01/22/12 Rev. David McArthur
Beauty and the Beast is a picture of major spiritual transformation. Every character shows us a part of our self. The father represents the adult male part in all of us that seeks after truth through the mind. Beauty is that feeling part of us which is appreciation, love.
In a snow storm one night, the father arrives at a great castle where his every need is provided. The storm is the veil which keeps us from seeing ourselves, our true riches. The castle pictures the divine presence which provides and sustains us. Leaving the castle, the father picks a rose from the castle garden for Beauty. The Beast appears and declares the man’s life is now forfeit. (The rose stands for understanding, and once you have that, your life up to then is over, because you can’t go back to the way you were.) Beast lets the father go if Beauty (the ability to touch goodness) will come in his place.
Beauty appreciates everything about the castle except that she must dine with the ugly Beast every evening. The Beast is also something within us, that part where we see ourselves as ugly and frightening. It might be addiction, low self esteem, hurt expressing as anger and violence, or fear that keeps us from living our life. It is legitimate to see it as ugly and to be afraid. Going into the castle is growing into a greater knowledge of ourselves and we have power then to see that ugly painful part of our self. We have to get to know it, to see it and to become consciously aware of our self.
Beauty is allowed to go home for two months, but then doesn’t want to return to the castle. (We fall back asleep, finding comfort where we had been.) Beauty dreams (dreaming is awareness coming into our “sleep”) that the Beast is dying. With great compassion for him, she goes back. Compassion awakens us to truth. Her tears (tears of forgiveness) revive him. (Tears of forgiveness wash away the ugly, painful part which was a constant cry to be touched by the love that heals. The forgiveness comes from feeling that love.) The Beast’s ugliness falls away and the young man comes forth filled with power, wisdom– a receptivity which lets divine presence and power flow.
In this tale abundance and ugliness represent God and the Devil. But you know there is no truth in that! You know There is only One presence and One power in the universe and in your life, the all loving goodness of God. One presence! One power! And you do know “they lived happily ever after”!