I've been thinking about what I wrote regarding the Hero's Journey, bliss, and contentment in my last post. The Here's Journey requires us to ask what is my bliss and to follow that bliss rather than, as I suggested, what is my contentment and follow your contentment. The Hero's Journey is a big journey, a big step for us, an adventure which makes us feel alive, makes us feel connected to our spiritual source, and makes us feel as though we are living a meaningful life.
As my friend Waylon pointed out to me, the Hero's Journey doesn't always involve traveling somewhere; rather, what's important is that the Hero's Journey is always an interior journey. We do something, we take the journey, because we believe it will make us a better person, a more fully lived person, a person tapping into our potential, and a person living the life we imagine for ourselves.
Bliss, therefore, does seem the right idea that would compel us to take our Journey. Bliss is crazy wisdom, a teaching in much of Tibetan Buddhism, especially the teachings of Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche. Bliss is that big dream, the idea we think is farfetched, and yet, something we want to pursue. Will we obtain it? That's not the point. The point is the Journey. The point is going after that dream. The point is not the attainment, not the destination, and not the getting. The point is that we should keep our goal at the forefront of our journey, but once we embark we should let the journey take us where it will. We should remain open to changes and chance and opportunity and life unfolding in the way that it will.
Contentment has its place, by all means, but seeking contentment in regard to the Hero's Journey typically isn't the big interior or exterior journey that Joseph Campbell encourages us to take.
My friend Natasha, Waylon's sister, is the person who has sparked this contemplation about the Hero's Journey. She left a well paying career in marketing at the age of thirty nine to pursue a different career. She left her family and friends in Eugene, Oregon to pursue a Master's Degree in Gerontology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Immersing herself in the world of academia she encountered the teachings of Joseph Campbell and his concept of the Hero's Journey and now considers her decision to leave the comfort of her past life to pursue the uncertainty, and yet, the dream, of a life, a career, in gerontology as her Hero's Journey. I consider her incredibly knowledgeable in the Campbell's idea of of the Hero's Journey and she recently clarified for me that follow your bliss is a bit of a misinterpretation and misconception about the Hero's Journey. Rather, a better understanding of the Hero's Journey is pursue your avocation, or the question what is your life's work? When we ask ourselves what is I want to do as a career or even outside of a career, as a life's work, that we will find rewarding and meaningful, then we are embarking upon our Hero's Journey. We think our life's work needs to be the magnificent, but it doesn't. It can be the small, making a difference only to a few rather than the masses. It's detrimental to think big—Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr big. Let's face it: the vast majority of us will never make that significant of societal change. Rather, what we must do, over and over again, is ask ourselves how can I given my strengths, talents and interests best utilize myself to feel what I am doing is meaningful and to remember that virtually everything is meaningful in some context to someone.
So perhaps the question isn't what is my bliss or what is my contentment but rather what is meaningful to me?