TWO FAIRY TALES REVEAL THE SECRET OF LIFEWhen we were young we became ... with the stories of Red Riding Hood and ... Both these little girls have ... with wild beasts and one is
TWO FAIRY TALES REVEAL THE SECRET OF LIFE When we were young we became acquainted with the stories of Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks. Both these little girls have encounters with wild beasts and one is eaten, whilst the other gets clean away. Why were the fates of the little girls so different? If we knew the reason, it might be useful in everyday life. When I first heard the stories, I enjoyed them at face value and, like all children, did not possess the ‘power’ to understand the depth of meaning behind them. Then I grew up and, after much folly and suffering, began my search ‘in the wilderness’ for the meaning of life. One day the connection between the two apparently unconnected stories just came to me from out of the blue. Bear with me as I recount the tales. You will remember that Red Riding Hood’s head was full of kind and considerate thoughts. These had been passed on to her, like a virus, from her mother, who, in turn, had learned them from her parent. When Red Riding Hood was asked by mum to take some groceries to granny who lived in the woods she jumped at the idea. She was warned against talking to strangers and to keep to the path. All went well until the way became crooked at the entrance to the woods. Here she meets the wolf; a beast that immediately suggests picking more berries and fruits for granny. Red Riding Hood finds the idea irresistible and gathers a lot more produce. Meanwhile the wolf creeps away to the cottage in the woods where he gobbles up granny. Then the little girl arrives loaded down with the groceries and fruits. The wolf is now in granny’s clothes and he promptly adds Red Riding Hood to the menu. However, a hunter is nearby and he kills the wolf and cuts him open, thus releasing the two ladies. Now we come to Goldilocks. Here is girl who liked to roam in the woods alone, eating wild strawberries when she was hungry and sleeping on dry moss when she was tired. The scene changes to the cottage of the three bears where mummy bear has been making porridge for her family. It is too hot to eat, so all the bears go out for a while. A little later Goldilocks passes by and, because she is hungry and tired, enters the cottage of the three bears. You will remember how she tries all the bowls of porridge, all the chairs and all the beds to find the ones that are just right for her. She is asleep in baby bear’s bed when the beasts arrive home. There is a commotion, but Goldie escapes and runs all the way home. We are told that she never goes back to the woods again. It’s great to hear those stories again isn’t it? What do you mean, you would rather watch ‘Prisoner in Cell Block H’ on TV? Listen, those stories reveal the secret of life. The Red Riding Hood story depicts what happens when you ‘go too far’. You see, it is very powerful to exercise personal preferences or choices. Preferences are your own, but the knowledge of right and wrong you receive from your parents or teachers. They pass their values on to you like a virus. You then find yourself like Eve in the Garden of Eden, ‘eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Having ‘gone too far’, both Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden and became powerless. Red Riding Hood’s mother, like mothers everywhere, committed an act of extreme folly when she told her daughter to keep to the path and not to talk to strangers. Her daughter was then forced to abandon her own preferences in favor of a received wisdom. When this happens you have overstepped the mark, you have been tripped over a threshold into a state of mind that becomes available to a living trend. This is what happened to Red Riding Hood. Living trends emerge spontaneously from increasingly complex conditions. In the story, escalating complexity is symbolized when the straight path turns ‘crooked’ at the entrance to the woods. (In the story of Adam and Eve, ‘crookedness’ is symbolized by the serpent.’) Also, in fairy tales, the forest trees, straining towards the light, depict living trends. Red Riding Hood meets the wolf when the path goes ‘crooked’. He tempts her to go beyond the threshold of what is ‘just enough’ groceries for granny. So, having already ‘gone too far’ with her ideas of right and wrong, the little girl now picks an excess of fruit. Red Riding Hood also has imperfect knowledge of the motives of the wolf. In general, there will always exist a state of imperfect knowledge between grown men and women – even if they are mentally compatible. This is due to the existence of the female fertility cycle. Because a man cannot know what it is like to be a woman, the level of imperfect knowledge is high enough to make both parties available to living trends. In fact the fertility cycle is often at the root of those disembodied ‘forces’ called living trends. Red Riding Hood’s mum and dad were obviously living under the spell of a living trend and had drawn their daughter into it. Because of the connection of imperfect knowledge with the fertility cycle, the daughter is depicted as wearing a ‘Red Hood’. Therefore, to sum up, it is Red Riding Hood’s failure to ‘tap the world lightly’, together with her received tendency to ‘eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’, plus her ‘imperfect knowledge’ of the motives of the wolf, that combine to cause ‘crookedness’. The latter is the sign that the little girl is about to participate in a new living trend. She now enters the world of living trends, the ‘forest’ and gets to discover that the ‘road to hell really is paved with good intentions’. Now Goldilocks is a loner. She has no teachers or mother to infect her with one-sided ideas of right and wrong and ‘imperfect knowledge’ of the world. Goldie does not wear a ‘Red Hood’, but instead her golden curls are emphasized – a symbol of her independent spirit. Her view of life does not lead to over-the-top responses and so, for her, the road does not turn ‘crooked’. She is on the ‘straight way’ through life and therefore does not meet the wolf and is not tempted into further one-sidedness. So, at any given moment, even though she is in the ‘forest’ of living trends, Goldie is not available to any of them. When she is in the cottage of the three bears, she does have ‘imperfect knowledge’ of the danger she is in, but is saved by her own acts of ‘power’. She tries all the chairs and all the bowls of porridge and all the beds to find what is ‘just right’ for her. By exercising a sober choice or personal preference, she ‘taps the world lightly’ and never goes beyond what is ‘just enough’. Therefore when the bears return she has the ‘power’ or ‘luck’ to escape. In contrast, Red Riding Hood was gripped by a second-hand desire to do good works and she indulged it to the full. She was a driven person who committed no acts of ‘power’. Therefore, she was eaten. So you can see that life is not best served by learning right from wrong. Those things take care of themselves when life becomes a practical matter of uncommon knowledge and ‘power’. When it comes to the crunch in life, you succeed or fail, live or die, depending on how much ‘power you have in the bank’. How much do you have? How much ‘treasure in heaven’ have you accrued through your own acts of ‘power’? Or is your imperfect knowledge of the world and one-sided responses making you available to living trends? Is a ‘wolf’ stalking you and, through cross infection of your world-view, is he pursuing any of your loved ones right now? This would be a wolf, not in ‘sheep’s clothing’, but in ‘granny’s clothes’. You’ll know he’s got to you when you find yourself thinking those self-righteous, judgematic thoughts about right and wrong that have been passed down the generations like a virus and which always propel you beyond what is just enough. If this wolf in ‘granny’s clothes’ is on your trail, he will tempt all of you in turn and then steal your most valuable possession, which is your ‘power’ to generate nice surprises.