Monday, February 17, 2014

Finding the Real Hero

"There are two aspects of the hero, I think. The hero is somebody whom you can lean on and who is going to rescue you; he is also an ideal. To live the heroic life is to live the individual adventure, really. One of the problems today is that with the enormous transformations in the forms of our lives, the models for life don't exist for us. In a traditional society—the agriculturally based city—there were relatively few life roles, and the models were there; there was a hero for each life role. But look at the past twenty years and what has come along in the way of new life possibilities and requirements. The hero-as-model is one thing we lack, so each one has to be his own hero and follow the path that’s no-path. It's a very interesting situation." ........Joseph Campbell

The human is by very nature (instinct) a social animal. From primates, he has been shaped by evolution over a 4 million year period to live in small tribes. With the invention of fire and tools about 2 million years ago, his social life became that of a warrior/hunter. The survival of the individual and immediate family, in those harsh times, depended on the survival of the tribe. The role of the tribal chieftain was in ensuring the primary levels of needs such as physical wellbeing, adequate shelter and a collective strategist in the long term survival of the tribe. But as man settled into an agrarian society the role shifted to the village chief. As man became more and more diverse in his capacities and the challenges of collective living and social hierarchies increased multi fold, the role of the chief protagonist shifted from the real world into the individual psychological realm. This is amply evident in the age of mythological consciousness as defined by Jean Gebser.
The advantage of the virtual protagonist was that there could be a hero for each life role. This what Joseph Campbell brings out as the evolutionary emergence of the mythological hero.

Carl Jung says in "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconsciousness" in the chapter on "Unconscious origin of the Hero"

"It seems that the libido has suddenly discovered an object in the depths of the unconscious which powerfully attracts it. The life of man, turned wholly to the external by nature, does not ordinarily permit such introversion; there must, therefore, be surmised a certain exceptional
condition, that is to say, a lack of external objects, which compels the individual to seek a substitute for them in his own soul..........."

This emergence of the cult hero identified through rituals and sacred mythologies dominated humanity through the evolution of consciousness from the mythological to the rational age.

With rapid development of human consciousness from the rational age to the integral stage, the nature of the hero himself has to change. Due to the extreme complexity of the current age of information and knowledge, the individual psyche rejects a common cult hero as this figure falls far short of the high level of role expectancy that is demanded of it. This role has also transcended from the highly individual to that of a collective sustainable ecological dimension. The hero himself has to evolve and morph into an individual and as yet collective requirement. This is the reason for Joseph Campbell saying " follow the path that’s no-path...."

To facilitate this evolution the first major hurdle that has to be removed is the duality of subject / object experience. The very reason for the emergence of the object driven mythological hero from the very depth of the individual has to now transcend all object perception and evolve in a pure subjective domain.

This is a process of spiritual experience and collective action in empowering individual cannot be externally driven as in the past but facilitated through a metaphysical ambience. To the new generation, this is the reason why rituals and all external diktats have become meaningless.

Love to you all


  1. The concept of individual hero might not be applicable or not very relevant in today's ambience but there are scores of people who excel in their fields keeping the base values with them at the same time. I think we should call it "collective heroism" which can become the fountain head from where every one can learn and emulate. Good rticle!

  2. Thank you for your appreciation and the point that you have brought out as to the concept of "collective Heroism".
    This collective heroism has to transcend from the objective archetypes to one of pure subjective icon tailored to one's needs and current state of consciousness.