The following excerpt is adapted from The Six Pathways of Destiny by Ralph Metzner, published by Regent Press.
Join Ralph Metzner for his first-ever live, interactive video course, “Entheogenic Experiences: Finding the Pathways of Your Soul in the World.” Ralph Metzner’s distinguished career has brought a trained psychologist’s perspective to the insights that come from psychedelic exploration. He will discuss the six archetypal pathways of the soul and how they can help us articulate our soul’s destiny. This six-session course begins June 29. Learn more.
Each of us, as a human soul, incarnates by choice with a purpose, an intention or vision for this life – what we came here to do and to be. The ancient Zen koan – what was your original face before you were born ?– provokes us into asking about and tuning in to that vision. The soul chooses one or more of six great archetypal pathways in society, in which to express its talents and realize its vision: Healer/Peacemaker, Explorer/Scientist, Warrior/Guardian, Artist/Musician, Teacher/Communicator , and Builder/Organizer. In our heart and mind we carry an intuitive sense of this vision during the formative years of childhood and youth. We may have glimpses or dreams, messages from Spirit, as well as contacts with teachers and role models, that inspire us on finding our way, our unique destiny.
In traditional societies, the role you were to play in society was predetermined by the family you were born in and therefore could not be changed. In ancient India, for example, the principle of dharma meant that you were born into one of four basic castes: the warrior/ruler, the priest/teacher, the merchant/trader or the laborer/servant. In medieval times in Japan, four walks of life were recognized – the ways of the knight, the farmer, the artisan and the merchant. In medieval Europe there was a similar division into the four orders of knights/nobles, peasant/serfs, priest/monks and merchant/traders. Whereas the land-owning aristocracy and land-working peasantry/slaves were totally locked into their roles by family heredity, the religious orders and merchant guilds afforded somewhat more freedom of choice and mobility.
The abolition of hereditary aristocracies and colonialist serfdom/slavery through revolutionary wars of independence created socio-economic space for burgeoning middle classes with increasing gender equality and differentiated professions reflective of individual interests and talents. These developments in the political realm, initiated in North America in the late 18th century spread over the next two to three hundred years to Europe, Russia and eventually to all parts of the world, accompanied by blood-soaked spasms of war and violence that killed millions.
During the same time period, the industrial revolutions re-ordered modern societies, with exponentially increasing populations, into the two broad socio-economic classes, as described by Karl Marx: those who make products – the wage-working proletariat, and those who own the means of production – the capitalist bourgeoisie. Both the political liberation wars and the socio-economic class struggles continue world-wide to this day, with varying degrees of open violence, as entrenched dominator states and class systems of oppression resist liberation movements.