“The Little Prince, Day 12”

In the beginning, “The Little Prince” had many themes common to modern day psychology whereas the ending is filled with spiritual themes related to Catholic Christian spirituality. Yesterday, in section XXV, the little prince was experiencing Christmas. Today, in section XXVI, the author has rapidly moved onto Easter.

In section XXVI, the character of the little prince surrenders to death willingly. The narrator cares for the little prince much like followers of Christ cared for Jesus during his passion and death in biblical scripture. The author/narrator says, “I loosened the golden muffler that he wore. I moistened his temples, and had given him some water to drink. And now I did not dare ask him any more questions.” The character of the little prince says, “Tonight – you know…Do not come.” “I shall look as if I were suffering. I shall look a little as if I were dying.”

The little prince is bitten by the yellow snake and taken back to the planet he came from. This ending occurred just as the author/narrators plane was repaired. The author/narrator is returning to the world he knew before crashing into the desert, however he is returning as a changed person. The character of the little prince communicated this change in the author/narrator by saying, “And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will be just one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens…They will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present…”You – only you – will have stars that can laugh!” What is the little prince telling us?

The little prince is saying that once we see the presence of the divine life in one person, especially ourselves, we are able to see this divinity in all people. The mystic heart of the author/narrator no longer saw tribal divisions between people. Instead, he began to see all people like he saw the character of the little prince. There was no one star that stood out as his favorite, now all the stars brought to mind the goodness and innocence of the time the author/narrator spent in the desert with the little prince.

The last section in the story is section XXVII. In this section the author/narrator talks about having given the little prince a muzzle for his sheep so the sheep would not eat the flower. The author/narrator realizes that he forgot to draw a strap for the sheep’s muzzle. So, now he wonders if the sheep has eaten the flower or not. What is the author trying to communicate in this last section?

The author/narrator is talking about faith and freewill. The sheep (symbolizing all of us) has the freewill to do good and see good, or the sheep can hurt the flower by eating it. When the flower is eaten, the “little bells are changed into tears.”  This means that all of the spiritual world cries when we step on others for our own benefit. But “when the little prince shuts his flower under her glass globe every night, and he watches over his sheep very carefully…”Then I am happy. And there is sweetness in the laughter of the stars.” This means that when we have faith in the little prince to care for us, we will live a more trusting life with less division and fear. We will experience more love and joy because “there is sweetness in the laughter of the stars.”

The last page of the book has a picture of a desert landscape with a star. This scene could symbolize the star of Nazareth.  The author writes, “Then if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back.” The golden hair, again may symbolize the common image of Jesus Christ as a child, the prince of peace. Jesus spoke in parables instead of answering questions directly. Lastly, the author is awaiting his return. These are all very Christian Catholic themes. The author/narrator likely did have a genuine spiritual encounter with God. The success of his novella which is still selling over 1 million copies a year, over 70 years after its original publication, attests to the timelessness of his story.

“The Little Prince, Day 11”

The story of “The Little Prince” is coming to an end in section XXV. In this section, the author begins to communicate that this was a very spiritual experience for him. The author/narrator uses many Catholic themes in section XXV. He begins by talking about a well that is not like the wells in the Sahara which were simple holes in the ground. The author is most likely referring to natural flowing artesian wells in the Sahara. He says that the well he found was like a well in a village with a bucket, a pulley, and a rope. This analogy relates to the spiritual well of God’s love that St. Teresa of Avila describes in her own mystical desert experiences.

The author/narrator goes on to describe “Its sweetness was born of the walk under the stars, the song of the pulley, the effort of my arms. It was good for the heart, like a present. When I was a little boy, the lights of the Christmas tree, the music of the Midnight Mass, the tenderness of smiling faces, used to make-up, so, the radiance of the gifts I received.” What is the author describing here?

The author/narrator is describing a life experience when he grew in gratitude for all those around him and within him. The author/narrator is clarifying his mystical nature by communicating to us about this radiant moment of unity with all of life. He is on a “spiritual high” after suffering for a long time. For those who are still suffering, they will not fully comprehend this “ah-ha” moment that the narrator is describing. The author/narrator is experiencing a birth into a way of living. His spiritual high is like the emotional high of a mother having just given birth successfully – all the suffering was worthwhile.

The sense that other people will not understand this life experience is made apparent by the little prince saying, “Oh, that will be alright,” he said, “children understand.” There is a lot more behind this statement than meets the eye. No, it is not necessarily children who will understand, it is that those who are spiritually open and childlike, free from pride, will have the humility to read this little novella and be open to hearing the spiritual lessons contained within. The character of the little prince is now taking on the image of the Christ child. The author is expressing the significance of his spiritual life experience in the desert. The fact that the author/narrator likely experienced a visit from Jesus Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit is given in the next paragraph by the words of the little prince, “You know- my descent to the earth…Tomorrow will be its anniversary.” Then after a silence, he went on: “I came down very near here.” What is the author trying to communicate?

The author is telling us that he met his childhood image of God in the form of Jesus Christ in the desert when his plane crashed and his life was in jeopardy. During that time in the desert, he did a lot of thinking about what really matters in life and he felt compelled to write what he learned for others to read. The author/narrator wants to inspire others to know that there is more to life than what the eye can see. Again, the author’s message is “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“The Little Prince, Day 10”

The story of “The Little Prince,” although having sold over 140 million copies worldwide which makes it one of the best selling stories ever published, would probably never pass the scrutiny of editors and publishers today. The story has an unclear plotline, too many characters, way too many words for a children’s novella, and rather poor illustrations. In order to appreciate the story of “The Little Prince” one must be able to do just as the author/narrator says, one must be able to “see with the heart.”

The climax to the story took place in section XX and XXI, all the sections following make up the resolution. In section XXII, the little prince meets a railway switchman. The little prince learns that none of the “grown-ups” are awake on the train and they do not really know where they are going. However, “Only the children on the train know what they are looking for,” said the little prince. “They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry….” “They are lucky,” the switchman said.” The importance of going through life with a sense of passion and purpose is brought to light by the character of the little prince in section XXII. Conversely, this section gently portrays how many “grown-ups” go through life with a sense of numbness.

Section XXIII discusses this sense of numbness when the little prince meets a merchant who sells pills that quench thirst. The little prince is confused why anyone would want pills to quench their thirst. The merchant says that the pills help to save time. The little prince wonders why he would need to save time because, “If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.” What is the author/narrator trying to say here?

The author/narrator is suggesting that thirsting for something in life gives life meaning. In other words, life is all about being thirsty and the journey to find water. These are all very strong spiritual themes.  This theme of thirst is continued into section XXIV when the narrator begins to dialogue with the character of the little prince. The narrator is worried about not finding water. The little prince does not seem worried enough. This is a transition to the authors gradual revelation that within himself is a piece of divinity coming forth in the character of his own inner child, the little prince.

The little prince is different then many other spiritual writings because so many spiritual books have a dialogue between God, the parent figure, talking to the childlike human being in prayer. However, in this section of the story of “The Little Prince,” the true wisdom of humility is presented. It is only within the innocent child that God lives within us all. In order to find water, the mature adult must listen carefully to the innocent child. This truth is presented in this phrase, “What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”  

Section XXIV continues with the little prince falling asleep and the narrator carrying him. “As the little prince dropped off into sleep, I took him in my arms and set out walking once more. I felt deeply moved, and stirred. It seemed to me that I was carrying a very fragile treasure.” “What I see here is nothing but a shell. What is most important is invisible…” “What moves me so deeply, about this little prince who is sleeping here, is his loyalty to a flower – the image of a rose that shines through his whole being like the flame of a lamp, even when he is asleep…” Section XXIV ends with the narrator finding a well at daybreak. What happened?

By daybreak, the author/narrator came to appreciate the divine life within himself. In humility he found the hidden well in the desert. He found this well within his own innocent inner child. The author/narrator is integrating all the pieces and parts of himself with love and acceptance. His time in the desert is almost done.

“The Little Prince, Day 9”

Section XXI is personally my favorite section in the story of “The Little Prince” by Antoine DeSaint-Exupery. In the previous section, section XX, the author/narrator suffered the loss of his false self. In section XXI, the author/narrator is exemplifying a mature intimate relationship between the character of the little prince and the fox. The fox likely symbolizes a woman from an important intimate relationship during the author’s/narrator’s personal life who was probably not his wife. However, any relationship dynamics are possible. The fox could be any mentor of any age who somehow taught the author about unconditional love.

The fox teaches the little prince about being “tamed” which means – to establish emotional ties. In the past, the little prince was unable to connect to other people emotionally without expecting to receive something from the relationship. He wanted praise, adoration, money, power which were all represented in the previous “grown-up” characters in the story. With the fox, the little prince is open and curious to a new way of life. The fox says “To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

The fox goes about telling the little prince how to tame it “You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “first you will sit down at a little distance from me – like that – in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day…” The little prince learns that one can only understand the things that one invests the time into taming.

When it comes time for the little prince to leave, the fox is sad. The little prince questions if the relationship with the fox was worthwhile. The fox assures the little prince that their relationship was valuable. “It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.” The fox says it will remember the little prince forever when it sees a wheat field because the wheat field reminds the fox of the little prince’s blond hair. Before, a wheat field brought forth no emotional connection for the fox, but from now on it will.

The fox also states the most quoted phrases in the story. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” “Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “but you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose….”

These are the key spiritual insights that the mystic, the author/narrator learned during his desert experiences. These truths are probably what prompted him to write this novella. The little prince learns the value of taking the time to establish emotional ties with other people even if those ties are not physically everlasting, the ties are eternal in the spiritual sense. The little prince leaves more appreciative for the people in his life. The world no longer revolves around him. He values the choices he made in life  when he was of service to others and emotionally connected to others. The pain of loving and caring for another person was worthwhile after all.

“The Little Prince, Day 8”

The story of “The Little Prince” flows freely with the author’s/narrator’s psychological and spiritual inner journey. This beloved story has crossed cultural boundaries for several decades. In this blog we are attempting to study the various inner workings of the author’s/narrator’s spirit as he wrote this timeless treasure.

In section XVI, the author begins to show signs of his mystical personality, the “dark night of the soul” experiences.  A sense of meaninglessness, being in the desert all alone, and the yellow snake are all important themes from section XVI through section XX. In section XVI the narrator gives the impression that the earth is filled with many very important people. He is being sarcastic. In section XVII, the narrator apologizes for this exaggeration. “When one wishes to play the wit, he sometimes wanders a little from the truth. I have not been altogether honest in what I have told you about the lamplighters. And I realize that I run the risk of giving a false idea of our planet to those who do not know it. Men occupy a very small place upon the Earth.” The author/narrator is essentially apologizing for all the masks he has worn in life that made him look good to others.

Continuing in section XVII, the author turns to the character of little prince to communicate his deep inner fears and longings. The little prince is surprised to meet no people when he lands on earth. Instead he meets a snake. In the spiritual journey, the snake most often symbolizes fear, temptation, or death.  This snake in the desert is no different. This snake is alluring and polite but not life-giving. A sign of a meaninglessness can be seen in the dialogue between the little prince and the snake. “Where are the men?” the little prince at last took up the conversation again. “It is a little lonely in the desert…..” “It is also lonely among men,” the snake said.

At the end of section XVII it is clear that this snake resembles the same characteristics of the snake in the biblical Garden of Eden, its promises are empty and its words are filled with deceit. “You move me to pity – you are so weak on this earth made of granite,” the snake said. “I can help you, some day, if you grow too homesick for your own planet. I can…” “Oh! I understand you very well,” said the little prince. “But why do you always speak in riddles?” “I solve them all,” said the snake.

This same meaninglessness and lack of purpose in life pervades the next section. In section XVIII, the little prince meets a flower. The little prince asks the flower where the men are. The flower replies, “Men?” she echoed. “I think there are six or seven of them in existence. I saw them several years ago. But one never knows where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult.” What is this flower communicating?

The flower is essentially saying, “If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything.” The author/narrator is thinking about what brought meaning to his life. The things that once were so important no longer seem to be very important at all. In section XIX, the little prince climbs a mountain. He still can not find any people. He calls out to others at the top of the mountain “Be my friends. I am all alone,” he said. “I am all alone – all alone – all alone,” answered the echo. “What a queer planet! he thought. “It is altogether harsh and forbidding. And the people have no imagination. They repeat whatever one says to them…On my planet I had a flower; she always was the first to speak….”

Section XX is the ultimate point of desolation and humility for the author/narrator. The character of the little prince expresses this desolation using the symbolism of the rose. In section XX, the rose has a bit different meaning then before. The rose is the love of his life. But the rose is now a part of the identity of the little prince. The rose is no longer separate from himself. This is common in the mystical spiritual journey, projection of oneself onto another. The little prince, much like the woman he first loved, wanted to be special, different, unique in all the world. In humility, the author/narrator realizes his smallness, the insignificance of his life when it comes to all eternity. This sense of insignificance is communicated by the character of the little prince “I thought I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. A common rose, and three volcanoes that come up to my knees – and one of them perhaps extinct forever…That doesn’t make me a very great prince…” And he lay down in the grass and cried.” What has happened at the end of section XX?

The death of the false self has taken place in the life of the author/narrator. The world no longer revolves around him. His own egotistical nature has died. True spiritual maturity is at the bottom of the ladder, not the top. At the end of section XX, the author/narrator has hit the bottom of the ladder.

“The Little Prince, Day 7”

The childhood story of the “Little Prince” by Antoine DeSaint-Exupery initially published in 1943 continues to sell over one million copies a year. In this blog we are studying the timelessness of this piece of literature. There is a saying that “What is most personal is most universal.” It is the very personal nature of “The Little Prince” that has made this story so universal.

In section XIII, the little prince encounters a businessman, someone who is too busy to play because he is counting his stars. His stars are something he thinks he owns. The character of the little prince is puzzled by this thinking. The little prince sees the illusion behind making ones life purpose based solely on earthly wealth and says, “I myself own a flower which I water everyday. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week. It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are no use to the stars….” What message is the little prince communicating to the businessman?

The little prince is stressing the value of servitude to bring meaning to life. The little prince has a heart to care for others whom he is responsible for, but the businessman is caring for illusive possessions. The innocent eyes of the little prince see no value in owning a star. This thinking is brought to life further by the next character the little prince encounters.

In Section XIV, the little prince meets a lamplighter.  The lamplighter is very busy lighting and extinguishing a lamp quite often because his planet is so small. The lamplighter has a purpose to his work beyond himself. The little prince sees value in the lamplighters service. “That man, would be scorned by all the others: by the king, by the conceited man, by the tippler, by the businessman. Nevertheless he is the only one of them all who does not seem to me ridiculous. Perhaps that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself.”  The lamplighter likely symbolizes an individual, like a pastor, whom the author/narrator met in his own life. Or the lamplighter could symbolize the author’s own service to us as a writer.

The last “grown-up” character the little prince encounters is the geographer. In section XV, the little prince meets someone who initially is very impressive. However, the geographer has no practical information because he is not willing to do the work of being an explorer. The geographer has many ideas but no action. The geographer learns that the little prince is an explorer. So, geographer writes about the little prince’s planet. The geographer is not interested in the flower. He is only interested in the volcanoes, things that are eternal not ephemeral. The little prince learns that ephemeral means “in danger of speedy disappearance.” What is the deeper meaning communicated here?

The geographer is not interested in life or love, he is only interested in abstract knowledge. This brings more sorrow to the little prince. The little prince realizes how the author/narrator regrets the lack of connection in his marriage.  The author/narrator is again humbly reviewing his own life, looking at the choices he has made, processing, grieving, and coming to a deep peace.

“The Little Prince, Day 6”

The story of “The Little Prince” by Antoine DeSaint-Exupery can cause a lot of confusion because the character of the little prince is not one dimensional. In the majority of children’s books and fairytales, the characters are often very one dimensional. They are either “good” or “bad.” The character of the little prince flows freely from being a divine image of the Christ child visiting the narrator in the desert, to a projection of all that is “wrong” inside the author/narrator. This image of a blond little prince would have been very much a part of the author’s Catholic upbringing.  At times, the image of the little prince could have been the recollection of the author’s own innocent little brother who died in childhood. However, the image of the little prince is often the author’s own inner child. Looking for these transitions in the identity of the little prince brings clarity to the story. It also gives some insight into the life of a mystic.

In section IX, the little prince is leaving behind his beloved rose. The rose does not want to be covered in a glass globe, protected from the world. The image of the glass globe could be a symbol for a wedding ring or a codependent relationship, or both. The volcanoes can be interpreted to be the various strong emotions the author experienced in this relationship, the passion of love perhaps symbolizing the extinct volcano.

After leaving behind his beloved rose, the little prince encounters a plethora of characters whom he remembers, but whom he didn’t really like. The first character is a king. This encounter resembles a military experience. The king gives orders and expects to be obeyed. The king is a nice enough fellow, but not someone whom the little prince is going to subject himself. “‘Ah! Here is a subject,” exclaimed the king, when he saw the little prince coming. And the little prince asked himself; “How could he recognize me when he had never seen me before?” He did not know how the world is simplified for kings. To them, all men are subjects. “Approach, so that I may see you better,” said the king, who felt consumingly proud of being at last king over somebody.”  

The second character the little prince encounters is a conceited man. This character thinks only of himself and wants to be admired. “I admire you,” said the little prince, shrugging his shoulders slightly, “but what is there in that to interest you so much?” The little prince is so pure of heart that he is not impressed with the egos of those who think they hold authority over him.

The third character the little prince encounters is a tippler. The tippler drinks too much. This encounter leaves the little prince feeling deep dejection. “I am drinking,” replied the tippler, with a lugubrious air. “Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince. “So that I may forget,” replied the tippler. “Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already was sorry for him. “Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.”  

In section XII, the little prince left in low spirits because he could relate to the tippler. If the little prince could not relate to the tippler, he would not be able to empathize. In some way, the little prince also felt shame.  This is true for all the characters whom the little prince encounters. Perhaps, the little prince is encountering all the roles the proud author/narrator played at one time in his life. The inner child, the divine eyes of the little prince are seeing the author/narrator for who he really was. The little prince is showing compassion for the proud aviator who was thrilled to have subjects beneath him, and the conceited man who liked being admired, and the tippler who drank too much. The various “grown-up” characters in the story, the little prince, and the author/narrator are likely all the same individual. The spiritual journey of the mystic is learning to recognize the divine alive within the imperfect. This journey starts with oneself.