“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.”
Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987), American author and mythologists, has revealed that the hero’s journey is a quest for knowledge and achieving a desired goal. This undoubtedly will test the hero with peril and bold deeds. A good example of this is George Lucas’s Star Wars films concerning the adventures of Luke Skywalker in which the hero’s journey is not so much a courageous endeavor but more as a life lived in self-discovery, “and Luke Skywalker was never more rational than when he found within himself the resources of character to meet his destiny.” – Joseph Campbell.
Life is full of choices. That’s what free will is all about. We mustn’t blame God for mistakes or our own frailty. We are the creators of our own destiny. Campbell mentioned the Indian belief of Karma in which he said, “Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”
Some would say that chance controls destiny. The chance that your parents even met from amongst millions of people and then fell in love is incredible. The chance that you were even born is a miracle. The chance that you might be killed in a terrible war or killed accidentally in an accident can happen without your control. Campbell said, “The problem is not to blame or explain but to handle the life that arises.” Follow your heart and not the bureaucratic imposed system you are living in. Do not let the masses dictate how you should think and what you should do. Have independent thought and hold onto your ideals true to yourself. Keep your humanity and be a person of heart and live free to the fullest.
What happens when you forget your humanity?
The Star Wars films are not so much a morality play as they are a modern mythological tale. Often the hero’s own identity is shrouded in mystery and he may possess special powers that no other person has. As was the case of Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker who began life as a hero and later a notorious dark figure.
A once proud and heroic Jedi Knight of the Old Republic, Anakin began his life as a hero we all know from classic literature, undertaking an arduous journey full of adventure and facing challenging, and supernatural obstacles. For the quest of the hero is he who follows a singular path that may lead him to the far corners of the world, perhaps the underworld or to a magical world in search of his identity, his love, his purpose, and ultimately his destiny. But tragically given the gift of absolute power Anakin gives up his humanity of selflessness and instead uses his power for selfishness. He falls from grace, and ultimately becomes the evil Dark Lord of the Sith, known as Darth Vader, and becomes one of the main architects of the imposed system.
Joseph Campbell has shown that these mythological stories generally end with the hero gaining new knowledge or abilities, as well as wisdom and maturity. The purpose of a hero must endure great hardships and face whatever opposition arises. The hero must rely upon his wits and inner strength to combat demons and enemies. Some heroes are endowed with extreme luck, and protected by magic or a shielding deity. But ultimately, heroes are just people like you and me. They are on a journey of self-discovery and self understanding. Their symbolic journeys and adventures form the basis for many myths and legends that we know of today and are filled with great lessons to be learned that transcends all ages and time.
How does mythology help the average person?
The power of myth, rituals, religion, our belief system, tradition, society, literature, the pursuit of God, love, living life, and the meaning of death, all invoked the meaning of the world around us and our attempt to understand and harmonize our lives with our state of reality. You enter into the world, not knowing who you are, and what you’re capable of. Understanding how we fit into the universe is a desire and goal we all have as human beings.
Campbell has stated that the power of myth opens the doorway of discovery to the mysteries and wonder of the actual world around us. Understanding how the universe works isn’t easy and even science can’t tell us how everything works. Mythology can help with validating sociological concepts and help us to understand them. The laws of life demonstrating morality and ethical laws that has been practiced and maintain in a good society for thousands of years. Most importantly, mythology helps us to understand life under any circumstances. A good example of understanding this concept is in Campbell’s book, Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation. Campbell mentions in the book that not only literature, but even great works of art can demonstrate the message clearly. “Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motives that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives.”
Heroes are born every day and from every walk of life. Unlike heroes from mythology, modern-day heroes are not immortal beings, nor are they all powerful. Instead, they are representatives of all the best qualities that human beings have, such as courage, ingenuity, strength, wisdom, compassion, and love. An average person may not think that they’re able to make a difference in the world. But all it takes is one or two, to stand up and do what’s right, to say what’s right, and to act on that and make it right. That act alone takes courage and something that we find in ourselves to make it come through and manifest our true nature, which is to be in harmony with the universe to be in harmony with each other to be in harmony with ourselves.
Legends of heroes show us just how great we could be. For if you’re going to aspire to be somebody, anybody, than a hero is a great start, one who ventures forward into the unknown searching for the truth, happiness, and boldly staying true to oneself. Everyday heroes are in search of wonder, peace, Nirvana, and illumination. Heroes like Jesus and Buddha and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr and everyday heroes, philosophers, doctors, singers, writers, artists, our parents, our teachers, our children, and ultimately ourselves. A place to find is within you. Follow your bliss and be the guiding light to others.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Bollingen Series)
Gods, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece:
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
T.S.Garp © Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved.