Dream of: 11 March 1987 (2) "Key To The Church"
I had been invited to the back of a Christian church where some Buddhists were serving a meal. Given a plate, I sat down on the floor in the middle of the the room and began eating. When I was almost finished, I noticed that a number of the Buddhists were busily preparing a much larger meal and had set out perhaps 20-30 various types of food. I rather regretted having already eaten since the meal which the Buddhists were now preparing was obviously going to be much more inviting. As the Buddhists worked, I noticed how much they reminded me of Hari Krishnas, but I reflected that Buddhists were much more to my liking than Hari Krishnas.
As the Buddhists continued their preparations, I was finally asked to move over to the side of the room. After moving, I discovered beside my plate some pieces of what appeared to be chunks of processed meat containing bits of fat. A piece of what appeared to be dried ham was also on my plate. It suddenly occurred to me that unlike the Hari Krishnas, Buddhists did indeed eat meat. I thought the next time I spoke with my vegan friend Kim Leitel, I ought to bring the fact that Buddhists eat meat to Kim's attention. I had some doubts about completely removing meat from my diet and I took a bite out of the fatty meat. I didn't like it and I put it back down.
After I had finished eating, I lay down. I must have fallen asleep because when I looked up again, about ten people in white robes were sitting near me talking about Zen Buddhism and meditation. Someone spoke of speculation while meditating. They were also talking about me and about showing me how to meditate. I felt groggy, but I sat up and informed them that I had meditated before. I recalled having meditated years before with Lou Khourey (who had conducted meetings of the Zen Pyramid Society), then later in Zen groups in Dallas and in Paris. Yet I knew I still had only a rudimentary knowledge of meditation.
I crossed my legs, straightened my back, put my hands together in a typical Zen meditation pose and continued talking. I explained that contrary to what some people thought, meditating by oneself was possible. I told them that I considered myself to be a loner and that meditating by myself, therefore, came naturally to me. I also mentioned that when I meditated alone, I tended to meditate longer than when I was meditating in a group. Someone asked me how long I meditated and I told him that on the average the meditation lasted 25 minutes. Sometimes it was 20 minutes and sometimes 30.
However, I also noted that I did see certain benefits of meditating with others. For example, when I was alone, remaining completely motionless the entire time was more difficult. When I was with someone else, I was much more inclined to remain motionless while meditating, and I realized that motionlessness was an important part of meditation.
We finally all stood up for a part of their ceremony. Everyone stood in line and held hands with the next person. I was at the head of the line. We began moving in what amounted to a very slow folk dance. I had previously danced this folk dance, and although I was rusty, I could remember the steps.
When we finished, the group prepared to disperse, but I continued talking because I was interested in learning more about the group. I was surprised to learn that the group only met once every four months. I remembered how that even in Dallas at the Dallas Zen Center, someone had been at the Zendo every morning for group meditation. I concluded that this group of Zen Buddhists were rank amateurs and that none of these Buddhists really knew much about Zen Buddhism. Since I probably knew more than anyone else here, the others all seemed impressed by my knowledge.
It also seemed noteworthy that these activities were taking place in the back of a Christian church. It seemed to me, however, that Christianity and Buddhism were complementary and that they didn't need to be in conflict. I suggested to the Buddhists that they ought to try to start meeting every day. I said it was not necessary for everyone to come every day, but at least two people should be present. I emphasized the fact that there must be a least two people: one person alone could just as well stay home.
They seemed excited by the idea and someone immediately suggested that I be given a key to the place and that I should start coming every morning. I wasn't quite ready to commit myself to that, but I still wanted to talk more about it. One fellow said he had never met anyone like me. I told him to wait another ten years and he would surely meet someone as strange as me again.
After one fellow showed me the back door through which I could enter, we walked outside where I saw a house near the church. The fellow with me began talking about a girl who lived in the house next door and he said something about seeing her with hardly any clothes on out there sometimes. Then he actually pointed right at the girl, but I couldn't see her clearly.
He told me we were in Kansas. That surprised me because I had thought we were in West Virginia.
My attention was drawn to the area immediately behind the church. About 100 meters away was a very high, peculiar rock cliff. It looked as if people were climbing all over the cliff and as if some rock dwellings were built into the top of the cliff where people were living. I then realized that many children were sliding down the slippery sides of the cliff as if they were on a slide.
Suddenly I saw that some of the sliding children seemed to have lost control. They continued all the way to the bottom, still continued coming toward us and finally crashed through a wooden fence behind the church where some of the children fell into a concrete waterway. I raced to the children and saw that they were all climbing out unharmed. A stocky woman (probably in her 40s), however, had also fallen into the water. She was completely submerged and seemed unconscious. I jumped into the water and rescued her. It appeared she would survive.
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