lucideyeMark and I were fully engaged in our Pakistani letter campaign, but set it all aside for a period because of commitments we had previously made – one was in helping to get Seva Café off the ground and the other was to run a few sessions during the training period for the new Indicorps fellows.

Indicorps is an organization like the Peace Corps that offers one-year fellowships to non-resident Indians (NRIs) to come to India, reconnect, and work for a year on a project in tandem with existing, pre-selected NGOs (non-governmental organizations or nonprofits). Its aim is as much to help the fellows develop internally as it is external, development work.

For some reason, Mark and I have a reputation for having a slightly unorthodox approach to “service”, and Roopal from Indicorps was hoping we could help transfer some of this spirit into the newbies.

Mark decided he would lead morning meditations, and I decided to run two programs to make them aware of their possibilities, and to help them out of traps they may end up in later in the year.

My first program was called “Entering the Dream.” I haven’t really spent much time in a teaching role and am not much for preparation. I showed up with a vague notion of a plan, leaving the whole Indicorps staff totally in the dark about what I would be doing and how they should prepare for it. Somehow, they let me get away with this, and so I looked around the ESI campus where they were staying for some place a little weird.

I spotted a corner of a water collection ravine lined with rocks and thought this looked a little dreamlike. I announce that the session would be held down there and everyone gathered suspiciously.

I began by telling them that if this didn’t change their lives that it wasn’t being taught right because it’s that powerful of a concept.

I started talking about dreams and eventually asked if people had heard of a lucid dream. We discussed lucid dreams and how when lucid in a dream, there is no reason not to have fun and follow one’s fantasies to the fullest – one can take flight or become a pro-wrestler. Why not? We can do anything. Our limitations are self-imposed.

lucid_fishinafishI then explained that to me, there is very little difference between a dream and life. In waking life, when we become lucid, we are aware that here too, so many of our limitations are self-imposed.

I think I forgot to mention that at some point, I jumped in the water and was talking to the group on my back. I told them that any one of them could jump in the water with me. We are free, but are concerned about consequences – will I catch a cold? Will I get the car wet? How will I get dry clothes? Etc. All of these are legitimate concerns. The trouble is that we can easily go a whole lifetime without really living life because we are too concerned about these details.

I told them that the day’s assignment would be to break into groups of three, go into town, and enter the dream. I challenged them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, to embrace the absurd, and to dare each other to do stuff. This went completely against everything they had been told for three straight weeks – how to be culturally sensitive to the extreme. The real message Indicorps was telling them was not to be ignorant, and what I was telling them was to be lucid. In lucidity, there is no ignorance.

Eventually, the mutiny settled down, and we hit the jeeps. Their mission was to stop the jeep at any point en route as a group, get out, and get lucid, and then meet back at a restaurant in town a few hours later. At various points, they all jumped out and had extraordinary adventures.

lucid1I wish I could convey all their stories here, because they were fantastic! Mark and I arrived at the meeting pedaling a guy’s bike cart, and dancing with him on the platform, and then again on top of a truck full of bricks. We figured that within 10 minutes, we probably outdid all of them, but it so wasn’t true. They cut each other’s hair, threw rose pedals off of buildings, tried to take a bath in a showroom.

Most of all, they got it. They understood that this wasn’t about being culturally insensitive. One could always smile and let off a little gleam through the eyes to let others know that no harm is intended. It is just about ridding oneself of fear and awaking to the full potential of every moment.

My hope is that when they feel trapped and like giving up at some point during the year – which most of them probably will – that they can remember that their feeling trapped is just being stuck in a bad dream and that it can often be altered with just a little shift toward lucidity.