On the night of September 25th, I accidentally fell asleep on the couch in my family's TV room. Though I spent an uncomfortable night on it, the upside about sleeping on this couch is that--for some reason--I always have vivid dreams there. That night I remember a single dream that hit me with a train of spiritual insight, and I want to share it here.
Here's the dream as I wrote it down immediately afterward. Note that the names have been taken out so as to not embarrass anyone I know who might read this post:
"In my parents' theater, my professor is there, and some peers from college say that they've returned my quadruple combination. I get mad at them, saying that my professor wanted to read the Book of Mormon, but that she couldn't because I didn't have it with me. I give it to her, and she says she's at 2 Nephi 16, and I ask her what she thinks of the first part of 2 Nephi, implicitly referencing the philosophical parts. She's about to talk about the part referencing the Lamanites becoming "as flint," but then she has to go teach a class. I read a passage in a blue James Hillman book where he quotes a non-member scholar about the Book of Mormon: "The Book of Mormon 'exploded' into the world, feeling through the world to where it could best fit, from outside of time." I look up the source for the quote, and he says that the Book of Mormon is like an appetizer (milk/toast) that so enthralls the eater that they don't pay attention to the rest of the meal, even if it's better. This is the atonement/testimony that gets you to stay. I'm so taken with this idea that I try to find my professor to tell her. No such luck. I go upstairs and I see a young woman from my singles ward in a wedding dress about to go onstage for a final performance of The Diary of Anne Frank, where the relatives of the cast can come to the audience if they couldn't at the beginning of the run. I contemplate telling this young woman that we met before this life, that we were together before this marriage, but she already knows this, and it's inappropriate for this situation."
It goes without saying that dreams like this strike the waking mind as odd. But from my perspective, dreams are only odd in this way because of a "translation error" that happens when you try to think of it in waking consciousness. After all, the tired mind isn't abstract and doesn't think in rigid categories--it's instead wholly concrete and associational. A broad principle like "loneliness" will be represented by a particular, concrete instance of that loneliness (like a crying child, for instance), and different instances of the same principle tend to blend and merge into each other.
Knowing this, I've read that it's best to "interpret" the dream while you're tired. That way, you approach that dream in the same state that made it, letting "like" go unto "like." So I'm very lucky that I was able to quickly pull up my iPad and record what the dream's remnants themselves told me about its meaning. I'll paraphrase what I wrote in the rest of this post since I think it's significant not only for me but for anyone who values the Book of Mormon and its spiritual "ground."
What the dream taught me
My dream was about linking together things that are still separate. If the Book of Mormon "exploded" into the world and flowed into its cracks and its crevices, this dream exploded into the subtle fissures in my life--its reality adapted itself to what I needed to hear. The young woman in the wedding dress is thus going to a wedding of times, circumstances, and people, which both the Book of Mormon and my dream are instances of. This is an example of the ajna principle, or that of the Third Eye Chakra, where everything acts as a face of everything else, where all separate things weave together.
This wedding is a way that a pre-perceptual, pre-conceptual unity of time and places can come into my awareness. It brings together the things that were already together pre-existently, letting the invisible togetherness become visible. The Book of Mormon is a major way that this reunion of people, times, and places can come into the visible world. It reveals the ties that already exist between them. The Book of Mormon--as a wedding--concretely actualizes the bonds that had already existed in potential from eternity.
The atonement as it's manifest in the Book of Mormon is then like an appetizer of milk and toast--like "milquetoast," it's unassertive, unassuming, and timid. In other words, the atonement as at-one-meant of separate things presents itself first, but in a way that doesn't demand my attention; it hides in plain sight, waiting to be seen. If you eat it, it captivates because it's primal. As an appetizer, it's what you knew first, primarily, before anything else.It's a priori.
We should be together without having to do anything. I shouldn't try to assert or force that togetherness, since it's already apparent from eternity--as the atonement, as the appetizer of milk and toast, as the Book of Mormon. I am together with them from before I came here. I shouldn't try to force that togetherness on others, since it's already there between us, and that togetherness itself brings about the wedding.
The young woman who got married in the dream had recently (that is, in "real life") talked about how she isn't married yet. This reminds me of the "woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when [she] wast refused" of Isaiah 54, whom I've often felt like. Not only haven't I been the most successful person in romantic encounters, but I feel like I've been "left at the altar" of all sorts of unions with the inhabitants of the world. I've often noted that I've felt separate" from the people and things in the world, almost as if I weren't just romantically single, but left out of all intimacy with the wonders of life itself. But if I'm to believe my dream, the wedding of all things with all things is coming. Maybe it's always here; maybe I just have to recognize it. Maybe I just need to learn not to "force" the issue, meaning that my wedding with the world will happen when I stop trying to make it happen. After all, the groom isn't supposed to see his bride on the wedding day, much less talk to her. I should thus let us (I and any person or thing I want to come together with) each find our way to the altar. This happens at any moment in which I give up the "chase" after union or satisfaction, and let the union come to me. The union comes to me in the very moment I stop seeking it, since it has existed pre-existently and will exist to eternity.
I wrote that the final performance of the play staged here--the "telos" or end-goal of eternity not just at the end of time, but in each moment--will be witnessed by the relatives of the actors there. We as mortal human beings are all actors on a stage, getting ready for the wedding. The wedding of all things with all things is coming, and we're bringing it together from all times and all places. The relatives are those people who have left the stage but are still watching to see how it turns out. These are the Dead--not just the literal dead, but all the people, feelings, thoughts, and ideas that have exited life's stage for the moment. They watch with an eager eye to see how things will turn out--they have a "stake" in the wedding. They too will be wedded to everything else here, since they too are together with them pre-existently.
In this consummation of being, the tangle of relationships that had existed invisibly from eternity becomes visible. In a sudden moment of belonging, I see myself as a part of a whole--continuous, an extension of everything else, loved by all things. I've had these moments before (like this one time on the bus), and though they are few and far between, it isn't just reserved for the "end of the world." The wedding, as the marriage of all things to all things, exists forever in potential and is ready to pop into our awareness as soon as we stop grasping after that union.