The Hero Within

Featured

Why is it that hero stories continue to capture the human imagination?

While we have no shortage of action-packed Marvel films, the archetypal hero myth is manifested is different cultures throughout history.

If you pay close attention, you’ll start to realize similarities in structure and pattern across different stories and mythology. Achilles in the Homer’s Iliad, to Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films and Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings are all connected in their journeys of adventure and personal transformation.

For the mythologist and scholar Joseph Campbell, the ubiquity of these stories reveals some fundamental truth about the human experience. He calls this framework commonly found in our literature, stories and films the hero’s journey.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

The Framework

In the Hero with a Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell lays out the 17 steps of the hero’s journey which can be summarized in three key stages:

  1.  The Departure

The story begins with the hero in the ordinary world when they receive a call to adventure. The hero is hesitant at first due to the great risk and danger that the journey entails.

However, with the aid and persuasion of a mentor, they accept the task that they are called to do. The hero embarks on the journey leaving behind the comforts of the everyday life to enter the unknown world.

Venturing from the ordinary to the un-ordinary, offers the opportunity for personal and spiritual transformation.

2. The Initiation Act

Throughout the journey the hero is continually faced with trials and tribulations that must be overcome. Further, they are presented temptations that attempt to distract and derail them on their quest.

Using the skills and wisdom learned thus far, the hero is able to conquer their greatest fears to   overcome adversity to complete their task.

Their final struggle usually represents the climax of the plot. Think of Frodo destroying the ring or when Harry Potter defeats his enemy Lord Voldemort.  

The hero reigns over the villain, good defeats evil, chaos is tamed and order is restored.

After successful completion of the journey, they are rewarded in some capacity for their work. This gift, commonly gold or a treasure, represents the hero’s personal triumph, spiritual transformation and enrichment.

3.  The Return Act

After the victory, the hero returns to the ordinary world transformed by their adventure.  They impart their wisdom and knowledge to the next generation.

Source

Can we be Hero’s Too?

While the hero’s journey can give us insights into the narrative structure so commonly found in mythology, what morals or lessons can it teach us about how we ought to live our own lives?

Campbell argues that we all go through our personal hero’s journey as we transition from childhood to taking on the responsibilities of being an adult,

To get out of that posture of dependency, psychological dependency, into one of psychological self-responsibility, requires a death and resurrection, and that is the basic motif of the hero’s journey. Leaving one condition, finding the source of life to bring you forth in a richer or more mature or other condition.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Throughout our lives, we are called to leave behind the familiarity of the status-quo and move towards the unknown in hopes of evolving into more capable, responsible and mature human beings.

The hero’s journey inspires us to overcome our fears to pursue something meaningful – something greater than ourselves. It provides a roadmap enabling go rid ourselves of self-doubt, and actualize our full potential. Further, and most importantly, to face our inner demons head on.

In the midst of the craziness and uncertainty of 2020, perhaps we are all forced to take the path of the hero. Our sense of normal has evaporated. We no longer stand on stable ground.

However, every crisis represents an opportunity. We can either throw our hands up in resignation or willingly plunge into the depths of our fears – into the great unknown.

It may seem daunting at first, and we may tremble with trepidation. However, if we look within, we can find the courage, bravery and resilience we never knew we had.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh

So maybe we don’t have any superpowers or wear any costumes, but we all can be hero’s even if it’s ‘just for one day’.

 Now cue that David Bowie song.

Source for feature image

A Look at Modern Spirituality: An Interview with Rosemary

Featured

One term that seems to increasingly capture the values and belief systems of individuals in the West is ‘spiritual.’ Survey data from both Canada and the United States shows that more people are identifying themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’

While organized religion provides its believers with a set of ethics and rigid practices, spirituality seems to be more fluid, subjective and open to interpretation. Consequently, this results in some ambiguity surrounding the term.

Personally, I have been thinking about how to define this term, and contemplating the meaning and implications of a spiritual life. Perhaps it means the belief in something greater than yourself or following the moral imperative to treat all of humanity with inherent dignity and respect. At its core I think spirituality is an attempt to find meaning, purpose and connection in the world. As Robert Fuller notes in his book Spiritual But Not Religious,

We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is “spiritual” when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As part of this blog, I wanted to explore this concept of spirituality, and what it means to different people.

I met Rosemary in a yoga studio where she was one of my instructors. At the end of each class she would read quotes touching on topics of spirituality, some of which deeply resonated with me. So, I asked her a couple questions about what spirituality means for her.

1. What does the word ‘spiritual’ mean for you?

For me, the word spiritual means to be connected with your deepest self. I know that this word is pretty broad – but I think that it means exactly what comes to mind for the person it’s being asked to. For me, it’s finding your true purpose – and perhaps that’s just finding something to believe in (I.e. religion), or pursuing your true passion, or career path. We are all put on this earth for a reason: big or small – and we are all on a journey to find our purpose. Once we realise this, the person can become more spiritual as they connect with their spirit and deeper self.

2. What authors, ideas or practices helped shape your idea of spirituality?

Growing up Catholic, I was always inclined to believe in something more than just the physical. Once I started practicing yoga, I started to go a bit deeper and delved into my inner self. And that’s when I found Alan Watts. I was so drawn to his philosophy and adored his lectures that I began to play him in yoga classes that I taught. His work was such an inspiration to me, and through researching more about him, I discovered Eckhart Tolle (duh).

3. What does one living a spiritual life seek to accomplish?

I believe that they are seeking to accomplish either: discovering their purpose in life, or pure and sheer happiness/enlightenment.

4. Many contemplative and spiritual traditions touch on the concept of ego dissolution. This idea is that our sense of the ‘self’ is an illusion. Does this concept resonate with you at all?

Yes – I don’t believe that we are our ‘self’. I think that we experience our self, and that are souls are the true being.

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

5. How does this idea of spirituality connect with the pursuit of happiness for you?

Back when I was completing my masters, I had countless moments where I kept asking myself, “what next” and “what’s the purpose of life”? I struggled with these questions almost every day. What’s going to happen after I graduate? Will I find a job? What’s the purpose of all this? Why are we here?

It wasn’t until I realised that we are just all on the pursuit of happiness.

6. Spirituality has gained a lot of attention recently. Any advice for people trying to find their footing and navigate this complex space ?

Our spiritual journey is ever-lasting and will constantly change. As you continue to explore your spiritually, some things will land on you, and others won’t. Be open to anything that comes your way – signs, books, readings, people. Hey, maybe even reading this article was a sign you needed.

If you are starting to find your foot, or if you ever feel lost, close your eyes and simply ask yourself, “who am I before anyone told me anything?” or “what do I believe in”?

It wasn’t until I realised that we are just all on the pursuit of happiness.