[Think Spiritual videos are on hold until the podcast is more established and we can figure out what role the visual elements will take.]
Hello Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to Episode 4 of Think Spiritual.
My name is Mark and today I want to tell you about an epic adventure that is at least a part of almost any spiritual quest: The Hero’s Journey.
Today’s presentation is the first chapter of the Hero’s Journey Series of Think Spiritual podcasts and I think the best place to begin is to explain what the Hero’s Journey actually is.
The Wikipedia entry for The Hero’s Journey defines it thusly: In narratology and comparative mythology (those are the comparison and study of various cultural mythologies), the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.
The Hero’s Journey was first recognized and defined in 1871, but it was not popularized nor made widely known to the general public until a certain Joseph Campbell wrote The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949. Campbell’s most basic definition of the Hero’s Journey is this:
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.
The Hero’s Journey concept is present in countless mythologies and it has largely become the backbone of modern-day storytelling. You see the motif show up in movie after movie and book after book. In fact, it shows up so much that a majority of viewers, readers and critics are calling it cliche and saying they are tired of seeing it.
Now, critics of Campbell’s work say something similar when they point out that Campbell’s concepts are too broad and seemingly paint all cultures and locales with one large brush. One critic went further to state that Campbell’s presentation was “…unsatisfying from a social science perspective.”
And right there is the crux of the matter and where I want to insert my understanding of what the Hero’s Journey truly is. When looked at in a broad sense, the Hero’s Journey has no practical application. When it is applied to everything, it loses its meaning. If you try to look at the Hero’s Journey from a social science perspective, it will not give you any solutions. The Hero’s Journey does not apply to society in part nor in whole.
The Hero’s Journey applies primarily to the individual.
The Hero’s Journey is an allegory of the life-long transformation of the human soul. It is a symbol of what is going on inside of you. It is a way for you to identify yourself in the heroes of fiction and mythology.
The Hero’s Journey consists of many stages and, like any expedition, there is always a first step. However before you can even take that first step you have to know that there is an expedition, an adventure or a trek to partake in and if you pay attention, the Angel of Life will tell you where that adventure will lead.
The Angel of Life is a metaphor I’m going to use to represent your conscience, your wisdom, your desire for a better existence. She is the flip-side of the coin that the Angel of Death also inhabits. One coin, two aspects: one of vitality and growth and one of stagnation and rot.
The Angel of Life is always knocking on your door. She’s always beckoning you towards some greater understanding of your place in the world. She is calling for you to take notice that this thing over here is not right or that some part of your life is out of balance. Maybe she wants you to acknowledge that you are not happy.
Perhaps you are trapped in an ideology or dogma that appears helpful on the outside, but is ultimately harming you. Is your relationship with your partner co-dependent or toxic or abusive in some fashion? Is the Angel of Life telling you to get away from that person? Or could it be that you are living life in the fast-lane and you dream of a less complicated existence?
The common theme of these example situations is that change in one’s self is required in order to move away from what is into what could be. Recognizing the need for this change is the first stage of the Hero’s Journey: The Call to Adventure.
This Call to Adventure can take any number of forms and, guess what? This podcast is a Call to Adventure. If something stirs within you as I speak, if something that I say sparks new life, if the Think Spiritual tagline: Change Your Self, Change Your World, rings true for you, then I hope you acknowledge that you are hearing the Call to Adventure.
Let’s do something a little bit different right now. Let’s listen to a song together.
This is a song from my past, from my days as a Christian and I truly love when I can take something from my past and I can redeem it. When I can breathe new life into it. When I can give it a place in my new and wider sphere of existence.
This is an overtly Christian song with lyrics that obviously slant it towards the coming of Christ and the End of Days, but I’m going to reinterpret the lyrics for us to prove that this song ultimately expresses The Call to Adventure. I believe that many aspects of the Hero’s Journey are present in art as all art is an expression of the human soul and the concept of the Hero’s Journey is something that is buried in our sub-conscience and deeply bound to our soul. And all art is open to interpretation.
I’m going to ask Christine to join me in the booth for a few minutes. She will read a line of lyrics and I will provide my interpretation of the lyrics. I think this process will make it easier to determine where the lyrics end and my interpretations begin.
And the cry goes out
(“The Cry” is the Call to Adventure)
And the cry goes on and on and on
(“The Cry” will go on and on for as long as you are alive…you can answer it at any time)
All across the land, the time is at hand
(“The Cry” goes out for everyone, for all time, the time to answer is “now”…all times are “now”)
So listen for the cry – hear the cry
(Listen for “The Cry”…where do you hear it? Look and listen deep within your Self and you will hear it)
Don’t be left with a lonely heart
(Look within and take the steps to becoming a whole and complete YOU)
Don’t be left in a world of doubt
(Don’t look to the outside world to fulfill you or to give you answers)
When you can live in the fatherland
(You can live in paradise, right here, right now)
Love too deep to comprehend
(True love of the Self is the path to righteousness, peace, salvation, and paradise)
Do you understand the cry goes out for you
(I ask this very question of you now: do you understand that “The Cry” the “Call to Adventure” goes out to you, right here, right now?)
Will you come and join the people –
Standing on the heights
Holy people brave enough to carry the fight
(The people who have answered “The Cry”. The people who are whole and complete and who preach this “gospel” of oneness and selfhood. They stand on the “heights” and they beckon and beg for you to join them because they know there is no better way to live.)
I will end this episode with the song, The Cry, by the band White Heart. I do not have any rights to the song, so I will not play it completely through, but I hope that you will take the time to look it up and have a listen.
As you move into the New Year of 2018, can you resolve to take a step into the unknown. Will you answer “The Cry”? Will you accept this Call to Adventure? I truly hope you will because an epic adventure and a better life awaits you if you accept the challenge.
But don’t worry if you don’t take the plunge right away. Almost every hero rejects the Call the first time. However, that topic will be covered in the next chapter of the Hero’s Journey series of Think Spiritual podcasts.
Thank you for listening.
Change your Self; change your World.