By Mahipal Lunia • January 12th, 2009 •
I remember the scene from Matrix Reloaded, where after the speech, the citizens of Zion break out into an ecstatic dance, seemingly oblivious to the impending attack on Zion. A friend sitting next to me said to me, “They are insane, who dances the night before such a big battle? They have got to be out of their minds to do that.” I laughed and did not think much of it then. But, later, it hit me—yes, that’s the real question: “Are you out of your mind or not?”
Fast forward a couple of years. It’s a September night in California and about 7 pm. The parking lot outside the gymnasium is full and the it’s getting a little chilly. The music is now thumping, and about seventy people are dancing, each moving to their own beat, seemingly oblivious to the outside world. There is ecstasy, smiles, and pain all intermixing in a medley of emotional movements. We are looking at the dancers from the outside, and not sure if this is something we want to do. Paul Rebillot’s words to us were “Check out Gabrielle Roth and her 5Rhythms.” We speak briefly to the DJ/5Rhytms teacher about what we need to do in order to learn and participate. “Oh, nothing really—don’t think too much, just let the music move you.” It seemed insane a bit, a little out there, a little scary too perhaps given its rawness and that was all the reasons we needed to join. We have been dancing since, and during the seminars and workshops with Kathy Altman, Gabrielle Roth, Lori Smullin, and Lori Saltman the key theme has always been “Don’t think, feel the music, remember feet first, move, move, trust yourself, find your own movements.” The key theme is “Let the movements find you.”
As we danced more and more, the initial thinking—Am I moving ok? Do I look silly or do I look good? Can I impress? And so on all melted away and pure movement and ecstasy. Two to three hours of dancing leaves you “out of your mind, and deep into your senses” and the quality of sheer joy just sparkles in you and those around you.
It reminds me of another incident in the early ‘90s. We had been working with Sensei Sastri for a bit, and were on our way for our Oku Iri (entrance to secrets) certification in Kaze Arashi Ryu (The wind storm system). We were doing randori and were blindfolded now. I remember my muscles tensing, and my mind racing at a hundred miles an hour. The attack could come from anywhere, and I could be smacked in a million ways. The more I was thinking, the more I missed the attacks, the more I got smacked, and the more I got smacked, the more I thought. I could keep hearing Sensei in the background saying, “feel, feel, flow.” Tired and exhausted, my mind finally yelled and gave up (a few good smacks do that), and I settled in and started to gently move to touch and feel the opponents. Finally, I got the knack of feeling one’s way through it, trusting something other than just your mind, and seeing through with more than just one’s eyes and one’s thinking. Suddenly, the hit ratio improved, and I was able to hold my own much better and divert the zukis (punches). I felt my way out of throws and locks, and even got into and destroyed the power of kicks. How did this happen? “By getting my mind out of the way, and allowing other intelligences to kick in.” Many Japanese martial arts call this Mushin or “no mind.”
That evening, on the way home—a little bruised and in pain all over, yet with a smile on my face—it struck me that this was just like in Star Wars. When the Jedi are in training, one frequently heard “Use the force” or “Trust the force” or “May the force be with you.” Even as the final battle unfolds, Luke lets go of the machines and uses his own force, his own higher instincts to guide him through the battle. I had always wondered, would it not be cool to experience that? Now, I had experienced it, in body and flesh. No longer did I need to believe in it, I knew it. I jumped and danced, and told myself, get the mind out, get the machines out, learn to trust those instincts. My fighting transformed that day, and I never looked back from then. I made a resolve—not to think too hard about it, but jump in and work it and let “it” flow through me.
Other good examples can also be found in works of great mythological fiction, both in Frank Herbert’s Dune series and in the Matrix. In Dune, Paul Maudib trains while being blindfolded, and when the assassination attempts on his life fails and he is blinded, he discovers he can still “see great visions.” In the Matrix, Neo goes blind and yet “sees the truth.” What these wonderful myths of the future (good science fiction, in my opinion contains future myths, coming towards us) are telling us is that there is a truth visible only when we close our eyes to the so-called “system” or world as we see it. Aligning to this higher truth, vision, force, or instinct is what allows these heroes to pass through their moments of greatest despair. When the reliance has moved from man or man-made technology, and moved towards something more primal—something we share with everything and everyone. Some call it the force. Some call it god. Some call it instinct or truth.
Call it what you may, I attest it is the same thing. One powerful way to access this is through “feeling the body deeply” and “sheer physicality.” The movement towards deep physical movement tends to bring one into “one’s senses” and out of the prisons of our minds. Working on ParaTheatre Labs with Antero Alli—which has been inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowsky—the same themes arise (the physicality). The idea behind the ritual technology is to start by feeling the body deeply, and as Alli has told me a few times, “Don’t worry about understanding, do the movement, the no form, and the mind can catch up later.”
Don’t get me wrong—the mind can be a useful thing. It’s useful when you are using it. But it is perhaps the greatest parasite when it is using you. When those thoughts don’t stop, and seem to run amuck and have a life of their own. Learning the trick of “stopping the world,” as Castaneda put it, is crucial. This “stopping the world” has been critical, even in the development of NLP and almost ALL spiritual work. There are many ways of arriving here—of stopping the world, getting out of your mind, and connecting with your deepest instincts. The quickest way is perhaps “through the body proper.”
It came to a full circle recently at my dojo, when one of my students when asked to take rolls across the football field. He said out loud, “I must be out of my mind to do this.” I smiled, thought back to of all the incidents mentioned above, and said, “If you are not yet, I sure hope this will lead you there soon.” With that, we started rolling on the field, one thump after the next.