dragons and home central heating systems
On account of my daydreaming for part of the time, what follows is a distorted version of a talk given by Rev Myoho in Preston at the abode of Madeleine Chappell. The original talk was based on four pictures of the Dragon with Kanzeon, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, illustrating the process of meditation. Here is my interpretation of it with apologies to Rev Myoho.Picture One: This seemed to simply introduce the elements of water, dragon and Kanzeon. Water represents the medium through which we know reality. Dragon, not too prominent at this stage, represents something terrible we all have to face; and Kanzeon represents serene compassion. It was at this point that I began to daydream that I was approaching a well with the intention of peering into it. Initially, the water appears a little unsettled, but becomes gradually more peaceful as I continue to peer into it. This represents the first stage of meditation.
Picture Two: Although the water is less stormy here, the dragon emerges as a prominent feature. Continuing to stare at the well water as it settles, I see how one may be lulled into thinking that this is the stillness that is the goal of meditation; but, as the water settles, it becomes transparent. Concentrating less on the water itself, I begin to see through it to where something large and dark is lurking beneath its surface, and I fear what it might be. As it rises to the surface, it gradually becomes more visible, illustrating how the stillness of meditation removes the defences as well as the distractions in our life; and it isn`t just the external threats to which we become exposed; we become more vulnerable to those internal threats we had previously tried to hide and ignore. Our delightfully peaceful spot is becoming a place where we would sooner not be.
Picture Three: Here the water is violent and extremely stormy, and the dragon is fully present, thrashing in the water, whilst Kanzeon stands calmly by holding a branch from a willow tree. Rev. Myoho tells us plainly that this branch represents the power of healing, no doubt to be used on the dragon... At this point in my daydream the dragon was beginning to pull itself out of the well. As it struggled to get out, the water became a black, seething turmoil, impossible to see through. It would seem at this point that the peaceful meditation exercise was responsible for creating a personal hell. Standing in the presence of such a dragon, an undesirable truth about ourselves, seems to be both impossible and highly undesirable. In my daydream I was convinced that I would die. In this stage of meditation our restlessness and distraction are but an unconscious way to avoid sitting in the first place. It is the stage in which we learn why we didn`t wish to sit previously and the cause of our avoidance is now in full view. A seemingly crazy choice now presents itself: we can either run or sit here and die...
Picture Four: This shows Kanzeon riding a now tamed dragon to a land over the sea, which promises to be the stillness we had initially set out to attain. Dragons will not disturb the stillness of this land. On the contrary, it is a land that can only be reached by the flight of a dragon. For anyone to reach there, a dragon must take them... Funnily enough, this is not a stage I have first hand experience of. However, through expectation and imagination, I did ponder on what the fourth stage of my daydream might consist of. Realising now that the dragon has stayed put long enough to reveal its scales, the hero in a sense, gives up; he is tired of running. Perhaps he still loathes and fears the dragon, but now his conscience would pain him if he stuck to his old strategy of running away. Although he is not yet used to the dragon, he has given up and wishes not to care. Through this state he endures the dragon long enough to learn about its identity and realises that, far from being an externally imposed force of darkness, it`s a product of his own condition. The teeth no longer seem meant for eating him, but just happen to look like that from many years of eating canned food. The scales, far from being deliberately worn in preparation for an assault, turn out to exist for the sole purpose of defence; and his horns turn out not to be for the purpose of gorging others, but simply as adjuncts for the purpose of keeping on a helmet to protect his skull. In short, we learn that the nature of the dragon is not based on the designs for evil, but is the inevitable result of a harsh life. The dragon needs to possess such nature, and we don`t have to pretend that it isn`t fearsome (it is!), nor would we excuse it for devouring any of our friends. However, we cannot find it in our hearts to condemn it to the lance as an evil entity worthy of annihilation, because we now know something about why it is the way it is. We can now understand the nature of its apparent evil as both inevitable and neutral. In accepting this its presence becomes more bearable and constructive dealings with our dragon can now begin. That which was once an enemy now becomes an associate and perhaps even a useful part of our future nature. Either way, we begin realise that it was not the dragon that caused the thrashing waters, but ourselves - by our attempts to run away from it...
An idea for the future: Has anyone written anything on Befriending Dragons?
Karl McNeil Preston
from Now And Zen - August 2000