All things are changing and in Wonderland at alarming rates. Alice is continually confronted by drastic changes, both inner and outer and must learn to accept these new realities. Wonderland makes these changes (growing, aging things falling apart…) which are constantly happening to us apparent to an extreme degree. Drinking from the bottle marked ‘drink me’ shrinks her down to just 10 inches, while a little cake makes her grow again. She seems to enjoy these new experiences and rarely feels frightened or regret about the consequences.
These physical changes have a relationship with an internal change. As a ‘Giant’, Alice is confronted by the limitations of an oversized ego. she looks down on all the other creatures from her great height and feels isolated and lonely. The other creatures treat her accordingly with a mixture of disdain and fear. The expression ‘too big for your boots’ sums up what happens to Alice when she grows large. Her physical shrinking is accompanied by her ego shrinking. As ‘Tiny’ Alice her inner awareness grows,
After drinking the bottle on the small table marked ‘drink me’ Alice says:
“What a curious feeling!…I must be shutting up like a telescope!” And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden.”
Rather than showing alarm at her small size Alice recognizes the advantages of her new body and the freedom it offers her. In the same way that letting go of one’s attachment to ego liberates one to more fully experience the world. Impermanence is one of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, and realising it essential to becoming enlightened. So from the very beginning of her journey Alice experiences the changing nature of herself and those around her. Each stage of her journey is accompanied by some kind of metamorphosis either by Alice or one of the Wonderland creatures. There are so many examples, but to name a few think of the duchess’s baby who becomes a pig, the Cheshire cat appearing and disappearing, the queen’s croquet game which is constantly moving around, and the red queen who becomes a sheep in a shop where the shelves appear full, yet when Alice looks hard at any shelf the items disappear. As soon as we try to hold onto something it changes or disappears and causes happiness or suffering (which is also changing), here is the lesson that Alice realises.