Monday, October 17, 2011

a dream remembered

Somewhere along the line, the hip-pocket dissection of dreams entered my file box: Dreams depict what anyone might long for or anyone might fear. Which is which and how the two enfold themselves in the each other's confines is up for grabs. As I say, it is just a quickie definition, a footnote on some 3 x 5 card in my mind.

This morning as I woke I remembered (as I seldom do) dreaming of being in a large room crowded with people. They were seated on the floor facing in various directions and at the moment I remembered them, everyone stood up. They didn't seem to have any particular purpose, they just stood up and mingled. For some reason, I was still seated on the floor when Eido Shimano, a Zen teacher whose sometimes explosive depredations affected so many, passed by. I did not see him, but I saw the skirt of his tan robes and knew it was he passing to my right. The entire scene was largely without emotional impact -- not scary, not delightful, not pleasant or painful, not inviting or repulsive. It just was. And as Shimano passed me by, I heard him say, again without any particular emphasis, "We (meaning everyone in the room) are finished." And the statement struck me as reasonable.

I suppose I have as many longings and fears as the next fellow, but, once awake, I could not find any longing or fear in the dream, though I admit dreams are pretty sneaky in their abilities and directions and it is entirely possible that something 'deep-seated' was going on. Maybe I wished that what was so emotionally charged (there has been a lot of sturm und drang around Shimano over the past couple of years) would simply fade away into 'reasonableness.' Or maybe something else ... who knows ... maybe this, maybe that. It was just a dream and I was interested to remember it.

One of Shimano's favorite songs used to be  "The Impossible Dream," a paean to longing for the unattainable that was written for the 1965 musical "Man of La Mancha." The implication, as usual with him, was always that his followers should likewise take up such a dream ... which he, of course, had realized.


  1. I have always wondered what sturm und drang means. Please translate if you will.

  2. "Storm and stress" or "turbulence and urgency." Something along those lines.

  3. from

    Sturm und srang

    Sturm und Drang   [shtoorm oont drahng]
    a style or movement of German literature of the latter half of the 18th century: characterized chiefly by impetuosity of manner, exaltation of individual sensibility and intuitive perception, opposition to established forms of society and thought, and extreme nationalism.
    tumult; turmoil; upheaval.

  4. Interesting dream, thanks for sharing it.

    "We (meaning everyone in the room) are finished."

    Didn't you write something relatively recently about your teacher, Kyudo Nakagawa, Roshi, who did monastic training along side Eido Shimano at Ryutaku-ji in Japan? I couldn't find it quickly, but I am pretty sure you said that Nakagawa visited the Manhattan temple where Shimano was abbot. During this visit Nakagawa saw that a picture of Shimano was placed over a statue of a Buddha.

    Subsequently, Nakagawa had occasion to speak to you about this juxtaposition and Nakagawa said "I'm finished with him [i. e. Shimano]."

    In the context of traditional Rinzai Zen Buddhist practice for Shimano to place or allowed the someone else to place his picture above a statue of the Buddha would be considered an extremely serious instance of grossly egotistical behavior. Quite possibly Nakagawa perceived this as a even greater breach than bedding or attempting to bed numerous female students. This incident may have in fact been Nakagawa's last straw, or it gave Nakagawa an opportunity to express his feelings to you about your former teacher, or was an attempt to help you get past your own feeling, perhaps all of the above.

    It could be that the words, images and feelings in your dream somehow resonate with the incident you earlier described. Indicative of some further healing, or putting it behind you emotionally? Unfortunately, it may mean the opposite as well, that there is still a deep well of emotion regarding Shimano. After all how long did it take before Shimano's teacher, Soen Roshi, expressed his moral outrage about Shimano in public? But even Soen's public outrage and denouncement did not do any good in changing Shimano's behavior or in changing the minds of Shimano's enablers. It seems that all the recent wave (NY Times, letters from Zen Teachers, "forced" retirement) has not had much effect on Shimano personally in that he still has not take publicly admitted ownership and responsibility for for his ethical breaches much less making a commitment to atone for the breaches.

    In the end it does it just come down to "I'm finished with him."

    Just a thought.....

  5. Ziggy -- Your memory is pretty good. Kyudo told me of visiting Sho Bo Ji (Shimano's NYC lair) on two occasions. During one of them, he was pointedly seated at the rear of the zendo. During the other, he noted to picture of Eido above the Buddha statue on the main altar. After telling me this, he said simply, "I am finished with him (Shimano)."

    Many of your speculations on the impact/import of the dream crossed my mind as well. I have no clue whether it indicated healing or bleeding, but the tone of the "we are finished" was not emotionally packed one way or the other in the dream. It was more like announcing that some activity (a gathering of Tupperware enthusiasts, eg.) had come to a close... an almost-redundant remark, since everyone had already risen.