The Circle of Life

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

A new movie hit theaters last week, but it was really just a technological update of a twenty-five year old movie, The Lion King. I felt at the time of this movie’s first release, as I do after seeing its latest incarnation, it is dealing with the deep, spiritual themes of life and how we are all interconnected.

When watched through the eyes of A Course in Miracles, this movie presents a wonderful allegory of our own lives. There is the loving father lion, Mufasa (representing God), the father’s brother, Scar (who perfectly represents the ego), a wise baboon, Rafiki (who nicely provides an example of the Holy Spirit’s all-knowing wisdom), and Simba, the young lion cub (who represents the struggle of each of us as we awaken to the knowledge that we are the Son of God).

The movie begins with the birth of Simba, a baby lion who will be the heir to the throne of his father, Mufasa. Simba will someday rule, as Mufasa says, “Everything you can see — as far as the light touches.” All of this seems a little overwhelming to the little cub. Mufasa assures Simba that he is always with him and that if Simba ever doubts this, Mufasa tells him to just, “look up at the stars. The great kings look down from the sky. The great kings will look down on you and guide you and so will I.”

Through a chain of events orchestrated by Mufasa’s brother, Scar, Mufasa dies and Scar convinces Simba that he (Simba) is responsible for his father’s death. Simba, believing Scar, runs away from the pride because of his intense guilt and shame.

Scar then becomes King, ruling the Pride Lands with an evil hand. Scar also becomes the voice in Simba’s head that reminds him of all the things that Simba thinks he has done. In truth, of course, Simba has done no wrong.

Simba meets up with two unlikely friends, a warthog named Pumbaa and a meerkat named Timon. Seeing he is an outcast, but not knowing the facts about his peril, Timon and Pumbaa tell Simba that, “You gotta put your past behind you. No past, no future — no worries! Hakuna matata!” These friends are interested in accepting Simba as he is and seem unconcerned with anything he has done. They thus become wonderful teachers and friends to Simba and provide him with his first step towards remembering who he really is.

A wise baboon named Rafiki (who baptized Simba as a cub) is intuitively guided to where Simba is. His task is to wake Simba up to the truth. Simba asks, “Who are you?” Rafiki turns the tables on Simba by asking, “Who are you?” to which the dejected Simba replies, “That’s a good question.”

Although he is confused, Simba recognizes the wise, old baboon as a friend of his father’s. He asks, “Wait a minute. You knew my father, didn’t you?” “Correction, I know your father. He lives in you,” the wise, old baboon responds. Then, Rafiki points to a pond and tells Simba to look deeply into it. When he does, Simba sees an image of his father, Mufasa.

Mufasa says, “You have forgotten me.”

Simba cries, “No father. How could I?”

Mufasa replies, “You have forgotten who you are, and so you have forgotten me. Look inside yourself. You are more than you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life.”

Confused, Simba asks, “How can I go back (and face Scar)? I’m not who I used to be.”

“Remember who you are. You are my son… Remember who you are… Remember… Remember… Remember…,” Mufasa’s voice fades away.

Simba seems renewed. He has heard the truth. He is ready to face his fears. He is ready to face Scar. His eventual confrontation with Scar is filled with guilt, trickery, and projection as Scar tries in every way to preserve his position. Simba sees through the trickery, and even though Scar had tried to kill Simba as a cub, Simba is willing to let Scar go off into oblivion. “Everything you told me was a lie, Scar. I am not like you. Now it is time for you to run away and never return,” Simba commands.

The movie ends with Simba and his wife presenting their newborn cub to the inhabitants of the Pride Lands and the circle of life continues.

We are all little ‘Simbas,’ exploring, learning, and growing. We all innately have the wisdom of our Father, who constantly reminds us that we are the inheritors of the kingdom”

What a story! It is really the story of all of us! We are all little “Simbas,” exploring, learning, and growing. We all innately have the wisdom of our Father, who constantly reminds us that we are the inheritors of the kingdom, that all we see is ours to “rule.” But on our own we “forget” who we are and begin to listen to the ego, the part of our mind that wants to be separate and attack our Father.

We become convinced (like Simba) that we have done something wrong. The ego tells us that we have usurped the power of God and attacked Him, and that God is going to punish us for what we have done. So, we “run away” from God. We make a world with all its complexities and problems so that we will not turn to God.

We tell ourselves that after all we have done to God, He would never help us now. We let guilt from our past and all the evil we think we have done pronounce an unmerciful future. We feel alone and afraid, wandering aimlessly. But God is always with us, even if we can’t see Him. God is telling us that there is no past to feel guilty for, that the future need not be painful. In effect, He is telling us not to worry, echoing the words of Pumbaa and Timon, “hakuna matata.”

We need help to remember our Father, and so the Holy Spirit becomes our Guide to remembering. If we are willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hand and look “deep” into ourselves, we will find that the help of God’s Love lives inside of us and that we only need to remember who we are; to remember we are His Son by extending love in all of our relationships.

As we face our fears and the trickery of our ego which tells us we are unworthy, God’s Love will give us the strength to gently step aside from the struggle and allow the ego to disappear into ‘oblivion.'”

As we face our fears and the trickery of our ego which tells us we are unworthy, God’s Love will give us the strength to gently step aside from the struggle and allow the ego to disappear into “oblivion.” For as we withdraw our attention from the ranting of the ego, we see that it has no power. We see it for what it is: a mistaken thought about us, a lie!

Now we know that we are not our ego illusions but the Holy Child of God. Now we are ready to take our place in the great “circle of life!” Or, as the Course would say, to take our place in “the circle of Atonement,” where we join Jesus in peace and holiness. We leave no one out, for if we do, we are left out and the circle is not complete. The circle is complete as we remember our Father’s Love, accept our place in that love, and extend our love to all our brothers.

Since awakening to our true nature is an age-old concept, it is not so surprising that it is being presented more and more in films. For those of us who have chosen A Course in Miracles as our path of remembrance, films such as this can inspire us on our own journeys.

In 1985, the Center produced a recording entitled The Forgotten Song, which uses the words of the Course to share a brief overview of the “journey” that the Son of God takes from falling asleep – to the process of awakening – to the experience of our oneness with God. It tells us that the moment we began the journey, the end was certain. That doubt will come and go but the ending is sure and guaranteed by God. As we read in the Course’s supplement, The Song of Prayer

“…whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last.”

That is the circle of life; the remembrance that your place is with God. That is where you belong and that is where you will find your Home.

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