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» » Dancing with the Void
Dancing with the Void


The Innerstandings of a Rare-Born Mystic


Dancing with the Void


Religion & Spirituality

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Blue Dove Pr; 1 edition (January 10, 2001)




New Age and Spirituality



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Dancing with the Void by The Innerstandings of a Rare-Born Mystic

"In this life play I have not been in quest of Guru, God, Truth, Grace, Salvation, nirvana, or power lust. I had no ambition to be different from what I am. Blessedly, I had escaped headucation, and was free of any imposed knowledge. I had no property. I did not marry. I did not belong to any cliques or creed. I was not attracted to their magnetism. I felt all is within our Self. I had nothing to assert or resent. Nor had I anything to boast about or regret. I was fully contented. I had joy in ‘that which is.'" —Sunyata

Dancing with the Void is the story of an unconventional man whose existence was "mind-free, form-free, effort-free, time-free and age-free." Born in Denmark, in 1890, Sunyata was from birth, utterly without desire, ambition, and ego. Thus, the name "Sunyata"—and the description of "rare-born mystic"—was given to him years later in India by the revered sage, Ramana Maharshi.

A lover of silence and solitude, Sunyata remained untouched by the common wordly conditioning that entraps so many. In his own joyful prose, Sunyata chronicles his life-journey from contemplative farm boy and gardener, Emmanuel Sorensen, to humble cave dweller, "Mr. Nobody."

Sunyata's fateful journey's, inspiring friendships, and the spiritual wisdom shared in these collected writings all reflect the soul of an authentic seer. His experiences and musings are ever relevant for they concern something that is of value to all—the illumination and liberation of the human spirit.

Wey interesting book, loved it.
in waiting
One of the best books I have ever read. To connect with Sunyata's LOVE overflow is perhaps one of the most enriching and fulfilling experiences you can live as you realize who you are.
Golden freddi
One afternoon 1998, I was walking along Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica and I saw a table set-up on the sidewalk outside a small bookstore. One title featured a color photograph of a man who I'd never seen before, but who I could at once see was a communicator of the nature of reality. That day I picked up a copy of Sunyata: The Life & Sayings of a Rare-born Mystic. The book introduced me to a person who -- how do I describe it? -- who was stress-free. Easy to be with. Quiet. Harbouring nothing. Separate from nothing. Strong in his knowing and presence and in his confessions about what is true; strong in his pointing out of "egojies," but always seeing/knowing/being or "awaring" the Self that is the reality of egojies.

Though I know Sunyata only through books and through brief discussions with Betty Camhi, who is the book's editor and who was a friend of Sunyata, I feel close to him, if that's possible. I can understand what editor Betty Camhi says in the Preface to Dancing with the Void: "After listening over a period of several years to ... questions and answers, I found myself becoming less interested in the verbal exchange and more interested in the silence and radiance that was emanating from this 'rare born mystic.' He had a healing presence."

But that's not the book I'm reviewing.

I'm reviewing Dancing with the Void, which is another book by Sunyata and co-edited by Betty Camhi, who co-edited the first book. This book is longer and better organized, but not necessarily a better or lesser introduction to the nature of Sunyata himself. In this book, as in the first one, you experience the silence of Sunyata. The silence comes through in the photographs (what first draw me to him) and his words. This book includes a biography by one of the editors, and several chapters telling of the people Sunyata personally knew: Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru, Ramana Maharshi, and others. Nearly half the book is biographical or autobiographical. The rest of the book consists of chapters on other people and topics: Albert Schweitzer, Milarepa, Kabir, Carl Jung, Gautama Buddha, Mysticism, Suffering, Awakening. The topics of sex, music, art, and death are covered within various chapters.

Throughout this book, on every page, there is the simple utterance of truth. The people and the various topics are very interesting, but secondary. In the spirituality racket it doesn't matter what we talk about because all topics are like the wide end of a funnel, expansive and open to all kinds of discussion, but very soon narrowing to the point at hand, which is the realization of "this." There is a series of such funnels in this book and the topics are certainly there to be enjoyed, studied, contemplated, experienced, savored.

Sunyata, Emmanuel Sorensen, was born in Denmark in 1890. He lived most of his life in India, where he felt most at home, and in the 1970's was invited by the Alan Watts Society to live in the United States. The following exchange reveals and tells much about Sunyata. They are taken from a taped recording of his talk of June 2, 1982.

Question: Why are you here?
Sunyata: Because the Alan Watts Society financed me here.

Question: Why did you do that? What would you teach?
Sunyata: I told them I had nothing to teach and they said, "That's why we wanty you." Aha! How nice! So I am the Silence behind all this noise.

Question: Did you want to come to America?
S: I had no wish to go anywhere. The body wask 84 and perfectly fulfilled, content that I would go to heaven rather than America. Utter constrast. It had to happen. I accepted it. I knew it could be done because they had financed Lama Govinda several times here. Bob Shapiro wrote saying, "Reality wise, Sunyaji doesn't need to do anything." That's why I'm here -- to do nothing.

Q: How did you get on in India?
S: My utter simplicity was an asset there. And my adaptability. I could be at home anywhere.

Q: How did you come to choose India to live?
S: I didn't choose India. India chose me. Tagore invited me to "come to India to teach Silence." And now I come here to America to do nothing. Look at that. Poetic. Tagore felt that Silence. That Silence is a kind of reality to me. It was there in my childhood. It's not the Silence of sound but really the Silence of desire, willfulness, craving, fear.
Q: How did you come to this Silence?
S: I was born so. And that was what the great sage in South India [Ramana Maharshi] said of me -- "a rare-born mystic." I didn't know what "mystic" was. I mean, what Ramana Maharshi meant by it. I built my hut in the Himalayas and lived there in solitude. No language to express it. Then the language grew up in letters to friends.

Though the chapters in the book do not actually take the form of letters, one chapter is presented as a letter. The title of the chapter is Suffering. It consists of a long letter from Daniel, a patient in the mental ward of an army hospital. Daniel had been in communication with Sunyata, uses Sunyata's terminology, and understands Sunyata's statements of truth, but the suffering is great. Daniel writes to Sunyata:

"I am in a state of anxiety -- my anguish unbearable. It is not mental depression, but just anxiety, fearful and blinkered, perhaps. Breath is choked, a heavy weight lies on the heart, the pain is both physical and mental. What is the meaning of this overwhelming pain? Why? Wherefore? How to escape it? How to live through it?
"Surely, suffering is the characteristic of human life. But in a hospital, in a prison and in a mental home, this suffering is starkly uncovered and undisguised and strikes one right in the face."

These are long letters. In part, Sunyata replies: "Weep and cry -- Dan, accept and dissolve. Let the due suffering overwhelm ego and ego-ridden mind. You will emerge. You are invincible. Sin, Karma, Self, God, etc., are all words, words, words, concepts and abstractions, until they happen to us and often painfully. The sin is ignorance, unawareness, blinkers and ego blindness, so don't harbor, develop or nourish a sin-complex or guilt complex. Karma, prenatal, pre-ego and ego-made, must be accepted as a fact in living. It can be atoned -- and we need not accumulate any more prarabdha. By our attitude and integral awareness, it is accepted, atoned and transcended. So let's drop our cumbersome conceit of agency, says Wuji."

Dancing with the Void is a gift of healing, wholeness, reality, silence. There is a side story told in Betty Camhi's preface. This book would never have been born if it were not for a nearly impossible meeting between Betty and the man who was entrusted with writings that became this book. That meeting was apparently mediated or grace-given by Ammachi. Betty's preface ornaments this book with a light entirely its own, one which makes us laugh at the non-separateness simplicity of everything. Perhaps like Betty's meeting, a meeting with Sunyata is inevitable.

Jerry Katz
Reading the book, "Dancing with the Void" was a rare experience! Although it is clearly written and not over-long, it took me rather a long time to get through the book because reading it allowed me to touch the mind of Sunyata, and I kept going into samadi. Sometimes several times per page. Sunyata, it seems, is truely a "rare-born mystic" and the clear and respectful editing by Camhi and Rai allows one to experience his presence in a most dynamic way.
I would encourage anyone interested in the inner life to experience this wonderful book -- and through it the mind of Sunyata.
Remarkably pure, this man Sunyata, in his every expression. He's living the essence of what we're all looking for.

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