What do I see in others, that’s not in the package my personality prefers, that’s secretly brilliant and I can find in myself? Right now, what do I see in my birth family?

Stand up for myself. Listen to my inner guidance. What’s brilliant in others, in a form I don’t like, and how can I embrace it in myself and them?

The two first are ongoing for me, so I may spend more time with the third right now.

EXPLORING DREAMS

When I explore my dreams, I usually do it in a few different ways.

I look at what it mirrors in my waking life. I look at all elements of the dream as reflecting parts of me. I look for any other insights or dynamics that can be interesting. (In this case, a different surface identity points to what I more fundamentally am.)

I sense into it. I look at what I felt as I woke up and what associations I had. I may dialog with elements or beings in the dream. I may take on their role and see what comes up.

I find the essence of it for me, expressed in a simple sentence as a reminder, and see how it is to bring that into daily life.

In general, I like to sense and feel into it and approach it viscerally although it’s obviously interpreted and expressed in words here.

UPDATE: THE BRILLIANCE IN TRAUMA

I have spent some time with: What’s brilliant in my birth family that my personality doesn’t particularly like? And how can I embrace it in myself and them?

What I see is that even their hangups – their issues and traumas – are brilliant. They were formed early in life to deal with a difficult life situation. They have kindness and intelligence in them. (Even if they now bring suffering.) How is it to viscerally get it?

That’s beautiful to notice. It’s beautiful because it’s true, and it heals something to recognize it. It shifts how I relate to it in myself and them.

I have seen and felt this when I have explored my own issues and traumas. They are here to protect me. Their essence is love and a kind of wisdom. They were the best my system could come up with at the time and in the situation when they were created. There is innocence and even beauty in it, even as they also create suffering. There is beauty and wisdom in the suffering too. It’s the motivation to later examine the issues, invite them to unwind, and find another way that works better now.

How is it to not only see and feel that with my own issues and traumas, but also theirs? How is it to stay with it, let it work on me, and transform something in me?

Image by me and Midjourney


INITIAL DRAFT

I seem to be able to remember dreams again.

This dream brings up a recurrent theme in my life: Someone assumes something (wrong) about me, and whatever I say or do doesn’t help. It happened several times in school when other kids would tell the teachers I did something I hadn’t done, I got called into the principal’s office, and I didn’t even know what he was talking about. My brother did the same with my parents, who believed him and not me. And it has happened several times since then too, with other people.

In some cases, I contribute to the situation by not telling people something relevant about me in advance, and also not doing much if anything to clear up the misunderstanding. If someone misunderstands something about me, I typically – at least in the past – didn’t say anything to correct it. (For instance, when I joined a nondual spiritual group in Oregon, I didn’t tell them anything about my background. They assumed I was a novice, and kept assuming it while I was active with them. When I shared a link to this blog with a teacher I met with regularly, he seemed upset and assumed I had taken the content from somewhere else.)

It also mirrors something in me. The young black man faces discrimination, just like my system (it’s more than just my psyche) discriminates against parts of me. He represents parts of my shadow, and he is brilliant and goes to university. By not including that part of me, and other parts in the shadow, I miss out on a lot of brilliance. More to the point, I miss out on being more real, authentic, and human, and on the rich diversity in me. I miss out on experiencing the fullness of me. I miss out on perspectives that can help me understand myself and others.

….

I have spent some time with: What’s brilliant in my birth family that my personality doesn’t particularly like? And how can I embrace it in myself and them?

What I see is that even their hangups – their issues and traumas – are brilliant. They were formed early in life to deal with a difficult life situation. They have kindness and intelligence in them. (Even if they now bring suffering.) How is it to viscerally get it?

That’s beautiful to notice. It’s beautiful because it’s true, and it heals something to recognize it. It shifts how I relate to it in myself and them.

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