Tibetan Meditative Dance, or Gar Cham , often referred to as “Lama dance”, is a ritual performance. Lamas and practitioners dance within the three fold meditative practice of deity, mantra and wisdom. These “dances” are not ordinary physical performances, but contain layers of profound meaning. Meditative dance displays the unfolding of enlightened activities and the participants have prepared through meditative training.
Tibetan Meditative dance demonstrates the process of awakening from ignorance and negative actions. Because these dances are performed by an accomplished tantric master, they are capable of planting the seeds of liberation within the viewer’s mind-stream. Therefore, this ritual display represents a very unique example of compassionate skillful means.
Meditative Dance: The Benefits for the Spectator
Meditative dance brings benefit for the spectator. Practitioners with faith and interest watch the dances and partake in their inner meaning. This presents a profound method of the vajrayāna path to receive blessings and purify ego clinging. At the same time, some aspects of the dances also contain worldly activities of appeasing local deities and taming the negativity possibly present on the surrounding land.
Each year lamas perform these dances at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery and many other Tibetan monasteries. The dances are a colorful and fascinating display of the richness of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of skillful means. Thus, the celebration offers a sacred opportunity within a happy and festive occasion. Loud and dramatic ritual music accompanies the slow and solemn dance steps. Then, the entire monastery courtyard transforms into a colorful feast for the senses. Gar Cham attracts a large crowd of spectators who believe that by watching this performance, they are witnessing the display of ultimate truths. Moreover, they know they are planting the seeds for their own liberation.