Hello best life seekers!
We’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz. If you haven’t, go watch it on Netflix. If that isn’t trippy enough for you, watch it on silent but while playing some Pink Floyd. It’s a classic and millions of people have reviewed, critiqued and philosophized over this movie. Whether or not the writers or directors meant to, they encoded a deep and universal secret into this film that most overlook. Have you?
The Dream and Waking Up
The rich layers of The Wizard of Oz point out truths about life on many levels. It’s a coming of age story at its most basic – the journey and development of a hero. Unfortunately most people only enjoy it at this level. They merely watch a hero who doesn’t appreciate what they have and sets out on an adventure that tests and develops them until they return home changed forever but with a renewed appreciation for all that they’d previously taken for granted. Yay, growth! Turn off movie, go to bed and snooze.
Like that’s the real secret of the movie.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy went through transformation. You’re never the same person when you undergo transformation, even if you go home. You’ve evolved. The protagonists all evolve in this film. That’s the elementary deduction. Step up to college grade analysis and put away your popcorn. The meanings in The Wizard of Oz are so much deeper than the hero’s journey. Why else was it all a dream? She could have just gone home without that added little detail. Oz being a dream hearkens back to ancient metaphysical theories about life being just a dream or illusion. To escape that dream or illusion, we must wake up.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wakes up.
This metaphor of dream takes on renewed meaning when looked at through the prism of the journey to the awakened mind.
Are You Asleep?
Throughout the movie, no one ever asks Dorothy if she’s sleeping. Certainly she never asks this of herself. We don’t ask either. Nor do we ask this question of ourselves in our own lives, even when we’re searching for enlightenment. We may say we’re waking up or awake but we hardly ever admit that we are or really were just sleeping.
Like us, Dorothy is asleep. She runs from home, a potent symbol of self, and environments she doesn’t like much like a spoiled brat and encounters trouble and hardships because of this. At the same time, dissatisfied with the status quo, she goes looking for something better. She starts on the spiritual path, however ineptly, and once she does that, she’s not in Kansas anymore. Anyone who ventures onto the spiritual path will tell you that you eventually break from your old way of seeing the world and reality. You literally enter a new way of seeing. Enter Oz. With new eyes, the world takes on new color and dimension but that doesn’t mean you’re awake.
Dorothy starts her journey and it doesn’t start well. Killing an evil witch makes her both a hero to the munchkins and others in Oz but a villain to the Wicked Witch of the West. Think of this as karma – an action that produces consequences either good or bad. It also earns her the ruby slippers, the most powerful symbol in the entire movie, particularly when considered in conjunction with the sleeping metaphor.
Still asleep but seeking a way out, Dorathy goes on misadventures, meets heartache, danger, setbacks and all sorts of colorful characters. Everyone she encounters is a means of help or hindrance in her elusive search for the Wizard of Oz and that way home. In order to grow and wake up she must develop her heart (the Tin Man), her intelligence (Scarecrow) and her bravery (the Cowardly Lion).
She faces many trials and tribulations in her quest that develop these traits. And when she finally meets the great and powerful Oz, he’s just a showman behind a curtain lacking any real power or means of helping her.
Some have pointed out that the Wizard represents God and perhaps he does. He could also represent any great authority figure that fails at their job or who espouses more power than they actually possess. For me, the Wizard represents all the external things of this world that we believe will save us from life’s challenges. This can be the government, money, success, beauty or all the other things we desperately seek in hopes of safety, security, long life, peace, or happiness. We tell ourselves that when we get this one thing we will be happy. And yet when we obtain it, we invariably learn that no, it doesn’t solve our problems or make us eternally happy. Only we can do that for ourselves.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy learns this all too well but then she’s told that remarkably, she’s had the power to go home all along. The ruby slippers could always take her home, all she had to do was believe, click her heels, and they would take her there.
We Carry the Key Within Us
The ruby slippers could always take her home? WTF?! Glenda the Good Witch could have told her this at the beginning of the film and saved Dorothy at the outset. Why didn’t she? It could have saved us hours of film-watching and the characters all their tribulations. But it wasn’t just a plot device or script oversight. Those shoes symbolize more than an odd travel machine that can transport you transdimensionally. They symbolize our awakened consciousness.
Dorothy is lost in Oz, a realm of challenges and dangers because she’s a spoiled and selfish brat asleep to her true potential. Maturity must be learned and developed before she can awaken. She must vanquish the bad within herself and empower the good. Then she must learn the path home cannot be found through others but through herself. Thus the journey. Until she develops her soul and her consciousness, she can never use those shoes the way they were meant to be used. She had to follow the Yellow Brick Road through a strange world set to distract, confuse, entice and hurt her. The path was narrow and difficult to keep. She thought it would take her to a person and place that would grant her the help she sought but it and the journey were just the means of self-realization. Once she turned inward and stopped relying on others to save her, she learned to save herself and awoke from the dream.
This is the real secret of The Wizard of Oz. Once you look at the movie from this point of view, all the symbols and metaphors fall into place. It’s not just a coming of age tale but the story of an awakening soul told by way of shiny 1939 song and dance numbers. This metaphorical depth and richness is what makes it enduring and universally appealing – something inside us resonates with these truths. Watch it again and see the metaphors unfold. Understand the characters and settings for what they are and let it blow you away. Realize that it takes combing heart and mind to walk any path of awakening but courage to turn away from the external and go inward where the true answers and power lie.
Then you’ll understand that home is always within you and the real meaning of “there’s no place like home.”
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