The essential meaning of ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Poster for 'The Two TowersI would like to make clear at once  what the fundamentally important thing for me is,  in everything Tolkien has written, what is truly irreplaceable and makes it uniquely valuable for me: it is the meaning behind it all, which is the meaning he gave to his entire Mythology.
The characters and the various circumstances that each of them goes through in a certain period of the overall Story (whether ‘The Silmarillion’, ‘ The Hobbit’, or ‘The Lord of the Rings’) are important only to the extent that the personality, behaviur and response of those characters to those circumstances will show an inner progress on their part or not, and so, a victory or a defeat for… actually what, or who?
What are ‘the forces of the West’, if not simply those peoples and species that are still aware of the existence of Eru and the Valar, and still willing to follow their inner guidance? Those who again and again, through the often difficult choices they find the inner strength to make, show themselves to be worthy of having the Victory for they are really at the service of Eru’s overall vision?…

So, do I care when in the film-adaptation some different episode is added  or an episode from the book is slightly changed?… I know that for myself at least (and I imagine it might be more or less the same for a number of Tolkien lovers), it is only when a change introduced in another version of let’s say LOTR affects deeply the meaning of a certain character, and all the more if that affects also the meaning of the whole story, that I am shocked and cannot accept the change, or accept it only with unease.
To appreciate the inner progresses towards each other of let’s say Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf, one has to know that Elves and Dwarves have long been deadly enemies, and can’t stand each other. Then any episode showing them gradually becoming friends will do. Then can we also appreciate and enjoy fully, for example, the fact that Gimli falls head over heels in love with Galadriel, and that to him who humbles himself out of true love she will give the few strands of her beautiful hair that she had refused even to Fëanor the too arrogant Silmaril-Maker.
Tolkien’s characters all exemplify how one can remain an essentially good person (whether Hobbit, Elf, Maia, Dwarf, Man or Vala) playing faithfully one’s part in Eru’s long-played-out Story for Arda (and Ëa), or fall into the dangerous illusion that one’s own plans and will can be better, and follow those instead, bringing upon oneself inevitable disaster.
Eru’s Vision works for more and more mutual understanding and appreciation between the various species that people Arda. Friendship and Love are what unites more and more, in spite of their utter diversity and initial discords, all those who decide to stand against the brutal domination trying to enslave the whole of Middle-earth, whether at the time of Morgoth or later with Sauron and the traitor Saruman.
What is remarkable in Tolkien’s description of all this, is precisely that even those great beings, Maiar or Valar, may make the wrong choice if they allow pride and arrogance and personal ambition to grow in themselves and devour them; it is only because they refuse consistently to foster the same tendancies in themselves, that Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn and all the main other heroes, big or small, don’t suffer the same tragic fate as those who allow themselves to rot inwardly. Théoden could easily have turned into another Denethor, but the utterly important fact is that precisely he doesn’t, and that makes all the difference.
So what matters really throughout the Story, is not so much the precise incidents and outer ‘facts’ that happen or do not happen, or happen in a modified manner than ‘in the books’, but whether or not every time like in the books the inner being of those involved manages or no to remain true to the native nobility that is there in all beings because they all have Eru as their ultimate origin.
The difficulties they encounter shouln’t be seen as harsh tests imposed by an autocratic and cruel Eru, but simply on the contrary as the very circumstances that will most help each being to grow into the plenitude of his or her potential. It is a growth process, the divine nature secretly present like a seed at the beginning, asserting itself more and more in spite of everything, until it is revealed in its full bloom, a powerful and loving expression of one aspect of Eru.
So as long as this overall meaning of it all is more or less also the overall meaning of another version, I don’t really mind the changes in the circumstances and the incidents along the way, if they serve the same purpose and bring about the same progresses in the concerned characters.
But then something that is quite important and must absolutely remain, as part of Tolkien’s tale of progressive harmony between all beings, is the great diversity of human-like species he has peopled Middle-earth with, the sheer number of which is truly amazing and always entirely believable, because he is himself so much in love with each and all of them.
This is why, it seems to me, one cannot at all reduce the story of LOTR to that of Frodo and Sam, or to just a few main characters instead of the nearly twenty that we see grow and bloom or on the contrary turn stale and whither away. If the story is to illustrate the progressive harmonization of all those beings, it has absolutely to deal with a vast richness of different components, each keeping its own uniqueness but becoming more and more able to love others as well, and collaborate with them for the common good. Reductionism will not do, if the full Meaning of the Story is to remain in whatever other version than the original one written by Tolkien, from which we can learn so much for the meaning of our own life…

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol Leigh Rice, M.A.
    May 07, 2011 @ 02:23:55

    Beautifully said! I too love LOTR though you know its details far better than I remember. I really like that – the idea that each character grows, but yet must know to stay within his or her “realm of the possibles” within the Myth – the larger story of which he or she is a part. What an important insight, and one Shakespeare alluded to so often, now that I think of it, and the Greek Fates – that a man/woman must know their “moira” as part of the story and not exceed – through Ego – the natural boundaries set by one’s moira – “one’s role in the story”! We seldom think within those terms in modern life, but I think it can be so liberating when we do.

    And still to live, to the utmost, within the (present) parameters the Creator has given, to still “dream the impossible dream, to strive when your arms are too weary!”

    I love too your point about plot development weaving around the movement of each character toward another in some way which we sense is toward “the Higher”…to see them building those little (and sometimes big) bridges…

    …Yet without obliterating precious distinctions, small provisional “walls” to allow separate identities to take root and flower….

    A really wonderful way to illuminate how mythology works, why it is more than a mere “story”….A great read!

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  4. Bhaga
    May 08, 2011 @ 08:43:41

    Hello, dear Carol!
    Thank you so much for again spending time here, writing so positively about this post of mine. I couldn’t answer you before, though:
    After two days of perplexity, not understanding why those comments of yours were not appearing at all on my blog although I had of course approved of them (!), I finally discovered I needed to click on the ‘3 comments’ at the left of my Tolkien post’s title!…
    All right, learning, learning…
    I am glad you like what I said about JRRT’s overall inspiration. More to come about that in the future, also about the Greek Fates you mention. Right now, I’m still struggling with the intricacies of building a well-presented blog, so most of my time still goes into that; I am surprised to find, for example, that some ‘automatically generated’ pieces of writing have added themselves to my posts, I have no idea how or why!… Does that happen sometimes on your blog too?!

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  5. Carol Leigh Rice, M.A.
    May 08, 2011 @ 17:26:45

    Yes, I get that too, (the automatically generated links!) as part of the WordPress linking of all its millions of blogs in a very loose community…they are often not links I would ever choose but there it is…

    It is so much trial and error, and often – for a complex mind – the answers are so simple one would never have dreamed of them! I find WordPress much, much better than (Google) Blogger but still there are things WordPress could do to make things easier!

    You are doing extremely well, and you are such a gifted writer it is wonderful to see you creating a personal blog which is also one of shared philosophy. I love your thoughts too behind the choosing of this template, and congratulations on the header – it’s perfect!!

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    • Bhaga
      May 09, 2011 @ 05:20:57

      Discovered just now this further ‘comment’ on your part. Thank you, your encouraging words do help me!
      Also, I am really thanking the Divine for being led first of all to your own blog; it is such a blessing for me to find at last an interlocutor who is truly on the same ‘wavelength’ as I am, not only for the choice of topics, but also for the ‘shared philosophy’ expressed in the posts… Even with other Aurovilians, it would not be advisable to talk about all this which seems to you and me so natural to talk about; and even on the great ‘The One Ring.net’ site, my top favorite Tolkien site, people are able and willing to go only go that far into the deep implications of what the dear Professor actually writes about, I couldn’t really talk freely on that site either.
      So, thank you for just existing, Carol, and for welcoming this kind of ‘shared research work’!…

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  6. Carol Leigh Rice, M.A.
    May 09, 2011 @ 06:38:52

    I know exactly what you mean…how lonely it must seem to be surrounded by people you expect to speak that same spiritual language, and yet they don’t and you have to contain it and keep much to yourself…

    It seems so very hard to find someone who understands that all of this is real, down to every breath each cell breathes, and that these energies are animated by Mind and Love, and that the Myths are really copies of even vaster “Myths” the Creator is unfurling – that we are so passionately part of.

    We seem to both know about the higher levels of spiritual practice, even though we have not managed to DO those practices yet – or consistently -though we have glimpses – you, I think more than I..

    But we also still have our own clingings to what is “ours” here on Earth (Libya, the deserts, the palms, our camels!), still the passion to live yet unlived stories before it is time to become ethereal and leave a planet in which the very soil and rocks, if we listen to “aboriginal peoples” are alive with spirituality. No wonder we don’t want to leave, and we are so willing to come back…

    But you know, with these considerations among others, I have concluded that it is okay to take our time. Where I differ from so many waves of thought in our time is that I don’t have a sense that we collectively must “hurry up” with our evolution. “Time” only exists here and is just a framework given us by the Creator who exists beyond Time…so why would the Creator get inside Time, and be looking at His wrist-watch and thinking “Rats! Another Pleistocene Age gone by and they are still lagging behind Schedule!”

    If souls (either newly created or hitherto in other realms choose to come here as a “first” for them, and begin the journey as human beings – which I gather they do, what would be the point of having their evolution hastened?

    I am open to thinking about this, however. I know the urge is universal – this tremendous desire to boost humanity with a kind of Gene-Changing, Consciousness-Shifting spiritual, medical or even political technology… It goes back as far as hundreds of thousands of years ago in Sumer and the tales which Sitchin has decoded tell us of hominid genes crossed-matched with those of the “Gods”…

    And of course, we have vague memories and channelled information that on Atlantis there was great medical and psychic/spiritual effort put into transformations of the genetic bases, not entirely successful.

    Christianity has been very focussed on a Second Coming and sudden ending – so not really evolution at all….It seems almost to be a “gotcha” mentality where God catches a good part of humanity napping and gets a perverted pleasure out of using that stop-watch.

    Many of the Revolutions, like the French, were fuelled by occult knowledge which was moved by the passion to lift humanity with one massive infusion of new thought and social organization. Marx was driven by the desire to end history and bring the dialectical materialist transformation of humanity to a triumphant close…Mao, Lenin, all bitten with this bug.

    I do find the story of humanity fascinating from the political science perspective – note that Hannah Arendt, my mentor in political science and philosophy, was a German Jewess but came to America from France during WW II…and then I see Mother, with her Jewish parents, also came from France (to India) and became your soul-mentor!? Fascinating parallel…Mother even looks like Hannah Arendt to me…

    Anyway, I understand…and I am so happy to meet you too! And this blog will be surprising to you I think, as mine has been to me…

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    • Bhaga
      May 10, 2011 @ 12:27:08

      Quite a few points of yours I have myself to comment on…
      I’ll do it from bottom to top, if you don’t mind; and so I’ll start with Mother: her family was Jewish indeed, but her parents were not practicing (totally materialists actually); her mother was from Egypt while her father came from Turkey; Mother’s elder brother was born in Italy, but Mother herself wanted to be born in France, so she waited until the following year when the family moved to Paris…!
      The political science perspective, from the impact it seems to have had on you, found some interesting conclusions to the studies it made? I’d be grateful if you would elaborate a little?Do you have something posted about that on your blog?
      As for Christianity and the ‘gotcha’ mentality it has attributed to its God, it has influenced a lot our Western collective mind; but perhaps by now people are really fed up with that concept and are shifting to a deeper, vaster and truer perception of That Overall Reality we are all part of?
      Late last night, prompted by this particular comment of yours, plus something else about ‘playing’ that you wrote in another recent comment, I put up a post about ‘The Laughing God’, described mostly through quotes from Sri Aurobindo, but who is definitely to me too an essential part of the divine nature which is there also in us: to emphasize the major importance I see in this capacity to laugh, I put the whole thing under a new category: ‘The Way of FUN’!…
      Coming to the genes now: the real transformation of our present bodies into a better expression of their divine potential will happen mostly from within, the genetic manipulations are not what will really do the job. If course I’ll have more posts about that, now that I have started writing on this topic of Cellular Consciousness – by the way, I remember seeing some mentions of the cells in a few of our posts as well, on your own so rich blog, ‘Silk Road Visions’, so I immediately thought there might be a shared interest there too?

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  7. Carol Leigh Rice, M.A.
    May 10, 2011 @ 18:21:25

    I loved your post with Sri Aurobindo’s quotes!

    As to the political science connection – I think there are 2 things for me – one is the sheer fascination with the very Capricornian concepts of “laws and matter” – the frameworks of kingship, archetypes and Law in the life of groups and nations…Which leads to the occult “secret societies” through the ages often behind the political revolutions with their blueprints for human transformation en masse…Having studied these revolutions, I am concerned they are misguided and driven by intense spiritual guilt about the human condition – and I am not sure why except that “the Gods” may have interfered with our evolution before, and be concerned that they must try to balance this…I sense this is part of the answer…

    So my political science studies have dovetailed with my more psychic research one might say, and a great interest in why there is such a focus on “revolutions and evolution” – among both secular humanists and spiritual communities. The call to evolve – quickly, and en masse – seems fraught with an urgency and promotion of haste that overlooks the beautiful and the given, the private freedom to evolve within a larger Timetable which is actually Eternal…

    Western or westernized spiritual communities – whether Christian or New Age – often seem (to me) excessively focused on hurrying things up (either “End Times” for Christians or for the New Age, a belief/hope in a massive and relatively sudden Transformation that will also, “end our times” and usher in a New Age. Thus I wonder if the West has actually ever emerged at all from Judae-Christian theology of History as a linear process with a Beginning, Middle and Ending (Marx had the same focus?) Jewish, Christian, New Age and Marxist doctrines all promise – and promote active efforts to hasten – a dramatic ending to life as we know it now.

    Yes, I realize Mother came from a most unique background….I thought it was so neat that she immediately reminded me of Hannah Arendt – the expression in her eyes in some photos, the shape and lines of her face and expression on her face…there is an unmistakeable kinship there I think. I don’t doubt the Jewish gifts of the spirit and mind are part of their kinship, but I am sure they are Great Spirits who share much larger horizons than their Jewish origins.

    Oh yes, I do share the beliefs about the cells – and I realize you are not talking about physical genetic manipulation in the old Atlantean or other ways…I do agree that cells are seats of consciousness and share the Blueprint. I do, however, think that Mind is the real carrier of the Blueprint and can be accessed even more directly than the physical cells which I see as the extension, in Matter, of Mind..

    But it is exciting to realize we can literally talk to and listen to our cells “speak” – because this conversation is ongoing and it is, I agree, at this level that we ultimately experience transformation while here in the body.

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    • Bhaga
      May 11, 2011 @ 02:37:26

      Again I made the same mistake of clicking on the ‘Reply’ button to my post instead of on the Reply button for yours!… *Mumble, mumble…* Please excuse me (next time I’ll be more careful and do it more consciously) and do look down to the next reply post, which is actually for you.

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  8. Bhaga
    May 11, 2011 @ 02:30:19

    Dear Carol,

    don’t you feel something is wrong here?! My previous comment and now yours are the 8th & 9th comments in this same Tolkien post, although they actually are not about Tolkien anymore, but about the topics touched in other posts of mine here… which then have no comment at all visibly attached to them!
    How could we stop this and put those comments were they really belong?… Any idea how we could do that technically?
    Perhaps by copying now your comments under those other posts, and then I would also copy my answering comments to yours?… In Aragorn’s parlance, ‘What say you?…’

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  9. Carol Leigh Rice, M.A.
    May 11, 2011 @ 03:22:40

    Oh, I agree, it groweth long….and as you say, we have wandered somewhat off the Lord of the Rings/Tolkien topic, although we were talking about how people tend not to take these ideas beyond “the story” in Tolkien (and other tales) – towards the more general force and validity of archetypes. This led me to comment that although I see us in a developmental mode, via archetypes and other vessels of evolution, I didn’t quite agree with those who feel we must work hard to accelerate this process of evolution…

    So that is how we got here (I think!) but yes, you could create a new post and put these comments into it as a Bhaga: Coyp of Comment/ then Carol: Copy of Comment – in sort of conversation mode? You have the ability in WordPress to “edit” anyone’s comment so you can actually enter into my comments as well as yours and copy/paste them into the body of a brand new post and call the post something like “a conversation between friends about evolution? (You know what I mean, any title along those lines!)

    On the other hand, subjects often do wander, and you could leave all this here, and write your next reply to me as a Post, not as a Reply here? Then I could comment on your Post – not that I plan to monopolize your blog dear Bhaga!

    I sometimes wonder re Comments generally – on my own blog – if I need to reply, or should reply to every comment on my posts. It seems courteous to do so, but on the other hand, would the person prefer to just have their comment stand? And would a third party like to jump in, and reply to anyone?

    So you can make a new post or create one out of these comments, or just take a break from the “heat and dust” of Southern India in the shade somewhere! We can always resume conversation later on a new post on evolutionary conscious transformation? Whatever you decide will be fine with me..and if I don’t rush over to comment it will only be because of trying to leave room for others! (and I am required by worldly constraints to actually work a good part of the day for a living when I’d rather be blogging!) You have such an interesting blog started here….

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  10. Bhaga
    May 11, 2011 @ 16:07:40

    To Carol:
    Thank you for all your suggestions, which helped me figure out what I really wanted… which was simply to make the relevant part of our conversation available also under my existing post on the same topic of the cells, where it would constitute actually the first comment(s).
    So it is what I finally just did, and I invite you now, dear Carol, if you like, to look at the 2 new comments which have appeared for my ‘DNA’ post… And I’ll be most happy if you don’t mind resuming our conversation there, and also perhaps at ‘The Laughing God’, as you appreciated that one too, but didn’t leave any comment at all on it directly under it, that I could have happily replied to, even if it was very short…
    I am extremely grateful to you for being my first and until now only interlocutor, all the more appreciated because the quality of our exchanges is so special too; but yesterday at last I sent a little announcement by email to a few friends, they might have a look these days at this new blog, so I guess I am feeling the need ‘to tidy the place up’ (!), so to say: to keep everything as much as possible in the appropriate place – and also to show that Tolkien was not really the (almost) only topic that elicited comments from you!… which was the impression people would have had until now, unless, even if they were not interested in Tolkien, they would have taken the trouble to look into those 12 long comments we wrote to each other, and would have discovered that it was actually not just about Tolkien that we had been speaking, but about some other posts too, although not always visibly so.
    Voilà! Now that this blog of mine is more or less ‘presentable’ visually as well as for its contents (thanks to your constant and patient help, dear Carol, I’m so grateful for that too), I’ll be soon able to go visit your own blog again, and resume our conversation there also… Now I’m lagging behind on what YOU have been posting! I remember receiving an email a few days back about ‘Gods and Goddesses’ or something like that, I haven’t really read it yet, but I’m quite curious about it…

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