Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Joseph Campbell, you really are a genius.

After watching the Power of Myth for the third time I never leave less than amazed. The Power of Myth is a six part television series featuring former Sarah Lawrence Mythology professor Joseph Campbell. I'd like to give a run down on the second episode called "The Message of Myth"

Spirituality provides the clues to the spiritual potentials to human life, and only when we understand these clues are we better able to live a meaningful, continually inspiring, and rewarding existence.

Mythology, according to Mr. Campbell, isn't about gods and goddesses in some far away place on epic crusades, but rather they are the stories or our lives. Campbell describes the crisis of modern day religion that is not impacting the individual like it should, and how updating religion is essential if it is to even survive in the 21 century.

The central theme of the film is best stated in Joseph Campbells own words, that myth remains the “clues to the spiritual potentials to human life.” That is, the rituals, doctrines, and stories of religions are simply the means by which humans try to understand and experience this journey we call "life". When we understand the myth, we are taken to a new level of understanding, and gain new insight, and often reborn into a new person, or consciousness. 

When we are honestly confronted with the questions of life, and the hereafter, we are often left with no real solid answer. We can see that the religions of the world don't often have the exact answers to the questions we are looking for either. BUT we shouldn’t expect them to when they are only, and meant to be clues.

Joseph Campbell goes onto say that myth was solely based on the insight that transcends duality. "Ours is a mythology that is based on the insight of duality. So our religion tends to be ethical” 

Joseph Campbell then goes on to retell the story of the Garden of Paradise, and the Fall of Man, and how these stories were meant to represent the creation of duality in the world. In the Christian tradition, the snake in the garden of Eden represents the devil or is an evil force because it tempted Eve, and Adam to sin. In different traditions, specifically in Hinduism, the snake is considered to be sacred. Joseph Campbell makes the comment that the snake isn't evil but rather represents "the ability to throw off life and to continue to survive". Just as the snakes "sheds it skin, and just as the moon sheds it shadow." The snake isn't good or bad, it was just necessary.

Entire religions are based off of the afterlife, and what is to come. In the Western traditions, we grow up learning that we will be spending an eternity with God after our death. Joseph Campbells take on eternity is an interesting one, “Eternity isn’t some later time, eternity had nothing to do with time, eternity is that dimension by which thinking of time cuts out. The experience of eternity here and now is the function of life.” Eternity is realizing the greater scheme of things, and be apart of it.

Joseph Campbells followed up with, "I don’t think we are seeking a meaning for life rather I think what we are seeking an experience for being alive. So that the experiences we have on purely physical plane will have resonances within our inner most being and reality so that we have the rapture of being alive." The meaning of life isn't about "finding a meaning." You won't peek your head under rock or philosophy and just find it.  Rather the meaning of life is about the experience of realizing that your dreams have come true. That your make believe world has become reality. The promise land is closer that you realize. Atonement is closer than you think. Envision your dreams, embrace them.

I will post more blogs pertaining to Mr. Campbell in the near future, stay tuned.

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