- The lily, the rose, and the lotus are traditional
symbols for our deepest spiritual self, our only true
and immortal self, our inner God.
The imagery speaks clearly. A seed falls into the
dark, slimy, rotting earth. A plant rises up and one
day produces a breathtakingly beautiful and dazzlingly
pure white flower that is in such complete contrast to
the environment the seed was planted in.
This is not very flattering for us personally, but the
idea is that we are the rotting earth and the flower
is the potential Inner God in the heart. That's Lily
Potter - Harry's mother.
The divine flower in the heart has been symbolised in
many other ways in stories through the centuries. For
example a familiar one is the Philosopher's Stone. The
legend about this stone is that it can produce the
elixir of life and can turn all other metals into
gold. Here the symbolism is clear too. The elixir of
life obviously alludes to the property of the
spiritual bud in the heart to give the bearer eternal
life - if he uses the stone properly. Turning other
metals into gold symbolises the same thing as the
flower above, i.e. turning something worthless into
something very beautiful. Gold is a very powerful
symbol because we all know it doesn't oxidise and so
doesn't tarnish. There is an additional meaning to
gold, because advanced seekers on the path of
liberation have told us that when the flower in the
heart has opened up fully and its heavenly fragrance
has spread throughout the body, the aura of the seeker
takes on an exquisite golden radiance. This is
especially so around the head, and this is where the
legend of the aureole or halo began. We can see this
depicted in medieval paintings.
Jo uses the symbol of the Philosopher's Stone in quite
a different way than the above, though. She uses it to
make the very opposite point! She uses it as occult
symbolism and the elixir of life here means life in
the physical body, and gold means wealth on earth.
This is quite an unexpected use of symbolism, but
Another effective symbol for the immortal life in the
heart is the seed. Thanks to Herbert for sending that
lovely quote from Meister Eckhart: "The seed of God is
in us. Now the seed of a pear tree grows into a pear
tree; and a hazel seed grows into a hazel tree; a seed
of God grows into God." What an effective symbol that
is! We know that a seed is full of potential and that
a small acorn can grow into a mighty oak which needs
ten men to girth it.
The seed is especially interesting in discussing Harry
Potter, because we know that to create a plant, a seed
has to die. Perhaps this is the message of why Lily
sacrificed herself for Harry, symbolically speaking.
The potential dies so the actuality can live. I have a
gut feeling there's more to Lily and James' death than
that, but that's all I can offer right now.
If we compare Harry Potter to other stories we can see
Lily represented in various ways. For example in
Grimm's fairy tale, "Briar Rose", also known as
"Sleeping beauty", we see another flower. Hidden
behind impenetrable briars is a castle with a sleeping
princess and a whole court, all asleep. If we can just
accept that our self-centred life is the briars, we
can awaken the "royal" life asleep in our heart.
Royalty is another powerful symbol for the divine
potential within. Many seekers have a suspicion that
there's something special about them; that secretly
they're royal. That is actually true, for the child
asleep behind the briars of our temporary existence is
a Prince or Princess: a child of the King of Creation.
Another of Grimm's fairy tales, "The Glass Coffin", is
similar to "Briar Rose". There the divine potential is
a princess asleep in a glass coffin, and jars around
her contain a miniature castle, servants, etc. When
the lid is lifted the princess awakens, and the castle
grows back to its real size, all symbols of the
"Kingdom in the midst of you". This particular fairy
tale is even more relevant to Harry Potter, for guess
what brings the hero to the glass coffin? A stag!
We'll come to that when we discuss James.
The inner God can also be symbolised by things like a
diamond or another jewel. The diamond is very apt
because its hardness and hence near indestructibility
is a wonderful symbol for the immortality of the inner
prince or princess.
I hope I may be permitted to conclude by telling you
what, in my opinion, the divine potential within the
heart really is. As I said in my introduction to this
series of posts about the characters, abstract things
can be understood better (or only) by symbols. But
please remember that symbols are just comparisons;
they're not the thing itself!
The inner God is LIKE a seed in that it can
"germinate" and grow according to its "genes". The
inner God is LIKE a castle in that it's capable of
self-supporting life full of richness, grandeur and
beauty. The inner God is LIKE a prince or princess
because it's a child of the King or Architect of the
universe. It's LIKE a bud because out of it can unfold
a flower of dazzling purity and beauty. But it's none
Obviously it's not physical because we have had it
through every incarnation. It's invisible,
undetectable by science, and its existence is possibly
denied by millions of people. Only its owner can
detect it. How? By feeling that deep down he is royal.
By suspecting that life on earth is not all there is.
By being incessantly urged from within to seek for the
purpose of life, for the causes behind the physical
causes, for self-realisation as a spiritual being. And
now we're starting to get close to the character of
James Potter, so I'll stop here.
So what is it really? In my humble opinion I think it
can best be described as a divine thought-spark.
Anything God creates is everlasting and
indestructible. However there is the possibility of a
divine thought-spark developing according to the
thought contained within, or of atrophying if its
potential is not realised. Millions and millions of
years ago the Spirit of God flashed like a lightning
bolt through the universe and in its wake it left a
sea of thought-sparks. Each one of these is unique yet
able to develop into a mighty god, an everlasting
father, a Prince of Peace. Through a process that took
an unimaginably long time, the sparks developed, and
many of them grew into Sons of the Father in
mind-boggling glory. But others chose to follow an
experimental plan instead of the one written within
their own beings. They "fell" into another universe
and the thought-sparks atrophied back to a bare
minimum. For those who like technical explanations;
the thought-spark is actually the mathematical centre
of the microcosm we inhabit.
If my theory of what Harry Potter is about is correct,
this means that we all have within us something so
ineffably precious, so utterly sublime, so
inexpressibly supernal that it should make us feel our
heart is filled with a swelling balloon as Jo puts it.
Just think: no matter what our physical circumstances,
no matter what our role in life or where we live, we
have the potential to open our hearts to the Lily
within and give birth to Harry, who will go on a long
and painful struggle to defeat the Voldemort within
us, ending in total liberation and the restoration of
the inner Prince as heir to the everlasting Kingdom.
Points for discussion.
1. Do you agree with any of the above? Or disagree?
2. Can you give examples of other symbols for the
"Lily" in the heart?
3. Can you give examples of other stories where there
is an inner potential that is not recognised at first?
4. How do you react to the idea that Harry Potter is
telling the same old story of unlimited inner
5. Do you think that the characters in Harry Potter
just have random names and Jo's choice is a coincidence?
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