The Hero’s Journey

You mean they forgot to tell you that you are the hero of this story? Nobody explained that you are on a mythic quest for fire? The Elixir of Youth? The Horn of Plenty?

Let’s clear the air on this. No real person flew to the sun and took down a burning branch of fire. Nor went halfway around the world to some strange land where the Fountain of Youth was splashing, or the Horn of Plenty was blowing out fruit and roast beef. How about those fire-breathing dragons and plug-ugly trolls the hero always has to deal with before he gets the goodies? You guessed right. No real person has ever seen any such creatures. They are mythological allegories–just like the fire, the elixir, and the horn. You’re supposed to think about them and see how they relate to you. Trouble is, modern people don’t easily relate to these old stories. Trouble is, these same old stories are re-used over and over again in modern clothes of action-adventure movies and cartoons. We are entertained by them–and then we forget about them. We don’t believe for a minute that we could ever be the hero of such an adventure.

Let’s make this very plain. There really are dragons and trolls. There really is a great adventure. And there really is a fire, an elixir, and a horn to be found. Not only that–every phase of your life has already been written and plotted in the hero’s formula. Most of us are stuck in the phase entitled: ‘Refusal of the Call’. That is, the refusal of the challenge–the Call to Adventure. What is this challenge, this call, this adventure?

To be blunt: It is the challenge to your human belief that life is temporary, brief and brutal; that supplies are short and must be fought over. It is the call to believe that life is eternal, abundant, and that life is an overflowing cornucopia if only we have eyes to see it. The stupendous challenge to believe that everywhere you look is God.

The fiery dragons we must defeat are our angers that make us feel our life has not been fair or easy as it should have been. Dragons are extremely difficult to defeat–but once you don’t believe in them–they disappear. The plug-ugly trolls are our fears that life is not abundant, that we must fear death, that God may bless some, but not us. These are very real fears that also disappear once you don’t believe in them, once you are no longer empowering them.

It has been said that the hero goes on a magic journey to the ends of the earth. You may indeed do so, physically as well as spiritually. For much of our journey we are not heroic: the dragons burn us, the trolls twist us into pretzels. Somehow–maybe it takes a long time–we stop being angry; we stop being afraid. We start believing in God and the Universe and what God really is: Everything. Dragons, trolls, as well as fire, elixir, horn of plenty. God is All. And right there is the greatest challenge to the hero. God is All? Are you sure about that? God is All?

Really believing, really knowing God is All–and loving All of God–is truly a tall order for a human being. It’s truly a hero’s challenge. And now you see what is the heart of the hero’s challenge: to gaze out upon the world–and love it All! This could take some time. One sample. God is the soldier; God is the nurse repairing the soldier; God is the minister burying the soldier; God is the person protesting against the soldier. Can you believe it? (One secret clue: Once the ugly frog is kissed it becomes a prince).

And so it is said that the hero–which is you–you return from the ends of the earth only to find that nothing has changed! Except You–You have changed. Your perception of the world has changed. You still see the same old struggle going on. But now you know what you are seeing: your fellow heroes of this world struggling to understand themselves and this world.

When you watch the news of the world today you will see the illusion that the world is not good (and not God). It is a highly maintained illusion and certainly there is nothing ‘new’ about the illusion. Otherwise the hero’s journey would not be so difficult and so real. All of us can testify that the journey is very hard. It really, really is hard to believe all is good and all is God. Anytime you get angry or afraid you are battling the dragon and the troll. You already know how hard it is. You just didn’t know you were a hero.

Do you hear the call? Have you answered the call? You are very capable of this journey. You have the right equipment. You are a hero after all. That doesn’t mean you won’t struggle. But nothing can stop you ever again once you realize you are God’s own beloved child, a child with an infallible destiny: to love all of the world and All of God. Don’t you know you should marvel at yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror? You are the marvel of this world! Don’t you know it yet?       Phil

Time of Anger

We are angry at times, perhaps everyday, perhaps every hour. In our work we see anger flashing. In the world we see anger’s sharp teeth. Is anger the face of evil? What if we see an angry baby or child? Two dogs facing off sometimes express anger. We do not believe they are evil, do we?

Anger is a signal that we do not believe things are going according to or desires and plans. We want things to go easily. We want them to go our way–right now. If we do not get our way we may explode with anger.

What is this part of us that expects things to go so easily according to our desires, if not the immature self, the inner child? At times, anger may be the correct response to a situation. Need to jump across a cliff to survive? A burst of anger will give you an extra lift of energy. More often, anger is a hot energy that wants to destroy rather than to survive or create beauty. Another part of us knows that a person who is master of some art or craft has spent hours practicing, until most of the unwanted motions or mistakes are eliminated or avoided ahead of time. Then art is achieved seemingly effortlessly and without the heat of anger.

So it seems anger is the smoky energy of inexperience, and thus ineffectiveness, that can only be overcome by further experience, which leads to calm mastery. On the other hand, this life provides so many different kinds of experience and drills to be mastered, there seems an infinite opportunity for anger.

Anger must be the emotion of the beginner, the apprentice, with a far longer journey-path towards mastery than expected. The child expects instant gratification. The adult knows practice and repetitions are required.

It is human to feel discouraged, to feel one has failed, to feel the path is endless with no good ending. All of us have felt this way. Hopefully everyone has had the experience of attempting some goal or practice that was at first difficult and then after much experience became splendidly easy and satisfying.

Certainly we all remember trying to tie our shoes that first time. Now it is done almost unconsciously, our fingers knowing just what to do and at high speed! Older now, our tasks and challenges are far more complicated and demand much greater refinement.

If we recognize our feeling of frustration as merely the energy of a beginner then perhaps we can accept anger as a gauge of our progress. We are far beyond getting angry at tying our shoes or hitting a ball. We are now attempting very difficult things. We have much longer apprenticeships.

We are now attempting to become compassionate beings. This is the highest achievement in the universe. To be loving, patient and kind in every moment is far beyond any achievement with a piano, paintbrush or ball. If you experience a puff of anger you can say, “This is just another apprentice moment, but I will keep trying until the art comes to me. It is only a matter of time. I will let the anger go–and try again.” Anger is actually self criticism, or criticism of another person. Let this anger go and get on with your work.

It is pleasing and satisfying to watch a master at work. The master sees difficulties before they arise–and the master is smiling. The calm smile is the face of the master. When you are experiencing the heat of anger, picture the master’s smiling face. That face belongs to you, when you are the master.       Phil

What Do You Believe?

I’m tired. I always catch a cold twice a year. Life is a struggle. This world is a wonderland. This world is an awful place. I’m too quiet. I talk too much. I’m a good person. I’m a loser. If things can go wrong they probably will.

All of these statements are simply beliefs. None of them are eternal laws. Yet most of us at times have made one or other such statements. Temporarily at least they become our own personal statement of beliefs and thus–our personal laws.

Such beliefs usually originate in childhood. Some may begin with offhand remarks of acquaintances. Believing that ‘the world is an awful place’ may come from reading newspapers and believing that they represent a balanced view of the world.

The wonderful thing is, you are a co-creator of reality. What you tell yourself about yourself and about the world causes your creative equipment to immediately set about creating in your life what you believe to be true. “I’m unlucky.” No problem. Your equipment immediately attracts to you like a magnet the conditions where you can prove “I’m unlucky.”

It’s been shown that deep-felt thoughts such as, “I feel very calm and tranquil” or, “I am full of healing power and energy”–can produce powerful results in the body, lowering blood pressure and heartrate. Allowing yourself to become afraid or feeling emotional turmoil produces the opposite results instantly–and a feeling of unwellness. We’ve all had this experience with a sudden scare (a car backfires) or from learning upsetting news (our job is going to be eliminated). So what can you do?

The most important thing you can do for yourself today is inventory your list of personal beliefs, your personal laws of life. What are you constantly telling yourself about yourself which your body and mind have no choice but to respond to and recreate in the physical world? What do you tell yourself about this life? What is your narrative? You are not alone if you are completely unaware of personal beliefs you are proving every day!

If you believe the world is a sad and evil place you will zero-in on stories that prove this every day. If you believe the world is filled with beauty and magnificent works you will certainly find abundant beauty from sunrise to sunset.

Can you see it is you who create your own reality? Can you understand “Life is you happening to you”? And if this is true, just as an artist creates a beautiful landscape or a stark wasteland, can you see it is you who are responsible–not somebody else?

Try this experiment. Next time you are feeling tired (maybe even exhausted) tell yourself, “I feel strong. I can be tired later when it’s time for the body to refresh. Right now I feel marvelous!” Try it. Feel the surge.

Your body, your life, your reality, responds powerfully to what you believe. You are making your own choices. You are responsible for You.       Phil