Electric Dreams

Exploring Dreams through the I Ching

Hilary Barrett

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  Barrett, Hilary (2001 Feb). Exploring Dreams through the I Ching. "The Train Station." Electric Dreams 8(2). Retrieved December 30, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

The Dream
The Train Station by Miroshu

I am now 24 and I can say I have been having this dream consistently for at most 20 years. I am always trapped in a train station either taking the trains in the wrong direction or missing the trains completely, or trying to get to the right train. By the way it is not always the same train station and I ride the train almost daily in my "real life". In my dreams the stations never appear as they really are in "real life" but are close enough. I have a naturally good sense of direction in "real life", I can be somewhere once and go there again without thinking about where I have to go my body just leads me and I know the subway systems very well but in my dreams it is a totally different story. In my dreams when I receive advice from other passengers it gets me into more trouble when trying to get out of the station. Basically my goal is to leave, get out of the train station but I never seem to make it. I take the stairs only to find that I am in another area of the station. I am usually by myself sometimes with my sisters, or my best friend or my boyfriend. I almost made it out one time I got out but I was not were I wanted to be so I had to go back again in the damn train station. I am so annoyed. I need to figure it out cause I need to get out of the train station for good.
I think this may have to do with the decisions in my life but I am not that sure because this is a dream that I have been having since I was a little girl. I really have no clue where I am trying to go.

The I Ching's answer: Learning to command your potential
The I Ching's perspective on this recurring dream both explains what it is showing you, and also sets this experience in a wider context, showing you what you will need to achieve to get out of that station!

It begins with hexagram 4, Learning, which tells you why you find yourself trapped in the station. You are still learning, still ignorant, like a growing plant that is covered over. The cover means things are hidden from you: this mirrors the dream image of being caught underground, unable to find the way up, out of the station and into the daylight. But a cover can also be useful, as a way of protecting and nurturing hidden growth. The Judgement (main text) of Hexagram 4 shows this at work. A teacher is speaking:
'Learning, growth. I do not seek the young learner, the young learner seeks me. To ask once brings you insight; to ask two or three times brings only confusion, not insight. You benefit from determination.'

In other words, you receive answers only when you are ready, which is why asking your fellow passengers for directions gets you nowhere. I suspect that you've revealed the heart of the situation yourself in your comments: 'I really have no clue where I am trying to go.' A station offers you many choices of route, and many exits onto different streets in the 'real world' above - it is where you choose your future direction. If you're not sure where you want to go, you won't be able to leave the station.
In fact, this image is an indication that you have set off - your journey is underway. In the I Ching, Hexagram 3 represents birth, and hexagram 4 the next stage - growth and learning. In some ways, this stage is more difficult: 'Birth: clear vision, not losing your grip on your dwelling place. Learning: disorder, obvious.' Enlightenment comes later - but once you have left your dwelling place and moved out into the world, your first experience is naturally of confusion.

Your situation is pinpointed by just one moving line, line 6: 'Striking the learner. Violence is no use; useful to resist violence.' This, I think, expresses your current state of frustration. You keep having the same dream, and you are understandably annoyed at being stuck in 'the damn train station'! In other words, you are hitting out at your own ignorance. The I Ching acknowledges your irritation, but also warns that it won't get you anywhere.

The way things can change is depicted by the inner Pattern of Change, hexagram 43, Deciding: 'Decision. Declaring it in the ruler's chambers, crying out with sincerity. Danger. Notify your own capital city. It is no use to take up arms; it is beneficial to have a direction to go.' So your intuition about your dream is quite right: this has to do with decisions. When you first dreamt it as a child, important decisions were being made for you; now, you have the chance to take them for yourself. The next stage is to decide where you want to go: this is the fork in the path, and following one route means ruling out other possibilities. Then you can bring this decision into the open - being clear in your own mind, and then open and firm with other people. Once again, overt aggression ('taking up arms') is of no use.

The wider context for all this is shown in the Relating Hexagram: 7, the Army. This hexagram is not about attacking, but about organising potential to make it useful in practice. The Chinese 'army' was actually just the mass of common people, not a separate group: the strength of the country was hidden in the people, like an underground river. This offers you a new perspective on the things that are hidden from you - they can include underground currents of strength, and maybe aggression. This mass of unorganised potential calls for you to become a strong leader, embracing all parts of yourself, taking responsibility for your own potential and managing it like a general, or a great teacher. Find your most important principles - like a general finding his ruler - and organise your life around them.
The Nuclear Hexagram for both Hexagrams 4 and 7 is 24, Return. This is the potential at the heart of both learning and of taking responsibility: renewal, and a return to fundamentals. It can also mean a turning point, when you rediscover the right path for you. This is the hexagram of the winter solstice: the darkest time is also when the light begins imperceptibly to return. But the solstice was a time for rest, not for traveling. It may be that a large part of what you have to do here is simply wait for the understanding, growth and light that will make it possible to move on.

The I Ching is the ancient Chinese oracle of change. For a hundred generations, it has been answering people's questions, from dream interpretation to career decisions, across the whole spectrum of human experience. I have been learning from the I Ching for many years, and founded Clarity, a dedicated I Ching consultation service, to make the oracle's help readily and simply available to all who need it.

Hilary Barrett.
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