Return with ElixirJul 31, 2020
In this excerpt from Return with Elixir, Dr. Miles Neale introduces Joseph Cambell's monomyth, how it can be applied in our own lives and what to expect from the course.
It became clear that another level was necessary the progression to rise above the personal and enter the transpersonal or the mythic. They complement each other because one of the potential shadows of introspection and deep therapeutic work is that you can get trapped in the ME complex. You don't want to deny trauma because trauma will repeat repeat itself if it's left in the shadow. You want to bring it out of the shadow. But you also don't want to get stuck in the one dimensionality of trauma. There are profundities available by the study of Buddhism but we don't want to just get stuck in an indoctrination of Buddhism. We want to add therapy. There are profundities about psychotherapy but we don't want to just get stuck in the personal attempt at healing.
At each step of the the path we're adding another lens or dimension which adds a multi dimensionality to it because the human psyche is just that complex. It builds a much more rich and diverse experience and also, who wants to spend two years on trauma? This class is going to be much more fun. It will definitely involve some creative element or aspect. I want you to look at your dreams and I want you to be doodling, recording in a journal, painting, setting up rituals and doing all kinds of fun things because that part of our psyche, as we become more conscious and aware, is yearning for that kind of language.
Let's get back to Joseph Campbell. After his period of investigation, he ties together all the world literature in a common theme of the human odyssey or the human journey. He distinguishes about seventeen steps or stages in what he calls the monomyth. The one ring that rules them all. The one myth that underpins them all. It doesn't matter what culture. It doesn't matter what decade. It doesn't matter male or female, rich or poor, past, present, or future. It doesn't matter this side or that side, east or west doesn't matter.
It all comes down to these seventeen stages. If you don't like seventeen stages, just like we did with the Twelve Stages of Dependent Origination, you can reduce them. You can reduce them all the way to three. The three stages, the pith of the Hero's Journey is reduced into what is called Departure, Initiation and Return. Every myth sees the hero or heroine in a stage of departure. Every myth has a great initiation, of a mentor or tradition that empowers that hero or heroine to encounter a great ordeal and then make an enormous discovery. One doesn't just hang out in the the afterglow of their discovery. One comes home for the benefit of others and that is called Returning with the Elixir. Every tradition has this aspect.
What I want to do is study it. I don't want to just study it as a fixture or as an anthropological examination. I want to study it as a personal investigation. I want you to feel empowered by this material to actually see where you might be on your journey. Perhaps coming up to a stage, or perhaps arrested in a stage. Once you see the larger model or the larger map at least you will have a scope of the terrain of where you might be and where you need to go.
Interestingly enough, after Joseph Campbell started and by the way his central text we would call it from the Tibetan point of view, the the root text, is called Hero With A Thousand Faces and part of your recommended reading for each of the succession of classes is available for you if you want to refer to the root text. Some Buddhist is probably really annoyed with me right now but I think Joseph Campbell is a visionary and he created this first document that has a lot of profundity to it so you could say it's like the root text. What I've tried to do is give you commentaries or subsidiary readings as the actual readings for each of the stages that we're going to go through.