March 14, 2010 by Bill
There has been a dance of the human spirit through millions of years of evolution. An anthropomorphic supernatural “being,” or “god” was a part of that dance in more primitive and superstitious times, but the dance goes on evolving past these archaic images. There is the reality of a Mystery at work in evolution. It is the “something unknown doing we know not what” of Nobel physicist Eddington’s statement. To simply stand before this Mystery in wonder, astonishment and awe leaves us free to join the dance of spirit toward a more refined consciousness.
“Will you…won’t you…will you…won’t you…will you join the dance?” is still the question today even as it was in “Alice in Wonderland.” But, to join the dance in this evolution of consciousness, it is mandatory that we let go of the past and become contemporary with ourselves and the world we live in. The inability to “let go” of archaic beliefs, no matter how cherished they have been, and the inability to give up pride and prejudice is the beginning of the countdown to death, either individually or collectively.
“At the still point of the turning world…there is only the dance,” wrote T.S. Eliot. To live fully in joy and daily celebration we must abandon ourselves to the dance of existence. Life is a dance, and the dance goes on with or without us. Life is in session…are you present?
Today, physicists are telling us that their understanding of “reality,” the nature and activity of the universe, is bringing us closer and closer to the cosmology of the Eastern religions. We are a part of a cosmic dance and all is One. Physicists assure us now that rocks and flowers dance with the dance of life. Trees dance to the wind. Salmon and trout and porpoise dance and leap with a ballet of grace and rhythm. Atoms and plants dance to intricate laws. There is no line between the sacred and profane, the supernatural and the natural, the divine and human. Everything, ALL, is natural, sacred and divine.
A Dead Sea scroll records a disciple asking Jesus, “Master, how can we get into the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers this way: “Follow the birds…the beasts…the fish…and they will lead you in.”
“Will you…won’t you…will you…won’t you…will you join the dance?” Before we can join the dance, it is just mandatory that first we become what and who we truly are. “This above all…to thine own self be true.” (Hamlet) The courage it takes to be true “to thine own self” is enormous. We have pressure from all sides to be everything other than our true selves. Pressure is constant from family…peers…friends…society…relatives, for us to be what they want us to be, or to do whatever it is they want us to do. The pressures from society can keep us divorced from ourselves for our entire lives. There is no music and no dance until we live true to ourselves.
One of my heroes was Federal Judge Learned Hand, one of the giant intellects of history. He wrote this: “Since our ancestors rose upon their hind legs to become Homo sapiens, there have never been so many people who ate alike…slept alike…hated alike…loved alike…wore the same clothes and used the same furniture in the same houses…went to the same games and saw the same plays…read the same books and magazines…went to the same church and believed in the same God…and yet were all confidently assured that they were individuals and independent.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, our treasured man of letters admired over the entire world, wrote about what you must do to become true to yourself and so join the dance.
“O Father…O Mother…O Wife…O Brother…O Sister…O Child…O Friend…Henceforward, I am the truths. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will seek to deserve that you should. I will no longer hide my tastes and my aversions…I will trust that what is deep is holy…and that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever rejoices me and my heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you…if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true…but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions…I WILL SEEK MY OWN…I do not do this selfishly, but truly. It is alike in your interest and mine…and all people…however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. You will soon love what is dictated by your own nature as well as mine. And if we follow our own truth, it will bring us out safe at last.”
I have never read a finer definition of what is required to finally live…courageously…and free. In that clear paragraph is the latitude and longitude of living with the truth of your own nature, your own dance.
The dance of the human spirit has always called for creative courage, the willingness to pursue new forms, new symbols and new patterns of truth with all the risk that entails, knowing that the alternative is sterility and stagnation.
The young hero in Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” writes these words in his diary: “Welcome, O Life…I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of new experience…and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race…” The evolution of consciousness is the dance of the human spirit.
A Gnostic script presents to us a dancing Jesus saying, “Those who do not dance will never comprehend.”
To live in the joy of daily celebration, we must abandon ourselves to the dance of existence and place our daily life and activities in a new perspective. And so the invitation comes to us again, as in every new generation…
“Will you…won’t you…will you…won’t you…will you join the dance?”