The Lost Prince is one of my favourite books, telling the story of a boy named Marco and his father who are exiles from their homeland in Samavia (a fictional European country in the 1800s). It is a rather Arthurian story (the once and future king!), and like other books by Burnett, includes elements of Eastern mysticism and philosophy. Here is one quote that takes place during a conversation between Marco and his friend The Rat:

From The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1915)
"'All thinking is part of the Big Thought,' said Marco slowly. "It KNOWS--It KNOWS. And the outside part of us somehow broke the chain that linked us to It. And we are always trying to mend the chain, without knowing it. That is what our thinking is--trying to mend the chain. But we shall find out how to do it sometime."


By our thoughts, whether they be part of our soul, spirit, or nothing more than fleeting ideas arising from our physical form, we are connected to the universe. The force, or the Big Thought spoken of here, that created us all is what we strive to return to. Our thoughts are one with it, but we often do not realize this while we're in a body (as a human being). In mending the chain that links us to the Big Thought (also called the One), we must also break the chains that links us to the material world, so that we are not bound by it and confused by the matter around us, believing it is all that exists. It is about becoming enlightened enough to perceive a higher order of things.
This seems to be a similar theme with other things I've written as of late, but it's not a coincidence! (In a future post I'll write about how the philosophical side of this can be connected to science, in particular, physics.)
Later on, Marco talks about the Law of The One. It is:
"There are a myriad of worlds. There is but One Thought out of which they grew. Its Law is Order which cannot swerve. Its creatures are free to choose. Only they can create Disorder, which in itself is Pain and Woe and Hate and Fear. These they alone can bring forth. The Great One is a Golden Light. It is not remote but near. Hold thyself within its glow and thou wilt behold all things clearly. First, with all thy breathing being, know one thing! That thine own thought--when so thou standest--is one with That which thought the Worlds!"
This is also a very Buddhist/Hindu/Taoist teaching, and the idea of a myriad of worlds is essentially a multiverse of different worlds with different dimensions or laws, all of which arise form the one thought. The One is the force that created all the worlds, all of which are still under its sway. This is also reminiscent of Neoplatonism: all lower planes of existence emerge from the One. We have "Nous" below the One (the Divine Mind), then Soul, and then Body (i.e., the material world). I could go into how the Kabbalah is related to this too, but you can just check out the previous post here.
And the mention of Order is interesting because it is common theme in all these philosophies that the One is a simple undifferentiated being (if it can even be called a "being"), and the worlds that exist below it are more differentiated and thus, can be prone to good or evil, love or hate, etc. It is like a beam of white light being dispersed by a prism: the white light is the One, and the coloured beams arise from it, but are not as pure and simple as the white light, and so can take on different characteristics. Yet still, they are all connected to the One, and it is by remembering this and dwelling in the simplicity of the One that one might mend the chain. We are trying to return to the mode of existence that is above our own, and although we can't do it in this physical form, we still ever strive to do it. Body is ever striving to return to Soul, a simpler and purer plane of existence (if you think of it in terms of dimensions, it is to encompass a higher dimension). And Soul is striving to return to Nous, and Nous to the One. So they are all linked, and so the metaphor of the chain is perfect for representing these different layers of existence and how one might attune oneself to the level of existence above it.
There is also the Law of That Which Creates, which Marco's father told him:
"Let pass through thy mind, my son, only the image thou wouldst desire to see become a truth. Meditate only upon the wish of thy heart--seeing first that it is such as can wrong no man and is not ignoble. Then will it take earthly form and draw near to thee."
This touches upon the power of our thoughts, how what we think draws the object of our thoughts toward us. Of course, it is not as obvious as thinking about getting something and then getting it, but if we attune ourselves to a certain frame of mind, we will more naturally be able to find others who think similarly and be drawn toward those things in the world. If we think badly of someone else, it will only come back to us, for we are also told that "Let him who stretcheth forth his hand to draw the lightning to his brother recall that through his own soul and body will pass the bolt." Thus the common saying that good begets good and evil begets evil.

I wish this book was more well known, because it is an amazing story that should be forever a Classic. And to all those seekers out there, I wish you well in mending the chain...

[Note: the black and white illustrations are from one of the original editions of the book]

1 comments:

I have also read "The Lost Prince" and loved it! The philosophical contents of the book are certainly food for thought and enrich the story. Thanks for your explanations as the concept of Mending the Chain are clearer to me.

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"A Soul Wanderer never knows. He wanders; he makes his own path through the
heights of the universe."

-Sio Larwick


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Mary-Jean's books

The Printer's Devil
The Crystal Cave
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Lost Prince
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Hobbit
Rise of the Darklings
The Fire King
Clockwork Angel
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
The Lost World
Around the World in Eighty Days
The Sum of All Men
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Wizardborn
The Lair of Bones
Sons of the Oak
Worldbinder
The Wyrmling Horde


Mary-Jean Harris's favorite books »

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