Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Divine Dancer

"The mask, the costume, and the living of the role through to the end: by this device man detached himself from his personal pains and joys—just as a dancer does in a dance. Human life was literally sublimated, and man's body became, as it were, the vehicle of a god; that is to say, a symbol of the play of eternity in time." ………The Ecstasy of Being, Joseph Campbell
Only a person who could feel the emotions induced by mythology  deeply within himself could write these beautiful words.
This also resonates with what William Shakespeare spoke through the mouth of Jaques in “As You Like It”:
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”
It is Joseph Campbell who identified that In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. a framework for all the life journeys of heroes in mythological stories.
Our life purpose is this adventure. We come to be victorious and to be transformed to return to our home.
Each one of us in this world are in a monomyth in our spiritual journey. The physical body is only a vehicle. This theme is common in many spiritual traditions.
In the Bhagavad Gita, the chariot as the body, the horses as the senses and the Divine charioteer clearly symbolizes the Divine instructions and guidance we receive in our physical and spiritual life through the path of Bhakti, Karma and Jnana to return to the Godhead.
The Merkabah mysticism of the Jewish mystic tradition signifies the vision of Ezekiel where he witnesses the glory of God carried in a chariot by four angels, four beings, four faces and driven on four wheels all signifying the four dimensional existence of the vehicle which is the manifest image of God. The image of the ‘Seraphim’, the angels that are in the images of flashing fire ascending and descending signifies the life force in the body of creation. The chariot itself is driven by the ‘likeness of man’ sitting of jeweled throne, signifying God as the prime mover.
Like the vision of Ezekiel, the duration of the human life is but brief. We do not see with the wisdom of Ezekiel the true revelation of life but get rooted in the outward sensory perceptions which reside in surface realities. As Campbell says; we devote our attention to the mask, the costume and the role that we take on that dominates our life. We do not pay attention to the inner self which is playing the role.
I have had the personal experience of how impressionist we can become. Once I was travelling on a flight from Chennai to Tiruchirappalli, which is a very short journey of forty minutes. One of the greatest film actor of the time, Sivaji Ganesan, was sitting in the front row. The plane, being a turboprop, had only about twenty rows of seat. Being a very illustrious actor many people struck up a conversation with him. I was amazed how his normal conversation was almost fully theatrical. I think this is what acting various roles for over 300 films can do to you. Imagine the roles we play every moment of our lives.
We forget who we are in reality and what is our origin and what is our destination. To illustrate this let me close this article with the quote from the sixth chapter of one of earliest Assyrian myths; “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. This chapter is aptly named “The Return”
“Utnapishtim said, ‘As for you, Gilgamesh, who will assemble the gods for your sake, so that you may find that life for which you are searching? But if you wish, come and put into the test: only prevail against sleep for six days and seven nights.' But while Gilgamesh sat there resting on his haunches, a mist of sleep like soft wool teased from the fleece drifted over him, and Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘Look at him now, the strong man who would have everlasting life, even now the mists of sleep are drifting over him.' His wife replied, ‘Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.' Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘All men are deceivers, even you he will attempt to deceive; therefore bake loaves of bread, each day one loaf, and put it beside his head; and make a mark on the wall to number the days he has slept.'”
Utnapishtim is the man of wisdom and his wife symbolizes the prompter, our inner voice and she says: “…………., Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.”
The gate through which we come is the entrance to our physical realm and our true waking up is the return to the land from where we came.

Love to you all

1 comment :

  1. Very inspiring. The example of your experience with Mr. Shivaji Ganesan is inspiring. Our body is a vehicle that carries the soul.
    Dear Annan, hope you know the sad news of the unexpected and sudden death of our dear Sr. Rosary of Thanjavur. She was a nice and energetic soul. A person of varied talents and gifts. She was a good teacher of children of elementary classes. May she rest in peace! Love, Sabi.

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