What we can learn from Harry Potter and how it reflects real life

A few weeks ago, I started feeling compelled to watch the entire Harry Potter movie series. I had watched all eight of the movies twice before, and had read all of the books a few times, but it had been several years since I had undertaken such a movie marathon.

Each day, I kept thinking about watching the movies, but I didn't have the DVD collection and didn't feel like renting it either, so I put the thought by the wayside. It also seemed a bit frivolous given that I had just left my job and was working on building this social enterprise to help people know their soul's purpose and have the tools to express it with confidence.

The thought became more and more persistent until finally, when I was visiting my brother, I remembered that he had the series. The only problem was, it was on Blu-ray and I didn't have a Blu-ray player (or a TV at home). My brother was nice enough to lend the series and the actual player to me, and I giddily took it home to start my marathon, connecting it to my computer monitor for the full effect.

Watching Harry Potter, this time with the past several years of my spiritual journey under my belt, and with what I was doing now to empower others spiritually, seemed like a rite of passage again. It brought home a few things that I believe are really important for us to remember in this day and age, which I highlight below.

Just a few days into my movie marathon, all the attacks in Paris, Beirut and around the world happened. I had stopped watching the news a long time ago because the media can be an endless cycle of negativity and I prefer to channel my time and energies into the positive, but even without constant media coverage, I could feel the whole world gripped by such a heavy heart. Now, I hear about all the discrimination and feelings of separation that people have in response to this, and I can't help but see how as human beings, we all hold the capacity to love, fear, and hate, especially for people who have hurt us. I know that out of dark times, people's hearts open up and forge bonds that only happen under pressure, so I offer a few things to keep in mind that the Harry Potter series teaches us. 

First, that love is all powerful. It was found in Harry's parents who sacrificed themselves to protect him, making him the Boy Who Lived. It was found in Harry's friends, Hogwarts, and Professor Dumbledore who time and time again, put their own lives at risk to help Harry fight for a greater good. In the end, it was this love that consistently let him win against Voldemort, despite all perceived "odds". Even Voldemort knew this, but didn't know the extent to which love could trump power and hatred. There was one point in Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix when Voldemort possesses Harry's mind. Just like how the Patronus charm requires focusing on all your happy and most positive memories, Harry is ultimately able to fight off Voldemort because he doesn't fear him, and instead feels sorry that Voldemort has never truly experienced love and friendship. This consistent theme of love -- from both the living and those who have passed on who still live in our hearts -- is one to remember, always.

Second, the concept of Mudbloods and purebloods are reminiscent of the same divisive questions that are being asked today that have instigated so many battles. I'm sure JK Rowling based this off of real life, and the reason why watching the series again hit home even more, because our society now is no different. Voldemort's hatred of Muggles and Mudbloods stemmed from his own childhood (how he and his mother were mistreated) as well as his beliefs of what was "right" that were hidden under the guise of revenge and purification. It's amazing how people's beliefs, misguided as they can be, are the sole drivers of all the problems in today's society. A belief doesn't have to be religious in nature -- instead it is just an attachment to an idea or a framework. It is this attachment, that one belief is more right than another, which people use to justify harming another soul, that causes disconnection and separation from love. Take a look at your own beliefs and see if they are truly serving you and humanity. Does it look like love, or does it look like fear against the unknown or those who are perceived as "different" from you? 

Third, that sometimes, our mercy and forgiveness for those who have done us wrong (another way to express unconditional love), is for our highest good and for all those connected to us. One scene that demonstrates this is in the last movie when Harry and his friends save Draco from a fiery death in the Room of Requirement. He didn't have to do this, but it ultimately helped Harry in the end when Draco's mother lies about his death to Voldemort. Professor Snape, his love for Harry's mother, and his bravery throughout the entire series, is another example of how we just never know what is truly driving people, and how it always stems back to love or a desire to be loved. It is also our choices, to act out of love instead of fear or hate, that make us who we are.

There was so much more in the book series, and I'm looking forward to re-reading them again. With all the analogies that can be pulled from the series to real life, I've already gotten some comfort from remembering that even in dark times, it is love that must be nurtured, and that we have help in forms we cannot see. 

I hope this reminds you that we can find comforting lessons and messages everywhere, even in books and movies like Harry Potter. :-) When things are feeling heavy, just focus on what you are grateful for, and the happy or positive memories that you have that you hold dear.

Are there any lessons that you got from the Harry Potter series? I'd love to hear about them! Share them in the comments below.