Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story #22, Hero’s Journey

[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari



Joseph Campbell, an American scholar of comparative mythology demonstrated a common motif in many cultures regarding the so-called hero’s journey. Examples include a native American boy who survives with a small amount of food in the wilderness where he discovers his protective animal spirit. In certain African countries, girls are confined in a shack away from the village to go through a ritual in order to be reborn as an adult woman. Baptism in Christianity is also a part of the hero’s journey along with various cultural initiations involving circumcision and tattooing. These represent the various rites of passage that one must go through as a part of the hero’s journey. 


In order to become a responsible member of society, many of us leave a comfortable protected life behind in order to go venture into the unknown world. This journey of self-discovery is one where the hero is YOU since you are the main character of your own life. This concept is seen in famous films including Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings. A recent Disney animation Moana also follows the famous Campbell’s hero’s journey.


I once met a young man who told me a story about his dog Kotaro, who was his trusted companion throughout his childhood. One day, Kotaro was tragically hit by a truck and was killed almost instantly. He ran to the dog’s half torn body in hopes of saving him. “I cried so hard”, said the young man who recalled holding his dog’s limp body in his arms. His dog even continued to lick his tears as he slowly passed away. For the young man, this was a turning point in his life where something clicked inside his heart. He became an adult through this painful rite of passage experience of his dog’s death. 


I meet people through my work as a life coach who seem to have skipped rites of passages and express hesitancy to set out on a hero’s journey. Many cases I have witnessed often involve the lack of mental and psychological growth. For instance, a man in his 50’s could not bring himself to visit his mother in her 80’s at a nursing home not because he didn’t have time, but because he was unable to face his mother during her aging and dying process. 


Another man in his 30’s has lived with his mother all his life and barely leaves his room. He seems reluctant to venture off into his own journey. I also met a mother who became physically ill after her youngest child left for college. While she understood the child’s need to leave, her body refused to accept this painful transition. In both cases, my clients stayed in a sheltered environment neglecting the importance of venturing off into their own hero’s journeys.


To live and to love means to become responsible to someone other than yourself. Sometimes it means to accept a painful loss. Through the hero’s journey, a younger person has to recognize the responsibility of one’s life and the impact it has on future generations. 


Each of us often have a unique journey that we venture out on. Some of us leave for college, depart from childhood homes, leave the country, change careers, or even witness the death of a beloved pet, some of us even make this journey more than once in our lifetime. Our individual journeys vary and it may not be as dramatic as those seen in movies or other stories. 


In order to discover who we are, we go out there as many times as it is necessary in order to find ourselves to gain clear awareness of ourselves. 


The hero journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of yourself.