The Extraordinary World

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(12/12 on the Heroic Journey)

Mastery of two Worlds
Feminine and Masculine Principles
A Fertile Environment
The Ceremony is Over


“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.”Yayoi Kusama

A famous quote attributed to Lao Tzu says “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Nobody ever mentions how the journey of a thousand miles ends. Does the heroic traveller arrive with a final step over the finishing line?

Or are we ‘condemned’ to go on forever?

When Josh and I met in 1997 it was one of those moments of arriving in the Extraordinary World. It was summertime, and the living was easy. In a nutshell our story could be told as boy met girl, love at first sight, and they lived happily ever after.’

It may have looked as if we were two of the lucky ones who had finally found each other. We’d both had our share of hiccups and crisis along the way, but who cares, as long as there is a happy ending…

From our perspective we were very happy, but it wasn’t luck. Behind the scenes there had been significant preparations at many levels. We each had had our individual histories of failed relationships, and we had both spent a considerable amount of time doing serious inner work to ‘sort out our dysfunctional relationship patterns’.

We had finally arrived in the Extraordinary World of happy and energising relationships, a world that until then had only existed as a dream. (One ‘relationship expert’ had even told me that my dream was unattainable!)

The arrival in the Extraordinary World meant that we never had to go back into the ordinary world of unhappy and draining relationships.

Is it really ‘misfortune’ that so many people settle for a life below the level of their dreams? Or is it because we place more trust in some expert than in our own inner voice?


Mastery of Two Worlds

“The world is your perception of it. Inside and outside always match – they’re reflections of each other. The world is a mirror image of your mind.”Byron Katie

In Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces the final stage of the journey includes becoming a Master of the Two Worlds.

The hero of the mythological narrative has gone into a distant world and gathered some profound experiences which have transformed him somehow. Now he comes back to the Ordinary World with a gift to share with his people.

The skill, expertise, and special knowledge he has acquired allows him to move back and forth between the two worlds. They represent two levels of existence.

On the Heroic Journey of everyday life this level of mastery can only be reached through a combination of inner and outer work. The external manifestation of a desired goal follows – or is accompanied by – an internal realisation.

Upon arrival at our destination we not only reach our immediate goal. We also acquire a new level of mastery with regards to achieving any goal in life.

For example, my Heroic Journey of finding my perfect relationship did not only lead to the fulfilment of my dream. It also taught me about how my relationship towards myself is reflected in an intimate relationship with another person, and how we affect one another at a distance through the energy web of collective human Consciousness.

Internal realisations are inevitably reflected in external realisations. The more we become familiar with this principle the more we can use events in our material reality as a valuable source of information. They mirror back to us what’s going on at the so-called subconscious level of our Consciousness.

Mastery of the two worlds we live in – the inner and the outer – consists partly in the ability to read external events and interpret them correctly. The other part is the skilful interpretation and transformation of internal events.

In reality of course there is no difference between the inner and the outer world. They are only separate in our limited human perception. The better you become at moving between the apparent two worlds the more the boundaries ‘miraculously’ vanish.


Feminine and Masculine Principles

“Masculine and feminine are not two opposing energies, but two indivisible aspects of the same consciousness. They are two indivisible aspects of the one tree of life.”Jeff Foster

In addition to learning to navigate between the inner and the outer world we also have to juggle masculine and feminine energies. Even though they are ultimately two indivisible aspects of one tree of life, as Jeff Foster points out, that’s not how we experience them.

Masculine and feminine – in this context these words apply to principles, not the gender or disposition of the heroic traveller. No matter whether you are male or female, you are always confronted with both, and both need to be accepted and integrated.

The masculine principle might be the one that enables you to set an intention, strategically plan how to reach your goal, and take decisive action to get there.

The masculine principle is represented by the bright side of our Consciousness, the one with which we are familiar, where we feel comfortable and produce positive thoughts.

The feminine principle provides motivation and fuel for the journey. We could call it the ‘negative intention’, or the realisation that something is missing.

The feminine principle is often experienced as negative and is represented by the dark side. This is the zone, where all inner demons, dragons and other subversive elements lead their shady existence.

The masculine principle is also associated with the rational Intellect, a productive Imagination, the ingenious Inspiration, and a strong Will.

The feminine principle on the other hand is represented by the physical Body, an emotional Instinct, the loyal Intuition, and a pure Soul.

In our patriarchal culture nearly all methods designed to achieve our goals rely heavily on the masculine principle. We use our Will to set positive intentions, visualise desirable images with the Imagination, ask our Inspiration to deliver brilliant ideas, and instruct the Intellect to think positive thoughts. All of this is designed to move us towards our goal via the shortest possible route.

The feminine principle is hardly taken into account. We have no constructive plan for dealing with physical obstacles presented by the Body, negative emotions produced by the Instinct, doubts and dysfunctional beliefs flagged up by the Intuition, or the suffering of the Soul from lifelong neglect or pollution.

Of course we do have a plan. It is based on a ‘masculine’ strategy. We bully our way through physical obstacles, slay all emotional inner demons and dragons, and manipulate our Instinct to whip up enthusiasm. We declare our dysfunctional beliefs as invalid, and the Soul – who knows whether she exists anyway…

This wouldn’t be a problem, if the masculine principle alone was able to sustain the tree of life. But it doesn’t.

Suppression fosters rebellion. Violence towards any part of ourselves hurts. Killing one inner dragon produces a whole litter of new ones. And in the meantime the tree of human life is dying.

In reality the masculine Faculties – Intellect, Imagination, Inspiration and Will – are just as elusive as the feminine ones – Body, Instinct, Intuition and Soul. Our predominant reliance on them is a reflection of our current paradigm, which has produced, at the external level, gender inequality and male dominated cultures all over the world.

The Heroic Journey is an opportunity to bring the gifts of the feminine and the masculine forces back into an equilibrium that sustains the tree of human life.


A Fertile Environment

“With nature’s help, humankind can set into creation all that is necessary and life sustaining.”Hildegard von Bingen

In nature a fertile environment is generated and maintained through the interaction of millions of organisms. Countless forces and counterforces are needed to create an atmosphere in which life can reproduce itself.

The Heroic Journey is always an expedition towards a better world, a healthier environment, a happier life. The environment we are looking for doesn’t exist outside of us. We have to cultivate and nurture it from within.

Our aim is to create a natural atmosphere that sustains the life of our dreams. The raw materials for this desirable ecosystem must be available to each of us.

Because any living organism or ecosystem can only survive through the interaction of positive and negative forces – or masculine and feminine principles – our job is not to pick out selectively what seems comfortable and pleasant from our current vantage point while trying to eradicate the rest.

Our job is to become adept at managing this mysterious and wonderful ecosystem we call our life.

Of course you select whatever you identify with and perceive as positive. It is important to become clear about what you would really like to cultivate.

And you must know what you consider to be negative as well. It is important to know the difference and understand both forces. However, trying to repress and eliminate the negative is counterproductive and ultimately futile. It doesn’t work because the action itself is negative.

Instead, we can find creative, ingenious and innovative ways to work with what we consider to be negative. In the inner soil all negative experiences can be turned into fertile and healthy compost.

By transforming the dark matter within our own mind we can turn it into fuel. In its transformed state it becomes a valuable resource consisting of positive energy and constructive information.

Knowing how to create a healthy inner soil is worth a lot more than the quick fulfilment of every fancy wish. In a fertile environment any life sustaining dream can thrive.


The Ceremony is Over

“Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”Zen wisdom

In 1999 Josh and I travelled to America to participate in a Vision Quest in the Santa Cruz mountains. At the end of the final ceremony – there were about 15 of us gathered in the big medicine wheel at Wind Trees – we all held hands and said “the ceremony is over, the next one has just begun.”

The end of one heroic sequence always marks the beginning of a new cycle. We have brought our awareness and attention to our Ordinary World, and we’ve discovered so much. Many things have become more meaningful, and everything changes as a result.

It is not that we ‘give more meaning’ to what happens to be around us and somehow settle into our mediocre ordinary lives, counting our blessings. Nobody would honestly experience fulfilment from that.

In the spotlight of our compassionate awareness – lit up by genuine love, childlike curiosity, and a profound interest in the mystery of life – our ordinary experience transforms. Things begin to change, not just internally, but also in your external environment. Real good things do happen.

The transition from an old cycle to a new one plays an important part in the process of transformation. It is worth marking it as a special occasion,  even though it seems a lot less dramatic than some of the other stages of the journey – or perhaps for that very reason.

During the final ceremony at Wind Trees we received a personal gift to honour our quest and remind us of the lessons we had learned. To mark the end of this Heroic Journey I am also offering you a personal gift.

My gift to you is an open secret. I discovered it about 25 years ago, and it has served me well ever since.

Here is my secret:

To every problem in life there is a magical solution.
It can be found through the doors of our own self-perception.
The secret lies in opening the right doors in the right sequence.


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