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Luke in TLJ: A Microcosm of the Hero's Journey

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' started by JediMasterRobert, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Red Leader

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    He had the darkside pretty much conquered by RotJ, let alone 25+ years later.

    This is where we diverge.
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 31, 2017, Original Post Date: Dec 31, 2017 ---
    @JediMasterRobert Sometimes there are posts on the internet that I find so well done that I save to a word document on my hard drive. This is one of them. Incredibly well-done. Thanks for the great work!!!!
     
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  2. A Concerned Fan

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    How could you possibly think otherwise?!
     
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  3. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Red Leader

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    I don't think a Jedi ever has the "dark side conquered" completely.

    To think so would verge on some sort of deity.

    Jedis are human.
     
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  4. ralfy

    ralfy Rebel Trooper

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    Well, there are scenes where Ben and Yoda appear to Luke, and there are views that the ability to move things using one's mind is paranormal, which might imply that they are more than human.
     
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  5. The Hero With No Fear

    The Hero With No Fear Jedi General

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    ahem Yoda ahem ;)

    If you look at things from Luke's point of view, his moment of weakness makes sense. If you had the chance to prevent the rise of another Darth Vader, would you? But he also realizes that Ben's future is not set in stone and remembers Yoda's wise words: "Always in motion is the future." Ironically, his attempt to prevtn the rise of another Vader was what created one.

    We've even seen Obi-Wan nearly give into the dark side when Maul was taunting him about Qui-Gon's death in TCW. (3:19-3:46 in the video.)

     
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  6. JohnnyL REACTS

    JohnnyL REACTS Rebelscum

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    I certainly agree OP that Luke's story is interesting. And was well thought out.

    I just think they missed an opportunity to do more with him.

    Would it have killed them to have Luke do a force push or swing a light sabre. Something amazing (not the force hologram, although was cool). What's wrong with giving fans, on some level, what they want. I know I'm dumbing it down a bit, but I'm also serious.
     
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  7. Jayson

    Jayson Rebel Official

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    It looks like most of the elements which caused issues with some folks already existed back during Arndt and Lucas days, and the reason is pretty interesting and understandable:

    Phil Szostak:
    Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (a different version of which George Lucas was slated to direct instead of Star Wars), the late-2012 inspiration behind an older exiled Luke Skywalker, seen on p. 26-29 of The Art of The Last Jedi.
    So, the late-2012 idea of a Luke Skywalker haunted by the betrayal of one of his students, in self-imposed exile & spiritually in “a dark place”, not only precedes Rian Johnson’s involvement in Star Wars but J.J. Abrams’, as well.​

    The reason is pretty straight forward and more about the medium of storytelling logistics than in-universe logic.

    Michael Arndt:
    Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass. It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012. It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.​

    So it seems that Luke's been planned to be a supporting role long before RJ stepped in.
    While the stories aren't preplanned, it's pretty clear that ideas from earlier starts by Lucas and Arndt do flow through into the film.

    https://medium.com/@Oozer3993/george-lucas-episode-vii-c272563cc3ba

    Cheers,
    Jayson :)
     
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  8. Hunin

    Hunin Rebel General

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    For real now?
     
  9. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    I think I've heard about early drafts Lucas had something of a similar setup for Luke.

    Something I find compelling, in retrospect, after TLJ, is that the very idea of Luke -- the very mention of his name -- and merely the fear of his Return -- is more than enough to set all the events we see in motion.

    Luke's absence, as noted in the opening crawl for TFA, is also confirmed as influential.

    Luke, in so many ways, exists at the very core of what we are seeing in TFA and TLJ.

    Everything he has done, up through the ending of ROTJ, and since, has directly contributed to the current state of the galaxy.

    And even if, in this new trilogy, he came around again as the Luke of old, single-handedly pursuing Snoke and vanquishing the First Order, there would also potentially be the prospect of another adversary he would no longer be able to counter or contain.

    It was an eventuality waiting to happen: the transitional point where someone else would have to step up in the Hero's role and go through the very unenviable and difficult challenges which would send most others running in the opposite direction.

    And yet, having reached his current state of mind as of TLJ, Luke discovered, just in time, he could once again play the pivotal Hero, save the day in a way that would not prove to be insignificant.

    He chose a rather public path which could serve as an inspirational template for future aspiring Jedi/Force users, and it was something Rey could directly learn from.

    So, for me, Luke's role was epic even when played with de-emphasis and contrariness to expectation.

    He was such a motivator of cause in his absence that when he finally arrived to face both the past (i.e. his self-admitted failure with Ben) and the present (the First Order vs. the Resistance), it really could mean something beyond an ephemeral act.

    So meaningful, as I see it, that he was able to restore himself as the Luke Skywalker we all knew and loved, and he was able to be at peace with himself, his final purpose, and to join the Force at will.

    Only the greatest of Jedi could do that, and that's a very select group: Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    To do that and to inspire the New Jedi was quite an accomplishment. Not something for the day but for the ages. Epic. Legendary. Mythology become true.
     
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  10. Jayson

    Jayson Rebel Official

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    Another great redemption story related to Luke is the now famous and infamous Force projection sequence.

    On a remote hideaway that is Dagobah, Luke failed to lift his X-Wing because he could not get over what his mind told him was possible.
    Instead, Yoda has to recover it for him; stunning Luke by the impossibility of it. Shortly after doing this feat, Yoda joins the Force (based on interpretation, either by will or because he was worn out from the whole "X-Wing Trick"...people debate this, but it works either way).
    Yoda, in this instance, serves to help the young hero go and save his friends; though he thinks the choice is not a good one.

    In TLJ, on a remote hideaway that is Ahch-To, Luke no longer has this problem and projects himself across the galaxy; stunning everyone else by the impossibility of it. Shortly after doing this feat Luke joins the Force (based on interpretation, either by will or because he was worn out from the trick...people debate this, but it works either way).
    Luke, in this instance, serves to help the young hero go and save her friends, which he originally thought was not a good choice, but an intervention from Yoda changed his mind.

    It's a beautiful moment where, not only does Luke serve as the Yoda of the film, but also pulls his own growth in the Force full circle doing exactly the kind of thing which he started out severely doubting ever being capable of doing - forcing his mind well over matter.
    Luke also redeemed the teacher's doubt theme that is constantly running by finally believing the right thing to do was to actively help the new generation. All previous teachers kept trying to pull back and would passively help with a note that it was a bad idea - but suit yourself; Yoda helps Luke reverse this pattern and thus the teacher's line (Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, Yoda, Luke) finally ends in faith instead of doubt.

    Cheers!
    Jayson :)
     
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  11. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    Thank you for such a nice post!

    The "mind over matter" Luke has attained indeed demonstrates his growth, power, and wisdom.

    Dark Siders, knowing such power in its purest form, is nearly untouchable, invincible, always try their next best thing: if they cannot beat them, the Dark Siders ask such individuals to join them.

    Also, back to Luke, it would seem he fully understood and put into action what Yoda tried to impart in The Empire Strikes Back in terms of physicality and the Force:

    "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

    Luke, whose name means "light" or "light giving," literally became a light not only strong enough to project himself (beyond the physical limits of the speed of light) across the galaxy, but to illuminate, simulataneously, along the physical, the psychological, and spiritual planes.

    The light not merely of a his lightsaber, or the light of the twin suns which shone before him, before and now, but his character, all that he stood for, becoming a beacon which never burned brighter than in that final act of Luke's in The Last Jedi.

    And it would go on to be "the spark that will light the fire."

    A very Promethean and powerful gesture for the ages!
     
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  12. Jayson

    Jayson Rebel Official

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    Oh, very nicely put!
    I love the Promethean touch. Makes me ponder a bit on the motif they're running about both the Jedi and Sith having both taken what is not theirs to own and that it's time to let go and let it go back as it was.
    Prometheus never got that narrative arc, but it's an interesting comparison for sure!

    Cheers!
    Jayson

    P.S. I've included your thread as a link in my thread for paired reading. ;)
     
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  13. BobaFettNY21

    BobaFettNY21 Force Sensitive

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    And the eternal end of Prometheus certainly squares with the not-so-happy endings for many heroes, burdened by their own legend...like Luke.
     
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  14. Bendak Starkiller

    Bendak Starkiller Force Sensitive

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    Awesome analysis!
     
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  15. Malus Dagoth

    Malus Dagoth Rebelscum

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    Is this really an applicable example in the heat of combat though?
     
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  16. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Rebel Official

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    Being somewhat familiar with the works of Joe Campbell, I don't want to doubt that the Monomyth or Hero's Journey might have been on RJ's Radar when he scripted Luke's part, but there are some vital elements missing, IMHO:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero's_journey#Return

    Refusal of the Return[edit]
    Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.

    Campbell: "When the hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being." [10]

    The bold parts are clearly Luke's founding of the new Jedi Academy, and as such the Hero's journey would have been completed.

    But in Luke's particular case, the ST storywriters didn't grant him this privilege as things went south. Thus the ST ultimately corrupted Luke's (original) Hero's journey. :(
     
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  17. BobaFettNY21

    BobaFettNY21 Force Sensitive

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    Yep, that part of Campbell's teaching is very instructive.

    Luke praises the Jedi texts from the beginning of the film to the Yoda appearance. He goes to Ahch-To to seek this information.

    But...that's not the boon that he saved the galaxy with. He saved the galaxy with something different from what his Jedi mentors taught him. Although Yoda never says that he has to kill Vader, Obi-Wan implies that if Luke "can't kill [his] father" then "the Emperor has already won."

    But Luke figured that he shouldn't kill his father, and wins. That wasn't something directly taught by the Jedi, necessarily. That was Luke's decision. The only training he used there was "you will know, when you are at peace".

    [Although would the Rebels have been able to destroy the DS even regardless of Luke's actions (which should bother fans that need everything to fit in a nicely wrapped box with a bow)......I mean....I guess he would have turned and he and the Emperor would have escaped to further torment the galaxy..............well, who knows]

    Luke's boon would have been to teach a different curriculum. We'll never really know what he taught, but it seems to be implied by his attitude toward the Jedi in TLJ (and the very titles of Ep. 6 and 8) that he tried to adhere to the Jedi texts, which doesn't really reflect the knowledge he used and was taught by Yoda, which is why Yoda knocks him on the head, lol. He had thought that Luke would 'grow beyond' which he ultimately didn't....but did save the Resistance by doing something even Yoda didn't pull off, so....maybe he did.
     
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  18. metadude

    metadude Rebelscum

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    Well this is an instance of me about to start a thread to discover it's already been done. I'll post here what I was going to post, it's a little different but the same basic idea.

    Luke's story in the OT is said to be based on the structure of the Hero's Journey, and it does follow through that structure, even literally as Luke moves from place to place. What's interesting about Luke's story in TLJ is that it also can be said to follow the structure of the Hero's Journey, in a metaphyical way. Luke doesn't physically move from place to place, but instead, emotionally/spiritually moves from metaphysical place to place. Consider this:

    The mundane world. His story begins at "home" on Ahch-To where he lives in safety (from the past), going through the motions of day to day routines. In a sense, he has returned to his roots on Tatooine (reflected at the ending in the twin suns rising) as a farmer. He is back to drinking milk.

    The call to adventure. Luke is in relative peace (from the past), and we see him in his Jedi garb. These are the last remnants of the past which he is still wearing. But then his day to day is broken up by the arrival of Rey. She hands him the lightsaber. This is the call. But Luke refuses it. He tosses it behind him like it has no meaning to him anymore. He removes his Jedi garb, thus removing the last remnants of the past. He folds the past and puts it away. This is how adamant he is in his refusal of the call to adventure (to train Rey and establish the Jedi).

    The helper. This is Rey. Luke's refusal of the call invites torment. He learns of Han's death immediately after his refusal. Rey spurs him into putting his feet cautiously back onto the path, though he is still in fear and doubt. He does not return to the garb of the Jedi, but through Rey, he is beginning to take the first steps on the road to atonement.

    The trials. Luke again must face the past. As he begins to train Rey, she goes "straight to the dark" and Luke's fears resurface. His experience with Ben may be replaying. His doubt manifests. He is beginning the descent into the metaphysical underworld. His "dark night of the soul" is beginning. In recounting the events to Rey, Luke is reliving the temptation and the mistakes he made with Ben. The helper departs.

    The temptation. Luke faces himself when he determines to destroy the sacred texts and end the Jedi (and himself, metaphysically) once and for all. This is the nadir of the journey. This is when the mentor appears. In the darkest hour, Yoda imparts the revelation necessary for the death and rebirth of Luke. This is symbolized by Yoda causing the tree to ignite and burn.

    The return journey. Having received the revelation in the underworld, Luke begins the transformative process and begins to return, not only to himself, but to his community.

    Receiving the weapon/elixir. Luke receives the force and the "elixir of life" which here is, hope. He now travels back to give it to society, in order to begin the healing of the community.

    Rebirth. Now dressed again in the garb of the Jedi, Luke appears in a nimbus of light, where in a cave he meets with leia, and begins the healing of the community. He makes amends with Leia in the "womb" of the dark cave, then proceeds through the "rebirth", emerging from the cave through the passage of fire, and back into the world.

    Final battle. Luke now meets the final challenge, here symbolized by the First Order war machine lead by the manifestation of Luke's fear and doubt - Kylo Ren. Luke overcomes the enemy, and shares the elixir to his community. This meaning, hope.

    The return home. Luke's Hero's Journey ends with him returning "home" - at Ahch-To where he began this metaphysical journey, also symbolically Tatooine, as allegorized by the twin suns which are now rising as opposed to setting. Night has passed (binary sunset to sunrise) and Luke's journey has come to its end.

    So Luke's Hero's Journey which began in the OT, folds in on itself and at the conclusion of the physical Hero's Journey we have a metaphysical Hero's Journey culminating Luke's story. A Hero's Journey within a Hero's Journey. Luke has become "Master of the Two Worlds".
     
    #38 metadude, Aug 22, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
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  19. Ender

    Ender Rebel Trooper

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    I want to share with you all why I love the Luke arc and why I see some profound concepts within it worthy of acclaim and analysis once one views it from a different point of view.

    In my opinion this “Jake” phase of Luke’s life is essentially his version of Anakin’s “Vader” phase. It’s less extreme. It hurts others less. However, there are some interesting parallels.

    In both cases father and son were at their best when they embraced the Light side of the Force within. In both cases an issue tied to control lead to the Dark Side coming to both. For Anakin it was about control over Padme’s life following the loss of his mother. For Luke it was control over the family legacy after he’d devoted his life to righting his father’s wrongs and trying to improve the family’s and the Jedi’s future.

    The Dark Side came to both in moments of weakness and whispered ideas as the Dark Side can. For Anakin it was to do anything to save Padme’s life. For Luke it was to do anything to save others from being hurt and another family member undoing all he’d spend decades building up to undo Vader’s legacy.

    Anakin chooses darkness. Luke, as he had in ROTJ before, catches himself before it’s too late. He stops. However, where before Luke still got the happy ending for being able to stop... this time he and most importantly... others face negative consequences for listening to the Dark Side even briefly. And that turns his ability to fight evil against himself. He sees himself as the enemy because he’s never been responsible for the loss of so many innocent lives.

    So, now, here we are with both father and on again around a temple massacre. One lead by Anakin by alllwing darkness in and one that Luke feels responsible for because he let it in briefly.

    Anakin comes to place the blame on the Jedi Order staring, “From my perspective the Jedi are evil.” Luke comes to believe the Jedi are part of the problem as well after both his father and nephew being radicalized after being taught the ways of the Force from Jedi.

    And so begins their dark periods. Anakin seeks more control over the galaxy. Luke seeks to control the fate of a religion. Just as before though Luke can’t go through with it. There’s a part of him who wants to rid the world of these books because he knows that they will forever keep the Jedi alive otherwise. And what’s more... they’re the oldest ideas that exist so any attempt by him to modernize any one specific order can simply be undone by a future fundamentalist who finds these books and chooses to reinstate the oldest ways. It’s the fundamentalist risk that seems to upset him most initially.

    What’s fascinating here is that this period combines elements of his past. Here he’s stuck between do or do not with the books. Here he’s focused so much on the horizon of how to break the cycle forever that he’s missing the real issue right before him that’s holding him back. Where previously his choice to ignore his master’s and block out their advice lead him to redeeming his father... here he blocks them out and the force entirely and in does so when he needed them most. Where previously he was willing to sacrifice for others here he thinks he is helping others long term when he isn’t.

    Most of all the lack of the Light twists each man’s identities. Vader becomes engulfed by the dark side and like a different person. Luke becomes engulfed by the absence of the force entirely and empty inside and like a different person too.

    Both men get advice. Anakin from his son. Luke from Yoda. Anakin realizes he can control his son’s fate by defeating the emperor. Luke realizes there is a way forward with the Jedi and it involves not hiding Vader from Jedi teachings or hiding the failures of the Jedi but rather teaching them and talking about them. Both men realize their mistakes. Both men find themselves in situations where their loved ones are at risk and hope nearly seems lost. Both men find a way to save what they love and atone for their mistakes. Both the father and son then join the Light and are now together again.

    So, yeah, Luke at his low point isn’t exactly like the Luke we used to know. Neither was his father at his low point and what’s fascinating about the arc is how we can see where father and son remained different from each other in how they handled these things and where they had similarities. A lot of fathers and sons can relate to becoming more alike as they get older but always with notable differences.

    And that’s why I love this arc
     
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  20. Ender

    Ender Rebel Trooper

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    The latter stages of the hero’s journey are what are actually being explored here. The stages most works don’t have the time to work up towards.

    Shortly past the The return with Elixer phase is where many stories choose to end their stories but it’s not where Campbell’s analysis on myth shows many classic myths that have lasted centuries ending.

    The most powerful myths that have endured challenged us and were metaphors for various stages of life. The hero’s journey continues until it reaches the phases explored by IX.



    Lucas reportedly approved of Luke in exile on the island and also reportedly saw him in a Colonel Kurtz like phase according to an artist who was in those pitch meetings and got an approved from Lucas for art that he made with that in mind.

    There’s absolutely nothing about the Rescue from Without stage of the aging hero’s life that’s meant to be enjoyable for the often young person tasked with moving the immovable object or indeed for the audience in wanting to see that object moved. Campbell describes it as an ugly shock and goes further to describe that.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There are few, if any, influences more important to Star Wars than Campbell and his work. Just as it was tragic to watch George’s last 3 end with Anakin’s fall it’s challenging for us to see our hero in this state but it’s a tale that’s endured for centuries for good reason. It may not be what people want for fun but the myth makers know it’s what’s needed to endure because of its use of metaphor for midlife and beyond.

    The debate for Johnson’s execution of these stages can be questioned but considering Johnson has himself acknowledged the influence and since the stages appear so clear and would be so easily supported by the film itself the argument that what I’ve shared is subjective is weaker than what I’ve presented as objective. I’d be willing to bet that a panel who had no opinion on Star Wars but knew Campbell would all support my evidence that Johnson sought to present these stages over your feelings that he was just making stuff up for the heck of it and taking Luke down a few notches just because he thought it was edgy.

    • Rescue from Without

    • Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

    • The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock.

    • The Crossing of the Return Threshold

    • The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom and share it with the world.

    • The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock dwelling, close the door, and make it fast. But if some spiritual obstetrician has drawn the shimenawa across the retreat, then the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity, cannot be avoided" The hero returns to the world of common day and accepts it as real and worthy of salvation.

    • Master of Two Worlds (via Astral projection because luminous beings are we)

    • This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

    • Campbell: "Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back—not contaminating theprinciples of the one with those of the other, yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the other—is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turnsand leaps from one position to another.

    • Freedom to Live (for an eternity)Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live (foran eternity)
     
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