The Warrior Hero: Reality and Myth

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Post by Vissi » Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:49 pm

Clemsy wrote:Interesting, Dixie. Your post brought to mind one of the valuable gems I garnered from Castaneda's don Juan books:

A warrior must be impeccable.

Impeccable is a powerful word:
1. faultless; flawless; irreproachable: impeccable manners.
2. not liable to sin; incapable of sin.
Sounds idealistic, but shouldn't we always strive towards the ideal? The names you mention certainly did.
Clemsy,

What a synchronicity for you to bring up Castaneda as I've recently been re-reading Tales of Power which I find beautiful in its depth of vision --- particularly the precepts Castaneda refers to as "The Sorcerers' Explanation." As Castaneda taught, we believe because we must. What else is there? Impeccability seems to me an aptly poetic way of describing the warrior's ideal. To hold and wield great power with the peerless strength of impeccability suggests, at least to me, the negation of the usual enemies to true knowledge and spiritual depth. Perhaps impeccability is a quality we might all strive to humbly emulate. Who knows what the result of such an action might be? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Clemsy!

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Post by A J » Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:35 pm

I always think of Arjuna when I think of "impeccable" warriors, although I would not say he was "without sin." It seems to me our "human" heroes need their "tragic flaws" for us to recognize them.

Audie Murphy had much in common with Arjuna. They were both handsome and charming, both "ladies men" with multiple wives, both stricken with what Joseph Campbell referred to as "heartsickness of battle." When Krishna insisted that Arjuna must fight even after he recognized the futility of war, he echoed decisions that Murphy made on the battlefield. Murphy. too, would have preferred an "honorable" death in battle to surviving and being made a hero. He hated that. Like NoMan said in the original post, "warrioring" died with him in'71. And as I said in the closing of my book,
His friend, jockey Jay Fishburn called him “the last American hero, and added, “Audie knew a lot of people, but he never got really close to anyone...There was a wall you couldn't get behind. It's like he had been somewhere nobody else had gone and you couldn't go with him." Campbell ends Hero with a Thousand Faces by telling us that the hero should be honored, “not in the moments of his tribes great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair."
I think that is especially true today.

AJ
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Post by Evinnra » Tue May 01, 2007 12:21 am

Just recently I've been thinking along these lines too, that the reason why common criminals such as terrorists can inflict harm on the world is because we - as a community - neglected to pay due respect to real soldiers.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between soldiers/police men and criminals/terrorists. A soldier will follow orders, respect rank and file, and would never use violence to serve his/her own purpose. A real soldier does not fight through his/her anger! A criminal/terrorist on the other hand personally justifies violence by siding against established national ideologies or law. Sure, there are occasions in history when the people want to rebell against established law and order, and sometimes the rebellion seems quite justifiable, however if violence is to be avoided, leaders must provide an outlet for people to actively change their own circumstances. Democracy supposed to provide that outlet. Even monarchies can accomodate people's wishes and quite frequently do it without being forced by rebellion. Violence therefore is not the outcome of a few trying to impose their will with force, but rather the outcome of leaders not providing justice to the very people they supposed to protect. Couple this negligence with common disrespect towards those who aim to uphold order - with force if necessary - and the recipie for disaster is complete.

Just yesterday I was wondering how could the US win the war in Iraq if twenty months after a natural disaster New Orleans is still in ruins. True, not many countries can boast a perfectly running and fair administration today, but it seems to me that the country which has the best running admininstration is the one that can win ANY war.

I'm sorry AJ to chirp in here with gross generalisations, but I felt compelled to 'went'.

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Post by nandu » Tue May 01, 2007 3:53 am

AJ,

Funny that you should mention Arjuna. I was thinking of him all the time while going through this thread!

Arjuna was my favourite hero throughout childhood. His lack of moral courage is what made me his fan.

Nandu.
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Post by Clemsy » Tue May 01, 2007 10:00 am

Perhaps impeccability is a quality we might all strive to humbly emulate. Who knows what the result of such an action might be?
Vissi, I do indeed believe this to be Castaneda's very point. If memory serves, I had the feeling that don Juan's considered being a Warrior more important than being a Sorceror.

His later book The Power of Silence, has been recommended to me. Have you read it?

Clemsy

BTW: I've read his books up to The Eagle's Gift a few times myself. My favorite character in Tales of Power is don Genaro. Inspired a few chuckles, that one.
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Post by Lizpete » Thu May 03, 2007 12:48 am

It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between soldiers/police men and criminals/terrorists. A soldier will follow orders, respect rank and file, and would never use violence to serve his/her own purpose. A real soldier does not fight through his/her anger! A criminal/terrorist on the other hand personally justifies violence by siding against established national ideologies or law. Sure, there are occasions in history when the people want to rebel against established law and order, and sometimes the rebellion seems quite justifiable, however if violence is to be avoided, leaders must provide an outlet for people to actively change their own circumstances.
Evinnra, I think that a soldier may hold the use of violence in an uneasy tension with himself. Perhaps some people do become soldiers even police officers because they have a violent nature/interest and know this is an "acceptable" path to use it. It is not unheard of for either soldiers or police officers to have problems with domestic violence. Hopefully those members are the exceptions to the rule.

To me a significant difference between Soldier and Terrorist may be in the timing in the resort to violence. Hopefully a soldier waits upon his government to undertake other actions to resolve issues prior to deploying him to fight and into, I think, areas already experiencing violence. I believe terrorist are deployed as a first approach to an issue, even to "promote" an issue.

It is sad to think that our nation which not only puts forth the idea of free speech, but values it so prominently/apparently should be the victim of terrorist attacks. (Our nation even hosts the UN.) Reveals the other as seriously stressed, troubled (in a couple of ways) and having a crisis of faith- even discipline.

Are we so bad at listening?
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Post by Vissi » Fri May 04, 2007 6:35 am

Hi Clemsy,
Vissi, I do indeed believe this to be Castaneda's very point. If memory serves, I had the feeling that don Juan's considered being a Warrior more important than being a Sorceror.
If memory serves, throughout the course of Castaneda's apprenticeship, don Juan used various terms for the aspiration Carlitos was striving to achieve --- man of knowledge, warrior, sorceror. It would be my understanding that each of these is a partial descriptor of the path with heart and a stage along the way much as in Buddhist tradition one moves from concept to concept with some stages of the path being foundational to others.
His later book The Power of Silence, has been recommended to me. Have you read it?


I have read The Power of Silence but not for a long while. I took the book down last evening and began to look through it. Personally, I always feel reading Castaneda is worthwhile because of his ability to redistill concepts from other wisdom traditions into a new elixir. For me, that skill is, in large measure, Castaneda's brilliance, that he reforms concepts from other systems and uses them without an ensnaring institution to encompass them thereby eliminating an orthodoxy, Still, within the Yaqui/Toltec tradition Castaneda has written of, he states the system itself is an oral tradition passed from a peerless teacher to a student.
BTW: I've read his books up to The Eagle's Gift a few times myself. My favorite character in Tales of Power is don Genaro. Inspired a few chuckles, that one.
:) Castaneda is a sentimental favorite of mine. I began reading his work as a teenager and continue to be grateful for the many ways his wisdom expanded my spiritual horizons. Like you, I love don Genaro's humor and vivacity but also have an equal love for don Juan's manner.

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Post by gewamser » Sun May 06, 2007 1:05 pm

All heroism originates in tragedy.
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Post by gewamser » Sun May 06, 2007 1:08 pm

I'm not trying to rain on your party, because all of Castenada's books are pure beautiful myth...but you remember the author coming to the public a few years ago, confessing that he "made it all up"...don't you?
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Post by Clemsy » Sun May 06, 2007 1:21 pm

Oh sure gewamser... but I'm not aware of Yaqui criticism of his work. I admit to disappointment upon hearing the works were fiction ( I mean, how do you sew a lizards eyelids shut?), and put them aside for some time. Later I read them again and still found them somehow powerful and attractive.

So as not to have this thread wander too far afield, I found an older thread on Castaneda HERE, if anyone would like to continue this sidebar there...
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Post by Evinnra » Fri May 11, 2007 1:04 am

Lizpete wrote:
Evinnra, I think that a soldier may hold the use of violence in an uneasy tension with himself. Perhaps some people do become soldiers even police officers because they have a violent nature/interest and know this is an "acceptable" path to use it. It is not unheard of for either soldiers or police officers to have problems with domestic violence. Hopefully those members are the exceptions to the rule.

To me a significant difference between Soldier and Terrorist may be in the timing in the resort to violence. Hopefully a soldier waits upon his government to undertake other actions to resolve issues prior to deploying him to fight and into, I think, areas already experiencing violence. I believe terrorist are deployed as a first approach to an issue, even to "promote" an issue.

It is sad to think that our nation which not only puts forth the idea of free speech, but values it so prominently/apparently should be the victim of terrorist attacks. (Our nation even hosts the UN.) Reveals the other as seriously stressed, troubled (in a couple of ways) and having a crisis of faith- even discipline.

Are we so bad at listening?
Excellent point Lizpete! Indeed it is very very strange that the United States - that was possibly the first country on the face of this planet to legislate the freedom to voice dissent - should be the target of terrorist attacks. As you say, it is perhaps the 'listening skills' of the US government that is to blame. (Listening to its own citizens and to the citizens of the global community that its reputation for fairness is fast diminishing.)

However, on the other two points you make I'm not sure we can agree. In my experience it is usually the most decent 'bloke' of the community who will enlist to be a soldier or a police officer. What kind of soldier/police officer he becomes later is totally dependent on the organization he joins. If the armed forces or the police of a country is corrupt, disorganised, violent and do not uphold laws of common decency in my experience decent blokes either become corrupt and violent them selves or simply leave. (For example the forced prostitution of young soldiers by their superiors in the Russian army - just recently coming to light - makes me wonder what image the mighty Red Army gained by this in comparison to the truly heroic image it had even in its enemies eyes. If I was the chief of the Red Army, I'd PUBLICLY HANG these corrupt bastards who made this crime against young men possible!)

To be honest I do not know a single terrorist so I do not know what makes a terrorist conspire against 'order'. Rebells are said to hold the view, which you've just mentioned, that the only diferrence between them and soldiers is 'timing', but I can not agree with this. (Especially not in countries where free speach is possible.) Whether a country is run as a democracy, oligarchy, theocracy or monarchy, there are always some legitimate means to voice concern. If all else fails, people can gather support for their cause and organise a boycott, like black americans boycotted public transport in the US. The civil rights movement in the US was very powerful precisely because people found a way to rebell without incriminating them selves in the process. WHAT we fight is not as important as HOW we do it.

By the way, I have this inexplicable feeling that the large number of suicides and mental/psychological problems occuring after serving in the Iraq war (in Australia so far we had four cases of suicides AFTER these soldiers returned home from active duty) is due to the immunisations the soldiers receive before getting there. I could be totally wrong, its just an intuition which I have no rational reason to support what so ever. What soldiers experience on the front line should be much more obvious contributor to their declining mental health, however, this intuition just doesn't seem to leave me alone.


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Post by Lizpete » Fri May 11, 2007 6:43 pm

Envinnra, I'm not so sure its only the US government that needs to learn to listen better. I think that *we all* could benefit from learning better listening skills.

"To be honest I do not know a single terrorist so I do not know what makes a terrorist conspire against 'order'." Well neither do I, but I'm willing to make some guesses. For one, I think Joseph Campbell's theory of externalizing anger onto another group comes into play. For another and companion reason, I believe there may be a strong sense of having been left behind or frozen out. There are more, I think but I'll leave this here.

"In my experience it is usually the most decent 'bloke' of the community who will enlist to be a soldier or a police officer." First, I believe that there are some very fine people in law enforcement and the military, this does not preclude them from having problems or seeking to deal with their problems in perhaps not the best way. Second, I don't believe *only the most decent people* become law enforcement or military officers. For example, see what happends to the boy protagonist at the end of "Catch Me If You Can." I might also remind you that police and military people also go to jail- in fact the military has its own prision/punishment system.

As for the Iraq related suicides, I believe that is another topic entirely.
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Post by Darkrivers » Sat May 19, 2007 8:25 pm

"A Terrible love of War" by James Hillman might be a good book to read on this topic.

Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
ISBN-10: 0143034928
ISBN-13: 978-0143034926
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Post by creekmary » Sun May 20, 2007 3:25 pm

I've heard about Audie Murphy all my life. Dad would tell us about him when we watched his movies. I always thought he was from Oklahoma, but I guess Dad just wanted to claim him. Dad was a warrior also. Still is, I suppose.

Impeccability. I have also been reading "The Four Agreements- a Toltec Wisdom Book" by Don Miguel Ruiz. (life in a small town...more reading - cheap, easy thrills) He intreprets impeccability to mean "without sin" (from the latin pecatus). And a "sin" as anything you do (karmic action again) which goes against yourself.

We are all warriors though. Out here in rural Oklahoma where it's nothing to pick up a gun (I've had one handy a time or two myself. Dad and my brother have had to literally face people down with guns) it is probably more apparent in that sense, but we are all warriors. There is always a call for that strength of spirit, that purposefulness and determination. Ghandi was a warrior. Audie Murphy was a warrior. I think any time you fight for anything, whatever your method, you are a warrior. I don't think warriors literally fight for a piece of land, there's probably another word for that kind of fighting. Warriors fight for concepts: home, family, country, love, honor, world peace.

I am even willing to concede warrior status to terrorists. I think the side of the fence you are on defines terrorist. If someone invaded Oklahoma and the United States tomorrow, I would probably become what would be considered a terrorist to the other side.

Susan
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Post by A J » Sun May 20, 2007 3:41 pm

creekmary wrote: I am even willing to concede warrior status to terrorists. I think the side of the fence you are on defines terrorist. If someone invaded Oklahoma and the United States tomorrow, I would probably become what would be considered a terrorist to the other side.

Susan
I know what you mean, Susan. The book I am working on right now is based on my 3rd great-grandmother. She lived in Missouri during the Civil War. Her brothers were Unionists, her husband Confederate. The Bushwackers and Jayhawkers who tyrannized the area (which included my ancestors" farms) were both either terrorists or warriors, depending upon which side you favored.

AJ
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A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
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