Here we are again, firmly committed to this voyage of discovery, this exploration of the archetypes and patterns that we can uncover in our lives. Each one of these patterns is the path of a true hero – it’s up to you to find what resonates and then decide what to do about it. Because here’s the one thing I know – there is a hero inside each one of us. A hero who, if allowed to, will stamp his or her mark on the world in a way that no-one else can. By now you’ll be getting the idea that a hero isn’t always some gun ho type swinging in to danger like James Bond. The hero can be the quiet one, creating in peace and silence.
Last time we started The Journey with the world of the Seeker – driving us forward into change in search of something bigger, something better – and something that matters.
This week, we’ll look at the place of the Revolutionary… also known as the Destroyer. It’s the Revolutionary who turns things upside down, who creates a world of turmoil and change. It’s the Revolutionary who disturbs the status quo, who rips down established ways of doing things to create something new – something better.
The stage of the journey
Archetypally, the Revolutionary appears in two places in our life. Sometimes the time about our 20s become times of revolution, where we kick out against the established standards of our parents and decide to do something different. We go against the family tradition, refuse to step into the family business or become a doctor/lawyer/farmer (or whatever) as our forefathers were. We decide to make our own way in the world, unfettered by what’s gone before.
And of course, we often revisit this in our 40s or 50s where we suddenly decide to change course, rip up everything that we’ve carefully created, and embark on something new. Sometimes that all ends up in destructive behaviour rather than revolutionary change. Marriages break down, we go in search of our youth – when actually what has happened is that we’ve entered a revolutionary cycle – and then we can choose the changes we create.
At some point, the high philosophy of the Seeker, the Explorer, has to turn into something else. It comes up against a barrier and a decision has to be made – a decision from which there is no turning back. While Seeking for truth and wisdom can be theoretical, it’s the Revolutionary that turns this into action.
Again, we don’t always choose the Revolutionary. Sometimes the destruction and chaos is thrust upon us. But always, somewhere in the past, we have said something like ‘I hate this job’ or ‘this relationship is stifling me’ and eventually the Universe moves to help make that come true.
The nature of the Revolutionary
It isn’t enough for us to become static, to reach a level of comfort. As we found out a couple of episodes ago, there is the need in the human soul to grow and change, to become more than we currently are. And sometimes, destruction is the only way. In the same way that sometimes political approaches fail and revolution is the only answer, so sometimes we have to tear down what has been created in order to become something more.
A caterpillar is a pretty amazing creature, you know.. watching one wriggle across a leaf, often beautiful in its colouring and moving sinuously, co-ordinating its body wonderfully. Yet it’s programmed genetically to become something even more amazing. When it settles and spins its cocoon, the caterpillar quite literally self destructs. It’s not like Transformers, where it readjusts itself to turn into a butterfly. It actually turns into a sort of soup, breaking down completely until from the destruction something of beauty emerges. Without the death, there can never be the life.
The Revolutionary is key to metamorphosis – to a total and complete change in world view, behaviour, and action. It’s like the difference between pimping your car with a new spoiler, wide wall tyres and a banging sound system – or stripping it back to its chassis to turn it into a completely different car. In the TV show ‘Homeland’ a captured soldier is stripped back by his captors and turned into a terrorist agent – and again is reduced to ashes by the government and turned against his terrorist conspirators.
The Revolutionary is absolute, implacable, total. Nothing will remain of what was in order to create what could be.
And of course, the ultimate Destroyer is death itself. And often by recognising death earlier on in our lives – by facing our deaths early – we find a new courage. When my first business failed, and I was faced with crippling debt, I walked into the dark night of the soul. Everything that I had created – relationships, home, car, destiny was stripped from me. But by facing that, I realised that I could never be harmed by it again. I had stared Death in the face, and come to terms with it.
The Revolutionary does not seek change just for change sake. It seeks to make a difference, to create something new out of what was. The revolutionary always seeks a better world – but just as a surgeon may have to cut deep to preserve life, the Revolutionary may have to dig deep into our lives and destroy what we held dear in order to create the change that we need. The goal is nothing other than complete metamorphosis – a total radical change that frees us up to be something new. Of course, we find this in the stories of Spiderman and Superman, transforming from mild mannered nobodies into avengers of justice. We find this in the story of King Arthur whose old comfortable life disappeared as he drew the sword from the stone. And of course in StarWars Luke’s journey is precipitated by the destruction of his uncle’s farm – and the Revolution is transformed by the destruction of the planet Alderaan.
The Revolutionary, in many ways like the Seeker, fears stagnation, afraid that things will always be the same. That fear, of course, is often what propels him into action. The Revolutionary also fears death that does not lead to rebirth – that things may be destroyed yet nothing take its place. There are no guarantees in this world – as Indiana Jones had to step out into space to cross the chasm in ‘The Last Crusade’ before the invisible bridge became evident, we often have to ‘leap, and pray to God we can fly’ as Hitch said in the movie of the same name.
Response to the challenge
When faced with a challenge, or with danger, the only response open to the Revolutionary is to destroy it – or allow it to destroy them. Obi Wan Kenobi chose to be destroyed by Darth Vader and so move onto another plane of being – thus freeing Luke to make his own path. This is never destruction for destruction’s sake, by the way – this is the power of transformation, that allows us to move beyond death. The Revolutionary knows that something needs to be destroyed before something new can be created.
A Heroic Task
Often, we hold on to things for too long – we try, like the monkey with his fist trapped in the jar but unable to let go of the fist full of nuts, to find freedom while unable to let go of the past. The Revolutionary knows that in order to move on, we have to let go of the old that no longer serves us – to accept ‘that was then, but this is now’. The task of the Revolutionary is to clear the way, to get rid of everything that doesn’t ‘fit’. And sometimes, there will be the need to get rid of stuff that does still ‘fit’ – to clear out the cupboards, to get rid of things that are holding us down – not because they are wrong, or even that we have no use for them – but because we need to pay attention elsewhere – we need to focus our energies on something new – and the ‘old stuff’ will be a distraction.
The Revolutionary, although creating a broad sweep of change, brings us humility and acceptance – a recognition of our own mortality, and of the fact that ‘all things must pass’. But also the Revolutionary brings the ability to create a new start – rather than just deciding to change one thing, we learn to throw everything out, to create a clean sweep that is totally transforming.
The shadow Revolutionary
Too much of the energy of the Revolutionary leads us to self destruct. We may find ways to damage or limit ourselves – perhaps through procrastination, or perhaps through a decision never to try. The shadow revolutionary may seek self destruction through drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviour that prevents us from living our true life.
Or the Revolutionary may turn that destructive power outwards – seeking to dominate and overthrow others, perhaps through violence but possibly through spreading rumours, or seeking to undermine others’ success.
And there is, too, the danger of revolution for revolution’s sake – a constant restlessness and decision to start again, often when the full harvest from what is in progress has yet to materialise.
Levels of the Revolutionary
The Revolutionary is called through destruction – a personal tragedy, a sense of loss, through pain or suffering. The path is never an easy one, and it is always a ‘revolutionary struggle’. Even Gandhi in his revolution of peace found it difficult, as did Martin Luther King – no great change is won easily and without discomfort.
At first, we grapple with the meaning of the loss – we have to go through a period of mourning for what has been destroyed, for the failure or disappearance of the old. All seems confusion, particularly if we have chosen to make radical changes, as things don’t turn out the way we expect. We find we have lost much – and yet that has not been replaced with anything else.
As time goes on, the Revolutionary grows into a place of acceptance, recognising that in order to create change, it is necessary to become powerless, to let go. We accept our limits, our mortality, knowing that even if failure is likely, it is essential to pursue our goals.
Finally, the Revolutionary emerges into a place of unattachment – able to let go of anything that no longer supports his values, his dreams, even if it has become precious or important. The Revolutionary simply drops that which no longer serves, in order to free himself up to take hold of that which gets him nearer his goal. The mature Revolutionary who has settled into the core of his or her power will learn to harness destruction and change where necessary, yet learning to hold on to that which still serves – seeking not so much to destroy, but to transform – looking to find that place of metamorphosis.
The ultimate story of the Revolutionary is that of Jesus, who proclaimed a new way in the face of generations of wisdom. The old ways of the patriarchs had served the Hebrews well until then – but a new sword was needed to cut away the old and leave space for the new. Jesus’ words are laced with revolutionary language, and of course this is what led the Jews – and the Romans – to accuse him of sedition. And of course Jesus paid the ultimate price – facing his own death with courage in order to step into a new incarnation of power and vision.
The Revolutionary’s story
Always, the Revolutionary’s story is one of great loss or pain – a story of great personal tragedy, or a sense of yearning or of ‘the void’ opening up. Dreams fail, that which is comfortable or familiar is ripped away.
On the journey, the Revolutionary learns to let go of those things that no longer serve, becoming lean and focussed. Old things drop away, and any illusions of youth and inauthentic patterns are held up to the harsh flame of reality. Eventually our hero faces his own death, and by passing through that death, creates a new and stronger power.
Exercises and dreaming
Where have you experienced loss in your life before? What has that freed you up to create? Where has tragedy or pain demonstrated an opportunity for you?
What in your life no longer serves you, or seems at odds with your current values? Where is ‘old stuff’ holding you back from stepping into the new? What do you need to do about that?
Imagine what your life might look like if you let go of all the things that were weighing you down, holding you back. How much different would your life be if you simply let go of those things now and step into something new, something that maybe has been calling to you…
That was a tough one – well done on staying with me. Next time, we’re going to explore the power of romance and the secrets of the Lover. Can’t wait? Me neither!
Until next time – enjoy the journey!
Find out more at www.timhodgson.org
PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
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