Shiva and Chaos

Shiva and Chaos

One of the notions in Chaos theory (and I’m still reading up on it so take what follows with a pinch of salt) is that simple patterns can be repeated over and over again to create complex systems. My reference is James Gleick’s

Chaos-The Amazing Science of the Unpredictable.

In it he talks about the reason that our DNA, or DNA in general can store so much information is that information for creating the parts of our body is encoded in patterns that can be used over and over again at different scales.

This “scaling effect” is apparently apparent in organs like our liver and in the structure of our veins and arteries.

In plant life, one researcher showed how smaller pictures of a fern could be layed in to produce a picture of a bigger fern.

(I may need some proper references or at least web links here.)

Anyway, reading all of this I became quite excited because it occured to me that Dance of Shiva can display this scaling effect. It offers an infinite amount of possibility just from a few simple moves.

Warp 1

Allow me to use the Warp 1 sequence to illustrate. In this sequence, there are four movements, (where the movement to the left of the dash is that of the left arm and the movement to the right that of the right arm):

  • Change Forwards-Transquarter
  • Change Forwards-Change Forwards
  • Change Forwards-Backwards
  • Forwards-Change Backwards

We repeat this sequence of movements 4 times to return the arms to the position from which they started.

In the table, each column represents one repetion of this sequence. The movements are highlighted in blue in the column on the left. We start at position 1-1 (top left red square,) and move to b-3, 3-d, d-c and finish at a-4. The next column or repetition starts at a-4 (the second red square from the left.)

The red squares represent the position the we finish at after each repetition. If we look closely we may notice a pattern, a relationship between one stopping point or check sum and the next.

From 1-1 to a-4 the left arm does the equivalent of a change, from 1 to a. From a-4 to 1-3, it does a Change again. Then from 1-3 to a-2 it Changes back to a. Then from a-4 the arms return to 1-1. The right hand undergoes a similar repeated transition. It moves from 1 to 4 to 3 to 2 and back to 1 again (1-1, a-4, 1-3, a-2, 1-1.) It does the equivalent of a Backwards move.

We can thus think of this sequence of movements as equivalent to a C-B move.

(I actually selected each Warp so that their equivalents where all different.)

If we were so inclined we could create any number of warps using any of the pairs of movements to create C-B equivalents. We could also use sequences of other than 4 moves.

Now, suppose we did any four movements at random. What could happen? We could figure out the equivalent single move for those four random movements. More to the point, for any number of moves we could figure out the equivalent single move and it would always be one of 64 possible movements (They are all shown in the table above.)

Why 64? Because there are 64 possible positions and so to join any position to any other position including itself we need 64 possible movements. The movement that connects a position to itself is a zero move.

So what does this mean? If we have the freedom to do any number of moves, then we can always find different ways to do the equivalent of any of the 64 movements. There is infinite potential, all based on a few simple moves.

Leading with the Mind

Life Skills

Most of the things that we can practice with the dance of shiva can be applied to anything we do. They include:

  • learning to break complex tasks into simpler ones,
  • sensing and choosing options,
  • knowing what we are doing before we do it.

One of the advantages of the Dance of Shiva is that it provides a good way of practicing any of these skills. Plus you don’t have to figure out how to practice them, you can simply get on with practicing them.

Clear Ideas

One of the things we can practice is “leading with the mind” or “leading with a clear idea”.

In the more advanced practices (I call them “Warps”) we can memorize a sequence of moves. An example would be “CF-T, CF-CF, CF-B, F-CF.”

This is a “generic” formula that can be used to start from any of the 64 different positions of the dance of shiva. Repeating this formula 4 times returns the arms to the position from which they started. So that we use each of these moves from each of the 64 positions we need to practice this formula from 16 different positions.

When practicing this sequence or any other sequence, before we “do” each move we can first see it with our mind.

As an example, starting from position 1-1 the first move is a CF-T which takes the arms to b-3. With enough practice we know the positions so that they are easy to see with our minds eye. As a result we can see our hands in position b-3 before we actually move them there.

From our new positions we can then see what the result of the next move is before we do it. From b-3 we can “see” that the CF-CF move will take our arms to 3-d. Having seen with our mind we can then move our arms there.

Rather than moving automatically and then checking where we are once we get there, we use our mind first and then follow with our body.

Move Mind
then Body

If we move first (automatically) and we move correctly, our hand position shows us where we went. That is not a “bad” thing. However, if we think first then we have to use our mind to draw up the memory of where our hands should go. Rather than relying on our body to give us the answer we use our mind and then we use our body.

We can learn to use our mind quite quickly in this fashion. Rather than waiting for our body to give us the answer so that we can check it, we use our mind and then check that our body has done the move correctly.

This is exactly like the kung fu movies where the adverseries see the fight and what they do in it before the fight actually begins.


Another term for gong fu is inner skill. I like to take this as meaning seeing with the mind first and then doing with the body. Practicing “inner skill” with the dance of shiva we develop our ability to think fast.

Thinking fast, we can do quick movements knowing that we are doing the movement correctly, or we are able to correct ourselves while we are doing the movement if we spot that we have made a mistake.

This “leading” with the mind lends itself immediately to what we do outside of the dance of shiva.

Do we know what it is that we are trying to do? If not what is it that we are trying to do. We can then spend time figuring it out rather than wasting time by doing something we don’t need to do. Then once we are doing something we can do it quickly, efficiently and like a martial arts master.

Practicing Warps, if we use our mind to know where we are going before we get there we can then lend additional brain power to monitoring our arms as they do the movement (since we already know where they are going.) We can make our movements more precis, more exact.

We then not only train our brain, we also train its ability to control the body while training the body at the same time.

To try out a warp (don’t worry, this is for free) click here.


Neil Keleher