Dancing with the stars

                                                By Ozmo Piedmont

                                                Guadalajar, Jalisco – Mexico

    I was a dancer for many years in New York City.  Some of my most memorable experiences happened when dancing, the most important of which occurred toward the end of my career when I was still in peak condition.  I was at a cross-road in the process of changing my career from dancing to psychology.  I had let go of my attachment to dreams of stardom and fame, and continued to dance for many months for the sheer pleasure of it.  This is much like meditation.  When we sit to meditate, we do it without attachment and expectations of what it will bring or make. When we do our meditation for the imagined benefits and rewards it will bring, it diminishes our direct experience in the present.  In life too, while I was attached to fantasies of fame and fortune in some distant future, then I was in a constant state of agitation and dissatisfaction with the dance, leading to my eventual falling away from the practice of dance.  But it is the actual doing of the dance that had its own benefit, as when Dogen writes “ . . . there is only one thing – to train hard for this is true enlightenment.” [1]  Like training, dance is enjoyed through the partnering of body, mind, and heart.  When that truly happens, the world becomes a beautiful work of art.

   I had been studying dance for many years in my teens and early twenties.  After attempts at making a living in the art and entertainment worl, I became disillusioned.  I had been studying ballet at various academies in New York City, all the time surrounded by skilled professionals from around the world.  I had been far too concerned comparing my skills with theirs, and feeling the futility of reaching the goal of perfection.  I was on the verge of giving up my dream of becoming a professional dancer.  Of course, this had created my own gap, creating opposites of perfection/imperfection, good/bad, and judgments that haunted my direct experience of dance.  That separation was my own delusion, my own ego that said, “You are not good enough, you will never reach the goal you seek, it is not enough to just dance.”  While I held on to this mistaken belief of what my mind was telling me, I was despondent and dissatisfied with life.


 

[1] Great Master Dogen, Rules for Meditation, The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (Mt. Shasta, CA: 1990), p. 97.