We’re off to see the Wizard…

“…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” –Dorothy Gale

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” –Buddha

When I was a child, I watched The Wizard of Oz on television every year. MGM’s classic film never failed to transport me into a Technicolor fantasy of singing, dancing, and old Hollywood glamour.

Me at 13, trying my best to channel Judy Garland

Me at 13, trying my best to channel Judy Garland

At 13, I was able to channel my obsession with Judy Garland’s singing and acting into a character study when I played Dorothy in my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Getting to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” night after night gave definition and purpose to my nebulous yet insistent dream of a career in the performing arts.

All these years later, I am struck anew by the beauty and universality of L. Frank Baum’s allegory. Buddhism teaches us that, whether we realize it or not, all of our fears, doubts, and frustrations are just momentary obfuscations of our inherent Buddha nature. In other words, we are already whole, eternal beings. Boundless compassion is our natural state. The dharma also reveals that the difficult circumstances of our lives are, in fact, our best teachers; our difficulties provide us with the opportunity to free ourselves from fear and suffering.

The Wizard of OzIn a Buddhist sense, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion are just like most of us. The four vagabonds travel through an illusory realm, believing themselves to be incomplete. After an arduous journey fraught with peril, the four friends arrive at their destination only to discover that the salvation they’d been tirelessly pursuing was present within themselves from the start.

Watching the movie, we understand that the Scarecrow had always been smart, the Tin Man was tender-hearted long before his audience with the Wizard, and the Cowardly Lion was valiant when it came to protecting his friends, despite his protestations to the contrary.

1939-glindaUpon learning that Dorothy had always had the power to return to Kansas, the Scarecrow asks Glinda the Good Witch why she hadn’t simply told Dorothy how to get home. Glinda laughs merrily, “She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.” Or, as the Buddha said, “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”

The Wizard of Oz turns 70 this year, yet its lessons are as timely as ever: we never have to look outside ourselves for wholeness. Our intelligence, compassion, and courage are intrinsic to our very being. Finally, the journey of this life is beautiful, mysterious, and occasionally very frightening; we might as well make the trip in a fabulous pair of shoes.ruby_slippers-thumb-430x322


10 thoughts on “We’re off to see the Wizard…

  1. Ahhh Thrill! I love this. You are my soothsayer. I needed this piece this morning. You have inspired me on my path and get a new pair of fabulous shoes! xo

    • Thank you! I totally agree: we would do well to “appreciate the struggle,” because it is in our struggling that we learn and grow, provided we can say “yes” to the inevitable discomfort of it all!

  2. Perfect timing! Thank you Eric, and thank you again Hilary, unbelievably timely reminder. The Wizard of OZ has always been a favorite-Id also like to recommend Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. Beautiful little gems in a seriously fun action adventure!
    love it!

    • Thanks! I will have to check out the Charlie Brown book. I think the most profound truths are the big, simple ones, which may be why we humans tend to miss them! (-: Thanks again for reading & commenting! H.

  3. Seriously, I still remember seeing ‘Oz every Year around the Holiday times… 😆

    One thing I always thought about w/ Dorothy and the gang is what if Baum was trying to show you 4 different aspects of the same thing (IE: 4 parts of a broken glass). I mean, each of the side characters (Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man), along with Dorothy each have their faults and positives that actually blend quite well into one whole entity when you think about it. We all as individuals are scared, do mindless things, and seek love/compassion…and we all posses that innocence and desire to seek out truths and wholeness that Dorothy does.

    Ooooooor, maybe I was just thinking too much when I used to watch it. 😛 😆

    • I think your analysis is right on the money, actually…Baum’s story is rich with so much meaning. And The Wizard of Oz occupies a place in just about everyone’s heart; a testament to what a profound and wonderful tale Baum (and MGM!) gave us.

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