Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Tao of Oz

I've written many times before that Taoist themes pop up in the unlikeliest places. Often, we find such themes in classic works. I'm certainly not suggesting that an author sets out to pen a Taoist metaphor, but the universal aspects of Taoism can still be easily discerned. For but one example, The Wizard of Oz.

Near the end of this classic film, we find the following dialogue:
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda (Good Witch of the North): You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Tin Man: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I -- I think that it -- that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em -- and it's that -- if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That's all it is!
Scarecrow: But that's so easy! I should have thought of it for you.
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart.
Glinda: No. She had to find it out for herself. Now, those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
In other words, a person can't find themselves looking externally. Our self is always where we are.

Even more importantly, no one can hasten the journey of someone else's self-discovery. Each of us must follow own own path in our own way in our own time.


  1. Trey

    How true this is! And yet so many religions seem to say "follow our path" not your own! So when people follow those religious paths, having abandoned the discovery of their own, so often they find that they have arrived at a dead end.

    Sad really!

  2. I think that message actually doubles back to repeat itself: The Scarecrow and Tin Man lament not having been able to help Dorothy - but not only could they not help her find what was always within her because she had to do it herself, they couldn't because they too were seeking outside themselves for what they already had (a heart and a brain). The same applies to the Lion, as well.

    Not bad for a movie I mostly remember for scaring the hell out of me with flying monkeys :)

    You know, considering his(?) name, maybe she should have asked Toto....

  3. No matter where you go, you'll be there. You can run but you can't hide.

    Sounds like the start of a song lyric. Maybe I'll work on it.

  4. Very good points. Sort of reminds me of that recurring line from Jonathan Livingston Seagull: " are already there."


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