Ritual, Dance, and the Martial Arts

An ongoing student wrote in to ask about his assigned traditional dance practice. In the answer I shed some light on some of the impacts of ritual movement and ritual in general:

The journey feels awesome so far. With my assignment sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I don’t…Could you pinpoint a few reasons why this was assigned to me and it should assist my growth and expansion in Masculinity and Dark Energy?

Your assignment is a warrior’s dance. When it is memorised and becomes effortlessly second nature to perform, it has the potential to be a strong container for internal experience.

When you practice past the point where you can act without thinking, the mind can become extremely quiet (無心 Mushin). All sorts of powerful feelings and energies can flow through you. There is room for these things because you are empty of a lot of your conscious activity.

Lots of cultures use ritual movement to similar effect including the Native American Red Road and certain traditional martial arts and dance forms.

In order for these possibilities to open up, the dance needs to be done a lot. The Native Americans dance for days on end, other cultures use repetition on regular occasions over time (ie, every morning).

This repetition is used not only so that you can perform it without thinking, but also because you will encounter all your layers of resistance and self-consciousness on the way (Why am I doing this? I feel foolish. I’m bored. Do I look silly? Why do I feel weak? What is my life about? Who am I? etc…).

The cognitive language of the question is the veneer of a deeper, unknowable force of enquiry.

These questions are experienced not only cognitively but also in the physical and emotional bodies.

In fact the cognitive language of the question is the veneer of a deeper, unknowable force of enquiry. The ‘question’ is just the tip of the iceberg, the real mass of the force is underneath the surface and does not breach the layer into the thinking mind.

Thus these things tend to resolve not in an ‘aha!‘ answer but as a sense of simmering into spaciousness (like a block of butter melting in a pan). They also tend to be cyclical, returning again and again in different guises through the ever-deepening form of the practice.

All of this takes time, repetition, and the stamina to dance in the confusion of ‘don’t know mind‘.

For more articles and audios by Steve James visit www.guruviking.com