To find a spiritual teacher, a master, a guru was something I grew up hearing from my parents – eager searches. So I thought for me it was essential to one day that I may find my teacher, who I would bow and obey with no doubt, who would guide me with no error to liberation. Already very young, traveling through Russia and encountering Vajrayana Buddhism for the first time in depth, it was even more clear I should find my teacher. When I moved to India to study the sacred art of Thangka painting I asked many Rinpoches who played ‘Mo’ [a divination practice] and could see through my eyes, and all of them said the same thing: “This life you are the master of your own self. Guidance will not come the way you are really expecting.”
Although having H.H Dalai Lama as my heart guru, that is something much more impersonal. And some part is true to what the different Rinpoches said, I did have some deep encounters with not only wise people who taught me, but very crazy and unlikely people to be a guru. Not any old lama, sitting on his cushion speaking sweet words, with long beard who meditated years in a cave coming back to teach only selected students, it wasn’t like that, never. Specially because those who touched my heart in the path, did so in relation to art, and artists usually have crazy ideas, or just not conventional ones.
Leaving the stories of the three very important guru-artists I’ve had in my life, I will write about the encounter with the fourth visionary: Yumma Mudra and Raji, who I count as one, both together – I see one entity. The first time I saw them dancing and was invited to dance in a large group during the Danza Duende festival in Serpa, Portugal, I was amazed by the power of breath and rythm. Not only that, we were all 80 people dancing on the breath of one person, Raji – for more then a hour. He moved us with what I recognize as autonomous energy available to him by his way of conviction and devotion for what he was doing. It was authentic – he did not have to speak – both were just like the sun, you don’t really have to explain the sun or insist to feel its warmth, it is just there. At the end of the session, my whole body was shaking and tears of pure joy for having experienced the union of my heart, mind and body as one, not divided, the joy of presence in all levels of what I recognize as my existence. I hugged Yumma in tears and asked her to show me path and I felt the bond and the compromise made.
More then a year passed and swift and easy Raji and Yumma were hosting their retreats at my space in Brazil, the Atelier YabYum. I knew it was going to be intense and a unique experience, and my mind was as usually everywhere – to producing, organizing and absorbing their teachings. So seven days before their arrival I did a rice and oats diet to purify my mind, and I tell you that’s not something easy for me, I love eating and drinking coffee – but the results are simply so beneficial. My mind was really ready like a calm lake where the fisherman can see all the fish inside with no difficulty.
During the Cycle of Five Wisdom retreat, we dedicated each day to a colour that would refer to an element and to one of the Five Dhyana (Jnana) Buddhas. And all what I have studied and read about them, finally was running in my veins – through the body movements we were guided to do what related to that specific wisdom, the postures, the colored paint and rhythms. I could not imagine a better way to really embody the wisdoms and for me it was clear once again that the path to liberation through art is straight. Teachers are there to point the direction, but it is my internal master who is aware and can absorb the wisdom. It’s my body who has to crack the rust and dance, it’s my heart that has to open and expose every poison and every nectar to let it pour, it’s my mind who decides to go deeper, to renounce concepts and follow intuition, put all together into action and life. There is such a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. The response from a direct experience impulse by knowing results in awe, the inexplicable ‘Aha!’ which I imagine is like Buddha trying to explain the color ‘blue’ to blind people, or the taste of mango without eating the fruit. When you see or eat, is nothing more to say. There is no magic a master can do – he or she shows it, points it to, but it is the effort of each individual to stop asking and simply get in the rain, get wet!
So what Yumma Mudra and Raji mainly bring us, is the banquet! Go for yourself, nothing is chewed or cooked before, getting it raw, learn your very way of cooking and digesting which is so specific to anyone. The receipy is different to each one. The true master will not hold your hand but awake in you the real and innate wisdom of own guidance and liberation – but only when you open your eyes, see blue and eat the sweet mango. And that can happen next to the guru or simply alone. What is even more amazing, is that ‘blue’ and ‘mango’ is available all the time for us, nothing is missing for liberation, much is just needed to be renounced, let go, give space, let it be empty, no need to add. Beneath the rust and shells of our being, is just light, is just Buddha, who came and returns to that pure state nature.
Yumma Mudra and Raji give these workshops all over Europe and now recently in Brazil (hopefully we will continue every year to offer at Atelier YabYum!), part of the Danza Duende School and Choreosophy University, one can complete the three existing cycles: The Five Wisdom Cycle, the Dragon Cycle and the Cycle of the Mysteries.
Tiffani Gyatso, Brazil, June 2018