Joseph Campbell presents the Hero’s Journey in the following way; accepting the call to adventure, refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the threshold, experiencing tests, allies and enemies, approaching the innermost cave/encountering the belly of the whale, followed by ordeal/death, then reward, the road back, resurrection – until it’s time for the hero to return with the Elixir.
We must return with the Elixir, and if we refuse it, or in our case, if we are refused; this is what Joseph Campbell has to say about that:
The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. “Who having cast off the world,” we read [in the Upanishads], “would desire to return again? He would be only there.” And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero—like Muchukunda—is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one is only delayed—sealed in by the beatitude of the state of perfect being (which resembles death)—an apparent rescue is effected, and the adventurer returns.
Campbell says in The Hero with a Thousand Faces that “The returning hero, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world.” The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. Earlier in the book, Campbell says,
Many failures attest to the difficulties of this life-affirmative threshold. The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss? As dreams that were momentous by night may seem simply silly in the light of day, so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves playing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes. The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock dwelling, close the door, and make it fast. But if some spiritual obstetrician has drawn the shimenawa across the retreat, then the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity, cannot be avoided.
I don’t know about you, but this speaks to me. It is up to each of us to get the vaccine, but first we must be given the choice. The world may have to come and get us…