A Dream of RosesEK ONG KAAR KAUR
For some reason, I have the type of mind that conceives or receives wisdom in dreams.
Back in high school, something happened. I cannot remember the circumstances exactly. But some disappointment that created the type of angst and railing against the unfairness of the world that teenagers are prone to fall into.
After crying myself to sleep one afternoon, I fell into a strange dream. Not the usual kind of subconscious dream, that comes and goes nonsensically, and maybe you remember a portion of it upon waking - a twisted, inverted version of reality like an Escher painting.
But a true dream, a clear dream. Like a communication from the Divine to the soul, without any distortions in the way.
In the dream, I was walking in an absolutely barren landscape. Dry sand all around, burning hot sun. There was nothing green, no beauty anywhere. And I felt a sense of despair.
Up ahead, in the distance, there was a fork in the road. The fork to the left continued flat, empty and dry, except for one single rose bush. The fork to the right became a steep hill - with no rose bushes at all. Blasted by the heat, and nothing to do but climb.
Of course, I wanted to take the fork to the left. It may have been empty and the same as the road I was walking now, but at least there would be a moment of beauty.
As I approached the fork, a tall, dark figure commanded the cross roads. He was ominously dressed in long, flowing black robes and his face was completely hidden. You might consider him the image of Fate. He blocked my path and would not let me take the left fork where the rose bush lay waiting. Instead, he kept wordlessly pointing to the road to the right.
I stood there, stubborn, arguing with him. But I want to go this way, I told him. I want to go where the rose bush is. I want to go where there is at least a moment of beauty, a moment of love. I do not want to walk up this steep difficult hill.
I pleaded with him. I cried. I employed my best powers of persuasion. But the cloaked figure said nothing, and gave no inch. He blocked my path to the left and would only point to the path to the right, insisting that I follow his instructions.
Finally, I gave up and gave in. I bowed my head and continued on my journey, taking the right road. Climbing the steep hill, my eyes kept going back to the single rose bush along the left path, over and over again, until it faded in the distance.
The right path continued for a while. And of course, it took extra effort to climb it. No beauty. Just barren and hot and empty. But eventually, the hill came to its peak. As I reached the top, and turned to begin the descent, my eyes were filled with wonder.
Because on the other side of that hill was a lush, green valley, moist and beautiful, crowded with rose bushes of every shape and color.
That dream came to me when I was 16 years old. But it has been a core teaching for me my entire life.
There are times in life when we see something that we long for. A moment of beauty and grace in a scorched and barren world. And even though the image of that experience may be within sight, even though the road seems perfectly visible to us, something - the hand of Fate, the cycle of Karam, the twist of time, blocks the path.
It is human. To fight, to argue, or cajole, or throw a tantrum with the Powers that Be. To think that what I see is all there is to see. And don‘t I know best, the road I should walk? Shouldn‘t I have a say in it, some choice, to go towards that momentary touch of beauty?
But I have learned over the years that the hand of Fate knows what it is doing. Because the fact is, I do not and cannot see all there is to see. The panorama of time, the journey of the soul across the lifetimes and centuries, is a path that none of us can see clearly for ourselves. And like a labyrinth that teases you with coming close to the way out, only to twist you back, far away from your destination, the soul‘s progress also depends upon a strange balance of challenge and triumph.
Of illusion and clarity. Of thinking you see and you know.
But actually - no. You don‘t. And the Cosmic Flow is taking you where you need to go, even if you don‘t like it, or don‘t understand why.
I have learned to trust that when the Divine chooses to give me the steep hill to climb, a gift that I cannot see or imagine waits on the other side. A single rose bush, for a moment, in a barren land, does not require much effort. A valley filled with roses and beauty and love asks you to sweat for it.
As I come into middle age, I am on a spiral of consciousness to face that challenge. To set aside the yearning for what I see, and be willing to obey Fate and walk the more difficult road to what cannot be known.
We come in love. And if we are very blessed, in our last breath, we will leave in love. But the journey from entry to exit is a tricky one. And the question is - can we keep coming back to the consciousness of love, of kindness, of the heart, no matter how our path unfolds? Can we continue to touch the light inside us no matter what direction Fate chooses to send us?
In today‘s world, the challenges to living in the consciousness of love keep growing. In fact, it seems we have entered an age where anger and fear, and the hate it engenders, has become the norm.
In the United States, the repeated violence against black people by white police officers, or against turbaned men by thugs in the streets, shows us that we still have so far to go as a society dedicated to the ideal of equality among all people.
I look at the world today and compare it to my youth. We saw all the problems emerging then. The environmental disasters. The growing human population and poverty. The need to heal issues of race.
But we have never had the political will to make the tough decisions. The decision to operate the world based on a model where we are here to take care of each other, to serve each other, to live for each other. Rather than to rape, conquer and exploit each other.
As the siren cry of hate, anger, blame and shame seems to be increasing, it becomes even more incumbent on those who wish to walk in Spirit to not get caught by it. Whether in public ways or private relationships. And as each of one of us gets tested - by our core wounds, our hidden shadows, the unfinished business of our karams (deeds and consequences) - I think this dream is helpful to share.
That sometimes we need to climb that steep hill, difficult and barren, to get to the rich, deep beauty on the other side. Not simply to do what we have always done for a temporary moment of respite before the same road continues.
In my own life, the Universe has decided to take me into the incomplete shadows of my psyche and deal with the part of my karmic story that has not yet found healing. And when I look at what is happening on the world stage, I see the same issues. The shadow of humanity is becoming more and more apparent - because there is a great need to face it and heal it.
This is part of what it means to be a spiritual warrior. Not only to face the enemies without. But to be willing to face the enemies within. The double edged sword of truth has to cut both ways. And I sincerely believe it is by facing and making peace with our own shadow that we truly have the chance to bring more light to the world.
With race-based violence, this is especially pertinent right now. For those in the US, outraged over Alton Sterling‘s death, what is the most important thing we can do? Get honest with ourselves about our own racism - blatant or subtle - and be willing to change and transform it from the inside.
Some of you may be confounded by what seems to be happening in the world today - the latest tragedy being yesterday’s massacre in Nice, France! - or challenged by what may be unfolding in your inner reality.
Together, we can keep walking up that steep hill and as Guru Nanak says - do the hard work of simran. Of facing and clearing the junk in our subconscious minds. So that one day, with a shining face, we can help others along.
And trust that by walking in faith, and sweating through the bleakness, the gifts of prosperity, of beauty, of grace and of love, live on the other side.
July 15, 2016
Conversation about this article
1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), July 15, 2016, 1:45 PM.
On the hand of fate, Guru Nanak in Ramkali [GGS:937] - "Laikh n mityee ...". That is, "O friend, the record of deeds cannot be effaced. They are recorded by the One". Human nature is generally hidden. Mostly the desire to act comes suddenly in the heart and at times it becomes too weak to resist.
2: Bhupinder Singh (Sugar Land, Texas, USA), July 21, 2016, 8:32 AM.
Beautiful, soulful writing. A bouquet of roses.
3: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), July 26, 2016, 11:09 PM.
Your dream is interesting. Thanks for sharing. There are numerous studies on the nature and effects of dreams. Similarly there are many verses in the Guru Granth Sahib that use dreams as metaphors to make a number of points. Usually, the dream contents represent the subconscious desires that we wish to be fulfilled. But the precociousness suppresses them. So a wish in a dream may be disguised. Only an individual getting a dream can analyze it as to what may it mean under particular circumstances.