Purnima: Still Point

Here is the next part of Purnima (Book 7 of Waldmeer).

“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,” (T. S. Eliot)

Mr Peen’s Fire

Next full moon, Merlyn found herself not at Ajna Temple (the Manipura Dancers and Waldmeer Warriors collaboration had been postponed), nor at Purnima Passage. In fact, she wasn’t anywhere in Waldmeer. She was tossing and turning on Tom’s uncomfortable sofa bed in the city. It was Friday, and that meant adult ballet class, at the State Ballet, and then a visit to Tom & Hardy.

At the State Ballet, that morning:

The State Ballet didn’t normally bother with training nonprofessional adult dancers. They were far too busy with their up-and-coming talent and with maintaining the professional company. However, Merlyn’s class was a special promotional offer. That’s why she made the effort to go every week. She didn’t know how long it would last. They had a mixture of teachers. She felt that some of them were probably last-minute throw-ins. She could imagine the timetable co-ordinator yelling out, in the staffroom, Who is taking them today? Someone has to. So-and-so, it’s your turn.

However, Merlyn didn’t care in the slightest. It was a privilege to have access to the company’s teachers. Some days, they even got head teachers; other days, junior ones. The teachers were either current marvellous dancers or, alternatively, professionals with a great deal of experience behind them. Whoever they were, Merlyn approached the class with the clear thought that she was going to get as much as she could from it. 

One of the rather quaint, old-fashioned things that the company did was to call all its teachers by Mr, Mrs, or Miss. The younger ones were Mr or Miss and then their first name. The older ones were Mr, Miss or Mrs and then their surname. 

Today, it was a senior teacher, Mr Peen. Merlyn enjoyed his classes. He was a naturally commanding person, with an excellent dancing background. Even at fifty, he was still a captivating and energetic dancer. Sometimes, he had short appearances in the ballet performances, which was unusual at that age. Unlike many of the men in the ballet company, he was not gay. He had a strong, masculine demeanour; not that that was any indication of sexual preference because there were gay men in the company who also had a strong masculine energy field. They were the ones that the female dancers tended to fall in love with because they had all the attractiveness of conventional male qualities; but also the non-neediness and lack of predatory behaviour that a sexually-incompatible person has towards women.

Mr Peen had a few children, spread out in age, to a few women, spread out in time. He had lived and loved. He had won and lost. He knew what he was doing, and he didn’t. No one could accuse him of not having tried. He was still trying. A lot. A decent, driven, principled man with a lot of fire for life. Sometimes, a little too much fire. 

At Prana Community, Merlyn had learned that, according to age-old Eastern traditions, the human body is made up of five base elements in differing proportions: 72% water, 12% earth, 6% air, 6% ether, and 4% fire. Whenever Merlyn looked at Mr Peen, she felt that instead of 4% fire, he got 5 or 6% fire. That might not seem much of a difference but fire is the most potent element and even a small amount brings lots of power and focus to the individual’s system. Too much fire and the person will start burning up, either in the physical body or in their more subtle bodies.

She had the feeling of wanting to reach out and touch Mr Peen’s hand so that some of the water element, which was strong in her, would flow into him as a balance. Of course, she didn’t do that. It was a big class and it moved along briskly. He didn’t dance with anyone. There was no time for touching except for the occasion quick correction. 

Generally, touching wasn’t something that Merlyn was a big fan of. She didn’t need it herself, and found that it was not necessarily helpful to other people, although most crave it. She touched little children, a lot, because they genuinely need it to grow and thrive. She touched lovers because lovers are like children. Well, not exactly. But, all going well, lovers do have the openness, vulnerability, and playfulness of children with each other and so touching is both good and helpful. She touched people in dancing because dancers can only talk through their bodies. They have no other language.

As Merlyn couldn’t physically reach out and touch Mr Peen, she turned her mind to it instead. She imagined the water element moving towards him. At that point, Mr Peen abruptly stopped talking, turned around, and looked directly at Merlyn. She was fairly sure that he didn’t know why he stopped talking, or turned around, or stared at her, but nevertheless she immediately stopped doing what she was doing and remembered one of Guru Gadubanud’s most uncompromising rules.

“At no time,” Guru Gadubanud would command, “are you to interfere with anyone else’s energetic system without being expressly requested or, in some manner, clearly indicated that it is their wish for you to do so.”

If he caught people doing it (and if you were doing it, he would catch you), he would ask you to leave the satsang and, possibly, the community with the words, “We are not the occult. We are a spiritual path.”

Having returned to his train of thought, Mr Peen was on a roll with the phenomena of the still point. He was explaining how advanced martial artists use the still point to achieve extraordinary levels of activity, strength, and precision. He said that the mark of an accomplished dancer was the ability to dance from the still point.

“When you can be still and still dance, you are a great dancer,” said Mr Peen. “When you can move and still be still, you are a greater dancer.”

Merlyn remembered hearing a poem by T. S. Eliot about the still point. It was a rare recording, by the poet himself, from 1935.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, 
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.”

Burnt Norton by T. S. Eliot

There the Dance Is

At Tom & Hardy, that afternoon:

“Listen to this, Tom,” said Merlyn.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

“That’s nice,” interrupted Tom, “but I have to work.”

He returned to Merlyn later, when he felt that he could do so without getting another poetry recital.

“I have a problem,” said Merlyn.

Tom looked at her as if to say, I know, but decided on saying, “What is it?”

“I have to be out of my flat for a while,” said Merlyn. “That was the arrangement when I took it. It had a long-standing booking.”

“From when?” asked Tom.

“Tonight,” said Merlyn. “Full moon.”

Tom wasn’t sure what the full moon had to do with it, or anything. 

“Can you stay with someone in Waldmeer?” he asked.

“I have some offers,” said Merlyn, “but I don’t like being around most people – to live with, I mean. Can I stay with you on the weekends? I’ll go to Malik’s busy house, during the week, when I have to work.”

“My sofa bed is very uncomfortable,” said Tom, a little too quickly. “It has a rod down the middle. I keep thinking I should buy a new one but you know…”

Merlyn did know. He didn’t want to make it comfortable or people might come.

“I’m little,” said Merlyn. “I’ll lie next to the rod.”

“For how long?” said Tom.

“Purnima to Purnima,” said Merlyn.

“Purnima to Purnima?” repeated Tom.

“One month,” said Merlyn.

“Okay, you can stay on the weekends,” said Tom. “I’ll be at work anyway, but don’t go doin’ my head in. Keep your Purnimas to yourself.”

***

That evening, as Merlyn tossed and turned, on Toms’ sofa bed, she could see the full moon peeping through the balcony curtains. She got up (yet again), made some herbal tea, walked around, drew back the curtains, and stared at the night sky. 

Her thoughts were broken by Tom who had opened his bedroom door.

“Sorry,” said Merlyn. “Am I waking you up?” 

Tom rolled his eyes as if to say, Of course, you are. You are rummaging around like some nocturnal creature. 

Merlyn looked at the sofa bed by way of explanation but, as beggars can’t be choosers, she didn’t want to say anything. Tom gestured, with resignation, for her to sleep on the other side of his bed. He pointedly placed little Hardy in the middle of them and, without a single word, went back to sleep.

Merlyn looked at Tom’s sleeping body and thought, It’s a good body. Very aligned. After all, although Tom was not interested in women’s bodies, Merlyn’s programming was for men’s bodies and Tom was a man.

So much of sexual desire comes from the belief that another body can alleviate our aloneness. It can’t do that, but people believe it can. When one body doesn’t work, they look for another. Merlyn didn’t feel alone, so she didn’t look for anyone’s body, or personality, to fill the void.

I better stop thinking about this, she thought, because if Tom is anything like me and picks up on the thoughts of other people, he will be kicking me out of his bed and out of his house.

Tom was sleeping so motionlessly that Merlyn, once again, remembered the still point poem, 

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

She closed her eyes and fell into a deep, still sleep.

More than an engaging story, the Waldmeer Series is a doorway to personal and spiritual growth. Waldmeer is an idyllic coastal village with stunning natural beauty. It is a place of healing with its quiet, repetitive rhythm and has remained relatively undamaged by the outside world. The simple events of Waldmeer belie the far more complex events of the interdimensional worlds. These worlds meet and merge.

Waldmeer (Book 1) There is a great deal of fantasy in real life and real in fantasy. Waldmeer starts with the ending of one relationship and the beginning of another. It takes courage to tread one’s own course, but only at the beginning of each new stage. We hope that we are safe, but we are not yet sure.

Together (Book 2) The spiritual path is very practical and relevant. This is particularly so in our personal relationships which have more power to change us than anything else. Every relationship is a love lesson. Relationships are complex and multifaceted. They form, disintegrate, and reform based on problems, growth, destiny, and Divine assistance.

Circles of Separation (Book 3) Amira and some of her friends from Waldmeer continue their search for healing and happiness in Circles of Separation. Existence is much more than we can physically see. Our potential, in every way, is far greater than we understand. Spiritual reality is always pushing us towards evolution, healing, love, and freedom.

Faith (Book 4) What does the spiritual journey matter other than it transforms our lives? Nowhere is this more obvious than in our personal relationships. Love can never be lost. It is not exclusive. Life is precious and should be lived with purpose and courage. It is not only possible but essential that we learn how to turn our human experience into a happy and harmonious one.

Pittown (Book 5) In amongst the momentary glory and inevitable change is the unrelenting, ferocious desire to express the soul through a limited body in the hope that it can bring some peace to a painful inner and outer world. Along with all the dirty work, there is also love. Along with all the dirty dancing, there is also purity. Along with all the hatred, hurt, and anger, there is also healing.

Prana (Book 6) Spine up. Step up. Close up. Burn up.

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