The Dance Of Consciousness

July 3, 2009

the cosmic dancerimage credit: eddi07

I have been writing on the theme of Consciousness and this post further elucidates the subject of the last two posts, Nothing Is Real. Around the end of the eighth century in Kashmir, India, the sage Vasugupta had a dream in which he was told by Lord Shiva to go to a nearby rock where a great secret would be revealed to him. The sage went to the river at the base of the Mahadeva mountain and there he touched a rock which immediately turned towards him and revealed what  later became known as the Shiva Sutras.

On the face of the rock, which still exists, were inscribed the profound aphorisms that became the foundation of  Kashmir Shavism. The sutras that appeal to me, are the basics of this scripture: The Self is the dancer; The inner Self is the stage; The senses are the spectators. This scripture teaches that the universe is nothing but the play or dance of Shiva, the supreme Consciousness. Consciousness for its own pleasure became the physical manifestation of everything and everyone that we perceive with our senses. The nature of Consciousness is of absolute freedom and joy. Inherent within all physical manifestation, this exuberance leaps into Consciousness  as a pulsing that is the true nature of reality, a dance of atoms and molecules if you will, based in the energy of Love. The Shiva Sutras teaches us to view our world with this perspective and to reclaim the legacy of our divine nature.

How do we hold on to the perspective that this world is nothing but Consciousness,  when everywhere we see pain and suffering?  How can this too, be part of God’s nature? According to Kashmir Shavism it is all the manifestation of the cosmic actor, just as in theater, where we have drama, tragedy, comedy, satire and pathos.  We can say that nothing in this world is real. It is all the play of Consciousness. Consciousness becomes lost in its own illusion for its own pleasure in the game of hide and seek. Enough already of the hiding, many of us are now on the path of the seeking! The greatness of this scripture is that it teaches us that we are already that Consciousness. There is no real seeking, but an awakening; for we do not have to find that which we have never lost. We simply have to realize the truth of our divine nature and claim it. Then the illusion of this world crumbles and we align with the truth of reality where we think and act from our divine nature.

The image of the Self as the dancer is made famous by the statue of Shiva, which originated in the south of India, called  Nataraj. His cosmic dance called Tandava is celebrated in myths and poems and enacted in plays. In the Nataraj statues, each limb and gesture portrays one of the five creative powers of Consciousness. In the Tandava dance, the whole cosmos comes into manifestation by the powerful movements of the shaking of his locks and gestures of the Lord’s arms and hands. In his upper right hand, Shiva carries a drum shaped like an hourglass that marks the passage of time and from which,  the sound of human speech emerged. In his upper left hand, Shiva carries a flame signifying the fire that will destroy the world at the close of this cycle to prepare for another new world of creation. In the lower right hand, the palm is raised to face forward in the gesture that says, “have no fear.” This symbol is the promise of support that our needs are being taken care of. The right foot is dancing on a dwarf demon which represents our forgetfulness, our spiritual blindness. This is the delusional function of Consciousness which is represented by Shiva’s right foot holding down our true nature. The lower left hand points to the raised left foot signifying spiritual refuge,  the power of grace and the offering of blessings to dispel illusion, the root of all suffering and pain and awakening to our divine inheritance.

This Tandava dance is enacted in every thought and action, in every moment of our lives; the creative powers of creation, support, illusion, grace and destruction are inherent within all of our mind constructs, all the worlds we weave in our inner and outer experience.

To see this world as nothing but the spectacular dance of Consciousness that is played out in our hearts, our minds and our physical reality is to live with joy and the awareness that all this is not real. It is simply Consciousness sporting within its own being in all its myriad of forms, in colorful beauty, sadness, and joy, for its sheer delight. That Consciousness is you and me and everything you see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Welcome to the play of Consciousness, take a front row seat and enjoy!


1 Liara Covert 07.03.09 at 2:16 pm

Miruh, earlier this evening, a parade of Krishna followers played music and chanted joyful words as they moved down the street beneath my htoel window. This observation is timely considering your post on the theme of consciousness. Thanks for inviting everyone to dance their own jig, play their own tune and discover beats of a drum.

2 Alexys Fairfield 07.04.09 at 11:07 am

Hi Miruh,

I love the image and history of the Shiva. Dancing is a way to free the body and soul of all mortal debris. It is like life is one big dance off and there are no losers, only winners in the realm of consciousness.

Lovely post my friend.

3 Miruh 07.04.09 at 3:27 pm

Hello Liara,

I love it when experiences like you described happens, it’s as if the universe is plotting to grab our attention, which I think it is. For me, so many times while walking and thinking about something I want to do, I will see ravens or eagles flying by just then, as if to signal that I am on the right track.

Enjoy the play!

4 Miruh 07.04.09 at 3:34 pm

Hello Alexys,

I was thinking of how ancient dancing and singing is, the primal expression of the soul. Our ancestors have always known how to connect with spirit through these forms and bridge the finite and the infinite.

Like you say, “life is one big dance off and there are no losers, only winners in the realm of consciousness.” It’s a reality show where everyone wins. 😀

Happy weekend!

5 Lea 07.05.09 at 5:17 pm

What a great post, Miruh. I’ve been pondering concepts of reality and the “dance of consciousness” opened a whole new perspective for me. I love it.

6 Miruh 07.05.09 at 8:34 pm

Hello Lea,

I am glad you like the post.

This perspective on the nature of reality certainly gives a lot more room for enjoyment and not taking life too seriously. We can look beyond the dramas and the tragedies and know that there is a greater perspective where it is all OK; this too is part of the play we have decided to participate in. It has a way of lightening up one’s attitude.

Happy weekend!

7 Maithri 07.06.09 at 1:39 am

Dearest friend,

It is always so refreshing to come here and breathe in your liberated spirit….

I’ve missed your words dearly,

Thank you for all that you, if life is a dance and the soul the dancer, then you are a prima ballerina,

Much love to you my friend,


8 Nicole 07.06.09 at 7:01 am

Miruh – I am truly enjoying reading about the sage Vasugupta.

All the world really is a stage, and we can create anything! I am really beginning to see that I can affect my world easily and without struggle.

“The nature of Consciousness is of absolute freedom and joy.” – This is so true for me. I always know I am on the right track because I feel this freedom and joy all throughout my levels of being.

Thank you! Nicole

9 Miruh 07.06.09 at 9:10 pm

Hello Maithri,

As always, your poetic words leaping into my consciousness with exuberance, brings laughter and cheer to my day. So good to see you here! You will be going home soon and I can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures. 😀

Deep peace to you my friend!

10 Miruh 07.06.09 at 9:19 pm

Hello Nicole,

Yes, the body comes with a default compass of joy and freedom. When the mind gets out of the way, life is easeful and we need only tune inward to follow the heart, the true-mind.

These teachings are so precious; we are so fortunate.

Thanks for sharing your experience; it is hopeful for others on the path to know that it is really possible to live from our divine nature.

Much love to you!

11 Mergingpoint 07.23.09 at 5:49 am

wow! Miruh! your knowledge on Nataraj is breathtaking and truly commendable. have been fortunate to see quite few masterpieces of Nataraj and also have been to the famous “Natarajar Temple” in South India. But, your selection of this image is simply speechless. Your descriptions were like revisiting that powerful revealing experiences. Grateful, my beloved!

12 Miruh 07.23.09 at 11:14 pm

Hello Merging Point,

How fortunate you are to have seen these great portrayals of Ananda Tandava!

It is interesting to me, that it is when I share what I have learned that I come to understand the subject better, and can explain it with some clarity. I am so grateful for the teachers who share the great philosophy of India’s spiritual heritage with the western world.

Thanks for your kind words my friend.

Love and Blessings to you!

13 Ksemaraja 09.09.09 at 9:15 pm

You should read Vasugupta’s work Spanda-Karikas as well. It’s sort of a commentary on the Siva Sutras but in a different manner. It covers quite a wide range of material in fifty and some potent verses. Unfortunately not that much is known about Vasugupta. Besides the tradition of the Siva Sutras and the Spanda-Karikas it seems like nothing else is known about him. It is said that he lived around the 7th-8th century and taught or originated the Spanda School for realization within the overal framework of Kashmir Shaivism. He was well-versed in Buddhist philosophy and his work with the Siva Sutras and Spanda Karikas were more or less there to defend the integral monism of Kashmir Shaivism against the various schools of Buddhism and also the schools of other Indian thought which disagreed with Kashmir Shaivism.

This is one problem with Kashmir Shaivism, I think. It’s a great system in a world of systems. It’s quite clear and to the point. Goal, means to the goal, etc. And yet its history is so wrapped in symbolic folk-lore that one cannot really grasp it as anything but a technical system of meditation. The Tantras of ancient times may have been living, breathing sacred texts a thousand years ago and more but in these days there is little life left in Kashmir Shaivism.

The last remaining master of the school, i.e., someone belonging to a direct line of masters, was Swami Lakshmanjoo. I’ve learned all I know of Kashmir Shaivism from his books and yet I never feel entirely satisfied with the whole thing. Sometimes I feel that it is a profound system worth sticking to and at other times I feel that it’s a thing of the past, ready to drift off into a sea of other lost doctrines and traditions.

14 Miruh 09.11.09 at 11:23 am

Hello Ksemaraja,

You must be a fan of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam…lol. Thanks for the reference to Spanda-Karikas. I have perused its pages but I tell myself that someday I will focus on deciphering it.

I agree with you that the ancient philosophies like Kashmir Shaivism seem like relics of the past, wrapped up in folk-lore and irrelevant in its practices to today’s spirituality.

I read somewhere where the zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh had said that Buddhism, when it enters a country, must be adjusted to suit the psychology of the culture it serves in order to enrich our understanding and explorations. I think that is very wise and reflects the greatness of the teacher who recognizes that we use what we have in front of us and spiritualize that.

I believe that the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism is perhaps the most relevant to today’s spirituality that begs the marrying of quantum physics and cosmology with our inner experience.

I see the wisdom in the teachers’ admonition to find a path and stick to it. I somehow believe though, that modern people are a bit more complex psychologically especially in the West, that we need to explore other systems and integrate a system that works for the individual. I like the Buddhist systems of inquiry as well as Vedanta and Shaivism. We are very fortunate to have the freedom to choose and study from all of these great legacies of the ancient masters.

Thanks for engaging so deeply. I enjoyed your comment.

Deep peace to you!

15 Renee Marshall Brown 06.28.10 at 11:56 am

Hmmm, plenty to think about here..well said and enjoyable. I’m wondering a couple of things. One is about “We simply have to realize the truth of our divine nature and claim it. ” I’m thinking it is simple, but not so easy to do, and if we already knew how to do it, we would have done it already. What are the blocks to this, and how do you feel we can remove them? And two, do you have a definition for unconsciousness?

16 Miruh 06.29.10 at 6:49 pm

Hello Renee


You are right, it is simple and easy and it is not, such is the paradox of walking the spiritual path. You ask some very deep questions and in this blog I have written a lot about this and what works for me.

On your question about blocks and how to remove them, the only block in my perspective, is the mind. How can one deal with the mind whose nature is what it is? What works for me is the practice of awareness and using techniques such as meditation that allows us to witness the mind. We cannot get rid of thoughts and unwanted emotions which block the experience of our divinity but by continued mindfulness and kind compassion with ourselves, we can practice becoming more aligned with truth. In this way we are not working hard at fighting delusion. By contemplating the truth that the wise ones teach us, we can actually experience their wisdom for it is always with us, we have only to be reminded. As with every skill, it takes much practice and enthusiasm for the art.

Unconsciousness means to me that we are experiencing a sense of separation. As we walk the spiritual path, we dance between the poles of the experience of consciousness or unity and the feeling of separate identity, of illusion or unconciousness.
This of course is different from Carl Jung’ s, the unconscious which is another realm to do with psychology.

Thanks for stopping by. Your questions gave me an opportunity to go deeper.

Deep peace to you!

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