The 9 Emperor Gods festival is celebrated by the Hokkien community. Every year, it falls on the first to the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. And during these nine days, it usually rains- this is something that a lot of celebrants know about and would be careful to carry their umbrellas around.
I do not celebrate the festival but I tend to join in and observe a nine day vegetarian diet. I have been doing this for a few years, except last year when I was on a different observation that supersedes this. Compared to others, I am not that strict in the sense that I still take milk and eggs (in the form of cakes but not directly cooked). This has nothing to do with religious observation since I am not a Taiost but I do consider that any inflicted self-discipline can serve as building blocks of more resilient character.
On Monday night was the final day. Prior to this, I’ve actually mentioned to my family that I want to cut down my intake of meat, specifically on pork (I don’t take beef or mutton or any other mammals). I went to sleep as normal but did not sleep well. I had a strange dream:
I was supposed to make appointment to meet someone. But on the way, I parked my car and went to a place. Talked to a bunch of people I do not know. For close to 10 years, it has always been like this- I’ve always dreamt of being in places- mostly grey and almost abandoned places where I usually meet and talk to people whom I did not know in my current life. So far, no one’s managed to give me a good explanation why these strange dreams constantly happen to me. The effect is that I wake up sometimes feeling like I’ve not slept. At first I’ve thought that it was stress from my job but I have that even after I’ve left my job- even though I admit that the dreams were not so negative or intensively draining.
The thing is that we normally react in dreams as our real self. Sometimes when dreams put us into certain situation and we react negatively to it, it may serve as a good indication of who we really are because it is our subconscious mind being fully active. In the past, I’ve had dreams when I was being instigated and angered and have reacted as such.
After I left my stressful job and went travelling, my outlook in life had changed, I’ve learned to let go and be more contented. And so the way I react in my dreams seemed to be in line with the change that I’ve experienced in my life. The reactions had become less intensive and explosive. But scenarios in the dream, as I will describe more below makes me feel a little tired on most days when I get up. But no longer so drained that I could not drag myself out of bed like how it used to be.
Anyway, back to the dream- I stopped by prior to my appointment with someone (who again I do not know in my real life), parked my car and went to a place to talk to some people that I seemed to know in the dream but do not know in my real life. Then, somehow it was getting late and I know I had to get to the appointment. But I just forgot where I parked my car. I ran and walked for what it seemed like for hours- till it was night turning to dawn. I could not find my car or any familar landmark- I went and walked all over the huge building.
After a lot of walking, I found an old man and asked him for directions. I forgotten his response but as I walked further, I saw a market. As I was walking in a direction, I saw about 4 or 5 very huge pigs (the size of a cow but distinctly looks like a pig) walking towards being slaughtered.
Now, I could never bear to view any animals being slaughtered from as young as I would remember. I felt my heart bled knowing their inevitable deaths (but strangely in the dream the pigs looked calm- they do not look afraid and even appeared to be voluntarily having their throats slit). I turned to the opposite direction as I could not bear to see…. and saw a normal size pig lying on its back, lifeless. Its stomach carried some slash wounds with no bleeding- but I knew the poor thing had died at the hands of a pig slaughterer. Just a few slashes- and it broke my heart seeing the death animal.
Not long later I woke up and saw the clock as being only 3.30am. I said some short prayers especially for those animals in my dream before I went back to sleep. It just felt like the right thing to do. But the dream struck me as being strange, especially after a nine day vegetarian diet.
Now back to real life, a friend recently told me that her uncle had died terribly from cancer. He used to slaughter pigs for a living. Later he contracted cancer and but strangely, the cancer growth seemed to move around.
Once, it was on the lung, and when they did the x-ray, they could not find it and later it moved to another place. No one could do anything about it- in the end, he suffered terribly before he succumbed to the caner- my friend said that he made lots of strange animal-like noises prior to his death.
Years ago, when I first learn meditation, one of my meditation teacher’s father was a pig slaughterer. This teacher shared with us that he was very concerned for his dad for killing these large mammals all his life because from meditation insight, he knew there are bad kammic consequence that comes from killing these large animals. His father listened and was trying to slowly transition into doing some farming work instead.
He told us then to stay away from profession that involved harming other living beings and if our parents are in such professions, we should try our best to discourage them from continuing it.