How human are we? And in our ascension into the 21st century have we become more human, or is our unique role lost along with the role of myth and story in our lives? In his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," Joseph Campbell states that our humanness is connected with the hero's journey. Whether it is to rescue someone, fulfill an ideal, or die to oneself and come back a better person, the purpose behind a hero's journey is to create a transformation of consciousness.
What I'm thinking about today is that this hero's journey is actually an adventure — something that's exciting, thought-provoking; something that we want to do. Although part of the hero's journey is trial and tribulation, it is this very suffering that creates our true humanity. We all began this journey when we were born, coming out of the world of water into the world of air. We were able to go from a cave of security into a world that is scary, frightening and unsure, and we survived.
Difficulties come with any interconnection — between human beings, between cultures, between humanity and the rest of creation. It takes effort to actually sit down and listen to somebody, to open one's mind and heart to hear what another is thinking and feeling. Even looking at how we relate to the Earth, and not just taking what we need, takes effort. This kind of thinking brings us out of our comfort zone and starts giving us the opportunity to change and open up our consciousness.
It is this kind of change that creates the hero, and has been the stuff of myths and stories in all cultures. This has been the foundation of our lives. We all have heroes. We all long to be heroes for someone else. We all want to be that kind of example for our children. The important thing to remember is that there's a reason behind the trials, the tribulations, the struggles that we are going through. They are what give us the knowledge, the understanding and the maturity that make it possible for the hero to be born in each of us.
What we also discover on the hero's journey is that there is a center, or focus, that will help us go beyond the individual and pass down our learning, our knowledge, our tradition to someone else. In modern cultures we're so busy that we often can't see beyond the system. Underneath the distractions there is one focus, one center that will lead to the heart of the labyrinth where the hero can defeat the Minotaur. Discovering this center brings about that raised consciousness.
Now it doesn't have to be the same path, or "The Way." It is not a certainty or an absoluteness that the hero looks for, but a balance. And it's this balance that creates the center and the focus. Often what we think of as the center is actually the system itself, or the theology or belief that has grown up around a certain culture, but has become stagnant, giving us tunnel vision. We do things because we don't want to be wrong, or we don't want to be punished for not following this way. We let the system dominate us out of fear.
But what our heart and our spirit long for is actually freedom within the system. We're going this hero's journey not to change the system, because systems are good structures for practical everyday life. We're going this way in order to find our heart's peace. Becoming the hero won't change the system; it will allow us the freedom to work within the system without being controlled by it. It will allow us to use the rules and regulations and principles by which the world was created, but within the freedom and the realm of the heart and love of interrelationships and sacrifice — not the serving of self, but the self serving the purpose of the whole.
In this way we aren't controlling the system, we're bringing new life to the system. The vitality that is within us will be the energy that runs and guides the system. Finding this center creates a balance within the hero that transforms consciousness. It is the same center that we find whenever we're challenging ourselves, even physically. The dancer finds that center within herself in order to create the beauty and the poetry of the ballet. The athlete finds that center within himself to find the strength and stamina to push past his limitations and win the race. That's why this center is not just a certain "Way," but something within that allows us to get in touch with our higher self, that allows us to get in touch with a higher vibration. The power of that vibration comes from the unity and the interconnectedness of the world around us.
When we look at it this way, we discover that the transformation of consciousness that we are looking for is not something that is going to come from within our head. It is the higher consciousness that exists within the whole; that exists within the creation; that you see in animals in their instinct to migrate or to hibernate or to take care of their young; in the consciousness of plants to turn toward the sun, to send down their roots deep within the soil looking for water. This is the consciousness that is even in the ground itself that creates a foundation and room for things to grow. By finding our center, and finding ourselves within that center, we can tap into this life consciousness that is the balance of the entire cosmos.