“The urge to heroism is natural, and to admit it honest. For everyone to admit it would probably release such pent-up force as to be devastating to societies as they now are.” ~ Ernest Becker
Cosmic heroism stands in stark contrast to cultural heroism.
Cultural heroism, in general, is the passive drive of mediocre men as they obediently and complainingly follow the outdated rules of the system they were born into.
Cultural heroes play it safe, just going through the motions of being a pawn on the chessboard of society (Carse’s finite player). They blindly and reflexively fill the clichéd roles society provides for them: football player, soldier, cop, salesman, etc. Their heroism is spoon fed through hand-me-down morsels of parochial values. Indeed, their heroism is an ignorance to the drive of heroism itself.
Cosmic heroism, in contrast, is a keen awareness of the human need to validate our personal sense of value within a cosmic scheme through our own creative contributions so as to reconcile death and anxiety.
Cosmic heroes play both within and outside the rules of society (Carse’s infinite player). They thoughtfully and questioningly fill cultural roles, donning and discarding them without attachment. Their heroism is meaning-laden and self-created through courageous self-overcoming. Their heroism is an acute awareness of the value of heroism itself.
1) You have surpassed culturally-imposed assumptions and achieved a state of awe and wonder
“If we were to peel away this massive disguise, the blocks of repression over human techniques for earning glory, we would arrive at the potentially most liberating question of all, the main problem of human life: How empirically true is the cultural hero system that sustains and drives men?” ~ Ernest Becker
You have become a meaning-making mystic on the outskirts. You are a periphery-keeper par excellence. Prometheus is your copilot. You dare to challenge the cultural understanding of heroism by breaking free from its zone of comfort and attempting to steal fire (new knowledge) from the gods (cosmic truth) and then dare to share it with your culture so as to stretch the zone of comfort even further.
You are in a constant state of awe and wonder as you dip in and out of society. Out there, away from the things of man, you are humbled by the Great Mystery even as you are a fountainhead for its deliverance.
Inside civilization, within the world of men, you do the song-and-dance, but you do it your way, as a catalyst for progressive and creative change.
2) Your self-analysis has formed an intersection between science and spirituality
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.” ~ Carl Sagan
You are a cosmic explorer trying to make sense of the star-stuff inside you, and you are aware that the most compelling frontier of our time is human consciousness.
You integrate science and spirituality through a kind of self-inflicted scientific mythology. Your vision reminds others of their interconnectedness to the inner self, to each other, and to the earth.
You are the scientific personification of the spirituality of the earth, logically and reasonably balancing out cosmos and the human soul.
Your flexible self-interrogating science is an invitation to spiritual initiation, representing the cyclic death-birth-rebirth process of the individuated ego reconciling its death and shadow aspects into further self-actualization.
3) You are in tune with your symbolic self
“If you are unprogrammed in the cultural causa-sui project, then you have to invent your own: you don’t vibrate to anyone else’s tune. You see that the fabrications of those around you are a lie, a denial of truth.
A creative person becomes then, in art, literature, and religion the mediator of natural terror and the indicator of a new way to triumph over it. He reveals the darkness and the dread of the human condition and fabricates a new symbolic transcendence over it. This has been the function of the creative deviant from shamans through Shakespeare.” ~ Ernest Becker
You are a walking, talking, laughing “simulation of immortality.” You have risen above your death anxiety and transformed fear into creative courage. Your symbolic practices help you create a self-regard strong enough to carry on in the face of your existential angst.
But, you understand this important caveat: symbol-creator beware, do not take your symbols literally. You are sincere with your symbolic self-expression, but never self-serious. As such, you have a healthy detachment from your artistic self-unveiling, which frees you for further unveiling and for further symbolic transcendence.
4) You have a predisposition toward life-sustaining harmony (moderation)
“In this kind of ontology of immanence, what we are describing is not a creature who is transformed and who transforms the world in turn in some miraculous ways, but rather a creature who takes more of the world into himself and develops new forms of courage and endurance.” ~ Ernest Becker
You are able to adapt to the many vicissitudes of life because you are no longer a victim of the world –you are the world. You’ve lost yourself within the terror of your own existence so many times that you’ve been found. Your self-discovery is cyclical: lost-found-relost-refound, similar to an inverted birth-death-rebirth cycle.
You’ve slammed up against the cold hard truth of your own mortality like an unbreakable wall, but you are stronger for it, sharper, more robust. You’ve sharpened yourself on the Golden Ratio and the Golden Mean.
Less spiritually fragile, you existentially crush finite religiosity and parochial platitudes. Less politically precarious, you moderately stand aloof and laugh at the finite, too-serious games of mediocre men fumbling with false power.
5) You’re able to engage creatively between both your inner and outer worlds
“No artist tolerates reality… We have art lest we perish of the truth.” ~ Nietzsche
Art and love are key expressions of your freedom. You’re able to confront your own death and anxiety and mold innovative substance to transcend it, to dispense with the dichotomy of life and death in order to embrace each in paradoxical union.
You venture into the inner world in order to free the inner self into authentic expression in the outer world, thus reintegrating nature and the human soul.
Your creative expression is a powerful love embrace of cosmic forces that have come together to create you at this point in time, a spearhead of radical change, which allows you to manipulate the fragile cultural system and to broaden the mindset contained therein.
Through your genuine creative catharsis you’re able to break through the bounds of mere cultural heroism. You’re able to seek out and destroy the cultural lie that keeps you a mere pawn on the chessboard of the everyday social scheme of things. By doing so you open yourself up to infinity, to the possibility of cosmic heroism.
6) Your sense of morality is in alignment with nature and cosmos (metamorality)
“Either you eat-up yourself, and others around you, trying for perfection; or you objectify that imperfection in a work, on which you then unleash your own creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life.” ~ Ernest Becker
Yours is a morality deferential to life and, thus, humanistic. Your personalized heroism has been self-actualized into soul-craft. Your soul-craft includes a burgeoning sense of self that subsumes the world and thus embraces a more compassionate and empathetic disposition toward others and the environment. Your lifestyle is your canvas.
Your creative expression is your heroism. Your need to make your art more elegant is also your need to make life more liveable and thus healthier. And so a kind of metamorality rises to the top of your life-as-art and art-as-life creative disposition, for you realize that if there is to be art at all, there must be life to sustain it.
Life is the benchmark upon which all benchmarks can be marked. And since your immortality project is your life, and your life requires health, and your health requires a healthy environment filled with healthy people, your sense of morality is metamoral and interdependently robust.
7) You have transformed codependence into independence into interdependence
“The “healthy” person, the true individual, the self-realized soul, the “real” man, is the one who has transcended himself. How does one transcend himself; how does he open himself to new possibility? By realizing the truth of his situation, by dispelling the lie of his character, by breaking his spirit out of its conditioned prison.” ~ Ernest Becker
You have liberated your soul from the conditioned prison of the status quo. You’ve tapped the cornerstone and, in so doing, discovered the Philosopher’s stone.
As such, your self-overcoming has become habitual. Having transformed your codependence within culture, into independence outside of culture, you’ve come around full-cycle into interdependence with all things, for the sake of both a healthier culture and a healthier cosmos.
Your individuated ego has become a tool for self-actualized soul-craft, interdependently balancing out the forces between self-as-world and world-as-self, and thus bringing about a unification of opposites.
As a cosmic hero, you have shed the cultural comforts of a secure and armored life for the adventurous, insecure, and vulnerable life. You’ve faced the full problem of life head-on, asking yourself: on what level of illusion do I live? For you understand that illusion is foremost for the meaning-creating symbolic animal that is Mankind. And so you have chosen “creative play” as the highest form of illusion.
Through your unique creative soul-craft, you have linked your secret inner self, your genuine talent, your inner yearning for the absolute, to the very ground of creation itself. Out of the cocoon of the broken cultural-self there emerges the mysterious inner self which has yearned for cosmic heroism.
Your once invisible mystery has now achieved cosmic significance by affirming its interconnection with the Great Mystery itself. The Tao which cannot be named has been named, but in a language older than words.