THE BLACK CONDOR,
THE WANDERLING, AND ZEN



the Wanderling

From the beginning of time man has thought of flight --- history records man's feeble attempts through the years --- wings of wax, gliders and now the airplane --- but can he be master of the air until he himself can fly?


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 a fictional 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 giant birds swoop down out of the skies and carry off humans in real life --- or is it just the stuff of make believe, comic books and fiction? What about the ability to fly? Lets see.


LOST IN THE DESERT I

When I was a very young boy I accidently stumbled across the man that married my mother's sister who, just seconds before, had committed suicide. I had only got out of a car driven by my aunt and swung open one side of the double 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 desert rat of a prospector found me wandering all alone 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.

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, when I was around ten years old or so and living with my Uncle, 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 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, has no gadgets or special powers. 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 go flying off someplace.(see)


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




E-MAIL
THE WANDERLING

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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.



















In the cartoon panels on the last page presented above it is depicted that the Black Condor is 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.

CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT




















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 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





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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)