… as soon as you see and admit that you are in some way wrong, insufficient, not all you could be or lacking.
Which Rafiki? Well, in this particular metaphor the Lion King rendition of a wacky mandrill living in a baobab tree in the Pride Lands savanna, acting as a shaman for the whole land and lions of Pride Rock. He is the one standing for all of the spiritual and worldly transitions, keeping the tradition and wisdom alive, the confidant and advisor to kings and a liaison to the meta life beyond the physical logic of the savanna and all its creatures. Rafiki means “friend” in Swahili and this is what his character appears as to Simba after he questions his positions, life and the “happy go lucky, not carrying about anything hakuna matata” philosophy just, hanging wasting time with Timon and Pumba all day long while sinister things are brewing for Pride Rock. We meet Rafiki as a half comical figure, a trickster and a jester almost, a fun loving gangly creature, master martial artist in disguise. But he is anything but shallow laughs and is here to teach, whacking Simba repeatedly on the head with his stick while trying to drive home the lesson of “Yes, the past can hurt but, the way I see it you can either run from it, or learn from it”. It was not before Nala was disappointed in Simba for not wanting to accept the responsibility of his role as a young king, which made him think and made him ready to hear what Rafiki had to say.
The point is – Rafiki is a symbolic figure and there is such a “friend” for all of us out there somewhere or waiting patiently inside us until we are ready to learn a lesson it has to teach, we just can’t hear it through hubris, arrogance and hedonism of youth many times. Something needs to go still first, enough things need to happen, eyes need to be opened beforehand to recognize that you are not perfect and that there is so much more to learn. Humility needs to set in and show what is insufficient and gets constantly punished for this insufficiency by failure or lack of meaning derived from doing and accomplishing nothing, from wasting time instead applying yourself to a worthwhile cause, whatever it may be by your own private judgement.
Rafiki shows up in one form or other for all of us as soon as we’re willing to change and recognize the need for it – for the betterment of self and the whole community we’re networked with. As soon as you’re ready to ask the questions and actually sit still long enough in silence to hear the answer you already probably know (most of the times we already know but choose to ignore it) your inner “friend” will show you the way towards something better. As soon as you are ready and humble enough the teacher shows up to serve as a guide. Yes there will be some sticks and whacks but a whack from a stick in a teachable moment hurts far less than a whack from life itself. The form the teacher appears in is irrelevant, it may even seem like its complete opposite at the beginning. Be at least wise enough to listen and take into consideration that you could learn something here that might save your life in every way a life can be saved.