Archetype in Action Organization
- Parent Category: Revolution 2.0
- Category: Digital Age
- Created on 06 July 2015
- Last Updated on 06 July 2015
- Published on 06 July 2015
- Written by Nozomi Hayase
- Hits: 188
The notion of survival of the fittest, coined by English philosopher Herbert Spencer to describe his economic theory promoted a view of man as not much more than claws and teeth. This became a prevailing ideology behind the rise of social Darwinism and was used to justify European colonialism and modern predatory capitalism.
In current civilization, the tendency toward personal gain and competitive drive continues. The evolution of the species in modern times has turned into a game of survival of the crudest and most rapacious corporations and bankers. Russian novelist Ayn Rand, who became an iconic guru for libertarians, put forward the virtue of self-interest as a pure moral force. Her philosophy of objectivism emphasizes reason as the ultimate arbiter of truth and she condemned feelings of sympathy as inferior. This was used to rationalize poverty and weakness as an outcome of natural selection and support the free market idea of radical deregulation and tax cuts for the rich.
What has become apparent now is that the greed of a small minority in a 'race to the top' has subverted a broader evolutionary force, holding people hostage in a brutal animal-like kingdom of kleptocracy. An elite owner class began setting rules for the rest of the population through their undue influence on governments. Government giveaways in the form of corporate welfare and monopolies stifled true entrepreneurship and innovation. Forces of privatization have trespassed on and are now swallowing the commons. With scarce access to resources and jobs, people are pitted against one another, engaging in a rigged game that just keeps enriching the richest. This has now escalated into an arms race to the bottom, creating resource wars, economic apartheid and environmental catastrophe.
Darwin’s Lost Theory of Love
With the crisis of legitimacy and unprecedented government corruption in recent years, people began looking for solutions outside of electoral politics. The rise of the Occupy Movement was an awakening to the real source of power within to chart a new future. This call for an alternative to the survival of the fittest emerged long ago after Darwin put forward his theory in his first work, The Origin of Species.
Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin reminded us that the riddle of social problems are within us, showing how the narrative of fierce competition for life was only half the story. In his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, he responded to the predominant Darwinian interpretation of natural hierarchy and argued for the feeling of solidarity, empathy and cooperation as the ground for human evolution.
This view was held also by Darwin himself. Psychologist and system scientist David Loey in Darwin's Lost Theory of Love debunked the narrow reductionist interpretation of Neo-Darwinians that emphasized the notion of the selfish genes. He showed how most had buried a major contribution Darwin made when he moved beyond pre-human evolution to examine man's moral sensibilities. Loey pointed to how Darwin, in his second work The Descent of Man, had recognized that nurturing, expressed as sympathy for the weak was a primary evolutionary force that drives humans to develop higher agency with the principle of mutuality.
Now, a new force of evolution came from an unexpected place. An imagination from computer science brought a potential to intervene in the course of humanity, which has been heading down a destructive path. The invention of the blockchain technology offers a way to bridge Darwin’s first and later works, moving beyond the logic of competition and entering into a state of co-existence to realize our innate nature of altruism.
Six years since its inception, more people are beginning to see the powerful political implications that this technology brings. The blockchain is a public asset ledger and Bitcoin as a store of value and unit of account derived from it belongs to everyone who recognizes its utility and freely chooses to use it.
On the surface, the trend of speculators trading Bitcoin and manipulation of exchange rates can resemble gambling, and some see Bitcoin as recapitulating the existing Wall Street casino-style derivative economy. This investment friendly image is strengthened when economists chime in to depict Bitcoin's fixed monetary supply as a currency mimicking assets like gold and criticize this as deflationary and would incentivize hoarding, and perhaps increase wealth inequality.
Contrary to these perceptions, Bitcoin was never meant as a get-rich-quick scheme. While it possesses gold-like characteristics, it is also radically different, as it is highly portable and divisible (Bitcoin can be divided into 8 decimal points and more if consensus is reached). This is a new monetary design that has never existed before. Careful examination reveals how it is an architecture that embodies innate human nature and is designed to uphold our internal governing structures.
Bitcoin is like one big organism that regulates itself through algorithm. With no company, CEO or individuals in control, it maintains a ledger transparent to all. Its ecosystem evolves to manifest a vision encoded in its DNA, through stimulus and active interaction with its environment.
The core of this technology is algorithmic consensus that enables digital scarcity; a way to make an object in the digital world scarce without central control. This solves the problem of the double-spend. Cryptographer Adam Back, whose invention of Hashcash contributed to the creation of Bitcoin's digital scarcity, noted how Bitcoin “constructs a computational irrevocability from proof-of-work and consensus”. This makes permissionless transaction and innovation possible, as well as removing monopolistic control of the production and transfer of money. But more fundamentally, this scarcity offers a key to open society to move beyond the current oligarchical rule of the neo-Darwinian dog-eat-dog world that has now turned into the lions eating the lambs.
The market logic that governs the existing extractive system is that of central control. As a hallmark of the industrial era, capitalism bases its foundation on the idea of land ownership. This places production and distribution into private hands. Scarcity was created through monopolistic control of resources and energy (such as the oil spigot), which has mostly been done in secrecy.
Unlike the managed scarcity of centrally controlled markets, Bitcoin's digital scarcity is created through voluntary agreement of its participants. Its open source protocol grants users power to choose what kind of network they wish to create or be a part of, as codes can be modified by anyone. Combined with game theory that enforces fairness, this scarcity creates a new form of capital, one that is open source and distributed. This brings a radical departure from the current vulture capitalism that promotes cheating and wealth without work by means of usury, rent-seeking and quantitative easing (taxation through inflation).
While central banks use fiat currency as a force of coercion, Bitcoin currency is a token of value that provides an incentive to generate productivity and efficiency of the workers (miners). This pays for the labor required to build a whole new global financial system. In a sense, each Bitcoin mining pool is like a worker-owned cooperative that requires members to both work together and also compete within the network to perform the issuing of monetary units and clearing of transactions. Solidarity generated through collective hashing power maintains the ethos of decentralized consensus.
Bitcoin's self-organizing is not easily understood from outside looking in. It is like a caterpillar in the cocoon before turning into a butterfly. Market manipulation and outright theft within exchanges like Mt. Gox appear to confirm the view of man as selfishly driven. Yet, this is occurring in centralized offshoots and simply a reflection of the greed rampant in the existing system.
If we dig a little deeper into this ecosystem, what is happening within the mining process also appears to affirm the theory of natural selection, where those with powerful computer chips and hashing power can increase the chance of winning the game. Indeed, mining equipment is now highly specialized and is becoming more like a kind of survival of the fittest (where ordinary computers can no longer participate in mining). This brings concern about the potential centralization of mining. Yet, just as Darwin's first work does not complete his full picture of evolution, the mining was also designed to be subservient to the imagination that infused this innovation.
The fierce mining competition fosters efficiency, helping make the relative capacity of the Bitcoin ecosystem significantly less energy intensive than the existing financial system. Tech entrepreneur and author Andreas Antonopoulos explains how it is the most eco-friendly and cost efficiency currency when fully utilized at a global scale. This also helps create a solid foundation upon which a social contract of a truly democratic society can be built.
The creator of this technology, Satoshi Nakamoto found a way to secure the system from the risks of concentrated greed and destructive seeds within our 'selfish genes'. This was done through implementing a particular consensus algorithm that enforces people to show the proof of their work. Rewards here function as a mechanism to keep everyone honest and the equilibrium of supply and demand distributes accountability as a form of self-regulation taken up by those who participate in the mining.
All this has become an engine to build a system that is impervious to internal or external attacks. The mining rings that have now achieved global level security perform a kind of safeguard of real democracy, through which spontaneous forces of We the People can be unleashed. With its feature of infinite divisibility, value created through a peer-to-peer exchange of autonomy and reciprocity can become an abundant flow that nurtures all people, especially those who are made weak and vulnerable by current Western exploitation.
This even makes it possible for the other six billion, the unbanked and under-banked, especially in the Global South, to participate in the world economy on their own terms. This is already starting to happen as investment and interest in transforming the massive remittance market is increasing, while charity and tipping is the fastest growing usage of Bitcoin in the West.
The Ascent of Man
Many of us wish to evolve; to act more freely and extend kindness and compassion to others, but our actions are restricted and controlled by oppressive governments, religious fundamentalism and de-facto corporate dictatorship. As commercial-led globalization expands, the entire globe is shackled to the tyrannical logic of extreme capitalism and cowboy banksters' autocratic control over the flow of money. People with good hearts are forced to adapt to the harsh environment of austerity and rule by the rich. They have to make hard decisions; either to be kind to others or suppress that innate nature of altruism just to survive.
The blockchain removes these obstacles, allowing us to align ourselves with internal forces of evolution. The built-in incentive structure of this game-changing innovation offers humanity a path to divest from the military-industrial complex, war economies, sweat shops and debt slavery as well as Stasi-like surveillance. Instead of supporting oligarchs that print money at will to buy missiles and tanks, people can independently invest in mining gear and channel the selfish and aggressive parts of humanity to serve the larger whole.
Artificial scarcity in centrally planned economies fuels destructive competition among people, dividing all through fear into separated nations, religions and ideologies, and justifies wars and hatred. Now the competitive drive that has been cut off and stagnated can be brought back to its origin of creative power and transformed into one that encourages each to strive for their best in service to all.
With decentralized cryptocurrencies, we can move away from the deterministic future imposed by central banks and divisive political ideologues and build a society that represents who we really are. Those who are ready and want it will find a way to chart a new path. Those in power can choose not to evolve, but they can no longer take the rest of us down with them.
Humans it seems are being degraded into killer apes. As the ideals of distributed consensus enshrined in mathematics are fully developed, they become the killer apps that can help humanity redeem itself. In this new world entered through the blockchain, we can now move beyond struggles for existence and ascend as a species capable of love.
The Economist requires you to pay a pound a week to use its website. We’ll never charge for our content, but that doesn’t mean it’s free to produce. If you can chip in a pound a week, please do.
About the author
Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is a writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movements. Her work is featured in many publications. Find her on Twitter @nozomimagine
IMAGE CREDIT: ID 36572199 © Robwilson39 | Dreamstime.com
Previously published July 6, 2015 on Our Kingdom: Open Democracy.
- Parent Category: Opinion
- Category: The Meaning of America
- Created on 04 July 2015
- Last Updated on 04 July 2015
- Published on 04 July 2015
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 305
“It would be a ridiculous and unwarranted presumption on our part if we imagined that we are more energetic or more intelligent than the men of the past—our material knowledge has increased, but not our intelligence. This means that we are just as bigoted in regard to new ideas, and just as impervious to them, as people were in the darkest days of antiquity. We have become rich in knowledge, but poor in wisdom.”
Dr. Carl G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation, P. 20
At least I admit it! Yes, I am a racist. Whenever I see a person who isn’t just like me, I have to admit to myself that my unconscious tells me that person is different from me. This is a natural function of the psyche, which I cannot change.
I have a daughter who married a Korean American, and three of our grandchildren are Korean American. What should I do with that information? Should I love my grandchildren less? No, I won’t do that.
I have a daughter who became a fundamentalist Christian. Her mentors taught her to tell me, “Dad, I think you’re going to Hell,” which she did on her 22nd birthday. What was the point of that? Should I love her less or deny her beliefs? No, I won’t do that.
I have a daughter who married a Catholic. Knowing our first American ancestors left Holland and became American to escape the 80 Years War, which was that wonderful century when the Spanish came to Holland every summer to beat the Dutch into returning to the Catholic Church, should I love my son-in-law less, because he was born into the Catholic Church? No, I won’t do that.
Indeed, I have taken some of my courage as an American from Catholic Marylanders, who gave their lives to beat back Red Coat Tyranny and saved George Washington’s Army from annihilation only 6 weeks after the Declaration of Independence.
On the 4th of July 2015, I am musing again on The Meaning of America, and what it is that has made our country what it is today. We have not built a country in which we are all the same. We are strong as a Nation precisely because we are all different! And, by and large, we have come to understand that we must accept our differences; even cherish them.
Unfortunately, many of our countrymen have lost the courage to recognize what it means to be an American. This is the fundamental Oedipus problem, which Drs. Freud and Jung talked about through their lifetimes. It is the tendency of people to shrink from living in the world as it is, and rather live in an imaginary world. It is demonstrated in the Regressive attitudes of the American Right, and the Confederate flag symbolizes this Regressive immature behavior.
The people, who now loudly proclaim their Right to display the Confederate flag and all its symbolism, are people who are causing large parts of our population to regress into a time that never existed. There was nothing noble about the causes Robert E. Lee and the Confederate army tried to defend. To suggest so is to promote revisionist history. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers died to defeat that ideology, and it rightfully belongs in the dustbin of human history.
“Thus there arose a picture of the universe which was completely removed from reality, but which corresponded exactly to man’s subjective fantasies. It needs no very elaborate proof to show that children think in much the same way. They too animate their dolls and toys, and with imaginative children it is easy to see that they inhabit a world of marvels.”
Dr. Carl G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation, P. 21
The Confederate flag itself has come to represent the forces of hate and evil. Those who loudly proclaim that this is not the case have not examined their own heart. They seek the Oedipus solution of living in a world of fantasy rather than the world in which we actually live. It is time for them to grow up and gain some wisdom about the way things must be in order for our children and grandchildren to live in peace.
Many Americans might be confused by the fact that the relatives of the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting immediately forgave the shooter. But they were courageous in recognizing that only with blood does real change happen. They know that the murderer was only a manifestation of the hateful society in which he lived, who unfortunately acted on his bigoted beliefs before he was mature enough to discern good from evil. They knew that their relatives had joined the sacrifices of Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King, Jr. in bringing into consciousness how human beings must change, in order to make it very far into the future.
On this 4th of July, 2015, let each of us examine our own hearts and decide what The Meaning of America is for us. Is it still the “shining city on a hill,” as Ronald Reagan had it? Does it represent the very Hope for humanity? Or will America be divided by gated communities and historic conflicts, which have destroyed so many lives and countries before?
When we see our fellow Americans displaying the Confederate flag, we will all know which side they picked. We can at least thank them for that, and for reminding us what we must do to accomplish the changes needed.
I applaud the Members of the Emanuel AME Church of Charleston for showing us what it means to be American in times of trouble. Each of us is called to examine the content of our own hearts! How will you display your courage to make the changes needed to assure the future of our Country?
God Bless America!
Skip Conover is an international businessman, author and artist. He is a Founder of the Archetype in Action™ Organization. You can follow him and his work on Twitter using @skip_conover or on Pinterest. Skip's latest book is Political Psychology: New Ideas for Activists. He is also the author of Tsunami of Blood.
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Opinion
- Created on 21 June 2015
- Last Updated on 21 June 2015
- Published on 21 June 2015
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 1251
Science has entirely failed us in understanding the reality of the human psyche. Large portions of the scientific community dismiss it out of hand, without in any way comprehending its importance. Sadly, Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson fall into this category.
One thing I remember clearly from Dr. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series three decades ago was his loud complaint that at that time there were 3,000 Astrology columns in the world’s newspapers, but none on Astronomy. Happily, that imbalance has been rectified slightly, but it is still significant. As a scientist, he should have asked the question, “Why?” But instead, he chose to be derisive of Astrology and other divination techniques.
He carried this attitude into his dying days. In Carl Sagan’s last interview on May 27, 1996, which included a discussion of The Demon-Haunted World,his final book, he said again explicitly how derisive he was of Astrology.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of Dr. Sagan’s most outspoken disciples, said in his interview with Bill Moyers,
“There are many who say that God is within you. If God is within you, what I’m sure Carl [Sagan] would say is, ‘Within you in your mind. We can measure the neurosynaptic firings when you have a religious experience. We can tell you where that’s happening, when it’s happening, what you’re feeling like at the time. So your mind, of course, is still within the Cosmos.”
Dr. Tyson has missed the entire point! I once heard him describe the first time he visited Dr. Sagan’s office at Cornell University. I’m sure if electrodes were attached to Dr. Tyson’s brain at that time, we could tell him the same sorts of things, and yes, all of that happened within the Cosmos. But, even Dr. Tyson has to admit that providing us with that data would in no way describe what happened to him in the universe of his psyche at that moment. He could probably write several scientific books, and never convey the feeling he had, nor how it influenced the rest of his life. There is an entire universe of experience in Dr. Tyson’s psyche, even about only that one occasion, which could never be described by the scientific data.
The colossal irony is that astrophysicists like Dr. Tyson try to explain to us something that makes up more than 50% of the physical Universe by inferences that they cannot prove. Here is how he put it:
“Dark matter is real. We don’t know what it is, but we know it’s there because we can’t make the Universe as we see it unless we put this extra gravity into our simulations to match the gravity that we see. … Particle physicists are convinced that it might be an exotic particle that doesn’t interact with us; doesn’t interact with our light; our telescopes; but that it has gravity. … Invisible to us but nucleating us among them. … [It] could be ordinary gravity in a parallel Universe and we’re making stuff up just to account for it…. Philosophically, it’s not unsettling to imagine more than one Universe.”
Why is that any different from Astrology, Tarot, or Reading tea leaves? There must be reasons why these activities are so popular among human beings, but scientists, who want to hold all variables constant in a variable Universe, are ignoring the psyche because of similar arguments.
If science outside psychology were so complete without psychology, scientists could explain why the human species murdered 175 million other human beings during the 20th Century, and why we still have senseless mass killings today.
It seems to me that what the main body of traditional science has missed is that there is another parallel Universe right here—it’s called the psyche. Dr. Carl Jung said as much throughout much of his body of work, most of which was driven by a rigorous scientific attitude toward the task. Dr. Jung himself posited this Universe, and told us why it is important to us in his lifetime. Since Dr. Tyson and his colleagues have now seen back to nearly the beginning of the physical Universe, perhaps they could offer a bit more attention to the psychic universe, that is immediately at hand and threatening our very existence every bit as much as huge asteroids.
In his interview, Dr. Tyson said about science:
“You have not fully expressed your power as a voter until you have a scientific literacy in topics that matter for future political issues. This requires a base level of scientific literacy that I don’t think we’ve achieved yet.” [24:50 in the interview.
I concur with Dr. Tyson on this point, but reflect the very same words back to him substituting the word “psychological” for “scientific”. Dr. Jung himself highlighted the points about the physical and psychic universes as follows:
"...What most people overlook or seem unable to understand is the fact that I regard the psyche as real. They believe only in physical facts, and must consequently come to the conclusion that either the uranium itself or the laboratory equipment created the atom bomb. That is no less absurd than the assumption that a non-real psyche is responsible for it. God is an obvious psychic and non-physical fact, i.e., a fact that can be established psychically but not physically. ... ¶751
"...Clearly, the material evidence for the existence of this psychic phenomenon is more than sufficient. It does not matter at all that a physically impossible fact is asserted, because all religious assertions are physical impossibilities. If they were not so, they would, as I said earlier, necessarily be treated in the text-books of natural science. But religious statements without exception have to do with the reality of the psyche and not with the reality of the physis." ¶752, Answer to Job, C.G. Jung
Mind you, Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson have long been heroes of mine. They have taught me a lot, and given me very many things to teach our children. But, I will lighten up on my point here only when Dr. Tyson tells me how “either the uranium itself or the laboratory equipment created the atom bomb.” There is no escaping that fact that the psyche was involved.
Dr. Tyson said in his interview with Bill Moyers:
“I don’t think [faith and reason] are reconcilable. … All efforts that have been invested by brilliant people of the past have failed at that exercise. They just fail…. The track record is so poor that I have essentially zero confidence, near zero confidence, that there will be fruitful things to emerge from the effort to reconcile them”
It seems to me that Dr. Tyson is clearly ignorant of the researches and oeuvre of Dr. Carl Jung. Would it not be fruitful to reexamine our attitudes about these matters? Would it be useful to understand how hate groups influence individual psyches? Would it be useful to understand how mass hysteria or fundamentalist preachers influence psyches?
At the end of his long life of psychic research, Dr. Jung was the first to acknowledge how inadequate our knowledge of the psychic universe is, despite the fact that he wrote a shelf full of books about it. Like Galileo peering through his telescope, he knew what he saw and he pointed the way, but it is up to brilliant leaders like Dr. Tyson to lead the way into further research in that area, or shame his fellow scientists into doing so.
There is nothing riding on further scientific research into the universe of the psyche except the future of humanity itself. Yes, an asteroid might get us in the next 10,000 years, and we will all be relieved that we can zap it by scientific knowledge delivered by Dr. Tyson and his colleagues, but will humanity survive even that long if we don’t get going on our study of the psychic universe? I don’t know! Whisper who dares!
"The World hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man. Nowadays we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes. There is no such thing as an H-bomb. That is all man's doing. We are the great danger. Psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the Psyche?
"And so it is demonstrated to us in our days, what the power of the psyche is of man. How important it is to know something about it. But we know NoThing about it.
"Nobody would give credit to the idea that the psychical processes of the ordinary man have any importance whatever. One thinks, "Oh, he is just what he has in his head. It is all from his surroundings. He is taught such and such a thing, believes such and such a thing, and particularly if he is well-housed and well-fed, then he has no ideas at all. That's the great mistake, because he is just that which he is born, and he is not born as a tabula rasa, but as a reality." From the interview, "Face to Face with Carl Jung," available in its entirety on YouTube.
Dr. Tyson himself quoted J.B.S. Haldane saying: “The Universe is not only stranger than we have imagined, it’s perhaps stranger than we can imagine.” The irony is that Dr. Tyson has not realized that faith and reason are reconcilable if you accept that they are different parallel universes.
How would scientists go about researching a parallel universe the existence of which can be actually proven? We have such a Universe, and it is called the psyche. In order to deny its existence, you would have to deny that you dream. And yet, all of the electrodes ever invented could never describe or explain the contents of a single dream.
Dr. Carl Sagan’s Last Interview
Neil deGrasse Tyson with Bill Moyers
Photo Credit: Google Images
Skip Conover is an international businessman, author and artist. He is a Founder of the Archetype in Action™ Organization. You can follow him and his work on Twitter using @skip_conover or on Pinterest. Skip's latest book is Political Psychology: New Ideas for Activists. He is also the author of Tsunami of Blood.
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Education
- Created on 20 June 2015
- Last Updated on 20 June 2015
- Published on 20 June 2015
- Written by Craig Chalquist, Ph.D.
- Hits: 894
Back when I was in grad school myth was seldom spoken of in public without a sneer. Kid stuff! Only recently had Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers opened the discussion with their influential television series The Power of Myth.
Today, you hear about myth everywhere: in sales (for the ancient Greeks Nike was a goddess and Atlas a god), marketing strategy guides, motivational presentations in corporate boardrooms. Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Star Wars, The Avengers, Maleficent, and the list goes on and on. The public is starved for myth, as philologist JRR Tolkien learned when he published The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. NASA's new shuttle is named Orion.
In The Hero with a Thousand Faces Campbell writes,
It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.
We need adequate stories that bring magic and make meaning. Without them we swallow isms, fads, slogans, gadgets, violent fundamentalisms, and we are lucky if the worst we get is emotional indigestion.
Campbell believed that all myths the world over told one story. Borrowing a word from James Joyce, he called this one story the Monomyth. The Monomyth is the Hero's Journey.
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.
The great spiritual teachers, culture bringers, warriors, and saints: these are examples of Heroes who obey a Call to Adventure to descend into the depths of the time and of themselves, fight the dragon (whatever its form), obtain the great treasure it guards, and bring it back to the dayworld. This heroic Monomyth fleshes out the archetype of Initiation:
Separation > Initiation > Return
It is a dangerous path. Heroes can die or go mad walking it. They do it under compulsion, for they bring new ways of seeing and being that nourish their cultures of origin and, through story, humanity as a whole.
It's easy to see why the Hero's Journey is so popular in the States. We eat, sleep, and breathe the ideals of the Hero, at least in vulgar form. Every other movie poster shows a man holding a gun. Everyone who does a simple decent thing by returning a lost wallet or pulling a drunk from out in front of a bus is nominated a Hero by the press. Star Wars rode the Journey to success despite such poor writing that the actors complained about their childish Flash Gordonesque lines. The Superbowl is nothing more (nor less) than a clashing competition of well-paid helmeted Heroes.
Campbell himself set the stage for this dilution of the Hero. A young man going off to war is a Hero, he told Moyers. A woman giving birth is a Hero. The baby is a Hero for coming out intact. Do something tough that involves an inner change and you too can be a Hero.
The more mythology I've read and taught over the years, starting with teaching the Hero's Journey to men who'd done time for violent crimes, the less happy I've been with this presentation of the Hero.
First of all, the Hero isn't always a good guy. Gilgamesh, the first great Hero figure in Western lore, hacked down a forest, gave the goddess Ishtar the brush-off, and raped his women subjects. Herakles destroyed his own family. Cuchulainn got into such battle frenzies that he had to be plunged into nine vats of water just to cool off after a fight. He died as reckless as he had always been.
Nor does the archetype Hero fit everyone who attains to it. Through many myths it carries quite specific features, including impulsivity that needs tempering, eloquence that wants training, lethally assertive cunning, large appetites, and an attraction to danger. ("Risk is our business" says James Kirk.) The Hero also tends to swing between loyalty and cynicism, Lancelot providing a characteristic hot-cold example.
The Hero of myth may or may not undergo transformation. In Asian cultures he tends not to. Peach Boy is pretty much the same after his adventures as before. But Campbell's Hero suffers inner change as a model to his entire society. That is true of Thor and Odysseus, but not of Beowulf or Fionn mac Cumhaill.
Furthermore, the Hero always constellates the monster. In a sense he is the monster. When one appears, the other soon follows.
Where are the Heroines in all this? In her book The Heroine's Journey Maureen Murdock tells of putting that question to Campbell. His reply was that women don't have a Hero's Journey because they are a goal of the Journey. They are the Prize. Myths say otherwise in figures like Brunhild, Antigone, Miao-shan, Atalanta, Empress Jingu, Maid Marion, Princess Bari, and Oonagh, who saved her husband Fionn from a giant he wouldn't face. As for gay or trans Heroes (as many are), well, you're out of luck.
That, in brief, is the Hero as myth sees him, not as Campbell does. We never see clearly what we overidentify with.
We Americans have a troubling history of overidentification with this archetype. We don't have it: it has us. Psychological possession. Look at the violence-spreading bullies we put into public office. Republicans hate Obama in part because, like Apollo, he shoots from a distance. Like Apollo he's into health care. No heroic swagger. Never mind the high-tech drone arrows, blare his conservative opponents: send in the boots on the ground so they can save the world, or at least the profit. The oil must flow.
What in the end does the Hero's Journey offer people who are not Heroes? A way to understand them, perhaps, but certainly not a path open to everyone.
Because of these objections I've stopped teaching the Hero's Journey except to those who naturally resonate with Hero figures. I continue to appreciate Campbell's work and his enthusiasm and love for myth even while recognizing limitations.
As I've studied myth I've pondered what model might surface from tales that deal with how non-Heroes journey, struggle, and with a bit of luck find fulfillment.
I call this The Journey of Reenchantment:
Stage 1: Islands and Oases of Childhood Magic
We all come in with this, even when born into impoverishment. Dolls and plants speak to us. Animals make magic. Fabulous beasts hide under the bed. Dream and daytime merge.
Stage 2: Disenchantment, Forgetfulness, and Adaptation
As we get older we learn to adapt to the outer world, and to societies often unfriendly to the world of fantasy in which we live. Birds stop speaking to us. Imaginary friends go away. We try to be grown up.
Stage 3: Alienation from the Magical
Often we stand apart from the magic for so long that we forget it was there at all. From this springs the odd idea that fantasies and fairy tales are only for children. Creativity gives way to commutes, paperwork, and "practicality," as though loss of wonder were practical. (My impression is that about 80 to 90 percent of Americans live at this level. The rest don't say much, in public anyway.)
Stage 4: Rupture and Underworld Descent (if you're lucky)
When we detach for too long from the numinous, glamorous, intuitive side of life, it has a way of summoning us, usually through our own unconscious in the appearance of symptoms, nightmares, or just prolonged dissatisfaction. Troubles may confront us. What we take for normal and real turns inside out; nothing is as it seems. This is life telling us, "You were made for more." The truly unfortunate are they who receive no further signals.
Stage 5: The First Seeking
What more? We go looking, discontented, confused, but resolved to seek what meaning and revelation can be found. We ask the big questions of ourselves. We question values and begin to study the worldview we look through instead of taking it for granted.
Stage 6: Reemergence, Gradual or Otherwise
Usually this phase ends with a feeling of relief. Vital energies flow once again. We haven't found The Goal, perhaps, or The Source or The Prize or whatever the great answer is, but the very act of sustained searching for a path brings renewed life and yearning.
Stage 7: More Seeking
So we keep looking, learning new truths along the way, entering new relationships, finding mentors, discarding toxic people who deplete us, perhaps finding new occupations, certainly new interests. A common thought in this stage is, "Perhaps things weren't so bleak as they seemed." You're right: they aren't.
Stage 8: Finding the Magic Door
In Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf, lost and discontented Harry Haller walks down a dark, rainy street one evening and comes unexpectedly to an alley containing a neon sign with flashing words: Magic Theater -- Entrance Not For Everyone. Eventually he goes inside -- and awakens to the richness of his own imagination. You round a corner one day, and suddenly things make sense in a deep way. What was fragmented connects. Meaning appears. Your heart opens.
Stage 9: Learning to Live in Both Worlds
Campbell refers to being a "master" of both worlds, but for the less heroic, the role of the wayfarer or witness might fit better. We learn to live in the liminal zone between cultures, identities, spiritualities, aware of conscious decisions and unconscious promptings, logical rules and imagined ideals from the depths, the dayworld of consensus reality and the moonlit realm of intuition and dream. We have outgrown the urge to reduce each dimension of being to the other.
Stage 10: Opening the Door for Others
Which prepares us for mentoring others in how we got to this stage. The Hero would go on stage, appear before the royal court, lead a tickertape parade; we might prefer informal conversation, a bit of writing, a presentation or two, civic participation. We share how we moved from innocence to disenchantment to reenchantment and invite others to find their own path.
Mythology presents many archetypes and characters besides the bold Hero. Manawydan, for example. Welsh stories remember him not as a Hero, but as an older friend of Pryderi, a powerful lord who finds a magic castle in his kingdom one day and decides to stride in. Pryderi is a Hero.
"Let's think this over" cautions Manawydan, but the young ruler dashes in and disappears. When his mother Rhiannon comes looking for him, Manawydan gives her the same advice, but she too disappears, and so does the castle.
"Now what do we do?" asks Pryderi's distraught wife Cigfa. Go to war? Slay a dragon?
"Since our entire land has altered in appearance," Manawydan says, "let's find a way to make a living until an answer to these riddles reveals itself." This the two of them do, working so well at various crafts that jealous craftsmen drive them from town to town. Each time Manawydan patiently learns a new skill, starts over -- and thinks.
When he plants a field and finds its wheat eaten just before the harvest, he replants the field. But this time he waits up through the night in concealment nearby. Mice emerge from the shadows to eat his stalks of wheat.
As he emerges and they dash in all directions, he catches a slower and fatter mouse. Knowing by now that he is being watched, he erects a tiny gallows.
Whereupon a robed stranger approaches and asks, "What are you doing?"
"Preparing to hang a thief."
From his glove Manawydan pulls the mouse. "This thief."
Unsuccessful at convincing Manawydan to spare the "thief," the robed man leaves. Soon a druid approaches. After a similar conversation he leaves. An archdruid, equally unsuccessful, begs Manawydan to stop as he prepares to hoist the mouse:
"In return for the life of this mouse I want Pryderi and Rhiannon safely returned."
The stranger sees no point in further deception; Manawydan obviously sees through him. "I agree."
"I'm not finished. I also want you to lift your spell from this land."
"And to know the identity of his mouse."
"My pregnant wife."
"And to know who you are and why you have worked this ill magic."
The archdruid is actually a powerful wizard with a grudge against Pryderi's father and mother.
"My last condition is that you forswear all further vengeance against all of us."
When Pryderi and Rhiannon reappear they apologize to Manawydan for being impulsive and thank him not only for arranging their safe return, but for negotiating to end a long-standing family feud. Everyone goes away satisfied, and the land recovers its health.
And we receive a story of post-heroic patience, wisdom, and forgiveness of the kind that bring lasting healing, happiness, and reconciliation.
Craig Chalquist, Ph.D. is Dept. Chair of East-West Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Religion & Spiritual Practices
- Created on 19 June 2015
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- Published on 19 June 2015
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I squinted in the harsh morning light and shivered in anticipation. Standing outside a hotel near Carmel, NY on a May morning in 1997, I felt like a celebrity stalker, but I was hungry for spiritual contact. My husband Vic and I and a few friends had come to see the Dalai Lama who was taking part in a dedication of the Great Buddha Hall at the Chuang Yen Monastery. We’d been tipped off that the Dalai Lama was staying at this hotel, so about fifteen of us gathered outside the entry way, waiting for the Big Guy to emerge.
Through large glass windows, we saw maroon monk’s robes and business suits milling in the lobby. We quietly arranged ourselves in two rows on either side of the door. Ella May Damiani, our deceased teacher’s wife, stood up front. The Dalai Lama emerged into the brisk day, grinned, shaded his eyes with a flattened hand, and looked us over. Recognizing Ella May, he walked over to her and grasped her hands. They spoke quietly and then she offered him a recently published book, Living Wisdom, by her late husband and our philosophy and meditation teacher Anthony Damiani.
The Dalai Lama remembered Ella May and a few others in our group. On his first trip to the United States in 1979, he had spent a few days at Wisdom’s Goldenrod, our meditation and study center in the Finger Lakes of New York. He dedicated our library and blessed our studies and our children. In 1993, he visited us again and between these dates, many of us traveled to see him.
In those years, the Dalai Lama was accessible rather than walled off by security guards and impenetrable layers of protection as he is now. In large or small public groups, he moved through lines of devotees, gazed into eyes, held hands, leaned close to touch the heads of small children or talk to people in wheelchairs, and beamed love.
On that morning in 1997, after his exchange with Ella May, he walked through our small line toward his waiting car, pausing before each of us. As he grasped my hands and gazed into my eyes, a startling current of heat pierced my heart. Bowing to touch my forehead to his soft hands, my chest filled with an expansive warm love for him and all of life. Then I watched as the Dalai Lama stopped in front of my friend Lauren Cottrell who stood beside me. After he had moved on, Lauren and I leaned into each other, stunned, wet-eyed, and overcome with joy. Vic snapped our photo and quickly moved to the end of the line to wait for his turn.
Have you seen the Dalai Lama? How did he affect you? You might enjoy this other post about the Dalai Lama.
Previously published at Elaine Mansfield's Grace Is a Sacred Journey on September 25, 2012.