Contemplations from the 19th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.
Sutra 18: NARTAKA ATMA.
The Self/The Soul/God is a dancer.
So, Nataraj The Cosmic Dancer, Lord Shiva The True Teacher, our sacred source of wisdom has led us all, his studious acolytes, on a cosmic conga through these supreme sutras; and wondrous has been the journey thus far.
Back in Sutra 11 (LOKANANDA SAMADHI SUKHAM) Shiva presaged the words and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi when he urged us to 'Be the change you wish to see in the World...'
And then in Sutra 14 (SURIRAM HAVIH) Shiva was the inspiration for the Rolling Stones who would later record their most famous song 'Satisfaction' in testament to the insatiability of egoic appetite derived from a sense of lack within. Well this week Mahadev is once more proving his worth as the Daddy of all cultural icons. This time he reveals that he is a key influence on none other than The Bard himself, William Shakespeare no less!
In his play 'As you like it' Shakespeare writes "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts..." This famous Shakespearean passage has clear parallels with Shiva's auspicious analogy here in this Sutra, and the enduring wisdom which carried from the base of an ancient stone in India to the tip of a quill in Stratford in Avon centuries later, carries just as much axiomatic clout today as it ever has.
This world's a play, an opera, a ballet. It's a staged production in which we are all but dancers, actors, singers and performers; playing roles and throwing shapes, singing choruses, delivering lines and generally enacting a vast, cosmic drama. It's a great drama which is perpetual, ever changing and which seems so very real and absolute. Yet, says Shiva it's actually just a surface level phenomenon being perceived as the bedrock of experience, while at a much more profound substrate there exists THE Absolute, the truth of God/Self, the truth that this world is but a dance of energy and we are the dancers; energetic expressions acting out our parts in whichever roles or dance steps the Universe has ordained should be ours to perform.
What the true Teacher is keen to convey is that we should understand this primary state of affairs and seek to cavort consciously therefrom. So if we can keep the awareness that we are the dancers, uppermost in mind, we won't get confused with being the dance itself. If we can remember that we are the actors in a role, we won't become forgetful and claim our identification as the role. This way, Shiva tells us, we won't get stuck in frozen postures of resistance or stagnation, as instead we co-participate and flow freely through the unpredictable panoply of scenes, voicing arias, delivering dialogue or performing perfect pirouettes. We'll be more Placido Domingo than King Canute, more Daniel Day Lewis than Maggie Thatcher, resembling Nureyev in Swan Lake rather than Nietzche philosophically declaring The Death of God!
Be free as The Dancer, says Mahadev. Flow through the steps, shapes and shimmies like a rhythmic river rolling and rippling from mountain to sea, entrance to exit. Don't think yourself some grim, grippy glacier, gradually grinding an agonising course from cradle to grave. Get up on the floor and dance, it may be later than you think!!
The Self/The Soul/God is a dancer.
Gently swaying to the beat,
Or Dervish whirling on our toes,
The rhythm pulsing through our feet,
Or gently lilting in repose,
To dance with Life is really something,
The shifting tempo ebbs and flows,
At times the heart is swollen, thumping,
In other steps it softly glows,
When we awaken from our slumber,
With steady mind and focussed gaze,
With One oh Eight our sacred number,
We're dancing through Life's twisting maze.
~ by Elliot Donnelly.