Snake Dreams: instinct, energy, life force


An historical, geographical, commercial, and philosophical view of the United States of America, and of the European settlements in America and the West-Indies
Year: 1796 (1790s)
Winterbotham, William Zoology. US Pulic Domain via Wikimedia

A Dream:

“I am up in the hills and looking for a place to camp. The hills are golden-colored, rolling, as you would find in Northern California. I am walking along the hilltops for a while and then I come to a cave. I peek inside the cave and I see a little old hermit. I say to the hermit, “Hello.” And I ask, “Is there a place to camp up here upon the hilltops?” The hermit says, “No!” I look around and I say, “But there is so much room up here in the golden hills.” Then, as I am looking around, I see that at the entrance of the cave, there is a hill and the hill is the head of a huge snake. I shift my perspective and look into the distance: seeing that this snake spans into the distance, running for many miles over the hilltops.”

In the dream, we find the image of cave. In the Upanishads, a cave is found in the depths of the heart. In there, in the cave of the heart, the cosmic Self is discovered. The Katha Upanishad (1.11-13) says “he [the cosmic Self] dwells in the cave [of the heart] of all beings.”

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The Drive toward the Other

Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas says that “the true life is absent”. He adds that we are all oriented “toward the elsewhere” and “the otherwise” and “the other”(1969). There is human drive continually arising as an urge, pushing us “forth from a world that is familiar to us, whatever be the unknown lands that bound it or that it hides from view, from an at home which we inhabit, toward and alien outside-of-oneself, toward a yonder.” Our “desire tends toward something else entirely, toward the absolute other” (1969).

This ‘absolute other’ is an otherness that lies at the horizon of our own subjectivity. We seek to know this otherness, to transcend the boundaries that lie between self and an absolute other.

Is this the root transcendence? A drive in humankind pushing us to transcend our own subjective boundaries, an urge to discover this enigmatic “absolute otherness” that lies upon the horizon. Sigmund Freud says:

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