As a child, I had a series of recurring nightmares which began always in a similar manner. I could feel myself sinking in a tunneled blackness and I knew it was about to begin. The vision of this man whose face was splitting apart endlessly. He smiles as it happens; but it was so horrifying to me as a youngster. It seemed like he was right there in my room.
I would scream and scream and my Mom would rush in; turn on the light and he would be gone. As soon as the light went out, he would reappear and his face would continue to peel open revealing face after face. Smiling at me.
This occurred night after night. Quite a stressor for a 5 year old.
At some point my mother convinced me that he was not real and the dreams discontinued toward other recurring dreams fueled by the normal stressors most go through. Teeth falling out, falling from some endless height, the deaf and blind girl being mowed down by rolling logs in the darkness…The usual.
I didn’t really connect the first dream to anything spiritual until now. You see, I follow the work of Takashi Murakami on Instagram and he was doing a tribute to the statue of Hoshi Washo and I immediately recognized the statue as the figure in those recurring dreams of my youth.
It is so strange that it has come up now. But I think it is part of my quest.
When I was born, my parents had me baptized in the Roman Catholic tradition. Although, I was not immediately raised in that faith. We hopped from church to church. Unitarian, Lutheran and some neighbors who were Southern Baptists were adamant, that I needed to be “saved” and I was baptized in a backyard service in their peanut shaped above ground pool.
By third grade, my mother decided that the public school’s open classroom curriculum was doing no service to my attention deficit tendencies so I was enrolled in a private Catholic school. From there, I learned more about the Roman Catholic faith from grades 3-12.
During my last year in high school, I had a comparative religions course for one semester where we were tasked with attending services and reading texts of other faiths to compare and contrast with Catholicism. I chose to read ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran and my foundation of understanding was blown apart. In a very good way.
I became fascinated by world beliefs from that point.
I chose to attend a private Presbyterian College after high school which had a diverse international student body. Exposing me to a variety of cultures and belief systems.
By far, my best decision in life was attending that college.
While visiting family on a holiday break my freshman year, I had another dream experience where I was in the blackness and in the distance a man in robes was approaching me. I knew in that moment I was meeting who I believed to be Jesus and I figured it was my time. I begged, pleaded and bargained for extra time to make more out of this life if I was given the time. He nodded and walked away and I awoke with a start.
In the back of my mind I have always believed that there is one God, one life creating force which ties us together. Every living thing — great and small.
It breaks my heart to hear the single minded, speak in the manner that they do about how their faith is the true faith and everyone else is wrong.
I simply cannot accept that.
What I can believe is that we were given a message from a variety of prophets all over the world and how we interpreted it over the centuries is what fractioned us unto the various believers we are today.
I love Paul Thorn’s song regarding faith, “You Might Be Wrong” (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IFRM4oJwLdc
) which is why I continue to study.
Every year, I make it a point on my annual reading challenge to find books which explore and explain faiths of various cultures.
In my journey through this beautiful life, I have met people who are the closest to the ideal of what it is to be the embodiment of God’s message and not every one of them are of one particular faith. I’m in awe of them.
Some much closer than others. Because of that, I feel more certain that all who walk this earth are bound by one.
Now, I must reveal who Hoshi Washo represents and why now I should have not feared this face peeling spectre of my dreams.
This statue shows/represents the moment a monk reaches enlightenment. More specifically, in Japan, this is commonly referred to as the incarnation of Kannon (aka Guanyin aka Avalokitesvara). Kannon, as the stories tell, was actually a monk before he achieved enlightenment and became a Buddha.
So, I believe that I was being shown my path or rather, my purpose.
No, not to become a Buddha; but to pursue enlightenment. I think we are all called to be better versions of our prior selves and the peeling I witnessed was the act of discarding my old ways for better ways.
Heavy, no? I’m choosing to believe my course is to truth and I will forever be a student of faith and self actualization.