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The Ultimate Meditation:
Dance Until Only the Dancing Remains

By Jeevan Ullas & Ma Anand Mayuri

Jodhpur, India Panorama View Photo: Ramesh Thadani (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

My journey started long before I was even aware of it. When I was about sixteen, I started dancing alone on the roof at night. In the Indian desert, nighttime is a great relief from the heat, so cool and free. All the homes in the neighborhood are built of stone, and all connected, sharing the side walls, so from one rooftop you can see most of the other rooftops, separated only by low stone walls. When I started dancing, alone with my eyes closed, some neighborhood children saw, or heard, and just came and started dancing with me. Soon there was a group of about half a dozen of them, ranging in age from five to fifteen. I did not know why or how, but it was such a joyous act that after one or two hours of dancing every evening I felt content, alive and radiant.

dancing on the roof at sunset

The story started with getting my first music system. I still have it, although it doesn’t look like much now— a portable, black plastic AM/FM radio cassette player—but it felt like a treasure, like the most important, magical machine in the world, like a key. It wasn’t even that loud, compared with later stereos, but in the relative quiet of the night, in the open air, it was plenty; it was perfect. It was before getting attached to band names or groups or musical genres—I would just grab a handful of cassettes, movie soundtracks, classical, pop, bhajans, anything. It was music; that’s all that mattered.

After seeing me, and daring to join me, the other children in the group got the taste, and they loved it too. We didn’t know what it was, but we didn’t find anything better to do than our evening get-together. We had found the door to another world, and those unknown realms would call to us… if we missed dancing one day, someone would point it out like it was the most important event in our lives. In a way, it was.

Later in my life, reading Osho, I got the grasp of what was going on. None of us had any experience or had learned any dance anywhere, but when we danced with our eyes closed, it was like no one else existed. Just the dance…

“What happens when you dance totally? The dancer disappears in a total dance. That's my definition of the total dance: the dancer disappears, dissolves; only the dancing remains. When there is only dancing and no dancer, this is the ultimate of meditation -- the taste of nectar, bliss, God, truth, ecstasy, freedom, freedom from the ego, freedom from the doer. And when there is no ego, no doer, and the dance is going on and there is no dancer, a great witnessing arises, a great awareness like a cloud of light surrounding you. You are watching it, you can see it happen. You are not the doer; it is happening on its own. God has taken possession of you” (Osho, Come, Come, Yet Again Come).

When I read this the first time, chills ran down my spine. I was walking on a path without even knowing it. When I became interested in meditation, I found that dance was my meditation, my way…

The dancer

By my own experience, there comes a moment when you are totally in it, when you suddenly disappear. Physically you are there, but you are just absent in some way. When that moment comes, most often it brings joy, sometimes tears, and always a vastness. It’s a blast… words can’t come close to describing that bliss. The only way to experience it is being in there. The only tip I can give is, don’t fight with the mind while dancing. Just let yourself go, melt into the abyss; just dissolve in the music and the mind will start fading away on its own.

I often wonder whether humanity can grow to a point where life itself is more valuable than other mundane things—money, status, power-- and living can become the priority of the world. If it happens, in my vision, the whole world will decide one day every year—at least one day every year-- will go to the dance, a celebration of life. On that day, the whole world, every man, woman and child, will dance at the same time, and disappear in that bliss together. I can only imagine the beauty, the blast, the ocean of joy it will create all around the world… even once a year seems like not enough.

On the inner journey, there are two possible paths to enlightenment, meditation and love; dance seems to bridge them together. It has the approach of meditation, but the quality of love. It starts with the act, but when the act becomes actless, something from the beyond happens, something very beautiful that must be experienced to be understood; even then, the understanding is not of the mind, but of the emptiness inside, like a remembrance that dawns, burning to the point of evaporation in every cell of your blood and bones.

Sufi Whirling Dervishes

Photo: Ajaiberwal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the ages, different enlightened people have chosen dance as their way, and their disciples’ way to reach. Sufism is one of these, in which whirling, spinning in circles for longer periods of time, is practiced to become aware of the place inside us which doesn’t move. One famous whirling dervish is Rumi: “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).

In a sense, there is great time and distance between me and that stone rooftop, the cool night air of those young years; but the inner doors are the same, and when I dance, they open, and take me to the same infinite place. Over the years I have learned to collect music that works best to open those doors for me. If you are ready to dance, enjoy my collection, or make your own playlist. This is life, and we are alive at this very moment: how can we not dance in celebration of this miracle? So just relax, close your eyes and dive in...

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