In Charles Dickens’ story The Christmas Carol, the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge experiences visitations from the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. As a consequence of these visions, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.
We can think of The Christmas Carol as a parable about the experience of “waking up” in life and its importance in the transformation of human suffering. The Christmas Carol is a kind of spiritual fairy tale. As we engage the story, we are carried along into a deep imagining of how spiritual awakening might feel. In Buddhist terms, we see an example of how greed, hatred and delusion can be transformed through the powers of insight and compassion. The timeless appeal of the story is that Scrooge is able to achieve what we all deeply long for: to transcend the structures of personality that keep us trapped in our own misery. Scrooge discovered the transformative joy of giving.