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Week 10 – The Road Back


Hero Moments

Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop escape in a dropship as the colony is destroyed by a nuclear blast in Aliens. Pursued by agents, Neo runs to find an exit from the Matrix after defeating Smith in The Matrix. Jason Bourne travels to New York City to face his past in The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Road Back is the time the Hero attempts to return to the Ordinary World with the Reward. Often pursued by enemies, the Hero must use his or her new skills to overcome resistance. The Hero is also faced with a choice between selflessness and self-interest.

Integrating Spiritual with Material

One of the results of a meditative practice is the increased contrast between spiritual matters and the material world. Living a life of peace, compassion, and integrity can conflict with the stresses of your family and work responsibilities and this tension requires resolution.

Years ago, when I was first introduced to spiritual practices such as Taoism and Zen I wanted to be unattached to material things. When I tried to put this non-attachment into practice in my life, I found that there were lots of people who were more than happy to take me up on my generosity. However, convincing myself that I didn’t care about material possessions and actually not caring about material possessions were two different things. I found I was not yet ready to let go of my belongings. Perhaps one day I’ll reach an enlightened state where I do not have any attachment to worldly goods and I’ll give it all away, but I’m not there yet. I still like wealth and luxury. However, out of these experiences, I had some insights:

  • Be honest with yourself about how far you’ve come. It’s great to have a spiritual practice, but acting more enlightened than you are will only lead to internal conflict.
  • Let your progress flow naturally. Don’t force it.
  • You must live in the world. As the old saying goes, trust in God but tie up your camel.
  • Try to love everyone but don’t necessarily trust them. Use your intuition.

A spiritual practice will lead to positive changes in your normal life, but you’ll need to balance the two. This is one of the main challenges of the Hero’s Journey and is a central theme of the Road Back.

Intuition

Intuition is the ability to sense an outcome without full awareness of all the facts. It may be the feeling that you can’t trust someone when there are no obvious signs of treachery. It may also be a feeling that a business opportunity is going to be successful even though you’re warned you’re wasting your time. Intuition is another sense, just like smell or taste, and can be developed by paying attention to its signals. It may be a feeling in the gut (a “gut instinct”) or a twitching eyelid, but just like Peter Parker’s spider-sense, when it tingles, watch out.

Intuition is likely the result of subconscious perception of additional information of which our conscious mind is not aware. The more you meditate, the clearer the communication with your subconscious becomes as you’re reducing the mental chatter that can block signals. To further develop intuition:

  • Trust your gut. If you get a strong feeling about a situation or person, don’t ignore it. The more you pay attention to your intuition, the stronger it becomes.
  • Practice. Look for opportunities to use your intuition.
  • Check the results of your intuitive hunch by observing what happens. Make sure these tests are non-threatening situations. If the situation appears threatening, go with your gut and save the experiments for later.
  • Notice the results if you ignore your intuition. Are things better or worse?

Intuition, or “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” is an indispensable ability. Like visualization, it can seem like magic, but is most likely the result of the human mind’s untapped capacity. The statement that we only use 10% of our brain has been challenged, but we undoubtedly have more to discover about the mind’s potential. However the process of intuition works, it is an effective addition to the Hero’s capabilities.

Skills

Skills are the currency of the Hero. The Doctor is a technological genius and seems to be a doctor of just about everything. Doc Savage was trained from birth to be an outstanding scientist, surgeon, crime-fighter, and athlete. The Pretender was able to assume any profession and had the abilities to match. The Prisoner, Jack Bauer, and Jason Bourne were expert counteragents. MacGyver was able to improvise solutions with whatever was at hand.[1]

Skills are the result of practice over time. In order to develop some facility in a skill, regular practice is required. Meditation, exercise, eating well, and other activities are only useful if practiced frequently. Much of this program is based around developing a training mindset for your life and the same concepts can be applied to the learning of a new skill. It’s best if you have a strong motivation (see The Difference in Week 2) but it also helps to keep your practice interesting. Meet people who can teach and guide you. Read the best books on the subject (see Week 11 for how to find them). Make a game of your practice.

A great book to read about developing new skills is Emergency by Neil Strauss. It describes his quest to create an escape route out of America in the case of a major disaster, and shows the positive change in his character as he develops confidence in his survival skills.

Week 10 Exercises and Resources

  1. Continue your weekly meditations. Once a day this week, listen to Week 10 - The Road Back. Continue meditating for the rest of this course and beyond.
  2. Look for opportunities in your life to test your intuition. You may be wrong frequently, but try to determine what signals you receive when you’re right. This will calibrate your intuition.
  3. Make a list of your current skills and the skills you would like to have. Pick one to learn or improve, and make a plan to do so. Whether you sign up for a course, get a good (audio)book, or find a mentor who can help you learn, be sure to schedule it in your time management tool.

Movies/TV

Aliens
The Matrix
The Bourne Ultimatum

Books

Emergency by Neil Strauss



[1] The ability to do it yourself and create from whatever materials are available is also known as bricolage and is a time-honoured Hero’s ability. As Indiana Jones said “I’m making this up as I go.” Improvisation is a great skill to develop.


Week 11

Contents


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