Chapter 29: Jesus Danced

Down the Rabbit HoleHere, I would like to provide an example of the way in which Jesus’ humanity becomes a window to the divine. In the traditional Gospels, we know that before going out to the Mount of Olives, Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26). That is all that is mentioned about this event; however, in the Gnostic Gospels, The Acts of John, we have a detailed account of the hymn. Here is a portion of the text (sections 96 to 102 – translation by G.R.S. Mead) that clearly portrays a mystical celebration of sorts, apparently privy only to those who share in a specific knowledge or experience (ie: true disciples):

“… he gathered all of us together and said:
Before I am delivered up unto them let us sing a hymn to the Father,
and so go forth to that which lieth before us.

He bade us therefore make as it were a ring,
holding one another's hands,
and himself standing in the midst he said:
Answer Amen unto me.
He began, then, to sing a hymn and to say:

Glory be to thee, Father.

And we, going about in a ring, answered him:

Glory be to thee, Word:
Glory be to thee, Grace.

Glory be to thee, Spirit:
Glory be to thee, Holy One:
Glory be to thy glory.

We praise thee, O Father;
we give thanks to thee, O Light,
wherein darkness dwelleth not.

Now whereas we give thanks, I say:

I would be saved, and I would save.
I would be loosed, and I would loose.
I would be wounded, and I would wound.
I would be born, and I would bear.
I would eat, and I would be eaten.
I would hear, and I would be heard.
I would be thought, being wholly thought.
I would be washed, and I would wash.
Grace danceth. I would pipe; dance ye all.
I would mourn: lament ye all.

Whoso danceth not, knoweth not what cometh to pass.

I would flee, and I would stay.
I would adorn, and I would be adorned.
I would be united, and I would unite.
A house I have not, and I have houses.
A place I have not, and I have places.
A temple I have not, and I have temples.

A lamp am I to thee that beholdest me.
A mirror am I to thee that perceivest me.
A door am I to thee that knockest at me.
A way am I to thee a wayfarer.

Now answer thou unto my dancing.
Behold thyself in me who speak,
and seeing what I do,
keep silence about my mysteries.

Thou that dancest, perceive what I do,
for thine is this passion of the manhood, which I am about to suffer.
For thou couldest not at all have understood what thou sufferest
if I had not been sent unto thee, as the word of the Father.
Thou that sawest what I suffer sawest me as suffering,
and seeing it thou didst not abide but wert wholly moved,
moved to make wise…”

In this hymn we see a celebration of life that transcends death, a bittersweet and ever-present welcoming and farewell. This is something that we would expect in the rituals of “primitive” or nature societies. Life (and the process of nature) is there in their midst, with all of its mystery and glory, joy and sorrow. Here, Jesus encourages his disciples to drink with eagerness from every cup that life has to offer, to “eat and be eaten, to bear and be born, to hear and to be heard, to stay and to flee, etc.” He teaches his disciples to play their part with vigor on the world stage and to tap deeply into every experience, from every angle. He tells them that they are inextricably intertwined with the world and this earth. He teaches them to dance for dancing’s sake and to sing for singing’s sake. He is asking them to let go of their subjective, dividing minds and to connect with the world around them and to realize that the entire Creation is reflected within them, at the present moment. In these words, there is a certain rhythm, a dance that is conveyed beyond the physical dancing of Jesus and his disciples. Life, with all of its joys and miseries, dances to One Divine Rhythm. Even science tells us that everything we experience with our physical senses is a result of subatomic particles in constant vibration, and that everything, if we could truly perceive it, is music. And it was the aim of Jesus, through this dance and hymn, to awaken his disciples to this shift in perception. The story of Jesus then, in its entirety, is an invitation to go past the striving for sainthood and the avoidance of sin, and past the desire for heaven and the fear of death and hell. It is for those who have not only transcended dualities and the impermanence of all things but who are able to respectfully play with the impermanence and partake in making its beauty ever so daring and luminous. Ironically those who realize this truth and partake in this Divine Play quite often do so inconspicuously on the world stage.

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