Beauty and the Beast: Tale as Old as Time

By: Ranilo Abando (Manila, November 19, 2020) ****

Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast

You had watched the 1991 animated movie.  You may even had watched the musical stage play live.  The story of Beauty and the Beast is estimated by researchers to have originated 4,000 years ago.  Modern writers of the story had been influenced by ancient Greek stories such as Cupid and Psyche.  The basic plot pertains to Beauty overcoming obstacles and releases the Prince from his beastly curse, leading to their ultimate union in a sacred marriage.  The story might had been introduced to humanity as early as 4,000 years ago, but the underlying message or knowledge of the story is as old as time itself.

The story is obviously a metaphor, similar to the stories of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty.  Beauty represents the human spirit, the seat of consciousness, which is indeed an entity so beautiful to behold.  The Beast is the dark aspect of human nature which I have described in previous posts.  The “beast” is a set of programs in the human lower mind that runs such separate algorithms as fear, greed, hate, vanity, pride, sadness, lust, jealousy, anger, etc.  These programs sometimes hijack the thinking aspect of the mind, prodding the person to hatch malevolent plans and actions that result in adverse consequences due to the ultimate operation of the Law of Balance, which Buddhists commonly refer to as the Law of Cause and Effect (Law of Karma). That leads to suffering down the road and the person risks being caught in multiple cycles of death and unsavory rebirth.

But the Beast is an integral part of human nature that needs to be understood, tamed, and used in a positive way to realize your ultimate human objective which is to leave for good the cycles of life in the lower mind and join your higher self that dwells above your mind column – the proverbial “Prince” in many ancient lores.  “Marriage” or ultimate union with our higher self is what will liberate the human spirit from bondage in these lower worlds and make it possible for us to “live happily ever after”.

When I said that we can use the “beast” in order for us to achieve our higher goals, it means that we can use those programs instead to motivate us in achieving loftier goals.  I did not say that we should not make mistakes in our lives.  What I was saying is – if you cannot avoid committing mistakes, then wisely choose and manage your mistakes so that they would not unduly devastate your life, make sure that you are able to learn from the mistakes, and that their adverse consequences will not unnecessarily curtail your ability to further learn and gain experiences down the road.  In short, learn to wisely manage your destiny by mastering the inescapable law governing cause and effect.

The rose stalk and flower shown in the animated movie Beauty and the Beast represents the Tree of Life, with the falling petals indicating the gradual deterioration of the various aspects of the human constitution, such as physical body that ages and the thinking mind that eventually weakens due to old age or dementia – leading to the inevitable death of the physical body and temporary shut-down of the lower mind.

In the movie, Belle’s love of books may represent the human spirit’s inherent love for higher knowledge.  You may consider the clock animated character as representing physical time, the candle holder character as representing spiritual illumination, and the teapot character can be considered as knowledge received from above.  These minor metaphors may be incidental only to the movie, but the point is — if you want to make a really great movie, it is important that your characters, story, and settings will resonate with the hidden truths lying deep inside the human psyche.  The human audience will unconsciously detect the hidden value in your work of art and they will want to watch it because of their own deep spiritual needs.

Another example of such great movie is the 1989 animated movie The Little Mermaid.  The character Ariel is a mermaid who wishes to be a human so that she could experience touching a fire, dancing in the street with feet, getting answers from people who know, and more importantly, feeling how it is to love truly.  That opportunity to live in the human physical world cost Ariel her voice, a metaphor that represents almost complete blockage of spiritual light coming from above once you are immersed in the illusions of this physical world.  That wish of Ariel is reminiscent of the original desire of the human spirit to experience living in the physical world despite the suffering and sacrifices that it would entail.  The ultimate aim is to find enlightenment through experience and mental processing of information that it will acquire in this level of the mind column.  Remember the same motivation of Sophia to descend the depths of the lower mind in the gnostic texts that I have discussed in a previous post.

Lastly, another example of a great movie based on hidden truths is the 1992 animated movie Aladdin.  The lamp of Aladdin represents the human thinking mind that is empowered by higher spiritual knowledge.  This type of mind has the power, if used correctly, to realize a person’s wishes.  But the important secret of the mind’s power is that it is best used in doing good, rather than it being used as a means to attain selfish worldly desires.

So, next time you watch a movie, one of the bases to review its quality is how much it resonates with our inner desire for deep spiritual truths.

(Thanks to for the photos above)

Published by rabando

I am a Filipino and a geologist by profession but I have also been an ardent searcher for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence ever since 42 years ago. It has been a long, lonely and difficult journey. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What on earth is this world where I found my self in? Surprisingly, I found out that the answers are right there under our noses. There just need to be some adjustments in the way people think.

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