A hero’s journey

What does sleeping beauty have to do with Yoga?

A lot actually. 

Our old fairy tales describe perfectly the journey of the soul toward enlightenment. 

Fairy tales are, in my opinion, much more profound than we tend to realise. 

Stories, poetry, music, art…both old and modern – all of it is not, as some people may believe, a rather unimportant luxury but a basic human need. 

There is good reason why the Vedas were written in poetic form. Some of the oldest and most important Vedic teachings were conveyed through music, dance and story. The Upanishads, the Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana wouldn’t have had such a profound impact on us thousands of years later. 

Why? 

Because they speak directly to the soul. 

Language has developed over thousands of years – but not because we have gotten more intelligent and sophisticated. On the contrary. It is only since we’ve lost the ability to memories long texts, that we needed to develop the written word. 

And, as Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz point out in “The Yugas”, it is very likely that there was a time where our ability was even greater than just memorising. A time of heightened awareness and enlightenment. During Satya Yuga, the dualities were merged – a state of Yoga was achieved by the majority of people. And that means that also our left and right brain capacities were both working as one. Language was not a technical tool, it was holistic. 

Symbolic, rich, full of layers and symbols and archetypes. So rich, that the spoken word would not be able to capture it, unless it is used in story and in poetry. 

Even the oldest Sanskrit text – the Rig Veda – is written in a way that each of the lines and letters contain hidden symbols and stories – deities, symbols, even mathematical formulas. 

We simply cannot grasp matters of the soul by logic alone. We need to adapt a child-like mind. We need more fairy tales.

In any archetypal story, any hero’s journey, the hero is usually masculine. This is not some sexist, derogatory way of suppressing women but it simply tells the story of the divine masculine principle – of Purusha, on his path toward merging with the divine feminine principle – Prakriti. 

Both are needed, both are eternal and none can exist without the other. 

But Prakriti – the primal energy of all that exists in nature – can sometimes be asleep, blocked by unconscious blind spots, by dark matter, by monsters and demons of our own creation. 

And only when these monsters and demons are slain, when they have been defeated by the light of consciousness, by our hero, then the sleeping Shakti is awakened by the kiss of consciousness. And with her awakening, wonderful, healing energy full of new potential is released. This energy of course has to be brought home, like a new-found treasure, and it has to be used for a good purpose. The divine feminine and masculine can finally merge, and marry, and the crown can shine from their heads like a thousand-petaled lotus. 

The hero’s journey is the age old story of humanity. The journey of the soul. 

All cultures have their own. All children know it. But then again, children know a lot more about our true human nature than many adults who have forgotten just how magical we are. 

That’s why myths and legends and fairy tales and fantasy stories can be so healing. They describe  our soul’s trials and tribulation better than anything. Fictional stories are lies that contain more truths than our perceived reality every could. 

So, reading fiction, writing stories, singing, dancing and creating art is as much part of our spiritual evolution as Yoga and meditation. 

Ayurveda tells us that everything in life is digestion. We always consume something – be it food, energy or experiences – which we then process, absorb and eliminate. 

This final part – the elimination – is important, not only for the physical digestion but also the mental one. 

In nature there is no waste. One creature’s waste becomes the nourishment for the ground that yields the next generation of life. Waste only becomes toxic when it accumulates. 

The same is true for mental elimination. 

Whatever we experience, we need to process it and convert it into something that our soul can assimilate.  That “soul-food” comes in form of subtle thought-forms, deeply nourishing wisdom and inspiration. And the left-overs need to be expressed, in form of speech, writing, art, music and stories. Dreams are where we process these left-overs, which is why it is so important to get proper sleep, especially when we are under stress. Emotional trauma happens when our experiences are more than we can process. 

Stories help us to process. When we read a book, we dive into the world of the character and let their experiences, their trials and tribulations trigger something deep down in our own unconscious mind, where we can virtually re-live it and process it in a safe way. 

Even when we watch a movie – although not as effectively, as the images are already given to us – we process. 

In my opinion, stories in all of their form are important to us. They always have been. After alll, we ARE a story. We are our own hero’s journey. We are all consciousness in a worldly experience. We are all longing for a marriage of Purusha and Prakriti. We are all that love, that marriage. 

So, allowing ourselves to lie on the couch and read a good book, is not as indulgent as it may seem through the eyes of our society.

And writing our own story, painting our own archetypes, listening to music and to our dreams, isn’t as self-indulgent or childish as some may think – it is essential to our well-being.

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