Open to Suggestions

I am wandering through a large mansion with many rooms. Every nook and cranny is filled with stuff—books, nicknacks, old mantle clocks, toys in working order and disrepair, and people. Each person I encounter seems to be dealing with some sort of mental affliction. A man wearing a sad expression stands in one corner twitching and hopping in one spot. A woman sitting on the floor fiddles with trinkets and wears the blank stare of one who is lost and alone.

I suggest to other onlookers we should teach the man to dance. After some brief instruction, the man joyfully dances about with childlike glee. I suggest we offer the woman a string of prayer beads (mala) so she could focus her fiddling. As soon as her fingers begin moving the beads she starts to chant, exhibiting the radiant appearance of someone feeling at home and relaxed. I wake up in the dream a think this would be a good Dharma teaching and now I am writing this journal entry.

At some point in our lives we wander about in a kind of mess where we twitch and fiddle—going nowhere fast. We experience sadness and loss of direction. Inherent in the stasis of our “stuckness” is pure potential. Anything is possible. We only need a nudge to use what we already have in a more creative way. In the space of possibility we may be lucky enough to receive a suggestion. The question is, “Are we open to receive it?”

There is an old joke/spiritual teaching about a man sitting on his porch as flood waters rise. A boat passes by and the occupants invite the man to join them as they row to safety. The man says, “Do not worry. God will save me.” As the water rises, the man is now sitting on the roof. A motor boat approaches with another possibility to find safety. The man once again declines saying, “I will be okay. God will save me.”

Eventually, the man is standing on top of the chimney, barely able to keep from being swept away. A helicopter hovers overhead and drops a ladder. The man remains steadfast in his assertion that God will save him. As he is swept into the torrent and about to drown, he screams, “God, why have you abandoned me?” Out of the clouds a voice thunders, “Hell, I sent you two boats and helicopter!”

We may groan and laugh at the man’s faithful stupidity but what help or insights are we being offered—in this moment—that our arrogant ideology refuses to accept? Where are we stuck in our habitual tendencies? Perhaps we can look up from our digital devices, let the mind relax, surrender afflictive emotions and assumptions, and experience the possibility of now. Notice any suggestions?