How Meaningful was Harry’s journey? Spiritual Lessons from Harry Potter
Published on July 26, 2019
Since 1997, when the first book came out, Harry Potter has been a sensation. This coming of age book-series explores the story of a young wizard thrown into an exciting new world with a dark history of its own. Harry Potter is forced to battle numerous dark forces to save the wizarding world. Potter’s journey throughout the series is in a lot of ways a proper spiritual journey. We see Harry go from an identity-less person to the saviour of the world. And Harry’s spiritual journey is an amalgamation of multiple battles, learning experiences, and losses- something every spiritual awakening entails.
The Spiritual Journey of Harry Potter
Growing up, Harry was an orphan living with his unpleasant aunt, uncle, and cousin (The Dursleys). As a child, Harry was kept unaware of his real identity- that he was a wizard. Not just that, Harry had no information about his family. He had no self-hood whatsoever. His only aim in life was to know more about himself. As per the sevenfold nature of man, spiritual gurus will term his existence as a sthula sharira- a meaningless outer shell, with no purpose in life.
Things change on his eleventh birthday when Hagrid meets Harry to inform him about his real identity, and to give him an admissions letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For someone who had no idea of his true self, Harry clings on to the newly given identity of a wizard. He establishes his reality in terms of the school, the people around him, his magical powers, and the stories told to him about his parents’ bravery. All these outer things become majorly significant in his life. He also learns about his biggest enemy- Voldemort. And so begins a very emotional spiritual journey of Harry Potter.
The next book takes us through his journey of realizing many more of his abilities. This time around, we see Harry refusing to identify himself through his powers. He, instead, chooses to remain the pure-hearted person who likes saving people. By the end of the book, Harry chooses the spiritual path of “good.” When in doubt about his reality as a brave, good-hearted man, his “guru” Albus Dumbledore assures him by saying, “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”
When Potter comes face to face with his worst fears in the Prisoner of Azkaban, he has no choice but to find the tiniest ray of hope to stay alive. For him, this hope comes from his friends. Harry’s spiritual journey is suddenly surrounded by darkness, literally in the form of dementors. Here, he learns the biggest lesson of his life, something that will be useful throughout his journey- happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light. He learns the value of hope, positivity, and love. But the darkness was only beginning. Too many problems in your life too? Ask Our Expert Astrologer for solutions.
The next year, Harry meets his resurrected nemesis- Voldemort. He witnesses the death of a friend and the rise of an enemy at the same time. He learns that courage and kindness go hand-in-hand. Harry’s journey moving forward was not easy at all. A new enemy called Dolores Umbridge enters his life, who inflicts physical injuries on Harry. However, Harry is busy dealing with his internal problems. The physical body bears no importance to him, and he sets out on a journey to save his soul. Since he possesses a part of his greatest enemy’s soul, Harry is forced to look at the darkness within. And when the evil takes control, we see him fighting back for the purity of his soul. It’s a classic spiritual move- accepting the evil within and fighting for purity, positivity, and goodness of the soul.
The final stages of his journey lead him on the path to killing Voldemort. While Dumbledore (now dead) wasn’t the flawlessly divine-human everyone imagined him to be, Harry still takes a leap of faith and moves ahead with Dumbledore’s plan (destroying Horcruxes). All this even though everything around him leads him on a different path (finding the deathly hallows). Eventually, it pays off. One by one, he destroys the fragments of Voldemort’s soul in a series of experiences that teach him the meaning of life. He grows from being someone who had no identity to becoming the saviour of the wizarding world. He becomes a selfless individual who sacrifices himself for the world. In doing so, he meets with a metaphorical death where only the Voldemort part of his soul dies, leaving behind the pure, loving, caring, compassionate, humble bit of Harry’s soul. The greatest spiritual awakening anyone can ever have! He sees the light in death, accepts it, and becomes an enlightened soul. He gives more importance to his soul and not his physical body. He knew that once the vessel containing Voldemort died, the end of the Dark Lord was inevitable. And when he does that, he preserves the best bits of his soul from eternal death.
Religious Metaphors and Biblical Parallels in Harry Potter
The religious aspect of Harry’s spiritual journey is something no one can ignore. Every hero is incomplete without his teacher. Just like in Mahabharata, where Krishna was the divine teacher of Arjuna, we have Dumbledore filling in Krishna’s shoes for Harry Potter. Moreover, every spiritual hero needs to go through a series of struggles to gain enlightenment. Harry, just like Buddha, had to face many struggles before he could finally reach his spiritual destination- saving the world.
Another powerful metaphor is when Fawkes, the phoenix battles the basilisk released by the heir of Slytherin (Tom Riddle/ Voldemort). This is quite similar to Garuda battling an army of snakes launched by Ravana’s son, Indrajit.
We also see many Biblical references in the series. The most significant Biblical parallel is Harry himself. Harry is the saviour of the wizarding world, just like Christ was the saviour of humanity. In his journey to save the wizarding world from the “satanic” Voldemort, the God-like Albus Dumbledore becomes his guide. This journey leads him to sacrifice himself, similar to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
And the subsequent resurrection, too, was biblical. Both conveyed the same message- Good will always triumph evil, and nothing can destroy a pure (divine) soul.
In his spiritual journey, Harry faces doubts, uncertainty, loss of faith, and disillusionment. But nothing stops him from doing whatever he can to save his people. The fact that he did not know that he would eventually come out alive made the sacrifice even more meaningful.
Good Vs. Evil
Harry Potter’s journey was full of events wherein good eventually won over the evil. Saving the philosopher’s stone, killing the basilisk, saving Sirius Black, killing Voldemort, everything was laced with the age-old good versus evil theme.
Also, time and again, we see Harry realizing that a person can be both good and bad. His godfather, Sirius Black, remarks, “The world isn’t divided into good people and death eaters.” This one quote makes so much sense since Harry was also struggling with the evil within. The path we choose to act on is always the most important thing- nothing else. Accepting our dark parts will only lead us to light. Admitting that Voldemort is a part of him only made Harry crave more positivity in life.
The Old-School Magic of Love
The first book itself establishes that love is so powerful that it can even prevent death. Lily’s sacrifice to keep her son alive protected Harry from Voldemort’s death spell. Because love is so powerful, we find Voldemort unable to take control of Harry’s mind and body. Harry’s love for his friends, for his godfather, for everyone around him makes him so powerful and so pure that someone as dark as Voldemort could never touch him.
The thing that distinguishes both Harry and Voldemort is love. They both grew up without love. They both knew nothing about care and compassion. Voldemort chose hostility, and Harry decided to love even more deeply. That’s one of the reasons why Harry sacrificed himself readily. Every individual’s spiritual journey is incomplete without the realization of love. Love is selfless and the purest form of emotion anyone can ever have. Harry’s endless supply of love makes him a hero in all senses. His capability to feel sorry even for Voldemort says a lot about him. And every spiritual guru will always ask you to love people and to forgive even your enemies. A person who is capable of doing that is the one who is capable of being the enlightened one.
With Ganesha’s Grace,
The GaneshaSpeaks Team
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