• Casey McKinley

Our hero's journey



Five mentors preside over our inner world, each with a duty to guide us through a specific dimension of our psyches. The Compassionate Guardian expresses for love, the Resilient Hero enforces for freedom, the Resourceful Developer develops for prosperity, the Bold Creator expands for destiny and the Joyful Luminary intuits for meaning. 

In part two of this five part series, we meet the custodian of freedom, the Resilient Hero.

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To live is to suffer.


This is the universal truth for us all.


We are all called to endure our suffering. The way we deal with it has a profound influence not only on our lives, but on the lives of everyone we touch.


To free ourselves from the oppressive grip of our suffering, we must complete the trials of our hero's journey.


To do so, we need our inner hero to show us the way, but are dismayed to discover that our guide is nowhere to be found.


Our hero entered the world just like us -- weak and underdeveloped. Sensing the innate power of our newly born hero, our inner demons conspired to capture and banish the baby into the far depths of our psyche.


Separated from our hero at birth, we are forced to begin our lives enduring our suffering alone. Only, we're not at all equipped to handle it.


So, as our suffering comes in, we immediately search for blame and pass it along to the offending party. We act as an Entitled Vigilante taking justice into our own hands by inflicting suffering onto others as retribution for their perceived sins against us.


This is akin to the employee who is passed up for a promotion they felt entitled to beginning an underground campaign to undermine the employee who had received the promotion in their place.


This causes us shame and guilt because we know deep down inside that the blame does not lie with our target, but with ourselves for inflicting harm. We now feel compelled to sacrifice ourselves and take on suffering that's not ours to bear. We act as a Sacrificial Benefactor assuming the suffering of others at our own expense because we feel responsible for their pain.


This is akin to the employee who gives up their time and emotional well-being to their job with the expectation of receiving thanks and notoriety for their sacrifice.


However, since we aren't equipped to handle our own suffering, we have absolutely no ability to take on the suffering of others. In response, we must either numb the pain or pass the suffering along to another party and repeat the cycle.


On and on we go in this interconnected chain of suffering until we stop and listen. When we do, we can hear the distant call of our Resilient Hero.


It is here that our hero's quest really begins.



As we begin our journey, we quickly realize that the hero only calls out to us when we are experiencing pain. So, to hear our hero's call, we must not allow ourselves react to our pain, but to instead exercise restraint to stop and listen. With each new pain we endure, we get ever closer until the glorious day that we find our hero.


However, the joy is only momentary, as we must immediately begin our apprenticeship.


The first lesson our hero teaches us is that life is hard not only for us, but for everyone.


Those who cannot handle their suffering can be cruel when they assign the blame to us. But their actions aren't personal. They simply can't hold their suffering and need to hand it off to someone. Sometimes, we happen to be the "lucky" recipient.


Our hero also teaches us that we're exactly like those people. We have lived a life of assigning blame to ourselves or to others for the suffering we could not handle. We have also been cruel.


With the first lesson completed, we learn that our hero's journey has only just begun. The only way we can truly stop this oppressive chain of suffering is to go to the root of our blame -- to the land of darkness.


The land of darkness is a vile place inhabited by our inner demons. The demons of shame and guilt, of resentment and hate, of entitlement and envy, and of aggression and rage.


Our inner demons are the force fueling our blame.


Before we venture into the land of darkness to face our inner demons, our hero shares three importance lessons:


1) Our inner demons don't want to be found anymore than we want to find them.

Our inner demons are weak. They do not hold any inherent power. The only power they hold is the power we give them with our emotional reaction to suffering. The more we give into their blame, the more powerful our demons become.


2) Our inner demons are an oppressive force.

As long as our inner demons hold power, our lives will be controlled by them. Our personal freedom relies on our courage to wrestle the power from their grasp.


3) Our inner demons cannot be vanquished.

Meeting the vile force of our inner demons with the vile force of aggression will only give them more power. The power of our inner demons is only diminished by bringing virtue, light and awareness to the land of darkness. We must accept that they will be with us our entire lives. Therefore, we must continuously monitor their actions to keep their power at bay.


Since we have many inner demons that can never be destroyed, our hero's journey requires regular trips to the land of darkness. With each trip, we build more courage, more awareness and more resilience.



Our hero's journey gives us two powerful tools for freeing ourselves from the oppressive force of suffering:

1) Perception: By removing the "us" from our suffering, we develop the skill of perception. We are now free to see our suffering from all sides, rather than from a self-centric lens.

2) Courage: By facing our demons, we conquer the fear that once clouded our experience. We discover that we feared the vileness of our true nature far more than the suffering itself.


With these two extraordinary tools, we become a powerful force to stop the chain of suffering for any that is handed to us.


With the mastery of our own realm, we discover that, stripped down to its true nature, suffering is a force that is meant to bring us together. It is our resistance to suffering that divides us. Our mission becomes clear -- to use our suffering the way it was intended, as a means of connection.

"To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world sparkles with light."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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