The Buddha said "If a monk should frame a wish as follows: 'Let me travel through the air like a winged bird,' then must he be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
AKANKHEYYA SUTTA, Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East
"Then it got cold, very cold. The breeze began to blow harder and I could no longer feel the ground underneath me. It felt as though I was moving very fast, yet as far as I knew I was still on the ground by the fire. I moved my arm away from my face just barely squinting my eyes open. For an instant I was still in the billowing white smoke, then suddenly I broke through to clean, fresh air. The smoke was no longer smoke, but clouds high in the night sky. I wasn't on the ground, but hundreds of feet in the air, soaring through the night, arms along my side, wind in my face, stars over my head."
THE WANDERLING: The Zen Man Flies
THE BLACK CONDOR: The Man Who Can Fly Like A Bird
The Black Condor is an American comic book character whose abilities, either knowingly or unknowingly, were based on or parallel an eastern spritual-related psychic state known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. He first appeared in Crack Comics issue #1 dated May of 1940. Black Condor stories were scripted, at least initially, by the most excellent Will Eisner, the creator of The Spirit, under the pen name Kenneth Lewis with art work done by the equally excellent Lou Fine.
Below is a brief written synopsis of the Black Condor's origin followed further down by the multi-page full color comic book version of that origin:
American archeologist Richard Grey and his wife, accompanied with their infant son Richard Jr, are on a scientific expedition in Outer Mongolia circa 1940. Bandits ambush the expedition and everyone is killed except for the baby who had been hidden away in the rocks by his mother just as the attack began. A short time later a lone, giant black condor, apparently a rare breed native only to the area, comes across the carnage just in time to see the baby crawling on all fours toward the edge of a cliff. As the baby is about to plunge over the edge the condor sweeps down, picks up the infant and takes him back to her nest, after which she raises him as her own a la the infant in Tarzan the Ape Man.
Determined to fly like his brother and sister condors, after initial early attempts that end in failure the following is written regarding his legend:
"The first failure only sharpens his desire to fly, and during the following years, he puts his keen mind to the task of studying the movement of wings, the body motions, air currents, balance and levitation."
Later, after reaching adulthood and long after becoming an accomplished flyer, on one of his excursions alone, he is attacked by a flock of giant eagles and overpowered. Outnumbered and fatigued from the fight he plummets to the ground injured. In the process of the battle and his fall he is seen by a hermit monk named Father Pierre who takes him in, returns him to health, and teaches him the ways of humans and the spiritual world. Father Pierre convinces him that he should use his unique attributes only to do good. Sometime later the monk dies in the Black Condor's arms, killed by the same bandits that killed his real parents nearly twenty years earlier. Inspired by the monk's teachings, Richard adopts the costumed persona of the Black Condor.
So, does it fall within the realm of reality for a human to fly like a bird, totally unassisted by even a modicum of technology or mechanical means? What about giant birds swooping down from out of the skies and carrying off humans in real life --- or are both just the stuff of make believe, comic books and fiction?
LOST IN THE DESERT I
When I was a very young boy I accidently stumbled across the body of the man that some years before had married my mother's sister. Although I hadn't heard the gun being fired, just seconds before he had committed suicide.
I only just got out of a car driven by my aunt and swung open one side of a double set of garage doors when I saw him a mere few feet away, no longer alive, laying on the floor of the garage in an ever expanding pool of blood. At almost the exact same instant my aunt, seeing the same thing I saw, let slip her foot from the clutch to run toward her husband, and with the motor still running the car jumped forward in one huge leap hitting the partially open garage door, tearing it off the hinges and throwing it into me, knocking me and it down, rendering me unconscious.
Although I woke up on my own several hours later after being carefully attended to, the trauma of unexpectedly seeing my aunt's husband with the whole top of his head blown off and splattered all over the garage walls and rafters, then instantly being knocked unconscious, apparently caused me to lose or cover over a good part of my existing memory. It was months, even years before I began to recall anything --- and then at first, only a smattering of coming-and-going fleeting glimpses.
Hours and hours after I was knocked down by the garage door only to end up unconscious, an old prospector-type found me wandering all alone out in the middle of the desert a hundred miles or more away from my aunt's house, with no identification, no shoes, or knowing who I was. Months later somehow a local sheriff was able to connect me up with my grandmother.(see)
How I ended up in the middle of the desert no one knows. However, there is one thing my grandmother said I told her right after she picked me up from the sheriff, and of which other than her telling me, I don't remember. She said when she asked how in the world I ever ended up so far out in the middle of the desert, especially all alone, I told her I got out of bed while it was still dark, and all by myself, walked up to the hill behind my aunt's house. There I climbed up to the top of the highest boulder I could find and stood there. I told her while standing on the boulder a huge bird as dark as the night sky and as big as I was or bigger, landed on the rock just opposite me. I got scared and turned to leave. Just as I began to move the bird swooped down and picked me up.
My grandmother scoffed at the story figuring it was either the run-away imagination and ramblings of a little kid or I was recalling some sort of dream or hallucination. However, I told her one more thing as part of the story. Before I got up and left my aunt's house I had been put into the room of one of my cousins. Following the events of that night my girl cousin would not leave the side of her mother so, unconscious as I was I was put into her room. Her bed was covered with stuffed animals and dolls of which there was a matched set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. When I left her room in the middle of the night I apparently took the Andy doll with me, something my cousin noticed missing almost right away when things for her returned closer to some sort of normalcy. Of course no one knew what happened to it and in all the searching nobody was able to find it no matter where they looked. My grandmother, after learning I carried the doll with me when I left my cousin's room asked what I had done with it. I told her I had dropped it on the mountain (i.e., the boulders up and behind my aunt's house) when the bird took me.
While it may be quite reasonable for any person to identify totally with my grandmother's feelings that what I recounted regarding a giant bird was either the run-away imagination and ramblings of a little kid or I was recalling some sort of dream or hallucination, it should be noted what happened many, many months later when my boy cousin was playing, as he often did, in a fort he had built in the same rocks and boulders up behind his house. In the process of his playing, way down between the crevasse of some of the boulders, he found the long missing Andy doll of my girl cousin. The exact same Andy doll that I told my grandmother I had with me and dropped the night I wandered away from the house.
LOST IN THE DESERT II
One day several years later when I was around ten years old or so and living with my Uncle, not the man who was married to my mother's sister, but the man who was my dad's brother, I went for a hike deep into the desert unescorted. When he discovered I was missing he went looking for me. Years later he told me the distance I traveled that day, from the point I started to the location he found me, was way too far for me to have covered given the time, especially considering the level of my own abilities, the terrain, heat of the day, etc. He told me he had tracked me some distance quite clearly, then my tracks suddenly just ended as though I had disappeared into thin air. Knowing I didn't have a large supply of water or any at all he continued to look in areas he thought I might seek out and just happened across me --- many, many miles from where he had last seen my tracks.
Somewhere along the way I apparently happened across the carcass of a dead rabbit. When my uncle found me after cresting a small hill he saw me squatted down with the carcass. Joining me quite comfortably in a circle with the rabbit were three large condor-like turkey vultures, with wingspans nearly as large. From what my uncle was able to discern from his initial vantage point I was neither afraid of them nor were they remotely afraid of me. As well, and he swore this to be true --- although I have absolutely no recollection of it and construe it as a possible total misinterpretation of facts --- that the vultures and I were sharing meat from the carcass between us.(see)
In that my uncle was not able to get me to tell him verbally --- OR I was unable or unwilling to put into words my experience of what happened that day --- my uncle suggested I sit down and draw whatever pictures came to mind that related to the event. All of those drawings are long gone as are any finite memories of same, except for one. I remember it clearly as if only yesterday because of the striking comparison my uncle made between one of my drawings and an ink and watercolor drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci. They were nearly identical, desert landscape and all. The major exception was that where Leonardo's drawing depicted a lake with a shape similar to a bird, my drawing, although having a similar shape, was instead, a SHADOW of a giant bird.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Bird's-Eye View of a Landscape. 1502.
Pen, ink and watercolor on paper. Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK
My uncle told me that my shirt below both shoulders as well as part way down the back and along my sleeves were punctured in spots and appeared to have what he called grip marks on them. So too, my skin had red abrasions almost like minor scratches as though my arms had been clutched by something. He told me he was sure I had been carried off and if he hadn't happened across me I may had been carried off even further, maybe even, never to be found.
In The Boy and the Giant Feather, linked below, I tell of being given a feather by a Native American tribal elder that was as long as I, a ten year old boy, was tall.(see) From that I have been questioned by readers if I have seen or come into contact with a bird of such large size that it would require a feather as big as the one I mention. I then go on to say I cannot answer with all certainty. Part of that uncertainty stems from what I have written above in relation to events in my childhood. So too, as a grown man, on the third day of an incident that was closely related to what could be called none other than a Native American vision quest, just as I faded into a deep meditative state, I recall seeing a bird on the promontory of an extremely large size. The following may add some insight to that uncertainty:
INCIDENT AT SUPAI
Now, how about the possibility of flight?
In the late 1930s cartoonist Will Eisner created a comic book character he called The Spirit. The Spirit was not like other crime fighters or superheroes of the day. He had no special powers, and except for the mask, no gadgets or even his own vehicle. Also, unlike most comic book heroes, he wasn't always the winner in the end. More than anything the Spirit could be defined as a common citizen fighting for his rights and the rights of others. Almost every comic book aficionado down to the last person praises the Spirit to high heaven.
Not so Eisner's creation the Black Condor, who, except for the ability to fly, like the Spirit, had no gadgets or special powers, although some of the stories he appears in clearly shows him with a handheld weapon, a weapon that has been identified as a "black light ray gun." How the Black Condor came into possession of such a weapon or where it came from was never revealed. It did have the power to paralyze as well as destroy objects as small as wires to iron leg chains holding prisoners without doing harm to the prisoners, as well as totally obliterating objects as large as brick and concrete walls.(see)
Any internet search for the Black Condor will return any number of results. A large portion of the results that pertain to the 1940s comic book version as shown above, cast him, as the supposedly super hero he is made out to be, into a negative light. Most often cited is, even though he has no super powers, he still has, somehow, the ability to fly --- self taught it is said, physics and aerodynamics be damned.(see)
What the so-called knowing do, is expose their un-knowing. Eisner was no dumbohead. He was aware of most of the problems inherit with a flying man and, with most not noticing it, slipped in a way out, a sort of spiritual loophole. He used the word levitation. Levitation gets a bad rap and most necessarily so because it serves no purpose --- spiritual-wise or otherwise. However, the concept behind the phenomenon (i.e., the supernormal perceptual states known in Buddhism and Hinduism as Siddhis) is where the strength is. Re the following quote, the source of which is found in full in the Zen-man Flies link below:
The Buddha said "If a monk should frame a wish as follows: 'Let me travel through the air like a winged bird,' then must he be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
So said, it is quite clear without first meeting certain criteria as laid out by the Sutras as a master of Sila, Samadhi, Jhana and Prajna, as well as a frequenter to lonely places, it is highly unlikely that on a very numerous basis the typical person could just sit down and meditate for a few minutes, then find themselves with the ability to fly off to parts unknown. As for the Black Condor, from infanthood through to being rescued and raised by condors to being found and trained by the monk high in the remote Himalayas, most likely his life and conduct would have easily fallen within the perimeters of the criteria as laid out in the Sutras. The story line indicates the Black Condor was apparently able to manifest and refine Siddhi-like abilities prior to his encounter with the monk, although not impossible, to do so is quite an accomplishment.(see)
Several 1940s superheroes other than the Black Condor gained or enhanced their powers by going to Tibet, Batman and the Shadow being the two most memorable. The Shadow worked his way up through the Siddhi-chart fairly high, being able to "cloud men's minds" and all. Batman to a lesser degree, mostly martial arts related with their accompanying attributes such as agility, endurance, discipline, etc. Neither of them as written refined the depth of their abilities to the point they could fly.
There was a superhero who DID refine his abilities to the point that he acquired not only the ability to fly, but also super strength and invulnerability --- even to having bullets bounce off him a la Superman and Captain Marvel. That superhero was the Green Lama. Captain Marvel had always been billed as the "World's Mightiest Mortal," however, as it was, the Green Lama was also a mortal, being one Jethro Dumont, a rich New York City resident and man about town, who, if necessity demanded it and he recited the Jewel in the Lotus Mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum", Dumont, not unlike Billy Batson saying Shazam and becoming Captain Marvel, underwent a startling and dramatic change after repeating the Mantra, becoming the Green Lama, gaining super strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fly.
Pindola Bharadvaja is one of sixteen disciples of the Buddha named in The Amitabha Sutra. In the Sutra it is stated that under the Buddha's auspices he attained the holy fruit of Arhat, that is, through the spiritual process so received by him through the grace and light of the Buddha, he met all the requirements so listed above. One day in a jubilant mood, he said to the faithful:
"Do you think flying in the sky is magical? I will show you some spectacular acts."
He then, as reported in the Sutra, jumped up into the sky, FLEW all around and performed many miraculous acts. Pindola Bharadvaja is perhaps the most famous, but not the only one of many spiritual holy men reported throughout Buddhist texts and elsewhere that have, after gaining full accomplishments, achieved the ability of flight.(see)
Thus said, if one were to wish to travel through the air like a winged bird and to do so one would, according to the above, have to be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places, how is it one would go about learning such things?
The quotes above, as well as their original original sources and how to go about putting into place the requirements so listed, and the story of someone in the modern era that did just that --- that is, put them into place with startling results --- can be found by going to the following:
THE ZEN-MAN FLIES
Let Me Travel Through the Air Like a Winged Bird
THE WANDERLING, BEGGARMAN, THIEF
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
When I was found by the old desert-rat of a muleskinner wandering around totally alone and with no sign of an escort out in the middle of the Mojave I was a very young boy. I'm not really sure what the results would have been being found under similar circumstances in todays world, but the following is how it was related to my grandmother as found in Footnote  at the source so cited:
"When my grandmother came to get me the sheriff said he had personally known the old man and woman for a very long time and that both were fine and good people. The man was a rough and tumble old guy who was known to have been a onetime a muleskinner or swamper for the 20 mule team borax wagons that used to make the trek up and out of Death Valley and across the desert. Now days the sheriff said, the old man spent most of his time in one fashion or the other participating in Native American sweat lodge ceremonies and most likely I did too. The sheriff assured my grandmother there was no need to worry about anything related to my overall well being during the time I was in their company. According to the sheriff the two just didn't experience the passage of time like others seemed to. The period of days or weeks I was with them was really no more than just a matter of them coming into town relative to their needs."(source)
One of the reasons so much of what happened ended in my favor and without harm as much as it did, at least the desert portion of the event, is because in those days old prospector types like the rough and tumble old muleskinner followed or had ingrained in their psych a certain honor or nobility based around a creed called the Cowboy Code of the West. Sure, not all fully abided by such a code, but there were enough who did that a young boy --- or even a girl for that fact --- found all alone wandering in the desert was in perhaps a crude sort of way, as safe as being in their mother's arms.
In the early panels of the origin story, while acquiring the ability to fly the Black Condor is clearly shown doing so bereft of any wing-like devices or supplemental flying aids. By the time the story reaches the last few pages the Black Condor is shown using, apparently as an aid to his flight in some fashion, what could be called nothing less than a glider chute. The glider chute becomes an aid as used by Captain Midnight for short duration glider-like flights, albeit introduced some two years after the Black Condor first used one --- and said to have been invented by Captain Albright, Captain Midnight's alter ego --- after which it sort of took on a life of it's own.
In issue #1 of the Fawcett Publication version of Captain Midnight dated September 30, 1942 it reveals that Captain Albright, soldier and inventor, is actually Captain Midnight. In the second of several stories appearing in that first issue, titled "Secret Sub" Captain Midnight is shown using his glider chute for the first time, it's invention thereof credited back to Albright it is presumed.
Notice that at the time the Black Condor origin story was conceived and drawn his glider chute and costume were red in color not unlike Midnight's. By the second issue his costume had morphed into dark blue or black. Why the Black Condor, who could just fly anyway, would need a glider chute in the first place is not explained --- unless it was possibly to conserve energy over long distances or some such thing.
As to glider-chutes and who did what first we could go on and on, Captain Midnight this, Black Condor that. However, one way or the other, it is quite clear that as early as 1938, in the black and white serial Flash Gordon Trip to Mars Flash Gordon is seen using a batwing like glider-cape in several chapters. The first such instance is in Chapter 6 Tree Men of Mars followed later in chapters 11, 12, and 13.
PREMONITION TO THE PEACE CORPS
In Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery I write about how I was brought before the presence of a very old and ancient man of Zen who had come down out of the even more rarified atmosphere of the high Himalaya mountains and asked to see the monk who was said to be under the protection of the Lord Buddha. Because of respect paid him by all, plus the serenity he seemed to abide in, it was clear the old man was Enlightened. After meeting him, there was something about him that would just not let go and it continued to gnaw at me for the longest time. Months went by. Finally, when the weather turned such that I could, I sought out the old man, visiting him at what was not much more than a stone-pile hut along the edge of a stream.
In Zen Monastery, other than saying that I went to see the old man I do not elaborate on any travails I may have encountered getting to his hut or on my return. In Hope Savage I relate to the readers basically the same story except that I interject more ordeal-like aspects encountered during my journey. To wit:
"Going to and from his abode was a very arduous several day trek, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. A good portion of the trail followed along side a series of streams that may or may not have been the same one, that was sometimes rushing and other times placid depending on the steepness or flatness of the terrain."
Even though the Zen-man and I were not able to communicate verbally in the standard way because neither of us had command of each other's languages, he as a man of Zen as were my leanings, for all practical purposes the two of us were quite comfortable in how we had established a working relationship of understanding between us. However, not operating at his level, for me there remained many more unanswered questions than answered ones.
In the mountains generally it was out-and-out cold, but in the rarified higher elevation where we were it was even more so. Even so, considering the usual outside nighttime temperature drop, with the tiny almost candle-like fire in his stone hut, it was typically bearable.
The day before I was to leave we spent a good part of the daylight hours scrounging around for burnable material. To me the amount we gathered seemed much more than would otherwise be necessary, but what I found even more odd was that we left nearly half or more of what we collected neatly stacked at the long abandoned stone hut he had shown me a few days before.
After returning to his hut and leaving the rest of the material we gathered, we put a little food, a few utensils and tea in a shoulder bag then went back to the abandoned hut before sundown for reasons to me unclear. After arrival we ate, then in the declining if not all but gone sunlight he searched around and found what at one time appeared to have been a fire pit. Following his lead the two of us put together a fairly good sized, considering what his fires were usually like, almost pyre-like pile of combustibles. With the sunlight gone and total darkness having fully encroached on us by the time we finished the Zen-man lit the fire.
We sat in meditation facing each other across the fire on an east-west axis with me facing east toward what would eventually be the location of the rising sun. At some point into our meditation, and non-Siddhi related, there was somehow a coalescing of our mind processes forming a single mental entity where we both able to understand each other's thoughts.(see)
In the thoughts he was willing to share he revealed he had spent many, many years as a young man on the other side of time in Gyanganj, but one day he passed through the monastery portals to the outside world and when he did, he became an old man. Before the full abilities of the thought exchange phenomenon faded into oblivion I brought up, considering his age, about the arduous trip back and forth through the mountains to and from the monastery for example, and how, even for me in my somewhat comparable youth and the physical condition that accompanies it, how difficult it was. What I garnered as a response was that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The next morning the Zen-man was gone. So too, neither was he to be found when I returned to his hut, although I did find a rolled up piece of cloth tied to the strap of my shoulder bag. Marked on the cloth, most likely done so from the burnt end of a wooden stick, were four Chinese cuneiform characters, one in each corner and, filling most of the center, the outline of some sort of a shape I didn't recognize.
When the four Chinese characters were deciphered they turned out to mean nothing more than colors: red, yellow, green and black. The outlined shape in the center remained a mystery and meant nothing to anybody who saw it. The mystery however, was solved on its own some 15 years later, a period of time that found me living in the Caribbean island country of Jamaica, and was solved almost on the first day I arrived for what turned out to be a two year stay. So too was answered, before I left the island, my comment regarding how arduous the trip back and forth through the mountains was and his response that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The first part was answered right after leaving the airport to the train station. Almost immediately I saw a giant map of Jamaica and instantly I recognized the shape of the island as being the exact same shape the Zen-man drew on the cloth some 15 years before, an island or place he probably never saw or heard of in his life. Secondly, on my train ride through the cities and hinterland I saw all over, again and again the dominant colors of red, yellow, green and black in the graffiti adopted from the country of Africa and used by the Rastafarians in the graffiti that was plastered all over on almost every available open space. Those two eye-openers along with my experience high in the mountains with a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah led to the meaning behind how the Zen-man traveled those so many years earlier as found in the following:
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
The episode at the ancient Zen-man's stone hut high in the rarified mountain air of the Himalayas, although a phenomenon possibly having an undue nature about it in the eyes of some, was not totally unique --- especially so as it applies to me --- that is, it wasn't the only time it happened. To wit, the following from the source so cited:
"(T)he American entered without announcing his name. From the moment he entered, Bhagavan's gaze was on him. He sat before Bhagavan for three hours. Some kind of communication was going on between them during this time. There was such deep silence; no words were exchanged. The American got up and left. He never came back."(source)
The Black Condor's "black light ray gun" is found as early as his very second story "The Adventure of Ali Kan," published in Crack Comics, Issue #2, June of 1940. A page-graphic from the Ali Kan story, shown below, clearly depicts that the Black Condor was already in possession of and using the ray gun with devastating results. The graphics in that early issue more-or-less makes it clear that the verbal description of the weapon being a "black light ray gun" does not designated it as being a ray gun that is black, but a ray gun that emits a black ray, the power of which can paralyze and destroy and, as found in later stories, can even sink ships.
Beneath the page-graphic below, is a portion of a cover from a later issue of Crack Comics, Issue #21, February 1942 to be exact, that graphically illustrates the weapon. As mentioned in the main text, who made the gun, where it came from, or the secret behind its power was never made clear. Clicking the lower graphic will take you to a page with additional information regarding the gun.
THE ROSWELL RAY GUN
The following is found in The Boy and the Giant Feather regarding the tribal spiritual elder giving me a huge long black-and-white feather:
"It was nearly as wide as the span of my hand and it's length was as long as I, a ten year old boy, was tall. Tied to the quill shaft, which was much, much bigger around than any piece of schoolroom chalk, was a small, double strand of leather string with ten colored beads attached, one for each of my years he said."
The quote below is found in the book FOSSIL LEGENDS OF THE FIRST AMERICANS, Adrienne Mayor (2005), Princeton University Press, Chapter 3: The Southwest: Fossil Fetishes and Monster Slayers, page 163 and refers SPECIFICALLY to the same giant feather given to me and as so found in the quote above:
"According to Pleistocene bird specialist Tommy Tyrberg, a Teratornis fossil preserved in a dry desert cave could have cartilage and feathers. 'Even a wing of Gymnogyps (californianus) amplus, the large Pleistocene subspecies of the California condor, could be described as having man-sized bones. Remains of this bird have been found in at least six New Mexico caves.' Several very well-preserved Teratornis merriami remains have also been discovered in Dry Cave, Eddy County, and other caves in southern New Mexico, and teratorn skeletons have turned up in southern California, Nevada, Oregon, and Florida. A Native American fossil story that circulated on the Internet in 2002 claimed that a black-and-white feather, nearly sixty inches long with a quill the diameter of a stick of blackboard chalk, was made into an amulet by an old shaman in southern New Mexico. Whether or not that story is true, a feather of that size could be plucked from the remains of a mummified teratorn in a dry cave."
THE BOY AND THE GIANT FEATHER
THE SUN DAGGER