What Makes a Hero? How to Cultivate Magic Within Your Authentic Self

“the ultimate self” is who you really are 

Creation is action . . .

Gives rise to existence beingness

–Mani Rao’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita (p. 56)

In this post, I aim to explore the beauty that is the authentic self. I’ve mentioned this term several times in previous posts and I’d like to break down how to cultivate authentic self-hood through being versus doing while encompassing the enlightening magic within heroism.

The Heroic Identity

We’ve become accustomed to believing that what makes a hero are the deeds he or she successfully does in defeating an enemy or triumphing over impossible tasks. The main goal is usually for one’s name to live on after the hero is long gone from this world. How many times in multiple hero narratives, from Gilgamesh to Beowulf, is the sole focus of many of these heroes to have their story last forever because they, as flesh and blood, will not? It’s interesting to see how many of these hero tales end in bittersweet triumph and heartbreaking success as if the achievements of these heroes were not enough to render happiness in their lives.

If the hero’s sense of self and happiness is wrapped up in achievement, it’s already a lost cause. Validating one’s worth with just outward achievements will never satisfy because it will never be enough. The desire to have one’s accomplishments define their earthly existence limits the totality of one’s heroic identity. The focus on the self in this regard coalesces into: “If I have done nothing, then what is my worth?” The main fear of these heroes is: “Will I be no one?” (Cue craftiness of Odysseus to Polyphemus . . .)

Here is where the shift of heroism should happen. It’s not by “making something of yourself” that makes you heroic. It’s by being: surrendering to an inner guidance that thrives within.

It is in loving the authentic self, or the magic within, that cultivates the true heroic identity.

So let’s discover this magic.

The Magic Within

The authentic self as a source of magic that we all possess makes it more appealing, doesn’t it? Now, even though we all have this magic, it takes practice and skill to make the magic work for us rather than against us. This is where “being” comes in. Magic exists in the being versus the doing. Those who use this magic effectively do not necessarily know how it is done. It is only observed after the fact because they were being in the moment. And that is OK. If we knew how the magic worked, the wonder of its power would disappear, almost by a paralysis of analysis–an attempt to prod and question into exasperation. This concept is expressed in Keats’s narrative poem, “Lamia,” when the poet cries:

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made (lines 229–238)

And just like that, the magic is gone. The angel’s wings are torn from the base of what is pure, and the rainbow is no more a painted artwork heavenly plastered in an elusive sky.

In observing authentic selfhood, the concept of “being” is vastly different from the “go-getter” attitude that inhabits the success/failure dichotomy of societal pressure. The strictness of this external system breeds “produce or die” conundrums and “achieve, lest become a failure” focus that haunts those trying to “make” something of themselves. People will beat themselves up mentally and physically just to make sure they don’t fall into the cracks of becoming “no one” in a world that is already unforgiving to begin with. Those pursuing greatness in life can become numb to the pressures of performing for a sliver of outward recognition and glory, inadvertently dissecting the magic rather than enjoying it.

A Highest Good

How one maintains an authentic sense of self during initial displacement assists the growth of the soul because what was unfamiliar and unknown is now a place of internal peace. It is not through beating one’s humanity into submission that accomplishes a task of herculean force, but rather a gentle nudge of the spirit that fuels the passion of creativity. It’s in finding that peace that one finds their authentic self. The magic rests within the heart center and radiates to help whenever needed, whether through people or through circumstance, but all emanating from you and your power.

In the end, there is a highest good in all that occurs in life and observing yourself in moments of doubt and despair may help change the conversation in how you treat yourself. If we remember that these vulnerable moments pass and heal with doses of self-love, navigating the murky turbulent waters of life becomes more manageable. Of course, effort through perseverance and hard work is important, but it is how you use that effort: is it in love of self or in hatred of self?

Think of your authentic self as a child. Would you tell this child that he or she is nothing? A failure? Worthless? No. Of course not. Then why would you put yourself down?

Empowering your conscious self with a child-like love leads to oneness with your authentic self. By being within the authenticity of who you are, the peace will reveal itself as an emblem of hope as you tackle another goal with a passion reared from the magic that is all your own.

In this way, you allow yourself to be a mirror to others, inspiring others to find the magic within and cultivate the truth of their own heroic, authentic self.

Let me know your thoughts! Tweet me @imelda_corazon with the hashtag #heromusings and I’d be happy to continue the discussion with you!

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