Joseph Campbell & All the Answers

Geez Louise. Took me about 3 days to watch this video. This is one I will come back to again and again. Below I’ve copied some lines that stood out to me. There were more things that stood out to me than I anticipated.


  • Where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god.
  • And where we had thought to slay another we shall find ourselves.
  • And where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence.
  • And where we thought to be alone, we will be with the whole world.

…because that’s what’s worth writing about: someone who’s given his life to something bigger than himself.


That is the basic motif of the hero journey: leaving one condition, finding the source of life to bring you forth in a richer condition.


On ego

The real problem is of primarily thinking about yourself, thinking about your self protection, losing yourself, giving yourself to another that’s what a trial is in itself.

What all of us have to deal with is a transformation of consciousness — that you’re thinking in THIS way and you have now to think in THAT way.

How is the transformation performed? By trials and illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it’s all about.


On the whale & consciousness

The belly of the whale is the descent into the dark. The whale represents, is the personification of you might say, all the things in the subconscious. Water is the unconscious. The creature in the water is the dynamism of the unconscious, which is dangerous and powerful and has to be controlled by consciousness.

The first stage in a hero’s adventure is leaving the realm of light, which he controls and knows about, and moving towards the threshold. And it’s at the threshold that the monster of the abyss comes to meet him.

And then there are 2 or 3 results: 1. the hero is cut to pieces and descends into the abyss in fragments to be resurrected. 2. He may kill the dragon power, as Sigfried does when he kills the dragon. But then he tastes the dragon blood and assimilates its power. Now he hears the song of nature, he has transcended his humanity, re-associated himself with the powers of nature, which are the powers of our life, from which our mind removes us.

You see our mind, this consciousness, thinks it’s running the shop. It’s a secondary organ, a secondary organ of a total human being and it must NOT put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body. When it does assert it’s control you get this man who has gone over to the intellectual side. (Darth Vader reaching to Luke: “Come with me and I will complete your training.”)


It’s the edge, the interface between what can be known and what is never to be discovered because it is a mystery transcendent of all human research… the source of life. What is it? Nobody knows.


On character

Our life evokes our character, you find out more about yourself as you go on. And it is very nice to put yourself in situations that evoke your higher character rather than your lower.


It’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery, and of your own mystery. It gives life a new zest, balance, harmony to do this.

… erase anxieties, get into accord with the inevitabilities of your life, see the positive values in the negative and the negative aspects of the positive…

… She thought she was alone, you see? But she had friends. This is killing the dragon…


On Dragons

The european dragon represents greed. He guards things in his cave, heaps of gold and virgins. He can’t make use of either of them, he just guards. […] Psychologically, the dragon is one’s own binding of oneself to one’s ego, and you’re captured in your own dragon cage.

The real dragon is in you, it’s your ego holding you in. Your ego is: what I want, what I believe, what I can do, what I think i love, what I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might be too small, it might be that which pins you down. And if it’s simply that of doing what the environment tells you to do (your system) it certainly IS too small. And so the environment is your dragon and it reflects within yourself.

How do you slay your dragon? Follow your bliss, find where it is… do not be afraid to follow it. If the work that you’re doing is the work you chose because you enjoy it, then you’ve found it. But if you think, “oh I couldn’t do that…” That’s your dragon locking you in. “Oh no, I couldn’t be a writer, I couldn’t do what so and so is doing.”


Do we save ourselves or the world? You save the world by saving yourself. A vital person revitalizes the world. The world is a wasteland.

Do I have to do it alone? If you have someone who can help you, that’s fine too. But, ultimately, the last trick has to be done by you.


On the place to find

What is the place to find? Buddha’s nirvana, etc… what is that place? It’s a place in yourself of rest. Nirvana is a psychological state of mind. It’s not a place like heaven, not something that’s not here. It IS here in the middle of the turmoil, the whirlpool of life’s condition. Nirvana is the condition that comes when you are not compelled by desire or by fear or by social commitments. When you hold your center and act out of there.


On levels of consciousness

The way a flower turns it’s head to face the sun, heliotropism, is a kind of consciousness. There is a plant consciousness. There’s an animal consciousness. And we share all of these things. You eat foods and the bile of your stomach knows if there’s something there to work on… this whole thing is consciousness. I begin to feel more and more that the whole world is conscious. If we see ourselves as coming out of the earth rather than plopped here from somewhere else, we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth, these are the eyes of the earth, this is the voice of the earth, what else!?

How do we elevate our consciousness? Meditation. All of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional. A lot of people spend most of their meditating on where their money’s coming from and where it’s going to go, but that’s a level of meditation. Or if you have a family to bring up, you’re concerned for the family. These are all certainly very important concerns, but they have to do with physical conditions mostly. How are you going to communicate spiritual consciousness to the children if you don’t have it yourself, so how do you get that? The myths. What the myths are for is to bring us into a level of consciousness which is spiritual.

… this is simply a lower level of that…


… when he’s talking about the old cathedral man… “want to see my room?” I got nervous for him.

My own note: myths, maybe, are not the stories themselves, certainly not the historical facts of the events. Rather they a myth is the way it changes our civilization over time. A myth is never finished in this sense. A myth is not the events, not the story nor the moral, but it’s the way all the things of the myth interact with our consciousness over years and years… not as individuals but as a human organism, a civilization. A myth is the way that myth causes us to change the way we live over hundreds of years.


On what informs society

You can tell what’s informing society by which buildings are the tallest. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest in the place. 17th century, it’s the political palace that’s the tallest in the place. And when you approach a modern city, it’s the office buildings and dwellings that are the tallest in the place. That’s the history of western civilization, from the gothic through the princely periods of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, to this economic world that we’re in now.


3 requirements of myths

All myths have talked about (1) the maturation of the individual: the pedagogical way to follow from dependency, through adulthood, through maturity and then to the exit and how to do it. And then (2) how to relate to this society and (3) how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos.

If you’re not on the list   I can’t help you.   Help me help you!

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