The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek - Joseph Campbell
Failure is a greater teacher than success - Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Recently I was thinking about how we all experience failure from time to time and yet not realize how much we can learn and benefit from the experience. At times its feels like a huge loss, but mostly failures are minor setbacks. As Joseph Campbell seems to suggest in the quote above, the cave we fear may contain the treasure we seek. Generally we fear failure. That's the cave of darkness we fear. But in the darkness of our failures, we may find our our treasure.
By finding the treasure in the darkness, we empower ourselves, but if we look to power outside of ourselves, we will never claim our power within, but continue to wallow in our failures, feeling disempowered. This is stated most congently in A COURSE OF LOVE (page118).
"Those of you who think you have traditional means of power on your side turn not to your own power, but then you wonder why those more spiritual, both currently in historically, seem to suffer hardship. Yet it is often only those who suffer hardship who will rise up and claim the power that is their own instead of looking for it elsewhere. Your perception but looks at power backward...."
Sometimes it is said, failure is just the backdoor to success. Or similarily, the way up may be the way down as it was for James, the narrator/hero of Elysium's Passage. He had to fall down the chasm before he could re-emerge as a new man on top of the summit. A Course of Love states:
Since the idea of emergence is one of the themes in Elysium's Passage, I have included a dialogue on this topic which I'd like to share taken from Chapter 14, 'Not My First Rodeo.'
Also, I've posted a couple of pictures of me looking into the crevice of a glacier to illustrate how we sometimes have to go down these fissions of failure before we can progress further up. We don't always see what's was coming and then find ourselves falling into despair, often feeling like a failure. But after regaining our inward strength, we re-emerge wiser and often much humbler. We may then continue our joyful ascent, knowing what we didn't know before, doing what we before thought was impossible.
In the words of Alice:
For you see, so many extraordinary things had happened lately, that
Alice began to think that there were very few things that were impossible
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I hope you will enjoy the following dialogue taken from Elysium's Passage: The Summit, where James, the hero/narrator, gets some sage advise after complaining about his struggles and failures in life.
‘Everything in life seems like a struggle,’ I said. ‘Even when life ought to be fun, often it’s not. According to my Mensa tests, I have a very high IQ, and yet I can’t seem to figure out how to live a happy and prosperous life. Not much comes easily to me, particularly in my relations with women. It seems that when things aren’t difficult, I soon find how to make them that way, as though I need to keep raising the bar to prove something to myself. Perhaps that’s why I keep taking on the most difficult challenges I can find, be it women, scholarships, career or climbing impossible Mountains like this. Maybe I’m psychotic.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ Eli said, ‘maybe just a tad neurotic now and then.
‘And yet,’ Mo said, ‘even after achieving what few others could achieve, your mind still struggles with being a failure, even though you know you’re not.’
‘I know, isn't that insane? Just because I haven’t yet found the position and relationship I fancy doesn’t explain why I need to dwell on my lack of success, rather than my achievements. Which is possibly why some women say I often come across as arrogant... to compensate for my insecurities they are quick to add.’
‘That’s very possible,’ he said, ‘but is it not also reasonable that what you’re experiencing in life is just as it should be in your conscious evolution at this time. Not because it was predetermined by karma, the gods or anyone else, but because the world you experience reflects the attitude you’ve unconsciously chosen. What if your perceived failures aren’t mistakes, or even bad karma, but rather what you unwittingly created for yourself?’
‘But why do I need to make life difficult, as if I need to punish myself? I can’t think of any reason to atone for anything I’ve done, apart from creating trouble for certain adversaries that deserved it.’
‘During our earthly years’, Mo continued, ‘we often experience failure in relationships, finances, health and recognition, to name but a few. It's called life: precisely what we all came to earth to experience, that we may experience contrast while making our way through the confusing field of illusions we create for ourselves. What if everything you experienced in life was meant to help your soul find its way to this Mountain so you would make its ascent?
‘And further to that, what if everything in your life turned out to be a failure and yet, without knowing it, all these failures caused you to go more deeply into your soul to discover who you really are: a celestial being of divine resplendence. Would that be failure? Would that be karma?
‘Some may even say that’s what caused to you fall, that you may pay for your past sins, errors and omissions. And that’s also why, they may say, your body continues to languish in the hospital now so you can make a fresh start after paying your karmic debt. And yet, the truth is, ever since your fall you have been ascending towards something far beyond this mountain’s summit.’
‘But still, I can hardly take that “something far beyond,” whatever it is, back with me, can I? Other than receiving a splendid esoteric education at your unaccredited university, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this after I return. I suppose I could join an ashram in Tibet like my friend, or possibly become a monk in the desert somewhere; but I’m not sure my heart would be in either of those. My fancy is still to be a philosopher, lecturing to the brightest minds in the world. And yet, the way things are going, my fear is that I will fail in that too.’
‘Remember when I asked you what you thought was your biggest struggle in life, you said it was struggle. And you were right, but it’s only been a struggle because of what you just identified as being the cause of all your struggles.’
‘So what did I just identify?’
‘Just listen to yourself, James,’ Mo said, ‘you just said “my fear is that I will fail.” Don’t you realize fear and failure are always a vibratory match? You only struggle because you fear failure. What has ruled most of your life has been fear; not love. That’s why you can’t experience a real loving relationship, no more than you can find the career you’re looking for.
‘If you can’t love your relationships and don’t have a passion for your workplace, it’s because you struggle with the fear of failure. And when you’re focused on fear rather than love, you get exactly what you’ve given your attention to. No one struggles in love, only in fear.
‘That’s why you must discover how to live in a state of unconditional love. Only then can failure become your back door to success. In fact, more often than not, it’s the only door to success. So we suggest you lovingly embrace your perceived failures as opportunities to lead you to where you should go. Unless you live life from all angles you will never understand or appreciate what success is, even if you have succeeded. It gives you the contrast you need to move further up and further in. You may not realize it, James, but that's how you got up this Mountain.’
‘I’m not sure I understand what you mean,’ I said.
‘Was it not failing to cross the chasm that brought you to your new Summit? Without doubt, this was your biggest achievement so far. Not to mention the other incident when you failed to make your descent, supposedly becoming stranded on a ridge. But this seeming failure is what gave Eli an opportunity to exhibit his agility in a way that prepared you to discover your own hidden abilities, which, of course, is how you came to discover you were in a spirit body!’
‘You know, there are many out there dying to find that out,’ Eli said with a straight face. ‘But you didn’t have to; you found another way, even with your eyes closed.’
‘And since, as Eli suggested, you were so good at this, why would you ever consider anything you’ve done in your past to be a failure, when in actuality these setbacks were only various approaches towards your great achievement. Just as you failed to make it all the way up, you also failed to make it all the way down. But both so-called failures were necessary for you to make it where you couldn’t have otherwise gone.
‘Even the romantic relationships you thought were failures,’ Eli said, ‘will provide you with the contrast you need to recognize the woman you’re seeking. As we say, in many and various ways, light can only be experienced as light because darkness has given the light the contrast that’s required to experience its luminosity. Darkness has no reality unto itself, only the absence of light's reality. Likewise, fear has no reality unto itself, only the absence of love.
‘Likewise, how would anyone know they were successful unless they experienced failure as the absence of success? Each seemingly wrong turn, or fall in your case, can create new and meaningful vistas to view life. We would like you to keep this in mind when you return to pursue your future career and relationships. Remember, you will remain happiest when you call forth the guiding light of your heart’s desires, rather than being lost in your mind’s fears. That’s when you become who you really are; when you love you, then you’re most aligned with the love essence of your divine Christ Self.’
‘So from now on,’ Mo said, ‘try to view these failures as opportunities to choose again! That's what free will is for: to choose again. Choose to love rather than fear. It's the most under-rated, under-valued and under-utilized gift humanity has been given, even though determinists would like to convince you that you’re deluding yourself when you choose.’
‘Yes, but I know many who take that position,’ I said, ‘but I don’t buy it, and yet I’ve always wondered where the concept of free will comes from. Is it from an innate capacity to experience something that feels volitional?’
‘Or perhaps,’ he said, ‘it simply comes from the contrast of not being free when you remember how it was before you were constricted. Your freedom was constricted when you were stranded on the ledge, but it served to remind you how free you felt after Eli rescued you. So why would anyone even bother trying to convince others they are free,’ he said, ‘if they think they have already no choice but to think they’re not.’
‘That sounds rather strange when you put it that way,’ I said, ‘but I suppose what you say is true; to change someone’s mind about this or anything else would require them to make a choice. Unless they decided not to choose, which of course, would still be a choice – whether they chose to believe it or not.’
‘The sounds even stranger,’ Eli said.
‘Most likely it did,’ I said, ‘but you know, I’ve seen a lot of fancy dancing around this question. I still have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. As you may have guessed, my department is full of determinists but I don’t argue with them anymore. What’s the point; they’re determined to prove their thoughts are determined!’
‘I guess that’s their choice,’ Mo said, with a wry grin, ‘freely and willingly determined. Word plays aside, there still is some truth to what determinists say in reference to those who remain asleep in their complacent state of consciousness, or should I say unconsciousness. When one forgets they have choice, they react as though they have no choice. But to react is not the same as to act. There is no freedom in reacting; only with intention can one truly act. Since everyone has the capacity to be intentional, everyone has the capacity to experience freedom by exercising their will.’
‘Without being aware of your inherent freedom,’ Eli said, ‘it’s easy to fall into a deep slumber and become a mere pawn to fear. Regardless of what happens, you're neither a pawn nor a victim, even when it feels that way. Unless, of course, that’s what you choose to believe. Even so, when the decisions you’ve made don’t go well, you're still free to choose again. When you choose to see things differently, you’re able to see with eyes of love rather than eyes of fear. Once inward vision is illuminated by the heart’s divine light, nothing is perceived as it was in darkness.’
‘That’s why I say there’s nothing you’ve done in your life that should be considered a failure,’ Mo said. ‘Your failure to cross the chasm is what made it possible for you to successfully cross over the spiritual chasm to become what you now are. It’s what brought you to this Summit, allowing you to view life from the vista you sought when you left the Lowlands. You achieved what some would say was impossible. Some failure!’
‘Too bad I can’t add that to my curriculum vitae,’ I said.
‘Who says you can’t,’ Eli said, ‘and while you’re at it don’t forget to mention how, even before breakfast, you can ascend up to five mountain peaks. Who else can do that except maybe the Queen of Hearts? As I recall, she said, why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. And so it is, as you believe, so shall it be. Now, what other impossible things can you do – before or after breakfast?’
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If you wish to read about the series' intriguing Back Story, I invite you to email me at email@example.com and I will send you my free eBook: HOW IT CAME.
THE SUMMIT is the first in a series of five Elysium’s Passage narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding about life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed, or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
PENDING PUBLICATIONS ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE SERIES
The Summit, is now available for purchase through Amazon.
With the exception of the last novel, the other three have been written but still require more editing before publication.
The following titles in the Elysium's Passage series are projected to be released as follows:
THE SUMMIT early 2018
SURREAL ADVENTURES fall 2018
MYSTICAL ROMANCE spring 2019
THE ELIXIR fall 2019
THE RETURN sometime in 2020