Sunday, June 2, 2013


Fairy tales are a sub-genre of the artistic and literary genre known as ‘fantasy,’ the latter being a genre in which life---or at least some aspect of life---is depicted in a highly imaginative manner. Now, most fairy tales are not about 'fairies' at all but are mythological in nature, and their inner or more esoteric meaning is cloaked in allegory, parable and symbolism.

Nearly all fairy tales are encoded spiritual and moral lessons (‘road maps’) of great importance---just like the parables of Jesus in the New Testament---and they almost invariably incorporate more than a few fragments (‘gems’) of spiritual wisdom. Take, for example, the story of ‘Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp’---or, more correctly, ‘The Story of Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp.’ Most of you will know that this very Eastern tale can be found in a wonderful collection of ancient tales entitled Tales from the Arabian Nights---or One Thousand and One Nights. It is said that these tales were written down by the ancient Arabians who had heard them from the ancient Persians, who had heard them from the ancient Hindus in India.

The young man Aladdin (‘servant of Allah’) is recruited by a sorcerer. This sorcerer passes himself off as Aladdin's uncle, for he wants to get his hands on a wonderful oil lamp. Aladdin finds himself trapped in a cave but he manages to escape by using a magic ring lent to him by the sorcerer as protection. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring, and a genie---the genie of the ring---appears who takes Aladdin home to his mother. When Aladdin’s mother tries to clean the lamp a second, far more powerful, genie appears---the genie of the lamp---who is bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp. With the aid of that genie Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and even marries a princess. That’s not all. The genie builds Aladdin a wonderful palace. 

However, the nasty ‘uncle’ returns, and, with the help of some trickery, manages to get hold of the lamp. He orders the genie of the lamp to take the palace along with all its contents to his home. Fortunately, Aladdin still has the magic ring and is able to summon the lesser genie. Although the genie of the ring cannot directly undo any of the magic of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin is able to recover his wife and the lamp and defeat the sorcerer. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but things all turn out okay in the end, with Aladdin eventually succeeding to his father-in-law's throne.

On one interpretation of this tale, Aladdin represents our ‘true self,’ that is, the real person each of us is. All too often we identify with, and live in bondage to, the many false selves that we create and present to the world. We have literally hundreds and thousands of these false selves---these ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s’---that we constantly manufacture in our consciousness from one moment to the next, and that we mistakenly and foolishly identify with and take to be our the real person each of us truly is. The supposed uncle, and the cave in which Aladdin finds himself entombed as a result of the sorcerer’s magic, represents the prison-house of self---that is, bondage to self.

Like the supposed uncle, these false selves are not truly related to us, although they claim to be. They want all the riches, the treasure, that rightfully belongs to a person who works for them by the proper use of one’s mind. That treasure is not the ‘uncle’s’ by right of consciousness. That is why the ‘uncle’ cannot truly possess the lamp---nor will the ‘lamp’ be ours, for so long as we live from and according to our false or illusory selves.

In the tale there are, as already mentioned, two genies. There is the genie of the ring, and there is the genie of the lamp. The first mentioned genie can be seen to represent the law of karma, that is, the law of cause and effect---the law of reaping what one sows. When it comes to the use of our own mind, we are 'cause' to our own 'effect' through our thinking---in particular, through our strongest, or most dominant, desire.

Now, this law of cause and effect is a mental or psychological one---that is, a law of, and for, mind only, and the good news is that it is possible to rise above this law. You see, there are other laws and principles that are metaphysical or spiritual in nature---that is, they work when we apply the spiritual principle of ‘letting go’ of self, the latter (that is, 'self') being purely a mental or psychological image in our mind that is never the real person each one of us is. A mental or psychological law is deductive and reactive only, that is, it simply receives the impression of thought and acts upon it---a matter I will further discuss below. It is akin to a blind force. Not so a metaphysical or spiritual law, which is much more than a law of mind.

When we use the genie of the ring we are working to, or toward, mental or psychological principle. That is certainly not a bad thing, but there is another more powerful way of working which is capable of producing much deeper change in a person. That is when we apply the spiritual principle of ‘letting go’ of self. When we use the genie of the lamp we are working from that very principle---from a ‘higher’ law, so to speak.

In the fairy tale, the genie of the ring is a lesser genie, being unable to undo any of the magic of the genie of the lamp. In that regard, I am reminded of these words from Albert Einstein: ‘We can’t solve our problems by the same kind of thinking we used when we created them’ Wise words. Well, collectively the genie represents law---both mental and spiritual.

Rubbing the genie refers to spiritual practice of various kinds including prayer and meditation. So, we either experience---‘suffer’---the consequences of our actions or we wipe them out by invoking the above mentioned spiritual principle, sometimes referred to as the ‘law of love.’ The choice is ours. In the words of the New Thought minister and writer Dr Emmet Fox (pictured left), it is a case of ‘Christ or Karma.’ (Note. The reference to ‘Christ’ is a reference, not so much to Jesus, but to what is known in metaphysics as either the ‘Christ principle’ or the 'Christ Power,' that is, our innate ‘divine’ potential and spiritual ‘reality.’ Another prominent New Thought minister and writer of yesteryear Dr Harry Gaze wrote that this power is expressed when one's consciousness has 'sufficiently unfolded to know its own divine attributes', that is, one's full potentiality as a human being.)

There are many interpretations of the tale of ‘Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp.’ Here’s another one---a little more mundane, but no less important. Aladdin can be seen to represent our conscious mind. The genie represents our subconscious (also known as unconscious) mind. The lamp, and the action of rubbing the lamp, refer to the proper actions and working of the mind. We all know that over ninety per cent of our mental activity occurs in the subconscious mind. Professor William James wrote, ‘The power to move the world is in the subsconscious mind.’ Indeed. In the tale of Aladdin, the genie says, ‘Your wish is my command.’ The creative process---movement of consciousness---starts with a certain mindset, which then brings forth some thought. Thought originates as cause in the conscious mind, and then proceeds to move through the subconscious mind. That is the way the so-called 'law of mind' works.

Yes, as William James also pointed out, we tend to do whatever is our strongest, or most dominant, desire. Never forget that. For example, say you are trying to give up smoking). You will not smoke for so long as your strongest desire is not to smoke. So, do all you can, for as long as you can, to keep that desire strong and dominant in your consciousness. ‘Rubbing the lamp,’ so to speak, sets the dominant conscious thought into action, so as to influence the genie (that is, the unconscious or subconscious mind). Thus, in this interpretation of the tale, Aladdin’s lamp represents the intelligent utilisation of our mind and thoughts and, perhaps more importantly, our creative imagination.

Whatever interpretation we adopt---and I am sure there are others as well---the important message is this. We must make the mind---our mind---the obedient ‘slave’ of our true self, that is, the real person that each one of us is.

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