i wander the edges of Zen seeking a path forward. I do not always find that path, but I do often find an interesting story to share!
I do not remember my dreams the student said.
The Master often spoke of his sleeping dreams. He was sharing with his students the wonder and power of dreaming. He shared that with his class talking about dreams and why they were important. It was, one day after class, the Master had moved to his reflection place.
A student came to the Master and waiting for the Master to finish meditation; the Master acknowledged the Student. And the Student immediately asked the question. Master, I am struggling with sleep.
In the modern world, the Master could quickly say take a sleeping pill. There were many sleep aids, melatonin for eating broccoli before you go to bed. Answers are always easy. Questions are the hard thing, and the Master knew that. Instead of a fast answer, the Master asked the Student another question. No answers, simply another question in response to the Student's question. What about sleep? May she struggle?
The Student sat on the stool in the Master's room and said I fall asleep, but I don't remember my dreams.
The Master thought for a while. Perhaps a long time. Finally, the Master asked another question. Can you tell me how you go to sleep?
The Student looked confused, and the Master said, what do you do before you sleep?
A light came on in the Student's eyes, and they understood the Master's question now. First, I get a glass of water and put it by my cot in the case on Thursday night. Then I sit on the end of my cot, and I meditate. I think about all the things I've learned that day. And I tried to put each of them into a box carefully.
The Master thought for a moment. Why put your learnings into a box? The Master asked.
It helps me retrieve them later. The Student answered.
Off the Master replied. What do you do next?
Then I lay on my cot and fall asleep, the Student answered.
Do you set a thought before you fall asleep, the Master asked?
The Student thought for a moment, then shaking his head, sadly said, no master, I do not. I do not know-how.
The Master smiled and gently touched the Student on the shoulder. Then it is time to learn. The Master said, are you ready?
Yes, replied the Student I am ready.
Leave your mind the gift of a question before you sleep
Tonight, when you go to bed, do not put all your thoughts and learnings into a box. Leave one learning free. Let that learning form its questions in your brain. Let those questions fill you as you fall asleep. When you wake in the morning, you should remember your dreams.
Thank you, Master, for the Student, said. I will try that.
That day the Master's lesson was about dreams. The Student learned many things that day. The day began to wind down, and the Student was tired. As he went to his room, the Student thought to himself, " Why do I not remember my dream question? Are they so unremarkable, so playing that my brain stores them with the other lessons learned? He thought about that as he meditated. And then slowly as he lay in the cotton, he thought, why don't I remember my dreams? We fell asleep thinking that question.
The next morning the Student awoke and remembered his dream. He walked down to the Master's classroom, where the Master was preparing for the day. The Master saw him and said did you remember your dream?
Yes, I did, Student said.
Will you share the dream with me? The Master asked.
I dreamed that you were teaching a class on dreams. You said in that class that dreams don't appear until you are ready. In my dream, I meditated for a long time. I thought about the day that was, and I began to realize a question. A simple question that I could carry with me into sleep. It was then I realized I was ready for my dreams to stay with me. When I woke up, I remembered everything.
The Master smiled, and looking at the Student, said, that is good.
Our dreams, the Master said, paint a picture of the world around us. They are our connection to the unconscious. But in that connection, we must have a key for the door does not open both ways. And once opened, the door does not stay open. That is why when we go into the world of dreams, we must take a break. To connect our conscious and our unconscious self, find a question.
Close your eyes that you may dream. Let loose the bonds of now. Leave the world of now with a question. In the land of dreams, your mind and heart will churn that question, and when you awake, provide the answer to you with a beautiful dream memory.
© 2021 DocAndersen