Where is it that one story tells the same thing about who we all really are, and what we all have in common? At what level does the story we would tell about ourselves mirror, intersect with, complement, and help clarify all other stories?
Only at the deepest level possible does our story become mythic, mystic, universal, and timeless all in the same moment. This is where we discover the primary patterns and processes we all have in common. The story we tell from this innermost place in us is our universal story; it is in addition to our unique story (our story like no one else’s) and our group story (our story like some others). It is the one story shared by all others since it carries the very same elements – the motifs, archetypes, patterns, and processes – that we all experience and express as members of the human race.
As Jung might say, archetypes are part of our vast store of ancestral knowledge about the profound relations between God, man, and cosmos. They remain unconscious until our own real life experiences bring them forth into consciousness, making our individual experience part of the universal human experience. Whenever an archetype passes over into consciousness, it is felt as an illumination.
The one story that fits all, therefore, carries a healing function. This is because archetypes are ultimately the Imago Dei, or God-image, within us. The world’s sacred traditions, especially myth, ritual, and mysticism, know this well, as they all have integrated archetypal experiences within their practices to bring about the transformation desired, thus maintaining and strengthening the community. Living these universal archetypal elements in our own lives keeps us in the vital, nourishing riverbed through which the water of life has flowed for centuries, and which is the soul of our existence. They bring us to life, and keep us truly alive.