According to philosopher and author Jean
Houston, the greatest truths of your own life can often be found in
pages of your favorite stories. Her new book, The Wizard of Us,uses
the classic story as an example of how the life lessons found in
the greatest myths of our time can help you become the hero of your own life—a life full of purpose, heart and courage.
Q: So what is a myth? Jean: Well, a myth is a great story. A myth is a kind of story
that puts us on the road of adventures, shows us that we are larger than
we ever thought we could be. Gives us experiences that enlarge our
humanity. Experiences that often begin in a call. I feel called to
something—'I'm in a state of yearning.'
Just like little Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She feels called to
move beyond an outmoded situation in dreary old Kansas, "somewhere over
the rainbow." In fact, sometimes it takes a big thing to get you going,
like a tornado. And she lands in Oz, where she meets the parts of
herself that have been put down: Her mind, her heart, and her courage.
And therein often myths are filled with these symbolic characters, as in
The Wizard of Oz.
I wrote a book about this called The Wizard of Us. She meets the
Scarecrow for the mind—who turns out to have a brilliant mind, though he
thought he didn't have one. The Tinman, who is stuck and she helps him.
She has tremendous compassion, and she helps him release and become
able to move again. And he has incredible love and sympathy and
gentleness. And then the Cowardly Lion, who turns out to be able to do
It's like the world today. We are in teams. We are working together
across the great divide of otherness. We really take on the larger
venture, the larger experience of finding out what our deepest
challenges are that hone our pluck and cunning, make us grow up into who
and what we can be, and in our own way, save our world. That's what a
Q: Are there any telltale signs you're on the journey you're meant to be on? Jean: Well, there are many different parts of it. You may feel called,
and you don't know for what, but you know you have to get out of an
outmoded situation. You may find curious allies showing up. Sometimes
the book opens to the right page. Or, that telephone call, or that
unexpected grace of a meeting. But mostly, it is a yearning that will
not go away.
The Wizard of Oz is one of Oprah's favorite stories because of the wisdom she found within it. In fact, she considers Glinda the Good Witch's statement, "You had the power all along", to be one of the great spiritual teachings.
This Sunday, Oprah is sitting down with Jean Houston, one of the original thought leaders, to discuss her amazing life and her new book, The Wizard of Us. In that book, Jean says the character of Dorothy can teach us real-life lessons about our human experience. Read an excerpt of to find out how.
Dorothy travels along the Yellow Brick Road, infused with God stuff,
filled with possibilities, magical ruby slippers on her feet and the
ever-enthusiastic Toto at her side. She comes to a crossroad where she
pauses, having no idea which way to go. In a nearby cornfield, a funny-
looking Scarecrow (played in the film by the seemingly boneless Ray
Bolger) hears Dorothy wondering aloud about her direction. The Scarecrow
comes to life and promptly offers her options, first pointing down one
road, saying, "That's a good way," and then pointing down the other
road, saying that road works just as well. Finally, he crosses his arms
across his chest and points in both directions at once. Clearly, on one
level, he can't make up his mind. On another level, the Scarecrow
exhibits the gift of second sight and the ability to exist cheerfully in
the midst of opposition.
The fork in the road is traditionally a big moment in any mythic journey
because it indicates the need to see both, if not all, paths available
to a life and a society. In the Hero's Journey, this critical choice
point represents the separation of the hero's known world and self. It
is the point in which the hero transitions between worlds and selves to
see the potential for a new world and a new self. The fork in the road
can be frightening—for the hero doesn't know what lies ahead—but by
choosing which way on the path she will go, Dorothy also enters the
stage that shows an open willingness to undergo major life change and
Development of the other sides of our selves in ways that allow us to be
aware of them and to hold them within us simultaneously helps us
navigate through a society as complex as our own in these modern times.
Think of a path not taken in your life. If you had taken that "other"
path, where would you be now? What would you be doing? More important,
who would you be? In the Road of Trials, all roads are the right ones,
even the frustrating ones, because they lead to awareness and growth of
the self. If you made what you now consider to be a "wrong" turn, think
of the ways that you really could have messed up on the "right" one. All
roads fork. And down the path they fork again and again. Chances are
your soul will lead you to the same place ultimately, regardless of
which path you take. Just think about that: the fork in the road, the
road not taken. What did you choose?
made headlines with a White House scandal, but she's best known for
being a force in the spiritual world. "Jean Houston, one of the
she's got a lot of perspective to share," Oprah says.
Tune in Sunday as Oprah talks with Jean
Houston, an American philosopher and one of the elders of the personal
growth movement, about being the hero in your own life and living
Best-selling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says the key to happiness is to stay rooted in the present moment. Read an excerpt of Eckhart's book, The Power of Now, to find out how to find peace in the present. Then, watch Oprah and Eckhart's complete interview Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN.
See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
Ordinary unconsciousness is always linked in some way with denial of the Now. The Now, of course, also implies the here. Are you resisting your here and now? Some people would always rather be somewhere else. Their "here" is never good enough. Through self-observation, find out if that is the case in your life. Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.
If you take any action—leaving or changing your situation—drop the negativity first, if at all possible. Action arising out of insight into what is required is more effective than action arising out of negativity. Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing. Is fear preventing you from taking action? Acknowledge the fear, watch it, take your attention into it, be fully present with it. Doing so cuts the link between the fear and your thinking. Don’t let the fear rise up into your mind. Use the power of the Now. Fear cannot prevail against it.
This Sunday on Oprah and Rainn Wilson Present SoulPancake, you'll see what happens when a box of love explodes on the streets of Venice, California. Go behind-the-scenes and find out how the SoulPancake crew made it all happen!
Don't miss Oprah and Rainn Wilson Present SoulPancake this Sunday
at 1 p.m. ET/PT. Oprah, Rainn and the SoulPancake team are exploring
the true meaning of the four-letter word that touches us all—love.