Whatever you are currently doing and whether you know it or not, you are living by some kind of myth. You are acting it out. You are a vehicle for it. A myth is a symbolic story of the relationship between your life and the world. It is a paradigm that is whole, coherent and forever unfolding. It can also be described as a psychological reality that moves without coincidences. It is laid out like a pattern or a track from start to finish, and your life follows it. If you could look at it from a bird's eye view, you would see the beginning and end simultaneously, as part of a unified movement.
A myth in itself is never right or wrong but is simply the reflection of your chosen relationship with the world. But that choice, which you have already made, may have you living your life uniquely and creatively or sleepwalking through it.
Absolutely no one, no parent, teacher, preacher or savior, is able to tell you what your myth is or should be. It is your dynamic, unique story that only you can stifle or help along to blossom like a flower. You may never be able to fully see and understand your myth because it lives beyond the borders of static concepts. It is in many ways paradoxical, but getting in touch with it may prove to be the most important thing you will ever do...
There are personal and collective myths and they may be local or global. Most of us live unaware of the myth we subscribe to, even though we have actually chosen it at the most fundamental level. Insofar as our story is not uniquely ours, or that we are mindlessly living the same story as countless others, our myth dictates an inauthentic life for us. It is a lie, an illusion and we know it in our depths. Our ignorance or lack of understanding makes it inauthentic and does not allow us to recognize or take responsibility for the choice we have already made. In that respect, we have the sense of living according to someone else's rules, being pushed around as victims, lacking some kind of purpose or meaning and not having the choice to live as we wish. We see ourselves as born into a society that already has its own laws and taboos, which we must follow. We are given a name, told how to behave, what to eat, what we should learn, how to judge and be judged, what god we should or shouldn't follow, when to work, who to trust, who to love and oftentimes how to feel.
It is indisputable that the paradigm that we live by today is full of competition, conflict, and corruption. Not knowing what else to do and not having the energy to change it, we repeat the pattern, perpetuate it and even vehemently protect it and pass it on to our children. We often persecute or put to death those that try to expose the myth by which we are living. From the beginning, we are never given the chance to recognize the inauthenticity in which we are immersed. But we continue to hurt others and to be hurt.
One of the myths or ideas we collectively live by, at least in certain areas of the West, involves fierce competition and the pursuit of happiness through wealth. Part of this pursuit involves sitting for hours in metal boxes on stretches of earth paved with hard asphalt, breathing toxic fumes from each other's vehicles or recycled, conditioned air. And if there is any question to the sanity of this behavior, most of us shrug it off and go on about our business. We scurry either to our jobs or our homes, the majority of which are enclosed by rigid, unnatural straight lines with virtual or fake lighting. Even the food we eat is becoming increasingly synthetic and the medicine we take is even more toxic to treat the effects of our unhealthy diets. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. All these things are reflections of the collective myth we are living. They are symbols or indicators of the insane relationship we have with ourselves, our environment and with each other. But we collectively ignore them.
At the heart of that collective paradigm is a common personal myth shared by countless people who have become mere reproductions of each other and whose uniqueness has been drowned out by ignorance. It is that of the modern individual with an inherited vision of his life. He marries and perhaps has children and pursues a career with dreams of owning a bigger home or a better car. He constantly hurries from place to place, working hard, sitting in an office or a factory day after day, doing something that he doesn't particularly enjoy but saving for his future retirement. He spends relatively little time with his family or friends in hopes that someday he will have all the time in the world. He checks his bank balance or investment accounts and his moods swing with them as he watches the numbers constantly rise and fall. Any free time that he has is spent as an escape from his work, in the form of a vacation or occasional sex, or on the maintenance of his life so that it can continue in full force at work. While he may have some hint of the neurotic state of his life, he thinks to himself that someday he’ll be free, when he retires; but for now he must pay the price for that coveted future, which may never come. Ever since he was a child, his parents and teachers have always told him that he must prepare for this moment in the future and that he must give away his life now and be serious. He will gain his life later, he is told, when he is old and tired. Of course they were taught the same by their parents and teachers.
The modern individual is in fact mistaking the symbol for that which it represents. He is neurotically chasing after money, which is a symbol of wealth and happiness and security. But money in its pure and real form is nothing more than paper or coins or numbers in a bank account. It is worthless until it is spent. And there is always the risk that these numbers may dissipate into thin air or never get spent, but the modern individual continues to chase after them and hoard them like they were food. But this insatiable hunger leads him to utter starvation.
The psychologist Carl Jung wrote: "The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate." Most of us are caught up in propping up the myth that we unknowingly live by without ever pausing to question it, and we suffer the consequences of it in our lives. In fact, we exasperate the issue by masking it. We put our energies in projecting an image that we want others to see, even though it drives us to misery. We buy things that give us no real satisfaction but only short-lived pleasures. We take pills to numb the pain or drink alcohol to have a fleeting moment of inhibition. Worst of all, we lose hours upon hours staring into a box that emits two-dimensional images and sounds of other people's lives and problems. And strangely enough, that virtual image on a 25-inch screen is not big enough. We enlarge it by buying even bigger screens, perhaps 50 or 60 inches, as if we are trying to desperately get close to something real through that virtual image. It provides us with an array of virtual, emotional colors and needs including laughter, excitement, fear, horror, war and sentimental feelings. It tells us how to act, how we should dress, who we should follow, who we should hate, what to buy and eat among many other things. Certainly, there is a certain splendor in every myth and this one is no exception. It beautifully reflects the relationship we have with the world, no matter how dark and horrific it may be.
How do we escape this madness? How could we stop living by these myths? Simply, we cannot because our lives will always be symbols for the relationship we have with the world. Any resistance to the current myth is expressed in that relationship and serves only to affirm and strengthen it. Any attempts to measure or analyze ourselves or our ignorance are part of the very pattern that we are living. In other words, we are the result of the tension between the intended or real impulse to our life and who we think we are or should be. We cannot direct or control our myth. It directs us. Each myth is unique to each individual; therefore, we can never follow the myth of another, no matter how great we think that myth may be. Our rational mind is the greatest obstacle to recognizing our myth because the intellect's function is to compare, conceptualize, compartmentalize and seek security. In doing so, the mind places limits on the impulse of life. But myths are limitless and in some way magical. They come from a deeper realm, from the same place as dreams and they operate with the same energy that simultaneously digests our food and divides our cells and processes our bodily functions and wets our eyes accordingly when we blink, all without our conscious knowledge. The understanding of the choice for a myth has to be made at that level, in those depths and we cannot bring it about through rationalization or conscious, intellectual effort. Rather than fighting against its limitations, the challenge is to open up the mind and make it transparent to the myth. But no one can tell us how to do that. At best, we can try to put ourselves in situations that break habit, security and repetition and invite spontaneity and a certain amount of chaos. It is in those situations that this energy, which drives myths, comes forth and acts out of its own intelligence.
Your myth is much bigger than you. It cannot be found as you would find the nearest post office because it is a dynamic, living thing. But you can let it find you. You cannot create it, direct it or even fully see it with your linear-thinking mind because your myth is constantly unfolding. You can align yourself with it by coming to understand or clearly recognizing the paradigm that you may have been living. That recognition is the absence of ignorance, which is the root of inauthenticity. That recognition, in a most psychedelic way, is itself the blossoming of the myth that your life truly intends. The acceptance of the choice that you have already made to follow a certain myth, whatever it may be, is the beginning of authenticity. In other words, the act of recognizing and accepting the choice, or accepting the responsibility for your life as it is, transforms the relationship you have with the world. It is a heroic or symbolic act and the myth reflects it. Therefore, what makes a myth authentic is not something out there in the world or in a set of ideologies; rather, it is the convergence in you of the choice you have already made with your acceptance or understanding of it at the most fundamental level. The story out there merges with the story in you to form your unique story.
Each one of you knows in this very moment whether or not you are living by the myth that your life's impulse craves. As you begin to fully accept the life that you have been living, all aspects of it, inner and outer, start to come together as if they were pieces of a giant, mysterious puzzle. The world begins to move in the same ways as dreams do, with fluidity. That is to say, you start to recognize connections and meaningful patterns where you did not previously think to exist. People and events start to act in symbolic ways and you come to notice that there are no coincidences. All undulations in your life, pain and pleasure, sadness and joy, fear and desire, hate and love and all other dualities begin to move together towards some significance that you can feel but can't conceptualize. You begin to sense that there is somehow an interdependence in the mighty, opposing forces in you and the world. Through these forces a rhythm emerges that shapes your story and gives it its uniqueness and dynamic nature. You come to consciously realize that your life is a symbol for that rhythm; and while you can't grasp it completely, you can mysteriously put your finger on its pulse. It is something beyond pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, understanding and ignorance. You become a co-creator of your unique myth, without effort or control. You and your myth are like two fine gems that reflect each other in their glowing brilliance. You are it, through and through.