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."(source)
Like Superman and Captain Marvel, the Green Lama was a 1940s superhero. Sporting an everyday guise as Jethro Dumont, a rich New York City resident and man about town, if necessity demanded it and he recited the Jewel in the Lotus Mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum", Dumont underwent a startling and dramatic change, becoming the Green Lama, gaining super strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fly.
According to those who record such things, in this case the man who created and wrote the Green Lama stories in the first place, Kendell Foster Crossen, in a brief background synopsis of Jethro Dumont, writes that Dumont was born July 25, 1903, to millionaire John Pierre Dumont and Janet Lansing. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, M.A. from Oxford, and Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in Paris. He also attended Drepung College in Tibet. While still an undergrad at Harvard his mother and father died in an accident, after which he inherited a fortune estimated in excess of ten million dollars. Not unlike Lamont Cranston (the Shadow), Bruce Wayne (Batman), and Richard Grey, Jr. (the Black Condor), Dumont spent years in Tibet, in his case ten years studying to be a Lama and learning in the process, many mystical, what I would call from my own experience, Siddhi related abilities. He returned to the United States intending to spread the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (remove ignorance and relieve suffering), but realized that he could accomplish more by fighting crime. He never carried a gun, believing that "this would make me no better than those I fight."(source)
The Green Lama first showed up in a text-written story published in a pulp magazine titled Double Detective (issue #5, April 1940). From there, albeit overlapping the pulp stories for awhile, he moved to comic books starting in December 1940 with issue #7 of Prize Comics, continuing in Prize Comics for 27 issues through to 1943. In December of 1944 his character was moved to Spark Publications under his own title running through to March 1946.
Throughout the series the Green Lama usually had two primary associates that assisted him in some manner or the other. First, typically within earshot was Dumont's manservant Tsarong, said to be Tibetan. Secondly was a mysterious woman with very little or no background information named Magga, sometimes referred to as Magga of Lhasa, indicating by inference a Tibetan affiliation and a place I am familiar with primarily because of the Hemis Manuscripts. Magga, not unlike the Green Lama, although susceptible to being rendered unconscious (i.e., knocked out), was endowed with or possessed the abilities to call upon similar powers as the Green Lama. Magga was also a master of disguise, often able to fool the Green Lama himself. Invariably she shows up out of nowhere at the last minute to get the Lama out of a tight spot. More modern incarnations of the Green Lama stories, well beyond the days of the pulp or comic book versions that I am familiar with, have, it has been reported, the Green Lama, following World War II, retiring to the mysterious hidden hermitage of immortals said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas known as Shangri-la, even marrying Magga.
Below is the origin page from issue #1 of the Spark Publications series that shows, following ten years of Dumont living and studying in Tibet, the reasoning behind his decision for becoming the Green Lama:
Although the Green Lama had been around in one form or the other since I was three years old or so and I had been dealing quite seriously since before I was five with another superhero called Captain Midnight along with his decoder badges and secret codes, it wasn't until I was nine or ten that I came into contact with the Green Lama on what I would call a just-as-serious basis. That contact came about some years following the death of my mother and my father remarrying. With that marriage he called the family, that is, my brothers and I, back together after years of being separated and scattered to the four winds. My new mother or Stepmother as the case may be, was quite wealthy and hired people to do everything. She did the same in the process of overseeing us kids. It worked out great for me because as soon as she noticed I had a certain propensity toward art she talked my Uncle, who lived in the Santa Fe, Taos, New Mexico, area and a well established artist in his own right, and who had been going back and forth per my grandmother's request anyway, to stay on the west coast and have me protege under him.
In the same way my uncle had been brought in to oversee me, my father brought in a person to oversee my older brother. That person was a man my dad had long ago named as godfather for my brothers and myself.
My godfather had basically saved my father and real mother from going without food and being without a home during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He gave them a place to stay and my father a job --- something my dad never forgot. Inturn my dad named him as godfather over my two brothers and myself. To most people, myself included, my godfather was like a second grandfather and family members and friends alike always called him "Pop." He was also one of the few people other than my dad who had the ablility to "control" my older brother after our mother died.
In those early living with my stepmother days, school-wise, I was somewhere around the fourth or fifth grade and attended 24th Street Elementary School a few blocks from where I lived in the West Adams District of Los Angeles. At the same school in my same class were three girls named after months, April, May, and June. The three of them were inseparable, going everywhere and doing everything together. Somewhere along the way one of the month girls and I developed a semi-crush on each other. Although I can still see her as plain as day I can't remember which month she was, but for the sake of argument I will say she was June. My best buddy Martin liked April and another guy in the class, Nathanial, liked May. The three girls would stay after school and play on the playground on a regular basis and when they did Martin and I would stick around to watch them or join in depending on what activity they may have been doing. Nathanial, or Nat as he went by, stuck around too hoping to interact with May as much as possible. As it was, Nat was the biggest, meanest, bully-type guy in school, but after school in the empty playground, around May he had to act like a good guy in order to get her attention and impress her with how nice he was. In he process, with his guard down around May, he and I actually became friends.
For pocket money Nat used to go around back alleys collecting empty beer and pop bottles, turning them in for the deposit and a couple of times, after we got to know each other, I went with him, an endeavor that was all new to me. Pretty soon he and Martin and I were towing a wagon through the alleys collecting large numbers of bottles.
One day as I was just leaving my garage with the wagon to catch up with my buddies my godfather stopped me and asked if I was going to meet up with the "Jew-kid" and the "(explicative)," using the N-word in that Nat just happened to be Black. If I had ever heard either word before I don't remember, but I remember well the day my godfather said them. Although I usually fell under the auspices of my uncle, my godfather was still an adult figure in my life and when he said what he said I could tell by the inflection in his voice that somehow, at least as he viewed, something was wrong with Martin and Nat.
A couple of days later I was at Union Station in Los Angeles with my stepmother who was either meeting someone or seeing someone off. I was on the platform some distance behind dawdling along when out of nowhere, using one of my newly learned words, I said, "Woo, woo, here goes the (explicative)-train," using the same N-word my godfather had used. The next thing I knew a Redcap was bending over with his face in mine, grabbing my shirt around the collar at the neck with one hand and waving the index finger of his other hand inches from my nose and loudly saying, "Don't you ever use that word again!" Having never been grabbed like that before, by a black man or otherwise, I was scared shitless. Before I could respond in any fashion my stepmother was on the scene with her bodyguard asking what was going on. The Redcap, recognizing who my stepmother was, quickly reinstituted his Redcap role and using her first name by prefacing it beforehand with Lady almost as if she was royalty, related what happened. It was easy to tell my stepmother was totally aghast, fully unable to believe I would use such a word and insisted I apologize immediately not only to the Redcap but to all within earshot. She scribbled something on the back of her business card and handing it to the Redcap thanked him for what he had done telling him if there was ever anything in her power she could help him with, to call. Back in the car she demanded to know where I was learning such words. I told her what my godfather had said. Not long after that, under my stepmother's request, he was gone.
My stepmother had a California liquor license and owned or operated several bars, one of which was on Washington Boulevard not far from where I lived. My buddies and I would often take certain bottles we collected to the back door of the bar and turn them in for cash. There was an older man of Chinese descent, actually from China, who worked in the back as a swamper and dishwasher. If he was homeless or not I don't know, but it seemed day or night he was always there, usually wearing a spotless white tee shirt under a soiled white apron and matching folded into a headband bandana, along with dark pants with wide circumference homemade cuffs draped over well-worn sandals. When times were slow in the bar he would sit on the back step in the alley and meditate. Whenever I was there we always shared pleasantries and deep respect, he knowing that a few years before I had Darshan in India under a venerated Indian holy man with some rather unusual results.(see) He absolutely loved my stepmother and couldn't speak highly enough of her. Once, when he learned she was going to Hawaii he told her he had a niece there he had never seen and wondered if she might deliver a special present to her. My stepmother told him, "Better yet why don't you do it yourself." With that she took him with her in her entourage all expenses paid.
When I came by alone one day with a wagon full of bottles he asked where my two friends were. I told him what my godfather had said. Getting up from his back-step perch he asked me to wait, going inside to a small storage area in the back of the bar. He returned a few seconds later carrying a small stack of near-new condition comic books, maybe six or eight. Going through the stack he found what he was looking for, then folded back the pages to a certain story and handed it to me. The story, called The Four Freedoms, was in the Green Lama, issue #5 dated May, 1945 and dealt with racial discrimination between a couple GIs during World War II:
As a young boy without a lot of experience in the matter --- and never with my buddies --- I used to go by the bar and meditate in the alley with the old man even without the necessity of turning in soda or beer bottles for the deposit. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly (to me) Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan by B-29 Superfortresses of the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the same mantra that the Green Lama used, Om Mani Padme Hum, would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.
During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering.(see)
INTO THE MIGHTY GREEN LAMA
...THE MAN OF STRENGTH!
After those early years, other than the occasional connection back to the Green Lama comic books of my youth and one very odd mention by my uncle around the time I first learned of the mantra, brought up for a then unknown, to me, reason while the two of us were visiting an ancient Zuni pueblo site called Kyaki:Ma (see), the mantra pretty much passed into oblivion. Then, years later, as fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, following a set of near kidnapping-like extenuating circumstances in the then drug infested wide-open railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand, after an exhaustive search by a renegade group, I was found by a Zen Buddhist monk amongst their midst under somewhat ragged conditions:
"(T)he KMT searching the city came across me, finding me with bloodshot eyes, drooling at the mouth, unbathed, dirty, unshaven, no clothes, sitting in my own urine and defecation, rocking back and forth, and highly unusual for me, robotically repeating over-and-over a mantra from my childhood Om Mani Padme Hum and so mind-numb that I was worthless to their or anybody else's cause."
The KMT, fighting to stay ahead of other factions seeking my potential expertise, had been furiously searching the city trying to find an unknown white American for days. When they heard there was a person of white or Anglo extraction, possibly an American, in one of the dens they went straight there. The Zen Buddhist traveling with the KMT was attracted to my constant repetition of the mantra, then seeing the tiny medallion around my neck knew I was under the protection of the Lord Buddha and could not be left behind --- no matter if I was or wasn't the one they were looking for.
THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED B-29
OM MANI PADME HUM
THE- WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
ON THE RAZOR'S
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.
According to the story lines Lamont Cranston and Bruce Wayne, who later would become the Shadow and Batman respectively, for the most part went to Tibet of their own accord similar as to what was done by Jethro Dumont, the Green Lama. On the other hand, Richard Grey, Jr. also known as Senator Thomas Wright, AKA the Black Condor, life and times in Tibet stemmed from a completely different set of circumstances. Although he was not born in Tibet per se' he was, as a just-learning-to-crawl infant, taken there by his American parents on an archaeology expedition. His mother and father were killed and the infant Grey, just as he was about to crawl off a cliff, was saved then raised through to manhood high in the Himalayas by a flock of mysterious condors.
Even so, after much trial and tribulation he eventually gains the ability to fly by studying the movement of wings, the body motions, air currents, balance and levitation, with the following results as found at the source so cited:
"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."(source)
In the sentence just before the quote the word levitation is found. It comes directly in context from the Black Condor's origin story. Most people are fairly familiar with the word and what it means. However, in things spiritual, levitation serves no purpose, but does imply much larger possibilities. Most living creatures that have the ability to fly all have legs and if they aren't flying usefully in some fashion they sit or stand on some surface. For insects and up, to levitate would take energy and make no sense. The following is attributed to Gautama Buddha and found in the book "BUDDHISM: It's Essence and Development" by Edward Conze (pp 104-5):
"One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practiced austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labor. The ascetic proudly replied that, now at last, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labor, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!"(source)
The same goes for levitation. But, like I say it does implies much larger possibilities, and did so for the young Richard Grey, Jr. as well as the Green Lama, possibilities as found in the supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis.
For additional insight and comments regarding the ferryboat, the ascetic crossing the river, and the penny, see:
PARABLE OF THE FERRYBOAT
THE ZEN MAN FLIES
THE BLACK CONDOR
BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS
For those of you who may need a refresher or be unfamiliar with Shangri-la, it is said both in myth and in legend and by some as fact, that it is an ancient mysterious hermitage of immortals hidden somewhere beyond time in a remote and unknown area of the Himalayas, reachable only through spiritual powers and not material means. Below is a click-through link to one of the most comprehensive internet sites related to the lost Himalayan hermitage, also known as Shambhala, and Gyanganj:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA
MOLLIFYING THE NAYSAYERS
When I was a young boy growing up during World War II and shortly thereafter, like most of my same-age peers, I was thoroughly enamored with comic book superheroes. Even though I liked most of them in one fashion or the other, for me Captain Midnight and his wartime exploits saving America and the rest of the free world from total domination by the Axis Powers both in comic books and on the radio, provided a welcome respite from dangers actual or perceived. For me, his highly rated position was based almost entirely on me being so fascinated and interested in his yearly series of advertising premiums called Code-O-Graphs.
Although I eventually collected all of the Code-O-Graphs up through 1949, my favorite was the 1942-1944 Photo-Matic. Initially, as a promotional item, Code-O-Graphs were designed to be replaced one after the other year after year to keep the user buying Ovaltine. However, during the war, because of the shortage of metal, after the initial release of the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, instead of being replaced by a new one within a year, their use was extended over the entire duration of the war, the only one of the Code-O-Graphs that was, and just at the time I was coming into contact with them.
"The advent of World War II had an impact on the Code-O-Graph availability: the two previous models were made of brass, and the attack on Pearl Harbor, which propelled the United States into World War II, caused the U.S. Government to impose restrictions on manufacturing materials. Copper and brass were considered critical materials, and most of the materials were diverted to war activities. This precluded brass being used to manufacture novelties like radio premiums.
"The Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, although not distributed until 1942, was manufactured prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Since it, and its predecessor, were undated, the newer Code-O-Graph was used for the 1943 and 1944 seasons as well as the 1942, making it the Code-O-Graph with the longest service life. The cipher setting scheme was similar to the 1941 Mystery Dial model, but there was only one cipher setting window, labeled 'Master Code.'"(source)
While it is true any number of superheroes had clubs to join and secret codes to decipher during the war, Captain Midnight was head-and-shoulders above the rest because throughout the whole of the war his decoding device, the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, was an actual hold in your hands durable metal object while all the rest of the superheroes were relegated to using paper. To wit, the Green Lama:
1946 MIRRO-FLASH CODE-O-GRAPH
The Captain Midnight Mirror-Flash, above, was the 1946 version of the Code-O-Graph series, the second produced following the end of the war. As can easily be seen in the graphic and from the owner's manual below, it is similar in fashion to previous models. The basic operation of the decoding function, although mildly different, as were all between decoders, still remained generally the same. Please note in comparison between the Green Lama approach and that of the Captain Midnight offer. It is easy to see why a young boy, at least for me anyway, was so much more impressed by the Code-O-Graphs, and as with me I believe, in the wider superhero realm, pushing Captain Midnight into a much more permanent and higher status:
Of course it was the aforementioned 1942 Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph (pictured at the top of this footnote) that played such an important role in my life. During the war, because of the shortage of metal, after the initial release of the Photo-Matic, instead of being replaced by a new one within a year, their use was extended over the entire duration of the war, the only one of the Code-O-Graphs that was, and just at the time I was being impacted by them. Thus, for most of my childhood Code-O-Graph life, as fate or karma would have it, I just needed to own and learn the use of only one single type --- something I became very, very adept at. Although the Photo-Matic had been displaced in usage by the 1945 and later models, my personal and original 1942 version still followed me from early childhood through to adulthood years, even as far as going with me as a young boy to India and the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to later years during my stint in the military as found in the link in Footnote . It is hard to see how any superhero's decoder offer on paper, regardless of the superhero, could have stayed with me as long or gone with me as far. See also:
CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT: THE CODE-O-GRAPHS
THE WANDERLING'S GODFATHER:
In the years prior to World War II my godfather, who was actually a carpenter by trade, reportedly had very strong connections to Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw and especially so his brother Joe Shaw, some even saying he was related to them and in the process received some kind of financial compensation for a variety of endeavors he carried out for them. Historian Dr Kevin Starr, in his book THE DREAM ENDURES: California Enters the 1940s (1997), writing about Shaw's mayoral regime in Los Angeles, tells how by 1937 he and his brother Joe either participated in or let happen (with substantial kick-backs together with a number of police on the take) a network of brothels, gambling houses, and clip joints, all of it run by well-organized syndicates with reportedly an estimated six hundred brothels, three hundred gambling houses, eighteen hundred bookie joints, and twenty three thousand slot machines. When the mayor was recalled and his brother went down so did any money, power, or protection my godfather may have had. After that he sort of spiraled downward. As much as everyone in our immediate family loved him and as much as my father had interceded in trying to help him, over the years he continually turned toward the bottle, becoming a heavy drinker and an even heavier gambler. When he wasn't passed out or on the verge of passing out he was constantly playing the horses and betting on boxing matches or other sporting events, most often through a bookie and usually with money he didn't have. Because of same, one of mobster Mickey Cohen's so-called seven dwarfs stopped my godfather on the street one day threatening his life right in front of my older brother telling him that if he did not come through with a large amount of cash he owed he would "end up in Santa Monica bay swimming with the sharks."
My stepmother was aware of my godfather's gambling habit but did not realize it had got so out of hand. She also felt it was way out of line for someone as high up on the food chain as one of the seven dwarfs to be running errands for Cohen, let alone threatening someone's life in front of a young boy. Thinking it might somehow be personal, following protocol, she contacted Jack Dragna, the Los Angeles don, through one of his lieutenants Johnny Roselli, a longtime friend of my stepmother, and asked him to ask Dragna to request Cohen, who my stepmother did not know, to lay off, she would take care of any debts incurred. Cohen agreed if my stepmother paid the money to him personally. Which she did. Through mutual agreement Cohen cut off our godfather's credit line, my stepmother sent him packing and then sent my older brother off to a fulltime around the clock military academy.(see)
Dragna, who was connected to the Chicago mob and Cohen, who was connected more closely to the New York side of things, did not get along appreciably well. To ensure that Cohen got the message that Dragna did not want any additional or continuing problems regarding the incident, he had Johnny Roselli join my stepmother for the payoff of my godfather's debt. Cohen sent flowers to my stepmother the next day. My stepmother had a friend, or at least a close business associate named Brenda Allen, who was the top "madam" in Los Angeles at the time. Cohen knew that Allen and my stepmother were close. He told Allen he felt slighted that my stepmother would be compelled to show up with Roselli, although he thought that in her doing so, it most likely was not of her own making.
During the first few days after leaving Chiang Mai on foot, the monk and I pretty much stuck to the Chamadao. Several days into our trek the monk began carefully watching the position of the sun as compared to the angle of the shadows much more closely as well as seemingly seeking out markings or landmarks only he seemed to be able to discern. Eventually we came across what appeared to be a seldom used nearly unmarked trail leading off the main trail that led much higher into the mountains. After climbing a couple of days up a rather steep, often escarpment-like rocky and zig-zag trail the two of us finally crested the ridgeline.
Then, dropping down a short distance, the trail intersected a more-or-less well defined flat almost road-like-path paralleling the center of a narrow pasture-like high floor valley. At the far end of the valley, after a pretty-much leisurely stroll compared to what we had been doing, we came upon a small village. Continuing on after a short break, sometime later we came to place I was able to see in the distance what appeared to be an ancient monastery perched high up on the side of a steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the mountainous edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. It is there the monk and I parted company --- with him returning back down the trail and leaving me either unknowingly to what he perceived to be my own vices and/or knowing exactly what he was doing.
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY2>