By Brijraj Chauhan
We all long for adventure! We all like the heroes and legends . As deep in human psyche lies a spirit for adventure ,doing something extraordinary. We all wanted to do something very different from ordinary in life ,we all have ambition to do the impossible. But sadly as we grow up, we end up taking the safe option of following the general trend . We end up like everybody else.
Leaving those words now we come back to the topic ‘the heroes journey’. We all go to watch heroic movies or like to read books where hero who is a normal guy beats all odds and fulfils his destiny and becomes more wiser in process ,good wins over evil etc. This same narrative can be seen in many cultural legends, literature, transcending different eras ,Star wars or Marvel movies ,even a human beings life !
The concept of ‘heroes journey’ was first recorded by Joseph Campbell in his book in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) and then his other book “Hero’s journey “.
Joseph Campbell was very positive person who he was big fan of heroes, legends and myths of different cultures and countries. So he recorded this common narrative of heroes journey in his works . Personally for me the heroes journey is the journey of self discovery or in Campbell’s words following your own bliss. It is about living a full life. Transforming from ordinary to special!
‘follow your own bliss and the universe will open the doors where there were only walls’- Joseph Campbell
Discussing The Journey
A heroes journey leads him into 3 acts
I)Departure from ordinary
II)Initiation to special
III)Return from special
The journey’s stages might be avoided or repeated,depending on different stories but they will appear at sometime.
Originally the journey had 17 stages but modern script writer Christopher Volger has made it 12 stages.
The heroes journey can just be normal dilemma of mind with normal life struggles but it can also have an interesting external adventure !
1.The Ordinary world – The Ordinary world how it is in your own life ,the status quo, simple life we all live. We all live a lesser version of ourselves. We follow others like sheep. Every hero starts his journey in the normal world as normal guy with no special . But deep in our own minds we have this question : is there something more to life ?
e.g Like in the story of Lord Buddha who lived a normal life of a prince as Siddharth, perfect in every sense but still incomplete. He had the question for something bigger. Or the movie Lagaan where Bhuvan(Amir Khan) is just an ordinary farmer who prays for rain and hopes that taxes imposed by British are low.
2.Call for an adventure– it is a call of destiny , in our own lives we get this call , a challenge which if we accept can change everything . It can be a one day trip or a new job or new idea to pursue. Sadly most of us don’t accept this call and we play it safe .
e.g In the beginning of every mission impossible movie there is a dialogue ‘this is your mission Jim ,should you choose to accept it’. In the iconic Indian movie ‘Sholay’,Thakur Singh gives an offer to Jai and Veeru to catch Gabbar the dacoit. Even the story of lord Buddha has call for adventure as enlightenment couldn’t be attained in the palace walls.
3.Refusal of the call – we often refuse the call for adventure as it is risky. The special world is a metaphor for chaos, the unknown and untamed path. Once again I would like to say an adventure is psychological and physical dilemmas . So with so much insecurity , fear and confusion . Normally we refuse the call for adventure. But heroes journey is not normal . So whether he refuses or accepts the call he needs to travel ahead in the story by default. That’s what makes him the hero right ?
4.Meeting mentors and friends – In our lives we meet people who influence us. They teach how to travel on our path. We also meet friends and allies in our journey of self discovery. Sometimes we have idols who we copy but we have never met in person but they also shape our mindset .
In the our hindu epics also we see Lord Rama meets many sages ,wise men and woman during his 14 year exile in the forests this all leads to spiritual self awakening in Rama which turns into god (adi purush) he is today !
e.g In the movie Lagaan Bhuvan makes new friends and the English lady who helps him understand cricket.
5.Crossing the first threshold – this is the border between special and ordinary world . It is the decision from where there is no turning back .Point of no return. In our own lives we face tough life changing decisions changing academic streams ,changing jobs , moving to a new city, marrying a person etc . It is a step from where you go from unconscious to the unknown .
e.g when in Lagaan – Bhuvan accepts Captain Andrew Russell’s challenge of a cricket match in exchange of cancelling the Lagaan (tax) if the villagers win and if villagers lose then they have to 3 times the original tax!. In other instance we can go to the game ‘God of War’ when kratos loses his soul to Ares and also when Kratos declares war on the gods of Olympus!
6.Tests ,allies and enemies– As students we all know what tests to they prepare us for real deal. During this process we understand our allies and enemies. At this stage we come to know our calibre. The hero practice for the ordeals he will face in future. Here the positive light good side of hero is also tested. The hero s negative traits are also highlighted. There is scope for improvement always ! So don’t get dull when someone criticise you .
e.g when Yudhisthir is tested by the Yaksha in the mahabharata or the test of Karna by the vedic gods
7.Innermost Cave – it is when we enter the place we fear the most . In heroes journey it can be psychological or it can be an actual dark place where you have to kill the villain to win the reward . It is the place where you have the question ‘what should I do now’, it is the hardest battle for which you have no solution!
e.g when Dante enters the hell to save his Beatrice, but he doesn’t know what to do ! When Arjun knows he has to fight his own Guru and family members. When Gautam Buddha enters into non ending fast and meditation because he thought that was the way to attain enlightenment.
“ the cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek “
8.The ordeal – the most climatic moment ,it is not present in its full strength in most of our lives because we didn’t take the above risk or we have not reached it till now . This is the stage where there is imminent fall ,loss ,betrayal or gamble where everything is at stake. One step wrong and you are finished . There can also deep inner crisis. Only rebirth is an option at this stage . Sometimes we have symbolic rebirth like concept of Phoenix rising from the ashes or the enlightenment of the Pandavas or the knowledge gained by Buddha.
e.g the ordeal can be the last over of Lagaan where everything of the villagers is at stake. In other instance we can see the Gautam Buddha collapsed/fainted due to hunger as he was in deep meditation. When he was given rice by an old woman he regained his senses and became more wise ! Reborn as Buddha! The ordeal makes us a much better person than we were before maybe.
In order to win the hero must die ,lose to be reborn stronger,wiser and enlighted
9.The Reward – After all the hard work we get the reward . The reward can be physical wealth or can be a solved inner conflict or just a good family dinner. The hero also receives the reward like wealth,knowledge,inner peace , world balance etc
e.g The Pandavas win Hastinapur after the Mahabharata (THE VIJAYA), in Lagaan the village’s taxes are exempted after they win . You know the happy ending stuff
10.The Road Back – this stage is only present in epic stories which are complete in themselves . At this stage the hero realises his purpose in the special world is fulfilled and the power he has gained can corrupt him or the dark deeds he did or can do haunt him or maybe his villain is still alive and will come back with vengeance. This can be said for bad habits and ego as whenever we win something we develop an attitude which makes us overconfident and selfish. So the hero now starts the journey back to the ordinary world. Because if he stays in the special world he will become god or he will become a dictator with all the powers he has gained.
e.g The Pandavas lose their powers after winning the Mahabharata. The valiant supposedly best archer in the world Arjun cannot defeat simple barbarians and goons he could not save the city of Dwarka at this moment he realises that his purpose of hero Is fulfilled and now he must retire back to ordinary. But here there can be different scenario as in Matrix Neo has return back to matrix to save morpheus. In the God of War when Kratos becomes a god he gets corrupted by power.
11.Resurrection – this is the most critical stage where there is a final battle with inner demons . Where the hero must discover his true power and solve his inner battles and defeat the villain. The final stage. Where the fate of world rests on you . Here the circle of self discovery complete it self. When discover the true knowledge. The true light .The nirvana,The moksha, The njbbana ,The Jaya
e.g When Gautam Buddha gets true enlightened under the Bodhi tree. When Yudhisthir reaches heaven and leaves behind all the shackles of material life and then attains moksha in vaikuntha.When kratos kills Zeus with his new power and then dies.
12.Return with elixir – the hero returns with elixir to the ordinary world . When hero comes back people rejoice As hero uses his knowledge to heal people help people and make their lives better. The heroes journey is not complete until he returns. This also symbolises the endless cycle of birth and rebirth in hindu religion as the heaven and hell are temporary in hinduism unless one attains moksha then he joins the cosmos the almighty the universe the Vaikuntha (the land of eternal bliss )
Also elixir can be a metaphor for growth, love, freedom, prosperity ,discovery etc
Spiritual Journey and Self discovery
This goes deeper than all the myths and the real history it is the purpose of human soul to live it is fully realised life . These tales really inspire us to conquer our innermost caves and guide us to live a Hero’s life ! In the end I would like to thank Sara McGuire who wrote an amazing article on 6 common things in your favourite movies . I would also thank Raw spirituality Channel and Tom. Hero’s journey is cycle of 12 stages, it is a continuous process. A normal journey also teaches us many things if we really observe we can see changes in us after the journey . Journeys truly transform your life but it all starts with accepting the call for adventure . So what are you waiting for adventure awaits !
“Fill your life with adventures
Not things to Have
Have stories to tell
Not fancy stuff to show”😊