The Artists Journey

Dancing is a heros journey

The call to dance

In a situation of ordinay normality some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

Refusal of the inner call

From a sense of fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the dancer in his current circumstances, often when a ‘inner call’ to do a movement is given, he or she refuse to heed it. Refusal of the summons converts the lust to express the feelings into its negative. Walled in boredom, the dancer loses the power of significant affirmative action and the dancers consciousness starts to fall ‘asleep’. His inner flowering world becomes a wasteland and his dance feels meaningless—even though, he may through titanic effort succeed in learing the most difficult techniques. Whatever movement the person does, it will be empty: a tool to build walls to hide from him his insecurity. All he can do is await the gradual loss of his passion for dancing.

Meeting the inner mentor

Once the dancer has committed to dance in his own way, consciously or unconsciously, his guide from within starts to communicate with him and magical helpers appear. More often than not, this inner guide will lead the dancer by intuition to meet other more experienced dancers that will give him pieces of advice that will boost the dancers development process. New bits of information start to connect with each other and beginn to make sense on other levels of significance. Everything that the dancer now will discover is a reassurance—promise that the freedom to dance is a peace of paradise, which was known first within the mother womb, is not to be lost; that though the freedom may seem to be endangered by many obstacles and difficulties, protective power is always and ever present within or just behind the unfamiliar features of the world. One has only to trust and keep going. Having responded to his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the dancer finds all the forces of the unconscious at his side.

Cross the first threshold

This is the point where the dancer actually crosses into the field of development, leaving the known limits of his world and venturing into an unknown and ‘dangerous’ realm where the rules and limits are unknown. With the call of his destiny, the dancer goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the ‘threshold’ at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The development is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.

Entering the unknown

It’s the final separation from the dancers known world. By entering this stage, the dancer shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. When first entering the stage the dancer may encounter a minor danger or set back. The idea that the passage of the threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth. The dancer, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have lost the direction. The lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the dancer ‘dies’, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshipper into a temple—where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely that he is dust and ashes. The temple interior and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same. That is why the approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal fear. The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the dancers-dive through the fear are identical adventures, both denoting in the life-centering, life-renewing act.

Problems, tests and experiments

The road of trials is a series of tests that the dancer must undergo to begin the transformation during his practise. Often the dancer fails one or more of these tests and is about to loose motivation for his practise. Eventually the dancer will overcome these trials and move on to the next step. Once having traversed the threshold, the dancer moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must succeed the trials. This stage requires and develops a lot of patientence and persistence for the training. The dancer is covertly aided by the advice of the advice givers whom he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that the dancer here discovers for the first time, that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his long journey to become really free. The departure into the land of trials represents only the beginning of the long and really perilous path of initiatory conquests and moments of illumination. Fears have now to be faced and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unsustainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the dancer longs for.

The Meeting with the Goddess **

The ultimate adventure, when all the barriers have been overcome, is commonly represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart. The meeting with the goddess (who is incarnate in every woman) is the final test of the talent of the hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity. And when the adventurer, in this context, is not a youth but a maid, she is the one who, by her qualities, her beauty, or her yearning, is fit to become the consort of an immortal (unification with pure consciousness). Then the heavenly husband descends to her and conducts her to his bed—whether she will or not. And if she has shunned him, the scales fall from her eyes; if she has sought him, her desire finds its peace.

Atonement with the Father/Abyss

In this step the dancer must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his art. As a dancer this is all that he did not want to do: for example dancing simple, ugly, off beat, minimalistic, feminin or other things. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous exercises have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Atonement consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster—the devil thought to be God (dancing very well whatever that meant for him) and the God thought to be devil (dancing very badly whatever that meant for him). But this requires an abandonment of the attachment to ego itself, and that is what is difficult. One must have a faith to just accept himself as mortal human, imperfect and small as he is, and look upon himself with compassion. Therewith, the center of belief is transferred outside by letting go and surrendering to the mystery of live. All the longing for a better place, life and feeling, all escaping from the fear of beeing unimportant and mortal dissolve. The dancer transcends with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. The dancer deeply feels that he payed the price to be accepted by himself and the society.

The celebration

This is the point of realization in which a greater understanding is achieved. Armed with this new knowledge and perception, the dancer is resolved and ready for the more difficult part of the adventure. Those who know, not only that the Everlasting lies in them, but that what they, and all things, really are is the Everlasting, are now confident enough to make a movement clean and complete. They don’t hurry anymore neither any movement contain intention to impress or hide. They dance transformed from a question to a non-negotiable statement. The fight is over and every movement has exactly the time, space and energy that it needs; not more and not less.

The Reward

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the practise. It is what the dancer went to get. All the exercise serve to prepare and purify the dancer for this experience, since the boon is something transcendent like the realization of the true self. This miraculous state of mind and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the state of mind of the the Supreme Buddha.

Refusal of the Return

Dancing is nothing more than an escape from responsibility in the original reality, which still exists despite the parallel world of the other world. Having found bliss and enlightenment in the dancers world, the dancer may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the experience onto his fellow man. When the dancers goal has been accomplished, through penetration to the source of movement, or through the grace of some male or female, human or superhuman, personification, the dancer still must return with his life-transmuting experience. The full round, requires that the dancer shall now begin the labor of bringing his wisdom, to humanity, where the experience may redound to the renewing of the community. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the dance fabled to have taken up residence forever in the world of dance.

Rescue from Without

Just as the artist may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the artist has been wounded or weakened by the experience. The artist may have to be brought back from his adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. ‘Who having cast off the world would desire to return again? He would be only there.’ And yet, in so far as the artist is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the artist is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one is only delayed—sealed in by the beatitude of the state of perfect being (which resembles death)—an apparent rescue is effected, and the adventurer returns.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a average human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. The returning artist, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world. Many failures attest to the difficulties of this life-affirmative threshold. The first problem of the returning artist is to accept as real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss? As dreams that were momentous by night may seem simply silly in the light of day, so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves playing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes. The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock dwelling and close the door. But if some artist has decided to stay in the retreat, then the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity, cannot be avoided.

Master of Two Worlds

For an artist, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds. Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back—not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other, yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the other—is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another. It is possible to speak from only one point at a time, but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest. The individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in the realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly relaxes to whatever may come to pass in him; he becomes, that is to say, an anonymity.

Freedom to live

In this step, mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past. Theartist does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the ‘other thing’), as destroying the permanent with its change. ‘Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure that nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.’ Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass.