Living Your Hero’s Journey
By Jerry Brownstein
Many people are searching for a purpose in their lives... a meaning deeper than just existing from day to day with occasional highs and lows. Our way of living has created so many distractions that we have lost perspective of who we really are. Yet there are echoes in our consciousness which remind us that we are not just the result of random genetic selection... that our presence here on Earth is ‘on purpose... with a purpose’. These echoes come to us from our distant past... carrying with them a deeper wisdom that is sometimes forgotten... but never lost. This ancient wisdom can be found in the myths and archetypes that exist in all cultures and which trace their roots to a time before recorded history. They speak of our true essence as spiritual beings having a dynamic human experience, and they can be our guideposts to finding greater meaning and happiness in our lives.
There is one such archetypal story that can be found in virtually all mythologies since the beginning of time. Joseph Campbell called it ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, and it always takes the form of an amazing journey that begins when the hero receives the call to adventure. At first the hero is reluctant to answer the call, but eventually he embarks on this journey into the unknown. At every turn dangerous challenges are encountered that test his courage and skill. Along the way he meets allies who help him and enemies who do all that they can to thwart his mission. The hero perseveres and eventually reaches the innermost core of his quest... and there he endures the supreme ordeal. This he eventually overcomes and finally gains the treasure that has been his goal. Now he must bring the treasure back into the world, but again he is hounded and harried every step of the way. In the end the hero not only returns with a treasure that benefits the world, but he has also become a transformed person.
You have heard this story before, as throughout history it has been told in different ways by different societies. In ancient Greece it was embodied in legends like The Odyssey and Hercules. Today we see it in our movies: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Wizard of Oz, Indiana Jones... and on and on. This story always captivates our attention because it resonates with a deep level of our consciousness. It inspires us to believe that we have the potential to be heroes... to embark on a journey that will transform our lives and make the world a better place. But that does not mean that you are meant to go out and literally emulate Hercules or Wonder Woman. These stories are allegories that symbolize a much more profound type of adventure. The real hero’s journey is not one of imagined challenges that are limited to the material world. It is a journey to go deep within yourself so that you can find the most valuable treasure of all... and that treasure is you... the real you. This is your mission... this is your purpose... to bring that treasure into the world. So where does it begin? The first step of every hero’s journey is receiving a call to adventure... and since you are reading this article you can consider yourself ‘called’. Are you ready to answer that call?
Be aware that, as with all heroic journeys, you will encounter mighty challenges and obstacles along the way... but they will not come from monsters and trolls. They will come from your own subconscious enemies... from the old beliefs and conditioning which block you from experiencing your true inner beauty. These inherited habit patterns are powerful antagonists that will do all that they can to keep you from the treasure. At every step you will come up against inner resistance from old ways of thinking and being. They will tell you to react as you always have... that it’s crazy to go against your conditioning. Most of the society that you come from will reinforce this old programming... telling you it is not practical to follow your heart.
But you are a hero... so you keep pushing forward. In order to prevail you acquire new skills and tools that will help you to overcome these obstacles. You learn to meditate; to be mindful; to make conscious choices about who you are in the world. Step by step you persevere on your journey, and eventually you reach your heart centre where you discover the ultimate treasure. You revel in the realization that you are a being of love, in possession of a limitless wealth of positive energy. But your journey is not complete, for now is the time when the hero must turn around and bring the treasure back to the world. Once again you will face powerful obstacles as you begin to express your re-discovered inner joy in every aspect of your life. Some of the people and situations from your previous circumstances will find it hard to accept your transformation, and it can be painful to let them go. On the other hand, many new faces will appear who will guide and encourage you on your new path.
Just like the heroes of legend your journey will transform you, and that transformation will grow richer and deeper each day as you continue to express your true self in the world. You will become a beneficial presence on the planet... making it a better place through your thoughts, your words, your actions, and your inspiration. You will realize that your mission in life - your real purpose - is simply to bring the gift of your inner light into the world. This is your hero’s journey... and it never ends... but it gets better every day.
“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we intend to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply connected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act.” •