The Dance and The Sky
“DAKINI AS ART”
1 THE DANCE AND THE SKY
To begin whirling on one foot, you need to prepare well by aligning your hips with your knees and your feet. Your body gathers all its focus on this immediate and accurate sense of centering. The intention is clear; the mind is focused on that single intention. Then you step into the whirling, without too much impulse- just enough as is necessary. Unless you are fully present on that very point in time, here in space and time, it will not be much of a spin.
Repeat, again and again, this “one pointed mind” attitude, with a perfect balance between precision and lightness, between strength and softness, this is you finding your way to the whirling…
and to everything.
From the moment the base is ready , you let go of all kind of thoughts, you simply stand on the tip toes of a single foot, right in the center of the spiral of space. If all of your being is just present in the proper line of gravity, your body is embraced by space for that never ending instant of NOW.
No limits, no thoughts.
That is where you can be.
Once upon a time I was a child.
I often had a dream that I was spinning in an eternal whirling that would make me fly up in the sky. And in daydreams, I used to dance- dance and spin, all the time, as much as possible. My mother was fine with that, so I was able to dedicate myself to dance all day long.
At that time, I was haunted by a desire to get in touch with the mysterious reason for my birth on this strange planet. I carried the feeling of a vague forgotten memory. Dancing was the only path I found to follow that mystery.
This child grew up to become a professional dancer in a traditional Russian company, they called her SOULIKO.
A challenging path awaited SOULIKO: most people were dancing, it seemed, for different reasons than she was. They needed to succeed or to persuade or to please or to be happy, and they were fighting for that. She was able to fight also but in the depth of her heart, she only wanted to reach the sky. And she knew this.
SOULIKO met the Dharma at the age of 18. She entered a solitary retreat in the mountains of France at the age of 21. She was not allowed to dance by the Master during her retreat at that time, but she practiced Yoga and Martial Art as well as her daily 500 prostrations each day. She completed the “Ngon Dro,” foundations of the Vajrayana practices in the year as well as practices of Yidam and more.
Years later, surprisingly, the master invited her to dance again :
” Now dance is part of your practice. From now on, you must dance every day”.
He named her MUDRA.
At that time, the world was changing quickly.
Souliko received a new name : Mudra.
AS Mudra I became a dancer in the world as well as a dancer in the secret path of the Dakinis.
Many women were dancing, it was like an awakening of millions of women all over the world.
During the first stage of this process, I heard, as clearly as if the Dakinis of Wisdom whispered to me :
“If women wake up, why not for the sake of wisdom? Why not open an in-temporal “dancing path” through a network of people invoking the Dakinis?”
“Maybe the splendor of the universe dances in the core of each one of us; can that become manifest? And, if we keep it secret, could the Sky Dancer grow stronger in our own heart?”
I started to teach to many students. None of them were Buddhists.
But they were drawn to the work of the Jnana Dakinis, a dancing training called “The breath of the Dakinis” that I was creating out of the Danza Duende training and out of my practices and never-ending investigations.
The process, as a solitary artist in a solidarity work of transmutation, is generous as well as challenging but I really think it can be a strength to help humanity in its difficult moments of doubts and actual strong illusory traps of “samsara”.
2. THE DANCING PATH
The DAKINI Mandala has been overwhelming for all of us.
I did not know exactly how to proceed; I did not desire to make the dance out of a particular style or out of a cultural form of dance : neither Indian nor Tibetan, nor a fancy “shaman trip”..
I was trying to reach the heart of “formlessness”.. but we are made of our own bodies on this earth so far. To be authentic, we need to recognize that this is what we know so far: flesh, blood, breath, bones, emotions, concepts.
So we dived in together, like a bunch of working buzzing bees, into the mystery of not having a clue : “what the hell does it mean : “bliss and emptiness” “?
Before any glimpse of “bliss or emptiness”, our journey was to go through our limitations and to discover whatever veils covers the perceptions our own free nature.
That is an endless adventure.
In the work, in our own dancing being, we met again and again the creator of SAMSARA, ourselves.
Inside of us, at each second of our lives, we are building worlds of desires, of fears and so much aggression. We could easily just fool ourselves with hopes and fears under the appearances of some seductive dances, women are potentially “goddesses,” “dakinis,” aren’t we?
But the process was crude, without much glamour along the path. It was like diving into our own energy with the many confusing feelings that can open inside us and among us as a community.
We created dances to invoke the Dakinis.
And now many of us are, step by step, on the dancing path.
All of us were touched, at some level of intuition, by the breath of the Jnana Dakini.
Some of these women ended up becoming practitioners of the Dharma in different lineages.
In 2012, my book was published, LA VOIE QUI DANSE, and I was named “Intuitive Dharma Study” teacher in the “Rime” lineage by my Dharma Teacher Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
Then in 2013, I entered the path of “Choresophia” and I fully devoted myself to the “Sensorium” founded by the Master of Breath, the dancer who appears to me as the “Nataraja,” Michel Raji.
It started in 2004. In my dreams, the Dakinis whispered words to my heart :
“NO DATE NO DEATH”, “TREMENDOUS VICTORY”, “SHOOT THE SHADOWS”.
My dearest friend, Lama Tashi Lhamo, told me to sing and to dance the words.
With Carolina Fonseca and MONICA RONCON, two portuguese dancers and students of my Danza Duende Training, we created “RELAMPAGO”. The show was a symbolic improvisation : the first part was about basic goodness and the essence of the sky, the “Dakinis,” the second part, with sticks and fire, was about the “Protectors of the Dharma” and the essence of the energy, and the last part was a joyful offering of celebration, the awakened human being.
RELAMPAGO was a devastating journey through the outrageous world of the Dakinis of Wisdom. It was the first time for us, and we did not realize how powerful it could become.
From that moment, each creation on stage became a full “Sadhana” that would completely transform my life (wether I agreed to this or not) : the invocation of Symbols, the body mind training, all of this cooking in the secrecy of our soul, was being expressed through the mundanity of the artist life on stages. I opened the door of the oven in which my being was to be melted.
A powerful aspect that intensified this process is that together we shared the Path – all of us dancers , artists, teachers or students, as our school Danza Duende, our MANDALA : not only to train as artists but also to offer the fruits of our training as Yoginis of the Dance.
And we entered into this dimension without spelling out any of our back ground until now : we could seem quite normal, as simple female dancers.
But our experience was totally one of Alchemy.
So whatever became a challenge for one of us ended up as blessings for all of us.
This aspect of the Dance as “interdependency” with awareness is very deep.
It is impossible to explain, but it is easy to feel in a dance session.
Even though we are from different religious practices or completely opposite in our art forms, we started to experience slowly a communion of souls though dreams or poems and journeys.
The next step has been to understand and accept that all of this cannot be “grasped” and that the process whirls like a never-ending vortex of birth and deaths as an organic community.
As I worked intensively with this material of invocation and the creation of simple secret rituals for the Dakinis of Wisdom, now we have more and more women involved all over Europe.
Most of us secretly devoted to receive, to understand by practice of dance and to offer the breath of the Dakinis of the 5 families of Wisdom.
Our main tool is the level 1 and level 2 of Danza Duende, two workshops in retreat about transforming suffering and the wisdom aspect of the 5 Buddha Families.
I started that work in 2004.
The BREATHE OF DAKINI workshop which I created later was born apart of the Danza Duende training but it was actually the core of the whole thing. From there the process became powerful with deep work on the Breath, the singing of Doha songs and on the whirling in the dance.
From there, each one of us created with total freedom art works inspired from these spiritual investigations.
The particularity of this is that no form at all is involved as a result to achieve.
But all forms can be manifest and appreciated in any kind of appearance the artist chooses to enhance and also in every day life situations. Everything about our lives is the “Dancing Path of the Dakinis”.
And the dances, as well as the sessions (in my own case), are ALWAYS improvisations.
The process is quite demanding because we all encounter the usual obstacles of our own energy through health problems, incredible mirror like situations, or inner pain about fears and hopes that clearly points out the path but also became a kind of fierce “no-pity-ego-killer”. The striptease of our emotions in total exposure of each others is the main ground for that truth. The bliss does open up underneath the superficial body. And Emptiness is the core of the breath itself.
We needed to understand all this without hurting ourselves any more that we could handle.
We had to find the way to melt kindly without fighting to much.
Without falling too much into aggression, or into seductive traps, projections or simply into falsity.
But some of us understood that our invocation of the Jnana Dakinis is answered by the direct blow of Karma Winds. That it has a great power of love on our lives.
To invoke the Jnana Dakinis, one needs to be aware of the incredible cleansing that this will provoke very quickly and deeply in one’s own being on all levels.
One of my first students, Carolina Fonseca, fell in love with the Jnana Dakinis and she is a very devoted student of Shenpen Dawa RInpoche who holds the lineage of his father Dudjom Rinpoche.
Carolina engaged fully with the path of the Dakinis and her dance blossoms as the rays of the full moon as she invokes the power of the teachings through her secret activities.
Her first creation ” EXTASIS” received the blessings of Chogyam Ngag Chang Rinpoche of the ARO lineage for the use of his art in his book SPECTRUM OF EXTASIS.
Carolina invoked the Dakinis of the 5 wisdoms.
Before “SAMAYA,” I created another show, “THE DANCE OF THE LUTE”.
It is an homage to the Sufi Yogi Rumi and secretly I was invoking SARASWASTI. My manifestation as the dancer as if I am the music itself, dancing with the lute as a partner. ANWAR ABUDRAGH composed the music, Carolina was the bird that the Goddess Sarasvasti rides, Stéphanie Van Vyve, another serious student of Danza Duende who is drawn to the path of Dakinis as Art, was the voice of wisdom in the words of RUMI :
“You have been hiding so long
in the sea of my love
you have always been
connected to me
in the known
in the unmanifest
I am life itself
You have been a prisoner
of a little pond
I am the ocean
an its turbulent flood
Come merge with me
Leave this world of ignorance”
Later, as I started to enter a long term art work devoted to Yeshe Tsogyal and to Lalleshwari, I created the project “SAMAYA”.
Carolina created at the same time “ALMA”, her own version of what we were sharing as sisters, she and I , on the path.
This story is illustrated here by pictures and poetry and movies.
Stéphanie Van Vyve is a successful actress in Belgium. She is devoted to the Dakinis too. She received the refuge name “SAMKAR”
by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and with my spiritual support she created the theatre piece “DIOTIME ET LES LIONS”.
What is important to understand in this story is how much each creation of ART as Dakinis has been a whole transformation of our being individually but also as an international synergy of people linked to each other.
This is overwhelming, deep, dangerous, beautiful and it is source of limitless creativity for human beings.
“DIOTIME et LES LIONS” became the first step of Stephanie’s alchemy, awakening her power to manifest the Dakini on stage in a dance-theatre piece and also afterwards in other kinds of performances.
I could go on forever with many examples and stories of this kind.
We are now more than 60 women and a few men.
I decided to choose and focus now on a single story of my own. That is the ground from which to invite other people who have been involved in my story to tell their experiences in their own words in “DAKINIS AS ART”.
3. SAMAYA : A Love Story of Breath
I danced completely naked on stage invoking Vajra Yogini.
My intention was to work on the Paramita of Patience with this dance.
The performance was presented 3 times to 200 people, but it became a kind of non-ending silence.
I felt that the public was not ready for this but on another hand, my sense of patience began to be clearly involved in my daily Life from that performance which was the purpose of it anyway. I kept the movie of the SOLO in secret since then, waiting for its moment to be seen.
Then I decided to quit the dancing on stage as a profession.
I renounced that part of my work on purpose.
I wanted to hide myself and to give space to my students.
That was the way for me to learn how to become “invisible”
and to allow others to become the center of my situation.
I dedicated myself only to teach with hundreds of women.
A few men times to times would have the courage to join us.
I thought I would never again go on stage because I did not wish
to expose myself anymore. I got used to being “invisible”, that felt somehow more comfortable.
But after some years, I started to hear a call in my heart…it was whispering again and again :
“You must go on stage again at least one last time.”
I knew that it should be dedicated to the Women of Wisdom, the Jnana Dakini, but I did not know why I should do that.
Why do I hear this call? Is it true?
What is different from any other work on the feminine energy?
Why should I create one more of these?
This is how my present journey, “SAMAYA”, started to manifest, as the deepest path in my life.
My devotion towards beloved Yeshe Tsogyal, the great Queen of Bliss, how could I dance Yeshe Tsogyal? Who is She, REALLY?
Beyond the tibetan story?
Who is She inside of me?
Who can understand and dance or sing or play Yeshe Tsogyal?
Can we match together to work on this?
Can we invoke many women of wisdom besides the Queen of Bliss?
What is bliss?
What is a Queen?
So I meditated again and again invoking Yeshe Tsogyal, repeating her Mantras and trying to sort out the call.
I invited artists to work with me, but one after the other, they would quit or they would hate the project and run away. Some of my friends felt scared, others got angry.
There were very exaggerated reactions to the project.
I wondered why all this was so difficult?
Maybe I am not ready?
For 3 years there was no way to even reach the seed of this project.
I wanted to just abandon the whole thing but somehow I could’nt.
Yeshe Tsogyal, Machik Labdreun and another strong Lady came to me, Lalleshwari.
All of them appeared as powerful sources of wisdom and energy.
Their behavior is not conceptual, they are not conventional.
They are wild and fully engaged on the path.
They encounter obstacles and problems from society.
But they never give up.
They are NOT what people usually conceive about the feminine and its relationship to the masculine.
They are both.
I found myself in a huge oven melting all of myself slowly, and I felt that it was to become a long term revolution of my own ideas about everything.
“SAMAYA” was inside of me, but I was not able yet to reach the sound of my true understanding. So my only possibility was to be patient and to proceed, remaining constantly open to her breath whispering.
At one point I understood that in order to put this on stage, I had to die ..again.
I only knew it was Bliss and also Emptiness. Space. Love. Dance.
But how to manifest this?
This means concretely “non duality”.
Oh la la… Oh Lalla..
I tried to give up about SAMAYA. But she was haunting me.
At one point I realized that I needed “Padmasambhava”.
I needed the help of the masculine, the Master.
There is no Lalleshwari without Shiva.
No Queen of Bliss without Padmsambhava.
She is wisdom, warmth and insight, he is skillful means, born of the Lotus.
His crown is opened.
But I am working on a dance performance, I need real people, ordinary human beings like myself!
Where is Padmasambhava? Who is Shiva?
Things became worse.
Where on the earth is there a man who could “be” Padmasambhava?
Again, no way.
I tried to invite different male artists, but it never worked out.
Until I just decided to wait and do nothing but dance on it alone.
Surprisingly I met the Choresopher Michel Raji by Facebook.
He saw the title of my book ‘ LA VOIE QUI DANSE” and he wanted to know who wrote that title.
Actually he was more interested by the title of the book than the book itself.
When I saw pictures and images of Raji dancing what I felt was kind of weird :
I felt as if he was “me” in a masculine version.
But strangely I did not project too much about that.
The whole approach between us was very light, not heavy, not dark.
At the same time I am aware of how he is a great dancer,
very mature as an artist and fully realized in the manifestation of his spiritual breath.
And that was it.
Before I was aware of it, the partner had appeared.
We chatted online, we talked about Samaya a little bit and neither of us thought that we would work on that two years later but we ended up completely inside of it. Not “doing” Samaya but more like if SAMAYA was taking our lives into some new ray of energy. It was scary and it was most of all, tremendous,
I finally met Raji in real life and not just online. I entered with passion into the study of his breath work in the dance. He told me I should dance on stage again. Many people told me that, but when he did, I felt I had to follow his breath, his speech. So I did. As we went deeper and deeper into the dancing path together, I discovered that he had the keys that I needed, not only for my dance but also to improve all my teachings. It blew up my life and he became the Padmasambhava of the ritual that we started to create : SAMAYA.
This is not the end of the story because this story is happening now.
But it the most powerful story of my life so far because the invocation of Yeshe Tsogyal under different forms, the meeting with Lalleshwari through her poetry and my own process as a dancer attracted the other dancer.
And what we both humbly discovered is that all of the women of wisdom and the sacred Yab Yum was inside ourselves since the beginning of life. But the breath in the central column was needed to manifest that dance. Bliss and emptiness are not forms, but a state of being. And the tools to open up to this is to dance in awareness, to cleanse and to open Uma through the breath, to surrender oneself to the bliss of the whirling.
Raji was invoking the ROSE in his Choresophy, as he calls his dance, and the ROSE is also a symbol for the Dakini. I was invoking Padmasambhava as if my own being was melting into my devotion to Yeshe Tsogyal.
She comes from within and out.
That is the story and it is forever here and now.
Text by Yumma Mudra.