“The Individual is Nothing”

I had a dream some nights ago, in which………:

……..I’m about to enter a park of some sort. At the entrance there’s a large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car). It is issuing a message – either verbally or psychically – that says “The individual is nothing”.

I assume, while in the dream, that the machine is implying that it is the family and society that are everything. A friend, who I’ll call Tom, is either with me, or just inside the park. I say to him, “that machine is saying what you’ve always said”.

I continue walking with Tom into the park – I think to join up with his wife, who I’ll call Tess, and some other people. I know I’m late, and think Tess won’t like this, and will be angry. Tom says don’t worry, because he knows I’m coming from doing something else (or am coming from elsewhere). So Tess will understand.

Tom – who is one of the few people here who isn’t spooked out by very old men like me, and who I meet up with occasionally – is of the Chinese culture, and has reminded me, in fact, many times that in the Chinese culture, the importance of the individual is as nothing, compared with the importance of the family and society.

Upon waking from this dream I wondered if it was of any significance, for, despite being a retired General, I interest myself in things that Generals aren’t supposed interest themselves in – like our dreams. I felt instinctively that this dream – coming, I thought, from deep within my psyche – was telling me something about myself that I’ve been ignoring.

So, why was it telling me that “the individual is nothing”?

Clearly, it was because, in clinging tenaciously to this earthly life for so inordinately long, I’ve been tacitly saying to myself that the individual (my individual self) is everything – so much everything that I can’t “let go” of it. My dream was telling me to “let go” and to just go gently into that good night, where all my family and old friends have already gone.

What, then, about the “…… large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car)…..” in my dream?

Since such a badly damaged car implies death, my own forthcoming death was another of this dream’s important themes. Perhaps, then, the park I was entering into in the dream, represented the Realm I’ll enter when I breathe my last.

In my dream, I was late in entering the park, in the way I’m already late in going gently into that good night where my family and old friends understandingly await me, as understandingly as Tess awaited me in the park in my dream.


5 comments on ““The Individual is Nothing”

  1. Richard says:

    I hesitate to question a sage twice as old as my grandfather, himself a former soldier and devoted admirer.

    Does the general remember that characters in his dream are but aspects of himself?

    His memory is, of course, quite extraordinary at an age 120 years. I rarely remember my dreams and never in such detail.

    Perhaps the amorphous machine is the collapse of beliefs he has held for much of his later life and that the meeting with Tom and Tess is the coming-together, or individuation, of his personalty. The park is a reassurance that the individual is something and allows the hope of a new era of fulfilment.

    An integrated individual knows his unique contribution to the collective, albeit unconscious, and his dependence upon it.

    I tremble in anticipation of your reaction to my boldness.

    • Jeremy says:

      I had forgotten that, yes indeed, the characters in a dream are aspects of the dreamer.

      As for my memory, it seems to become more vivid the further back it goes. I’m open, though, to the possibility that the further back my memory goes, the more it embellishes, so that what is remembered is mere fantasy. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because my perception is my reality. This goes, actually, for all of us.

      I do like your take on the crashed car in the dream. The world of my youth, and even of my middle age, seems to have crashed. It is a world from which I feel more and more alienated.

      The crashed car may also have represented the destruction of all my beliefs about myself, particularly that I stand apart from the world, and am therefore alone – beliefs that are all about my ego.

      I like your take on the park too. Yes, Tom and I would have met up with Tess and the others with her, in the peaceful and reassuring setting of the park – an ambiance in which my perceptions that are giving rise to my sense of alienation, will dissipate.

      • Richard says:

        … and the characters met in so-called real life are themselves aspects of ourselves. It needs no convoluted assumption such as relativity to tell of the effects of aeons, compared to which our lives on Earth, sir, are naught but an immeasurable flash where you an I are indistinguishable.

        It is an honour, sir, that my life, amid the many lives lived, overlaps with yours and that you should sacrifice your precious time – if time there is – conversing with me.

      • Richard says:

        …. On a bench in the choicest position beside a magnificent bed of sweet-scented roses lies an odiferous tramp. Alongside him is a heavy polythene parcel of belongings. Old newspapers, tied with string around his ancient body, relate all things since the beginning. Black eyes, peer from within flea- and lice-infested hair-bundles. Eyes that reflect distant horizons. Small children, fingers in mouth, pause, stare and run away to their mothers.

        Do not call the police, sir, or chase him away for he guards the evil tyrant. You have no wish to fight another war for us.

        Let us join him on the bench. Who is to sit closest to him? Who has the most to learn?

      • Jeremy says:

        He is the mendicant I might have become had I not been like everyone else.

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