Thoughts on a Vivid Dream: Compassion for the Giant Spider

I just had a very vivid dream, and I wanted to write down what happened before I forget. Just prior to the ripening of major negative karma in my life, I typically have very vivid dreams, almost like premonitions of what is to come. This has happened to me before on at least two occasions in my life, one of which was the landslide at my house more than 12 years ago which changed everything.

Yesterday night I had a dream where the people who I was caring for, including some young children under my care, had no choice but to get COVID, but we decided to do so in a controlled, isolated way that could be cared for, and I was to be one of the adult carers of the house. We were getting everybody ready, and I put this very cute, sweet little soon-to-be-sick girl into bed, tucked in with her favorite blanket. I had great love and compassion for her. I had a feeling that I too might get COVID if I did this, and I had a moment of hesitation and doubt about what I was doing feeling like a fever was about to come on, but I kind of shook it off, and left the room and then found myself outside the house.

There were then all these people arriving, like refugees, and I was thinking how are we going to deal with all of them? I wanted to help, but they seemed too many, and I was part concerned for their welfare and part bothered by now having this responsibility to care for these people, but still willing to help. Then this group of about 3-5 punk ass teenagers come walking by as a group who were headed for the COVID care house. Imagine obnoxious, toxic, and potentially destructive all wrapped into one group of teenagers who had banded together united in thinking everyone else was stupid and being disdainful towards the world. They too were among the refugees, but I knew they were headed for the house and they would ruin everything for those already in the house, including the little girl who I had just put to bed. I thought, “oh no, I don’t want them there, they are going to ruin everything,” and I went to go try intervene to stop them from heading towards the COVID house, and then I woke up.

When I awoke from that dream, I had a feeling that it was a premonition dream of major negative karma, potentially related to my health, that was about to ripen in my life. I had this sinking feeling in my gut that “oh no, something might be coming, I’m not safe for as long as I have not purified my negative karma – which I haven’t done.”

I then went about my day. Major karma ripened yesterday which might mean I need to leave my current assignment and go to Beijing. It would represent a major change in my life, but I would be happy about if it happened because then I could be reunited with my family who I am currently separated from. If I’m honest, I’m happy about the prospects of seeing them, but also part reluctant to leave my current retreat-like life situation. I know it would be a lot more work having to be around their suffering, so there is a partial reluctance, but overall I would be happy if this happened, even though it would mean the loss of my current situation which is perfect from a being-able-to-practice-Dharma perspective. I then went to bed as normal.

I just woke from a second premonition-like dream. I was in a house which I understood to be my own, and there was this absolutely terrifying giant spider which was trapped in our living room. Normally, we take spiders and bugs out so as to not kill them, but this one was absolutely enormous and terrifying, and there was no way removing it would be possible. I watched it scramble around the room, trying to get out. It would fly into the corner, scramble up the wall, then break apart into lots of different snake-like pieces, fall to the ground, then re-assemble into a giant spider, then scurry quickly back into the corner looking for some escape to get out of the room. I watched this cycle unfold a few times, with no idea what to do or how to deal with it. I had to get it out, I didn’t want to kill it, but since it was in our living room and my kids used this space, and there was no way they could with this giant spider on the loose.

It then started to pound its legs like it was trying to bust its way through the wall. Unsuccessful, it then went back up to the ceiling, broke into pieces like the snake again, fell to the floor, reassembled, and then started over. It then started doing the same thing, but now next to an electrical socket. The electrical socket was simultaneously normal size and enormous, depending on the perspective, like the yak horn in the story where a yogi went into it without getting any smaller or the horn getting any bigger. I then thought, “oh, that’s good, if it pounds its legs into the electrical socket, it will get electrocuted, that’s how I can deal with it.”

I watched it pound its legs against the wall, but it missed the socket, scurried up to the roof as before, ran around the room, disassembled, fell to the floor, and then ran back to the socket, and started pounding its legs again. The socket was now enormous, the spider started pounding its legs, but this time it’s legs got stuck in the socket, but not quite far enough to get electrocuted. I was hopeful that it would be, not in a malicious sort of way, but in an anxious I have no idea what else to do way.

There was then this small young yet old at the same time woman who I knew from before who appeared inside the room near me. This woman was kinda creepy and weird, and she was shunned by all who thought she was strange and everyone didn’t want to have anything to do with her. As a result, she had been socially isolated her whole life, and became even more strange and socially awkward as a result. In the past, I had always tried to be nice to this girl since everyone else had shunned her, but while I had been slightly kinder than being polite with her, I never really showed enough kindness and acceptance to make a difference in her life because I too thought she was odd and didn’t really want to have anything to do with her. Because I was nice to her, she was clingy towards me, which I didn’t really want, but I couldn’t totally push her away like everybody else did because I felt bad for her. I also never really let her get too close to me because I didn’t really want her around since she was kind of annoying and weird.

We both watched the spider get itself stuck in the socket. The spider then started squirming in the socket, its legs moving deeper and deeper in where it would soon be electrocuted. Seeing this, the awkward girl then spontaneously jumped to save it, approaching without fear because she had such love and compassion for the spider, she was even willing to grab it to pull it out. I cried out, “no,” as if to stop her because I reluctantly knew this was the only way to deal with the spider. But she successfully pulled the spider out, saving it.

It then latched onto her as if in love with her, and I thought, “oh, that might be good, the spider can be the companion of this girl so she has a friend.” My motivation for this thought was part compassion for the girl, but also part relief that now if she has a partner it would get her off my back since she was clingy to me. But she then jumped onto me, with the spider now attached to her, and I just wanted both of them off of me because now the spider was on me and was going to get to me. I started running down the hall, trying to squirm away, but the spider crawled up and was about to get me, and I woke up.

Over the years, I have come to understand dreams that have this sort of feel are signs, and whatever we “understand them to mean” is their message. What actually appears is secondary. When I awoke, I recalled the earlier dream I had last night about the COVID house, and realized the two were connected. I thought about how my virtues had been present, but they were weak and when tested with difficult circumstances, I was willing to set them aside. I felt upon awaking that the way I can purify the potentially serious negative karma coming my way represented by the spider was to have compassion for those who would harm me (the spider), who would harm those I love (the teenagers), and greater acceptance of those who everyone shuns (again like the girl). If I do so, and I had a feeling that I will be tested soon, then I might be able to purify this karma and avoid its ripening – though I felt it might already be too late and the karma may have already begun to ripen, but just has not yet appeared in a manifest way in my life.

I’m not exactly sure how or when I will be tested in this way, but I need to be fearless and without self-concern like the girl was trying to pull the spider out of the socket. It may have something to do with compassion for my enemies or those who I normally view as people I would rather push away who everyone else shuns, or frankly both. In both dreams, my virtues were present and my default reaction (care for the sweet little girl, not want to kill the spider, be kind to the girl who everyone else shunned), but they were weak and when tested with a larger sacrifice, I was willing to engage in negativity and indeed stop others from engaging in virtue for my own selfish purposes of not wanting or not knowing how to deal with it (trying to block the teenager refugees from entering the COVID house, wanting the spider to get electrocuted, trying to stop the girl from saving the spider, being happy that the spider would be the companion of the awkward girl which would mean it would get her off my back, then trying to run away when they all jumped on me).

For me, the messages of these dreams are first, I must purify my negative karma and I can’t remain complacent as long as negative karma remains on my mind, and something major may be coming soon, but I can (perhaps) avoid it if I purify soon, though it might already be too late. Second, I need to also push further to be virtuous and caring not just when it is easy, but when it is harder and involves some sacrifice on my part. My best friend from college recently posted a picture of this enormous spider in his mailbox, who he was content to leave there viewing it as his home. Everyone else was posting comments saying they would get a new mailbox or kill it. My internal reaction was also time to get a new mailbox and perhaps take that one somewhere else. My friend’s response to those comments was rather compassion for the spider worried that he might not have enough to eat in the mailbox. This is likely my example I need to emulate. Third, compassion for those who would harm (the teenagers, the spider) is the likely method I need to use to purify this potentially soon ripening negative karma. I think it might have something to do with my work, but am not sure. Fourth, I need to not push away those who everyone else shuns (the teenagers, the awkward girl), but instead wholeheartedly also accept them into the circle of my compassion and caring. I think this will primarily manifest in my personal life. All of this is likely related in some way to the situation of me possibly changing assignments.

I’m writing all of this down so I don’t forget and in the hope that these dreams might also have some lessons for anybody who might read this. I suspect whatever these dreams “mean to you” is your lesson from them.

All my appearances in dreams teach me
That all my appearances when awake do not exist;
Thus for me all my dream appearances
Are the supreme instructions of my Guru.

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