Last night I had a dream that I was eating at a restaurant, and a man pulled out a machine gun and started threatening people. Sensing that he was about to spray bullets around the room at random diners, I ducked out the back before the massacre could take me down. I jumped over fences and raced away as fast as I could—in fear that the mindless killer might be in pursuit behind me. As is often the case, I don't remember how the dream ended, but when I woke up, I reflected on the content.
On a related note, I've had many flying dreams. Some of them are recreational and fantasy-like, but others involve me trying to escape, like when a policeman is chasing me. In last night's dream, I wasn't able to fly, probably because I didn't lucidly realize that my experience was a malleable dream. In any case, in my morning reflection on the REM extravaganza, I thought: What a coward I was! I should have tried to disarm the shooter and save other people. I should have invoked magical powers and been fearless. I should have not been afraid.
In The Secrets of Wilder, the hero John is able to do just that—use magical powers (siddhis) to stop a perpetrator from hurting one of his loved ones. John's tale of enlightenment has other superhero and comic book qualities, but there is plenty of normalcy in the story too.
My personal life hasn't yet had any superhero benchmarks. It's mainly been a comedy of errors that has played out against the backdrop of the grand miracle of life itself. But hey, there's still plenty of time, and there's got to be room for me to attain superhero status. I just need to find my proper uniform and a solid nickname, then it will be game on.
But, going back to my dream of terror, and my cowardice, it was certainly in line with events that have been unraveling on the global stage of waking consciousness as of late. No need to mention any particular instances; there are plenty being reported in the mass media on a regular basis.
The comic strip character Pogo famously said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." What a simple, profound, and humorous quip that is. It points to the truth. The promise of enlightenment is to see one's self in everyone and everything. That means that the so-called enemies are still reflections of Self. Or, to quote another character from the Vietnam War film Platoon: "I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us."
So, whether it's in a dream, or on the news, or right in front of me, I am confronted by myself everywhere I turn. There's no escaping the fact that my "self" is beyond Cody. And yet, Cody still remains, for a little while. So it makes sense to align and merge him with the rest of the Big Self, while there's still a chance. And besides, I don't have any better ideas.
When it comes to confronting terror, samyama is a helpful tool. Any negative thought, feeling, person, place or thing can be dropped in stillness, released, and transformed into something better. It's a morally self-regulating practice that relies on surrender to the divine within us.
There's also a Buddhist practice called tonglen, which takes a radical approach to suffering by grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak. Suffering is breathed in directly, and liberation is breathed back out into the atmosphere. The inner light filters and transforms the darkness. On my recovery website, I have listed a similar practice of my own design called meeting in the middle. Meeting in the middle came to me as a way to endure the often rocky emotions and energy of AA meetings. I've been using it for a couple years now with good success.
Godspeed, and good luck.
The higher power is in us.