The Yellow Brick Road
September 1, 2013
I read an article ( http://zencomprehensible.com/zen-on-the-yellow-brick-road/ ) about “the Yellow Brick Road” from The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t take much for my mind to go off on a tangent. This time however, I don’t think I have strayed too far.
Many of us remember The Wizard of Oz with joy or with a pinch of uneasiness. Those Flying Monkeys have haunted some of us for quite a while. They personified a kind of fear. Watch out or the flying monkey will get you!!
The Wizard of Oz is chalk full of imagery, symbolism, meaning. The author L.Frank Baum was a Theosophist.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy ) Theosophical symbolism is everywhere in this story.
So here are my thoughts.
The first article reminds us we are all on a road of some kind. When we are walking towards our fears and uncertainties we always come upon obstacles, road blocks. Along the way we pick up things that provide us support–things or people who encourage us to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we have to face, head on, our deepest fears to get to the truth behind the curtain. And the truth that is ultimately always within us. Glinda tells Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go home.” Sometimes we just aren’t aware of, or don’t trust in what is right in front of us.
Does Kansas represent for Dorothy, for us, our physical world as it is right now? The place where we are materially and spiritually? One day Dorothy sings:“Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,”
Is she searching for something? Is she ready to begin a spiritual journey?
Then, WHAM! Something drastic happens, a tornado of twirling energy (karma?), flashing bits of her life in front of her. This twisting, powerful force that lurches Dorothy forward—–distancing her from all that is familiar, comforting, predictable. She finds herself looking around in wonder at a new and breath-taking world and while exhaling announces “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.”
Remember the slippers? Originally the Ruby Red Slippers were supposed to be silver. In some schools of thought, the idea of a “silver thread” represents the connection between the physical and the spiritual. The shoes were changed to red because they showed up better on the film.
Once Dorothy has the magic shoes she is led to the Yellow Brick Road. In Buddhism, the road to Enlightenment is call the “Golden Path”. And how does the yellow Brick Road begin? In a spiral, yet another symbol of the evolving self. Aren’t there times when we feel we are caught in a spiral of some kind: “Spiraling out of control”, “caught in a downward spiral”, “spiraling upwards”?
On her journey Dorothy encounters soon to be friends and companions who are seeking “a brain”/wisdom, “courage”, “a heart”/purity/love. All the qualities for a successful spiritual awakening. Who else does Dorothy talk to? Toto. Toto is Dorothy’s inner voice, the one who sees things for who and what they really are (thinking ahead to pulling back the curtain and revealing “Oz” for what he really is.)
Surmounting obstacles and challenges, Dorothy makes it to Oz. The Great and Powerful Oz may represent our spiritual/religious beliefs. The authority that tells us how to be “worthy”. She is given a “task”, get the broom stick from the Wicked Witch of the East. This accomplished Dorothy now returns to claim her rewards: to return home for herself, a brain for the Scarecrow, courage for the Lion and a heart for the Tin Man. Sadly, she learns the “Great and Powerful Oz” is not so great or so powerful. (What does this say about organized religion?) The Wizard, now a professor, bestows wisdom, courage and love/purity to Dorothy’s three companions while revealing they always possessed the traits and had only to believe in them. For Dorothy, getting home would require trusting Oz, now a mere man, and embarking on the trip home in “a hot air” balloon. At the last minute, Toto, her intuitive self, runs away forcing Dorothy to follow. She misses the launch and is left behind. Glinda swoops in and lovingly tells Dorothy she herself has the power to go home, and she has always had it. All she needs to do is close her eyes and say the magic words.
Back in Kansas, Dorothy has a hard time getting her loved ones to believe she was really in another “place”, but now, seemingly more at peace with herself, and perhaps better balanced between the physical and spiritual, she is comforted by understanding “the is no place like home”
We are all on a journey of some kind. For some of us it is a journey of healing or forgiving. For other it is spiritual. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. We all have different names for what we are searching for. Whether we know it or not, we are all on The Yellow Brick Road. In some way or another we want to know what is behind the curtain. To face and overcome our fears. To know what is the truth/real. And for many of us we will come to see that we already possess great strength and wisdom in ourselves. We only have to come to this understanding.