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|April 2007 · Vol 4, No 4|
copyright © Fellowship of Friends, Inc.
Lord of the Dance
Movement occurs in time, yet a single movement can take one outside of time; a unity of limbs, hands and feet in enlightened motion, a dance of awareness into a perfect stillness that only presence creates. Schools cultivate physical movement to open the door between the world and the divine, using ritual dance, exercise movements, and the supreme physical control of artistic dance to promote consciousness through movement, and although this is not the only answer in the pursuit of self-development, it is one of the more practical. Gurdjieff taught movement as a means of awakening, and observed that, 'a man may want to study his movements, may want to observe how he walks. But he will never succeed in doing so for more than a moment if he continues to walk in the usual way.'
His observation gives one initiative; one notices that most movement has no particular aim, for example, facial expressions and hand gestures during a conversation. For every word there is a gesture, for every thought a movement, automatically expressed without necessity or grace. After some self-study, one sees a whole catalogue of expressions and poses, many of them towards self-importance. Yet the aim is not to eliminate unnecessary movement as this would appear unnatural, and draw even more attention. It is not self-denial that one wants, but self-awareness. The aim is conscious movement, whatever the movement is. If one nods automatically while another person is speaking, then one would restrain the movement until eventually, one has conscious control of it. Through initiatives of this kind, participants of a school use movement as a vehicle for presence. Eventually movement becomes the servant of Higher Centers, performing a living ballet to the threshold of conscious life, where the Beloved is dancing, all the time.
Arabian Nights: Whenever he stood up to pray, there came a fox which would position himself facing him and which, by mimicking his movements, distracted him from his prayer.
Hafiz: Your breath is a sacred clock, my dear - why not use it to keep time with God's Name? Do not let your precious movements come to naught.
Shams: A saint's movements or dance is light and gentle.
Arabian Nights: My beloved dances, setting one foot before the other.
Confucius: Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.
Gnostic Gospels, Acts of John: Whoever does not dance does not know what happens; Amen.
Lalla: Dance, Lalla, with nothing on but air. Sing, Lalla, wearing the sky. Look at this glowing day! What clothes could be so beautiful, or more sacred?
Rumi: Come, my companions; prepare for the dance in the other world.
The Sufi dances in ecstasy, to find a way to the Beloved.
The God Shiva, dancing on the threshold of the Self, showing infinite grace and economy of movement, while crushing the lower self.
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(The images included here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for any other use.)