Today we have Dr. Allan G. Hunter on the show. He received his doctorate in literature from Oxford University, which led him to study the deep correspondences between mental disturbance and literary expression.
He is a counselor, a therapist, and a professor of literature at Curry College in Boston, where he also teaches memoir writing for the Blue Hills Writing Institute.
He is the author of several books, including Spiritual Hunger, Gratitude and Beyond, The Six Archetypes of Love, Stories We Need to Know, The Path of Synchronicity, Write Your Memoir, and Princes, Frogs & Ugly Sisters.
In this conversation we discuss spiritual hunger and how to use myth and story to find a deeper meaning in your own life. It was a pleasure speaking to Allan. Enjoy!
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 020
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Allan Hunter. How you doing, Allan?
Allan Hunter 0:03
Very well, nice to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Alex Ferrari 0:06
So, thank you so much for being on the show. You know, you've written many books, but the one I wanted to really focus on today is your book called stories we need to know reading your life's path in literature, and which marries the two sides of me very well, the artistic side of being a filmmaker and a writer, but also the spiritual Seeker. And I think that's one of the reasons why I want to focus on that book, because it's like it balances me personally, it is balances me very well. And I feel that stories. The reason why stories have been around since the beginning of time is because it helps us figure this whole thing out. I mean, without story without these architects, which we will get into in a minute. I don't know if we would be able to survive as a species. I mean, stories have been around. I mean, well, honestly, if you want to go really, really back the story of like, Hey, guy, don't go down to the river, because there's a tiger there, and he's gonna eat you. That's a story. And if you don't, if you don't understand that you could go down to the river get eaten. So So stories have a really powerful, powerful effect on us as a as a species. But I wanted to ask you, why did you decide to, to kind of dive into this topic in your book?
Allan Hunter 1:31
Well, I didn't so much decide to do it as it came up behind me and whacked me on the side. And wouldn't let me do anything else until I'd explored it. So, you know, I didn't, it wasn't so much me choosing is it choosing me, which is, actually most of my books have come that way. They've come along and said, write me and I said, No, I want to do something else. You were you were refusing the call? Oh, absolutely. Every time I know how hard it is to write a book, but in the end, they wore me down. So, you know, the whole idea is exactly in tune with what you've just been saying. Now, some people don't believe we're on the life journey at all. Some people think we just take up space, and then we die. So those are probably the people who won't be open to the idea that there is a life journey, that we are proceeding from somewhere to somewhere else. And something is going to happen to us along the way. We're not just going to get older and heavier. We're going to learn something.
Alex Ferrari 2:39
Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Of course. Of course.
Allan Hunter 2:42
Alex Ferrari 2:43
Nothing nothing at all. Trust me. I can listen. COVID was tough on all of us. Still, it!
Allan Hunter 2:51
Still hasn't gone yet. Yes. So the so I spent most of my most of my life actually, even before I became an academic reading books, because I reckon that books stories that you've so beautifully put it in your example, stories are a way of asking us to think about the world. And so I began to think, okay, stories survive, because they tell the readers something over time. And if a story doesn't feel relevant anymore, it gets lost, nobody reads it, it's gone. So here we have all these stories floating around that I would tell my students to read, and they'd say, Oh, it's so old, oh, I can't possibly have anything to do with me. I say, Okay, wait, it may have something to do with you. And here is the big point. And that is if you look at Western literature, which is what I know, I don't really know Eastern literature as well. If you look at the whole of western literature, for the last 3000 years, it will become obvious apparent that there are journeys aplenty, that in each case, the main character, or main characters are invited to take a journey. There was the core but Joseph Campbell like call and they can refuse. But mostly if the story goes anywhere, it's because they set off on this journey, fine. But if one looks a little closer, one sees that in every case, the characters go through six very specific stages of learning life stages, I call them. I also call them archetypes because that seemed like a good way to look at them. They are mileposts of growth. And what became even more alarming to me as I read is that for 3000 years, all of these six mileposts have been the same in the same order, talking about the same thing, and they can't be skipped. And so I said to myself, ah, this looks like it may be a deep structure of the psyche. This is the way we shape reality. Because, you know, to us today, there are stories everywhere you turn on the TV, there's a news story, there's a, there's a story that is your your long running, favorite show, there are stories everywhere. If we go back about three or maybe 4000 years, pre Homer, stories were very specific. They were certainly Teaching Tales, don't do this do do that. But they were also because they were teaching something, there were religious tales. So the people who are reciting them are saying, this is something essential about the world. And here's the story that we put it into. Now, I think we've tended to lose sight of that in our day, probably from about the year 1500 onwards, stories became entertainment, rather than something that was spiritually meaningful. And before that time, things are pretty tough as well, because, of course, religion came along. And there were religious stories that were designed to supplant these older, older tales that people had been listening to and saying, Yes, that's good. Let's remember it. They've been listening to it for 2000 years before Christianity hid, and supplanting just about everything. So what are these six stages? Well, they're remarkably coherent. They echo through all of major literature in the Western canon, as I say, and they are as follows. So there's the first stage, which is birth, or the innocent. So at the age one, very young age one is innocent, you can take candy from a baby as they say.
And you can because the baby just so you can do fine. So when is innocent, but what everybody knows has been around a baby for more than about five minutes, is that babies have two really, really powerful abilities. And that doesn't mean you know, pooping and easy, powerful abilities. And one is to love. The baby doesn't love Mother, mother doesn't love the baby, it's not going to be a survival situation. So there's love and there's trust, the baby has to trust that he she is not going to be dropped, not going to be abandoned. And you think, well, that's not very good, because it's a baby, you know, babies. And yet, as I work with my private counseling clients, I say, if you haven't got love, and you haven't got trust, and you don't know how to do that, you're not going to have much like in mature relationships during the rest of your life. So the first lesson, as it were, that these stories put towards us is okay, we have to learn how to love and trust or we're dead meat, literally, dead me. So that's the first archetype. But of course, being a baby doesn't last too long. Because after a while, you know, I have grandkids. I know all about the terrible two's
Alex Ferrari 8:32
And the effin threes.
Allan Hunter 8:37
Oh, yeah, yeah. Round that age, the child begins to say, all is not perfect. No, I'm not just going to eat what's in front of me, I want this, I want that. And this is a stage that of course, carries him throughout the rest of life. But I call that stage to begin with, I call it the discontented innocent, who then becomes the orphan feels like an orphan. And actually, which of us hasn't felt like we don't belong? We've all felt we don't belong. And it's a it's a feeling we have to get past. Otherwise, you know, we, we wind up not belonging. So, when this happens, imagine the imagine the hero of a story, the hero, the detective stories, the detective story, wonderful genre, millions of them out there to begin with. The detective doesn't know anything. He's innocent. He doesn't know what the crime is. He doesn't know who the victims or the perpetrators are likely to be. And then the crime happens all is not well. Alright, suddenly suspicion, who can I trust as that innocent again, and asking of questions is what happens? The orphan is is the one who looks around and says, life seems pretty, pretty perilous. I think I better find somebody to glom on to. And that's what happens in the detective story. You have the detective and the detective sidekick and the little the team, and they get together. In real life, your first day of school? Friends? Yeah. Brands, if I don't make friends, I'm dead. Dead meat. First day, I've got first first day of college first day of a new job, you look around and say, Okay, who do I align myself with?
Alex Ferrari 10:43
Something that that's something that's so primal, primal, it's, it's so primal. When you You're absolutely right. When you walk into a new into a new setting, like a job or classroom, you're there to do the job or learn or whatever it is. But sooner or later in the back of your head, subconsciously, you're looking at like, who can I be friend? Who can I align myself with? What group do I need to be with? It's kind of like, you know, when you walk into prison, you know, you're going to, you know, if you're in prison, not that I know anything about this. But if you are in prison, if you don't align yourself with a group you are, if you're alone, if you're, if you're an orphan, if you will, you will get destroyed because then you have all the groups hitting you. So the strength is in the group. And that is as primal as we get with humanity. That's the only reason we survive. Because by ourselves, we can't, we can't really fight a tiger, right by ourselves. Generally speaking, by ourselves, we can't really fight a predator or elephant or we're not physically endowed that way, the only thing we have is our minds, which is great. But at a certain point, our survival becomes more apparent once you have 2345, the family unit, the town, the village, all these things, you become much your survival percentage goes up. So it's really it's really interesting. Yeah, very much. So.
Allan Hunter 12:18
So this is absolutely right. And I know also from working in prisons, how, how essential as is. But there's a downside doesn't that and that is if you agree to join a group, you have to join according to the group's rules. And maybe some of the people in the group are not people really like that. But you have to bite your tongue, and okay, we're all here together guys, guys, and gals, or whatever. We're all here together. And this is how we survive. And you know, a lot of people go through life doing that, and they never get any further. Nothing wrong with that. Because somebody who knows how to join and nurture others will be a wonderful person to help others. By the same token, if it tips over into anger, you get gangs, right. And gangs are not something that are going to go away anytime soon. And desperately vicious people getting together to pursue their agenda. And they have their gang markings and their gang tattoos and not the rest of it. So this is can be the bad side of things. Good often pays his taxes, plays by her right rules does the right thing. So we all need to learn how to do that. We need to learn how to do that. Those are the people who are going to be very happy in in steady jobs, where they know what the structure is, in the army, you know, in police force, and I love our police forces and I very fondly Well, military personnel, but they've agreed to abide by the rules
Alex Ferrari 14:02
Right of the of the group of the of the organization that you've come into, which were as you were saying that the group like oh, yeah, have a job, get a check. I actually started to my, I started to cringe, I started to actually have a little bit of a panic attack going inside of me, my chest started, because that's not who I am. I'm not that person. I'm at that archetype. I've been in that situation. And it was miserable for me. And there's many people and those are the entrepreneurs of the world and people who start their own businesses and things start their own groups. Did so continue.
Allan Hunter 14:41
Yeah, well, you absolutely perfect. I was going to say that, perhaps a little later that you are a person who decided that being an orphan allied with you know, the, the orthodoxy of Hollywood and filmmaking? No, no, no, you want to do it your way. Right. And you have and here you are, because that lead you to the next archetype. And the next archetype is what I call the pilgrim. And I do that because pilgrims usually still it's like, there's the Camino Santiago that you can walk that goes from Northern France to the edge of Spain. People do it every every year in droves. The pilgrim decides to go on a journey in order to ask important questions about who he or she is. And they can only be asked when one is separate and on one's own journey. These are not answers you can think out beforehand, they have to be experienced. So the pilgrim who exists in the tarot, of course, holding a lantern and walking slowly down the road, the Pilgrim is on a request to say what's true for me, right? Now, in the 14th century, pilgrims did that with a sense of what's true for me in relation to God. Nowadays, we might say, what's true for me? And what I should do for my life, or what is true for me in terms of spiritual truth, this can be a long period of time. And it can be really annoying. Because pilgrims tend to ask awkward questions. They tend to ask things in a business, they tend to be the one who sits back say, why did we do it this way? This is dumb. Why don't we do it that way? And of course, sometimes, that's exactly the question that needs to be asked. And you asked it yourself. You said, What is the film business like this? Is there another model? And I bet a lot of people said, Come on, get with the program.
Alex Ferrari 16:49
Right? Yeah. Because at a certain point, even in any journey in your life, you you keep running into walls, or you just start figuring out like, I don't want to play by these rules. I don't want to play by these rules. There's, there was many points in my life, where I could have easily gotten a staff position somewhere at a big studio, you know, doing editing or directing and things like that. But I just, I just never felt right. To me, it was just something that just like, the money would have been fantastic. And I've had a couple of those staff positions early on in my career, which I was promptly fired from a year later, because I was just so miserable. I was I wasn't evolved enough yet to realize how unhappy I was. So I would act out or I would do something to get myself in trouble to get myself kicked out because I just because one half of me is like, you're not going to turn this check away. But the other half of media, you're dying inside. So it was like this battle inside of me to get to leave that but it is something that didn't make any sense. But then I have a good friend of mine, who loves that staff position. Having that check. Having that quote unquote, security, doesn't rock the boat has a pension. He said he's good. I'm just not. I just can't be that person. And that's okay. Everyone's different.
Allan Hunter 18:11
Everyone's different. I mean, you might say, that person is a good orphan. A happy orphan. Oh, yeah. But that's not who you are. Yeah. And that's what happens in the grand literature. Usually, the character is faced with a problem. And what's the truth here? What's going on? And that's what sets the character apart. It's an invitation we can all say, No, I want to toe the line. Or we can say, I want to go deeper. So that's the pilgrim. Pilgrims personified perhaps in teenagers who know what they don't want but they're not quite sure what they do want.
Alex Ferrari 18:54
Yes, they go backpacking across Europe. Yeah. And they hang out and they hang out in hostels because they can and their backs can handle those beds Oh, to be young again. It is true that that youth is wasted on the young there's no question about it. Oh, so true. So from the pilgrim these are stages these are all stages like you can't you can't skip one and you can stop at a certain level but it because you don't and it's again nothing wrong with that and I think your journey your journey in this life could be to the point like I need to be a really good orphan in this life. I have to learn how to be really good orphan or I need to be I need to go I'd need to become a pilgrim in this life to challenge myself. Do you in your in your appearance, in your opinion, going a little bit deeper into these these archetypes I always feel that I use the term the universe. You know, you people use God people use the universe. The For us, if you're a Star Wars fan, what the that the universe is the one that presents these calls, presents these challenges presents these options to you. And that could be a breakup, that could be a job opportunity that could be a, you really want to write that book, start writing it, oh, you got to quit your steady job to open up this new business, because that's really your dream, because you want to make cookies. So you know, you're going to and then you open up a cookie company like, Oh, God, and then all those challenges of doing that, as opposed to the steady paycheck? Do you have it? Do you find that even throughout literature, because this journey, someone's I always, I always like to say, like, Look, guys, I think that there's something I don't know what it is, but there's something that's pushing us and guiding us in the way that we need to be in this life in this, I believe in multiple, you know, past lives, karma, the whole thing. So in this life, the lessons you have to learn, someone's guiding you, there's a choice, you always have a choice. But I always found that when you choose wrong, things don't go well, things are harder, things are so much harder, sometimes. Sometimes the universe, it's like, okay, apparently they didn't get the first seven messages. So unfortunately, this person is going to have to get into a minor car accidents, to shock them, or they're gonna have to break up to shock them into where they need to be, or they're gonna lose all their money, because that's what's gonna knock them out. And I've always found, at least in my life experience, the worst things that have happened to me that I've been at my lowest are the greatest teaching tools. And I wouldn't, I wouldn't turn them away, ever. If I had a chance to go back and go, I really wish I wouldn't have to go through that. Knowing what I know, now, they made me who I am. So even the worst things even when you're in the middle of the fire, and getting burned, you realized later in life, like I needed that I needed to be fired. I needed to break up with that person, I needed to lose all my money. So I felt what that was like. So moving further down this journey. I don't make those mistakes. Is that fair to say?
Allan Hunter 22:24
You absolutely, perfectly said. And, you know, I've been in that situation, too, you know, the safe job. And I couldn't take it, maybe or the what seemed like a cataclysmic personal situation. And it shook me up so that I was forced to rethink everything, in everything from my my first marriage to what I thought I could do and who I thought I was supposed to placate in my life, I realize, wait, wait, wait. I'm not really supposed to be doing any of that stuff making nice. I'm supposed to be going my own way. So yes, I know this personally, in the literature, it's exactly that through all this 3000 years of literature with my clients, it's the same thing.
Alex Ferrari 23:10
Do you think that COVID has been that event for the world, because everyone has these little issues every once in a while, you know, like, oh, you know, like, you lose your money, you get into a car accident, you break up with something, something happens to you, to make you rethink life. But I've been hearing again, and again that during that year of, of lockdown, or that, you know, during COVID, which we're still in, where I think hopefully on the other side of it a little bit more than we were. But there was that last 2020 was a year of just absolute reevaluation about everything. Do you believe that COVID Is that wake up call for an AI mass scale? That's just nothing really been like that in our lifetime? That I could like World War Two was something like that at one point. But something that affected the entire planet, the entire planet shut down? Yeah, for a month or two. It was insane.
Allan Hunter 24:07
Extraordinary. Yes. We've never seen anything like it. Yeah, I think I do think so. This is not to say that I believe there is a level of deity who sends plagues or whatever, no. But when when a big shock, like that happens to a whole civilization. Basically, it's a chance to rethink who we are and what we think we're doing and how we think we're doing it. The question that remains for us to know now is, are we just going to go often, like back to the way it was before? Are we going to start making things new? I see quite a lot of signs of some of our leaders saying no, we're gonna have to do things differently. But I also see quite a lot of signs of politicians saying Nope, we're just going to go back to the same old same old.
Alex Ferrari 24:58
Right trying to but now force against the same old, same old, it's so much greater that it's, it's so tough now. And the perfect example is just people working at home. And they just evaluate like, wait a minute, I have time with my family, I need to I need to balance my life and my job better. I want to be able to have more control of my, my life experience. So I think it's almost like shedding a bunch of what was me to assert for a certain part of the population who has the ability to work at home. But that's shedding a lot of the Industrial Age 80s 90s, early 2000s way of doing business even where you have to get in a car, drive, drive an hour commute and traffic, work, drive an hour back, and then do all that it's insane. It's insanity in my in my business agents, moving movie movie starring agents, talent agents, they would have to in LA, get in a car, drive an hour for a 15 or 20 minute meeting, get back in the car, drive back to them. So they would get maybe three meetings done a day. But during the pandemic, they were doing 10 or 15 meetings and business kept going. So they're like, wait a minute, you know, maybe I do that once a week, as opposed to every day. Things like that. So it's really it's really an interesting thing. But I just was curious about that. Because it is there's never been anything like it on a spiritual sense on a on a societal sense, that just shut down the world, and really made everyone reevaluate. Even if you can't work at home, like do I really want to go back to that job? Look how many, I was just looking at the news yesterday, 722,000 people walked off their jobs in the food industry, because they just they're just like, I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. That's, that's that's that's a pretty large. That's incredible. Yes, you know, and we are short when there's a shortage of people now, huge shortage. Oh, god, it's insane. But it's just it's just really interesting how the whole world has been the journey, the story of humanity has been shifted a little bit during this whole process. But we went off on a tangent, who was the next who's after it. So who's the who's after the pilgrim?
Allan Hunter 27:20
Well, in terms of the pilgrim, the Pilgrim is looking for answers. And when it's against screen just divided. And when answers begin to appear, then the Pilgrim is no longer searching. So the pilgrim says, this is the way I want my life to go, this is the person I want to spend my life with. This is the country I want to live in. This is the regime that I can accept and live under and work with. And at that point, you're really putting your money on the table. Until now, it's been sort of discussion, but then it's money on the table. And I call that that archetype. I call that the warrior lover. Because this is the person who fights peacefully for what is worth loving. And that's really, really important. Now, you say to yourself, Well, what does what does that mean? Well, you know, single mom, raising two kids, she's putting everything on the line to give those kids the best she can manage. She is a fighter, she loves her kids. She's a wine lover. Somebody who was an environmentalist who says, I'm going to put all of my efforts and all of my personal feelings of love into making the planet greener and safer, or you name it. That is a worry another very powerful place to be. If we look back into the literature, that's actually what happens with in Homer. That's what happens with Odysseus, he spends a lot of time bouncing around the Mediterranean. But at a certain point, when you know, he thinks he's a hero, but actually, he's lost. He's an orphan. At a certain point, he, he looks at Searcy, who was enchanted him says, I don't want this. I know what I want. I want to go home and do a good job there. And that's when he stopped being a quote hero. And he wasn't a hero. He was a butcher. This was a butcher. I mean, you know, and that's when he starts saying, Okay, now I have to get home. How do I do it? How do I do so well?
Alex Ferrari 29:38
No, so So the warrior so the the warrior level lover is the one that once that once the searching is over? Yeah, and you always continue to search in some way but the big search is over, where you're like, I know what I want now in life. And I in that could be to be an orphan. It in an office setting somewhere, or it could be, I'm going to fight for my kids, or I'm going to fight for my family, or I'm going to fight for that new business or fight to my art my artistic endeavors, or that's when you start throwing that, that fight in that love into what answers finally came to you, at that stage in your life.
Allan Hunter 30:21
Absolutely. And you couldn't reach that stage if you hadn't learned about love and trust as an innocent if you hadn't learned about what people are like, and how to be, how to be a human amongst other humans as the orphan. And if you didn't do the awkward questioning where you say, you know, I think we can do things better, which is what the pandemic has certainly moved us towards. So we have to learn all these muscles, so we can use them to mobilize our full courage as warrior lovers. Now, that's all very well. But you know, and I know that Crusaders, Warrior lovers tend to burn out. You know, they say, I'm done. And that's part of the lesson too. Because when we're done like that, many people say, I have helped with this job, this industry, this marriage, this country, I'm going to go in and be a waiter, I'm going to be a barista at Starbucks, I'm going to do something where I can just walk away from it at the end of the day. And that I think, is going back to often level going back to an organization, but really what needs to happen is the individual probably is better served by saying, Okay, I can't work any harder. Can I work smarter? Can I use what I've got to help others forward? Ah, now, that's a big question. And that actually, is why often in an organization, if you've got a good organization, they'll notice who the good pilgrims are. And when they, when they become warrior lovers, they'll nurture them knowing that's pretty, pretty soon, they're going to age out five years, 10 years, they're probably going to age out for teachers, it's five years. And then don't keep them in the job, but promote them. So they can use their expertise to teach the teachers to educate those who are alongside them, or perhaps at a slightly less high level. And that is when we get stage five, and that I call the king and queen. And the king queen tends to mean different things to different people. And I don't mean you know, the, the
Alex Ferrari 32:52
The literal royal family.
Allan Hunter 32:54
Yeah, the literal royal family or the prom king and from Queen who are who are kind of parodies of the whole thing. It means each individual can access to parts of the self. And the parts of the self would be the the stereotypically male part of the self executive, bold, and potentially called the King executive must get things done, even if it means that someone has to be imprisoned or executed. And stereotypically, the other half of us each individual is the queen who is, as I say, stereotypically merciful, nurturing, more loving, and we have to integrate both sides of ourselves. How does that what does that look like in reality, if you have children, you have to you have to be nurturing and loving. And you also have to say, No, you cannot have another cookie and no, get down off the back of the sofa
Alex Ferrari 34:00
And then get get that get the knife away from the cat.
Allan Hunter 34:07
So we have to be stern, when it's necessary, we have to be the parent. And we also have to be loving about it. And if you have a boss, who is like that you are indeed blessed because a boss like that will know when to step back. And when to step forward. A boss like that will know when to say well done. And another time we'll know when to say you. You Last up, didn't you, okay? kings and queens have to learn who to trust as well in an organization. Can you trust this person? You can be nice to them, can you trust them? Or are they going to stab you in the back? And if so, what are you going to do about it? So that is the fifth stage. If you're very fortunate that one is very fortunate when get such a person as a boss or perhaps as a parent. If one's unfortunate on As a boss who is all King, and another boss who is all queen, and you don't know who you can't, you can't make them happy, you can't make yourself happy. Now, in literature, this is usually the point where the hero has to give, give up hoping that the authorities will understand and take authority into his or her own hands and say, right, this is the way it's going to be. Again, mystery and detective fiction that happens all the time, the detective realizes that the higher ups won't support him or her and says, Alright, I'm in charge, and carries on and you hope solve the crime. So that's the fifth stage. Again, always building on the lessons before. sixth stage is the most difficult to pin down because I call that the magician. And most people think of magician in terms of you know, you wave a wand and jewelry appears or a new car? No, no, that's, that's not what this is about. A real magician in the definition of the literature, is someone who can change people's minds, who can change the energy, just by force as an example. So you might say, we all have bits of that. I know, as an older person, I can change kids minds just by being me. You, you've chosen to change people's minds about what movies and what media can do. And you're changing the minds. You're not going up to people and grabbing them by the lapels and saying, change our mind. Right? You're doing your life and people are going up of the pole. There's something happening here. Maybe I should pay attention. So that's the magician magician can be like the team coach. The team coach doesn't play the game, sends the team out into the field, but the team coach will know how to manage a bunch of people so they do better than they themselves thought they were capable of.
Alex Ferrari 37:23
Wow. And that's on a on a in the team coaches one level and then there's Buddha, Jesus. Yeah. Yogananda you know, Eastern, Eastern Yogi's or Western fill of philosophy, all of them philosophers in these kinds of people, Joseph Campbell, Joseph Campbell, who's an academic and, and basically a philosopher, in many ways. He changed millions of lives around the world with his work. And then other students of his took his work, and then went on to change billions of people. I'm speaking of George Lucas and Star Wars, which was, you know, we but that was without without Joseph Campbell. We don't have Star Wars. We don't. And we don't know Star Wars. And I love that. I think it was once I saw an interview once with George Lucas, who he said stories are, the way we pass on the meat and potatoes of society. Ooh, that's a good one. Isn't that? Isn't that great? And it is like, that's what I was trying to do with Star Wars. It's like, if you watch the original Star Wars, the meat and potatoes of what it's like to be an innocent, Luke is an innocent, without without question his innocence. And by the end of the original trilogy, He's a magician. You are beginning to become a magician. He's not. He's not Yoda at the end of Return of the Jedi, but he is definitely not who he was. On the far
Allan Hunter 39:01
He has grown.
Alex Ferrari 39:02
He has grown to his quest is, but that is an analogy for our lives. And that's why I think movies are so powerful. And books are so common. You you go I mean, I know a lot of a lot of it's so funny, because I have I have students, sometimes they're like, oh, you know, that's an old book, or that's an old movie. I'm like, go, I think I saw this movie once called Finding forester with Sean Connery, where he was a author of like a recluse author, but he'd like written the great American novel, like he was like, it was like an Ernest Hemingway style, but he only wrote one book, and it was just that book was like, you know, amazing. And this young guy was saying, hey, it's an old book, who would, who would still be reading that? It was like 50 or 60 years old or something like that. And he's like, go try to rent it. Don't try to borrow it in the library. Let me know how that goes. And he went to the library and all everything was checked out. And that's and it was such a beauty Have a lesson. Because I mean, you look at Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. Just look at a Christmas carol the volumes of things that are lessons and store it lessons in that story about life, about your own journey is it's so deep. And it's still it's still a story that that plays even to the image keeps being told, again, told over and over again again. And again millions of times it gets it's been told, I got how many times has been told in the course of throughout literature or movies or television shows or something like that. That's how powerful those stories are and that it is so anyone listening, don't don't knock older stories. Don't knock older movies or knock older shows or anywhere you can get stories. I mean, the story of Siddartha with Buddha,
Allan Hunter 40:58
Oh, yes, very important. I mean, six archetype story.
Alex Ferrari 41:01
I mean, jeez, I mean, that is that is a remarkable story that's been around for a couple years. So finding finding me I think I think the conversation that we've been talking about here is the find the meaning of why we're here. Yes. That's the point of all of this. And that's why when a story hits you either a movie or a book or a someone sitting at a campfire telling you something when they hit you, it's because you identify with something so powerfully. I always love talking about the movie. Shawshank Redemption. Yes, my favorite one of my favorite films, if not my favorite film of all time. And I always wondered and I've asked the best screenwriters in Hollywood. This question I'm like, What? What is it? What's about what is it? What is uh, what is it about? Shawshank Redemption? The worst title in the history of movies? What is it that is so beloved? Like, I mean, if you don't like Shawshank Redemption, sure, dead inside, I'm sorry, if anyone's listening. If you don't, there's something there's something so magical. And it's like, on the surface, it means it's about a prison in the 50s that has no connection to anything in the world that we at surface level that we have to deal with today. But for whatever reason, that story talks to millions of people and in a grew slowly, millions of people, I always thought it was like, Well, Andy the frame, literally is, is us. Because something bad happened to him, that wasn't his fault. And then he spends his 20 years, which is essentially a lifetime of being tortured, for something he didn't do so that I feel like many of us feel that way, when the universe is hitting us with things that happened to us. And then literally has to go through a mile of shit. In that, you know, spoiler alert, guys, when he breaks out, and has to go through a mile of literal shit, and then gets reborn at the end of it. And then and he is literally being cleansed by the water, the rainstorm outside, he's literally the crap is being cleaned off of him. And then he's off in a magical paradise at the end. If that's not an analogy for what we'd like life to be, I don't know what it is. I think that's one of the reasons why it connects with so many people around the world. You mean is that a fair statement?
Allan Hunter 43:37
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. It's a it's a redemption, of course, it's a rebirth. And as you say, he has to go into the underworld into the deep, nasty, shitty place before he can emerge and be cleansed. I mean, as a real six archetype story.
Alex Ferrari 43:55
Yeah, and it doesn't, again, doesn't have any transforming robots, doesn't have any dinosaurs in it. It is such a simple, well told story, but it it gives a gives people hope when they watch a movie like that, or real story like that. So, you know, again, going back to the, the spiritual side of this. I mean, we are, you know, when we're born into this world, we're just trying to figure it out is very, this is confusing as hell. I mean, living existing in this in this world in this life. It's not easy. It's not easy and we're blessed. You and I are blessed. We have a lot of opportunities that many people in this world don't. And but yet, no matter where you are in life, as far as what you know, what where you were born into or, you know, what country you were, what group you were born into, whether that be family, country, village society, that says a lot. Because if you're if you're born, a black man in the South, in The 40s This is rough. It's or you could be born a, you know, a white man in the north in the 40s, big, two different souls, two different, two different experiences. And I feel that we're always grasping onto anything like you were saying, like, you're looking around the room, who can I align myself with? I feel that we've tried to align ourselves with story, in many ways to give us almost guideposts along the way. That's why Rocky is so beloved. You know, I can watch rocky a million times and that many films from the 70s hold. Until now, like there's very few movies that came out in the 60s or 70s that a contemporary person can watch and just go, Yeah, I completely get that and even rocky with his age, you watch the first rocky you go, because it's the underdog and we all feel like the underdog story. Yes. So you hold on to those stories. You know, I just love to hear your, your thoughts on the spiritual aspect of story in our in our journey and what our journey says about our spiritual lives and in general.
Allan Hunter 46:16
Well, when the six archetypes first emerged, sometime before about 500 BC, it was or they were, they weren't spelled out as I spelled them out. They weren't understood intrinsically, holistically, you might say. But there were certain things that one had to go through in order to become a fully fledged human being, which is what the disease achieves. You hope at the end, certainly he takes, he takes back his kingdom. And so this was a sense of the, of the deep religious truths about being here on earth. Because of that, we have to be careful not to oversimplify. So what I would, perhaps suggest here is that we have these six archetypes that we can go through. And I wrote about them, because so many people didn't seem to know they existed. And so it wasn't as though they were choosing to be orphans. They just couldn't think of anything else to be. But we exist in at least three domains. We exist in a social domain, who are we going to be in our social group? Community? Are we going to be orphans? Are we going to be are we going to be? And we have to ask ourselves that. But we also have intimate family loving relationship domain, are we going to be orphans? And are we going to, we're going to just follow the rules, raise our kids according to what The Book says? Or are we going to do something else. And then, of course, there is the professional realm. And this is where we get unbalanced. Because I know quite a few people who are absolute magicians in their, their professional realm, that lawyers, couple of them, and they're brilliant in the law court. And they can eviscerate a witness without any trouble at all. Absolute magicians, persuade a jury no trouble at all. And they go home, and they can't talk to their teenager. I say to myself, in these there are at least three domains. Our duty is to try and balance these three domains and live the best version of ourselves in all three. Because that, that really is the challenge before it's Can we do that? Whoo. That's, that's a big one. And until we know this, until we see this until we can actually spell it out. There's six stages. We don't know what we're doing wrong. The lawyer comes home and says, I don't understand my kid. Send them to therapy. And suddenly, we're already we're already on a losing wicket here. Because what's wrong? There's not something wrong with the kid, there's something wrong with the ability to relate, especially if the kid isn't pilgrim and saying, Why do you do this? So this is kind of a long way around the question, but I think there is a deeply spiritual component. And I don't differentiate spiritual in some ways, from what is good for society. Because I think finding our spiritual core is good for society is good for all those around us, and is good for the planet. They're not separable.
Alex Ferrari 49:47
So is it when when you're in the in the pilgrim stage, and you're looking to, to what group, what thing you're going to hold on to, whether it be a religion, whether that be a company Whether that be a country, whatever that larger organization is, so many people, when they find it, let's, you know, let's say, a religion for say, for sake, and I don't want to get too deep into that, because I know that's a touchy subject for a lot of people. But but as we are all were very well aware. But if you were with one religion and you're born into that religion, well, you're born into it, you know, you weren't, you weren't born Jewish, or Christian or Muslim. You were taught that that's just, those are the stories that were told to you. And you're passing those stories and beliefs onto your children. I think so much of the problems that we have in the world today is because they there's only they're taught these religions are the stories and like, these are the only stories, basically only stories, these this is the only way if you don't follow this. Everybody else's, is going to everybody else could go to hell, literally. If but we we have to follow this. And if there's someone else has a different opinion, or a different belief, that's where war start. I mean, literally, the crusades, and I mean, the religion and all this kind of things. So stories have the ability to bring people together, but it definitely has the ability to hurt and bring people apart just on that aspect of story. And I think I'm sorry,
Allan Hunter 51:26
But it depends on whose story you believe.
Alex Ferrari 51:29
I was, it was like, I think it was Paramahansa Yogananda, the great yogi said that Jesus was crucified once, but his teachings were crucified for the next 2000 years. Really, I mean, it's, it's a brilliant competence, it I mean, because at a certain point, you just like, anyway. But do you feel that people when they hold on to their beliefs, and I'm, listen, I'm, I'm the perfect example of this to like you, you hold on to a belief of whatever that belief is, whatever that group is, whatever that thing is, that it has to be this way. Or it can't be. Even if you are presented with facts that oppose your beliefs, you completely ignore them. Because I guess the ego can't reconcile that you've been wrong for 15 years. Because it's, and you have to now walk another path. It's almost it's like a death inside of you. And that's why people fight tooth and nail for things that they believe in which there is obviously their scientific proof, or other sorts of proof that that doesn't make any sense. And yet still ignore that. What's your feeling on that? Just curious.
Allan Hunter 52:48
I absolutely agree with that. The trouble is, of course, that people are attached to the story that they are fed that they are asked to believe. And if they don't know anything else, then they will never question it. If they are punished for questioning it. Of course, they will never question it, or at least they won't question it much. And yet, what I see around me are major religions is Judaism. There's Christianity, there's Islam. And within those religions, there are all kinds of sects and Breakaway, where people are for better or worse. And sometimes it's far worse than asking questions such as really does do we do have to do that? That makes no sense. Do we have to live this way? That makes no sense. So it seems to me that any system of living that is worth holding on to is going to be open to questions and available to entertain those questions and perhaps, entertain doubt. So I've always thought that's a very good thing. I'm sure in, in many religious settings, and particularly in cults and adults, what will get you thrown out on your ear? But that's, that is, you know, cults are, of course, things that tend to demand total devotion and self Abnegation. In the name of the Godhead, well, that's fine. That's fine. If that is what floats somebody's boat, but not to ask questions. That's pilgrim comes.
Alex Ferrari 54:26
Right? And thing to ask questions in life is part of living. If you can't ask questions about things that you don't know or have questions about, then how can you evolve?
Allan Hunter 54:37
Precisely, I mean, there's no progress.
Alex Ferrari 54:39
There's no progress without questions. And I think that on a spiritual standpoint, on a physical standpoint, on a group, you know, friends, like the question of like, you know, I don't want to be with this person anymore. I think this is not working for me. That's a question. Why am I with her? Why am I with him? You know, you know, I Yes, I was born into this family, but they don't. They definitely completely off the off the reservation of what I believe and what I want to do with my life and they don't support me. So do I need? These are all questions that have to be answered?
Allan Hunter 55:12
Yes. And it's wonderful, because when we look at that, what I think of is this, and that is look at the huge amount of effort that has gone into stopping people asking questions, you know,
Alex Ferrari 55:27
Burning of books, burning of books, turning off the internet,
Allan Hunter 55:31
Right! shows me that human beings are naturally creatures who asked a lot of questions, otherwise, there wouldn't be a need to suppress it, which is what you see in totalitarian regimes, in some religions, in all kinds of places where there is silence where people should be speaking out, whether it's about, you know, sexual abuse of Olympic athletes, silence when people should have been speaking out correct, or North Korea where you, you say what you're told to say, and that's what you say, and that's what you have to believe, or you are not going to have a happy existence. So I think human beings are inherently incredibly questioning, and incredibly, annoyingly questioning, you know, you can see this a little kids who ask why, why do I have to do that? Why? Why I don't want to do that. And you think, okay, we want to nurture the questioner, but also make sure we have a certain level of safety and, and decency and all the rest, right?
Alex Ferrari 56:36
And also in business, it's the it's the it's the pilgrim who keeps asking, why can't I have a computer in my, in my, in my, my phone, a phone, that's also a computer in my pocket? Or why can't I have a laptop? Or why can't I have a car? You know, why can't we have a motorized buggy? You know, things like that. These are, these are pilgrims who asked so that it's in every aspect of life, in every aspect of life. And I think it's good to ask questions, and to challenge any belief that you have. It's whether it's spiritual, whether it's business, whether it's love family, if it's strong enough to survive the question, then it's, and then it's strong enough to continue being your thing. And again, certain things connect with certain people, you know, some people, listen, they listen, or they, they listen to the teachings of Buddha, or Confucius, and go, this is the way for me. This is this is the way for me and others do Islam or Judaism or Catholicism or some just our spiritual in our searchers, through all of them and take a little bit from every philosophy and religion and text and, and there's so much out there. So it's, it all depends on what works for you. And on your journey.
Allan Hunter 57:58
It's also what works for you and what you can afford to have work for you. Because, for instance, we all know that the climate is in a bit of chaos, that the world is warming. We know we should do something about this and not chop down that was wonderful redwoods that I was privileged to see a few years back and probably most of which have gone, we should not be doing that. And yet, we're in thrall to luxuries and lifestyle, our way of being the fact that the economy has to go a certain way. So for some people, it's a question of what they could you know, how much truth can they afford? This was this was not the case 3000 years ago, but it's becoming more and more urgently the case for us now, which is why I think the six archetypes are a very important thing to consider. Because otherwise, we'll just say, well, it's the way it is, you know, chop down trees.
Alex Ferrari 59:01
You You also in your book, use the statement called Soul starvation. What is that? What is the definition of soul starvation?
Allan Hunter 59:09
Well, Soul Starvation is when one is usually stuck at a level usually, often that's where we get stuck was most often that's where we retreat to. And when we're there we're not getting any anything that nourishes us. I like to say there's plenty of good nourishing soul food out there. I don't know where to look for it. And soul starvation can be cured by reading, writing these stories, looking at the philosopher's as you've just enumerated, and beginning to think again. What is it that my soul needs in order to thrive, not just survive, but to thrive? And what it needs is a sense of I am moving forward and learning something and mobilizing all of what I am, in order to serve the world better. We can all turn on yet another piece of junk TV, we can read just another Pulp Fiction. Well, the pulp fiction was a good story, but we can pulp novel, we can, we can go and watch stuff that is the same old, same old. At some level, though we know that these are empty calories, that we're not getting anything from them.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:35
Right. Right, exactly. Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple questions I like to ask my guests. What is your mission in this life?
Allan Hunter 1:00:44
Oh, well, I think I'm doing part of it right now, actually, thanks to you. My mission is to take these stories which have these six archetypes in them, and bring them to people and this is what I did as a, as a college teacher. Bring them to people so that they can begin to examine their own lives and become unstuck. I do this in some of my classes, with the writing of memoir. And so counseled people, and within counseling, the six archetypes has been very helpful to people who say, Where am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? Let's say Well, let's think about this. Here's a possible template. It might not be the be all and end all that it might be worth thinking about. So my, my role, if I can dignify what I do with that word, is to try and bring this gently to people's attention and say, you know, there's a wealth of knowledge out there, if we choose it. And if we don't choose it, we will suffer from Soul starvation.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:52
I think that's one of the causes of the pains that we have in this world is soul starvation, I think
Allan Hunter 1:01:57
Absolutely convinced of it. Otherwise, we could not believe the rubbish that we tend to glom on to, like, I must have a bigger car, a fancier house. You know, I must.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
I, you know, I, I gotta tell you, you know, I'm so not that person. I was when I was younger. Because you wanted a fancy car, you wanted the big house and stuff like that, as you get older, and you start achieving certain goals in life, you know, they're financially or things like that, you start to realize is like, it's just stuff is, it doesn't mean anything, you know, it truly doesn't the only thing that means something is family, your kids, your wife, your parents, helping other people. That is, that is the purpose in my, in my opinion, why we're here, I was gonna ask you the next question was, why are we why are we here? But my opinion that's, we've kind of fallen into that answer, but I feel that's what it is for me. And I love that I love someone said this quote is like you've never see a U haul attached to a hearse. And it's so brilliantly this such a brilliant statement. It's like, but it's so true. Like, I mean, you could be the richest human being on the planet. And at the end, it means what did you do with it? How did you help? That's why the Rockefellers and the Carnegie's and all of that they gave away so much. And at the end, at the end of it not even if they end it was it was one of those one of those the three or four big industrialists who were, quote, billionaires of their time. And they just started giving I think, was Carnegie. Carnegie just started giving Google Carnegie just started giving and giving and giving. He's like, why? Because in you can't see that until you get it all. And that everybody has that opportunity. And Jim Carrey, the famous actor, comedian, said something so profound. He's like, I wish everybody could get have all their dreams come true. So they could realize that it doesn't mean anything. And that's in that way, because he did. He literally, richest person, he was more money than you could ever spend. One of the most famous people on the planet, biggest movie stars in the world, and he wasn't happy, right? He's like, Oh, this doesn't really make me happy. If I had a $10 million check tomorrow would change my life a bit, I'm sure. And I'm like, the first thing I'd be like, What can I do? What can I do with it? I wouldn't. I could have, I wouldn't buy an 8000 square foot home. Because, first of all, who's gonna clean it? Secondly. No, but seriously, like I wouldn't because I'm like, What do I need? 40 rooms I don't need that many rooms. I just, you know, it's really it's a really interesting idea. But what and what's your definition? I just told you my definition, what is your definition of why we're here?
Allan Hunter 1:05:12
Well, is it very, very much a congruence definition? Yes, we're here to do something we are here to do whatever it is that we feel we are called to that is an absolutely good match with our abilities, and to live our fullest self, from that place, to help the planet to help others to advance awareness. That's what we're here for, when they bury me, my hole in the ground will be the same size as everybody else's.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:42
No matter if you were the richest person in the world, or the poorest
Allan Hunter 1:05:45
Person in the forest. When I had to clear out my late parents home, I was keenly aware of the ornaments and the things that they had, that they loved. Sure they love them. And the ornaments were there, and they were in the Memorial Park.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
And they, you know, other me if you find enjoyment out of certain things, sure. But at the end of the day, it's stuff. It's just stuff that does that does nothing, you know, and I think as you get older you start, it's only in this unfortunately, it's not something that you learn when you're young, it takes time. But it takes time to learn these lessons. And some some people don't learn these lessons. Some people learn it at the very end. But look, at the end of the day, we we come in alone, and we go out alone, go out alone. It's just, it's just the way it is. And I think it if if we can grasp that idea a little bit more. And you know, let me go on a tangent really quickly, before we finish, the scientifically, they've done research on the power of giving, versus the power of receiving. And I think that the experiment was they gave $100 to 20 people. And they said you can keep the money. Or you could give it away to someone who needs it. And they let them loose in a park. And the people who kept it, who gave the money away felt so much better than the people that kept it. Because we as a species have an endorphin that gets released. When we give, that's why I feel so good when we give. Because if we don't learn as a species to give, we don't survive. If I don't, if I don't give you a piece of my food, you're going to die. And if you die, the group gets smaller and the group gets smaller, the lions are gonna get us. I mean, if you want to go primal, you know, it's like chill, we have to share we have to give we that's what we're wired to do. And we feel so good when we do it, I think, between media and society, especially in the West, that they that they focus so much on materialism, is that you forget the power of giving. Yeah, and the power of being of service to people,
Allan Hunter 1:08:14
And the joy and the love that can come with it. When I when I'm dragged out in my little wooden box, I'd like to know that I've helped to nurture some joy, and some love. And that I've given, received well, you know, just being around people, you receive a lot of joy and love.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:34
I don't know if you've experienced this, but I've written a few books as well. And when I'm at a signing, or something people walk up to me like you've changed my life with this book. Yeah, like oh my god, like, you've saved me 10 years off of my career and hundreds of 1000s of dollars because I just read this chapter and change the way I thought about this or that. And I can't tell you the feeling that is when someone says that, or call or calls me or I meet somebody at a event or something like I've been listening to you for years, or you've you've no idea the impact you've had on my life. I had a really rough year and listening to you kept me gave me hope became and I just like you forget as creators like yourself and I, whether you write or you do a show or something like that, that it just goes out into the ether. And you really it's not, it's not like a rock band that you see everybody enjoying your work. You have that opportunity to listen to 60,000 people yell your name and scream like oh my god, we don't get that. So these little moments that we do get are so amazing to have. And it's it's pretty it's pretty remarkable. And I had the pleasure of speaking to a rock star on the show a little while ago and I said to him it was Bruce Dickinson from he was the lead singer of Iron Maiden And he was one of my first guests and next level soul. And I asked him, What is it like, being in Wembley Stadium with 70,000 people cheering your name like how do you come off that? The energy? The, the, you know all of the energy? And are you channeling something when you're when you're playing music, he's like, I'm absolutely channeling something. I don't know what it is. But it comes through me. And I go to you, when you get off the stage, what happens is like, Oh, I've I'm on probably for another eight or 10 hours. And he has a routine on how to come off that high. Wow. Because it's something that most human beings will never experience. Yeah, it's so powerful. The group showing that energy that love, I can only imagine the power that has so. But he gives it his way he gets with music. And we all have our we all have our path. It's just finding it. And when you find it, it took me a long time to find my path. I was very angry and bitter for quite some time. Took me a long time to find it. But when I finally found I was like, Oh, I'm supposed to be happy.
Allan Hunter 1:11:17
That's what the Dalai Lama says.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:18
That's it. Absolutely. Allan, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. And thank you for putting the book out. And where can people find out more about you and your work?
Allan Hunter 1:11:29
Okay. Well, AllanHunter.net is my website and there's A double L A N, Hunter all one word .net. There are several Allan Hunters. And one of them is not me. He is an Australian footballer, you don't probably want to go see his site, although it's very exciting. So that's where people can find me most, most easily. There's a contact form. So you can contact me that way details and all my books. 12. To date. Yeah, so that's where I'm most easily found. And Alex, I have to say thank you so much if I feel this is wonderful, because I feel we know exactly what this is all about. And you appreciate it. So it's just a marvelous feeling. Thank you for inviting me.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:17
Thank you so much. And I also have a footballer named Alex Ferrari. So he comes up on the search as well. So I feel also a Brazilian rapper with my name is his, as well. So I fought very hard for that Google search. Allan, a pleasure, my friend. Thank you again, so much.
Allan Hunter 1:12:38
A great pleasure, Alex, thank you so much.
Links and Resources
- Allan G. Hunter – Website
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