We must all take the hero’s journey. At some point in our lives it becomes imperative. When we stand on the threshold, about to take the first step into the unknown, we feel totally alone. No one has ever done what we are about to do. Our journey is our own to have, to experience, and to return from.
Perhaps our first journey is to leave our parents at the age of five and go off to school, to get on the school bus and return at the end of the day having had an experience that no one else has ever had. We must all do this at some point in our lives if we are to become mature, independent beings.
“Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss,” writes Joseph Campbell. And it’s true, we all have to leave the known, the easy comforts of a provided life and experience the discomforts of life on our own.
There are many stages of the hero’s journey. There is that first stage of leaving home, of going off to college or moving far from where we grew up, to begin anew, as youth chomping at the bit for our own experiences beyond the world of our parents. Many never take another hero’s journey after that. We settle into our lives, become complacent, disillusioned, perhaps angry at the world for not meeting us in the way we expected. Our spirit, however, never gives up. It comes knocking, constantly asking us to please get up and do something to change ourselves!
Sometimes the call of the spirit is finally answered later in life. The journey is taken up again, when other duties have been met, when our maturity allows us to shed some of what has held us back in the past, when we are finally ready. Others continue the hero’s journey unabated, letting something else besides the dictates of society and family tradition guide them on their way, those free-spirited ones who never seem to settle in one place for very long. Others constantly refuse the call, even late into life; even upon their death beds they do not heed the proddings of their spirit to experience the bliss of life.
Besides the hero’s journey in the world, there is another kind of hero’s journey, the inner journey, the call of the spirit to encounter and experience the Deeper Within, as I like to call it. The journey into the Deeper Within is as frightening as taking that first step on the young hero’s journey, when leaving home for the first time and finding out what it means to be a fully responsible adult.
The Deeper Within calls to us throughout our lives. Calling and calling, it asks us to come closer, to hear what it has to tell us of the treasures and mysteries of the deeper self, like a deep well, the bottom of which is endless. The Deeper Within is where our true bliss lies, where our real transformation awaits. Once we heed this call, we are offered the opportunity to go on a journey that never ends.
To be ready to encounter and experience this Deeper Within we must allow ourselves to take the first part of the hero’s journey in the real world. We must leave home, grow up, create a life for ourselves on our own terms, as fully independent beings. We must gather experiences, learn what it means to face our fears and test our merits, to have gains and losses, to have love and to lose love, to build our egos and strengthen our spirits in a world that is often ignorant, disharmonious, and could care less.
Once we have had experiences in the real world, we might be ready to have experiences in the Deeper Within, where everything that we have learned from being in the outer world will be utilized and tested, proven to be useful or useless in our inner world. In the Deeper Within we will finally meet our spirit face to face, all that it encompasses, our light side and our dark side. We must be prepared for such encounters.
Our ego, strengthened by our life experiences, will prove its worth, showing us what we are really made of as we dive into the Deeper Within. The shamanic process of recapitulation is taking the hero’s journey into the Deeper Within. It entails facing what has controlled us and what has guided us, what has supplied us with our energy and what has drained us of our energy. Recapitulation is the hero’s journey to reconnecting with the spirit self. During recapitulation we surrender our ego to this spirit self, so that it may guide us to full transformation.
As we return to the real world from our hero’s journey through the Deeper Within, we must ease slowly back into society, quietly and humbly take our place again, transformed yet fully present. We return to life like a newborn, full of a new kind of knowledge that others cannot totally grasp. We return from taking the journey into the Deeper Within speaking a strange new language, having had visions and mystical encounters. We return with a new way of perceiving the world, with a new kind of awareness.
Everything is now so clear to us, life explained on so many levels, death faced and found to be nothing more than this life extended, experienced in another state. We return with a new kind of sober fearlessness, with a new kind of detachment, and yet we feel and experience life with far greater love and compassion than previously possible. We emerge fully aware of our universal interconnectedness and our energetic connection to all living beings. Yes, we return with blissfulness coursing through us, having experienced bliss, having fully known what bliss really is.
Our new self wants everyone else to experience the bliss of life in this manner, to take the hero’s journey to the Deeper Within and transform too! But we learn soon enough that not everyone is ready. “I can’t read all that spiritual crap!” someone said to me the other day. I was not offended, nor did I feel sorry for the person. I simply acknowledged the journey that was being taken.
There are millions of kinds of journeys being taken simultaneously. Some people are here, others there. But the thing to remember is that we all had to start somewhere. We all had to take that first step into the unknown at some point, whether in a past life or in this life. At one time we all had to, and have to, take the first step on the hero’s journey to the Deeper Within too.
Wishing you all well, wherever you are on your hero’s journey. Keep going!