These words by Ananda Coomaraswamy introduce the essential features of the Shiva image in Veda mythology. Of all the Hindu deities, none has been more meaningful than Shiva dancing in the circle of fire. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 89)

Amongst the greatest of the names of Shiva is Nataraja, Lord of Dancers, or King of Actors. The cosmos is his theater, there are many different steps in his repertory, he himself is actor and audience:

When the Actor beateth the drum,
Everybody cometh to see the show;
When the Actor collecteth the stage properties
He abideth alone in his happiness.

In psychosynthesis terms, my conscious I was the actor. That part of me that developed as the observer maturing into the witness was the audience. The Meditator in the World acting consciously in the reflection of the witness danced as Shiva himself danced.

How many various dances of Shiva are known to his worshipers I cannot say. No doubt the root idea behind all of these dances is more or less one and the same, the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy. . . .

My poem "Intuition" said:

Breathing in,
Breathing out,
The primal pulse.

The lotus opens
To gently reveal
Its inner essence.

As I accorded the primal rhythm of the breath in harmony with The Intuitive Self, I danced the dance of Shiva on the stage of life.

What then is the meaning of Shiva's Nataraja dance, as understood by Shivites? . . . The dance, in fact, represents his five activities viz.: 1) overlooking, creation, evolution; 2) preservation, support; 3) destruction, evolution; 4) veiling, embodiment, illusion, and also, giving rest; 5) release, salvation, grace. . . .

Of the several interpretations of the essential meanings of Shiva's dance, those highlighted are most potent. Of these "release" spoke most directly as the requirement to let go of fears and desires and their associated mental chatter and tension patterns.

He dances to maintain the life of the cosmos and to give release to those who seek him. Moreover, if we understand even the dances of human dancers rightly, we shall see that they too lead to freedom. But it is nearer the truth to answer that the reason of his dance lies in his own nature, all his gestures are own-nature-born, spontaneous, and purposeless - for his being is beyond the realm of purposes.

In another passage, this writer observed "Whatever the origins of Shiva's dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of." This wei wu wei doing-not doing of Shiva's dance called forth the primal image of The Meditator in the World.

It may not be out of place to call attention to the grandeur of this conception itself as a synthesis of science, religion and art. How amazing the range of thought and sympathy of those rishi artists who first conceived such a type as this, affording an image of reality, a key to the complex tissue of life, a theory of nature, not merely satisfactory to a single clique or race, nor acceptable to the thinkers of one century only, but universal in its appeal to the philosopher, the lover, and the artist of all ages and all countries. How supremely great in power and grace this dancing image must appear to all those who have striven in plastic forms to give expression to their intuition of Life!

The prominence of the Shiva Nataraja image throughout the world attests to its universality. It became the archetype of archetypes for my personal journey. My intuition of life was The Intuitive Self at the core of existence. All these years, Shiva beckoned to me to spiral ever inward to the center of being where the indwelling God desired only that I allow him-her to manifest in my life.