Social Dreaming Matrix


Karen Morris

Zazen is often referred to in the Zen Buddhist literature as an intimate practice. By sitting zazen, we practice in form, Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment realization of the interconnectedness of all being. Sitting together and sharing dreams together within the formalities of a social dreaming matrix is as well an expression of intimacy. Sharing and recalling dreams, memories and associations, makes evident the links of our social connectedness, of which our zazen and realization of the dharma through practice discussion are also expressions. Dreams that arise out of the matrix reflect the conditions and desire out of which participants have gathered. These include time <~~~> space <~~~> history.

To experience the matrix is to open to the source of our dreams, as Wisdom is represented and/or depicted in images and emotion-driven narratives. Past, present and future conditions of the world stream through consciousnesses and are condensed into our personal dream-life. Eihei Dogen wrote in his Shobogenzo, Chapter 38, “Muchu-setsumu,” (Expounding a dream within a dream), “The place where a dream is expounded in a dream is indeed the land and assembly of buddha-ancestors.” As a group studying and practicing together for the first time our dreams precede our gathering in conjunction with the trajectory of our personal histories. They lead us through our common discourse in Buddhism and psychoanalytic inquiry into the creation of a new, as yet undreamed dream. As our unique group evolves anew each day, we may discover how practice, discourse and dreaming are inseparable aspects of the buddha-dharma. This is one expression of the vow to take refuge in The Three Treasures: Buddha-Dharma-Sangha.

 The Matrix

The activity of sharing dreams in the formal setting of a “matrix” relies upon a receptive, non-interpretive stance that increases our capacities for recall and reverie. When listening to one another’s dreams within the structure of a matrix, our own are recalled from bottomless consciousness that we awaken to when we sleep. Sharing time and dreams in the matrix is one way of honoring the gift of life with others, without interpretation or reliance upon symbol systems. We merely sit, open to our own associations, in which dream function is activated in our waking state, accessible for reverie.

 Karen Morris is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and Narrowsburg, NY, where she runs an Applied Abhidhamma and Creativity study group, and social dreaming matrix. She is a facilitator of Social Dreaming Matrix groups in conference and retreat settings and an award-winning author of numerous articles on social trauma. Her first collection of poems, Cataclysm and Other Arrangements (Three Stones Press), received the Gradiva Award for Poetry from NAAP (2015). As an Ambassador of Hope for Shared Hope International, she is a public educator on global and domestic juvenile sex trafficking, child sex tourism and the culture of demand. She is a co-founder of Two Rivers Zen Community.

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