Imagine for a moment that you went into a cocoon as a caterpillar.
You knew the caterpillar way.
You crawled around on things. You couldn’t go very far. Your vision was restricted. You couldn’t see very far. Your choices were largely defined by your location. You were not the master of your destiny. You consumed everything in sight. Your hunger took up most of your focus and attention.
Yes, imagine that you went into the cocoon as a caterpillar, small vision, small range of movement, small part to play, not very powerful, taking more than you gave…
And then you dissolved.
You became fluid. You lost all sense of yourself as a caterpillar. In fact, you lost all sense of yourself. You became the void.
Then, just as suddenly as you dissolved, you began to take shape again.
Right now, in this moment, you are solid again. You know you have a new form. But you don’t yet know what shape you have taken. You just know you are starting to feel a little cramped in this cocoon. You sense that it’s time to come out. It’s time to find out what all of this means.
A tiny hole opens up in the cocoon. You look out. You begin to sense that you will rise above the tree tops and into the bright blue sky. Somehow you know you will also come back down again. You know you will descend and kiss the flowers and the grass where they grow.
You press your way through the hole. You feel the pressure of the cocoon against your wings ringing the water out as you struggle to break free.
Your wings are not quite dry yet.
You don’t yet know how to fly.
You don’t even know what flying is.
All you know is that you are no longer a caterpillar. You know this because you have begun to flap your wings.
You have been through the end of the world as you knew it and you have emerged from your cocoon into a brand new reality.
You have emerged into butterfly reality.
But what do butterflies do?
Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”
This is a very popular saying. But it seems to me that it has lost its real context. I don't think very many people ever pause to ask what Joseph Campbell meant when he said it. We just put it on some slides, passed it around Facebook, and made it the mantra of the modern age.
Void of any context, this follow your bliss business sounds a lot like HoHo’s for breakfast and orgies in the afternoon; a fine way to live until you start getting dizzy from low blood sugar and lonely from lack of real connection. This kind of meaningless “pleasure” is not real bliss. This is not the butterfly way!
It may look to us like butterflies just flit about from place to place filling the sky with color. But butterflies are more than eye candy flying by. There is a purpose to the flight of the butterflies. They, like bees, are nature’s pollinators.
Butterflies spread new life.
That's what butterflies do.
Bliss, said Joseph Campbell, is “that deep sense of being present, of doing what you absolutely must do to be yourself…bliss is the welling up of the energy of the transcendent wisdom within you.”
When you choose to follow your bliss, you can't help but choose to pollinate the world around you. Choosing to follow your bliss is about transforming yourself and it is about creating real meaning and happiness for you. But it’s also about spreading new life. It's about adding something new to the collective consciousness. Following your bliss is about sharing your gifts and your joy.
Joseph Campbell also wrote about what he called "the hero’s journey." He found that this journey is reflected across cultures and in all of the world’s mythology.
The hero’s journey is essentially a journey of self mastery.
It is made up of the experiences that will put you in touch with your bliss. The hero’s journey opens the door to the welling up of the transcendent wisdom within you. The aim of the hero's journey is maturity.
When you take the hero’s journey, like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon, you will eventually return to the world. You will come back from the journey with the boon of wisdom in hand. Like the caterpillar, when you enter the cocoon of the hero's journey, you are saying yes to dissolution. You are saying goodbye to your old caterpillar ways.
The hero's journey is a death and rebirth.
After the journey, you will have something new to offer the world. Your personality will be transformed. Your way of participating in life will be utterly changed. Your sense of yourself, your power, and your place in the world will have been reframed.
You will stop relying solely on your intellectual knowledge for guidance. You will give up emotional reactions. You will go from living according to your unchecked emotional impulses and the unquestioned dictates of your rational mind to actively envisioning and investing in a new way of life. Your vision will be rooted in your wisdom and in your own inner knowing.
The hero's journey is designed to provoke a psychological breakthrough that will disabuse you of the notion that you are weak, and reactive. It is meant to destroy your sense of yourself as a mere victim of circumstance. It will push you to lay down your sense of powerlessness and pick up your fierceness and your commitment to something greater than yourself. It will invite you to trade in naiveté for discernment. The hero's journey will force you to connect with your own wisdom. It will force you to develop your own internal locus of control. If you embrace the journey, if you answer its call, you will be utterly changed.
You will emerge from your journey as a wise warrior!
Wise warriors know how to listen to their emotions without succumbing to them. They understand the difference between the creative use of intellect and the endless mind chatter that only serves as a distraction. Wise warriors discipline their minds and their emotions according to their vision.
They care for their bodies as a treasure and as the vehicle for manifesting a new kind of life.
Wise warriors ground their actions in their wisdom and their vision. They act with skill.
In the process of becoming a wise warrior you will develop real detachment. Old wounds and habit patterns will dissolve. You will develop a sense of self that is deeply connected to your own wisdom and worth. You will stop searching for acceptance and validation in a world that is not connected to wisdom.
As a wise warrior, you won't have to spend so much time trying to avoid pricking old wounds. You won't invest so much energy in trying to fix what is wrong with you. Instead, as the wise warrior, you will know your own value and you will show real compassion to yourself and others.
As the hero turned wise warrior you will see with clear eyes. You will live by clear intentions. You will accept responsibility for yourself and your life. You will meet the challenges you face with faith, intention, compassion, and wise, skillful action. Suddenly, challenges will be about growth and readiness.
As the hero turned wise warrior, you will live spontaneously and according to your bliss. You will follow your joy. You will support others in doing the same. Your mere presence will be an inspiration.