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“We are Pleased to Inform You...”
Spiritual Significance in Harry Potter: Part I
In Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter is sent an invitation to begin his training as a wizard at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Although Harry has experienced a few unexplained events in his life, such as glass cases suddenly disappearing in the snake house and conversations with a comprehending snake, he hasn't really examined the meaning of these events in his life. He is unconscious to the magic happening around him. When his official acceptance letter to Hogwarts first arrives, he is completely unaware of his own magical nature, his power or his capabilities. All he knows is what he has been told by his fearful, close-minded, indignant relatives, the Dursleys. He accepts and believes the Dursley's assessment of his value and worth, without considering how resentful they are of being saddled with his care. They have no appreciation of his talents and gifts, so frighteningly different from their own.
When Harry first sees the letter meant for him, while fetching the morning post for his Uncle Vernon, he is startled and thrilled at receiving his very first piece of mail. His Uncle Vernon knows very well what the letter is about and quickly steals it from Harry. However, it will soon be Harry's eleventh birthday and Harry has been accepted at Hogwarts. This invitation is the fulfillment of Harry's destiny and nothing will keep Harry from receiving the invitation that is meant for him. Uncle Vernon's sleeping on the floor in front of the mail slot, nailing the the mail slot shut, moving Harry out from the cupboard under the stairs to an upstairs bedroom, trying to be nice to Harry, staying home from work, moving the entire family to a remote island all fail to keep Harry from receiving his birthright. Vernon Dursley attempts all of these actions to thwart the arrival of the acceptance letter, because he mistakenly believes himself smarter, stronger and more powerful than magic. He is mistaken.
Finally, the letter arrives, delivered by a giant who busts down the door of the miserable shack in which the Dursleys and Harry are holed up. The giant, Rubeus Hagrid, is a new friend for Harry and an important ally; Hagrid is the Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts. Hagrid informs Harry that not only is Harry a wizard, but so were his parents and that Harry's name has been on the acceptance list to attend Hogwarts since Harry's birth, thus unlocking the truth for Harry. Then, despite the fact that a giant has arrived and performed magic, despite the fact that his Uncle and Aunt already knew about him being a wizard, Harry tries to deny who he is and says quietly, “Hagrid, I think you must have made a mistake. I don't think I can be a wizard.”
We are all much like Harry, we have been told who we are and how to behave, evaluated by people who have their own agendas, problems and prejudices. Like Harry, we too experience chance demonstrations of our gifts, which if we are lucky are noticed and capitalized on by us and appreciated and encouraged by others. If we are unfortunate, however, we dismiss our abilities and the opportunities in our lives to express all of who we are or find ourselves rejected by others for demonstrating our power. The class clown is given detention, the artist is branded a daydreamer, the athlete who is physically gifted is assumed to be unintelligent.
Regardless of how others treat us or who we believe ourselves to be, we too have already been accepted. God, also known as I Am That I Am, also known as The Great Mother, also known as Abba, Allah, Krishna, The Tao and many other names, knows exactly who we are and loves us, unconditionally. We're pleased to to be informed that we are far more than we have been led to believe, we are loved far greater than we have ever realized and once we begin to attending to these new thoughts and beliefs, our world will begin to change as if by magic. In Emmet Fox's excellent The Golden Key, what the author suggests we do when faced with conflict, worries and problems is to remove our attention from them and focus on God. By focusing on God, we open to the love in our lives and ourselves. We are able to accept what is and by releasing the resentment and engagement with the problem, our mind is now free to be open to new opportunities and fresh inspirations.
I'll share an example, from my own life, of using The Golden Key. My brother and I both used the same bathroom at home. He hated finding my hair in the shower. He was impossible about it and every time he got on my case, I would feel this wall of rage inside. Since I was dedicated to creating peace in my life, I worked on this power struggle between us by biting my tongue and trying to clean up after myself more. One day, I was in a huge rush to meet the exciting day I had planned for myself and unthinkingly ran out of the house without wiping down the shower or cleaning the drain. I had a great day. However, the next day, my brother knocks on my bedroom door, gritting his teeth and he asks, “have you showered today,” to which I sullenly replied, “not yet.“ He next said, “the reason why I ask is that the bathroom is a mess.” The anger in me blossomed and I got in the bathroom and I had to admit it really was a mess. It occurred to me that while I was out enjoying myself, he had been stewing at home, all day, so angry that he couldn't even bring himself to shower. Worse, I realized he probably thought it had been done on purpose. I felt terrible, here I was praying for peace and signing petitions of peace and my own relationship with my brother was a mess. So, as I cleaned and the anger drained, I turned it over to God to find the solution and the answer was surprising – I went out and bought some clippers and buzzed my head! This single act transformed my relationship with my brother. It showed him that I genuinely cared, and that peace was more important to me than vanity. So new solutions are possible when we turn from the conflict and turn instead to love and God.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” That is what it means to love unconditionally, to give without considering merit or expecting reward. It means to love someone, regardless of anything that they may have said or done. There is nothing that can be done to earn that kind of love, because it is given freely. There is nothing that can place a person outside of God's unconditional love, except if that person refuses to accept it. The question to ask is, do we believe we deserve to accept God's unconditional love for us? Do we acknowledge that we have always been on the list or do we, like Harry, say, “I think you must have made a mistake?”
If nothing we have said or done changes God's love for us, then we are set free from our past. Without a past, we lose our identity. Who are we, if what we have done or said doesn't alter our most important relationship, doesn't define our being deserving of love? Are we what we believe ourselves to be? What we tell others we are? Are we what others think of us? Are we who we were at the ages of two or eight or sixteen? What do we really know about ourselves right now that doesn't have anything to do with our past? We have to take a moment to tune in and find out.
All we are, right now, is what we experience through our senses and how we choose to respond to what is happening to us in the present moment. Imagine for a moment that you are suffering from amnesia, with no mental chatter about who you are or what has happened and then look around, put the book down for a second and look around. It's startling to suddenly discover our horizons are suddenly broader. Everything seems clearer and somehow more real. We can be free from defending who we were or recovering from what happened to us, what they did, all the Dursleys we've encountered. Being free means being free to respond with a fresh eye and a glad heart to a new day, a new world if we choose. The Dursleys are a very good example of what happens when people allow their egos to rule decision making instead of listening to their heart and honoring others. Existence becomes all about fearfully defending the status quo and keeping up appearances.
Who will we be in five years or ten or thirty? How could we possibly know? See that we are now and always will be undergoing the process of change. That is what being alive is, to be forever in a process of change. We are children of God, alive, experiencing change. We are those who experience change, the observers, continuously changing our attitudes, our feelings, our beliefs, our thoughts, our positions, our alliances as we learn and experience life.
Once Harry began attending Hogwarts, the three people who consumed most of his thoughts and focus, the Dursleys, faded to background characters. Uncle Vernon's bullying seemed relatively benign compared to Voldemort's death threats. Suddenly, Uncle Vernon isn't the person to resent or avoid or challenge, he's the person who needs to be protected from all he doesn't know and can't accept. Uncle Vernon hasn't changed, but Harry's perception of him has and Harry responds differently to Uncle Vernon as a result. All of our relationships can change just as significantly, once we step back and see the bigger picture.
Who is Harry? Is he the rejected nephew of the Dursleys? Is he a courageous Hogwarts student? Is he the boy who lives in the cupboard under the stairs or the Boy Who Lived? It all depends on where we are in the story, doesn't it, but it's only a story. So too is our life only a story, one we repeat to ourselves and to others. Looking back on our life, being older and wiser, we easily perceive that some events weren't what we thought they were when they were happening. We have the ability to write our story our own way, to see the good that came out of what has happened to us. Our identity and our perceptions are continuously changing, endlessly flexible and we need to pay attention right now to discover who we are in this moment. We need to examine ourselves and remain conscious, which is how we access our power; we stay alive knowing that every moment is an opportunity to choose. Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates wrote “an unexamined life is not worth living.” In being conscious of choice, we break free from habit and discover who we are and what we are capable of doing.
The past is forever gone, kept imperfectly preserved in memory and memorial. The future may be feared or anticipated, but we honestly have no idea what it will be like. However, right now we are unconditionally loved by the greatest power that exists and if we rest in our birthright, right now, knowing that we are accepted, that we are exactly where we belong in order to learn this current lesson, then many new chapters in our lives can be celebrated. This is when a giant realization bursts through, this is when we learn we've always belonged to a better world, a place where friends await, new challenges and better reasons to live life exist. Right now we can discover who we really are, discover we are powerful and welcome each new change as an opportunity to enjoy the process of learning. Consider this your invitation to be present to experience giving and receiving unconditional love.
Make Some Magic
Meditate to feel the unconditional love within yourself and better know yourself. Sit with a straight spine, feet on the floor. Breathe easily and scan your body from the crown of your head down to your feet, releasing any tension that you feel as you go. Continue to relax as you now scan your body from your feet, bringing your focus upwards until it rests at your sternum, in the center of your chest, slightly higher than your heart. Put your fingertips there to better connect to the feelings there. Think of some wonderful moment from your life, memories that naturally makes you smile. Rest your hands on your thighs. Allow the smile to develop as you close your eyes and continue to slow your breath and relax. Allow whatever thoughts and imaginings occur, while continuing to return your focus to your breath, your heart center and your smile. Feel good.
If life were a play, what role would be fulfilling for you to play? Imagine it in great detail. Now, is there someone living or dead who best exemplifies that role? What if you researched their life? What if you learned how they expressed themselves, how they dressed, where they lived, who their friends were, how they overcame their obstacles and all the details you could discover? Now could you for an entire week incorporate as much of their life and personality into your daily routine as possible. Do you think you would make different choices than you do now? Would you behave differently with others? Learn new things about yourself? Discover new solutions to old problems? Try it. Find new thoughts, words, beliefs and actions that you can incorporate into your life. Change your viewpoint of yourself. Surprise people. Surprise yourself. Live a larger expression of all that you can be. Make new choices.