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YOU ARE THE HERO – DISCOVERING THE FAIRYTALE THAT IS YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE (Part Two)

Most of you, I bet, have been bitten by the writing bug at one time or another. Perhaps there burns an all-consuming desire to pen, for the world, a sweeping saga of tragedy and triumph. Or, perhaps, something quieter and more intimate brews beneath the surface, meant to be revealed only to the few and the privileged. If you have a yen to tell a tale but believe, for whatever reason, that you don’t have what it takes, just know that everything you need, the stuff of legend itself, is already inside you.

Here’s a little exercise to demonstrate what I mean. It’s designed to show how incidents in your everyday life, when analyzed as a story, can take on mythic proportions. The trick is: you’ll be casting yourself as one of four familiar archetypes. They are: The Hero in Spite of Himself. The Divinely Guided Innocent. The Wounded Hero. And the Quester. Why these four? Because each, in its own way, embodies one of four steps on the path to self mastery.

You’re bound to experience some identification with each of them. That’s only natural. Life isn’t static. Heroes move up and down the “cosmic escalator” all the time, integrating past lessons with potential for growth. Our specific goal is to find out which of the four archetypes you identify with most, right now.

Whichever one it is, he or she will mirror the characteristics, the recurring life patterns and themes, that place you where you are in the plot of your unique fairy-tale. Apart from granting you useful insights into your own nature, these patterns and themes can lend a deep sense of reality to the journey of any fictional hero you create. (Cutter didn’t spring from thin air, y’know. He’s me, scars and all!)

Be aware that doing this exercise will require some soul-searching and, maybe, some uncomfortably honest answers. When I gave this talk at the Bodhi Tree in LA, the audience found it helpful for me to answer the questionnaire along with them. Some remarked it seemed like a new way of “journaling.” You may prefer to respond in your own head, but I highly recommend printing out the questionnaire and taking the time to fill it out by hand. What will emerge, as you’ll discover, is a real story about you, with a beginning, a middle, an end and even a moral.

We’ve set things up here on the web site so that you can enter your answers onto the web page right next to the questions — We’ll remember the answers you gave us, and show them to you again when they’re needed. If you don’t want to answer, that’s okay, as well, you’ll still be able to read the article in its entirety.

 

The Four Heroic Archetypes

 

The Hero in Spite of Himself

The Hero in Spite of Himself is represented by our old pal, Pinocchio. Here’s an archetype we love and identify with because we’ve all been there. He’s gullible. Greedy. He ignores Divine Guidance, even when it’s right in front of his nose in the form of the Blue Fairy. He squashes his own conscience and favors chances to be naughty over chances to do what’s right. It’s not that he’s bad. He’s simply “me directed.”

Pinocchio embodies the lesson that, after repeated error and hardship, our stubborn hearts can begin to open up. We begin to realize that the world does not revolve around us, that our actions have consequences, and that by being selfish, we harm others as well as ourselves. The hero in spite of himself learns lessons the hard way, but learn them he does. In the end, that’s what makes him a hero.

Pinocchio represents the first step on the road to self mastery – control of the baser urges.

OK. Time to fill out questionnaire #1. As you write, think about how you might have played, or may still be playing, the role of “Hero in Spite of Himself” in your own life.

 

QUESTIONNAIRE #1

Question A: What is the name of my personal “dragon”? (One Word) (Examples: resistance, guilt, blame, prejudice, anger, selfishness)Wendy’s response: Fear
Your response: 

Question B: Knowing that I create these events, what seems to happen repeatedly in my life that compels me to face my dragon?

Wendy’s response: I tend to avoid confrontations that make me uncomfortable.
Your response: 

Question C: At what point in those recurring events did I experience a darkest hour? (hit bottom, felt worst, blew it, big loss)

Wendy’s response: I avoided the chance to forgive someone who wronged me, was rude instead, and ended up feeling like a wimp.
Your response: 

Question D: What was the lesson of that darkest hour?

Wendy’s response: The person who wronged me is a mirror of my own fears of inadequacy.
Your response: 

Question E: If I learned the lesson, or even part of it, what was my reward? (Examples: personal growth, new opportunities, promotion)

Wendy’s response: I forgive and release this person.
Your response: 

 


The Divinely Guided Innocent

Next we have the Divinely Guided Innocent represented by Cinderella. We all know this tale of rags to well-deserved riches. But we don’t often take a close look at why Cinderella was so deserving.

In most versions, she’s portrayed as the underdog, a victim whom we cheer on to triumph over her evil stepsisters. But Cinderella’s actual triumph is in the progress she’s made toward self mastery. She is innocent of even justifiable self-pity or malice because she’s got her negative ego so well in hand.

No matter what task is demanded of her, she serves patiently, not to please others, but out of self discipline. As a result, she is tuned in to voices others cannot hear. When Divine Guidance appears in the form of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella recognizes her and is willing to trust and obey. Her ability to delay gratification in the arms of the Prince, in order to honor the Godmother’s “home by midnight” rule, is what finally leads Cinderella to happiness and freedom from bondage.

The Divinely Guided Innocent’s desire to go to the ball is not based on mere vanity. Rather, it represents the yearning inside all of us to unite with our True Selves…to be the Princes and Princesses we know we really are.

Cinderella corresponds to the second step on the path of self mastery – control of the emotions.

Go ahead, now, and answer the questions in questionnaire #2. Have you ever played the role of “The Divinely Guided Innocent” in your life? Just jot down whatever comes to mind.

 

QUESTIONNAIRE #2

Question A: Have you ever experienced what some would call Divine Guidance? (Examples: following your intuition, a timely rescue, “hearing” or “seeing” answers in your mind, unexplained coincidences)

Wendy’s response: I hear an inner voice.
Your response: 

Question B: Knowing that I create these events, what seems to happen repeatedly in my life that Divine Guidance helps me with?

Wendy’s response: I tend to get myself, unintentionally, into physical danger.
Your response: 

Question C: At what point in those recurring events did I experience a darkest hour? (hit bottom, felt worst, blew it, big loss)

Wendy’s response: I almost drowned one morning at Venice beach.
Your response: 

Question D: What was the lesson of that darkest hour?

Wendy’s response: Remain calm and trust that I’ll be carried to shore safely.
Your response: 

Question E: If I learned the lesson, or even part of it, what was my reward?

Wendy’s response: I’m still alive.
Your response: 

 


The Wounded Hero

Now we come to the Wounded Hero as represented by The Little Lame Prince. This fairy-tale isn’t as widely known as others, but it’s one of my favorites. The Little Lame Prince is an archetype I truly identify with.

To hide the shame of his crippled condition, and to shield him from the world, he was shut up high in a tower. From its one window he looked out on the kingdom and on its people going about their daily lives. He longed to run and play like other boys. And because he believed he never would, he felt sorry for himself and wept bitterly.

Just when he’d lost all hope, a good fairy appeared and gave him a wonderful gift: a cloak that could fly. Sitting on it like a magic carpet, the Little Lame Prince soared through the air, high above his kingdom and on to strange, faraway lands. He saw much and learned that he was only crippled if he believed he was. Nevermore would his limitations keep him confined to the tower or prevent his helping others.

The lesson here is that the mind has more power for good or ill than we know. We are what we believe we are. Whether emotional and physical limitations are imposed on us by the outside world, or by our own natures, our minds can either rule us or serve us, help us or destroy us. We change our beliefs and we change ourselves.

The Little Lame Prince represents the third step in the path of self mastery – control of the mind.

Please look at questionnaire #3. As before, quickly note any answers that come. Think how you may be playing the role of “The Wounded Hero” right now in your life.

 

QUESTIONNAIRE #3

Question A: What is the meaning of the physical or emotional “wound” I came into the world with, or got dealt after I was born?

Wendy’s response: Congenital hip dysplasia, which affects me as arthritis, means my body’s not perfect and I’m not free.
Your response: 

Question B: Knowing I create these events, what seems to happen repeatedly in my life to reinforce what I believe to be the meaning of my wound?

Wendy’s response: Frequently I push myself too hard and experience pain which reminds me that I’m not free to run and play as I want.
Your response: 

Question C: At what point in those recurring events did I experience a darkest hour? (hit bottom, felt worst, blew it, big loss)

Wendy’s response: A few days after major hip surgery, I went to pieces, believing I’d never walk normally again.
Your response: 

Question D: What was the lesson of that darkest hour?

Wendy’s response: Turn it over to God, be gentle with yourself and take it patiently, one day at a time.
Your response: 

Question E: If I learned the lesson, or even part of it, what was my reward?

Wendy’s response: I can walk normally, now, and am almost pain free.
Your response: 

 


The Quester

Finally we come to The Quester as represented by Sir Galahad. (Any Arthurian scholars out there, please forgive this shorthand version.)

Of all the chairs at King Arthur’s Round Table, one always stood empty. No knight could sit there, for if he even tried, he would instantly die. It was said that chair, known as the Siege Perilous, was reserved for just one: the purest knight in the realm. One day, a beautiful youth dressed in shining, white armor appeared in Arthur’s Hall. “Sire, I am Galahad, sent here by God to be one of the Knights of your Round Table.” The other knights scoffed at the lad, saying, “but there’s no room here!” Galahad went immediately to the Siege Perilous, and, before anyone could stop him, sat down. He did not die. Rather, the veil covering the back of the chair was lifted, and emblazoned there, for all to see, were the words, “This Is The Siege of Sir Galahad.” He was, indeed, the purest Knight in the realm. Later, he was one of the first to fulfill the quest for the Holy Grail.

A bit intimidating, isn’t he? Hard to identify with? Not really. Every day we have quests to fulfill, big and small, sacred and mundane. Single-mindedness, faith, passion, self sacrifice, action and courage are all attributes of the Quester. Some are nagged by the desire to know their life’s purpose and they spend a lifetime bravely seeking it. Others are driven by a sense of mission, a passionate urge to create something of lasting importance, to somehow make things better for their fellow humans. What characterizes a Quester most of all is the ability to look beyond the Self and see the big picture.

Sir Galahad represents the fourth step of initiation toward self mastery – becoming One with The Higher Self.

Please fill out questionnaire #4. Think about how you’ve played the role of “The Quester” in your life, or how you may be enacting it right now.

 

QUESTIONNAIRE #4

Question A-1: What is the goal of my ongoing Self Quest? (Examples: to trust, to know love, to learn my life mission)
(or) Question A-2: What worldly (material) quest do I want to fulfill?

Wendy’s response: I want to make a movie that will heal hearts.
Your response: 

Question B: Knowing I create these events, what actions do I take repeatedly in my life to fulfill my quest? (Examples: dealing with obstacles, relationship patterns, study habits, spiritual work)

Wendy’s response: I’ve entered, at times, into partnership with many different helpers who seemed wise in the ways of making movies.
Your response: 

Question C: At what point in those recurring events did I experience a darkest hour? (hit bottom, felt worst, blew it, big loss)

Wendy’s response: One day I realized none of my helpers had been able to get my movie a “green light” and I became discouraged.
Your response: 

Question D: What was the lesson of that darkest hour?

Wendy’s response: Rather than give up, find a way to produce the movie independently.
Your response: 

Question E: If I learned the lesson, or even part of it, what was my reward?

Wendy’s response: See movie news elsewhere on this web site!

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