Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Heroic Community: Part II, Refusal of the Call
We continue with musings on the heroic community from the previous post.
This section is all about refusing the call to adventure, the call to move forward.
Campbell writes, "Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved."
Instead of the herald or call to adventure becoming a boon, it becomes a curse, something that gnaws away at the individual's vitality. Campbell sites King Minos, who walls the monstrous Minotaur in a labyrinth, as an example.
"What ever house [the person refusing the call] builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his Minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."
Wow, that's rough, right?
Campbell goes on to say that refusal generally happens because it's "a refusal to give up what one takes to be one's own interest. The future is regarded not in terms of an unremitting series of deaths and births, but as though one's present system of ideals, virtues, goals, and advantages were to be fixed and made secure."
Through this denial, we blindfold ourselves and stumble off the path of our authentic self's choosing, blundering deeper into the wilderness. If only we remove the blindfold, we could perhaps begin to find our way again or at least forge a new path. I find it interesting that refusals often arise because we believe that things will stay the same as they are for all time - as opposed to embracing the true constant of the Multiverse: change.
How many times have we ignored things that we knew to be the right choice for our lives and our direction? Granted, our culture doesn't support people who throw caution to the winds and "follow [their] bliss," but that's part of the adventure, too.
So, how does this all translate into a community experience? I think much of it has to do with forming the heroic community.
If a group of people hears a call to become a community, to begin that journey together, what happens when the group decides it's just too much - too much work, too much heartarche, too impossible, too crazy? Perhaps the call is to join the community, and the refusal comes from each of us as we decided we can't possibly do this. What then do we lose? What nags at us in the middle of the night? Does our longing for community only increase in intensity, leaving us barren emotionally because of our refusal?
I don't think the punishment Campbell mentions is one visited upon us by some malignant deity. Who needs that when we've got natural consequences?
Maybe becoming part of a heroic community is not just about survival, but about thriving. This type of group transforms itself into a place where everyone can follow their dharma, simultaneously creating a collective dharma - a collective spirit where one of the greatest mysteries unfolds:
We are more together than we are apart.
(The first photo is of Arizona's beautiful Superstition Mountains, courtesy of gemland.com. The second is a painting done by Paul Reid.)