Dancing from the Heart

For Papaji, dancing is only truly beautiful if it is a manifestation of no-mind. He has said, ‘When I look at people singing and dancing before me in satsang, I don’t just listen to the words or look at the movements, I look to see where the singing and dancing are coming from. If the words and movements come from the mind, then to me it looks and sounds ugly, even if the person performing is a skilled, accomplished professional. But if the singing and dancing come from the Heart, from the place of no-thought, then the performance is always beautiful to me, even if the singer is out of tune or the dancer clumsy.’

When he speaks in this vein he often illustrates his point by narrating two stories of dancers he saw many, many years ago.

I once saw a man dancing on the bank of the Kaveri River in South India. He seemed to be dancing by himself.

I thought to myself, ‘Who is he dancing for?’

When there is a performance like this, there is usually an audience to watch it. I looked around but I couldn’t see anyone. It was a very deserted place in which uninhabited forests touched the river banks. He was dancing with his eyes closed, not caring if anyone saw him or not. It was a beautiful, unselfconscious dance by a man who was spontaneously expressing his inner joy. I had never seen a dancer like this before. I was so touched by his performance, I wanted to go up to him and speak with him, but he was lost in his inner world. Once or twice his eyes opened, but he didn’t see me, even though I was in his field of vision. His eyes were open but he was not seeing anything. None of his attention was externalised. Sensing the inner beauty that was manifesting as the physical movements, I left him alone to continue the enjoyment of his dance.

I have seen many dance performances, both in the West and in India, but I have never seen a professional dancer who had the beauty that this man had. There was a smell, a taste in this man’s exhibition that cannot be got merely through practising.

I saw another man putting on a show like this. It was a long time ago, in 1945, when I was still living in Madras. I was visiting a Siva temple there when I saw this man dancing. He also was not aware that he was dancing. He danced the whole day and the whole night. People were putting food in his mouth but he wasn’t even aware that he was being fed. He had touched an inner beauty and that beauty gave him the energy to dance beautifully for hours together. This was not just some man jumping around in ecstasy. He had all the right steps, all the right movements, so he must have trained in the usual way. But, through his devotion to Siva, he had learned to transcend the limitations of the body and the mind. Through his intense bhakti to Siva he had learned to dance the way Siva dances. That is, with no mind and with no awareness of the body. When you are in love with your own Self, this is the best art. This is the best way of expressing it.

Excerpt From Nothing Ever Happened Volume Two, pages 40-41
By David Godman