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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Hidden Wisdom of the Popular Media
Article ID: 14598
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 843
Times Read: 2,124
RSS Views: 16,559
Author: Ryan Hatcher
Posted: November 20th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,124
Would anyone actually believe me if I said that graphic novels, comedy movies and animated series could contain any grain of spiritual or metaphysical inspiration? Probably not, and I wouldn't have thought so either, but then I experienced it myself! Granted, many out there would consider the information I have gleaned from these resources as tenuous to say the least, and they'd be right, but because it may be tenuous and at times 'fortune-cookie'-esque doesn't necessarily mean that it has no validity… and it definitely causes a pause for thought.
So, let's start on the most tenuous and fortune-cookie of these pieces of inspiration. The first comes from a 2008 movie called The Love Guru starring Mike Myers as an American raised in India to become a Guru who seeks fame and fortune, in competition to Deepak Chopra. (Myers' character, the Guru Maurice Pitka, allegedly started Guru training with Chopra.) To do this, he tries to reunite a player from a Canadian hockey team with his wife, with the usual comedic chaos associated with Myers ensuing for a good hour and a half. Many may have seen this film, and yet many more may have disliked it, but personally I kind of enjoyed it. Consider it a guilty pleasure!
As the film progresses, we are share some of the Guru Pitka's spiritual insights, from the titles and chapters of some of his books (such as Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Why are you still hitting yourself? on dealing with guilt and self-punishment) to his occasional 'mini-sutras', which, yes, can be considered fortune-cookie like, because frankly they are. But who amongst us honestly doesn't find interest in what a fortune-cookie tells us? Even if it's just in a light-hearted way?
“When love goes wrong, nothing goes right.”
“First reduce the greed; then reduce the need.”
“Go from 'nowhere' to 'now' 'here.”
“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
“There's no failure, only early attempts at success.”
“To know something is good; to do something is God.”
Some of you may recognize the last one. I know I did, but cannot remember, for the life of me, from where!
Myers is also fond of his acronyms throughout the film, featuring in the sutras at his ashram:
The one that appears most frequently is DRAMA (and yes, the 'tm' is spoke in the film, to add that extra comedy over-kill) .
Some of these bits of... spiritual insight? ... could provide a starting point for a bit of deeper thinking, particularly the DRAMA acronym. Myers (as Pitka) learns that the D in DRAMA (distraction) consists of good and bad distractions. Good distractions free you from emotional pain. Bad distractions “get you a mouth full of whizz” (you need to watch the film to understand that quote in context, but it gives you an idea what they're trying to get at) . I'll let you judge for yourselves whether one can glean anything remotely profound from it. Personally, I kind of did.
My next source of 'divine' inspiration comes from a British graphic novel called Slaine – The Horned God. Now as you might imagine, this sounds more likely to provide some good stuff, and it does. The Horned God follows the story of a Celtic warrior from Tir na nog called Slaine, who, after journeying to the Otherworld to seek answers from the Goddess Danu, learns that the king of his enemy the Lord Weird Slough Feg is in fact the old Horned God. The Horned God refuses to end his seven- year rule, and has prolonged it for nearly 2000 years. Slaine must become the new Horned God by reuniting the four treasures of the Goddess: the cauldron of blood, the spear of Lug, the stone of destiny and the sword of the moon. To cut a long, yet riveting story short, Slaine reunites the four treasures, unites the four tribes who have housed their treasure, defends Tir na nog from the sea-demons and defeats Weird Slough Feg.
Though it is rife with it, the Celtic mythology (mostly Tuatha de Danann based) isn't the primary bit of inspiration that appealed most to me. It was the author's perception of the Gods. Their perception of Danu as Goddess of the Earth was very intriguing. In the novel, she appears to be, for lack of a better phrase, a real bitch at times! She is given more humanity than we normally experience in the modern pagan world. She is capable of hating (particularly the Druids who have scorned her, and the Gods of the Celts who disobey her) and is given a very dominant persona. She is shown being loving and lustful, respecting the Horned God as he is reportedly the only God who knows his place as her subordinate, and has great respect for Him as he understands that life is a game, to Danu as well.
From this perspective, humans are merely entertainment at times, though some affection for us is inferred, but only if we love, adore and worship the Earth Goddess first. Danu describes herself sometimes as “your mother, and hold you”, “your sister and befriend you” and “your lover who will stick one in your back”. Now believe it or not, I feel this description and perception to be much more apt of the Great Mother than some of the 'airy fairy, love and light' kind and it is very refreshing, if not slightly unnerving!
The Horned God also gets a re-imagining as a deity who doesn't take life seriously as He knows it's only temporary and so strives for peace as opposed to a hero status (comparing to the 'Sun Heroes of the story) . The Horned God, as well as being peaceful, is seen as being brutal (but not as brutal as Danu is later on in the story) , welcoming, and sometimes favoring death if he deems it necessary. A refreshing and apt view of the Horned God (as I see the Gods anyway) .
So, a violent, bloody and definitely adult graphic novel, but definitely worth a read if you don't mind your perception of the divine to be shaken up a little and brought down to earth a little!
And finally, by process of elimination we have come to the animated series. The title of which is Naruto: Unleashed (previously mentioned in my article on Mudra) . This storyline follows a group of young ninjas in their adventures on various missions, tackling various opponents, and developing as human beings and as ninjas as they do so.
The skill of a ninja, according to the Naruto series, revolves around a series of hand-to-hand combat techniques (taijustsu) , illusionary techniques (genjutsu) and special ninja techniques (ninjutsu) . The use of ninjutsu requires the moulding of 'chakra', which is the word they use to refer to Ki/Qi, etc. The moulding process involves drawing on one's own 'chakra' in their body's cells and the spiritual energy of universe and then mixing and directing this mix toward performing the technique (which can range from walking up trees and jumping higher to breathing fire and vanishing into the ground) .
Now, the metaphysical revelation that this series provided to me occurred in episodes 45-50 wherein we see the protagonists and other minor characters going through an exam. Two of the side characters, from differing branches of the same ninja clan, fight by blasting 'chakra' into their opponents to disrupt their flow. Here the meridian channels are mentioned (called the 'chakra circulatory system') , and are linked with the organs and the muscles nearest to the channels. Chakras (as we normally understand them) and meridian points are seen as holes where the 'chakra' is able to flow. Later another minor character uses an ability to unlock 'gates' within the body that regulate 'chakra' flow. As is common in this series when explaining something, a series of diagrams is used and the position of these 'gates' roughly corresponds to the chakra centres of India. Also, not mentioned, but pictured in several references to 'chakra', is the hara or tanden (in Japan and China, the hara is seen as the store of Ki/Qi that you receive from birth. It is the life-force of your body) as a flame in the abdomen.
The revelation that occurred was the integration of the meridian, chakra and hara paradigms. After studying the Japanese perception and practice of Reiki (which I now incorporate in my teaching) and their focus on the hara centre, and my subsequent experiences with this energy through Japanese energetic breathing techniques, I felt it was an important part of the human energy system. Yet I couldn't make it fit with the chakra system, and had some difficulties with integrating the meridian system. They all seemed like foreign concepts to each other, though the idea of meridians is part of the Japanese energy system as much as it is in China (look at Shiatsu massage) , the chakras aren't; they're from Indian yoga practices!
But, after watching those episodes it suddenly seemed so clear! The Hara is the source of the body's energy. The meridians carry the energy around your body, and the chakras regulate the flow, drawing in or releasing energy as is required to retain the balance (the released energy making up the aura, though this point is more conjecture than certainty) . When the chakras are out of balance, then the flow is irregular affecting the organs associated with that area, producing the mental and emotional side-effects (a brief look at the emotional source of disease from Chinese medicine will explain this point further) . This was finally a verification (of sorts) concerning a realization I'd been grappling with for a while.
So, if anyone asks you why you're reading comics, watching TV or a bad movie, all you need to tell them is that you're searching for the hidden wisdom within and that you're actually helping yourself to progress down the spiritual path. It probably won't be true, but it's as good an excuse as any!
Wise and Blessed be!
The Love Guru - 2008, Macro Schnabel, Mike Myers, Graham Gordy
Slaine: The Horned God - 1983, 2000AD, Pat Mills
Naruto: Unleashed - 2002, Masashi Kishimoto Hayato Date, Studio Pierrot, TV Tokyo
Location: Swaffham, England
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