... let our lives be incense
like a hymn to the sacred
body of the universe
my religion is rain
my religion is stone
my religion reveals itself to me in sweaty epiphanies
every leaf, every river,
every creature trapped in the gears
of corporate nightmares
every species made extinct
Another unusually warm spring day, another walk in the park, and another opportunity for reflection as I considered today's daily dance practice location. Beside a huge pile of composting leaves was a concrete barricade with graffiti written on it - "fight the power." This caused me to pause, but not for long because I wanted my body just to respond - as Momo's sensei, Kazuo Ohno has said - "Not thinking, only soul." I needed to just jump into this dance and the compost!
I think what surprised me was that suddenly I took on what felt like the "power" itself - that I wasn't the protagonist fighting the antagonist, or the good fighting the evil, but the "evil" itself, crashing and stomping over the mountains of leaves, feeling almost ogre-like - with an inner feeling of "nothing can get in my way - I am evil and unstoppable!"
However, again, as what often happens in daily dances, the unexpected occurred - there amongst the decay was a small, silver child's shoe - like a ballet slipper. This stopped me in my stomping tracks and for a time I felt bewitched by the fragility, the delicateness of this tiny, girl's shoe. I was overcome by a cinderella-like image of seeing if this slipper might somehow 'fit' with the resulting transformation into a 'princess' or of a non-evil entity...
The juxtaposition of the tiny slipper against my clod-hopper hiking boots looked ridiculous to me... back to my ogre ways!
Not really understanding this dance until this evening when I became aware of two environmental issues. One was Monsantos and the alfalfa industry. The other was about a court case that is currently underway in Canada regarding 1600 ducks that were killed in Syncrude's oil sand's trailing pools in Alberta. Both of these issues involve large corporations that will stop at nothing for financial gain - that are willing to destroy that which sustains all life, the fragile ecosystem, including our mama earth.
In reflection on my dance practice from this afternoon, I could see that the delicate beauty of the slipper, like the exquisite beauty of the ducks that died in the tailings pond, were only minor distractions on the path of destruction. The composting leaves I was stomping on, like the body of mama earth whose ancient composting created crude oil, is so easily stomped on with disregard.
There was something powerful about embodying evil in today's practice. As the esteemed Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has said, until we can see ourselves as perpetrators of evil ourselves, it is difficult to be compassionate and even understand it.
In part of his moving poem "Call Me by My True Names" he says:
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
Thich Nhat Hanh
My butoh mentor Momo wrote an insightful blog on the surfacing of anger in our lives. Although I have practiced yoga since I was a child where there is a tendency to want to embrace all things 'light-filled', I believe it is important for us to also acknowledge our inner dark that resides within each of us. My butoh practice has been a great teacher in embodying that aspect of myself and allowing it to surface, where I can begin to embrace it with acceptance and compassion.
Thank you for viewing / reading this blog. I hope that it in some way has inspired you - perhaps to remember and embody our interconnectedness to all beings in the world. My hope in sharing my vulnerabilities and challenges is that it will allow us all to be more open with one another.
There is a film in the black space below:
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill