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Spirituality

Searching, Obstacles, and the Princess Bride

Jennifer Campbell | Jun 23, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Jennifer Campbell | Jun 23, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Sow a seed and the earth will yield you a flower. Dream a dream to the sky and it will bring you your beloved. – Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam, p. 27.

Any fans of The Princess Bride out there?

Whether you read the novel by William Goldman, or saw the movie starring Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, or you’re a fan of both (like me)–then you know it’s a story about finding true love. For those of you who’ve never watched the movie or read the book, The Princess Bride also tells a universal tale about love conquering obstacles.

One of the main characters in the book/movie (Westley) finds his true love (Buttercup) after years of search, which entails obstacles such as him taking on a new identity, acquiring new skills (like sword fighting), fending off outlaws and rivals (as well as ROUS’s, or rodents of unusual size), and torture, just to name a few. Despite the Herculean tests and difficulties he faces, (spoiler alert!) and separation from Buttercup due to others’ jealousy and greed, as well as other formidable foes, he ultimately reunites with his beloved. (Sorry to telegraph the ending, but you’ll watch the movie again and again, believe me. And, if you’re like me, you just might buy the book, too.)

Princess Bride PosterIn much the same way, just like in all the ancient myths The Princess Bride bases its quest on, humanity searches for the truth in the universe. We search for our Beloved–or as some call Him, God. Our search for God, whether you call him Lord, Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, or Creator; or whether you’re still searching for the existence of a God, can be likened to an adventure or journey, much like the adventure that lies at the heart of The Princess Bride.

How could The Princess Bride and our search for God have anything in common, you ask?

Our search for our Beloved can also involve obstacles and challenges; it can require us to take on a new identity as we learn, acquire new skills, and adapt to those obstacles. As we feel ourselves growing nearer to our Beloved, our beliefs and behaviors may change, giving us a deeper understanding of our universe. We may go through periods where we feel separated from God, while at other times we feel closer.

Although we may not fight off outlaws or ROUS’s per se, we may fight off parts of our selves as we face doubts, confusion, feelings of loneliness, and insecurities on our path toward finding certitude or enlightenment. Perhaps we won’t literally be tortured (like Westley), but our souls may feel sorrowful and tortured as we search for our purpose in the universe and try to uncover the ultimate meaning of life. Our spirits, longing for something deeper and greater than this physical, material life, will take us on a search for meaning that leads us out of our comfort zone and into the unknown.

In the mystical book The Seven Valleys, Baha’u’llah describes this search to find God in beautiful, mystical prose:

The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. – The Seven Valleys, p. 10.

Later in The Seven Valleys, Baha’u’llah conveys the metaphorical story of a lover who searches for his beloved, and experiences great difficulties in his search for her. While watchmen chase him through the city, in his panic he scales a wall, serendipitously finding his loved one on the other side of the wall. He then feels gratitude toward his pursuers because they ultimately led him to his beloved. These obstacles had:

…led him who was athirst in love’s desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. – The Seven Valleys, p. 23.

These spiritual difficulties and tests we experience, Baha’u’llah seems to say, may lead us toward the answers we seek. Perhaps these difficulties we face on our truth-seeking journey will help us reunite with our Beloved.

Whether you pursue your search through prayer or meditation; whether you read Holy writings or seek the counsel of your minister or pastor; whether you see the advice of a Buddhist monk or talk to your Rabbi; enjoy your search and be patient through the obstacles. Best wishes on your journey, and may you find your Beloved.

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Comments

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  • Jun 25, 2014
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    A wonderful, spiritual movie about the triumph of meaning and purpose and love over greed and selfishness.
  • As your mom, I remember how you always loved the PRINCESS BRIDE story/movie! As a Baha'i, I relate to you as a mom, friend and Baha'i. The search for Truth and Justice and finding God and oneself and to love His Creation and to see the unity in all people is truly our purpose. Meditation and soul-searching while accepting our tests/trials and being forgiving towards others and ourselves so we can progress and not continue down the path away from LOVE/God is why we were created, in my belief based on the Holy Writings. We are ...to know God and serve Him. Searching is the first of the journeys. The first and second "valley" are search then love. There are 7 valleys of the soul and then 4 Valleys of the heart. The book, THE SEVEN VALLEYS AND THE FOUR VALLEYS, by Bahaullah, is by far my favorite book. Very nicely, written, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your thoughts/views in such a beautiful way! Love, Mom
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  • Jun 24, 2014
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    Oh Jennifer Campbell, You wrote this for me!! All that you said hit me exactly where I am. I have searched for God all my life and found Him through the Baha'i Faith 41 years ago. However, I didn't find My "self". A number of reasons for this mostly due to being the adopted child of alcoholics and being a food addict...! As you portrayed though, you have to find your"self" in God. So important! Thank you so much and consider me a follower here of your work.
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