The Philosophy of The Lion King
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The Lion King is a classic movie, beloved by many. On the surface, this movie seems to be a light-hearted, carefree tale of a lion cub’s journey to justice. However, on taking a deeper look, one finds that the tale consists of conflicting worldviews and philosophies, while presenting the idea of destiny. But which religions and philosophies is it portraying? Let us take a closer look. Some would argue that Christianity is the mainly presented religion in the Lion King. After studying many different religious and worldviews, one can see that there a many different religious overtones. All these religions seem to collide in a sort of New Age impression. It displays the need for tolerance and that what might be true for some is not necessarily true for others.
SO when one is encountering a new religion, the first question is typically “Who is God?” Who is God in the Lion King? At first glance Mufasa, head of the lion pride, seems to be the ultimate symbol of authority and authority. Does this mean he should be considered as the “god” in the story? Certainly not. In one scene, Mufasa and Simba are having a father son conversation, in which Mufasa tells his son about the “Great Kings of the past.” Clearly, Mufasa is neither the first nor necessarily the greatest head of authority. We see, also, the entire animal kingdom strictly following the philosophy of the “circle of life.” Everything is working together to benefit each other. This idea dips into the idea of pantheism: everything is divine in nature.
So is everything God? Again, no. there is a clear hierarchy of the animal kingdom. We see yet another force presented as a higher power. Rafiki is guided by nature (the wind, leaves, etc.)and this seems to be his ruling force. Truthfully, we would probably just classify Rafiki as a hippy and move on. Still, this is a worldview, and must be taken into account. So, really, the “god” in Lion King is whoever that particular character perceives it to be. There is a clear distinction of good and evil in the Lion king, but what about sin and righteousness? Scar, the brother of Mufasa, is the antagonist. He is depicted as the evil force which must be overcome.
On the other hand, Mufasa is the emblem of good and hope, which will eventually become Simba. When Simba flees after being convinced, by Scar, that he is now a murderer, Scar comes to power. We see his evil and destructive ways affecting the lives and condition of the entire animal kingdom. After experiencing a sort of vision of his father, Simba returns to redeem his rightful place as ruler and restore things to moral. This is easily comparable to Christianity, as Father God sent his Son, Jesus, to atone humanity. But there is only apparent moral wrong, rather than transgression against a divine law.
Though corruption and evil is present, there is no blatant example of sin as defined by God. One of the key elements in the Lion King is the idea of afterlife. Near the beginning of the movie Mufasa describes the circle of life by physical means. He informs that though they eat the antelope, when they, the lions, die, their bodies turn to the grass which the antelope, in turn, eat. This shows what happens to the physical body after death, but what about the spirit? Later in the movie, Simba is lead to a clearing in which a Mufasa returns in the form of a storm. The “Mufasa cloud” speaks to Simba. The idea that the soul goes somewhere after death is obvious.
However, the after death location of the soul is never identified, and there is no evidence that tells us if there is a place for virtuous and a place for the wicked. If we consider Mufasa as God, and, consequently, Simba as the Son of God, we are able to see interaction of the divine and the mortal on a personal level. Nala calls on Simba for help, which causes Simba to call on Mufasa for help. However, because there is not just a single defined divine ruler for everyone, we can simply answer that yes, God is depicted a personal. God is, in fact, presented as personal, impersonal, and living throughout everything resulting in the lack of the need of a personal God.
So what is a person’s obligation if God could be all three of the above? At first it seems as though the movie might take a mildly appalling moral turn in Timon and Pumba’s suggestion that a person should live by the motto of “Hakuna Matata,” roughly translated as “no worries.” This would mean that a person should not take into account others, the future, or, really, anything. How could this be right? It cannot be.
That motto is almost reprimanded when we see that Simba does have a purpose to fulfill: to restore the morally corrupt kingdom now overrun with Scars loyal followers, the hyenas. Simba does need to worry about the state of the lions that were left under his responsibility. It the end, we see the absolute need for each character, and ourselves, to meet our obligations. In conclusion, It is evident that religious ideas are a central theme in the Lion King. The concepts offered in this movie will keep people thinking for years to come. Such a movie can teach us valuable lessons, and we can learn even more by studying it. Hopefully timeless classics which challenge us philosophies will continue to be made.