One of the words tossed around willy-nilly in this dharma-ending age is “hero”. It seems we are inundated with apparent heroes every which way we turn: movie and comic book animated heroes, football and baseball heroes, all-armed forces personnel heroes, emergency responders like policemen, paramedics and firefighters, even the small child climbing a tree to save the life of an entrapped kitten—all are indelibly classified as being “a hero”.
The ancient, Classical Greek, definition of hero is someone who, in the face of fate itself, singularly makes a choice to sacrifice their very existential existence for a far greater epic responsibility: consecrating their mortal being to a higher, transcendental reality. In this sense, then, how does today’s modern notion of “hero” stand up to this audacious and timeless realization? Does one act of gallantry, whether on the battlefield or someone putting a hole through Muammar Qaddafi’s head, constitute the very essence of heroism? One forgets, that, in the classical sense, a potential hero had to first overcome a vast array of Herculean adversities before being endowed with the title, hero. Today, unfortunately, this noble and well-earned salutation is smeared with diminutive conceits that undermine the former and premier criteria that constitutes hero-hood.
Indeed, the far greater, Olympian feat today—as it has been throughout the millennia—is to make an epic, inner-crusade, one that far outstrips any paltry exterior escapade that hopes to achieve courageous actions in the face of adversity. If one does not confront and overcome one’s own inner demons—how can one even attempt to claim victory in the external arena that is a mere shadow of what is occurring within the vast inner-plane of the alaya vijnana (the repository of consciousness that contains all karmic sensate impressions bearing the mark of dependent origination since time immemorial)? Homer’s heroes like Ulysses actually had to confront and transcend all these inner-demons that were phenomenally and miraculously manifested on the material plane.
In like fashion, the great inner-quest for the Unborn is representative of this transcendent, epic element of truth that far eclipses today’s bewitched bias of incessantly being fixated on achieving merit on the plane of defiled sensate phenomena. This worldling, phenomenal path, is like chopping off one head only to be faced time and time again with other, far more menacing ones of the ravaging Hydra; whereas making the epic journey to the undiscovered country of the Unborn, is like riding on the wondrous wings of Pegasus, empowering the Unborn Light Adept to rise above the phenomenal matrix and thus chop off the root, the very Shandkic entrails of the monstrous Hydra with one swift swing of Manjushri’s Imageless Sword! In this way, one makes that singular choice to sacrifice their very existential life, thus consecrating their mind and spirit to the far superior and supramundane Reality of the Unborn Mind. In so doing, one truly awakens to their True Primordial Identity, and yet coming to the full self-realization of Noble Wisdom that true heroism will not be achieved until Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi. (Unexcelled Perfection in Inseparable Bodhi—Supreme Enlightenment)