Surely you remember this scene in the Wizard of Oz:
Dorothy and her pals reach Emerald City and finally get an audience with the Wizard. Turns out, “The Great and Powerful Oz” is a giant, disembodied head –and he’s not happy to see them.
Toto pulls back a curtain to reveal a diminutive guy operating a hologram projector and speaking nervously into a voice-altering microphone. As the “Wizard,” he bellows:
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
The jig is up.
Ever felt like that guy? I know I have.
At some point, I think most of us have projected an image of ourselves to the world –The Giant Head, if you will– an image we think will elicit respect from others and provide for us the evidence that we’re “okay.”
The Giant Head will bring us credibility as experts in our field, acceptance by those we admire and an end to bad hair days forever.
But in the middle of the night, when there’s no one to impress –and especially at times when we are uncomfortable, uncertain and just plain overwhelmed– it’s the guy behind the curtain we most identify with, isn’t it?
You know the guy– the one franticly spinning the dials and adjusting the projector; the one who’s scared that the curtain will be drawn to expose him for the little man he (or she) is.
But who could blame him?
Nearly everything out there suggests that happiness will be ours if only we had a greater presence. If only we were living our best life. If only we were more beautiful, or had more resources or… something.
So we buy followers on Twitter to make our ‘salad bar’ look full and inviting. Conversely, we stash our clutter when company comes over so that we look fashionably zen. We go to extreme measures to alter our appearances because we fear becoming irrelevant as much as we fear our own mortality.
And we never, ever admit that we’re scared shitless or could use a hand.
And the craziest part in all of this?
We’re all in these damned booths —but we think we’re the only ones!
In her book, Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser expounds upon a favorite quote by activist-clown, Wavy Gravy, who uses the phrase, bozos on the bus, to describe humanity on Earth. Lesser writes,
“We are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only one on board. This is our illusion that we labor under –that we’re alone in our weirdness and uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway…
“It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all your brain cells that the other bus –that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they’re going– is also filled with bozos –bozos in drag; bozos with a secret…
“If we’re all bozos, then for God’s sakes, we can put down the burden of pretense and get on with being bozos.”
In this world, perfection eludes us.
Every action is covered by fault just as fire is covered by smoke (sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛtāḥ -Bg 18.48). Therefore, the practice of yoga is not to become perfect but simply to become humble.
Thus emptied of false pride, not only do we connect with each other more deeply, but we also become worthy recepticles of divine grace.
When the Wizard stepped out from behind the curtain –away from his preoccupation with his image and into the role of a servant– amazing changes occured in him.
Ultimately, he was liberated from the bondage of his identity as a wizard altogether: His balloon became untethered, and he floated freely through the sky.
What are your thoughts? I value them.
Giant Head courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment