The focus of today’s class was Nia Principle #13: Dancing What You Sense.
When we experience the essential lesson of Nia — that life is lived through sensation — we become connected, connected to the body, connected to our lives, connected to the world, and connected to the moment and to the great presence that lives in us and through us.
Here’s what the 15th century Indian ecstatic poet Kabir has to say about living life fully present in the body, right here, on the Island of Now in the Ocean of All Time:
I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving around on that bank, or resting?
There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman,
There is no towrope either , and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!
And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the soul less thirsty?
In that great absence, you will find nothing.
Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!
Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things
and stand firm in that which you are.
translated by Robert Bly
The Kabir Book
“Be strong then, and enter into your own body; there you have a solid place for your feet.”
I spoke the last part of this poem in class today. These words have been a north star for me for thirty years, ever since I first heard my beloved teacher, Robert Bly, chanting poetry to sitar and tabla.
Robert’s words and wisdom, bringing the poetry of Kabir, Rumi, Mirabai, Hafez, Neruda, Machado, Lorca, Jiminez and, of course, Rilke, to English speaking people, have, along with my parents, literally made me the person I am today, dancing through life.
It takes strength to enter your body. It takes strength not to flee the present moment and go off somewhere else. It takes a strength that is both determined and so in love with life that, somehow in spite of it all, somehow, because of it all, we summon the courage to love what we love more than our fears and in so doing, loving and grieving, weeping and laughing, we enter into our own bodies again, here, now, living what we sense.