The Hero’s Journey – How to Become an Integrated, Awakened Man
To get a feel of the Hero’s Journey, just think if you’ve ever noticed that the things in life that have given you the most pain, challenge and fear are also the things that have seen you evolve into a stronger, wiser man.
This fundamental truth of life is why we spend time each day reconnecting with movies, TV Shows, podcasts, books and motivational stories that inspire us with tales of human beings overcoming the odds, facing their inner darkness and finding the path of light.
From Star Wars to Shakespeare to the story of Jesus, the tales that are central to our culture have a unifying narrative that reawakens an ancient story of symbolic death, rebirth and human evolution.
We find these stories so engaging not because they are distant tales of far off figures, but because this narrative is fundamentally about YOU.
The Hero’s Journey: The Underlying Truth of Life
While each of us has a unique life with it’s own colouring, the stories we are drawn to, as well as the challenges we face, unify us in that they are all about the advancement and development of your soul.
Yet, unlike the external world, development of the soul cannot be intellectually learned or faked, evolution in these terms demands you face the challenges that life has thrown at you, accept adversity and let yourself go to the transformative potential of life itself.
This process has been encapsulated in the notion of the Hero’s Journey, a concept popularised by Jung-inspired mythologist Joseph Campbell.
Campbell states: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
So while we love watching this narrative play out in differing forms of stories and contexts, it connects with us because it is offering us a guide in our own lives of how to advance and become a man of substance.
As you can see from the below diagram, a protagonist must herald the call to enter the unknown, a deep transformative and chaotic space where he will be tempted, challenged and perhaps even destroyed.
In this underworld, a hero must overcome adversity in order to survive, yet he cannot do that with his present skills and level of understanding.
This is where our hero must level up with the help of an experienced elder, before going through a deeply transcendental rebirth experience in which his old weaker self dies, and a new, stronger awakened self is born.
Now I’m sure you can think of many of your own favourite stories that match this narrative, with perhaps the most famous modern example being that of the original Star Wars.
In the series we see Luke Skywalker, a seemingly normal young man receive a call to adventure from old wandering wise man Obi Wan Kenobi, before entering the underworld in order to train, overcome the temptations of the darkside, and ultimately become a Jedi who’s capable of destroying evil and rescuing his father.
We also see this is the story of Jesus who must first face down the devil before he can begin his ministry and manifest perhaps the most famous symbolic death story of all time – his death on the cross – in which he overcomes the sin of the physical world and turns human earthly suffering into an eternal tool of spiritual transcendence.
Yet, again, don’t think that these tales apply to our cultural and spiritual heroes. These stories are fundamentally about YOU.
The Hero’s Journey: The Cave You Fear to Enter…
As Joseph Campbell’s famous quote reads, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Now each of us must enter a cave that is unique to our experience, this could be giving up an addiction, facing inner trauma, transcending your ego, or simply just building up to an activity that frightens you more than anything.
While this may frighten us to our core and destroy our notion of who we think we are, fortune truly favours the brave in that he who dares let go to the transformative power of life will be transformed into an evolved, integrated and awakened man.
Yet, a modern tragedy is that many men are so sheltered in the modern era that they’ve become detached from this path.
We have a plethora of temptations to keep us weak, un-evolving and conditioned; Netflix, social media, porn and binge drinking, being just a few.
Further still in our modern lives we’ve invested heavily into the material realm, seeing spirituality as something esoteric, nonsensical and atavistic.
So we often find modern man living a life of 9-5 compliance, of low-level compulsive behaviour, and of angst and depression.
And instead of seeing these things as calls to adventure, we see these things as the harsh and inevitable realities of life, meaning we need the possessions, intoxicants and worldly identities to cope with the bleakness of reality.
We’ve become wedded to our pain and to our limited identities, unwilling to let them go because we feel we’ll have nothing without them and because they give us reference points in the world.
The Hero’s Journey: Breaking Free
What if men could allow themselves to look on the world as the platform upon which their soul is meant to evolve, that walking the path of the unknown is the divine purpose of man?
It is this realisation that can change the world, yet it begins with YOU, and accepting the challenges that life knows you must face down.
If you want to explore this more then do check out my 7-Step Path of Initiation for men that’s linked below.
The 7-Steps see you take the call to adventure, enter the underworld and explore your shadow side before being reborn into the man life is yearning for you to become.
The Hero’s Journey is about me, it’s about you, it’s about the essential journey each of us must make as men, don’t let the call pass you by…