|From Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley|
When I was 13 I had a fierce obsession with the teen-pop trio - Hanson. Mmm Bop caught my ear like a dog whistle and sent me straight into a solid 9 months of pure boy-band worship. The three adorable teens with their unabashedly long hair and pure Oklahoma souls reflected the joyous nights my sisters and I would sing our way through our after-dinner chores, and tackled every need my pubescent soul had for love, acknowledgement, and joy. I was so enthralled by the trio that no matter how embarrassed other people told me I should be, I was completely immune to the harassment. My elder sister would not-so-sneakily bring her friends to my bedroom to laugh at my shrine of teen magazine prints covering every inch of my walls… blonde, gap tooth boys grinning innocently in their pukka shells and leather wrist bands. They would point and laugh and I would beam at my collection; I was truly in love.
How powerful an idol can be, when even in your most vulnerable condition (peer pressure on a 13 year old girl!), you are immune to the effects of the world. My story and my kindship with my idols was so solid in my mind, nothing could break me down. As years passed and I moved on to other obsessions (boyfriends), the leaflets and magazine articles of Isaac, Taylor, and Zac fell away to make room for teenage romantic love and plenty of identity crises.
During my time on my spiritual journey I’ve been criticised for leaping from teaching to teaching, and have been absolutely baffled by the groupie followings that some teachers or either self-proclaimed or fandom named “Gurus” have acquired. I think my first lesson with Hanson was a great gift in acknowledging the ephemerality and projection of the Idol. During a wonderful session with Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle in 2011, Eckhart brought up the point where Oprah asked Eckhart “You’re not a Guru, are you?”. Eckhart was fully tickled by the thought of it, and answered “No of course not, but I have learned of people having my photo on their desk, and it surprised me”. He continues to explain he has a photo of the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi that gives him a sense of deep stillness and peace. “But I also knew that was not the form I was looking at, that was me… It acted like a mirror... What you see is your own essential reality, reflected to you”.
A Guru can serve as wonderful image of projection, but we must remember that the holiness and deserved-worshipness comes from our own selves, our own stories, our own ideas of who these beings are. Every reflection of oneness and love from the image of Jesus or Buddha or your Guru or Pop-Idol comes from a place within you that recognizes that talent, that skill, that genius, and that wholeness within yourself. A separate being cannot impose upon you a definition of themselves or of any purpose. It is our interpretation of these other things that give them their power, and when we are able to recognize this ability, we can realize that power is within ourselves. That Guru looks at you through that picture on the altar to remind you, just as Mufasa did for Simba through the thunderclouds on the Saharan horizon, “I live in you”.
When the Bible warns us against worshiping false idols, as does A Course in Miracles, the meaning lies in the interpretation that your idol holds some power that you do not, so you wish to be close to that idol to somehow learn or accumulate the healing you think you need. In A Course in Miracles, the Christ says (the formlessness/consciousness of the person Jesus) “I have nothing that you don’t have, it’s just that I have nothing else.”.
In Reality, the power the idol holds is only recognizable because you already have it, and if you assume the Other is needed to achieve that state then your ego is keeping you separate from your Oneness. Your ego is keeping you from recognising your own holiness, your own godliness.
So next time your Guru or Pop Idol comes into your view and you swoon or fall on your knees in desperate worship of the joy they bring to you, remember they are just there to remind you of the power you already hold within yourself. You are the fierceness and power and genius that they hold. Your witness to it makes it so.
Namaste. Om Mani Padme Hum. Bless you. May the force be with you. Mmm Bop. Amen.