Zen & Social Dreaming


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. Recalling dreams, memories and associations, makes evident the links of our social connectedness, of which our zazen and realization of the dharma through practice and discussion are also expressions. Dreams that arise within the matrix reflect the conditions and desires from out of which participants have gathered across time <~~~> space <~~~> history.

To experience the matrix means opening to the source of our dreams. Affect-driven narratives express the search for meaning and hidden presence of Wisdom, depicted through condensed imagery and the activities of the dream. Past, present and future conditions of the world stream through consciousnesses into our personal dream-life narratives. 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 coming together for study and practice, our dreams, in conjunction with the trajectory of our personal histories precede our gathering. 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 is not reliant upon a symbol system. From out of this non-interpretive, non-reliant stance our capacities for recall and reverie flourish. 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 multi-dimensional gift of our live’s with others. We merely sit, open to our own associations, in which the dream function is activated in our waking state, accessible for reverie.

Karen Morris is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Narrowsburg, NY, where she runs Applied Abhidharma & Creativity, and Social Dreaming study groups. She has facilitated Social Dreaming Matrixes in conference and retreat settings throughout the country. She is an award-winning author of numerous articles on social trauma and 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 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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