I believe the Hero’s Journey contains the seeds of ‘enlightenment’.
A synopsis of the journey and it’s individual steps, of which there can be up to 17, are set out here:
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious
ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves
great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.
If you take this journey as a process on a subjective psychological level, with the individual being the hero of their own life, then I believe this
journey brings enlightenment. Enlightenment, for my purposes, meaning individuation of the psyche.
I went through something about 10 years ago which fit with the hero's journey and I think it's something everyone does to some extent or other when
the time is right - i believe it has to be when you're absolutely at the end of your rope and not one second before - but very few come out the other
side fully and awesomely enlightened, most of us just keep dancing back and forward between various parts of the journey, regressing, sidestepping,
somersaulting or whatever.
Without going into the long and boring detail of my own journey, which has taken about 10 years and counting, I'll try and bring out the main
People are walking contradictions. They have split psyches, parts of which they're not aware of. Often they make judgements, consciously and
unconsciously, about other people and they thank whatever deity they believe in that they're not like that or they wish they could me more like that.
The live their life as the person they think they are - husband, wife, upstanding citizen, degenerate, loser, successful, selfish, ugly, tolerant,
worthless, fair etc. They work hard to live a life that accords with their view of themselves but deep down they feel ill at ease with things. They
blame their job, their upbringing, their wife, the politicians, the other bastards in this world, etc. etc. for this bad feeling of unease,
dissatisfaction, self-pity, etc. They try to alleviate it by taking drugs, drinking, gambling, taking a mistress, divorcing their husband, buying a
sports car, quitting their job, going to a Zendo, etc, etc.
This feeling of discontent grows bigger and blacker and becomes all consuming and the seeker is becoming desperate to find another way, the only other
option seeming to be suicide. It is only when the seeker gets to the end of their rope and begs the universe or an invisible deity for help
A person or a book or an idea comes into their life that truly confronts and challenges their very sense of self and they run away fast and far.
Looking in the mirror is a shock when you’ve never seen what you really look like. They get given a brief glimpse of an unrecognisable self and
head for hills. But it is too late, the spirits have been summoned and the 'master' has arrived. The seeker will be brought back to the 'master'
through coincidence or serendipity. The 'master' who will likely not be a recognised master of anything metaphysical, religious, philosophical or
psychological, in the mundane world at least, will turn up again and bring them into his (or her) orbit by offering the person an understanding of why
they headed for the hills in the first place and it will be an understanding borne of experience and self-knowledge.
The 'master', having interested the dissatisfied seeker (who now wants all that the ‘master’ can offer, sensing the 'master' can somehow give him
what he needs) will bring the seeker to an understanding that the outside world is not what ails the seeker, only the inside world. He will 'point at
the moon' - suggest the seeker look inside themselves for answers rather than to a book or a drug or a person. The 'master' will point to spiritual
and psychological truths to guide the seeker. Hearing (or reading) the truths the 'master' is offering, will feel like something he has always known
but had somehow completely forgotten. But knowing is one thing and understanding is another. Once the 'master' is convinced that the seeker not just
wants but needs to understand, the 'master' disappears and the seeker starts to look within, to the things that made them run to the hills to begin
It's the seeker's job then to confront their own self and begin to truly see their contradictions and less desirable side up close for the first time.
Its horrifying, ugly and desolate. I don't believe this is something a person can do without being truly forced to by a Roshi or genuine spiritual
guide, a Bodhisattva perhaps. I believe a Bodhisattva guided me through this process by throwing moral and ethical conundrums in my face, provoking me
to realise my hypocrisy until I turned myself inside out and forcing me to realise that I generate my own perception of people and situations and the
world in general.
I can't imagine this process being able (or allowed) to happen without the presence of somebody who knew what they were doing because again and again,
the seeker must force himself to face up to the multiplicity of his own nature, his own failures and guilt and the demons he houses as well as the
angels and the positive aspects. Unless this is handled very skilfully the seeker could end up mentally scarred by the process.
But it is this awareness of constant internal contradiction that causes the friction that leads to the fire that will eventually bring the seeker to
the edge of sanity. I have heard this point referred to as being very similar to a schizophrenic breakdown. And it is then the seeker will move
beyond their duality, beyond their multiplicity and into the clarity and awareness that the self, in fact, is an illusion.
This is when the seeker will receive succour and guidance to restore and revive them, ready for their re-entry into the mundane world.
This awareness is the great boon that comes from this journey, enlightenment if you will, and the aim is to bring it up into the world. At least
that’s the theory but, of course, it never quite goes to plan because now the seeker will believe, having been through this horror nightmare #
journey, that he has mastered himself and knows all the secrets of the universe, that he is, in fact, a small God. The joke will be on him in no
short order. He will be tested and fail more often than not.
The tests will come in the form of getting tangled up in old thought patterns and emotional reactions to external stimulus out in the everyday world.
The seeker will get angry about something someone has said or done or not done, he will feel superior to somebody who's failed, he will see a good
samaritan and feel guilty. For someone who thought he knew it all, it seems he really didn’t learn anything and will suffer dumbly until he
remembers, a reoccuring process for most of us.
An enlightened person is somebody who acts from the knowledge that self and emotion are illusions in every waking moment - I am you and you are me -
and they are the ones who can bring positivity to the world and heal it and the sad souls in it.
edit on 24-4-2014 by Splodge because: (no reason given)