Bram Levinson: I've had a copy of Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces for years. Every time I tried to get into it, I found his languaging alienating. A few friends have recently referred to him in conversations and when I mentioned I had trouble reading him, one of them told me about The Power of Myth.
YCNYC: Favorite quote?
BL: "In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer."
YCNYC:What one person would you recommend this book to?
BL: Myself—seven years ago.
YCNYC: What moment or part resonates with you the most?
BL: The parts where Campbell discusses what defines the "hero" archetype and what the hero's journey is. He refers to it stating, "The hero is the one who comes to participate in life courageously and decently, in the way of nature, not in the way of personal rancor, disappointment, or revenge," and "The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience—that is the hero's deed."
I teach yoga and meditation because they are obvious practices in which we find discomfort and residual tensions from life's experiences. By introducing intentional breathing and directing the mind in specific directions, we learn how to navigate moments with wisdom instead of emotional reaction. We learn to face the moments in life that are difficult and would typically pull us into chaos and action for ourselves alone, and instead can deal with the moment with wisdom and right action, allowing us to focus on the collective: what issues impact us negatively, and how to address those issues in practical terms to help alleviate the suffering they cause, and, in the process, discover our path of purpose for the greater good.
This is the "hero's journey," and, ultimately, it is the same for every single one of us. Every single one of us is the hero. We just have to learn how to navigate all the distraction to be able to focus on the essential.