A couple of years ago I had a very striking dream that in the years since has really taken on meaning for me. Anyone I’ve told it to has said I should write it down and make it available to everyone. But I’ve never gotten around to doing that, and today seems like a good time.
During the day I had been thinking about my friend Mike, who was having trouble raising money for a foundation he was involved in. I hadn’t seen or spoken with him in quite a while, and I had been wondering how he was doing. That night I had a dream in which I saw him and someone I didn’t recognize walking on a sort of flat plain with hills in the distance. It was if they were walking in a museum diorama or stage set: the ground and the hills behind were all one piece, so to speak—self-contained. What struck me the most was the color of the place and of the light: the whole scene was dark reddish black—not a pleasant sort of place at all.
While I was watching Mike and his friend I came to the realization that I was standing beneath something: I looked up and realized that I was standing under a very large elephant. The elephant was also reddish black, and it was chained to the scene through which Mike and his friend were walking: not chained “in” the scene, but chained “to” the scene; or perhaps the scene was chained to the elephant. I realized that the elephant was Ganesha.
About the time I became aware of Ganesha, he became aware of me and he started kicking at me and trying to step on me. I hollered at him, “hey, I’m your friend, I’m on your side” but that didn’t seem to matter: he kept kicking at me, and finally reached around with his trunk and knocked me down beneath him. I started rolling around, trying to get away from him, trying to get away from his feet and his trunk. He slapped me with his trunk and knocked me forward, under his head. As I lay beneath him I could see his face: his eyes where almost delirious, he was frothing at the mouth, and his mouth was full of huge teeth like a crocodile. I tried to roll away from him, hoping he would hit the end of his chain, and as I did so he slapped me once more with his trunk, knocking me out of his range.
As I lay there I realized I was far enough away from him that he couldn’t reach me. That was a relief. I suddenly noticed a movement and presence above my left shoulder: a very large snake, golden and about the size of a large adult python, or perhaps larger, was pushing itself under my left shoulder and starting to work its way under and around me. I half woke up from the dream and put my hand under my side on my bed, checking to see if there wasn’t in fact an actual snake in bed with me. But there wasn’t, and I remember thinking, “oh good, it’s a spiritual snake” at which point I went back into the dream. The large snake wrapped itself around me several times and I realized it was healing and protecting me, so I felt safe and cared for. But I wanted more snakes, so I started calling snakes from everywhere. And snakes came from everywhere: across the ground, from under the ground, out of the sky. I kept calling for more and more snakes until I wound up being at the bottom of a huge mound of snakes, snakes piled as high on top of me as a pile of snakes can possibly be piled.
I lay there under the snake pile feeling protected and safe, and being healed from my encounter with Ganesha. In the safety of my snake pile I began to think about what had happened: what was wrong with Ganesha. I realized that his rage was completely blind: that anyone within range would get hit, friend or foe it didn’t matter. Why? Then I could hear his thoughts, see his thoughts. I saw his thoughts of the earth: lots of anonymous gray-suited business people walking around on the earth, devouring it; and I heard his thoughts: that he had to destroy them at all costs, that they had to go, and that he wasn’t going to stop until he’d accomplished that goal. I realized that the destruction would come from within them: that they would both destroy each other and they’d destroy themselves individually. And I realized that Ganesha’s rage would go on for as long as it went on, until he was through.
Ganesha’s rage was completely impersonal and it affected everyone, friend or foe. And it manifested as destructive and self-destructive actions in everyone, friend or foe. The snakes are the protection from Ganesha’s rage: the snakes are grace, spiritual protection, spiritual armor. Everyone will feel and be subject to Ganesha’s rage, but the snakes, the grace, are the buffer and the safety net, the armor and the healing.
In the two years since that dream a lot has happened in the world. Every time I think of the financial crisis I think of Ganesha’s rage; every time I think of the current Gulf oil spill, I think of Ganesha’s rage; every time I hear of a suicide I think of Ganesha’s rage. And I think of taking refuge under my pile of snakes: the snakes won’t change what’s happening in the world, or even what’s happening in my world—they can’t change Ganesha. But the snakes will protect me from getting lost in what’s happening, and will heal me when I need healing.
So—find your snakes, find your grace, and take refuge there whenever you need to. And remember: Ganesha’s rage isn’t personal.