My Mentor Joseph Cambell

josephcampbell-450x450Within the current socio-political circus came the idea to write an article about the Hero’s Journey for the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA). Although the topic relates to myths and stories, we can also become heroes in our own journeys. Each completed cycle can be  an avancement in evolutionary growth that  continues until our last breath.  But sometimes we get stuck along the way.

BELLY OF THE WHALE

I stalled during the middle of writing the VFA post because the election led me to an existential crisis.  I found myself stuck in the belly of the whale stage of the Hero’s Journey.  Seeing people fighting each other in order to prop up two flawed humans made me question why many of us still place other humans above us.

“I stopped getting mad at politicians years ago and started getting mad at myself instead. The blame for the grinding dullness and depressing predictability of the current election cycle is on the electorate as much as it is on the candidates. That America gets everything it deserves and settles for is a hard truth to swallow. Maybe one day, we’ll get tired of choking on it.” Henry Rollins

Those of us who pulled out of the political church reach the same conclusion as Rollins. We become ideological atheists because we see that it’s our ideologies that are choking us. We’re the rebels that scream for the empire to topple, so we can live freely with one another. You might not hear us because we’re few in number, so we’re never really heard other than through podcasts or blog posts.   Instead,  we’re called crazy or mentally disturbed because we refuse to capitulate to majority groupthink. We have strength of mind and spirit and are immune to whatever names we’re called. Knowledge of our inner-truth is our shield. We’re  grounded in our spirit. But sometimes even hero’s fall and have to rise up again.

As I listened to the media, politicians, and some of their followers spew hatred and hypocrisy, I thought about the future my daughters would be growing up. I became despondent imagining what today’s children would be inheriting because of our shortsidedness.  That thought awoke a fear in me that I had to deal with.

IN A POSITIVE FREEFALL

How do we stay on the path when we’re facing our version of an empire run by  shadowy Darth Vaders? From beyond the grave, Campbell answered the question.

free_fall

“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.” 

― Joseph Campbell, Sukhavati

FREEDOM TO LIVE

If hell is being created, I don’t have to play along. I can forge my own path. With that realization I was shot from out of the belly’s spout and on to the Freedom to Live stage of my journey.

Spiritual lessons never end. I find it more difficult now than before I started the journey. The more the veil is lifted, the harder I have to work to evolve. And since I evolved a little bit more with the writing of this post, I guess you can say this is a visionary post!

Please click here to read the article about how the hero’s journey relates to visionary fiction.

Dark Characters in Visionary Fiction Can Reveal the Light

Visionary fiction’s theme is the evolution of human consciousness. But what does that mean? What is consciousness? Psychologist, William James, coined the phrase stream of consciousness. He identified consciousness as something that is shaped by experience and how the experience is processed in our minds. So it’s our life experience that defines who we are, and we play out that definition in reality. If we have many dark experiences, then it might lead us to passing similar experiences on to others. Why are some people able to overcome darkness?

Read the rest of the article at the Visionary Fiction Alliance website.

Therapeutic Benefits of Visionary Fiction – Recognition – Part 1

Some authors find their focus in their childhood. It’s something they know they’re born to do. Not me. I was a late bloomer—a seed stuck beneath a thick layer of earth. Something kept the water supply from reaching me. For many years, I pondered if there was something wrong with the way my brain functioned. Turns out my brain functions well—albeit a little more hyper than the average brain. I was a stubborn little seed. A seed that refused to take in the sustenance that I needed to grow. I thought I had the strength to pierce through the earth on my own.  (Continue reading at the VFA website)

Spirituality, Madness and Valis

I became intrigued with Philip K. Dick after hearing Dr. Jeff Kripal discuss his book, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal. It inspired a post and my fascination with finding other creatives who’ve had mystical experiences. I recently completed reading Philip K. Dick’s book, Valis, which was a semi-autobiographical account of his experience. While Dick didn’t use the same terminology as me, our encounters were similar. While reading his words, it was as if I were having a conversation with someone who understood me.

In Valis, we follow Horselover Fat, Dick’s alter ego, on his quest to understand his theophany, which he described as being struck by a pink beam of light. He explains it as information being given to him and that the entirety of the universe is, in essence, information. The event him to diagnose an illness his son had, which turned out to be accurate. Phillip spends most of the book attempting to figure out the meaning of what happened to him. Further complicating matters is that he has trouble understanding why he was able to save his son but can do nothing to save a friend who has terminal cancer. During his quest towards enlightenment, friends view him as having gone mad.

Valis is crammed with spiritual insights seen through both his narration and entries in Horselover Fat’s exegesis. I was immediately drawn to Dick’s use of both first and third person narrative. The reason for the point of view switch is so the narrator could be more objective about his spiritual experience. This gave the book a Socratic feel as it was an odyssey about self-inquiry and questioning every previously held belief.

 

Birds of a Feather

Like Philip K. Dick, I spent years trying to understand what happened to me. At times, I felt as though I were going crazy.  After my kundalini awakening, I was flooded by a psychological torrent of fears and past hurts that I was forced to deal with. I had to eventually accept that everything I held as truth my whole life was a myth. I then wondered what was the point of it all and started to ask why this happened to me.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

What does it mean? 

Was it God?

What is God? 

Are we living in a live organism?

Am I plugged into a giant hologram?

Is what I see every day reality?

Is this part of some clandestine psychological operation?

I had my awakening when I was thirty. I’m now forty-six. I haven’t answered any of the above questions absolutely. Perhaps that is why I’m an ideological atheist. Getting caught up in trying to find answers to questions that can’t be answered can drive you insane if you let it. Philip K. Dick, at first, believed what happened to him resulted from medication he had taken for an impacted wisdom tooth. However, when his visions continued, he knew the explanation was implausible. I don’t take drugs, and my experience happened while I was meditating, so I knew it wasn’t a reaction to medication.

“I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane.” Philip K. Dick

It seems as though I lived my first thirty years in a delusional state. If it were a schizophrenic episode, the opposite would be true. I have more clarity of mind, something I never had before as I suffered from clinical depression, borderline personality disorder and ADHD. I’m no longer depressed, nor do I exhibit any symptoms of BPD. I personally view ADHD as nothing more than a personality-type that creatives share.

“Alike and equal are not the same thing, you have to find your own beat.” Meg from Wrinkle In Time

I’m not here to debate whether ADHD is real or not. This is my personal view, and I show my daughters, who both exhibit many of the symptoms, how to use them to their advantage. I would’ve either been dead or on antidepressants if it weren’t for my seeing the proverbial light. So dealing with a little madness along the way to spiritual recovery was worth it!

“Many claim to speak for god, but there is only one god and that god is man himself.” Phillip K. Dick

We can all connect to a greater reality without a guru to assist us. U.G. Krishnamurti made similar statements, which is why he referred to himself as an anti-guru. Through my own journey, I’ve reached a similar state of mind and don’t follow any gurus or religion.

“You are the authority.” Philip K. Dick

Being a skeptic is actually the safest way to experience life as I’m not easily led astray or manipulated. I emerged as a stronger person from my experience and that’s one statement I can make absolutely.

Love and light,

Eleni

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 5

I discussed the spiritual side of objectivism in my last post and will tie it all together with my writing in this post. I wanted to begin with my birthday, which happened on July 19, 2007.

What is death? The completion of this current life cycle. The perceived “I” will exist no longer.

After I typed the last line, it really hit me for it led to the real death of the perception of “I.” What is called, “Eleni” cried. I mourned the loss of the “I.” Daphne came in and asked me. “Eleni, what’s wrong? It was odd…and fitting…that she called me by my first name. I told her, “I’m not real.” She laughed as well. This all relates to the “I’m not the meaning” quote sent to me by the Higher Self.

Daphne is my daughter, who’s now ten. She hasn’t called me by my first name before that date or ever since. That event was the proverbial icing on my cake. I completely detached from my self-perpetuated mythos. I’d rather leave the fiction for my stories. Writing my personal truth and being able to express myself authentically is what makes me love the craft of writing.

Connecting Spirituality to Objectivism

I appreciate the Tao Te Ching, and I think much of the philosophy included inside helps cultivate a spiritual/objectivist mindset.

Therefore the Sage is devoted to non-action

Manage the work of detached teaching,

Conduct the teaching of no words.

They work with myriad of things but do not control

(Excerpt from Verse 2)

When we seek to control, it does not allow us to grow. If we try to control others, we keep them from growing. That same mindset applies to those in power. Hence, a free society is conducive to personal and spiritual growth. It allows us to be authentic as opposed to existing to please and satisfy the state. I constantly work with these themes in my writing, on a societal and personal level, especially in Unison.

Stories that have always resonated with me have a protagonist who goes off alone to solve his or her problems. The hero’s journey is natural to humans, which is why these type of stories have been repeated for thousands of years. Epics that depict dystopias show us the horrors of what happens when we’re forced to submission, such as in the Hunger Games. Oddly, in our current reality, many people don’t notice we’re headed in that direction at lightning speed. It’s truly uncanny to watch history repeating yet again while most of the population goes about their day acting as though nothing is amiss.  It’s quite a surreal time to be alive.

Libertarian Science Fiction

I recently discovered the genre of Libertarian science fiction. I never knew such a genre existed, and it makes me wish Amazon had it listed as a sub genre under sci-fi because I relate to it strongly. If I were to define my fiction, the interior stories of my books are very spiritual in nature. The outer story—where all the action takes place, is pure objectivist, which works in harmony with the Libertarian perspective. I make clear that the power of the individual is above all governments and man-made institutions. After all, they’re only ideas. Why would we place ideas above the humans who created them? Never made sense to me.

My cover for Unison represents the release and circulation of knowledge through the ages. While we’re not mortal, the knowledge our mind creates is immortal. Even when governments try to suppress that knowledge, it always finds it’s way back in. Knowledge and invention constantly get reused and improved upon. This truth is comforting, especially at this historical crossroad we find ourselves in. Knowledge is suppressed, and fluff is presented as news and entertainment. That can’t go on forever, and I suppose that’s another major reason I’m motivated to write. I want my stories to show the reader who’s looking for an alternative to the mainstream that they’re not alone and maybe put a smile on their face while doing it.

 


The Tao verse comes from Derek Lins’s translation of the Tao Te Ching. I highly recommend his website, and you can get information on how to order his book. I highly recommend it as he also has some useful notes that accompany each verse.

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 4

The topic of spiritual objectivism has blossomed into something that seems to keep evolving. In my previous post, I explained where I separate from a purely objectivist stance, but I still resonate with objectivism philosophy because on the surface, it allows us to grow spiritually by championing us as individuals, which is what we are. It also frees us to be true visionaries where we can  nurture our talents without apology or guilt.

I’m now going to focus more on the spiritual angle in this post. This helps keep me grounded and humble. I’ll also demonstrate how a spiritual objectivist mindset keeps me free from forming new conditionings.

Authenticity

Authenticity has always been something I strive for. For me, being truly authentic means to outwardly express my true nature, as opposed to compromising to appease someone else’s ideology or belief. It sounds simple, but it took me years to reach this point.

Through my own spiritual practice, I recognized that Ayn Rand was correct: morals come from within us when we make decisions based on reason as opposed to some belief system. While religion may work for some people, it didn’t for me. It tied me down and kept me form learning. I had to let it go to grow. We all have our own paths to follow, and mine is a rebel’s path; sometimes frightening, sometimes weird, oftentimes both, but always fulfilling.

“Each man must live as an end in himself.” Ayn Rand

Most individuals throughout history are remembered because they dared to set their own path.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” The Buddha

Buddha was a Spiritual Objectivist!

The Buddha is a prime example of what it means to be an objectivist. He was quite a rebel! He found enlightenment only after he dared to break away from the religions of his time. He put himself through a lot of anguish to find enlightenment, including depriving himself of food. In the end, he had some rice pudding, sat under the Bodhi tree and became enlightened. He had to detach from everything he was told to believe in to get there.

A Parallel Journey

I view my kundalini awakening as the beginning of my spiritual journey, and I only use the term because it’s faster than saying, “A fountain of light exploded inside my head and plugged me into something vast and seemingly borderless.” Being Greek, I’d like to mention that the Greeks call the light experience, Hesychasm. Whatever name you want to call the light experience, it has nothing to do with what happened to the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. In fact, he had transcendental experiences and never tied them to any greater knowledge.

Like Gopi Krishna, I see kundalini as part of a biological/evolutionary process, but since it’s nothing I can prove, I don’t commit to any theory. What I can say is that it did dump a lot of data into my brain. I started to have a lot of visions. Some were of geometric shapes, which were hard for me to understand. It was up to me to learn how to utilize what I was receiving and why I was receiving it. How I thought and perceived the world became even more critical during this time in my life. It’s so easy to get swept up in visions and mystical experiences, and I kept myself grounded by not making any judgements on what I was seeing.

Kundalini forced me to ask questions and confront issues I refused to deal with in the past. It was as if something switched on inside me that refused to shut off. During the process, I felt that following an ideology—any ideology, would keep me from growing spiritually. This happened when I realized gurus and spiritual masters merely stated opinions because they were interpreting their experiences subjectively. And politicians were mortals who were no better or smarter than me. It moved beyond ideology when I realized I had created belief systems about me and the people in my life, all of which were mere opinions. It was epidemic! Once I gathered this, I gave up all forms of belief. It was the act of belief, as opposed to the ideology, that kept me from traveling forward.

I should mention here that I read about the Buddha’s journey after I went through my ideological dump. This further demonstrated to me that the genuine truth is learned from within us, irrespective of where we come from. The truth is literally universal, and we can all be Buddhas if we so desire.

The Surreal Years

The early years after I gave up belief was surreal. The world my personal dogmatism created was so different from the reality I was waking up to. In a sense, I was deprogramming myself from many years of conditioning. With that came a lot of releasing of pain, the healing of emotional scars and a bout with cancer, which happened during the time I brushed aside my spiritual practice.  They were also years of learning. I read many books, even ones that would be considered blasphemous. I was scared at first but then soon realized they were also ideologies. Now I can read any topic without fear of damnation. I was finally free from belief, or so I thought. Seeing how everything I ever believed in was written by a subjective interpretation, stated by a subjective mindset and taught by a subjective individual, I became an atheist for a while…until I realized atheism was another form of belief. It’ll get you every time!

And after all that, I was free from ideology. I could finally live free, as nature intended for us…as individuals that are born with an innate morality.

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

I bring this phrase up again because it liberated me. It keeps me objective and allows me to take in and enjoy every experience. And for those experiences that are painful or difficult, I still immerse myself in them fully as all experiences in life teach us about ourselves. We can choose to ignore them or learn from them and evolve. The day I heard this phrase in my meditation is as important to me as my kundalini awakening and another event, which I’ll bring up in my next post. It goes to show you, the path to enlightenment is ongoing.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Love and light,

Eleni

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 2

Last week, I began a series on Spiritual Objectivism. The subject ties into my writing, and why I’m more motivated and inspired than ever to be an author. This was all brought about by my recent discovery of Libertarian science fiction, which I never knew existed as a genre. These two subjects evolved into a series of posts. If you haven’t read part one, click here.

I never conceptualized the spiritual connection to objectivism until I let go of my belief systems and understood what it meant to be the most authentic person I could be. It wasn’t easy. Between my kundalini awakening and the present day, I’ve experienced many traumas and almost lost the relationship with my mother because her belief system clashed with mine. A few years ago, I would’ve brought up how she was in a cult and that she was brainwashed, but I don’t anymore. My shift in mindset happened when I realized almost everyone is brainwashed to some extent. And the first person I pointed my finger to was myself.

We’re a herd species. We form groups around politics, nationality, religion, race, culture, sexual preferences, etc. A select few serve as the spokespeople who are followed by the group. Join any group, and there will be some sort of dogma presented. If you stray away from what is deemed acceptable, you’ll be shunned, unless you outshine the leaders and take their place. You might also get shunned if you’re not in the group or challenge their worldview. The accepted leaders establish themselves as experts who are deemed wiser than everyone. Amazingly, most people don’t bother to question whether or not that’s true. Robert Anton Wilson humorously touches upon these themes in the Illuminatus Trilogy and his non-fiction book, Cosmic Trigger. All hail Discordia!

On my own spiritual journey, I eventually trashed everything I held sacred and emerged an ideological atheist. Since then, I’ve been happier than I ever have been in my life, and my relationship with my mother grew stronger. It also gave me excellent fodder for my novels. The less dogmatic I became, the more risks I was willing to take with my writing. I now write for the sake of the story, not whether someone will or won’t like the book. This shift gave me an authentic voice, which was important to me. It also made me fall in love with the craft of writing. When  I was writing only screenplays, I was told how even a great manuscript often ends up getting rewritten. That’s how things work in Hollywood unless you’re George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. Compromising on a vision may work for some writers, but not for me. I was uninspired and knew the only way I could get my story out my way was by writing a novel, which I was reluctant to do because of my short attention span. But once I started, I was hooked because I was able to write according to my own personal vision. Now that I’ve done that, I don’t mind pitching my books as movies because I already got the story out my way.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy managed to survive my massive ideological data dump because there are certain truths to it, which are undeniable to me. On a personal level, it champions the importance of creating something from within ourselves as individuals, without compromise. That’s true art. On a societal level, I see objectivism not only as an effective blueprint to a free society where creativity is free to flourish, but also as an ideal way to embark on a spiritual path!

Before I continue, I should probably explain how I can call myself an ideological atheist while I’m promoting objectivism.  The explanation is simple. I don’t view objectivism as my personal religion. It isn’t something I follow blindly or build my worldview around. I do have my own opinions that contradict the philosophy, which aren’t fixed either. I have no intention of forming any new belief systems!

Natural Morality

Ayn Rand’s view on morality is where I first spotted the connection between spirituality and objectivism. She postured that morality was natural to humans for the very fact that our survival depends on it. When a government attempts to force morality on us, that’s when we all start to lose. What has surprised me within this last decade is I’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people who identify governmental institutions as the arbiters of morality and compassion, but it’s an impossible ideal.  Compassionate acts come only from us as individuals and morality cannot be forced. Some of my favorite science fiction books and movies also touch upon this theme. A Clockwork Orange depicts a society that used mind programming to cure criminals. Who can forget Alex’s signature smile at the end of the movie, which demonstrated that while his behavior was successfully controlled, he didn’t change.

 A limited government is ideal at our current level of societal evolution because people are free to develop morality and compassion as individuals. I touch upon this theme in Unison. It cannot be done by force, and when a government tries to coerce people into compliance, the society ceases to evolve.

I don’t view government as a static entity. It’s forever evolving and always a reflection of who we are as a people. This is a major reason why friends won’t hear me whining and complaining about government. I’ll put up posts in my Facebook page about causes I find important to our personal freedoms, which are under severe attack now. It’s up to us, not the government, to ensure that we’re a free people. The government is a mirror of who we are. If we want an honest and compassionate government, a higher number of us need to evolve towards being honest and compassionate individuals. And that isn’t an impossible ideal because:

Morality is natural to the human condition

“A morality not based on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary edict, mystical or social, but on reason. And morality, which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary.” Ayn Rand

The above quote I internalized when I detached from religion and belief. I  felt more connected to all of humanity. This demonstrated to me on a personal level that morality is, in fact, natural to us as a means to our survival as a species. It’s all the conditionings we place on ourselves that separate us. Therefore, it is true and necessary!  I’m sure many of you aren’t surprised by this, but I find it remarkable that a self-proclaimed atheist like Ayn Rand can come off sounding spiritual. Additionally, this serves as further proof that there is an underlying basis of wisdom that connects all of us, irrespective of belief or lack thereof.  We may be different in some respects, but deep down, we draw from the same fountain of inspiration.

So we are a naturally moral species and that’s something to celebrate. We only have to trust in ourselves more to bring it out.

Click here for part 3 where I’ll explain where I veer off of objectivism.

Love and light,

Eleni

Spiritual Objectivism Series – Part 1

When I found visionary fiction, I felt as if I had come home. My stories fit the genre perfectly. Nevertheless, it encompasses many sub-genres. For a robust discussion on visionary fiction, please click here. It demonstrates the dynamics of the genre and the challenges it faces.

Unison, Book One of the Spheral Series, is science fiction in tone and style, but I wanted to see if I could narrow it down even more, so I could connect to the type of readers who would appreciate my book. I recently discovered Libertarian science fiction, and I knew I found another genre that would also fit my series, in particular.

For a recent bloghops, I was asked to compare my book to other books, and that took a lot of thought. I finally came up with the following:


Imagine Atlas Shrugged that champions the individual’s mind and all it can achieve when unbound; the Stand, that promotes strength of faith and will, and A Brave New World, where the individual is controlled by drugs and distraction. Throw them all together and you have Unison!  

Whoa! How do I market that? Although the theme of the series is spiritual and deals with the evolution of human consciousness, the characters embrace the importance of individualism and how they can only find the truth if they champion who they are as individuals and not by giving themselves over to anyone else’s authority.

The setting begins in Unity, an oppressive government run by the Corporate Hierarchy that tries to control everyone. Damon, the protagonist, seeks to become a  leader and spends most of his efforts trying to make a name for himself. During his ascent, he has precognitive visions of his friend’s death and of a woman who leaves him cryptic messages. It may seem like a Dystopian tale, but I don’t consider it that as it’s not the main aspect of the story. It’s about the quest for liberation on an individual and spiritual level and most of the journey takes place out of Unity.

Many Libertarians embrace Objectivism philosophy. I was first introduced to it by Ayn Rand and was captivated by her novella, Anthem. I also read Atlas Shrugged in three days! That was over twenty years ago, and since then I’ve noticed a synergistic connection between Objectivism and spiritual evolution. And I’m not the only one to find this connection. That didn’t surprise me because Objectivism allows the individual the freedom to  unmask his or her uniqueness. It’s an under-appreciated philosophy due to Ayn Rand’s use of the word selfish. It doesn’t help that money manipulators such as Alan Greenspan cite her as an influence. If she truly was his influence, he completely misunderstood her. Greenspan supports a corrupt system  whereas Rand’s protagonists abhor  corruption. They’re driven by the need to turn their inner-visions into a reality, irrespective of whether they’ll become rich or famous. Take Howard Rourk, from The Fountainhead. He was willing to have someone else take credit for his work just so he could see the building he designed come to life. He only asked that it be built exactly to his specifications. For Rourk, it was about seeing his vision realized, not about money or fame, which is what the person who took credit for Rourk’s work strived for. As a creative person, I can understand Rourk’s drive. If I couldn’t publish my book because I lived in a society that shunned individuality, I would probably do the same.

The selfishness of which Ayn Rand speaks of is not about making money or stepping on other people; it’s about valuing yourself and not sacrificing yourself to the will of others; to live out your dreams and not sacrifice them for others. She took issue with the idea of stripping away your own rights to prop others up. I completely agree with that sentiment because it makes sense. If we don’t treat ourselves as though we’re worthy of happiness and self-fulfillment, how can we desire it for others?

Rand often stated that our highest achievement is happiness. She insisted that self-sacrifice makes us sacrificial objects and believed we were all entitled to be happy but that we must achieve it for ourselves. In other words, we shouldn’t force others to give up their happiness to make us happy. We also  shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice ourselves for the happiness of others. Makes sense to me. What type of person would be happy if I had to sacrifice my own happiness to make him or her happy?

One thing I learned on my spiritual journey is that happiness must come from within me. To rely on others for my personal happiness doesn’t make sense to me anymore. People aren’t perfect. They will do things to hurt you, either intentionally or unintentionally. It’s during these times where having inner peace, joy and happiness keeps you from sinking.

This topic resonated strongly with me, and I had to break it into four posts. Clickhere for part two where I discuss how I connect spirituality to objectivism.

Click here for part 2.

Love and light,

Eleni