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

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