Joseph Campbell and the Way of Myth

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Abogado del Diablo, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    2
    In his book "The Way of Myth" mythologist/anthropologist/philosopher Joseph Campbell offers the following observation:

    "In our world today, all of us are stuck to our folk inflection of the elementary idea, but all we have to do to have a world culture is to turn our folk into a metaphor for the elementary, to realize the universal humanity in your folk tradition, which isn't peculiar just to you."

    In his interviews with Bill Moyers he offered some advice on how to do this:

    "Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people's myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts - but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive."

    I have followed that advice over the last fifteen years or so and found the truth of his statement regarding the "elementary idea." Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any comments regarding that notion or Campbell's advice on how to grasp it?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2004
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
  3. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    2
  4. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    8
    No problem - this is a thread worth revisiting the subject from the particular angle. :)
     
  5. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    2
    I agree. I think Campbell is saying much more than Hinduism, Egyptian monotheism, Judaism and Zorastrianism arose from a common ancestral religious tradition. I think that what he is getting at is that the fundamental human experience of Oneness, God, the Tao, Brahman, whatever you want to call it is the same for everyone and that all myths in every great wisdom tradition are attempts to describe and relate this unexpressable human experience tailored to the sensitbilities and culture of the people by whom and for whom the myth was originally written. If you look at other people's myths (NOT their religious beliefs, but the myths on which those beliefs are built) and really work to discern their meaning, you can see a common essential experience - the "elementary idea" - expressed in all of them.

    Having done that, I found the same thing Campbell is expressing. Interestingly, what sent me looking was my complete dissatisfaction with the religious beliefs and dogmas of fundmentalist Christianity. After a dozen years of looking at and studying other myths, philosophy, history and psychology I arrived at a satisfactory understaning about the nature of the myth and what is actually being expressed in these myths. I was quite surprised to return to the Christian myth and discover this same "elementary idea" encoded (and covered by 2000 years of culture, ego and bloodshed).
     

Share This Page