27 January, 2012

Mia's jolly jungle jive


Forget the rumbles of war - nothing is more profound than Mia's Jolly Jungle Jive, a children's book for 3-4 year-olds. Hands down it beats the saddening news in the New York Times of the speedy rendition of logic outside the gilded cage of democracy. Mia's Jolly Jungle Jive describes the journey of a precocious monkey through a 'dark and dangerous' jungle, befriending various animals along his way before returning home through the help of Wally the Warthog. It is a mythical tale, not unlike the musing poetry of Rumi; simple in its telling, upbeat, direct, devoid of misanthropy and stylish. As Rumi speaks, 'Man not conscious of god is akin to an animal. True consciousness makes him divine,' so are his words  made poetic by this contemporary children's tale.

What is most revealing about this simple tale is the subconscious allegory of humanity during our travels from the higher state of relative freedom beyond the jungle's margins (what we may term the prison planet) to meet first a parrot, then lion, giraffe, crocodile, snake and finally warthog.

These animals symbolize, respectively, immature humanity (monkey), inability to think for onesself (parrot), courage or victory over intellect (lion), the struggle between emotions and logic (giraffe), an understanding of death and betrayal (crocodile), temptation and discernment (snake) and finally ignorance (warthog).

Coincidentally, these are the symbols used in the journey along the path of liberation from suffering, as we accept happiness and suffering as two sides to the same coin of this realm - earth life. This is a fact little known to my daughter who is more fascinated by the movable eyes that are a big selling part of the book. These large eyes move by courtesy of finger holes in the back of the book, capturing the imagination of a child, who sees each animal that Mia meets during her travails in the deep dark jungles. The large eyes move as each page has a cut out to reveal the same eyes on each page. The eyes, the window to the soul, show the transmigration of the soul through its various incarnations. Magic indeed!

Mia epitomises our innocent desire to transform through adventure with the ardent hope of eventually coming back home with new-found friends and some boredom-breaking experiences. This is the everyman's dream - to meet the dangers of the jungle and yet somehow return through the tearing of the veil of ignorance. It is a dream long invested in, cherished and nurtured by many great men and women of these last two centuries who have sacrificed so much to return every man, woman and child back to our hearth and heartland.

Rumi's thoughts are consummate on the eternal cyclical journey of all, when he says:
'I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless'd; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.