Archetypes, Roles, Inspiration, and Becoming
As you have probably noticed, I have gone out of my way to insult, tear down, reality test, debunk, and demythologize many of the great archetypes and inspirational role models that we find out there, calling to us inside our hearts and minds. This may be seriously problematic, as there is much to be said for the motivation that comes from chasing a dream. Much great practice and attained wisdom has come from dreaming of becoming like our spiritual superheroes. The technical practitioner, the Zen master, the magickal healer, the big-hearted saint, the unattached wandering bhikkhuni or bhikkhu (nun or monk), the crazy wisdom guru, the shamatha master, the venerable mage, the mental athlete, the deep scholar, the liberated free spirit, the transcendent mystic, the wise shaman, the impeccable warrior, the bodhisattva: all these and more may form the basis of much skillful motivation to practice well, to become something truly remarkable, to plunge deeply into the dharma.
As you can clearly tell, I find fantasy very inspiring, draw from some or all of those archetypes, and don’t regret that in the least, considering it a source of strength and power to try to do better in my own practice. There is a way to hold the downsides, limits, and shadow sides of each of those ideals in our minds while simultaneously deriving true delight in the opportunity to practice techniques that can hopefully get us closer to our spiritual goals and most skillful dharma dreams. Holding the compelling fantasies and the human realities in our mind simultaneously in a way that takes and applies what is good and leaves out what is bad is one of the keys to success on the path. Ah, paradoxes! They are at the heart of the spiritual life.