Saturday, February 16, 2013

Excerpts from Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth" (Part 2)

Here's the second part of the excerpts that I highlighted while reading this amazing interview of a masterful teacher. When I eventually get them all posted I will create a separate link for them somewhere on the blog. Like last time, I've put my own words in brackets.

Bill Moyers; the importance of mythology; love; spirituality
The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell

The only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human being is uninteresting -- the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is the imperfections of life that are lovable. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal -- that's what's lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God,

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. [Step outside the comfort zone. Turn off auto-pilot.]

What is marriage? The myth tells you what it is. It's the reunion of the separated duad. Originally you were one. You are now two in the world, but the recognition of the spiritual identity is what marriage is. It's different from a love affair. It has nothing to do with that. It's another mythological plane of experience.

How does one choose the right person? Your heart tells you. It ought to. Your inner being. That's the mystery. You recognize your other self.

Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that's what is threatening the world at this minute.

What we're learning in our schools is not the wisdom of life. We're learning technologies, we're getting information.

The generalist -- and that's a derogatory term, by the way, for academics -- gets into a range of other problems that are more genuinely human, you might say, than specifically cultural. [In a culture of specialists we lose the scope of the big picture. Let's spread our interests wide.]

You've seen what happens when primitive societies are unsettled by white man's civilization. They go to pieces, they disintegrate, they become diseased. Hasn't the same thing been happening to us since our myths began to disappear? Absolutely, it has.

The virtues of the past are the vices of today. [Mind altering drugs; polyamorous tribes]

The difference between the mystical experience and the psychological crack-up. The difference is that the one who cracks up is drowning in the water in which the mystic swims. You have to be prepared for this experience.

And they have very special missions to go collect peyote and bring it back. These missions are mystical journeys with all of the details of the typical mystical journey. First, there is disengagement from secular life. Everybody who is going to go on this expedition has to make a complete confession of all the faults of his or her recent living. And if they don't, the magic is not going to work. Then they start on the journey. They even speak a special language, a negative language. Instead of saying yes, for example, they say no, or instead of saying, "We are going," they say, "We are coming." They are in another world. Then they come to the threshold of the adventure. There are special shrines that represent stages of mental transformation on the way. And then comes the great business of collecting the peyote. The peyote is killed as though it were a deer. They sneak up on it, shoot a little arrow at it, and then perform the ritual of collecting the peyote. [They have a relationship with it.]

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