The Hero’s Journey

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

– Joseph Campbell

Heros_JourneyThe 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.

The hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. The hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or “boon.” The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world.

I cannot help but marvel at the human capacity to overcome tremendous suffering and find a way to go on. It would be one thing if we released all our holdings right after the trauma, but that we continue to carry them and still find the faith to believe in a better tomorrow is simply heroic. I think of the repressed emotions, unsaid words, armored musculature, collective trauma–and then marvel at our capacity to weave optimism, faith and determination into the heart of it. Minefields and goldmines sitting side by side in the inner valley. Let’s stop looking for our heroes ‘out there’. They are staring at us in the mirror.

– Jeff Brown

Like the story of the Buddha, we too have run our habitual programming, stories that we have been told that cause us to move through the world on autopilot. Then, something awakens us to the idea that there is more to life than we have been told. We want it and seek it. It is mysterious and elusive. Then somehow, through some grace, we discover that there is a path and we start to explore it. The pattern is archetypal, but each individual story is unique. Each soul is on it’s own journey.

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