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Psyche, Spirituality

The Mythological Unfoldment of Self

Odysseus Sculpture

In our comforts of modernity, we tend to enjoy the proverbial flower in all of its beauty, but we are blind to the story behind the flower’s actualization. The flower requires not only sunshine in order to unfold to its full potential, but perhaps even more importantly it requires a foundation of soil — and generally, the best source of nourishment is generated from a very non-exciting source: animal waste or trash-based compost.

As with our unfoldment, the flower did not simply appear. It struggled to exist through a tumultuous quest in which it both synergistically and violently achieved growth. Most do not even glance at the origin of the flower — a nearly indistinguishable shade of green amidst the dirt. Once it is in bloom, however, we are in awe of its natural majesty. We do not often deter our stare from its petals, and we almost never gaze into the waste — the compost — from whence it was born into its ‘fully actualized’ existence.

Unlike the flower, however, we tend to become fixated on our own compost; our own history with all of its shadows. Unable to focus as the flower, which has been robbed of its ability to analyze history yet therefore given a gift of absolute presence, we find ourselves fractured. Do we identify with the flower, or the compost?

With our energies split between past, present, and also future simulations of potential, we fissure our cognitive and physical energies. This is the additional layer of consciousness that provides for a much more engaging tale. The flower does not have the choice to grow, it simply does. Given the additional dynamic presented by an increased level of consciousness (which Ken Wilber would classify as an increase in hierarchical holon), we now face the epic journey that our ancestors mythologized into sacred messaging.

The Epic & Mythological Power of Choice

Without significant challenge and struggle in any profound story, there is no meaningful plot. All epic mythological tales involve some form of Great Challenge that leads to – fatefully – the growth, development, wisdom, and insight of the adventurer. Without the factors of opposition and the requirement of choice amid these concerns, there is no story!

It is the active development that occurs through the forces of resistance. This development is not stagnant; Odysseus does not simply sit and ponder life as things move around him. He is presented with choices, for which he must dive into his own knowing and consciousness to arrive at the Choice.

Forces that attempt to block the unfoldment of destiny ultimately fail. The hero/heroine, however, does not simply wake up, effortlessly and flawlessly accomplish the Great Task at hand, and then go back to sleep with boon in hand. It is virtually always a tumultuous journey filled with both peril and abundant opportunity.

Even the ever-powerful gods of mythological tales are not immune to immense challenge and misfortune amidst the story of their divine rule and authority.

Ancient and modern tales act as meta teachers, property of the collective unconsciousness, reminding us that all great stories involve the full spectrum of life’s offerings – which includes the shadows of psyche and soul, which is nonetheless a Part of the Whole of existence.

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