Burning

Yesterday, the headline read "Tibetan Nun Self Immolates in China". I read in horror about this young 20 year old woman who died by self immolating in protest of Chinese rule. She had called for religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. In my session with Sue last week, as we discussed the place of burning in the dream, I told her that I remembered a monk who had set himself on fire many years ago and that I could not understand how anyone’s devotion could be so great as to participate in self immolation. The image of this man seated in his Tibetan robes on a gritty paved street was burned into my mind. He seemed so calm, so unaffected by the fire and clearly so sure of his actions.

I am not so sure. Being in the place of burning is very difficult. In the dream, I disassociate and here now I feel the disassociation. I sense the terrible grief, but it is difficult to feel. I have short, sharp, shocking moments of it. It is not sustainable. And yet, I see fire everywhere. Outside my studio window, I see the fire of autumn on the Vermont mountains. There is fire on my canvas and fire in my Leo heart. But I am terrified of the fire. I see the small, mean chamber of the dream. Its walls are blackened with the soot of many. I see the burnt and crushed bone fragments. Layers and layers as if many people have died in this horrible place. He is there, so there must be a spiritual connection. Even in this claustrophobic place, this oven, He is there. His visage is frightening. He is restless and I imagine I can hear His crisped flesh rustle as He moves. He has been persecuted, as have the many that have burned. But He is not dead. I see the place where a body once was. Was this vague outline once the wet of me? The flesh and blood and water that wrapped my soul? I see three white round lights glowing in the depths of the blackness. And I notice that I am somehow seeing through the charred table to galaxies beyond. It is like an optical illusion. Do I really see infinity? Do I see a place where time is stretched to its quantum limit? Tempus Incognito. Something is hidden here, something not revealed, something incomprehensible. Is this where the girl, who cannot be destroyed, lives?

I remember when we got the ashes back after my birth mother was cremated. They came in a plastic bag inside of a small, plain card board box. The lid was tightly fitted and the bag inside seemed impossibly small to hold all of what had once been a whole and beautiful woman. I had always assumed that the ashes would be powdery and fine like in the movies, but the material in our bag was gravelly and contained small, charred bone fragments. It had a gritty, damp feel to me as we flung it from the tower up on Mount Battie. The salty breeze couldn’t save it from gravity’s weighty grip and it landed in a gentle rain around the base of the tower even as our tears splattered on the curved stone wall.

How does this take me to the girl in the water? What courage does she have to go into those dark depths? I sense the flames are as fluid and sensual as the water. Perhaps there is no pain, only the fear in the anticipation of the pain.

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