Dream: 20Jan2021

I don’t normally share dreams unless there is a story or a context behind them, but the one I had just before midnight (I woke up, as I am prone to doing, for no apparent reason at all, which is why I know the time) seemed noteworthy enough to toss it out there in case someone feels there is meaning to it worth reflecting on. This one seemed to have a message and I’m not sure what exactly it meant.

Maybe I’ll continue to share these when they pop up. Like I said, most of them are nightmares or utter nonsense. This one felt more lucid.

In this particular sequence, the first part I recall is opening the door to a windowed storefront and walking inside a martial arts school. One of the walls was on my left, and the workout space opened to the right. Students were practicing their sword katas — some with live swords, some with bokken (wood swords), some with partners, some working on solo katas, some working on drawing the sword (iai). They were oblivious of my entrance.

About half-way into the space, I was greeted by the sensei. We exchanged bows.

“How can I help you?” he asked.

I pointed to the students practicing. “I want to learn sword forms. Like those students.”

He glanced over and let his gaze linger on the students, then gave a small dismissive gesture. “You don’t want to be like those students. Practice, practice, practice and they will still never get it completely right. They practice because they can’t touch the essence. A true swordsman is not a swordsman, he moves the way he moves because it is the right way to move at that time — not because he practices.”

“What do you mean? Don’t you want me to be a student?”

“No,” he said firmly. “I don’t want you as a student. I have enough students.”

I turned to leave.

“I’m not done,” he added and I turned back to face him.

“Let me demonstrate,” he said and gestured for someone to roll out a large, solid box. He put his hands on it, preparing to push.

“Stop me from pushing this box.”

I assumed a similar stance and braced myself. Then he pushed.

No matter how I stood, strained, or tried to get leverage, he was able to push me backwards. I felt it was some trick, because it seemed effortless to him and, indeed it was. For, he stood back and the box kept pushing me backward no matter how much I strained to stop it.

“This is the essence,” he said as I was shoved backwards. “It is qi. Moving with qi, all things are possible.” He stopped pushing. “These students”, he waved his hand in their direction cannot grasp the qi and move with it. And so, they must practice and try to emulate the qi. But is is mere play-acting. Even the best can be defeated with a stick of bamboo and qi, no matter the sharpness of their swords or technique.”

I pushed against the box with my arms and legs. It refused to move.

Pissed off, I pushed harder and harder until I felt myself reaching inside for something and then the box slowly moved towards the sensei. I relaxed my muscles and pushed again, but with that part of me inside.

At first the sensei seemed surprised, then he smiled and focused on the box, and it stopped.

I pushed harder and harder with that strength I found within and the box went flying in his direction.

“You have found the essence,” he said, solemnly. “You, I can show the path.”

I bowed. “Thank you sensei. This was a valuable lesson”.

He gestured for be to go into a back room, where the dream devolved into a chaotic bit of nonsense involving trying to tie gymnasts into bows while renfest barbarians drank and chanted shanties.

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