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Ep 2 Transcription "The Hero in You"

Leona:

Hi friends. Welcome to the, get off your affirmation podcast. I'm Leona Evans, and I'm here today with my son and co-host Matthew J. Evans.

Matthew:

Hi, I'm looking forward to talking about today's topic, which is the hero's journey. It's something that I've studied a lot in film classes, talking about storytelling and story structure. And it was really exciting when I got to take all of that experience and knowledge that I'd learned and discuss it with you in the context of applying the hero's journey to our own lives.

Leona:

Isn't that great. The hero's journey can be found everywhere in literature. It's probably one of the most fascinating and powerful frameworks that help us understand why bad things happen to good people. Why we experience challenges in life when we're really trying to manifest our goals. The hero's journey illustrates through archetypes, allegories and mythology, universal human experiences of triumph over adversity. Now the stories might be different depending on who we are, where we are, and what we wish to achieve. But the journey is always the same.

Leona:

One of the saddest things I hear people say is, “I've made such an effort to manifest my heart's desire, but well, there were too many challenges and I decided that the universe was telling me not to do it or that I didn't deserve it or that for some reason I wasn't supposed to have it.”

Matthew:

I've seen that happen with several people. And it's really hard. It makes it feel like you don't have any control over your life, or that you're at the mercy of invisible forces that you can't do anything about.

Leona:

Yes. It implies that everything we do, if we're to be successful, should go smoothly. And that any problems that might come up are a result of our doing something wrong or the universe not supporting us

Matthew:

Or a lack of personal value, that maybe we don't deserve it.

Leona:

Let me give you an example of how this played out for me once many years ago, when I first decided to apply to Unity Ministerial School. All of my friends knew about it and were very encouraging. They thought it was an answer to prayer, and that it was divinely ordained that I should go. Well, not long after I made my decision, I was involved in a serious traffic accident. I was in the crosswalk of a busy corner when a car came backward and pushed me out of the crosswalk into an oncoming bus, crushing my leg. I sustained some pretty serious injuries at that time. Over the next three months, I had six or seven surgeries. And when I came out of the hospital and recuperated, I told one of my friends that I was ready to send in my application to Unity seminary. Well, she was very shocked. And she said, “Wow, you're still going to apply to ministerial school?” And I said, “Yes, of course, why not?” And she said, “After what happened to your leg, I would think you would take that as a sign that the universe doesn't want you to go.”

Matthew:

Wow. Someone really said that to you. Oh my gosh. That makes me so uncomfortable.

Leona:

It was really hard to hear. She was implying that life was a roadmap. And if you see a detour that means you should turn around and go back. And the only time your trip can be successful is if it's smooth sailing. So that's the biggest reason I want to talk about the hero's journey today. This framework can help us understand that our challenges are really gifts and that as we overcome them, we move forward toward greater awareness and greater enlightenment. In other words, our spiritual journey involves embracing our obstacles as part of the journey, instead of believing that they're separate from it. So today I respectfully challenge everyone who is listening to this program to Get Off Your Affirmation and become the hero of your own life.

Matthew:

So let's get a little background information on Joseph Campbell. Many people first heard of him from his incredible interviews with bill Moyers in the eighties called the Power of Myth. He became very popular, even though he had been doing his work for many years before that. He was a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, where he worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. And so we see that his work covers many aspects of the human experience.

Leona:

He was a powerful teacher who gathered together symbols and archetypes from history, scriptures, popular stories, mythology, and artwork to help us understand experiences that are common to all humanity, that each of us is going through a similar process of coming to greater self-awareness and maturity. One of the things he said was, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." Another quote of his is "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek".

Matthew:

So in other words, the challenge itself is the gift that enables us to move forward on our journey.

Leona:

Yes, exactly. Now in Joseph Campbell's master work Hero of a Thousand Faces, he talks about 12 stages of the hero's journey. But today, for the sake of clarity, we've condensed the hero's journey into four major themes. The first stage is the Call to Adventure. This combines the ideas of both feeling a need to grow and experience new things, and finding an opportunity calls upon us to depart from our everyday world. This isn't necessarily a physical move, but a move in consciousness. And very often we're frightened of this new possibility and are not sure we can accomplish it.

Matthew:

Yeah. It's one thing to want to have a new experience. And another thing entirely to have one that seems so different and a little daunting.

Leona:

That's right. The second stage is called Crossing the Threshold. When we're confronted with all kinds of unusual experiences and difficulties that appear to thwart our process,

Matthew:

This can be a really exhausting and confusing time. it's like taking that leap of faith to suddenly find ourselves confronted with all kinds of new challenges.

Leona:

That is very true. And that's why the third stage is referred to as The Inmost Cave, because we have had so many challenges and we've been inundated with so many new experiences that we go into a deep inner crisis, asking ourselves all kinds of questions. It's our darkest hour in which we feel near total defeat.

Matthew:

Yeah. It seems like it would be really easy to give up at that point.

Leona:

Yes. And many people do, unfortunately. However, the fourth stage is the Resurrection and Return, which is a time when we find a strength within us we didn't know we had, and we rise above our challenges and proclaim our victory. Then after the victory, or as a result of the victory, we return home with greater maturity, greater knowledge, and a sense of gratitude for the process itself.

So now let's illustrate the hero's journey by using the Wizard of Oz. As an example.

Matthew:

We meet an ordinary girl named Dorothy, who lives on a farm in Kansas. She has a simple life, but longs to go off on an adventure.

Leona:

She wants to run away. She wants to go over the rainbow. She wants a place that's happy. This actually means we're getting in touch with some of the deeper realities of our own nature. So what happens? She receives a Call to Adventure and this call comes in a very unusual way. Most of the time, it's something that's totally unexpected,

Matthew:

Very out of the ordinary.

Leona:

She experiences a tornado that rips apart her home. And we see her go from a black and white world to a technicolor world, which represents moving from the dull and the drab to something brilliant and almost overwhelming. Dorothy finds herself in a place where she doesn't know anything that's going on. And then she finds out that inadvertently she's killed the Wicked Witch of the East. And how does she find out? Because her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, comes and threatens her severely. She wants those ruby slippers that Dorothy found on her feet. Those ruby slippers represent power. Dorothy doesn't even know how they got there, and what's worse, she can't get them off and give them back.

Matthew:

Talk about being forced to go on that adventure. You know, she didn't mean to get whisked away in the tornado, didn't mean to get the shoes, but here she is, and now she's got to go off on this whole adventure.

Leona:

Well, that's what it seems to be. But if you understand that she wanted very much to live a greater, more fulfilling life, a new life with different experiences, then it kind of makes sense that she has to be caught in a situation where the only place she could move would be forward.

Matthew:

She asks for an adventure, she'll get an adventure.

Leona:

Pretty much. Everybody keeps telling Dorothy, go see the Wizard.

Matthew:

Yeah. Follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Leona:

Yes. Follow the yellow brick road. Joseph Campbell says, "Follow your bliss." This is a place where the hero understands that this is nothing like what it's been before. And the wisest thing Dorothy says when she arrives in Munchkinland. "Toto," she says to her loving dog," I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." That's a metaphor for realizing that you're not in a comfortable place anymore, but you don't know exactly where you are or how to find your way out. So she's off to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz to help her get back home.

Matthew:

Yeah. We're beyond the everyday world now.

Leona:

Indeed. And so she goes to the next step, Crossing the Threshold, moving into obstacles, big time challenges, problems that go along with the journey. Now, rather than thinking, maybe I shouldn't be on this journey. It seems that there's an important lesson to learn on this. Why are these obstacles coming along just when we've decided to go on the journey to follow the Yellow Brick Road?

Matthew:

I think those challenges are important because those are the moments that teach us. You know, if it was something that we knew how to handle, then it wouldn't really be a challenge. Like when she meets the Scarecrow, and she says, “ Oh, hey, Scarecrow, come with me.” And then she meets the Tin Man. And then she says, “Oh, Hey, Tin Man, come along.” And then they meet the Lion and so on and so forth. Then she gets to the Wizard and goes home, and she didn't learn anything. She just went on a long walk with friends.(laughter) You have to have those challenges so that you're stepping out of your comfort zone. The whole point of an adventure of a hero's journey is to go out of your comfort zone and learn something and create a newer, better comfort zone until the next challenge comes along.

Leona:

In the beginning. Dorothy believes that home is a geographic location. And as she moves along the amazing journey and finds out more and more about herself, she realizes that home is where her heart is, where her soul is, where her life is. This is a place that we need to be familiar with, our own authentic self. What we call the Divine I Am, the Light, the Soul within each one of us. So the journey is a necessary and powerful one with many challenges along the way She befriends the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Man who wants a heart, the Cowardly Lion who wants courage. These friends represent the qualities that Dorothy desires in herself and fears she doesn't have when the going gets tough. The Wicked Witch of the West represents the forces of darkness that she fears will annihilate her. Dorothy and her friends overcome many obstacles. However, when Dorothy is captured by the Wicked Witch of the West, she feels she has no way out. She has gone to the Inmost Cave. This is a state of mind where she really has to look deeply inside of herself, find out what she's made of, and determine whether or not she's actually willing to overcome or rise above this near-death experience.

Matthew:

So this is the moment of truth. And this happens to all of us on the hero's journey.

Leona:

This is when we realize that our goals are not only for ourselves, but have a purpose that's greater and more powerful than we thought. In Dorothy's case, it's not only to free herself, but her friends as well. And so finally, we decide to move forward with the help of our friends and mentors to make the choice, to go on, to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to come to the other side and have a great understanding, even greater than we had in the beginning, of what we really wanted and how blessed we are, how grateful we are, how renewed we are and how insightful we are to be able to really look back and understand what that journey was all about and why every step of it, including the darkest moments was necessary.

Matthew:

And then once we've experienced that resurrection, then we're ready for the return, but it's not really a return because we're seeing it from a whole new level of consciousness. Dorothy goes back to Kansas, but it's not the same Kansas. She has a new appreciation and understanding, a love of her family and the community she's in. So it's like a whole new perspective.

Leona:

Well, actually it is the same Kansas. But it's Dorothy, that's not the same. She sees things in a whole new way. So yes, after the resurrection there is a return home, a recognition that we can go back to where we started from. But, in fact, everything looks different, everything looks more beautiful and everything is enhanced by all of our experiences.

Matthew:

And that's the joy of it because ideally you've grown and learned something you can apply for next time because inevitably there's going to be another journey.

Leona:

Joseph Campbell gave us so many illustrations to help us see that, in truth, we're never lost or alone. We're never devoid of opportunities to learn and grow in this universe. And all of its wisdom is at our fingertips. And if we can just figure out and understand the power of the hero's journey, we'll never need to say, "Maybe this event, this terrible experience means I shouldn't pursue my goals." If we don't achieve our goals for one reason or another, it might indicate that either we didn't want it enough or we didn't feel we deserved it or that it wasn't really that important to us, but we would quit of our own volition. Not because the universe forced us not to go ahead. No, the universe is on our side, but it's not without its growing pains is it. As we've said, every problem contains within it, the gold in the shadow, the possibilities for a solution that's greater than anything we've ever known.

Matthew:

And each one of the main characters gets to experience their own personal transformation.

Leona:

The Scarecrow wants a brain and the Wizard gives him a diploma, but he reminds the Scarecrow, "How could you have been so clever to think your way out of those challenging situations, if you didn't have a brain?'. So the Wizard is not the savior that they expected, but a way shower, who points them in the direction of greater understanding. The Tin Man wants a heart. And of course the Wizard grants one by giving him a heart-shaped ticking clock. But that's not where the heart is. The Wizard reminds the Tin Man that he wouldn't have had such great compassion, and wouldn't have been such a loyal friend if he hadn't had a heart to begin with. Again, the only thing that was missing was self-awareness. The so-called Cowardly Lion receives a medal for bravery and courage, but the bravery and courage was already inside him, or he wouldn't have made it through. He would have fainted or passed out or had been gone a long time ago. But because he made it through, that shows he had the courage inside of him all along. So this is what the journey is about, to help us see that we have within the spectrum of our consciousness, all that we need to experience our greatest good, but it doesn't necessarily come as a gift.

Matthew:

That's the best part because they did receive these external symbols of their lesson, but they had it all within them the whole time. They were unconsciously using those things while they were in the process of going on their journey.

Leona:

That is a very good insight. And that's why it's called the hero's journey because each of us is a hero, with a blueprint that's imprinted within our consciousness.

Matthew:

You're already a hero, even if you're just starting and, and in the everyday world, and bored and dissatisfied. You're just a hero at the beginning of a journey.

Leona:

Yes. And the hero at the beginning of the journey is pretty unconscious. The reason for the hero's journey as we repeat it over and over again in our lives is to help us become conscious of our innate gifts that we didn't know we had. So Matthew, you're going to share those stages of the hero's journey through the lens of another epic story.

Matthew:

Yes. The first Star Wars movie, A New Hope is one of the most iconic movies of all time and was explicitly inspired by the hero's journey. The creator of star Wars, George Lucas actually cites Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces as one of his sources of inspiration. So Luke Skywalker lives on a desert planet, on a farm, in the middle of nowhere. He's bored where he is. He wants to leave home and be a pilot and go on great adventures, but he can't just run off and leave because he has his obligations to his family, working on the farm. Luke has his first call to adventure when he's invited by an old Jedi Knight named Obi Wan Kenobi, to help them take R2D2, a droid carrying secret plans from princess Leia, to her home planet in order to help the rebels in their fight against the evil galactic empire. As epic and exciting is that sounds, Luke refuses this initial call to adventure.

Matthew:

He feels bound to his work and family obligations, but by the time Luke returns to his farm, he discovers the imperial stormtroopers are searching for the droid, with the secret plans and have killed his family and destroyed the farm. Luke has essentially lost his home, the only family he's ever known and has no choice other than joining Obie Wan in his mission. This is where we transition to crossing the threshold. This is where the adventure really begins. Luke goes places he's never been, meets people he's never seen before, and faces brand new challenges and situations. With Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke and Obi Wan travel across the galaxy to deliver the plans. They travel to Princess Leia's home planet only to discover that it's been destroyed by the super weapon called the Death Star. How much more of a ominous and intimidating sounding name can you get than the Death Star?

Matthew:

Well, the team gets trapped inside the Death Star and now they have to rescue the princess, who has also been captured there and make their escape. This is all very exciting for Luke who has gone from endless deserts and boring farm life to swinging over giant chasms and rescuing princesses. You know, this is quite a transition. However, we reach the inmost cave moment, the moment of greatest struggle, when Obi Wan, the wise elder figure, dies sacrificing himself so the others can escape. This is another huge loss for Luke. Now he's lost his mentor as well as almost his sense of guidance in this new adventure. But the movie progresses and we get to the resurrection, the overcoming. Luke is flying his ship around the Death Star on the most critical mission to destroy it. He's flying through the trenches. He's the only person left. It's his last chance to save the day.

Matthew:

When all of a sudden he hears Obi Wan's voice telling him to use the Force, to have trust in himself. And in that moment, Luke experiences that overcoming and feels the strength within himself to accomplish his goals and become the hero he was meant to be. Obi Wan tells him to use the Force, which is the power within him, to do superhuman things. He's supposed to guide this missile to a tiny target that no one could make without computer assistance. But Luke turns off his guidance system and relies on his own instincts and intuition, which he can use now that he believes in himself. And so the Force and Luke become stronger than the Death Star and Darth Vader. And Luke fires the rocket, blows up the Death Star, becomes the hero and wins the day. So they can all return home to their base where Luke and Han received medals for their heroism.

Matthew:

As a side note, Han has been on his own hero's journey where he started off as kind of a rogue, a pirate who's only interested in money, but now he believes in something bigger than himself. He's fighting for a cause and he comes back when he doesn't have to, not only to help his friends, but to help save the day. They have a great sense of accomplishment, growth and new purpose in their lives. It's a pretty typical hero's journey and a wonderful opportunity to learn about and rely on the power within all of us. But following the cycle that Joseph Campbell talks about, this was only the first movie. So as the movies go on that cycle of being challenged and tested and having to prove to yourself and to the world around you, that you can achieve and you can overcome obstacles, Luke and everyone else has to reach it over and over again, just like everyone else does. The hero's journey never finishes.

Leona:

No, it doesn't ever finish because we continue to grow and evolve. And we reached the place in our journey when we realize that it's not necessarily about personal gain, that we have an obligation, not only to the light within us, but the light within everyone around us. And we become so much more fulfilled. That was very well described. Matthew, thank you so much. Now, when you talked about Luke's understanding of the Force, may the Force be with you? The force is always with us within us, but in order for us to really understand it, we have to experience what it feels like to not know that ---to live in the fear that we don't have it. And so when Luke finally hears that voice, the voice within him, the power within him saying, "Use the Force." And in that moment, he believes he can do it, he then becomes the hero of his own life, and blesses other people and becomes connected with a group of people who are also on a similar journey. Then he can move on.

Matthew:

It's inspiring to watch an overcomer, but it can really suck to be the person on the journey. You know, it can feel daunting and really overwhelming.

Leona:

And that's why it's so important to teach this framework instead of forgetting and believing that we're out there alone with some horrible task to accomplish and no way of doing it, know that it's part of our journey. Again, Joseph Campbell says, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,so as to have the life that's waiting for us." This is really, really important because sometimes our plans are too small and our self-concept is too small. Always remember the hero is inside of you. You were born for greatness.

Leona:

Get in touch with us. Tell us about your hero's journey. We're looking forward to hearing from you. We want to be on this journey together to recount examples, to strengthen one another, to remember how many plays or fairytales or Bible stories that remind us of this hero's journey, because it belongs to everyone.

Matthew:

Please get in touch with us. And as Joseph Campbell would say, tell us how you're following your bliss.

Leona:

Yes, indeed. Have a wonderful week, you deserve it.

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