MY MOTHER'S DREAMS
Yao Shen, Professor Emeritus
University of Hawaii
A Chinese child growing up in a traditional Chinese family normally learns to respect and to participate in the harmony of Heaven, Earth, and Man. This is achieved through imbibing from his elders the concept of the ever-evolving, symbiotic process of yin and yang as it is manifested in such complementary phenomena as the continuous recurrences of the seasons, rain and sunshine, day and night, sleeping and waking, inhalation and exhalation, birth and deathto name only a few. As an individual, the child learns to identify his own role as a symbiont in manifold relationsto the sages, to his ancestors, to his family members, to his relatives, and to his friends. Each of these symbiotic relationships leads the growing child to a realization of the basic notion of complementation, that develops into an awareness of the coexistence of the invisible and the visible, and guides him in recognizing various means through which significant messages are sent and received. One of these means is his dreams, which awaken in him a need to know and to respond to messages, and find for himself his place in this ever-evolving process of yin and yang. In my own family, especially with my mother and myself, dreams were looked upon as containing messages significant in the process of attaining harmony among Heaven, Earth, and Man. A few of my mother's dreams and mine are given below.
My father died unexpectedly in the summer of 1933 when he and three generations of his family were making their home in Shanghai. On the third day following his death, while his body was being laid into a coffin, my mother fainted. Everybody assumed she was overcome with grief because of the sudden loss of her husband.
By the summer following my father's death, my mother had well recovered from her apparent grief. One day, while the family was making preparations to mark the first