Spiritual Insight from the Story of The Little Prince

If you make a discovery or invent something, is it yours by right?

Certainly the law bequeaths the right to profit from our creative endeavors. Copyright, patents, trade marks, and so on have long been a part of how business is done.

But there’s a deeper issue that isn’t addressed by the legal aspect—a moral side of the question of ownership.

It comes out in the Little Prince’s conversation with the businessman about who owns the stars.

The Little Prince asks the businessman what good it does him to be rich, to which the businessman replies that it lets him buy more stars when someone discovers them.

This prompts the Little Prince to quizz him about how someone can own the stars. As they discuss the matter, the Little Prince concludes that the stars belong to nobody. “Then they belong to me,” says the businessman, “because I thought of it first.”

The businessman goes on to explain that if you find a diamond that doesn’t have an owner, then it’s yours. The same is true of discovering an island.

From this he reasons that if you’re the first person to have an idea, then you patent the idea and it’s yours.

In the case of the stars, no one ever thought of owning them until the businessman thought of it, which makes them his.

Here’s the deeper question: when you have a brilliant idea, make a discovery, or do something creatively original, did you really think of it first?

Well, not exactly. For in reality the whole history of the universe went into the moment such a realization came to you.

I use the word “came” deliberately.

Without the Big Bang, the four basic forces of the universe, the arising of natural laws, the gradual evolution of galaxies, the coalescing of matter into planets, the slow development of life, the emergence and intermixing of gene pools, and all the experiences that led to the life you live and the moment of your discovery, the idea would never have come to you.

The idea that we are “self-made” individuals is simply false. We get to play a part in the creative process, but pretty much everything that goes into a person’s creativity was gifted to them.

Not just our ability to work with our opportunities, but even our desire to do so is hugely dependent on others and the tools and comforts they have provided for us.

For instance, I couldn’t be writing this blog right now had someone not invented writing, had the English language not evolved from so many diverse sources, had someone not built first typewriters and then computers, had electricity not been discovered, had someone not put cables beneath the oceans and across deserts and mountains, had satellites and the rockets to launch them never been thought of, had the internet not arisen, had someone not built the desk I work at and the chair I’m sitting in, had there been no central heating, had someone not grown the food that gives me energy—well, the list is almost endless when you really begin to be aware of what goes into any discovery or creative endeavor.

What emerges for me isn’t the egoic idea of “ownership” that the businessman exudes, but a deep gratitude that I get to enjoy being a part of the whole creative endeavor that is the universe.

We actually never own anything. We will die and our house, land, possessions will pass into the hands of generations to come.

We get the right to use something for the time we are on Earth, that’s all. Then we either use it well, or we abuse the privilege we have been entrusted with by using it selfishly like the businessman.

Yes, we make our living based on ideas, creativity, discoveries. But we don’t have the right to egoically horde, amass, and treat as if we “owned” the things with which we are blessed.

When you really look at it, the idea of ownership is one of the most false of all the beliefs the ego holds.

As the Little Prince will show us tomorrow, what we are privileged to work with isn’t just for our benefit, but for the benefit of others.

Author's Bio: 

David Robert Ord is author of Your Forgotten Self Mirrored in Jesus the Christ and the audio book Lessons in Loving--A Journey into the Heart, both from Namaste Publishing, publishers of Eckhart Tolle and other transformational authors.

If you would like to go deeper into being your true self, powerfully present in the now, we invite you to enjoy the daily blog Consciousness Rising - http://www.namastepublishing.com/blog/author/david-robert-ord.