The Seed of Potential: A Mythic Journey Towards Self-Realisation

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The Seed of Potential

In life, we often harbour a seed of potential, a dormant force within us, that we are yet to fully comprehend. This seed, a thing of beauty and intrigue, remains buried in the fertile soil of our unconscious. It may be something we’re drawn to, yet seemingly elusive, too distant to reach, let alone nurture. Yet, unbeknownst to us, it germinates in the fertile soil of our unconscious, perhaps even in the collective unconscious as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung. Our self-realisation journey involves uncovering and nurturing this seed of potential.

Throughout life, we relegate certain experiences to the underworld of the unconscious. These experiences, although forgotten, contribute to the compost that nourishes the seed of our potential. And then one day, suddenly, we realise that the seed has grown into a tree, laden with fruits of wisdom and transformation. Our lives take an unexpected turn, and to harvest these fruits, we must dive deep into the repository of our unconscious. It is a journey towards the fullness of the soul, a journey towards self-realisation.

The tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, a narrative that predates Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, offers a poignant metaphor for this transformation in a deeply symbolic manner. The two lovers from Babylon, who tragically end their lives due to a misunderstanding, had planned to meet under a mulberry tree. The gods, moved by their tragic end, changed the colour of the mulberries from white to red, symbolising their tragic love. The mulberry tree represents a potential that had not been allowed to manifest, something that was repurposed and eventually blossomed.

The Hero’s Journey of Self-Realisation

Jung saw the seeds of one’s potential and destiny lying dormant within, “like the tiny, latent life-cell, the individual must possess the instinctive capacity to develop into a real oak from the acorn”, requiring the right conditions to grow and unfold. And this process of individuation and self-actualisation is best expressed in a hero’s journey proposed by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. 

In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the “call to adventure” often comes unexpectedly. This call, a disruption to the ordinary world, sets the hero on a path towards their latent destiny. This parallels the moment we realise the seed within us, buried in the fertile soil of our unconscious, has sprouted into a tree of potential, just like when Bilbo Baggins’s comfortable life in the Shire was disrupted by Gandalf’s appearance. 

As the hero crosses the first threshold, they step into the realm of the unconscious, like Alice into the Wonderland, Dorothy into Oz, and Neo into the Matrix. Here, transformation can occur. This journey mirrors the growth of our potential as it matures unseen, nurtured by the compost of forgotten experiences. 

Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis ( wrote beautifully of this inner exploration: “In the darkness of our consciousness, there are hungry beasts that never die. The one primeval hunger and sorrow, those nights and moonlight before the dawn of humanity, could they ever really die within us? No, they live on; they howl within us. And that is why we must write, to placate those early beasts, to find a way of living with them, to light some corner of the darkness within which they lurk. We write in order to keep alive within the killing frost of the intellect and the soul’s self-consciousness that primitive fire which was mankind’s first attempt at warming itself amid the night and stars.”

The hero then undergoes trials, transforms, and gains allies and tools for the journey ahead. This is akin to the nurturing of our potential, our growth, and our preparation for the challenges that lie ahead.

The journey leads the hero into the innermost cave, where they face their greatest challenge and unlock their full potential. This is akin to the sprouting of the tree of potential, laden with the fruits of wisdom and transformation. My favourite story that illustrates this stage of the journey is that of Ged, from “Wizard of the Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin. Ged was a young boy that just discovered that he had immense raw talent for magic. However, his uncontrolled pride and ambition caused him to summon a shadow creature from the realm of the dead, who is really a manifestation of his dark side. He tried to run away from it only to realise that he could not escape it. His eventual triumph came from not defeating the shadow in battle, but recognising it as part of himself, calling it by his own true name, thus integrating it.

Following this, the hero’s perception is forever changed. They return to the ordinary world, not as they were, but transformed, bearing the gifts of their journey. This mirrors our journey of self-discovery, where we bring our realised potential to the surface, and our lives bear the fruits of this transformation.

Timing in Nature

Using the metaphor of a seed, then timing is an essential ingredient, in addition to the right conditions such as soil and nurturing. As Persian poet Omar Khayyam lamented in Ruybaiyat:

“Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!

That Youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!

The Nightingale that in the branches sang

At Whence, and whither flown again, who knows!”

Life is transitory, and this impermanence may fill our hearts with sorrow, yet it need not lead to doubt, of “am I on time”, or even despair. For life is an ever-flowing stream, with seasons of blossoming and fallowness.

Rather than desperately grasp at youth and beauty, seek to align with life’s natural rhythms. Harvest wisdom from each phase of life. Let go of anxieties about the future and drop regrets over the past. As the ancient Taoist sages understood:

“The Tao abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone.”

The influential British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead spent most of his early career as a mathematician and logician at the University of Cambridge in England. In 1924, at the age of 63, he moved to Harvard University in the United States to teach philosophy. And it was during this later phase of his career that he developed his process philosophy and metaphysical system. He explained about his transition from mathematics to philosophy in his late years, “As a slowly maturing man, my absorption in technicalities slowly gave way to a wider and more philosophical generalisation. The stimulus came from diverse sources – and in great measure from Bergson, James, and Russell. In these subjects I found a compelling urge towards synthesising my technical knowledge in terms of human experience. The life of the reason is memory, imagination, and emotion.”

Therefore, we can perhaps trust in life’s unfoldment and relax into being, allowing understanding to ripen in its own season. Instead of forcing the fruits of transformation, we can nurture growth through patient attention. And perhaps, wilful tranquillity is more powerful than anxious striving. This is not about passive idleness, but actively choosing calm and contentment amidst life’s chaos. It’s about recognizing life’s unpredictability and maintaining inner peace, regardless of external circumstances.

Indeed, aligning with the natural timing allows our inner potentials to unfold organically. Old pains and resistances linger because, like the darkness and confines of the buried seed, they nurture our development. By accepting rather than resenting these facets of experience, we witness our unconscious potentials transitioning into wisdom and integration.

Just as the seed contains within it the blueprint of the flower and fruit, our trials contain the opportunity for self-understanding. By embracing rather than rejecting the ebbs and flows of life, we allow the seeds of our becoming to sprout when conditions are right, realizing the fruits of transformation.

Overcoming Resistance: Doubt and Expectations

Our journey towards self-realisation is littered with obstacles and needs our vital energy. If the energy of raw vitality of raw lifeforce is absent, then what is left is only waste, the rotting realms where things are not reprocessed, not repurposed, not recycled, but only lying there, inept and discarded. So, it is through this activation of the strong vital energy that the actual circuitry, the actual repurposing of things take place as they need to. But if this circuitry, this repurposing is not completed, we will find that often this vital energy then expresses itself through doubt. 

Doubt, often mistaken as critical thinking, is an impediment that can block the flow of life-force, making it difficult to sense the natural flow of things. Doubt often arises from fear, attachment, and rigid assumptions whilst critical thinking comes from curiosity, openness and discernment.  American aphorist Mason Cooley explained the mistake superbly, “Most people make the mistake of seeing life as a series of things they could lose, rather than the continuous process of life and rebirth. They seek to preserve their lives by gaining and holding, rather than by yielding and letting go.” And so, when attachment breeds doubt which breeds hesitation, it becomes quite difficult to sense where the natural flow is available, and where the natural momentum of things is going.

To overcome doubt, we must step back from the analytical process and trust in the way things are unfolding. As the Tao Te Ching states “The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings… Because he believes in himself, he doesn’t try to convince others. Because he is content with himself, he doesn’t need others’ approval.” 

Also, we must be wary of the weight of expectations, which can be mistaken as will. This element of expectation that things should come about and they should come about in a specific way, is something that cheats us out of the full experience of life, and restricts us from being open to all possible outcomes. Being too attached to a specific outcome can hinder our progress and prevent us from fully realising our potential. Expectations are about preconditions, and the will is about sacrifice and therefore they are very different. It can perhaps again be explained by the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita as I mentioned in my previous blog post (, this instruction of Krishna to Arjun is that we are entitled to enjoy our actions, but not to the fruit of our actions. IN other words, enjoy exerting our will in life, be willing to sacrifice aspects of or the entirety of our old selves, and do not lay expectations on life.

The Cycle of Life and Death

Death, often seen as an end, is a powerful tool in the process of manifesting a latent gift or fulfilling a latent destiny. Just as death in nature plays a crucial role in nutrient recycling and the sustainability of ecosystems, the concept of death within us aids the process of transformation and growth.

What we can learn from this process is to harness the power of death, of endings, to fuel new beginnings. It is in this cycle of life and death that our true source of power resides. In Joseph Campbell’s words: “Death is the primary symptom of life. It’s always there… In the ancient traditions death is not denied; it is celebrated, and we renew our life through the experience of death… the proper embrace of death is what brings renewal.” To fully realise our potential, we must understand the impermanence of all things. There is something worth giving up, and something worth having – the wisdom to discern the difference can make all the difference. In order to receive the gift from the seed, the voluntary sacrifice, is of the old self. Paul Gauguin the stockbroker died at the age of 36, and Gauguin the artist was born. The hobbit who accepted his courage and resourcefulness, and returned to the Shire, is no longer the old one that set out from there.

Realizing Our Potential

The ultimate boon of bringing back this fruit to the surface, is the empowerment of rewriting our fate and be reborn towards our destiny. As we journey through life, through each experience, we continually shape and reshape our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. A sense of purpose is reawakened, deeper patterns and potentials revealed, our unique gifts can finally be harvested. It’s a deeply personal, profound, and transformative adventure that shapes who we are and who we become. And through conscious gardening of our seed, through the cycle of voluntary death and rebirth, we can indeed achieve the perennial human yearning of rewriting our fate, as expressed beautifully by Omar Khayaam: 

“Oh if the World were but to re-create,

That we might catch ere closed the Book of fate,

And make The Writer on a fairer leaf

Inscribe our names, or quite obliterate!”

Harvesting the Fruit

Our journey through life is a continual process of transformation, much like a seed’s journey to becoming a fruit. This transformation is not always easy or straightforward, and it is laden with periods of growth, decay, and rebirth. By embracing these cycles, however, we invite the opportunity to harness our innate potential and bloom into our true selves.

This journey demands patience, acceptance, and a willingness to align with life’s natural rhythms. It requires us to let go of our doubts and expectations and to trust in the unfolding of our own unique life path. As we shed our old selves, much like a seed shedding its outer shell, we make room for new growth and potential. We must remember that just as a seed contains the blueprint of the fruit within it, our trials and tribulations contain the seeds of wisdom and self-understanding.

This process of transformation is not about anxious striving, but about understanding and aligning with the natural flow of life. It requires us to embrace change, to comprehend the impermanence of all things and to acknowledge that with every ending comes a new beginning. As the ancient Taoist sages understood, the “Tao abides in non-action, yet nothing is left undone.”

Through this journey, we empower ourselves to rewrite our fate and step into our destiny. The fruits of this journey – wisdom, insight, integration, and transformation – are the rewards we reap from our patient attention and acceptance of life’s natural rhythms.

In conclusion, our journey towards self-realisation is not a destination but a process. A process that continues to shape and reshape us, leading us from fallowness to fruition, from death to rebirth, and ultimately from fate to destiny. Let us then embark on this journey with open hearts and minds, ready to embrace the richness, spaciousness, and joy that comes with harvesting the fruits of our transformation.