Like almost all youngsters, I was fascinated by the wonderful story of “The Wizard of Oz.” The fascination still holds, but now more as a metaphor of our spiritual journey.
Let us consider one facet of this story: the three characters of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion. Each of these characters is not to be taken literally, but as representing different parts of ourselves on our journey through life.
Scarecrow is weak and insecure. he has no backbone. His issues can be traced to the fact that he was made “only the day before yesterday.” The Scarecrow represents the human ego and the human intellect. Compared to the “spark of God” that is within us, the ego is like the new kid on the block. It is untested and insecure and nowhere as tough or important as it would like others to think.
Of course, the ego initially thinks that it is more important than it really is. That is what Scarecrow thought, too. He began by doing his seemingly crucial job of scaring crows away. Eventually the crows saw through his game and gave him the ultimate insult: they ignored him. In a similar way, as young people we often prance around like peacocks, so impressed with all of the seemingly wonderful things that we can do. We run a “dog and pony” show, taking great pride in all of our wonderful accomplishments.
Eventually, our act becomes rather old and tired and boring, both to ourselves and others. Are we nothing more than “human doings?”
Tin Man is another symbol of our lack of wholeness. Tin Man is different from Scarecrow in that he initially, at least, had feelings. But somehow he lost touch with what is really important in life. He becomes a symbol of what happens when we try to cut off our feelings. You see, Tin Man began as a human being made of flesh and blood, madly in love with a Munchkin Maiden. As a result of a spell cast upon him by the Wicked Witch of the East, he began to chop off different parts of himself. Each part was then replaced by a part made of tin. Eventually, even his heart became replaced by tin. This represents parts of ourselves that have been lost to us as a result of a spell being cast upon us by Wall Street or Madison Avenue or some other enchantress telling us not to have a heart. Piece by piece of our authentic self, our humanity, is replaced by a False God, until we have lost the ability to love, to wonder, to imagine and to feel.
The Cowardly Lion points out two constant truths about the human condition: that things are not always what they may seem to be and that a big dose of humility is needed on the spiritual path. The Lion scares everyone in sight. When he bellows, everyone runs for cover. We have all known people like this: a fierce exterior, but a bundle of fears and insecurities on the inside. Like the little boy whistling as he walks through the graveyard, our seemingly fearless image is just a cover up for the fears that we actually feel.
The Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion do not represent radical evil. They just represent the inauthentic, the superficial, the false. If we get on the Yellow Brick Road, hopefully we will, like our three mythical figures, achieve healing and find our True Selves.
Next posting: Evidence for Healing?
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