The Mysticism of “I See the Light” in Disney’s Tangled

This song is almost like a “First Vision” in itself, full of mystical allusions and symbols, suddenly realizing the Light, the Love, the One.

I’m on a Disney kick, what can I say.

One of my favorite Disney songs in recent years has been the theme song from the animated 2010 film Tangled, “I See the Light.” The story is based on the fairy tale Rapunzel, and the song is written by composer Alan Irwin Menken and lyricist Glenn Evan Slater.

This is a beautiful (Beauty-full) song that highlights many features of the mystical experience/communion, even though it seems on the surface to be merely a love song between two characters. Actually, it is a Love song, since Love is a major aspect of mystical experience.

The song takes place as Rapunzel and Flynn have completed their arduous journey from her bondage in the tower, a false home, and a false sense of self identity, to Corona (meaning crown, a luminous circle, and, of course in this pandemic, the coronavirus for the virus’s crown-like appearance 👑), the kingdom where she was born, her true home.

It is thus a homecoming, being liberated from a prison under the wicked and unjust rule of her fake authoritarian “mother” Gothel, her fake “love,” and returning to her birth home and true family, her true nature, a parable of return of the “lost” child. Indeed, she has had sown in her a drop of sunlight, and so she is herself a part of the Sun, but she doesn’t know it. The sovereign’s Light is within her. ☀️ (She realizes her true Sun-like and Sovereign nature later in the film, that she is the lost Princess.)

Sky lanterns are released by her parents, the King and Queen, as part of an annual festival trying to signal to Rapunzel how to return home to the kingdom, the kingdom of her original nature, and her sovereign true Self. It is all mystically fitting that she sees the Light as she returns Home, simultaneously returning to Love. The lyrics reflect all of these symbols.

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been

Rapunzel had watched the lantern Lights from bondage, from her window in the tower, wondering their source, seeing through a glass darkly. She could see the Lights, but did not know where they were coming from and what these Lights were. She experienced a deep urge, an inner call, to leave her bondage, leave the tower, leave what she knew, and adventure out into the “dangerous” unknown world, even into the darkness, and find where the Lights were coming from and their true nature, classic symbols of the Hero’s Journey. She had been stuck in an unknowing and perhaps didn’t know it, in a blind state, and she wanted to know, to really know, she wanted to see the Light for herself.

Now I’m here blinking in the starlight
Now I’m here suddenly I see
Standing here it’s all so clear
I’m where I’m meant to be

Now, in the middle of the Lights all around, she could see, she knew, she perhaps was beginning to remember the meaning of the Lights, their Source. It came suddenly back to her. She was in the Light, in the Love, in Home. The Light was in her. She saw the Light for her Self. This is also a signature feature of mystical experience, a sudden recollection, a greater view, a deeper understanding, intuitively comprehending, instantly being able to see what one could never see before, a cosmic homecoming to the Truth.

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It is an epiphany, a theophany, a Selfphany, an angelophany, a Christophany. You realize your Self so clearly, that You are in the very place you are meant to be. You blink in that Star Light, that Sun’s Light, awe-struck, dumbfounded, shocked to the core, impossible to believe, ineffable. The classic “seeing the Light” is not mere metaphor anymore. You are seeing it your Self, and you are It. In that Light you realize you are One in Love, which is also God. “I am” where I’m meant to be.

And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new

The veil is pierced, it is torn from top to bottom, it falls away, the dark cloud has lifted, and you see the Light through it. You understand so clearly. Everything is as fresh and new as the first morning in Eden, bright, young, sparkling, rejuvenated, energized, beautiful, Beauty-full, a Paradise beyond all beliefs. It is like seeing everything for the first time, a first sight.

And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

That Light is the most Real and the most Bright Illumination of consciousness ever seen, that ever possibly could be seen, the very Source of all illumination itself. The entire world has been transfigured in that state of consciousness. Everything has shifted. Everything is seen differently, through a different lens. It’s the overview effect, seeing the Whole. Suddenly. Now you see the Other, you see Love, you see the One, and you are not separate from it. You are the Light you see. It is recognized as One Great Whole.

Flynn sings:

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were

Flynn is also on an adventure of discovery, of finding his Self, having been a thief and bandit. He was lost, not knowing who he was or what he was doing in life. He thought chasing after treasure was his calling, to make him rich, so he could do “anything,” but he realized that was not true, real, or authentic. He couldn’t see the true nature of life. He was also blind. He was living under a veil, not truly seeing Life, the true nature of Reality, or Reality as it really is, the Real. He thought he was really living, but he had been dead all along.

Now she’s here shining in the starlight
Now she’s here suddenly I know
If she’s here it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go

When he falls into Love, he too is struck by his former blindness, not knowing the true nature of Life. But now he sees the Light in Love. Suddenly it is all crystal clear. He understands. He sees his former folly. He has a clarity of mind and insight. As long as he is with Love, he is where he’s meant to go. Love is what was calling all along. Love was what he was really chasing. Love was the Life he was missing. Love was absent from his life of thievery and puffer pursuit of riches, and it was no Life at all. He has found Love, and it’s right here. The eyes of his understanding have been opened to Love, and he sees it shining brightly. He is now at-One in the One. “I am” where I’m meant to go.

They then both sing in Unity, in Unison, in Harmony, as One Love, as One Spirit, in Comm-Union, this singular Comm-Unication, in Comm-Unity, with One Voice, One Heart, One Mind, realizing their Oneness, their at-One-ment:

And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new

At last, at last, the Light is seen, the true Light, the Real Light, the Truth itself. The veil has been pierced. They’ve walked through that fog of mind, that dark cloud of unknowing into its center and paradoxically found the Light shining brightly there. At last they see it. At last, what they have been searching for all along, and it is somehow right here, in them, as One. The sky which they had seen every day of their lives was suddenly brand new, being unveiled as if for the first time, in its true nature. It is enLightened, as they are.

And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything is different
Now that I see you

Seeing this Light is the Real, and it is the brightest thing you’ll ever see, above the brightness of the sun, a trillion trillion trillion suns could not outshine it, and yet it doesn’t hurt the “eyes.” It changes everything. Everything. The world is transfigured in that Light, and looks completely different to consciousness. What one thought one knew is gone, changed, absorbed and transcended. It is irrevocably transformed. When we see as a mystic sees, as a seer sees, we see the “other” as our Self, we see “them” as Us, the “least of these” as “Me,” all that we see is a reflection of our Self, is a mirror image of Love, is the nondual One, the Holy (Wholly) One of Israel, the Singularity. Consciousness sees its Self. We see we are That which we see. We are That. We are Love. We are the Love with which we Love. The One has been unveiled, and it is Us.

There are many other mystical elements in Tangled, and I might return to those in the future. What are your thoughts about this mystical song? How does this “First Vision” strike you? Is it reflective of any experiences you’ve had? Please share with us if you feel moved to.


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