“The normal adjustment of the average, common-sense, well-adjusted man implies a continued successful rejection of much of the depths of human nature.”
At first the hero slumbers unreflectively within the conventions of society like the rest of us. To a large extent, the culture’s conventional beliefs are accepted as reality, its morals deemed appropriate, its limits seen as natural. This is the developmental stage of conventionality, where most of us languish unquestioningly throughout our lives.
Conventionality is an essential stage on life’s journey, but it can be a stopping point or a stepping-stone. Since our culture rarely recognizes further possibilities, most people settle here and die here. But if there is on which ‘Master Game’ players agree, it is that through conventionality may be a necessary stage of life, it is definitely not the highest.
In fact, the conventional way of being and state of mind are considered as suboptimal, clouded, and inauthentic. In Asia, this clouded state is described as maya, illusion, or like a dream. In the West, existentialists describe it as automation conformity, everydayness, or inauthenticity, while psychologists label it as a shared hypnosis, a collective trance, or “the psychopathology of the average.” Whatever its name, the painful implication is that most of us sleepwalk through life, ignorant of our potentials, and unaware of our trance because we are born into it, we all share it, and because we live in the biggest cult of all: cult-ture.
The hero’s task is to go beyond these conventional limitations. This task involves more than simply reacting against social norms in blind countercultural defiance. Rather, it requires facing the inner fears and outer social sanctions that constrain and cripple our capacities, growing beyond conventional developmental stages, and realizing the fullness of our potential. This requires recognizing and awakening from the collective trance that is the source and sustainer of conventional beliefs and limits. Only in this way can the hero effectively help others to awaken.
One aspect of this awakening is “detribalization.” This is the process by which a person matures from a limited tribal perspective to a more universal one. Such a person no longer wholly looks at life through his or her limiting and distorting biases, but rather begins to recognize, question, and correct them. In fact, this correction of cultural biases is one of the hero’s great gifts. However, before this can succeed, many other tasks must be accomplished, and the first of these is to respond to “the call.”