I can think of no spiritual leader who has not warned of suffering along the path to enlightenment. Emily, who frequently contributes insightful comments to this blog, has given us a poignant dream about the difficulties that must be faced and overcome on a spiritual journey.
The Dream: I walk out of a building (I can't see it behind me, but I know I've left it) onto a wide, cement sidewalk. The tall wall of a building is on my left. I am barefoot. Suddenly I am aware of pain on the bottoms of my feet. I realize I am walking on shards of glass: small, colorful pieces are embedding themselves in the bottom of my feet! I can barely walk it hurts so much. Then, I am inside a room, sitting on a chair. I look at the bottom of my feet, and I see that I have roots, like slender tree roots, growing out from the bottom of my feet. I try to pull one out, and I realize it's deep in my leg, up the calf. I don't pull it out. A blonde woman watches me, I think somewhat approving of my actions.
Shift: It rains. Pours. In 2 separate incidents, a man and a woman have left their notebooks/binders in the rain. I rush out into the rain and pick them up and bring them inside as I don't want the rain to ruin them. The man is 30-40ish, tall, and thin. He doesn't appear to be grateful that I rescued his notebook from the rain. His notebook is stuffed with papers and notes. The thought crosses my mind that maybe the rain wouldn't have hurt the notebook after all....end
Carla’s interpretation: I’m leaving my structured way of being (the building) behind. The way ahead is opening up before me (it's wide), but also hard (cement). There’s some sort of unconscious block (the wall to my left). I am vulnerable (barefoot). My foray into this new world outside is risky; I feel pain. There’s something in my path that makes progress difficult and painful; small shards of colorful glass. Apparently I can’t get around my difficulty; I keep walking through this excruciating mess even though my progress is very slow because I am in so much pain. But my persistence is rewarded. I find myself sitting in a room, able to examine my vulnerability (the bare, painful feet). I have roots. I have the potential to be grounded, to find my ground of being. At first I attempt to reject this possibility, but I realize it is too deeply a part of me to be pulled out. The part of me that is enlightened (woman with blonde hair) approves.
Now the rain can come, like an ancient blessing, over the notebooks of a man and a woman. For Jung, male and female together represent a coniunctio, opposites coming together into wholeness. I have, for many years, created notebooks of my dreams. I fear that all this water (so much unconscious material) pouring into my notebooks could ruin them. My stronger male side lets me know that rescue is not necessary. My unconscious material and the spiritual grounding I’ve accomplished by so carefully recording my dreams, and being brave enough to learn from them, are safe.