By Sydney Miller and Master Charles Cannon
When you’re ready to ask, “Isn’t there something more to life?” then you’re ready for the holistic version of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Campbell’s “monomyth”—the common underlying story of the one human life we all share—is based on archetypes in the collective unconscious and plays out in the daily lives of individuals (usually unconsciously so). Heroes are the central characters (“protagonists”) of stories and reveal the patterns of much of our behavior. Since transformation is through awareness, not analysis, just becoming aware of root causes can bring a shift and an alertness/attention as to how they play out—if there is an intention to do so.
The phases of the journey occur in many layers, from small to large. They apply to our overall life cycle, the intensity of which is determined by the depth of the stories. The deeper-rooted the story, the more it plays out in our lives. The breakdown of the spiritual journey follows the overview of the 5-fold evolutionary cycle delineated by Master Charles Cannon and then the detailed steps of Campbell’s “hero’s journey” within it.
First of the 5-fold Evolutionary Cycle: PEAK
1. ORDINARY WORLD: Life as separate from Source (God) without awareness or awakening to subtle dimensions of wholeness (oneness with Source/God). This is the constant experience of 85 to 90 percent of the world’s population, characterized by oscillating polarities that bring conflict, pain, and suffering. Happiness is fleeting, despite its dogged pursuit. There may be occasional questioning whether there is “something more” to life and, if frequent enough, it will lead to the next stage.
Second of the 5-fold Evolutionary Cycle: EVOLUTION (Breakthrough)
2. CALL TO ADVENTURE: Increased awareness begins, perhaps even with glimpses of an awakened, fulfilled life beyond the five senses and the roller coaster of dual polarities. The need for change is seen and the comfort zone of the “ordinary world” begins to be felt as limited and confining. Inner conflicts occur again and again and the “comfort zone” is increasingly threatened.
3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL: Fears arise with the possibility of losing known comfort zones and the safety of the ordinary world. However, the conflict continues until the Call is accepted, creating an evolutionary breakthrough to the next stage.
Third of the 5-fold Evolutionary Cycle: INSIGHT
4. MEETING THE MENTOR: Insight is freed up by the removal of the block created by stories. The mentor prepares and supports the hero using the guidance, gifts, and tools to face the demons of our minds. But ultimately, the hero must face them alone and clear the demons—his own limiting, debilitating beliefs and stories which prevent him from a truthful, freedom-filled reality. Meeting a master spiritual teacher is very rare and only happens when there is a strong commitment to truth and enlightening experience.
5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD: The hero agrees to take the risk and face the demons of his own making. There’s no going back to the comfort zones and he moves forward into what may sometimes seem to be the “battle of his life.”
Fourth of the 5-fold Evolutionary Cycle: PROCESSING (Clearing)
6. TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES: The details of the journey begin to manifest, along with assistance (Allies) or resistance from others (Enemies). This is where the innermost self begins reflecting, in earnest, the depths of one’s being. There are new rules and conditions to discern in making “the unconscious conscious.” People in our world are all reflections and self-referential mirrors that reveal our illusory, debilitating stories. They appear as “challenges” yet gratitude is given for them, since they reveal the hidden beliefs that may never have otherwise surfaced for clearing.
7. APPROACH: This is the approach to the inner battleground of truth versus illusion. There are glimmers of battles to be fought, identifications to be released, and soaring freedoms to be experienced. A major change is coming and there is a pause to inwardly prepare.
8. ORDEAL, DEATH, AND REBIRTH: Ordeals involve the arousal of our greatest fears. The Hero may suffer because he doesn’t want to let go of the “security of the known.” However, the longer he holds onto it, the more intense is the experience until he hits what Master Charles Cannon calls the “sledgehammer effect” (continually hitting ourselves over the head until we see what we’re really doing and stop it). Eventually, we give up the story, let go, and experience a death of the known—releasing into stillness and peace. Having reached this deep level of balance, there is a rebirth—a new form, a new worldview and state of being.
Fifth of the 5-fold Evolutionary Cycle: INTEGRATION
9. REWARD: The ordeal is over and the reward is a marked new level of increased enlightening and awareness of truth.
10. THE RETURN: The hero has to learn how to fit in again, without illusory judgment of others which diminishes truthful and blissful experience. Integrating the outer world with the new inner state of awareness is the journey of these final stages.
11. RESURRECTION: This stage is about demonstrating how well the lesson was learned, showing up in the recurring releases and subsequent return to the stillness and bliss of the new-found state of being.
12. THE ELIXIR: This is the stage of mastery. The inner state has expanded to include more awareness and bliss. Stillness has increased. Wakefulness is focused to maintain alertness (and avoid lapsing into absence/samadhi, which is a constant pull into blissful stillness). Productivity is increased because creativity comes from a quiet (balanced) mind.