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Hero’s Journey Step 7 – Death

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Looking at that heading, this may sound like a terrible subject. It is not, this is about a metaphorical death. The death of a pattern of behavior, A habit or a death of a self belief, or even a removal from the world for a short time. 


The metaphorical death is the death through departure. going on a holiday, new job, jail, rehab, university, or getting married. The Hero, you, does not realize that you are metaphorically dead to the world when you go through the threshold, but soon there is a realization. You do not know what is happening in the real world, and they in the real world, does not know what you are going through. The old job or life is in the past and the people that you once spent a lot of time with, you barely see any more, if at all. You as a hero must go on this journey, part of this new learning must be done away from the people that may hold you back. There will be a time that you will be with them again, but it will not be the same as it was. You will not be able to relive the old days. We will talk about what happens when you go back to the world you left in a latter post.


This is the re-invention of the self. You have the opportunity of looking at the way things were and have come to the conclusion that something must change. What that something is, you do not know, but you are in the process of discovering that which needs change. It is in the journey that we shed off aspects of the old self and find that the new self is already there. This is the action of creation and creativity. Stagnation is not growth, only when we discard that which no longer works or is wanted do we grow. This is the process of Sacrifice. What part of the self are you willing to sacrifice on the fires of change to grow into your full potential. Just as a baby must sacrifice the stability of moving around on all four to stand in instability, to then stand tall in a far more efficient form, with advantages that were not discovered till the change was made.  


The death of a pattern of behavior or habit, is painful and needed, then it becomes a moment of celebration into a new creation. The actions that we once had that were fit for our surroundings, no longer work, I need to find another way to act. the old way of acting in a situation must die and a new form of behavior must be born.


How do we know what needs changing, and how to change it?

The best metaphor for this is that story of Leonardo da Vinci creating the statue of David, the block of marble that was rejected by other artists. Leonardo sat and looked at the marble for a long time. Walking away from it and coming back just to sit and look at it. All the time others would push him to do his job instead of just sitting there. Then when he completed the job, he stated that the statue was always there, he just had to release it from the unwanted superfluous knobs with his hammer, chisel, and perseverance.


We are an unshapen block of marble, with the great beauty waiting to be released. To see what must be taken away or sacrificed takes observation. By sitting and looking at the block of marble, meaning our self. Sit back and replay moments in the day that caused you emotional tension. See your self as others do, and ask your self, was there another way in dealing with that? At times we are not capable of looking at certain aspects of our life in such a way. This is when we observe others and their behavior towards us. Others are a mirror of our behavior. Did the other person respond without respect? What did I do to cause that response? How could I have handled that interaction differently?


I recall a story a Taoist Master once told me about a conversation between a pillar of wood and a wooden statue;

Late one night when all the worshipers had gone home to bed, the Temple came to life. The large pillar of wood that held the celling up spoke to the wooden statue of Buddha.

“Tell me Statue, why do all the people come and bow low to you?”

The Statue thought deeply about this and replied after some time of contemplation “They do not bow to me but to what I represent.”

“I am made of wood as are you little statue, I have the function of keeping the rain off the people by holding the celling up. I also keep the sun from the people by helping to provide shade. What function do you have little statue?”

The statue smiled and with great humility stated “I try to remind them of their possibility and their potential. I am that which they whish to be.”

The Pillar of wood frowned in disbelief. “But you just sit there doing nothing. You do not remind anyone with your silence. How are we so different? You are wood as am I, yet no one bows to me besides the cleaner scrubbing the floor, and even they disregard me as an obstacle.”

With sorrow the statue replied “I was once like you, big strong and mighty. You are write in what you say. However are you willing to sacrifice your self to the artist to painfully chip away at you, taking all that you think makes you strong, just to whittle you down peace by peace till you too become such as I?”

The large pillar of wood looked horrified. “No way would I let anyone do that to me. That sounds so panful and I would lose my great strength.”

Again is sorrow, but now sorrow for the pillar went on to say. “This is why you are not worshiped. And in your own words, ignored as an obstacle. You now only have your self to tell you how great you are, whereas I and worshiped for my endurance and beauty. I am told by others how great I am for this, whereas you are not. It is only through sacrificing parts of our self will the beauty become known.”

That Taoist Master told me that it would be foolish to try to change many things about my life I did not like. he told me to pick that one thing that brings me the greatest unhappiness. I chose Patience, I did not know then that this choice was to be so painful. I am still practicing it and feel I have not mastered it, yet my work collogues often tell me that I am the most patient person they have met. For I have found that it was not others I had to be patient with but my self, my anger, my instant gratification and my wants. I found my self swearing less, as swearing was a sign of a lack of patience. I found that the tardiness of others became an opportunity to be at peace, not an excuse to be angry. And the mistakes that others make became a lesson for me to become patient with my arrogance. My mantra remains to be the same, be patient in the moment, this became harder when I had children, and watching the train wreck of their own creation unfold. I had to be patient it their process of learning.


What are you willing to sacrifice to become a better you?


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