A review of In the Fire of Dancing Stillness – Reflections with Vimala Thakar
A film by Renata Keller
Renata Keller introduces the life and teachings of Vimala Thakar in an extraordinarily accessible way, so very much in tune with Vimala herself. The opening scene sets the stage for the intertwining of the elements and nature as both background and enhancement. Waves form, play, and disappear. The boatman intently watches as he punts his craft along the shore, and soaring over this peaceful scene is the crystal-clear voice of Vimala.
Renata uses a delicate touch to tell Vimala’s story, guided by profound gratitude, for Vimala recognized her longing for wholeness, and by so doing changed her life. This tribute, made some twenty years after this meeting, interweaves interviews with Vimala’s colleagues and friends; an exploration of places she worked and taught; and powerful excerpts from those teachings. Interspersing these scenes is the slow evolution of a chalk image into the goddess Durga.
Vimala is described as a philosopher, spiritual revolutionary, and social activist. She engaged in land distribution, persuading rich landowners to donate part of their land to landless laborers so all could live in dignity. She reached out to, and taught, girls and women, encouraging their independence and development of self-respect. She explains her work as taking care of suffering at all levels.
Vimala’s capacity for love and light extends far beyond her social activism. J. Krishnamurti invited her to visit him for some healing sessions after a car accident severely damaged one of her ears. These meetings engendered an upheaval in her consciousness. Vimalaji wrote, “Something within has been let loose. It can’t stand any frontiers. The invasion of a new awareness irresistible and uncontrollable has swept everything away. The freshness and awareness keep one ever alert, ever keen and ever insecure. Though the journey has come to an end, I have not arrived. Perhaps there is nowhere to arrive. Perhaps there is no static destination. It seems to me that life is its own purpose. Life is its own direction. Life is dynamic, and those who live are on an eternal voyage.” Krishnamurti strongly encouraged Vimala to start giving talks from her understanding.
This movie exudes the vast love and concern Vimala felt for the whole of humanity, the global family we are becoming as so much of our way of living is changing. Vimalaji has tremendous hope in the new generation, in all of us, that though we live in turbulent times, such challenges create the possibility to “emanate out of our being a new human culture” based on truth, love and compassion.
Vimalaji explains how we have become separate from the sacred in life due to the way we live apart from nature, apart from each other, interacting with the manmade. Vimala points out how so much of what is considered human can now be done by artificial intelligence; it has become memory, thought, and even feeling. She asks, is there something that is untransferable, something that artificial intelligence cannot do? And this is the search. What is it that cannot be transferred to a machine? Let us find out! And this dovetails into another frequent theme. How can we relate to life without the interference of the mind? Can we learn to look at life in a fresh way born of silence, from emptiness, in touch with the sacred? Vimala encourages us all to experiment, dive within, disinfect ourselves of knowledge, and find out.
And the threads of this tapestry – scenes of flowing rivers and still lakes, a bird aloft in the vast sky, the beauty of trees, of humanity – the interrelatedness of it all woven together with exquisite music, and the patient creation of the goddess Durga from chalk; and shortly after completion, the destruction.
In the sanctuary of silence
Beauty comes to life.
On the altar of silent beauty
Humility plays with life.
In the light of dancing humility
Innocence opens itself.
Freedom is the blossom
Love is the perfume
Compassion its graceful way of walking.
Download or watch the video: In the Fire of Dancing Stillness.
Here is a link to explore more from Vimala Thakar.