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Puff the Magic Dragon

A new interpretation by Swami Dharmananda
…and the authors thought they were writing about loss of the innocence of childhood. Childhood is not completely innocent. True innocence is the death of tyranny – tyranny of the mind and ego.

Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff, oh

Puff is the primordial life energy, Shakti, manifesting through an individual cosmos called a human being. It is therefore called the Mother Kundalini Shakti. Jesus said except ye become as little children ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven. Honalee is this kingdom of heaven of which he spoke. The sea is the ocean of consciousness from which both the mud of the material world and the delights of Honalee have been churned. Autumn mists are the…. Let's start with spring. In the spring or beginning of the expansion of consciousness dense forests of desires, passions, fears, and attachments obscure one's path. Summer is hot with the sun of pride: pride in learning, pride in accomplishments, pride in respectability and wealth. Come autumn only the mists of beauty, joy, and subtle ideas separate the dragon from the ocean of consciousness. The dragon lives in the constellation of human consciousness. Were she to dive into the sea itself the rascal would take the individual soul with her, drowning individual consciousness in the sea of mirth.

Little Jackie Paper is the individual human consciousness that Puff makes for a playmate. The next line has two points. The most important is that it makes no difference what Little Jackie Paper gives to Puff; what matters is the simple devotion with which he gives it. It is done in playfulness. The fun is not ruined by hoary thoughts of being of service or other dark clouds of ego. In the other meaning the string is the path Puff follows from his cave up to the autumn mists. In tantra yoga it is called the sushumna. Along the path are seals or knots that prevent Puff from going up to the autumn mists to play by the infinite sea of mirth. In those who have not become as little children these seals prevent Puff from using the path so he has to stay in his cave in the earth. As long as Puff stays in his cave in the earth Little Jackie Paper remains in material consciousness. When Little Jackie Paper surrenders the seals to Puff, she melts them with her breath of fire and passes on toward the sea. When she does Little Jackie Paper rides on her tail and is raised with her to higher states of consciousness, heaven, or Honalee. ( Honalee is a contraction or abbreviated form of Pihanakalani. PiHANAkaLanI. Pihanakalani is Hawaiian for "where heaven meets earth." Honalee is thus the place where heaven can be known while yet on earth.) The other fancy stuff is the different states of consciousness that Jackie Paper surrenders to Puff. In tantra yoga these are identified with different wheels or chakras along the string-like sushumna pathway.

Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.
Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.

Together they would travel on boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name, oh

Noble kings, princes, and pirates were some of the fancy stuff given to Puff. The bowing of kings and princes signifies his surrendering the thirst for power. On the path to Honalee the desire for power is associated with a wheel, a center of consciousness, or solar system far from the autumn mists by the sea. If Jackie Paper did not surrender the desire for power he would have to stay in that chakra where the ego is course enough to enjoy the idea of power. In the state of mirth or Honalee one couldn't care less about power. In the mirth of Honalee it is not possible to enjoy power. Who will have power over whom? How can mirth have power over mirth? All is the mirth of divine play. Even the idea of power cannot enter Honalee.

Pirate ships ply many chakras or solar systems along the pathway of Puff, the Primordial Dragon Kundalini. In some they pirate ships of material possessions. In others they seek out ships laden with pleasure. They may seek out the wealth of worldly learning. Whatever realm of the Dance of Nature they enter they seek out Her wares to call their own. Puff's name of course is the mighty, oceanic roar of OM, which alone has the power to lower the pirate flag of ego.


A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant's rings make way for other toys.
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

The dragon of primordial energy, which alone has the power to fill the sails of consciousness that blow us on to the eternal sea, lives forever. But the humility and receptivity to surrender the seals of wax and ride his tail aloft is not always present. Often it is the toys brought by the pirate ship if ego that catch the fancy of Little Jackie Paper.

His head was bent in sorrow; green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave
So, Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave, oh

Then Puff, rejected, must return to his cave in the earth chakra. The green scales of elevated tates of consciousness fall like rain as he descends to his cave beneath the earth. The cherry lane of sushumna remains dark. Puff will not venture from his cave without his humble playmate, Little Jackie Paper.


Words from Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton on Peter, Paul & Mary's MOVING, IN CONCERT, and 10 YEARS. Copyright 1963

Midi from No Kids Allowed.


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Last updated: 2001SEP01 21:45 PDT