We realized years ago that our favorite movies featured heroes who were willing to take extraordinary risks. Almost always, the risks involved a quest that took the hero into the unknown and demanded that they find something of great value within themselves. Sometimes the hero had super powers they had yet to realize, or they needed to learn how to wield them properly. Other heroes were normal people willing to dig down into the depths of their own courage to prevail against fearsome odds.
No one will argue with the fact that heroes are a universal phenomenon that we’re all drawn to. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell theorized that the hero is an archetype created by collective consciousness to fulfill our deep-seated psychological needs. But what are those needs? What can the stories tell us about ourselves? Do spiritual ‘heroes’ have anything different to tell us than their secular counterparts?
As Jung and Campbell surmised, the hero becomes necessary only when we have a strong internal belief that we’re in trouble and need to get out of it. And, we must feel that it’s very deep trouble if we think we need someone extraordinary to save us. Our world is currently wobbling on the brink of disaster, which is reflected in so many movies that feature possible world destruction, but the hero archetype existed long before we had the ability to destroy our planet. We would propose that the hero is an invention of a subconscious issue that gnaws at all of us.
Of course we can’t actually separate ourselves from the oneness of All That Is, but we believe we have. We’ve forgotten the Divine is love, and the gift of free will allows us to experience separation. As a result, our most deeply entrenched and carefully hidden fear is that we’ve defied Source. We fear retribution and invent Gods who we believe will carry it out. Popular culture reflects these fears by creating stories that feature supremely powerful beings wreaking havoc on humanity. But instead of bring huge forces to bear against these supreme beings, our stories usually feature a lone hero who saves the world. The lone hero takes on many meanings, some are helpful to us, and some are not.
If we identify with the hero, we take on a sense of self-responsibility. The story encourages us to feel that we have reserves of strength and courage we can draw on in seemingly overwhelming situations. Unfortunately, heroes often give us the opposite feeling. Lone heroes are often depicted as special; they have connections, assets, abilities or powers that set them aside from the rest of humanity and make them the only possible person who could solve the problem. As everyone else cringes in fear, they save the day. When we buy into that ‘single savior’ concept, we give away our power and our sense of self-responsibility.
We see the latter scenario played out over and over in religion. We sense that we’re estranged from the Divine, and we assume that means we’re in trouble. But instead of approaching Source to see if that’s really true, we cringe in fear. When someone else, who is essentially no different than we are, steps past their fear and experiences the Divine, we turn them into a hero/savior. We hand over our power and self-responsibility in the hopes that what they did will cover us too, but in this case, our heroes can’t help us. They can show us the door and evidence that it’s possible to walk through, but they can’t help us through and they certainly can’t carry us through.
What’s the moral of this and every other hero story? You’re the hero who must save yourself. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, “If your bring forth what is within you, what your bring forth will save you.” In the Dialogue of the Savior, the gnostic teacher Silvanus wrote:
Knock on yourself as upon a door and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that road, it is impossible for you to go astray….Open the door for yourself that you may know what is…whatever you will open for yourself, you will open.” But there’s no need for fear. As Jesus pointed out, “knock and the door will be opened.
To learn more about science and spirituality, download sample chapters of our book The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son, or sign up for a free video eCourse “Obstacles to Spiritual Growth” we invite you to visit http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com