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Riddle The Self – Reveal The Self

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Posts Tagged ‘riddle’

The Dreaming Riddle

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 26, 2011


I’m in a gigantic bakery kitchen.  Thin slabs of chocolate roulade (thin cake baked in a flat pan, often used to roll with filling) are cooling on the work tables.  I approach one slab of roulade, thinking it was one I baked for myself earlier.  I cut a square chunk, but as I lift it to my lips for a bite, a man approaches me from behind, “No, no, no!”  He tells me that the other baker, Candace, baked that slab.  I see Candace, dressed in a white cooks uniform, across the room with her back to me.  I’m sorry for my mistake and I express to him that I hope I haven’t ruined her yield.

Enlightened teachers rarely talk about dreams, except to say that we need to wake up from the one we dream when we think we’re awake.  Personally, since my night-time dreams have been such a robust part of my daily experience, I’ve frequently used them to gain insight into the activity of my unconscious mind.

When I was a child, I imagined two black, cartoon ants that had an old film projector and a white screen on a stand.  One ant would ask, “What film are we going to show tonight?” and the other would turn on the projector, “How about this one.”  On the screen, I’d see the grainy countdown appear: 3, 2, 1, and, poof, I’d be asleep.

I’ve always loved to dream.  My dreams are rich, colourful, and entertaining.  I usually dream when I’m close to consciousness in the morning, so with very little effort, I can remember many vivid details.  When I started to make a concerted study of my dreams, around the year 2000, I would consider every storyline, character, and location.  I poured through dream interpretation dictionaries to understand every symbol and nuance.  It was extremely time-consuming, but it was also fun, a lot like solving a riddle.

I don’t know how my theory stacks up with the great dream philosophers of our time: Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, etc., but I divide my dreams into two kinds.  One kind is indicative of the ego keeping itself active and entertained.  These are often busy dreams, with lots of characters, locations and plot lines.  They’re difficult to interpret because there are many symbols, but rarely ones that really ‘jump out’.  The other kind of dream is short, sometimes simply one image, like a photograph.  It’s vivid and remembered easily, because, I think, it’s important to remember.  I’ve decided, through my experience with them over the years, that those are the images spirit is using to communicate with me.  It’s an elegant form of communication, and much like an ‘instantaneous download’ of knowledge.  I’ll find that one image will have many subtle, but meaningful, details.  I’ve also learned to pay attention to anything white.  A symbol in white, particularly if it’s a neon bright white, is always, for me, an important message from spirit.

The shadow elements of a dream, such as night scenes or dark basements, tell me that there’s something I’m trying to hide from my conscious mind.  The split of the unconscious from the conscious mind segregates experiences or traumas that we don’t want to acknowledge.  In my experience, dream shadows rarely give up crucial information, they’re really only helpful to know there’s still something to root out of hiding.  If my greater intention is unity, any smaller intention to hide in dark corners must, eventually, be brought to the light of consciousness.

I recommend two dream books that have been invaluable to me over the years.  My, hands down, favourite is:

Cloud Nine

My second favourite is:

Little Giant Encyclopedia: Dream Symbols

When selecting a dream book, ensure that it doesn’t offer nonsense of future predictions, such as, “dreaming of an itchy right hand means the dreamer will receive money”.  I’ve heard that some people have dreams that effectively predict the future, but, even then, I doubt they would get much value from those future symbol books.  Although I had an occasional prophetic dream in my early life, it was often only discovered after the event played out and was always so inconsequential, I stopped paying attention to them, and they went away.  To me, dreams are far more relevant as insight into myself, the symbols as placeholders for deep-seated belief systems and patterns of thought.

Dream dictionaries are like regular dictionaries, organized in alphabetical order.  To use one, I simply look up the words that best describe the dream image.  For example, for the dream I described at the top of this post, I would look up: bakery, room, kitchen, table, clean, cook, food, sweets, black, square, man, back, woman, and white.  The descriptions in the dream book are merely starting points.  After reading them, I would then consider which interpretations resonated the most for me, and then think further about how the symbols fit specifically into my life experience.

Without referring to my dream books, I knew what my bakery dream was about.  In 1991-92, after a year of cooking school, hosted at Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, I continued working over the summer in the pastry department.  One day, I arrived for my evening shift and had two tasks on my work list: mix and bake chocolate Devils Food cakes and ‘Etruscan Torte’ cakes.  I had made both of these cakes before and felt confident in my skills.  I started with the Devils Food cakes.  I assembled the ingredients, mixed the batter in the giant Hobart mixer, and filled the cake rings.  I don’t remember if I was particularly distracted that day, or what I was worried about, but I put the cakes into the oven and totally forgot about them.  When I finally remembered, they were cremated beyond repair.  I was thoroughly disgusted and furious with myself as I cut black chunks of charcoal from the baking rings and disposed of all ten cakes in the garbage.  Since I’d already started work on the Etruscan Tortes, I despondently continued with that.  I cut vanilla roulade to fit inside the cake rings for the top and bottom layers, and filled the middle with a gelatine-meringue mixture.  I thought they were to bake for 45 minutes and I put them into the oven….  Well, if you’ve done any baking, you may already have recognized my mistake.  Gelatine isn’t baked, it’s refrigerated.  In 45 minutes, I asked my sous chef how I should test for doneness.  He corrected me, but it was already too late.  The gelatine mixture had melted and leaked out of the cake rings onto the pans in a big slushy mess.  Ten more cakes, ruined!  I was horrified and devastated.  How could I be such a complete loser?  Within a few weeks of the incident, I concocted a number of excuses, and quit the job.

My dream pointed to this entire scenario in a few symbols.  By incorporating the character of Candace, a co-worker from a current job, it also links the past with the present.  It tells me that I made a past mistake that I never truly forgave myself for, and that I’m still holding onto guilty fears that I could make work mistakes again.  Through the dream, I discovered a limitation that has been affecting my experience, and I can now surrender it – forgive myself.

Although, I also understand why teachers of enlightenment wouldn’t recommend dream analysis.  The mind loves to examine itself, and as long as I’m rooting around in its house of mirrors, I won’t make the essential decision to abandon all mind games – lock, stock and barrel.  Yes, perhaps I have delayed myself extraneously, and thus, I’ve given up dreaming riddles, for the most part.  If I have a dream that I remember, fine, and if there’s some symbolism that jumps out at me, fine, and if an interpretation reveals itself without effort, that’s fine too.

Dreams are a fantastic mystery.  A form of riddle that may never be completely solved, but we can look, and ask, and wonder.


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Leap! Finale


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The Riddle of the Chicken and the Road – Part 2

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 24, 2011

Spoiler Alert! Please read Part 1 before continuing.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.

So… did you do the exercise? Did you hold the riddle, lightly, in your mind and let it percolate? What did you discover? Have you solved it? Have you found a truth at the heart of human experience?

The wisdom I received for this riddle entered through a back door. It came while I was asking something else. I was in my meditation chair, intending to meditate. Yet, my mind was noisy. I had worries and problems that tumbled around incessantly, like socks in a dryer. After some time, I was frustrated, and asked myself, “If it’s true that I create my experience, then why would I create obstacles? Why would I choose to put a mountain in my way?” I didn’t think about it, the answer simply popped into my head: To get to the other side. In an instantaneous download (prajna), I understood the chicken and the road riddle completely.

The chicken is me. A chicken. Not a horse, or a dog, or a lion. Why am I a chicken? What qualities does a chicken have? If I call someone a chicken, I’m calling him or her a coward. Chickens are afraid.

The road is an obstacle. A road to cross, or a mountain to climb, or a problem to solve. If I look at an obstacle from a chicken’s perspective, I’m afraid of it. I want to run away from the obstacle or avoid it completely, but I can’t, because, like the road stretched out infinitely ahead and behind, it now dominates my whole world. If the obstacle can’t be avoided, there’s only one other way to run: cross the road, climb the mountain, or solve the problem.

Like a terrified little chicken, I run for my life across the pavement and into the ditch on the other side. Whew. Made it. I got to the other side. Yippee!

A road, like any division in the mind, always separates the problem from the solution, the question from the answer. The chicken crossed the road to solve the problem, but has the problem really been solved? What happens when the chicken turns around? ACK! The road! It’s still there! An ominous beast of a thing… but now the chicken knows what to do. It can run across the road, and so it does. Whew. Made it. Yippee!

Just like the hamster wheel I’ve talked about in a previous post, the chicken could keep running across the road, infinitely. Tracing the same steps, never really going anywhere. So, fear keeps me running: away from something I think I don’t like, or toward something I think I do like. The ‘other side’ is an illusion, another riddle, and it has to be solved too.

Avoid the problem = no. Attack the problem head on = no. There is a third solution that can’t be seen until division is removed from the mind. Fear and division go hand in hand. If I’m a chicken, is fear intrinsic to my being? Can I become something other than a chicken?

‘Chicken’ is a label, a symbol. It doesn’t mean anything unless I decide it does. Am I really a chicken? No, of course not. I’m ME! I simply decide not to call myself a chicken. Poof!

Now I’m no longer approaching the obstacle with fear. The road has no power over me. My choices are not limited to this side or that side. Now I see the third choice. Something so overwhelmingly obvious, I’m rather disgusted I didn’t see it sooner. I pause, for a moment, to kick myself, and then…

I take my place, boldly, on the centre line and walk, peacefully and happily, along the road.


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A Course in Miracles The Movie


Posted in Riddles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Riddle of the Chicken and the Road – Part 2

The Riddle of the Chicken and the Road – Part 1

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 18, 2011

I’m sure that most people have heard this riddle, often asked by a child:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I might, at first, take the question literally, and answer with the first thoughts in my mind:

  • Because there was food over there. 
  • Because it was going to get hit by a truck.

If I know it’s a riddle, and that the answer is often obscure, perhaps I’ll stretch my mind a little farther:

  • To go bock, bock, bock in time.
  • To get away from the Disco Duck.

But by then, I’m tired of the mental exercise.  I give up, and ask my young friend to reveal the answer:

To get to the other side.

The obvious.  Boo.  How disappointing.  I could’ve come up with that.  Ha ha ha, so funny… NOT.  The child, on the other hand, is delighted, and goes off to find more inane questions with which to bother people.

Rarely does anyone look more deeply into this riddle.  Don’t be deceived by the elegant simplicity of the ‘question’ or the obviousness of its ‘answer’.  It’s a riddle with two parts, and they are inseparable.  The riddle, as a whole, is asking to be completely seen:

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the other side.  

Dismiss it as a silly joke, or, hold it, lightly, in the mind.  Percolate upon it, and perhaps it will reveal a truth at the heart of human experience.

Give up?  At a later date, I’ll post Part 2, and discuss the solution as it was revealed to me.


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Posted in Riddles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

No One Can Fail Who Seeks to Reach the Truth

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 11, 2011

Today I seek and find all that I want.  My single purpose offers it to me.  No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.
A Course in Miracles, Lesson131, Pg. 240

Last night, I listened to a recording by spiritual teacher, Adyashanti.  His teaching, like the Course in Miracles, is very direct.  It brought up some intriguing questions and inspiration:

  • If I’m waiting for the mind or my feelings to still, I’ll wait forever.  No waiting is necessary.  The truth – on every level of being (physical/spiritual) – is available immediately.
  • How is my apathy (anger, fear, etc.) seeing the world?  What would it say?  My apathy says, I don’t want to be here.
  • Then: Is it true? (That I don’t want to be here.)
  • Then, an inspiration: When did I first decide not to BE… HERE?  (Here, in the Self.)
  • Then: When did I first choose to hide my Self?

I’ve been working with this riddle of ‘hiding my Self’ since it first came up in a dream about a month ago.  Several of my consciously developed friends pointed it out as well, and I make it a policy never to ignore advice that’s corroborated by a couple or more sources.  I agree that it’s an important area to examine, but, so far, I’m not getting anything.  So, alas, it’s still percolating.  Perhaps the more direct questions, as above, will help further.

Adyashanti also said that the ‘instantaneous downloads’ of knowledge I’ve experienced on occasion, are natural to the Self, and that it’s actually natural to get them all the time.  Adya called it PRAJNA.  Yes, please, I’d like to have more prajna.  Continuous prajna.  That’d be awesome!

Also, after some further thought about the Course lesson from yesterday – about surrendering all value I’ve placed in the world – I remember that, yes, that is how it goes.  I had forgotten.  Of course, I can continue to play in the world, keep seeking endlessly for useless trinkets, and delay myself for eons, even, if I really want to.  But do I want that?  NOOOOO!!!  Because I really want the ONLY useful, meaningful thing there is: the Self.  I want to rest in the source, the ground, of my being.  It is, absolutely, the most important thing to me, but sometimes, it seems I forget, and then I have to re-focus and re-establish my intention. Adya suggested that it’s painful to leave the Self – and yes, I think that perhaps I’m conscious of that when I’m wandering and getting wrapped up in goofy worldly distractions.  Perhaps it’s related to a particular anxiety I’ve experienced lately too.  Perhaps seeking out in the world has truly become anathema to me now.  Well, that, or I’ve become agoraphobic.  So, really, I don’t know.  I’m just guessing.  Is it appropriate for me to relinquish the world at this time?  Is it natural to have lost most of my interest in it?  I want to take care that I’m not creating aversions, or rejecting it, or hiding from it, but it’s true that I see very little point in most worldly activities – and I don’t think it sees much point in me either, frankly.  That sounds funny, but it does seem to be letting go of me, just as much as I’m letting go of it.  So, it’s a mutual relinquishment.

Like my Course lesson says, I can’t fail.  Whew.  Good.  I’m really sick of being a total failure.  The spiritual path is sometimes difficult, and it’s certainly strange, but there’s nothing else for me to do.  Spirit has it’s own energy now and I simply need to follow… or I’ll be dragged.  Yeah, I think I prefer to follow willingly.


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Posted in Failure & Success | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Question Me a Koan, Riddle Me a Truth

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 9, 2011

Let me be very clear. I do not, as of this moment, abide in the Self. From what I understand, one either does or doesn’t. There is no in between. There is no ‘kinda’. The good news, though, from what I hear, is that it’s only ever an instant away. It could happen anytime, without warning. Not by virtue of something I do, but simply by the right set of circumstances coming together to form it. Like the starting of a fire – it happens spontaneously when the right combination of flammable material, oxygen and heat come together.

Like divine sparks, I’ve had glimpses of the Self. I’ve had instantaneous ‘downloads’ of knowledge that have greatly inspired my faith along the way. Sometimes, they have even stayed with me for a few hours. I’ve also experienced very high states of joy and gratitude that have been wondrous… yet, deceptive. Only the ego experiences something. An experience implies separation. I just learned this recently. It’s easy to get attached to these states, but, ultimately, they’re not what I want.

To be absolutely clear, this website is not about answers, it’s about questions. Jesus Christ said, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” Zen masters pose riddles, called koans, to their students. A Course in Miracles workbook poses a statement of spiritual truth each day for a year. These questions and spiritual truths – riddles, in short – can’t be answered by the mind, or understood by logical deduction. They’re meant to induce the mind to surrender, to give up trying to answer or understand. To allow the inherent mystery of the riddle and form space around it, so divine grace may enter.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been rather obsessive about the study of enlightenment from a variety of sources and teachers, yet, I know less now than when I started. Fortunately, I can’t study much anymore because I just get confused. It’s best for me now to focus on a single riddle, and let it percolate. Not thinking about it or looking for an answer, just gently refreshing the riddle occasionally, and then being as still as possible with it. A Course in Miracles is my primary resource. I’ve been studying the Course for six years. Yes, apparently, I’m a very slow learner.

Talking about slow learning, yesterday, I was thinking about the various paths I’ve taken in my life, and the times that I’ve been really stuck with indecision. If I turn right, do I irrevocably lose the path that turned left? I have definitely believed in strict either/or decisions, in the past. Do I still believe in them? Well, if the path to the right is unknown, and the path to the left is also unknown, then left and right are the same: unknown. It’s that very unknown that provokes fear and indecision. How can I choose if every direction is completely terrifying? In those times, I’ve relied upon the maxim: If in doubt, don’t. This simple statement is my bottom line for every tough decision I’ve faced for many years now. Even if the mind is chock full of doubt, the Self knows. If I’m just patient, and surrender the tendency to worry, eventually the anxiety is replaced with peace, and the answer appears, perfectly clear. Then, actually, there is no choosing at all. It becomes the unified path of choiceless choice.

Eventually, the Self just has to be trusted. To pose a riddle, and trust that the Self has heard and will help. That’s difficult for an ego, so it takes practice. If an answer comes, great, and if it doesn’t, then I probably didn’t need it anyway. The point is, first, to ask.


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Posted in Trust & Suspicion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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