- Published on Saturday, 25 February 2017 09:50
At last Wednesday's Critical Thinking session, the question of our existence was raised: Why are we here? What is our purpose? It is a question that few have considered important or relevant which came as a surprise to those who've been preoccupied with such questions for much of their lives.
The question who am I? may seem tangential to the work of Critical Thinking but we talk about the need for a shift in human consciousness, a realisation that we are interdependent and that much of our thinking and perceptions today have been inculcated with a deliberate purpose, not least to deter us from asking this fundamental question.
If the world is going to change for the better, we need to explore our motivations and reasons for living; the question is central to changing the world. We cannot impose our views on each other but we can attempt to identify whether we are sufficiently motivated to want to understand ourselves in order to work for the benefit of humanity.
Without seeking to claim knowledge or insights, Daily Pickings puts forward these three articles as being relevant to our journey of self-discovery:
The Odyssey as a Psychological Hero Journey
Heroes, as depicted in literature, often undertake the most difficult tasks and place themselves in mortal danger in order to bring back, for themselves and their societies, both knowledge and treasure. Their stories follow what Joseph Campbell calls the “Hero Journey.” The Odyssey , as the epic story of the hero Odysseus, follows closely the complete cycle of Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey, both as a physical and as a psychological undertaking. The Hero Journey, used as a framework for both Odysseus’ physical and mental journeys, serves to bind the two together. Each of Odysseus’s physical difficulties can be viewed as a metaphor for a psychological hardship that he must overcome, and by overcoming these hardships, Odysseus matures—achieving a more complete understanding of himself and his place in the world. At the conclusion of his journey, Odysseus is a better person, having conquered his own psychological restraints, and he returns home to use his new-found self-understanding to be a better king, husband, father, and son.
Sex and death in Homer
Just as men of my generation grew up hearing about the Second World War, and about its heroes and villains, we know that Telemachus and his near-contemporaries, the suitors, grew up hearing about the Trojan wars, and its heroes – Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon, and, of course, Odysseus. How often they must have heard the bards sing of these great men. How much their imaginations must have been filled with them and their exploits. How much they must have wanted to be like them – to be them. It is this, I think, what the poem offers as an explanation for why the suitors are so young, and why they want Penelope. They are young because they are the next generation – the ones that did not fight in the Trojan Wars. They want Penelope because she is the wife of Odysseus. They want her because having her is like being Odysseus, stepping into his shoes, ploughing the furrow he ploughed. Even being in her aura, even simply hanging around Odysseus’ palace, brings them closer to what they want to be. They stay because their identities as Odysseus wannabes are underwritten and sustained there.
Encountering the Teachings of Gurdjieff: A Young Man’s Search by David Ulrich
“Above all, you must feel the need to know yourself. You are something and you don’t know it. You have to acknowledge that you do not know who you are, and that you need to know it. This opening is the most important step.” - Jeanne de Salzmann