Superman who, having emerged from the midwestern farming tradition came to represent a person of virtue, of kindness and of strength, of benificent values, of positive intent -- and who hides a secret: his identity -- and a vulnerability that few others share.
Remembering that Superman was adopted by his midwestern farmer parents, his last name was not originally, "Kent" -- but Kantrowitz. Superman (pronounced with "super" rhyming "soup-pear") was a nickname his Kryptonian parents bestowed upon him after a visit to Paris, one spring -- "little Soup-pear-man" -- because that was all he would eat. It was on the note in the space capsule in which he arrived: His name was Kal-El, but his nickname was Little Soup-pear-man. You can figure out the rest. And, of course, they Anglicized the name. As a boy, he was big for his age, but very nice, an intelligent boy.
Another clue: His original name-at-birth was Kal-El -- "El", in Hebrew, meaning "God". Taking a Kabbalistic approach, the Hebrew name, Kal-El, can be spelled in three consonants (four letters), read right to left, "K""L""e""L", , the eleventh letter of the alphabet (English or Hebrew), K, the thirteenth letter (Hebrew) or the twelveth (12-English), L, and the nineteenth letter, a silent carrier for a vowel, "ayin", where in English, the nineteenth letter is, S -- "S", get it? Coincidence? I think not. The symbolic meaning of the numerical equivalents of "K""L""e""L" = "11""13""19""13" (or "11""12""19""12") is "Great Potentiality" and "Great Faith".
But what if Superman were Buddhist? What would he do differently? Since he strives to minimize harm to anyone and uses his powers beneficently, for the sake of all sentient beings, what would he do differently? Perform service even while in his dreams? What do you think he dreams about? Lois Lane? Lana Lang? Lex Luthor? Batman? -- feminine archetypes and masculine archetypes? Do you think he behaves differently in his dreams than he does in the waking state? Or do you think that, as he sleeps, he rests in the Source of Light and Life, the Silent Bliss-Being beyond the human mind and body? (the super-man state). Do you think that he rests in deep Silence (of which the Fortress of Solitude is a Metaphor), "silence" and "solitude" -- which also start with "S" -- the silent nineteenth Hebrew letter.
What if Superman was Hindu? Then what? What would he do differently? Well, for one thing, he probably wouldn't eat beef or wear cows-leather shoes. Those boots? They're patent leather. Other than that? Would he play the flute and seduce virgin cowgirls into a mass-"big one"? Would he transform his appearance to show the various powers and viewpoints and wonders of the Great Universe? And who knows what he does in the privacy of his own home with "company"? Would he declare, of himself, that "atman" (individual self-being) and "brahman" (silent, imageless, aware Groundless Ground of Being) are one? ("I and my Father are one"? -- again, getting a little ahead of ourselves). Would he appear as Krishna -- the avatar God-embodiment (emanation) of Godhead? flying around saving people from demons?
What if Superman was Moslem? Would he pray five times a day, facing Mecca? abjure alcoholic beverages? Not eat pork? He would eat beef -- but those boots? Still patent leather. Imagine if he were a fantasy/religion-crazed Muslim extremist who was sent on a suicide mission, but suddenly realized that he couldn't blow himself up and that there would be no "72 virgins" for Superman, so he gave it up. Could Superman "do" 72 virgins simultaneously? Maybe he could. Probably he could. That would be like Krishna.
If Superman were Tibetan Buddhist, he would live consciously emanating from the Clear Light as his embodied existence, radiating the force of beneficence, fearlessly and peacefully present, attentive, intelligently responsive, compassionate, protective, empowering, and emanating silent wisdom and virtue not merely unto living beings, but into, as and through all, serving all sentient beings, communicating The Great Emancipation.
For him, kryptonite is the reminder of the mortal and transitory nature of things, even transitory even in his origins -- being sent into the unknown, "out there", and arriving at Earth -- ever-vulnerable -- even as he is eternally unchanging (primitively rendered in language as, "invulnerable") and super-regenerating -- and so, in that sense invulnerable to most hazards by virtue of his exquisite embodiment, in his transient body (Nirmanakaya), of the subtle self-organizing field of his subtle mind-body (Sambhogakaya); steadily intuiting our transcendental nature (Dharmakaya), the formless ground of being that persists even in the absence of activity or self-sense -- self-emergent, self-regenerating, self-equilibrizing with super-speed, i.e., invulnerable. Vulnerable and invulnerable. See? You didn't know that about Superman. Why would he talk about it? What's he going to say to everyone? "I'm vulnerable -- just as you are -- but I heal quickly"? Would he go around saying that? Why? On the other hand, who knows what he says, at home -- and he is emotionally vulnerable, same as any man.
If Zen Buddhhist, same as Tibetan Buddhism, but without the kryptonite.
In this respect, he is very similar to another personage -- Harold Somaman. Somaman is different from Superman, in that his special powers have manifested differently -- energy field transformations, sensitivity to probability pressure waves (leading to precognition and synchronicities), special ways of dealing with attention and intention. certain ways of biological self-regeneration and psychological transformation, occasions of remarkable telekinesis, things mysteriously disappearing from his life -- odd things like that.
If Superman were a Christian, would he address Jesus as "Father"? -- and how would that make Jor-El, his father, feel? But wait! What if Jor-El was a name for Jesus' father in Heaven? who sent his only-begotten son to save humankind? Kabbalistically speaking, the names Jor-El and Joseph have significance. Alphanumerically, either of those names is impossible to analyze -- there's no "j" sound in Aramaic, so their names would have had to have been "Yosef" and "Yor-El". Then, Kabbalistically, that would get interesting. Taking a Kabbalistic approach, again, "Yorel": YORL: four letters: "10" "6" "25" "13" (with a symbolic meaning of "Divine Conception"): and "Yosef": YOSF: four letters, "10" "6" "18" "20 (changeable with "P")" (symbolizing "the leap into newness, bringing memories of the past, along"). Confused? I am -- but back to Superman. With the benefit of time-travel, he would reach Earth when he was truly needed -- second time around. He would still save people, but still not be able to be everywhere at once, except in spirit. I don't think he would raise the dead; I think that was just a demonstration to make a point. Other than that, how would his character change? Maybe he'd be more loving? But then, we don't know how he is, at home, and his benificient actions can certainly be seen as coming from a loving spirit -- wouldn't you say? But he wouldn't eat meat on Fridays, only fish. Or would he?
But remember -- his name is Superman -- pronounced 'aha-ward" (Howard) Superman ("soup-pear-man"), superhero and goodness-doer extraordinaire -- who loved his mother and who lived up to his father's dreams -- a real mensch.
For more on Harold Somaman, click here.
For more on Superman and other topics from The Other Side of the Looking Glass, click here.