Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Mythic Hero is Me!

"The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of 'Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it's myself.'" - Joseph Campbell

The Phoenix rises to new life from its own ashes.
Moses encounters a divine voice in a burning thorn-bush.
The Princess Aurora is cursed, but "good fairies" mediate the curse so that instead of dying she will only fall into a deep sleep one day, and "true love's kiss" will raise her from her coma.
Samson has super-human strength as long as he avoids all barbers.
Jesus is touched by a woman in a crowd; the woman is instantly cured of a disease she's had for a dozen years.
Mary (like Elijah before her) is taken bodily into heaven without dying; she (again, like Elijah), is thought to return to earth from time to time to help people in need.

We'll recognize these stories from Greek mythology, the bible, children's books, and church tradition. Even though they come from different sources and different times, I believe they share something in common. They show us a heroic character that is meant to represent our highest potential.

WE are the phoenix. We are able to get back up after we have emotionally crashed and burned.
WE are Moses, exiled and surrounded by burning shrubs. We are able to commune with our Higher Power and receive hope and guidance even when we are facing difficulties.
WE are Aurora. We have angels or fairies (friends, ideas, intuition) who help us survive difficulties and rise to our full potential.
WE are Samson, with strengths and talents that can amaze the world if we won't sabotage them.
WE are Jesus, capable of living with such courage, integrity, grace and compassion that people around us are healthier and happier just because our lives have touched theirs.
WE are Mary (or Elijah). Our consciousness is being raised to a place of peace, joy, and fulfillment; from our higher state, we can be a blessing to others.

The mythic figures represent the possibilities that exist for us and in us. They call us to embrace the best within ourselves and to let our true light shine!

Myths aren't false…in fact, they are supremely true! Remember philosopher Joseph Campbell who said, "The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of 'Aha! Yes. I know what it is, It's myself.'" Embrace the heroic tales, and let them guide you to your own heroic truth. You are a perfect idea in the Mind of God. Affirm this truth; live in its power. Amen.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Formula For Miracles

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” [Brihadaranyada Upanishad IV.4.5]

We have lots of wishes – those “wouldn’t it be nice” thoughts and day dreams. But some of those wishes solidify into real desires. What we honestly, deeply desire, we make a commitment to and we find ourselves working toward. Imagination fueled by emotion and accompanied by action is the blue print for accomplishment.

In 1829, New York Governor (& future president) Martin Van Buren wrote to the sitting President of the U.S., Andrew Jackson. In his letter, Gov. Van Buren said, “Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside…The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.” I wonder what Mr. Van Buren would think of our world where we fly across the country and even from continent to continent in only a few hours!

In 1948, Claude Bristol wrote in his book, The Magic of Believing, “…the American Rocket Society has made application to the United States Government for land on the moon. Perhaps the application was made in a spirit of facetiousness, but who knows when some ‘Buck Rogers’ will pilot a rocket plane to the moon? I, for one, wouldn’t say it couldn’t be done some day, for I don’t know and neither do those who say it is impossible.” That was written when my mother was 5 years old! Since then, “rockets” and space shuttles and satellites have made many trips into Space.

The point is, an idea may seem foolish or impossible. But if we can imagine it, then at some point in some measure we can probably accomplish it. When the idea becomes a desire, and the desire grows into a “driving desire,” then eventually we actually make up our minds to do the thing (or at least to honestly attempt it). Once we’ve made up our minds, action follows and our actions create our destiny.

We may be too sophisticated to believe in magic or miracles, but then in 1829, traveling at 15 miles per hour seemed like the stuff of science fiction. A seventy-mile per hour speed limit would seem like a fantasy (or a nightmare) to Martin Van Buren. But someone dreamed the dream of locomotion into reality, and here we are. When my mother was a child, Buck Rogers was a fantasy hero. Now, space flight seems almost common.

Once we allow our “wouldn’t it be nice” thoughts to evolve into desire, and then we allow our desire to evolve into commitment and action, we will find that magic and miracles still take place. Imagination fueled by emotion and accompanied by action remains the blue print for accomplishment…even miraculous accomplishment!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Happiness is the Point

“The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness; no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Some people believe in reincarnation, hoping that they will “come back” as a person who enjoys life fully. Some people believe in an after-life paradise; they hope that by living a good life or holding certain beliefs they will enjoy an after-life filled with joy and abundance. Why is the promise of joy in the next life so attractive to people? If joy isn’t the point of life, then why do the religions offer it as a promise for the next life?

For a variety of reasons, many of us are skeptical of happiness. We think it is shallow to want it, unrealistic to expect it, and we assume people who try to help us embrace happiness are somehow deluded. Isn’t it odd that we sometimes find happiness in this life to be questionable but happiness remains our greatest hope for the next life?

I don’t mean to suggest that we will always be happy. Sadness, regret, fear…these emotions are real and they have their place. But I do believe that happiness is our natural state. Fear passes, and we return to happiness. Sadness fades, and we return to happiness; at least that is how life can be.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” Happiness, in Paul’s opinion, was a divine gift. In my theology, no divine gift is withheld from any of us! Happiness may be the promise of the next life, but I also believe that it is the promise of this life. This life is the only one I know! Whatever lies beyond this life is mere conjuncture on my part; but the life I live today is what I can be certain of, so it is in my best interest to fill this life with love, joy, and peace.

Joseph Campbell used to say, “Follow your bliss.” I think that is wise counsel. Let’s not be afraid of happiness. We deserve it. We won’t be shallow, or selfish, or unkind, or greedy, or lazy if we are happy. In fact, if we are truly happy, we are more likely to be kind, justice-seeking, optimistic, and generous. Let’s not put off our happiness until the next life. This life is the gift we now have, and it is our duty to make the most of it. Daring to embrace our happiness seems like a good place to start.