‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry from 1942 is one of the most spiritual books ever written. It was translated into over 250 languages and was sold in over 200 million copies.
Apparently only ‘The Bible’ was translated into more languages and dialects. It starts with a reminder that we should be like children and never become ‘grown-ups’. ‘Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them’. As the narrator reminds us: ‘All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it’. And we see that children shouldn’t be discouraged from following the arts, for example painting, because it can be useful to them in the future.
Then we learn more about friendship and love. The Little Prince came from a small planet where he lived all alone taking care of his three volcanoes and a rose. She would sometimes make him sad and he would then look at the sunsets until one day he just decided to leave. ‘In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away! I ought to have realized the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.’
The prince visited neighboring planets before he came to Earth where he met the narrator, a pilot whose plane crashed in the desert. The prince told him what he had learned during his travels. He tamed a very wise fox and became friends with him. The fox told him a very simple secret: ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.’ And he explained to him: ‘You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.’ He made him understand why she is different from all the other roses he saw: ‘It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.’
Like all of us, the Little Prince was looking for friends and for love. He found both and because travel broadens the mind, he also gained some knowledge about life and about himself. He later applied this wisdom in his friendship with the narrator, teaching him in turn. As his fox earlier explained to him: ‘if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world’. The same way they now became important to each other and forever bonded.
The message of this book is: ‘The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.’ So we should follow our hearts and see beyond our bodily shells because ‘what is most important is invisible’. And therefore we should come back to our rose…