The Heroes Journey

Just doing a little light thinking this morning (tee hee…yea right). I am thinking about the experience of uncertainty and how I prefer it above the experience of certainty.  I relate certainty and uncertainty to known (identified, branded, recognized) and unknown (mysterious, unfamiliar, nameless, indefinite).

It takes so much courage to be willing to leave the known and venture into the unknown.  Another way of putting it is a willingness to let go of the conditioned self (ego, protection, fear, contraction) and keep or find the true self (spirit, authentic self, essence, love, and expansion).

I am feeling so grateful for all the courageous people in history who were willing to venture out into the unknown leaving the known behind.  I have an unending gratitude for the heroes who decided to return to the known and share their gift/gifts.   I want to take a brief moment this morning to give thanks to the historic heroes and also the many heroes that may never be acknowledged by the world, but in my eyes are definitely heroes just the same.  Do you see yourself in the scenario below?

My Heroes (this is a brief list of some of my heroes….the actual list is very long): Jesus, Buddha, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maya Angelo, Joseph Campbell, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, and George Carlin.

There are heroes in my life that are personal and close to my heart which I will keep anonymous.

Embrace the mystery!

Joseph Campbell explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth. In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarized the monomyth:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or “boon”), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).

Very few myths contain all of these stages—some myths contain many of the stages, while others contain only a few; some myths may have as a focus only one of the stages, while other myths may deal with the stages in a somewhat different order. These stages may be organized in a number of ways, including division into three sections: Departure (sometimes called Separation), Initiation and Return. “Departure” deals with the hero venturing forth on the quest, “Initiation” deals with the hero’s various adventures along the way, and “Return” deals with the hero’s return home with knowledge and powers acquired on the journey.

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4 thoughts on “The Heroes Journey

  1. I love the universal myth; it is a template for my own life.
    The Journey is not over when our hero returns. A crucial point occurs when the hero returns to his former society with new knowledge (more awake) and has a choice of what to do with it. If he/she has the courage to share it (a la George Carlin) well that is a comedy. If he/she hides the knowledge (out of fear or rejection or lack of courage, etc.) and fails to take action, well that is a tragedy.

  2. “I want to take a brief moment this morning to give thanks to the historic heroes and also the many heroes that may never be acknowledged by the world, but in my eyes are definitely heroes just the same.”

    I second the motion!
    Great uplifting post to launch my work day — thank you.

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