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The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism (Read 4475 times)
 
Peter
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The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
8th May, 2014 at 5:19am
 
Okay ... first of all, I'm sorry, this isn't directly about Judy Garland. But it most definitely is about the Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum, the author of the original book. And it's a bit of trivia that people who like the Wizard of Oz might find interesting. And it might be a little long this way, but I'm going to tell it in the form of a story. I hope you enjoy it:

It all started in the 1870's with a Russian lady named Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Madam Blavatsky came from a family of Russian nobility and, as was the practice in Russia at the time, her marriage was arranged for her by her family. She was betrothed when she was a young girl to a very old man whom she did not care for at all. Shortly after the wedding, within a day or so I believe, she ran away. First, she ran away from the old man and back to her family. Then she ran away from her family and even from Russia. She decided to travel the world.

Helena was very good at telling stories -- often ghost stories. And she lived at a time when many people were interested in "spiritualism," the practice of contacting the souls of people who had died. As she traveled around, she made her living performing seances and contacting spirits.

As time went by, she became more interested in two things:

First, she became interested in the mystical traditions of the various religions in different parts of the world. She was already familiar with Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and as a young girl she had used her family's library to study much about various histories and mystical traditions. But, as she traveled, she learned more and more about the various religious histories of Egypt, the ancient Greeks, the Jews, and the Hindus and Buddhists of India and Southeast Asia.

The other thing she became interested in was people. She was particularly interested in the plight of oppressed people. Even as a small girl, she would very often try to associate with people who were less well-off than she was. As she grew and learned, she became interested in the ability of all people everywhere to develop their own personal and spiritual potential.

After traveling for many years, she met some men in India whom she referred to as her "teachers." Exactly who were these people? Nobody knows for certain. But in her later writings, Madam Blavatsky gave them credit for vast wisdom and incredible spiritual and psychic abilities. One thing that is known is that they assisted her in traveling to some of the most remote monasteries in India. In fact, Helena Blavatsky was the first European to ever visit some of these places.

Later, she traveled to the United States and settled in New York. Here she started to write about what she had learned about philosophy and religion. She repudiated her former practice of talking with the souls of the dead and said that those souls should be left alone to follow their own spiritual path. Instead, she promoted the wisdom of those who she called the Mahatmas (which is Indian Sanskrit for "Great Souls") such as Jesus the Christ, Gautama the Buddha, and Lord Krishna, as well as the great philosophers such as Plato and Lao Tsu.

She stated a publishing and teaching organization that she called the Theosophical Society. (The word "theosophy" is derived from Latin words meaning "Divine Wisdom.") The teachings of the Theosophical Society emphasized helping people reach their full potential physically, mentally, and spiritually. Through the publications of people associated with the Society, the teachings of Eastern philosophy such as Buddhism and the Hindu Mahabarata, and especially the Bhagavad Gita, were promoted in the Western world. Through the Society, these ancient Eastern texts were promoted as things to be respected for their deep philosophy and not just old books of superstition.

Many famous people, such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell, became interested in the teachings of the Theosophical Society and, at some points in their lives were associated with it. Some of these people were very active in social reform movements and in helping elevate the status of poor people and educate others. In his autobiography, Mohandas Ghandi, the leader of the revolution that eventually freed India from English rule, said that, in the beginning, the Indian National Congress, the group that started the revolution, consisted mostly of members of the Society.

Lyman Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a card-carrying member of the Theosophical Society. Many people have speculated about hidden meanings in the story. But anyone who is familiar with Theosophy can easily recognize the theosophical teachings in it. Mr. Baum obviously wrote the Oz books as teaching stories for children as allegories of the quest for Spiritual self-realization.

Mr. Baum's mother and his wife were also members of the Society. And they were also both very active in early movements for the promotion of rights for women in the United States.
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Re: The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
Reply #1 - 8th May, 2014 at 6:41am
 
I always thought there was a hidden meaning of the Wizard of Oz so now I know. Smiley Smiley Smiley
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Re: The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
Reply #2 - 8th May, 2014 at 10:31am
 
Your post is associated with Judy Garland so I can't see any problems with that.

The Wizard of Oz film was adapted from the book by L. Frank Baum. Fairy tales isn't just about fantasy but can have a great meaning. The meaning can be different for everyone.
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Re: The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
Reply #3 - 8th May, 2014 at 11:14am
 
interesting story! thanks
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Peter
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Re: The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
Reply #4 - 10th May, 2014 at 9:34am
 
Admin Saovaluck wrote on 8th May, 2014 at 10:31am:
Fairy tales isn't just about fantasy but can have a great meaning. The meaning can be different for everyone.


I hope you enjoyed my tidbit of background behind The Wizard of Oz.  It has been my favorite movie for a very long time.  It was even my favorite when I was a little child, before I knew any of the story that I told here.

And Judy Garland's song "Over the Rainbow" is one of my all-time favorites.  She was the perfect little girl for an adventure story about finding the meaning of life, family, and friendship. 
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Re: The Wizard of Oz and Buddhism
Reply #5 - 16th May, 2014 at 11:29pm
 
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