Dr. Strange: Comic Book... or Mystic Teacher?
I didn't grow up with any sort of particular interest in comic book heroes -- besides, I would much rather have spent what little money I had on baseball cards. But with good intentions, I accepted an invitation from a good friend and local minister to celebrate his birthday by going with him to see the movie "Dr. Strange" -- released last year. Hunkered down with a bag of popcorn, I hoped for the best...
When I got home, I couldn't wait to tell Michelle about the movie and hoped that she would go with me to see it. Oh, to be sure, the movie revolved around special effects and the classic "good (or the compromised good) versus the really bad evil". But in the not so subtle background were moments of profound mystic teaching: which made the movie a vehicle for supreme enlightenment...
It is no exaggeration to say that I have been a life-long student of religion and philosophy: I consider them, along with poetry, love-making, and politics to be the highest of the arts. Poetry is about recognizing and honoring the everyday-sacred; love-making is about self-less surrender to the natural wonder of giving and receiving bliss; and politics is about the turning of all power to the service of justice... Each and all bold pursuits worthy of lifetimes of practice and devotion. And religion and philosophy: what are they?
Of course, on the one hand, they are usually elaborate systems of "right belief" (and control). And on the other, they are simply mystic moments of awakening into the stupendous realization that none of it -- nothing at all -- "is about you". In the Dr. Strange movie, the "Ancient One" turns to the seeker, the student, the still "Doctor Strange" and says "It's not about you." And then she dies and he figures out how to save the world from complete annihilation: that would be another comic book ho-hum if not for the way of saving: he takes the lesson of "none of it is about you" and loops "evil" in the paradox of repeating the death of Dr. Strange endlessly... which Evil found to be incredibly boring...
Dr. Strange, the realized mystic, awakened into the "life of the highest arts": his surrender into the necessity of "none of this is about me" opened a pathway into the impossible: and are we not all, right now, in that same / similar situation? Power does seem to be concentrating into fewer and fewer hands -- hands that give no evidence of concern for the well-being of any peoples nor the health of the Planet. The ever-expanding divide between the haves and the have-not's is mirrored by the divide between the rigidity of the international Right-Wing and the diminishing Left... But all of it: and especially including each and every human being still with a spark of independent awareness left: "none of it is about us"... "Us" as in isolated egos somehow separate from anyone / everyone / everything else. So here's the mystic-kick-ass-kicker: we awaken to the degree -- and no more -- that we learn to identify "ourselves" as every single "sacred Other": "I am You, You are Me, and We are All Together: One"... Of course, that awakening includes the Divine... a "Strange" mystic indeed! [This is known as the Tao, or Way...]
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher.