053_threejewels1Whirlwind of changes to the new honeycomb hideout, while the ghosts and goblins run riot in the streets looking for juicy life forms to fill their empty gullets or just plain entertain them in boredom-town.  My psychic ovens can barely keep up with the new demands, even with the new transwarp drive.  Looks like I’ll have plenty of collops from timber-jack land for the pot.  Celtic New Year, here we come!

In preparation for my two parter halloweenie story of doom shortly to arrive, I’ve been contemplating the Buddha a little.  Bodhisatvas, to be precise, particularly the Jizo aspect of Ksitigarbha.  These are beings whose compassion for the suffering of others moves them to remain in the world and help all beings attain enlightenment.  The Jizo acts to empty the deepest hells of suffering souls, protecting and guiding those lost in ignorance and error.

So where did all this brain activity come from?  Well, I’ll tell yeh.  Been looking through my old GI Joe artifacts (as in Adventure Team, the seventies Kung Fu Grip version) and came across my old book-and-record of Search For The Stolen Idol.

The story goes like this:  A foreign country on the list of approved business partners has had it’s idol (a vaguely detailed Buddha) stolen by “not on our side” rebels.  Right before an important festival where the idol must be on display for the local tribes to accept the current leader.  Our illustrious “ordinary guy” secret agent type white-hat adventurer must recover the idol (and the leader’s authority) in time, or presumably those tribes will go on a rampage.

It’s a laughable story, with blunt edged stereotypes I’ll pass on deconstructing for now.  The important thing is that this is the first time I can remember seeing the image of Buddha.  Doubtless through a westernized lens, but seeds planted in the past bear fruit in the future.

My favorite part of the story is when the rebels dump the Buddha in the “poison pit”, and Joe has to enter this pit to retrieve the Buddha.  Guarding the Buddha is a giant cobra immune to bullets.  Joe has to use an electric rope to defeat the cobra.  It stood out because I don’t remember this rope being in the play-set I saw in the stores or mentioned in the story before—Joe pulls this deus ex machina out of nowhere.

Looking it up on the internet, I see the play-set did come with three ruby jewels.  I presume that treasure would have been kept by Joe as a reward for his heroism (the Buddha appears to be made of some kind of weathered bronze or similar material, if it’s not at least silver who cares right?).  But there’s a hidden meaning also in the three jewels, that perhaps there is a more subtle reward for bringing the Buddha out of the poison pit.

Cobras are considered divine manifestations in some cultures, and snakes can be associated with guardianship and the underworld.  The sacred serpent figure (known as an uraeus or ouraios) is an emblem of sovereignty.  Joe has to face a supernatural being (a cobra immune to bullets!) and defeat it with a crazy unexpected maneuver (electric rope!) to recover the goal.

It’s perfectly logical to find Buddha in the middle of places you would hardly expect to find such a being.  In skyscraper laden cityscapes, corporate boardrooms, in the midst of horrific crimes of immense scale, you name it.  Even a book for young readers loaded with disturbing portrayals and models of behavior.

I mean, if you buy the Buddha thing at all, then you start at a point of ignorance.  You’re going to be going on missions for hell with a jolly smile on your face, and everyone not on the Adventure Team is going to appear savage and get their well-deserved fist to the face.  A sacred image is going to be an object you have to move from point A to point B to keep the hell’s furnaces running.  That’s how I experienced it, I was projecting into the good guy, the hero for hell.  That’s what I learned.

Buddha knows!  He knows, and is silent.

Joe safely accomplishes his mission and goes onto the next job with a pat on the rump and a copy of the home game.  But that poison pit—that didn’t fit for me.  That’s where it’s just Joe, the (divine) cobra, and Buddha.  Where did Joe get that electric rope?  From Buddha, of course!  Joe doesn’t realize it, but because I’m the witness I register the missing panel.  Buddha has materialized into the illusion (Joe’s Adventure) to show me I’m in a fantasy world.  But I wouldn’t start to get that until much later.

Bullets don’t work against the supernatural.  You got to have vajra, man.  That Joe would be able to use this is a moment of enlightenment born, starting down the path.  For even if all he sees is some object he has to cart around, still it is Buddha!  He has seen even if he does not see, but he will.  Even in the propaganda toys rests the Buddha, waiting for the poison pit moment when ignorance, error and suffering run out of bullets.

One day we will find our light.  One day we will find out there was no rope, just three jewels.