Question: Does the use of the physical body in dancing make it more difficult to integrate dance into the spiritual life than to integrate other art forms?

Sri Chinmoy: In general, it does. But in India there are some dancers who, when they dance, really offer their dedication and devotion to the Inner Pilot, the Supreme. When they look at the audience they don’t see any individuals as such; they see all the human beings as supreme gods and goddesses. When they see the audience in that way, it helps them tremendously in their spiritual life. If the audience is in a high consciousness and the dancer himself is in a high consciousness, then dance can be a truly spiritual art. Like a child, the dancer is giving an innocent, absolutely soulful thrill to the audience. The dancer is giving to the world what he has, and the world is receiving from him with intense gratitude. And the very fact that the audience is appreciating and admiring the dancer is adding to his own capacity and beauty.

But what often happens is that the dancers start with a good motive, but then the mind starts to play its role. It wants to get appreciation and admiration. The physical is dancing, the vital is dancing, but the mind is like a magnet, trying all the time to get appreciation and admiration. While the mind is getting appreciation and admiration, the lower vital of the person who is appreciating the dance brings its impurity into the system of the dancer. Then the dancer’s own consciousness falls like anything, and his original purity is totally lost. Even if the dancer is at the height of purity, the audience can just devour his spiritual qualities.

Again, the dancer sometimes thinks that he will offer only absolute purity and divinity but the moment he starts dancing, instead of the soul’s beauty, he spreads vulgarity and lower vital movements. The audience may be in an aspiring mood, but the dancer may be very low and be consciously or unconsciously spreading lower vital forces. The audience may start with absolute purity, after meditation or something, but as soon as the dancer starts, immediately the physical beauty of the dancer attracts the lower vital of the audience to such an extent that the audience cannot remain in a high consciousness. Then the dance becomes just physical and vital attraction. Then there is no spirituality there.

The aspirant has to be very careful when the movement of the body starts. The difficulty is that we don’t know where the body’s temptation hides. Temptation need not be in any particular place. It can hide even inside the eyes. The moment you look at someone with one eye, it is enough to capture that person with your temptation. Even with one finger you can make a gesture that is enough to disturb people. Or the audience may stab the dancer with just one look and the dancer’s purity is finished. If the audience and the dancer remain in their highest spiritual consciousness, that is the ideal of dance, but it is almost impossible to achieve.

From:Sri Chinmoy,Art's life and the soul's light, Agni Press, 1974
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