The Valley of the Shadow of Death

We were at my Nana’s house watching TV when I had this strange feeling that the air was being sucked out of the room. I yelled for everyone to get down on the floor and I covered them with blankets. Then, all of the windows in the house exploded inward and there was this overpowering sound like a train coming toward us. I ran outside and stood in the driveway looking at what must have been an F4 tornado about half a mile in the distance. It was uprooting and destroying everything in it’s path and heading directly for me.

I was just staring at the blackness of the tornado as it ripped up houses and trees in its path. But I couldn’t move. My family was yelling at me to get out of the way and run but I was paralyzed with the insatiable curiosity of staring death in the face. It was just a few yards off and I marveled at the beauty of it and the perfection of nature.

It was now right on top of me. The tornado slowly lifted me off the ground. My arms were outstretched and my body formed a cross. As I was being pulled into the tornado I realized I was about to die. I felt a sense of peace and said Psalm 23 out loud:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The last thing I remember was a short flash of being torn to pieces.

When I woke up I was in an open field and I was greeted by God (who looked a lot like Kevin Klein). He welcomed me and we talked but I don’t remember what we talked about. He led me into a gigantic room where there were lots of little people processing people that were waiting in line. There was a giant book that flipped open when I got to the front of the line (God was still standing with me). I somehow knew it was my page it was open to.

There were pasted crayon drawing and stickers that kids would collect. The little person was about to close the book again and I asked God to keep the book open so I could see it. He kept it open for a few seconds longer and I saw that there were two numbers that divided up the good and bad things I had done in my life. The bad things I had done were like 2,334,000 and the good things were 3,423,230. The first thing that shocked me was that the numbers were so large and the realization that even the smallest things we do must have a ripple effect of good and bad in all directions.

I was granted access because I had done less bad and more good in my life. I wondered what my fate would have been otherwise. I do not recall much after this. I just remember thinking that I lead what I considered to be a descent and good life, but I had apparently caused much harm. This upset me and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up.

Comments (10):

  1. Alex

    September 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Very self-reflective dream. Do you feel that it is close to the truth in a sense about you?

    Reply
    • Matthew

      September 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      That’s a big question, Alex. The short answer is yes. Can you be more specific?

      Reply
    • Alex

      September 21, 2011 at 5:35 am

      I just read your answer! It’s more or less what you say at the last paragraph. Do you feel that you have made a descent and good life, but also have done much harm around you? Do you fear of judgement?

      Reply
    • Matthew

      September 21, 2011 at 6:10 am

      Perhaps. I also see a bit of ridiculousness in it. Like Randall said below, my Heaven seems pretty superficial and, well, ridiculous. Though I certainly believe in an afterlife, I’m guessing that the simulations we’ve built into religions around the world fall quite short of the reality.

      So, my dream says that either I’m incredibly cynical about our current understand of an afterlife or that I actual believe something as absurd as the Heaven in my dream. I’m going with the former if only to save myself from the embarrassment of realizing there’s just not much depth to my beliefs.

      Reply
    • Alex

      September 21, 2011 at 7:51 am

      In my opinion, dreams can be read in two ways. One is the literal way. Which is what you describe. There is a real concern about afterlife and everything that comes with it. But the other way is the metaphorical way. I mean the things that going on in your psyche in the present time. So to be more specific, do you fear of judgement by your “God” self , and if yes, where is this part of your personality coming from? Do you feel that you are not keeping up the good deeds? Do you feel that you are not as good person as you would want to be .. or a “divine/ideal image” wants it to be?

      Reply
  2. Randall

    September 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Hi Matt,

    This one seems to be about ‘The undiscovered country”. What it means to you depends on your state of mind right now probably. But it seems that it is an attempt by you to confront it in a much more concrete way than in the past. And this seems healthy to me.

    I’ll give you my impressions of the imagery:

    >We were at my Nana’s house watching TV when I had this strange >feeling that the air was being sucked out of the room.

    Death is approaching

    >I yelled for everyone to get down on the floor and I covered
    > them with blankets.

    It’s interesting that you cover the living with blankets. Blankets are usually associated with covering the dead.

    >Then, all of the windows in the house exploded inward and there
    > was this overpowering sound like a train coming toward us.

    Death has arrived

    > I ran outside and stood in the driveway looking at what must
    > have been an F4 tornado about half a mile in the distance. It was > uprooting and destroying everything in it’s path and heading >directly for me.

    You run towards death and away from the living.

    > I was just staring at the blackness of the tornado as it ripped up
    > houses and trees in its path. But I couldn’t move.

    Unmoved, but facing death forward.

    >My family was yelling at me to get out of the way and run but I
    > was paralyzed with the insatiable curiosity of staring death in the > face.

    Life is calling but in the distance.

    > It was just a few yards off and I marveled at the beauty of it and
    > the perfection of nature.

    Again a comportment towards death.

    > It was now right on top of me. The tornado slowly lifted me off
    > the ground. My arms were outstretched and my body formed a
    > cross. As I was being pulled into the tornado I realized I was
    > about to die. I felt a sense of peace

    This is probably the most interesting part, because it seems very personal. If you see the film “The Passion of Christ” one thing that comes to mind as Jesus is carrying the cross to his eventual death is…why doesn’t he just lay down and die ? Just stop the pain and die for God’s sake! But he doesn’t, and moreover on the cross he apologizes for dying (of course this is just one interpretation of the events). But it re-enforces a very different image of a movement towards life. This for me brings to life, “the real” last temptation of Christ: just die already! But instead he always moves towards life even when his fate is death.

    > and said Psalm 23 out loud:

    >The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie
    > down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He
    > restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for
    > his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
    > shadow of death, I shall fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thou
    > preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. >Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
    > and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

    This is very elaborate, and I am unfamiliar with this prayer with any kind of deep meaning for me (and so it is above my understanding), but in looking at it just now, it seems to me to keep the theme that even in death I am walking towards life (with security). But for you it defintely seems to have a different meaning that is not entirely clear, but it seems that you have walked towards death with comfort.

    > The last thing I remember was a short flash of being torn to
    > pieces.

    Death is upon you.

    > When I woke up I was in an open field and I was greeted by God
    > (who looked a lot like Kevin Klein). He welcomed me and we
    > talked but I don’t remember what we talked about.

    So death is not death. But then we get into some really superficial imagery.

    > He led me into a gigantic room where there were lots of little
    > people processing people that were waiting in line. There was a
    > giant book that flipped open when I got to the front of the line
    >(God was still standing with me).

    Heaven is really prosaic!

    > I somehow knew it was my page it was open to.
    >There were pasted crayon drawing and stickers that kids would
    > collect.

    Back to innocence.

    > The little person was about to close the book again and I asked
    > God to keep the book open so I could see it.

    This is interesting that you want to know.

    > He kept it open for a few seconds longer and I saw that there were
    > two numbers that divided up the good and bad things I had done >in my life. The bad things I had done were like 2,334,000 and the
    > good things were 3,423,230.

    Again a very prosaic criterion for goodness. For example murdering someone would only count as one bad thing? That’s just silly.

    > The first thing that shocked me was that the numbers were so
    > large and the realization that even the smallest things we do must
    > have a ripple effect of good and bad in all directions.I was granted > access because I had done less bad and more good in my life.

    This is Star Trek morality.

    > I wondered what my fate would have been otherwise. I do not
    > recall much after this. I just remember thinking that I lead what
    > I considered to be a descent and good life, but I had apparently
    > caused much harm. This upset me and that’s the last thing I
    > remember before waking up.

    Overall you think you are a good person. Afterall that’s why you made it to heaven and you are now hangin with Kevin Klein (God), but then you are shown the criterion by which you were measured to be good (or maybe the criterion in which you measured yourself) and realize that maybe it’s not enough.

    Ok that’s just my opinion of the imagery and stuff, but you are definitely getting very good at articulating this imagery.

    Take care

    Reply
  3. Matthew

    September 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I think that’s a great interpretation – one that had not occurred to me. I agree that heaven was really B movie-ish. But, I think that’s perfectly in keeping with my beliefs. Man’s imagined heaven is to any real heaven what a one bedroom apartment is to the whole cosmos.

    Reply
    • Randall

      September 10, 2011 at 5:56 am

      Any time pal. I’m actually a little surprised that you think it’s a good interpretation. Somewhere on an external memory drive I have tens of pages of commentary on your older stuff, but no matter how I tried to refine it, all of my commentary fit under the category of “the wrong time” so I tucked them away. Maybe one day when you come to visit me here in Rome we can dig them up.

      Reply
  4. Randall

    September 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Matt,

    Ha! You take a side step here with a conversation about the afterlife, but you have already stated your beliefs on the question of afterlife here in a direct way:
    http://www.nautis.com/2005/11/node-432/

    Have you now changed your position? Basically your position in the “champagne supernova” post is a lot more consistent with your overall “system” of thought than the superficial “afterlife” representations that we saw in your recent dream.

    Your system of thought is everywhere intoned with the “Oriental” mode of thought where the ego is completely extinguished in the indeterminacy of some type of cosmic substance.

    You have always thought of Rightousness in terms of the absolute abolishment of the ego, while at the same time you have equally demonstrated a gutteral desire to preserve and confirm the concreteness of your personal ego (sensations, feelings, memories). This for me is the dialectic in which you continue to move without any resolution.

    For Hegel, Oriental thought was right to move from the limitations of the ego to “pure indeterminacy” but Oriental thinking was wrong to suggest that this was the ultimate resting place. Instead Hegel follows, Western thinkers such as Parmenedes, Heraclitus, Descartes, and Spinoza who all arrive at this point of “pure indeterminacy”, but instead of taking this pure being as an ultimate resting place they take it as the absolute beginning.

    I don’t think that any of the superficial representations that you have of heaven in you dream coincide with your actual beliefs of what you expect of an afterlife.

    What’s interesting about the “afterlife sequence” is your desire to know the details of the judgement, and then the ensuing “re-evaluation” that you experience.

    Reply
  5. Max_B

    January 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Interesting dream imagery, with a many western NDE-like elements. Infact I’d hazzard a wild guess that you might well have been struggling to breath at this point whilst sleeping (air getting sucked out of the room?), perhaps this was due to the bedding (blanket?). Then you get pulled into a tunnel (your tornado?), and then you got to the personal bit… I ignore the actual imagery, and just concentrate on the feelings/emotions it evokes (or indeed the feelings/emotions which evoke the imagery).

    … at present, I tend to feel the personal bit of the NDE type experience might be the difference between your individual pattern, when compared with the aggregate of your cultural group members pattern. It’s currently the only way I can make sense of the cultural similarities recounted by those who have these types of experience.

    Reply

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