The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
- Third Zen Patriach
As it is
A conscious dance class is often a microcosm of life. We are encouraged in the dance to become present and aware to what is alive inside us. To move from there. If we can 'let go', which really means 'let be', then we get into the flow of the Great Way. If we can accept the present experience fully, without judgement, without preference for it being anything other than as it is, we set ourselves onto the path of truth.
We cannot resolve or move through anything we are unwilling to look at or face. Walking the Great way is to discover the freedom that lies in both the highs and lows of our life's path. To be able to see everything we are experiencing as merely the territory we are moving through at this moment. We walk through valleys. Summit the peaks. Always we are moving. The great way is fully aligned to laws of nature. To live walking the path the great way, is to be in full alignment with our nature.
The trick here is that we are able to view that which is alive inside without any judgment. Without trying to create something that is not there or move away from something that is there that we don't want to face. This sounds easy. However it is not always that simple to do. It takes time to develop equanimity and awareness. To be able to see what we are resisting, or avoiding and rather open to it, allow it. The more we observe and allow, the more wisdom dawns. The more understanding we have of life.
Dancing the Great Way
In conscious dance we practice all this. All the elements of the class provide us with an opportunity. We often first notice where we still have preference, or judgment. The music. Other dancers. The environment. The facilitation. Our minds. This body. All things that we either fully accept and find a way to move with, or resist, judge, and criticise. The mind plays tricks with us and will find many reasons to have preference:- I hate this song! I wish he would stop talking so much! I don't like the way that person is dancing! It's too hot. I'm so tired. And if we give in we then stop moving freely.
So we arrive at the above poem, by the Third Zen Patriach. "The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences" The great way refers to our life's true path. Not the path of fancy. Or the path we want to walk. Nor the path we are walking but can't stand. Playing with this theme in dance allows us to work with our ability to accept life as it is. Truly see things as they actually are, and not judge anything, compare anything, or push anything away. We begin to get into our flow, and we move with where we are going anyway.
If we look at most our behaviour in life we will discover that spend a large amount of our time running towards things we want, and/or running away from things we don't want. We seek comfort and security. Society feeds off this behaviour. It would be fine, provided we could always get what we want and successfully avoid what we don't want.
The truth is we cannot always control this and and often exhaust ourselves in the process of trying. Accepting our lives as they are does not mean becoming a passive victim to our circumstances. When we fully accept things without preference, we are then free to choose how we move with it. All the energy that were wasting in the effort to change or get away from something, is now available to respond to what is. We become responseAble.
How this translates on the dance floor is in being able to move and dance and express ourselves fully. Regardless of what dance is bringing. Be it a tune we don't like, a feeling we find difficult, a sublimely beautiful blissful feeling, a thought that disturbs our peace, or a feeling of exhaustion in the body. The guidelines are simple, to stay present, and to stay in movement. Can we follow these guidelines no matter what our present is? Or do we allow our preference to stop us moving?
Click here to hear Ram Dass reciting the full Great Way poem.