Dancing with the shadow

From the moment I started dancing, I began to meet many forgotten parts of myself. Tango has awakened dormant shadows from their deep slumber. I am never dancing only with my partner, I am also dancing with my inner-most self. I’ve looked into the mirror of the dance and witnessed some very surprising, abandoned parts of my being. In order to keep dancing, I’ve had to allow these parts to express and be re-embraced by me.  I am in a continuous dance play that reveals the hidden and the unknown.  I dance with my infinite light as well as my submerged darkness. I dance with my joy and bliss.  And I dance with my deepest, darkest shadows.

I like to think of these shadows as the lost aspects of my life experience that have been ignored and long forgotten. They are the rejected parts of my mind-body-spirit  left to the basement of unresolved memories. They are like rejected children that never received the love and attention they needed. So they collapsed inward upon themselves and became the left over products of old pain. But these shadows are also blessings. They are priceless treasures of beauty buried by old judgements. And these shadows are archetypes in disguise concealing both glorious goddesses and wretched demons. All of them have been waiting for some small chance to make their presence known. No shadow form is the polar opposite of the other. They are all just bits and pieces of a whole that have been judged to be “wrong” and stuffed away for another time when they can be either released, or empowered.

No one can hide a demon in the bedroom closet for very long. When the lights turn on in a darkened basement, all the imagined shadows disperse.   Every shadow embraced and held to the light reveals that the demon is nothing more than an Angel wearing the mask of human pain.  Beneath the face of misery lies a thousand smiling Buddhas. And as I dance, these masks are pulled away.  Nothing is easy about removing a mask that I’ve fooled myself into thinking serves me.  And yet, nothing is powerful about defending a facade.  But stripping it away is empowering because the rediscovered authenticity leads to more personal freedom.

Part of the beauty of this journey of discovery lies in the element of surprise. It’s impossible to remember everything lost until it’s been found again.  Most of us simply adapt, thinking that a compromised state of functioning is normal. But this is a lie, because if any part of the authentic self has been suppressed, then we are actually dis-empowered.  The lost and buried treasure of our submerged self is a place where our deepest power lies.  And to uncover the treasure again is to reclaim our natural inborn spiritual power.

For myself, finding the lost treasure trove has involved reconnecting with the Feminine Lover-Goddess. The Goddess has many forms.  But it is particularly the Lover-Goddess that often falls by the wayside.  She is by far the most culturally misrepresented and suppressed. And she is the hardest to re-embrace due to social conditioning. She is a pure, non-polarized expression of the Divine Feminine in full magnitude.  Yet she is portrayed through cultural filters of distortion, or told that her unique expression is wrong. So women in turn, tell themselves they are wrong.  I have told myself I am wrong. And that’s how personal truth gets buried away in the hidden graveyard of the mind.

My Tango dancing journey has been stripping away defensive masks that no longer serve me. These are masks that conceal the inner Lover-Goddess. She is rising to the surface and coming into new and fuller life.  On the dance floor, this new life is nothing more than pure energetic expression.  But yet, I have found that she can sometimes be very frightening to people.  It’s nothing the Lover-Goddess “does” or “says.”  It’s just her mere presence.  And the more her presence shows up, the more others sometimes become uncomfortable. This is because she mirrors the shadows and gifts within them as well.  I have silently witnessed in fascination as the Lover-Goddess presence has plunged people into their submerged negativity or shame, or elevated them into their sublime presence.     In witnessing this process, I discover how to hold space for my own deep shame and negativity. I am practicing how to look at these shadows more clearly and perceive them without rejection.  I am learning how to hold them with love and compassion and allow them to express themselves like the children they are. I am setting them free by allowing them to have a long-awaited voice.  And in doing so,  I am peeling back my own layers of untruth and attempting to be delivered into my most outrageously beautiful truth!   And I no longer care who doesn’t understand it……………..

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“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”   -William W. Purkey

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And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”   -Friedrich Nietzsche

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 “Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” -Rumi

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Words divide, but Tango unites

One of the most beautiful things about tango is how the dance partnership asks you to trust, surrender, open and share your essence with another person (often a stranger). Yet this can also present challenges.  For example, I find myself continually perplexed by the fact that I dance extremely well with people who I have nothing in common with off the dance floor.This really speaks to me about the power of non-verbal communication.  When you take language off the table, and enter into pure movement dialog with another person, it’s a game changer in terms of chemistry and compatibility.  And this kind of dance “conversation” can be more real and satisfying than a verbal exchange. For me it connects me deeply and intimately with people I wouldn’t otherwise ever connect with. And what can be more truthful and freeing than circumventing the density of words in favor of a simple embrace?  The reward of this is unexpected joy and fulfillment in the arms of the most unlikely individuals.

In this way, language is a serious obstacle to the Tango connection because it is a construct of ideas with the power to drive a wedge between people. And words are very limited when compared to the silent, subtle reality of pure being.  My most beloved partners are not people who I would normally socialize with.   Yet when it comes to tango, I long to embrace each one of them in the timeless journey of the dance.  In the absence of words, we flow together in perfect unity with a precious and honest beauty.  But if I had to talk to some of them at length about spirituality or politics or even Tango, we would probably argue. But fortunately, we choose to transcend this barrier and instead we just dance.  No useless words, only action.  We meet on the dance floor, using only the language of elegant movement and we get to the heart of what is real: A heart filled connection.

Words may divide but the Tango embrace unites.  So on the dance floor, in the absence of words, I completely offer my heart and spirit to my cherished dance partners.  Although my offering is only on the level of energy and presence with the dance, for me it is complete and exposed on so many levels. It is my conscious choice to open my energy field to this degree and I do so with partners I generally trust. But it’s a vulnerable place to be with people you don’t know that well.  And trust of this kind can be a fragile thing, easily betrayed by the aggression of words.  A casual, insensitive criticism that would normally not faze me has the impact to shatter me if delivered while I am in this vulnerable state.   Months and months of built-up trust is so easily compromised by thoughtless comments.

Perhaps I’m just the overly sensitive type? Or perhaps Tango has come into my life to teach me deeper lessons about detachment and the true source of inner fulfillment? Yes, tango is constantly teaching me to strengthen my resolve, to be more humble, to let go of ego on deeper levels.  This dance is challenging me physically, mentally and emotionally to stretch myself and my perceived boundaries. It is training me to remain in my power center and to be true to myself,  without compromise or manipulative influence from others.  The moment we let other people’s insensitivity and discomfort shut down our joyful expression is the moment we lose ourselves. And if we have lost our joy, our peace of mind, we have lost everything worth having. We are not here to be controlled by other people’s fears.  We are here rise in our divinity and to love unconditionally and fearlessly, even when it scares others.  It’s a mistake to take anything personally or make other people’s problems our own.   Dance in joy, be joy, share this joy, even if it is rejected. Never let the rejection stop you, for you are the sole power-generator of all the love you will ever experience in this lifetime and beyond. Never let language divide you from the ultimate source of your Tango connection…..YOU!

Tango Love Letter Part II: The Gift of Seduction

Your dancing seduced me into ecstatic bliss by way of two Tandas. How is this magic possible and what is this sweet alchemy?  Each song with you melted away deeper barriers.  These were like veils of illusion dropping to uncover the radiant sweetness of the One true heart. You danced me straight into my truth and immersed me in the river of my passionate desire.  To my surprise and delight, I was rapturously swept away in a wave of unimaginable beauty.  You took me to a place of both desperate longing and complete sensual fulfillment. You filled my senses as I indulged in every aspect of your presence.  I breathed in your essence like a euphoric drug.

Rendered willingly defenseless in my desire for you, the full expression of my truth was born and I held nothing back except words.  No words were possible.  Nothing in language could transmit the messages you shared with me and I with you.  We said the impossible and the forbidden to each other through the nonverbal communication of this most blessed dance.   You awoke in me a half-sleeping dragon which sprung to life in your arms and breathed fire into your heart.  I can still feel your spirit next to me, even now.  You continue to linger here in my heart as the sweet memory of this dance.  You graced me with dreamy images that will fondly stay with me for a lifetime.   If I died tomorrow I would die knowing that I experienced you fully in all the ways I wanted to.  And it was as grand as I ever imagined it would be.  After this dance, I am complete in knowing that I felt and expressed the truth of my deepest self without fear.  And the reward was a priceless elevation into love. It was a perfect union of opposites and a mutual, unrestrained expression of authenticity. It was a merging into ecstasy.

Because of my experience with you, I gladly welcome the death of ego. May it die a thousand times if this means I will then rise to experience you with ever-greater presence. And in humbleness, I forever offer you my pure, innocent self:  The one who is free of fear and judgement, and the one who is free to shine in this light with you. Through this electricity you are the fuel for my spirit to come alive in a greater illumination of radiance.  And your dancing is the conduit; the channel for a great merging into this tantra.  I am electrified, overwhelmed, in awe.  I am alive.

We always dance closely, but last night seemed closer than usual.  The steps disappeared and there was only the expression of passion both divine and human.  Tango was nothing more than a “cover” for this truth:  A medium to explore inner worlds that could never be explored otherwise.  You showed me so many of your secrets.  Everything you cannot say to me with verbal language was said by the way you danced with me.  You left me sleepless later that night.  For I scarce could sleep in the drunken haze of my desire for more dancing.  I will dream of these secrets for a long time to come.  I was so drunk with the ecstasy of dancing that I could hardly speak or stand afterwards.  I am still drunk with inner-love.  And I still cannot move whenever the thought of this dance grips me in its wave of impressions.

I felt so exposed in the dance. I wondered what other people must have thought watching me on the dance floor?  My inner experience was so full and expressed that I imagined others MUST have been able to see right through my soul.  But no one said a word.  It was all very ordinary, a normal Tango.  But nothing will ever be normal again.  For this dance has awakened the dragon. I am arisen like the Phoenix, free of fear and free to express. I am heart-felt expression rising.  There is nothing to hide and no reason to ever deny my true self.  You have elevated me to my archetypal Goddess and I feel as though I could fly. You placed me upon this sacred altar. And my Goddess will forever remember this.  You construct this dance with your magical power. And it seduces the heart to pour forth surrender into this truthful expression of joy.

No, this was no ordinary Tango.   This was creator, creation and the fire of the divine springing forth out of the creation.   This dance has shaken me to the foundations of my very soul.  This one dance has challenged my body and my mind, inspiring and unleashing an expression of bliss that I could not contain.  And my adoration for you knows no bounds, no limitations.  It is endless and infinite and multidimensional.  In my heart I am as a devotee that falls to the feet of the guru who blesses with the sweetest of grace.  How I long to fall at your feet over and over again and place my hands upon them in worship.   For in those few Tandas you claimed me as your trusted friend, your sister, daughter, servant, devotee, healer, whore, passionate lover, and above all else: Divine Goddess. I am happily all of these at once if it pleases you but the pleasure is really all mine.  For you are my brother, lover, friend, guru, father, wizard, alchemist, artist and so much more.  In fact there is no label, no judgement, no duality in how I see or regard you.  It is all One without a Second. And my love and adoration for you again knows no bounds.  It is as infinite as space itself.  For I love and cherish every dance you create.  Even your worldly creations inspire my adoration for your creations, simply because you created them.

The slightest touch from you is the greatest pleasure.  And the way you touch my heart is the most exquisite of all pleasures.  If all I receive is your glance and your smile, I shall happily accept it.   But have mercy and grace me with the fullness of the dance so that I will not be tortured by this aching longing!   And if you do so, I will dance with you in a way that offers you my most heart-felt worship.   My body and soul is yours to lie across the altar of a dance floor.  Do with me whatever pleases you.  For the pleasure is all mine to surrender everything to you.  And I will hold nothing back; not in mind, not in heart, not in spirit.  I give unto you every ounce of my presence and attention and I unleash the raging flood of my heart.   And with this I shall also be the fuel for the wonderous creation of your dance.  For I am your Shakti and you are my Shiva.   And together, this dance becomes perfect union, perfect balance, perfect bliss.

If you want to know my soul, dance with me and inspire the dragon to awaken.  Let us burn together in the transforming flames of this searing breath of life.  Let me continue to worship you in this way, for I am completely drunk with your essence.  From your river does flow this ambrosia and I drink of the eternal bliss as one who has been parched in the desert for a lifetime. Dance me to the edge of a precarious cliff.  I am afraid to fall over the edge and at the same time I am eagerly waiting for you to plunge me over and dive in it with me.  The very prospect of free-falling with you thrills me to no end.  For there is nothing in that free-floating fall but trust and surrender to ecstasy.   The dark void that looms over the cliff is not the dark chasm of nightmares.  It is the empty, yet full void of no-thingness.  And the sleeping dragon is no beast.  It is the eye of awakening to life.   And its fire is my transmutation.  This has burned through my heart and continues to burn my heart in the never-ending yearning for more of your dancing.

From this day forward, I will resolve to steal any and every moment of pleasure you may casually offer me through this Tango.  Any excuse to embrace you is a worthy excuse to experience the fullness of life in all its glory.   Even now, all that you have gifted me with and impressed upon me lingers gloriously.  Divine beloved; dance with me.  Even if I never see you again, know that in my heart we shall dance on beyond the density and disappointment of this Earthly world.   For in this merging and in this love, I am forever validated and redeemed.   You alone, have gifted this to me.

A Tango Love Letter

When I think of you, I feel endless waves of gratitude. Thank you for every lovely dance you have graced me with and all the dances yet to come, because I already know you will invite me again.  You bring joy and pleasure, not only to me, but to many that you dance with. I have seen the familiar looks of fulfillment on their faces too.  And I know that they are enraptured in the comfort and beauty of your embrace, just as I have been.

I deeply admire your generosity.  I have watched the intentional care and effort you take to give some time and attention to those who have been sitting too long without the pleasure of your dance.  Thank you for your kindness, patience, and welcoming spirit.  You dance with all of us, even when we are new.  Your warming light radiates in contrast to those who stare blankly and turn a cold shoulder. You are never afraid to guide with gentle kindness.  I have listened to you carefully, considering every word and in your arms I have blossomed like a lotus. You constantly uplift me to my highest potential.  If I could gift you anything in return, I would shower you with pure, tangible grace. This way, you could see and know, without any doubt, the true depth and luminosity of your own being.

Your true compassion is overlooked, even while in plain sight.  But I see this and I see you. I treasure the youthfulness of your spirit and the freedom with which you allow me to embrace you with body, heart, and soul. You are playful and you make me laugh when others are so serious and tense.  Thank you for all the devoted years you have spent perfecting your Tango craft. You have delivered me into a unique and beautiful experience when few others could.   You are uninhibited in your expression as you fully and fearlessly participate in this grand experiment.

Thank you for your sensuality and your willingness to express it to me through the dancing.  You surprise and delight me with the way you suddenly and passionately pull me into your embrace. You have made me feel safe and secure in your arms in every way imaginable.  The depth of my trust makes it possible for me to dance with you in a way I cannot dance with others.   You are playful, light, truthful and real.  You claim to be less.  But I have seen your soul.  And in essence you are deeply humble, gifted and multidimensional.  You are amazing, not only for me, but for every woman in the room who has the ability to see and appreciate who you really are.  It’s a rare and special opportunity to dance with you. And I am not the only one who has been lucky enough to discover your secrets.

Even if I dance with you only once, you fully give me all of your attention for those brief, priceless moments.  And for 10 minutes, you make me feel like the center of the world. You are democratic in the way that you see me and you listen to my body with presence, sensitivity and awareness.  In the most fundamental way, you allow yourself to be shaped by me as much as I allow myself to be shaped by you. It’s not just you in the dance, it’s you and me together in a state of glorious play.  Everyone else disappears and our mutual light burns as a bright flame, continuously feeding my never-ending desire to dance with again.

Even the sight of you across the room arouses me with the possibility of another dance. This is the sweetest ambrosia and I am as an addict scheming on how to obtain the next dose.  In your presence my inner experience is full, human and uncensored.  I am both sacred and profane. One moment I am innocent and child-like, the next moment I am full of explicit desire.  All of this you inspire with your dancing.  And the grace you observe and admire in me is nothing more than the grace you, alone, unleash in me in that fleeting, yet timeless dance.  Words cannot express the true enormity of my gratitude.  Thank you for being you. It is a profound honor to experience you this way……

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I am your moon and your moonlight too. I am your flower garden and your water too. I have come all this way eager for you,without shoes or shawl. I want you to laugh, to kill all your worries, to love you, to nourish you. Oh sweet bitterness, I will soothe and heal you. I will bring you roses.  I too have been covered with thorns.        -Jalaladdin Rumi

Surrender to the Rebellion of Love

“Love one another without any expectations. Then there is no need to go anywhere in search of heaven.”   -Ammachi

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Have you ever experienced tragedy which leaves a scar so deep and unforgettable that it somehow makes you no longer afraid of death? Death becomes inconsequential because some part of the personality has already died through the sadness of the terrible trauma that can never be erased. The cascade of nightmarish events can never be made right again. So there is no longer a need to fear death even while knowing, more than ever before, that death can come at any moment. And for this reason, there is also no longer any fear to live a passionate life on one’s own terms. Every second and every breath is a chance to live more fully. There isn’t a moment to waste on procrastination or self-pity. We have to jump into the raging fire of life, welcoming the burn and the ecstasy equally because they are both a means to the same end.

There is always hope after a person’s dreams have been smashed to pieces.  When there is nothing left to lose, there is a seed for rebirth.  Rumi said, “Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure,” and “The wound is the place where the light enters you”.  As that light illuminates through the wound, everything ordinary becomes extraordinary again. Nothing in this world is mundane.  The simplest thing is the grandest miracle.  Each day of life and every activity becomes sacred like a meditation in motion.  There is no time to lose.   For one who knows this, tango is no longer just a social event. It’s yet another manifestation of divine opportunity; a doorway to merge in universal love; a moment to be seized and a phenomenal pleasure to be enjoyed.

Everything can be taken away from any one of us.  And having lost everything that truly matters, it becomes clear that all we are and all we truly have is love.  And love is ultimately the only thing worth having anyway. When the window of the heart has been opened to the value of love, and the inner eye can see through that window, then every tango dance becomes a form of worship. Every tanda is an invitation for the devotee to immerse into the river of this love.  And every partner is a beloved character in an ongoing love story.  There is nothing else to strive for because love is all there is.  This need not be a personal, conditional kind of love bound by attachment or limitation.  It’s an unconditional love; transcendent and dependent on nothing. Whether or not it is experienced it is a matter of each person’s own perception.  With openness, sensitivity, awareness, and deep appreciation for life, beauty can be seen everywhere. The tango partner becomes another face of the divine play.

Love of this caliber requires total surrender in order to attain the bliss.  And it’s impossible to surrender without trust.   Trust happens by accepting life, not taking anything personally and by letting go of expectation and attachment (which often leads to pain).  By letting go,  it is easier to trust that we are safe because there is no longer anything to defend oneself from.  And we surrender to the knowing that all of life is in synchronicity. There is always perfection, even when life does not appear that way.  Letting go of worry and fear is faithful trust.  Having freed ourselves of negative judgments towards life, we are much freer to be carried away by love.  In Tango specifically, this can free us to trust and surrender to our partner because we don’t judge them.  Rather, we see them for who they really are:  The spark of love.  And by projecting this love, we awaken the same in another.  There is no greater gift we can give to another human being and there is no greater gift we can receive.

The essence of love is like a river that carves a deep canyon in the Earth.  It can be felt as a current of soft, pure, phenomenal energy that has the remarkable power to eventually push through all rigidity.  It can soothe us like a balm, or force us into transformational change.  This love is experienced through feeling, not thinking.   It exists in the wisdom of the heart.  Thoughts in the mind need to be set aside in order to merge in the oneness.  Everything we think we know is nothing compared to love.   So the mind is the only prison that blocks the perception of it.  And the key out of this prison is by way of rebellion.  This means: To circumvent the ego-mind by consciously sinking down into the knowledge of the heart and seeing and feeling the world from there.  This is the most beautiful and rewarding rebellion imaginable.

Practicing this kind of rebellion while dancing Tango takes a bit of courage. But the reward is unmatched because nothing is more fulfilling than surrendering to love, over and over again.  Regard every partner as the divine beloved, let go, and see how fast you merge in oneness. Even the physical density of the dance disappears into infinity.  Be in love with the archetypal beloved and be in love with love.   In the quietude of the heart, see and feel each partner.  Find your own stealthy ways to selflessly reveal and share the magic of who you really are.  Do not tango across a wooden or marble dance floor.  Tango across a galaxy of stars. Let yourself be transported through the inter-dimensional portal of the beloved’s gaze and embrace. Travel fearlessly and gracefully on this sublime journey.  It is the kind of adventure that can only be created when two souls co-mingle in an otherworldly dance of heart-centered love.

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This is love: to fly towards a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” -Rumi

Prepare to Meet the Beloved on the Dance Floor

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi

“Through love burning fire is pleasing light. You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck”! -Rumi

“What you seek is seeking you.”-Rumi

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Isn’t the ultimate Tantra one where we merge completely with the Beloved?  Don’t we spend our entire life searching for the ultimate love, even when we are not conscious of our burning desire to find it?   It still happens because the most fundamental, primary thing we all crave is this immersion in pure love.  When we are not aware of what our spirit is truly after we only feel the burning desire as a constant craving.  So we chase a myriad of endless tangents through the material world.  These may come in the form of accumulated possessions, career achievements, addictions, relationships, habits and hundreds of other distractions.  Yet even after chasing and achieving there is still an emptiness deep within the human heart. So we keep trying to fill that void.  We might even know that it is really only love we need.  But we make the mistake of thinking that someone else or something else has to supply that love.  And without that, we are incomplete.  When a relationship fails, we chase a new relationship to replace it so we can become whole again.  This is a mistake.

The Beloved is not a person.  The “Beloved” is an archetype that represents God-Source.   This Source exists deep within us, as ourselves.  That is why it is futile to keep searching for the Beloved solely outside. We need the knowledge of inner alchemy to find our fulfillment.  And this inner, spiritual Beloved is seeking us as much as we are seeking it.  Eternally waiting, the beloved is just behind the veil ready to meet us any moment.  But in our blindness we can’t see the Beloved because we don’t understand its true nature. Yet the beloved burns for us, as much as we burn to merge with it.  And when we refuse to see, the Beloved uses everything in the world to show itself to us so we can.

True to the cosmic mirror, the eternal Beloved will keep appearing in many forms seemingly outside of us.  The Beloved will take on the face of another person.  It can take on the face of nature.  It will visit us in the depths of our dreams.   It will come to us in a vision.   It will touch us as a daydream, a longing, or a fantasy.  The forms are endless.  But the Beloved is relentless. If all we can understand is forms, then the beloved will continue to take on every form possible.   It is not until we learn that the Beloved is formless that we will begin to discover the alchemy of sustaining an ongoing experience of this pure, inner love. And at this stage, access can become easier because we see that the Beloved is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Still, after realizing that the beloved is deep within us, we may feel a loss whenever we are not in touch with it.  We will look for every opportunity to dip our hands into the purifying and nourishing water of this sacred oasis.  The merging in oneness with the inner beloved is the ultimate fulfillment to which nothing compares.  And since we know that the beloved appears both within and without, we will continue to look for the beloved everywhere in the cosmic mirror.  And we will continue to find that the beloved is always there looking back at us.

We can even find our inner beloved on the dance floor. Tango provides a unique doorway through which to merge with the eternal beloved any night of the week.   When your heart merges in bliss with your partner aren’t you actually merging with your own true nature?   Here is where Tango becomes a burning passion.  How many of us crave the sweetness and intoxication of the Tango embrace? How many desire to let go of the world and surrender completely to the meditative, flowing nature of the dance?  How many of us lurk around, waiting impatiently for the next Milonga?   Tango allows one to release oneself into eternity and taste the bliss over and over again.  So what it is we are truly passionate about and searching for?  It is only the inner Beloved, found both within and without.  The next time you dance Tango, be prepared to meet this eternal Beloved on the dance floor.  Open your heart and know that the one you are truly meeting is yourself.

Poem by. Jalaladdin Rumi, 13th Century A.D.:

In truth everything and everyone
Is a shadow of the Beloved,
And our seeking is His seeking
And our words are His words…
We search for Him here and there,
while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side, we ask:
‘O Beloved, where is the Beloved?’

The Mirrors of Perception: Dancing with Your Reflection.

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“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”  – Rumi

“Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.”        - Rumi

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What if every time we danced Tango with a partner, we were dancing with our own reflection? If this were the case, it would mean that the partner is not separate from us but is in some sense, a projection.  The beauty of a projection, when we can acknowledge it as such, is that we have the opportunity to honestly look at ourselves.  The inner workings of our mind are exposed and we are shown what we can’t normally see. But when we are willing to view it this way, we can take responsibility for whatever is in that mirror. Once we take responsibility, we gain the power to change the nature of the projection.  Instead of projecting out our “stuff”, we can consciously choose to project our love and joy.

Taking this a step further, imagine the whole world as giant mirror where every person we meet and every experience we have is a potential reflection of the thoughts, emotions and beliefs we hold within us. From this perspective everything “out there” is a profound extension of ourselves. It’s a living Hologram, yet the hologram is not all about “us.”  We are in the hologram together with everyone else who is also interacting through the reflective qualities of the mirror. This cosmic mirror is like a giant web of consciousness, where we are all interconnected and the subtle exchange of thought forms and energy is a constant, subtle reality.

In this infinite web of consciousness, our whole life is an opportunity to merge into oneness.  And the oneness is available to everyone at all times.  There is nothing to strive for because we are all already merged and connected in ways we cannot begin to imagine.  All we have to do to see it is simplify the confusion in our minds. It’s a matter of paying attention to the connectedness, and shifting one’s paradigm to learn to experience it on deeper levels. The more we are attuned to silence, the more we will experience the profound subtleties of oneness within the silence. The possible levels of depth from which we can perceive this is infinite.

The worldly veil of Maya often shrouds perception, causing people to feel separate and solitary.  But this is an illusion.  The truth is that in this interconnected web there is nowhere to hide and no one is truly alone.  We are all in this together. The mirror is constantly showing all of us where we are not free, where we need to grow, where we have expanded, how deeply we are connected, and where we have the opportunity to be of service to others.  If everything in the mirror is an extension of ourselves wouldn’t we naturally want to respond to our own reflection with love and compassion? Even a seemingly difficult person is the most amazing opportunity to practice love and compassion.  They are reflecting a hidden shadow, but it is not solely theirs.  It is our shadow too.  It is everyone’s shadow. These are the ego-shadows of humanity; the left over memories from eons of karmic time.  Deep within our cells, deep within our DNA, these shadows are just a part of the memories of the greater collective consciousness.  But we are not the memories. Our pure essence is the spark of supreme, divine love underneath the covering of any shadows. The fastest way to cast transforming light onto a shadow is to shower it with the spark of love.  The shared divine love of one human being has all the potency needed to cut through the shadows and wake up the love in another.

If we want to know where we are out of alignment with truth, all we have to do is look into the cosmic mirror.  The more we interact with others and the more we are in relationships with people, the more the mirror reflects back to us.  In tango, we don’t need to look any further than our dance partner.  Tango provides very intense, intimate contact with many people.  Within this framework, the intensity of the mirroring is amplified to such an extent that, if one is willing, one can catapult into some serious self growth.  Unless a person is very numb and closed off, it’s nearly impossible to be in close embrace with another human being and NOT enter into some form of cosmic mirroring. In tango, the partners are already trying to “merge” into synchronicity with each other’s movements, otherwise the dance wouldn’t be possible. So if they are good at paying attention, they are already attempting to reflect each other. Depending on how much “personal baggage” each partner may our may not be carrying around, some very interesting things can happen in a tango tanda. As the couple’s energy fields interact, psychological “buttons” can get pushed or magic can happen. The meeting of two people this way will either be a very uncomfortable challenge, or it will be a sublime creation of awesome beauty. It all depends upon what each person brings to the table.

It’s not possible to make every partnership and every dance one of perfect bliss. If we are still in a human body, then each one of us still carries around a certain degree of latent, unstirred karma which can rise to the surface when we least expect it. So if a particular tango partner seems to be mirroring our underlying imbalances in a way that pushes our buttons, consider it a blessing. It’s a chance to liberate old karma and release it. This is a great learning and growth opportunity. Take responsibility for the reflection and you will discover the enormous gifts of wisdom it has to share with you.  Looking into this mirror on a regular basis will enable you to purify your mind, become more authentic, and expand your consciousness.

If you’ve done a lot of work on yourself, and have a high degree of clarity, you will notice more and more that what you see in the reflection is love, and what you reflect back to others is also love. If your partner happens to be in their “stuff”, and is projecting it onto you, the best response is compassion.  By remaining conscious, you can attempt to change what you reflect back to them and it won’t be what they are expecting. The more you do your due diligence to bring conscious compassion, beauty and joy to each partnership, the more you will elevate yourself and your partner into grace. That which you put out returns to you tenfold. In this sense, a dance can be a wonderful opportunity for two people to intentionally elevate each other out of the normal funk of the world and into a rare moment of Dharma. They do this by leaving the ego at the edge of the dance floor. They come together with conscious intention to create and share in beauty and joy. The dance floor is a sacred ceremonial space.  And this mutual transcendence within the partnership is an extraordinary tango moment at its best.

Poem by Jalaluddin Rumi, 13th century A.D.:

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.

We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.

We are pain and what cures pain both.

We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

I want to hold you close like a lute so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?

I am your mirror, and here are the stones.

Tango by Fire: A Super-Highway to Grace

Argentine Tango is a teacher by Fire which purifies the student through its relentless burn.  All purification eventually leads to grace.  If we’re lucky, grace will come sooner, rather than later.   The more intense the burning light, the bigger is the potential for bliss in the end.  Fortunately, this all can happen very fast in Tango.  But it requires courage, perseverance and surrender.  If one is willing, these can be summoned within seconds, and the reward becomes a most gratifying release into pure joy.

What can more beautiful than two people meeting with courage and surrender who freely share in unadulterated joy?  Tango graciously offers this possibility of unlimited joy.   It is its own form of beautiful and elegant Tantra, the height of which is to give and receive pleasure.  The man has the opportunity to construct a beautiful dance for his partner to engage in. If he’s sensitive and democratic (rather than imposing), he will have the ability to listen to the woman’s body and find the most wonderful, sensual, and flowing way to invite her to dance.  She will look beautiful and she will feel beautiful.  She will feel “heard” and “seen” as she shares in this most intimate and mutual communication of Tango.   This is bound to give a woman the most profound pleasure (at least it does for me).   And as she receives this pleasure, she cannot contain the energy.  When it is real, she will experience it and channel it through her heart, expanding it into a greater sense of appreciation and joy which she will then transmit back to her partner.  The message comes to him through her body; the increased connectedness, intimacy, and sensuality of her dancing. It also comes to him through her heightened positive emotional state which she is now glowing with. And it transmits to him through her energy field which by now, should be in a state of delicious euphoria.

Amongst men I know, nothing seems gives them more pleasure than by truly giving a woman pleasure.   When he experiences her pleasure it naturally increases his own.  He feels skillful, magically capable, appreciated and deeply valued for what he has to offer.    He cannot help but feel the woman’s heart energy, which further increases his own.  He will expand with a magnetic kind of light as he delves into deeper joy.  By giving this pleasure, he receives the mutual gift of pleasure back.   The woman feels this electricity and the cycle of giving and receiving continues to escalate.   If it goes on like this in a Tango, the dancing will be extraordinary.  By the last song, both partners will have elevated each other into communal bliss.  This is a state of grace.  There is nothing more empowering than creating and sharing this grace with another human being.  And there is nothing more authentic or closer to the truth of who we really are.

In this life, we are guaranteed to experience some form of misery.  But we are not the misery, we are not the suffering, and we are not the karmic weight of the world.   Our most basic essence is pure grace and pure, unconditional love.  If we cannot give and receive joy, if we cannot love, if we cannot elevate ourselves or another human being with grace, then what are we doing here on this Earth? We are not meant to squander our lives lost in a forest of isolation and despair. Sometimes it’s difficult in life to make liberation happen.  Any avenue we can find to transcend into grace is a blessing.  There are numerous paths out of the forest of confusion.  But we often don’t see that the super highway is right there beyond the trees.  We can remain lost for years somewhere in the thick of it, with our vision obscured by the tree-line. Any medium that can burn through the trees and quickly put you right back on the super-highway is special.  Such is the way of Tango.

I am grateful that Tango lights the way by means of fire.  If one is open, then all barriers to grace are potentially broken down through the dance.  Tango is a fiery, unforgiving laser beam which cuts to the heart of the matter.  If we are unafraid to face the fire, we will become purified through the burning.  Our false identities and delusions eventually roast away like karmic seeds which burn to charcoal, then crumble away to dust.  The wind simply blows it away and it settles back into the nourishing body of Mother Earth.   We are reborn into a Dharmic flow of fulfillment and endless beauty.  This is Tango by Fire.  If you have the courage to face the burn, if you humble yourself, if you open your heart and surrender to its teaching ways, the Super-Highway to Grace will be revealed.

Dance of the Heart: Thank You Argentina

My favorite thing about Tango is how it engages the Heart Chakra.  For me, this topic never gets old.  The more you dance, the more the experience of this dance through the heart grows. I love what Tango demands of both men and women.  First, and foremost, it demands surrender and an open heart.   And I believe this is where the primary energetic connection and communication between partners occurs.   Can there be anything more beautiful than the intimate exchange of pure heart energy between two strangers?  Where else can you do this two or three nights a week in a social setting?   Thank you Argentina for this dance of heart awakening!  If everyone in the world danced Tango, we might all be one small step closer to awakening through the pure heart energies.

The most fulfilling thing for me is the opportunity to experience numerous people in this way.   I love how Tango breaks down all notions of personal space and allows two people who hardly know each other to cut to the chase.  It circumvents the superficial verbal exchanges that rarely show you the soul and beauty of new people you meet.  Tango allows one to quickly sidestep social formalities and get directly to the heart and soul.  It’s real and it’s straightforward. And isn’t this what we all fundamentally crave on some level?  Do we not all seek the wonderful relief of divine, sweet union with other human beings?  Do we not all secretly desire to share who we really are, without defending ourselves?  Don’t we all want to truly see, touch, feel and experience the extraordinary essence of others?

I love how Tango demands that we bring ourselves fully into the present moment where we must be very alert to every subtlety of our partner.   When awareness becomes that highly focused, miracles can happen.   We can transcend into expansions of consciousness that we only ever dreamed about.  I love how Tango demands that we face and let go of our limitations and become our authentic selves.  It demands this whether we bargained for it or not.  It requires us at some point to stop hiding and protecting ourselves.  And it gives us the opportunity for deep intimacy, all in the short time frame of a three minute dance.  I love how Tango allows men to express heart energy freely, thus revealing their emotional selves to their partner.   And it all happens without words.   I love that Tango demands the woman to surrender to the Yin energy which strengthens her intuitive and magical tantra powers.  And I absolutely love how Tango requires the man to embody the Yang energies, grounded in a tender sweetness of care and compassion.   Finally, I love how these exchanges carry over into daily life.   It only takes one or two dances like this to leave one floating on cloud nine for days, or weeks on end.  Once the heart tastes the bliss, it wants to remain open and share this with everyone.

Some people may be wondering how to achieve a deep connection, and how to access the bliss?   I have an answer. The fastest way to experience this in Tango, or in life, is to simply become like a child again.  A very young child or a baby is open, curious, non-judgmental and hasn’t built up a lifetime of illusory fears.  A young child has an adventurous spirit and is free to love and be loved.  A child is pure and innocent.   Many people have been culturally trained by negative experiences of abuse or hurt to build walls around themselves.  In North America, we live in a “mental” culture that has structured itself to support individual isolation and fear.  The culture “out there” values “things” more than people.  A human life is sometimes seen as “cheap”, and particularly in a big city, people sometimes tend to treat each other “cheaply.”  The way many people are forced to move through life and earn a living in this world can be dehumanizing.  It can unplug a person from their very own heart and soul.  In such a situation, a person really has to do some conscious work to stay in touch with what’s real.  And I believe the easiest way to stay in touch is to practice being like a child again.   Practice being free to play and express joy.   Practice being free to love and be loved.   Practice being carefree and unconcerned with the “heaviness” of the world out there.  Just let go and be a child again.  It may take lots of practice, but over time it becomes easy.  Once you do this, it will feel like the most normal and natural thing ever.  There will be a sense of liberation and a feeling of coming home again.  I truly believe this is one of the fastest ways to access joy and resist losing oneself in the karmic heaviness of the world.

If all else fails:   Dance the Argentine Tango!

A Tantric Map of Transcendental Tango

I’m wish I could map out the energetic mechanics of how I had Tantric experiences while dancing Argentine Tango.  I really do believe it is an energetic science, not just something left to random chance.   I’ve always been drawn to Tantra, but have never had the opportunity to formally learn.   One reason is because a lot of the teachings these days (particularly in the USA) don’t seem to focus on spiritual tantra.  Rather, the focus seems to be on a sexual experience. That’s perfectly fine.  But what I’m looking for is the real mystical, magical, esoteric stuff.  I feel we all have natural gifts in this area,  but few opportunities to study with a real master on the subject in order to develop them. I now believe that Tango came into my life so that I could learn a particular kind of tantra through first hand experience.  There is no Master close by to help me.   But Tango itself has become a great teacher and a great Tantra Master.  As it turns out, tantra does not operate so much by mysterious magic.  It seems to be more of a technical-energetic skill possible for any person who has prepared themselves to open up to it. In my quest to articulate all this, I came across a wonderful blog by Mommy Mystic, and a series of articles there about the 2nd chakra and Tantric Sexuality.  This helped to validate and clarify my Tantric experiences in Tango which I will attempt to map out.

1)  First, and foremost, I was prepared to have the tantric experience. I’ve been meditating every day for 16 years using Sanskrit Bija Mantras.  I have been practicing energy work full time for 15 years.  Every day of my life is lived as a Sadhana.  And I’ve really given attention  and effort over these years to honing refining my awareness.   Due to my specific type of meditation practice, I am no stranger to altered states of consciousness.   And more recently, I have been paying a lot of attention to perceiving from the viewpoint of my various chakras.  Each one has it’s own kind of perception, and its own kind of gifts.   I believe that the tantric experience happens through the spiritual gifts of the chakras.

2)  When Tantric Tango happens to me, it is because my second chakra and heart chakra are very open and ready.  My mind and ego is surrendered and I am simply operating in flow (something that Tango demands).

3)  Also important is the necessity that I dance with an adept partner who is also very energetically open and responsive to my energy field.  Otherwise, the tantra doesn’t work.  The people that I have these experiences with have to be clear, open and expressive in the second chakra.  When he dances Tango, he has to dance with incredible passionate and emotional expression.   His love of the dance and music should be an expression in motion which engages his heart chakra.   By doing this, not only is he radiating some wonderful and intense energy from the second chakra, but his heart is very open.   And he is doing all this with a rare kind of clearness and confidence.   Many men don’t freely emotionally express from this chakra with their hearts open and in a public setting with people they don’t know.  But I think Tango challenges a man to rise to this occasion.   And having a partner who can really do this brings the experience one step closer to tantric union.

4) I learned from Mommy Mystic’s blog that the chakras are like doorways.  Women’s second chakras function differently from men’s.  Women’s second chakras are very good at drawing energy and information inwards, while men’s second chakras tend express energy out.   This makes sense of course, as it matches our sexual functioning, right?  Additionally, I learned that it is through the woman’s second chakra that a man can be taken into Tantric bliss. So here’s how it occurred:

While we were dancing Tango, I felt consciously connected to my partner at the second and fourth chakras.  In my internal vision I could see that there were horizontal figure eight energy flows of white light passing between each of my chakras and his chakras  (second and fourth chakras only in this case).   I received the energy from his second chakra into my second chakra.   I drew him in through the doorway of my second chakra.   The energy went up my spine, out my heart chakra and into his heart chakra.  We remained in this state for 2 songs, which was about 6 minutes total.  From the moment the energetic connection was made, there was a complete merging into some form of partial / temporary Cosmic or Unity Consciousness.  I still need to research and validate this. But basically, I could not find where I ended or my partner began.   I went so deep into pure awareness that I could barely feel my feet moving beneath me.  There was absolutely no sense of where I was in relation to the dance floor or the entire room.  I could not find the boundaries. There was no sense of me vs. the room, or me vs. my partner. I could not find subject or object.  My partner and I were entirely the same being.    Words cannot describe the state of blissful ecstasy this produced.  Time was distorted, suspended, and meaningless.   There was a kind of fulfillment, like coming home to God Source.  Or a sense of awareness that God is right there in your face (or your heart and soul) to meet you and merge with you at any moment.  Many people talk about this as a spiritual idea, but when it actually happens, it is like nothing of this world.  The lingering waves of bliss and ecstasy that this produced lasted for almost 2 weeks.   (It also brought up more karmic issues for me to heal too, but that’s another story).

It is a goal of mine to continue to develop a first hand understanding of these Tantric Mechanics.  And I hope to share my findings in future posts.