The Hero's Journey and Narcissism

16 Oct 2022 17:40 #370505 by Athena_Undomiel
Hello Jedi,

I would like to start this topic with the notice that this is not a personal attack toward anyone in the community, or formerly so. It is simply an inquiry I have in my mind that I would like to know other's thoughts on. No offense intended.

Does the study of the Hero's journey create narcissistic tendencies or thought patterns in people? Throughout the study of the Hero, we are allowed to develop within ourselves the idea that WE are the Hero in our own story. The story is ALL ABOUT US. Some even go so far as to define themselves as the deity in their own lives.
I understand that with responsibility and the ability to handle and succeed with certain levels of responsibility comes a level of pride in oneself, but when does this self-building and path of self-responsibility and discovery become toxic to those around us, and the community we live in?
I have been around, in the background for quite a few years and have witnessed the altercations, and fallouts and exoduses, and renewals of council members, etc, etc, etc. It seems to me that most of these problems center around the fact that the Jedi path, builds one up to a point of toxic narcissism and then you have an entire community of narcissists all bickering with one another for the attention.
In the IP (the old one anyways) We go through points of authority, and self-reflection, taming of the Ego, etc. But it seems to be a pattern of behavior throughout these lessons that not only builds the Ego but also introduces and allows for more toxic traits to be introduced. Or does it behave like money....and only enhance what is already there?

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17 Oct 2022 08:46 #370510 by Gisteron
Perhaps part of your observation (I'll for now take it at face value) stems from how at least at some point much of the IP materials were presented as food for thoughts with minimal guidance as to what sort of thoughts are "good" to derive from them. And certainly one can argue for the merits of that. After all, the IP is what most users first do, it's introducing the community to the way they think about things and introducing them to the things the community revolves around thinking about. One message I think is safe to say from the discussion about the archetypal myth is that in reflecting the human experience in poetic ways, we are indeed all the "hero" of our own journey. One natural inference one could make from that messaging is of course about one's own worth in the grander scheme of things seeing oneself as special, even whilst acknowledging that so is everyone else, in one way or another. There are pitfalls of this one way or another clause, of course. For instance, and among those disillusioned with more traditional western religious thought, one could insist on rejecting any claims to objectivity on questions about the right choice or the good life. We are, in that train of thought, heroes of our own journeys, and ain't no-one who can tell us it ought be any different... What I believe is far more rare here (though it happened on occasion, too), is the conclusion that as much as everyone's way is equally legitimate, because one is the only relevant judge for one's own personal experiences, one does well get to elevate the perceived importance of one's own perspective above that of alternative views. Of course, there may be another way to interpret the mythology portion of the IP altogether, in saying that rather than each of us being our own hero, or each of us having the potential to be the "correct" kind of hero, each of us are a person at the end of the day, an instantiation of the human experience, an avatar, if I may allow myself such poetic language, of an underlying human spirit, what ever that may be. It is easy of course to start judging people unfairly under that premise, too, so I'm not saying that interpretation is strictly better... Perhaps - and I am by no means an expert on matters of psychology - narcissism isn't something that can be infused into people who fundamentally have none. It can be fed, perhaps, in those who suffer from no pathology of it, but fundamentally I don't believe that anything like the IP would make people significantly more self-absorbed than they were willing to become before ever engaging with it. Do people altogether without narcissist traits exist in the first place? That, too, I'm not so sure. What I'm more confident in is saying that people with strong narcissistic tendencies tend to seek out and attract attention and influence. If between offices of authority and the general population we should find an uneven distribution of people with such traits on average, I'd expect such skewedness it to be in the former portion's favour. What this means in practice for any concrete community at a concrete time, however, I dare not speculate.

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17 Oct 2022 11:46 #370512 by Loudzoo
This is a question we, and many others, grapple with. Only a couple of months ago we had a discussion on the subject of The Hero's Journey, and how to interpret it: here

The reality is that everyone is on their own path. Some will build the ego up to see through it, and some will reign it in. Some are able to interpret the Hero's Journey without the need to engage the idea of ego, at all. There's nothing inherently wrong with Campbell's analysis, but as with any idea of value, it can be interpreted sub-optimally!

Although it may sometimes seem otherwise, wisdom is always a dialogue. The opening remarks in a dialogue often acquire different meanings as the dialogue evolves, and different perspectives are integrated. The wisdom in Campbell's work is no different in this regard.

To answer the OP, I doubt there is much connection between a sub-optimal interpretation of The Hero's Journey and any drama that has happened here. People + religion/metaphysics/philosophy => drama sometimes. Always has, always will. I don't want to sound defeatist but, it's to be expected, and not something over which anyone has much control. What we can control is our reaction to drama, when it (inevitably?) occurs. Continuing the dialogue is usually the best way to allow the potential (to which Gist referred), to manifest.

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17 Oct 2022 16:31 - 17 Oct 2022 16:34 #370516 by Skryym
Campbell (and others who peddle the Hero's Journey) use strong, suggestive verbiage like "Follow your bliss". It is easy to interpret "following one's bliss" as taking a spa day, treating oneself to a vacation, or making up a moral hierarchy in an online forum. As Gist said, no one here can objectively say these are wrong or heroic (though you can likely intuit how I and others feel about them).

At its core, the hero's journey is separation -> initiation -> return. It is a tool, not unlike the problem -> rising action -> climax that we used to model stories in grade school. Tools can be used for selfish or unselfish reasons, villainously or altruistically.

Just as there are dangers to the Hero's Journey, there are also inherent dangers in online communities. People can (and do) lie about how righteous they are, often with little accountability. I believe you (OP) are correct in saying it is like money, and only enhances what is already there. A selfish person will use the Hero's Journey to justify their own selfishness, just as someone who fibs for their own moral one-upmanship will fib even more online, when there is less accountability.

Thank you for bringing this subject to public attention. It has been heavy on my mind this week, as I'm questioning my own metrics of self-improvement. All my work in philosophy, training, and meditation only led to fooling myself that I am smarter and more disciplined than an average person. When a real unfortunate circumstance is thrust upon me, I do not react favorably (the way I subjectively perceive a Jedi should act). I have been drafting a post about this and may post it in the next few days.

Lastly, this reminds me of a quote. Unfortunately, I cannot pin the exact words or the author despite 20 minutes of google searching, but it goes something alone the lines of... "Killing the Ego is the last victory of the unkillable ego."

The moment we think we're better, we aren't.

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20 Oct 2022 05:50 #370540 by RavenGarou
It depends on the mind type of the hero. If the hero is doing it for attention, vainity, fame and glory then they are only doing it for themselves. If a hero is humble, grateful and selfless then he isn't a narcissus. However, the hero's journey is more about the individual journey then how the hero impacts the world around them with their actions to get were they are going in the end. The end result is enlightment but what they do with that power is up to the individual. Are they use that enlightment for their own gain or use it to allow their community to flourish with their gifts?

I went to a criminal justice job fair last week. I asked 3 question. 1. What is your purpose in life? 2. Do you believe your occupation as allowed you to fullfill your purpose? Do you see yourself as a warrior or a knight?

Most answers where to protect and help people. All of them said they were a knight but Is't a knight a warrior? Our idea's of the two are affected by our perception by stories and films. Knights whether the medieval or the jedi kind are idealized. If one who uses their purpose to flourish hopfull that helps them to influence others and helps other flourish also.
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20 Oct 2022 14:53 #370542 by rugadd
I always took the meaning that I am at the center of my own story and that I should pursue a path that makes me a worthy, up lifting, or otherwise positive influence in the world that story takes place.

We would do well to remember that our perspective plays a huge role in how we view what other people are doing. I can be the hero of my own journey, with a clear conscience, acting as I see right, true and correct and be an absolute monster to someone else. There is no higher truth that divides one from the other. it is our fantasies that make it so.

I can not blame the heroes journey for churning out narcissists(at least, not in my story, from my perspective). I think people make the best decisions they can with the information they have, through the perspective of their lives.

Now, if I want to play the "this is what and why these people are" game professionally, I would go back to school, finish my psychology degree, and study a lifetime to get a glimpse of all there is too know about it. That said, with my limited perspective on the line, I would say it is not the paths fault for how the individual walks it. This journey is self discovery with an intent to self mastery through self knowledge. At its core it is self centered. Separating that from not caring about anyone else should be considered. I can certainly look after myself and still show compassion to others.

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20 Oct 2022 22:40 - 20 Oct 2022 22:49 #370546 by Adder
I've felt it references the inner journey, or the inner experience of the outer journey... and was not meant to be directly applied externally but rather would in passing interact indirectly externally as a result of its inner processing.

Therefore, it was more about dealing with change and adversity within oneself, in a way which was productive and perhaps healthy.

In contrast the interaction with the external environment would likely use different tools and approaches... more associated with concepts in other parts of the IP which help shed unproductive bias and bad habits.

Edit; And I don't mean that as a dodge, for I don't go around telling people I am a hero or trying to be seen as one, but I do tend to want to be seen as unbiased and of good habits. Almost as if the components of my thinking which reside closer to dealing with the outer are more representative of what might constitute identity, yet interestingly not really representing any particular majority of how I think....

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Last edit: 20 Oct 2022 22:49 by Adder.
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21 Oct 2022 14:50 - 21 Oct 2022 14:51 #370553 by Alethea Thompson
A fair chunk of the community doesn't even know about Joseph Campbell's work...and these problems you make mention of are in great abundance.

Personally, I think it's less about the philosophy of being a personal hero, and more about the state of the world. That JC's message would only serve as more evidence of why it's okay to be narcissistic to someone who already is.

To me, the 21 Maxims and the 16 Teachings, if they are really taken to heart, should be more of a barrier to narcissistic tendencies. Because while everyone may be a hero of their own story, not everyone is following a heroic journey informed by the rest of the Jedi Philosophy.

Admittedly, I think that the IP could be more heavily focused on the doctrine to help better round off a Jedi. As it stood in the old version of the IP, it was given just as much attention as the Hero's Journey, and regulated towards the later lessons rather than the earlier ones. I think it helps that it is lesson 3 now in the current IP. I am curious to see how much having that small distinction plays into the future of the Temple's future generations :)

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Last edit: 21 Oct 2022 14:51 by Alethea Thompson.
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22 Oct 2022 11:40 - 22 Oct 2022 12:56 #370565 by Carlos.Martinez3
I teach and preach and pass HUBRIS as often as I can. For me, in my own path, the Hero's Journey is about identification and heed. I tuck my toes under any ELDER willing to speak and let me tell you, in every CULTURE I have met- they all bid sit down and listen. Almost every culture bids a warning on this very idea of "not getting too big for your britches." In the Jedi community, it is HUBRIS we must teach rather than patience somedays or understanding but we need those as well. If we think about it and reflect, we will find countless stories, warnings and reminders of what happens when too much is too much- even in our own path with our own ego. The EGO is something we all have, and it is something HUMAN. To not say it's a problem is kinna the beginning of the problem hu? I have problems with this myself. How do I rid myself of, well, myself. Every Jedi finds or creates their own selfless path. It is our choice. Some Jedi have several. I can tell you from experience- I am one who has a daily seek with my own HUBRIS. It is possible for a Jedi to a self-reflective path and meet many ideas and roads along the way. Which do you take? Which keep YOU as a chosen Jedi on YOUR path? Be careful not to get too big or reach too far or fight things that are not there...Jedi can have a healthy balance in anything they do. It may take some figuring out and maybe some moments of vulnerability, but we can continue to grow and learn and help others as well.

One of the ways I DONT get to controlling or too much... much ... is I relinquish a few things and delegate them rather than take them on myself. It is a small reminder for me that we can and are all inherently equal. At the same time, I encourage everyone to have a book or a video or someone who can chat with you about the ego. Keep the study handy. Keep it sharp and a focus but not too much ya??

May this help this idea a bit. Thank you for those who have posted and for those who will.

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