Every now and then I find myself infatuated with the mind of a celebrity. Darren Aronofsky is one such person. His films like Pi and The Fountain profoundly impacted my spirituality and raised questions and passions in me that I didn’t know existed. My love of his work is more than just star-worship, I believe his work is inspired by Truth and I am a relentless truth seeker.
Perhaps my thirst for authenticity is what has led to my most recent fascination with the comedian Russell Brand. His wit and charisma are intoxicating, but what is more important are the ideas he is perpetuating from behind the mask of the fool. Here is a perfect example of how his quick-witted humor and brazen honesty allow him to call attention to the total lack of depth and integrity in the morning news in America. Check out his interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe watch and listen carefully.
This man may be a fool, but he is not foolish.
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare
Perhaps likening him to a prophet is a bit much at this point. He is just a comedian doing his job, right? But what is the job of the comedian? As Shakespeare suggests, it is the man who knows not to take himself too seriously who is truly wise. Who better to fulfill the role of a prophet than a comedian?
Let’s take a moment to define prophet before we continue:
1. A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.
2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
3. A predictor; a soothsayer.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause.
Given these broad definitions let’s take a closer look at the subtext of Brand’s comedy. At times he is lewd and offensive, but there are moments in which he says things that are utterly profound. Here is one of my favorites:
“It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No one really feels self-confident deep down because it’s an artificial idea. Really, people aren’t that worried about what you’re doing or what you’re saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you.”
― Russell Brand
We are all one. Liberate yourself. Be confident in your self.
These are important messages!
What about this comment:
“Sometimes, as a comedian, a line will come to you, that is so beautiful, so perfect, that you think: I did not create this line. This line belongs to all of us. Surely this is a line of God.”
If we take him literally he seems to suggest that he is an instrument of God and that his gifts are meant to be shared and enjoyed by all. Perhaps he is just arrogant, but something about the way he seems to genuinely love other people tells me that it is something more than that. I mean the guy actually spends time hanging out with homeless people! In interviews he acts as if he truly values other human beings and is more interested in loving them (literally in the case of women) than harming them.
One of my favorite cards in Tarot is The Fool. As number zero in the Major Arcana he is symbolic of pure possibility. He represents innocence, spontaneity, new beginnings and urges us to take a leap of faith. The Fool seems oblivious to danger, so pure are his intentions to enjoy himself and live in the moment. One day at a time is his motto.
As I look at this card it is not hard for me to imagine Russell Brand. Observe the outrageous outfit he wears, how he seems to prance rather than walk (if you have ever seen Brand’s stand-up you’ll know what I’m talking about), and his open arms embracing whatever the Universe has to offer him.
Throughout history the role of the fool, jester, or trickster has served a very important role in society. His job is to make light of cultural taboos and tradition. He reminds us that these boundaries are self imposed. His silliness allows us to laugh at ourselves. Even Kings were fond of their jesters because their wit and honesty gave them valuable perspective. We no longer have kings who control us, the media has replaced the monarchy. We are blind and loyal subjects to the glowing screens we willingly allow to fill our heads with beliefs and attitudes focused on money, power, greed, violence and materialism. Some argue that these things are part of human nature, I argue that nothing is inherent to human nature except free will.
Russell Brand is a spiritual gadfly. He is here to help us wake up and remind us of our own power to determine the way we live for ourselves.
“Rebel children, I urge you, fight the turgid slick of conformity with which they seek to smother your glory.”
― Russell Brand
His message is not original.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12: 1-2
It is an ancient, but important message.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14
It is a message that exists beyond the boundaries of culture and religion.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. – Buddha
Russell Brand may be a Fool, but he may also be exactly what we need.
Laugh at him. Laugh with him. But heed his words of wisdom. I know I will be keeping a closer eye on him from now on.