Life Experience through Myth and Human development
1. Topic on Myth of Marriage and Children
I must say that my own consciousness has been expanded just reading the book, The Power of Myth. It''s very deep, isn''t it? The thing is, for me, Campbell keeps referring to the spiritual in whatever he speaks about. That means it''s about the spirit, the soul, the intangible little thing within each of us. For example, he calls marriage "primarily a spiritual exercise, and the society is supposed to help us have the realization. Man should not be in service to society, society should be in the service of man." (8) This simple statement is so profound when we turn our attention to today''s world and asks why or what''s happening. We have a society with no rituals because we have turned our attention elsewhere, outward instead of inward. The wisdom of life is being communicated through society, through technology and information. If we look at the messages communicated just through the American culture, no wonder we are shocked (and dismayed). But how could it be any different based on what we have created? There is no sense of the spiritual or the mystical most of the time. That is why, in my opinion, that the spiritual soul or the artistic soul can have a hard time in this society, because they tend to operate outside the norm.
In regard to children, Campbell speaks about young people who don''t know how to behave in society; they have no notion of inner reality due to the reduction of rituals to take them there. I love this line in the book (19), "But how are you going to communicate spiritual consciousness to the children if you don''t have it yourself? How do you get that? What the myths are for is to bring us into a level of consciousness that is spiritual." I think we are talking about societal issues that need to be addressed from a spiritual plane, and that has nothing to do with God or religion. It''s human-based.
2. Topic on Heroes
In the book The Power Myth, Campbell states, "The place to find, is within yourself... there''s a center of quietness within which has to be known and held. If you loose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart."
As I thought about this peace and about true heroes - I thought about Helen Keller
who was blind and deaf - the turmoil she must have felt in her realm of darkness, yet a feeling of comfort, as this was the only place she knew! As her teacher Anne preserved Helen
was able to move from darkness into illumination. Helen
must have felt tremendous fear as she pressed on to meet her true self. As Helen
continued her journey, a transformation happened and her whole demeanor changed.
From her memoir''s, Helen
describes her first experience when she began to understand her own mystery. "We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of
the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me."
To me this is an example of the glimpse of the mystery Campbell talks about deep within us, as the hero is made - going "beyond the rim, to what can be known but not told."
3. Topic on Bliss and Sacrifice
I agree with you that Oprah is the sort of person in our society that closely represents a Shaman. Oprah (on her own, or with her huge staff) has developed story lines that attempt to bring us back to our center. Her Angel''s network rewards people who have sacrificed to help others, and have found their bliss doing so. She has the influence to make people look at things from a different perspective, to see what they find. I think her show is great as well.
As for other "Shamans" today, probably the Dalai Lama would be an obvious choice. What makes him different is that aside from being a religious leader, I think he has the way to appeal to all people, regardless of religious affiliation or inclination.
Perhaps another one may be Iyanla Vansant. Perhaps she has had the psychological experience that has given her the right to speak on issues of "self," "spirit," "peace," and even "bliss." Ms. Vanzant was a welfare mom trying to raise children in a terrible neighborhood, without an education. Today she is a best selling author who put herself through college, kept her family together, and overcame the obstacles of judgment, poverty, and complacency. I guess she would be a Shaman, or maybe she''s just a celebrity with a story that knows how to market herself so that people buy into what she says. I don''t know where the line is.
Other than that, I think that there are a few writers that I might consider to be "shaman-like," such as Maya Angelou, or Audre Lorde.
4. Subject: Following Bliss
Campbell''s analogy of following bliss was quite compelling. He mentions the young boy who does not want to drink his tomato juice and his father tells him that he must. When the wife intervenes, the father says, "He can''t go through life doing what he wants to do. If he does only what he wants to do, he''ll be dead. Look at me...." This made an impact on me because I feel that I have always been stopped from doing what I really wanted to do because it was not about what my desire may have been, but what was "right" in the opinion of others.
As I read Campbell''s explanation of following his own bliss, I realize that so few of us do follow our bliss. We worry about the expectations imposed upon us by our peers and society, in general. I know I was raised not to do things just because I wanted to but instead do what is acceptable in society. No matter how I fought against conforming, I found that it was a continuing battle for happiness. After many years of doing what was considered "acceptable", I have found personal bliss and am continuing to follow it. Campbell is quite insightful because since following my heart, my life has become calmer and extremely satisfying.
5. Topic Love and the Goddess
Subject: The Goddess and Love
Campbell speak about the Goddess in chapter 6 and love in chapter 7. In chapter 6 Campbell reveals that although we come from our mother we are always in search of our fathers and therefore in search of our identities. It is almost as though we take "mother" for granted because she is always there. Being a mother myself I can relate! The mother is the nurturer and the constant usually in a child life while the father is free to "come and go" as he pleases. He speaks about the fact that many cultures hold the "mother" in high regard and this too makes perfect sense. The mother figure is such a universal figure that immediately she brings nurturing images to mind. We refer to the Earth as Mother Earth and that makes us feel a sense of warmth and protection I think. Everything starts with the "mother". It is really a beautiful image and a wonderful topic of discussion!
In chapter 7 Campbell speaks about the beauty of love! I especially like when Campbell tells Moyers that in a marriage people need to "remain true". He is right when he says that people are defecting?instead of sticking things out. He also makes a great point when he says that resentment in a marriage toward your partner is misguided. The resentment should be with life. I think that is brilliant! Often times we place blame and anger on the person we love instead of being upset with the circumstances that life has dealt us. I really thought about that statement and realize that I too have done that so many times, misdirected my anger at a situation only to place blame on an innocent victim! Again, the more I read the more I begin to understand myself better. I am really enjoying Campbell!
6. Subject: The Myth of Travel
Phil Cousineau said, ?I dread the though that the reason I travel so much is that scales form over my eyes at home and I have to leave again and again to learn see once more. In this way I am living out one of the myths of my times, that the road will save me, infuse my life with more meaning. Many times it has, but only when I meet it halfway, on a spiritually challenging journey.?
What a great way to describe the feelings some of us have felt on our travels. There is great mystery in travel the feelings that are created of awe and surprise by wonder describe me too. I definitely can see the power in myth in travel. I have experienced the feelings
Phil Cousineau talks about, so we take a journey in hope that a great-change will take place inside our souls, hoping for the healing touch of art and history, or the spiritual forces of a sacred place to heal us.
Topic The Myth of Travel
7. Subject: flight of the spirit
On page 183 of Once and Future Myths, Cousineau writes: "Flight. It is the perfect metaphor for the longing of the spirit for independence from the body, the land, even time itself. This feeling happens to me each time I look at ancient stones or monuments to something or someone. We visited the ruins of Corinth in Greece last August. While my daughters were busy taking funny photos of themselves draped over the various statues and engraved stones and while the men were walking through the ruins fairly quickly to get out of the heat, I was mesmerized by the ancient inscriptions and the fact that St. Paul had once preached to the people here. I forgot the heat totally as I looked at the old stones and thought about the spirituality connected with this important piece of history and religious event. I have seen ancient sites in China, which glorifies the Buddha. I have seen ancient Aboriginal paintings in Australia, which speak of life, and spirit of ancient Aboriginal lives and presents Aboriginal lives. All of these sacred ancient sites do lift me out of my mortal life to something that lightens my spirit and gives me a feeling a hope and meaning. It is a connection with the same spirit and ancient invisible energy that has inspired so many in the past to do so many great things.
Experience of Life
8. Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of human life. Campbell: Experience of life. We?re so engaged in doing things to achieve purpose of outer value that we forget that inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it?s all about.
People have a very hard time loving God,
9. Moyers: I love people for imperfections. Perfection would be a bore, wouldn?t it?
Campbell: It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that make you human and not supernatural and immortal--that?s what?s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there?s no imperfection there. You can be awe, but that would not be real love. It?s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.
The beginning of religion
10. Campbell and Moyers: The Shaman may translate some of his visions into ritual performances for his people. That?s bringing the inner experience into outer life of the people themselves. Moyers: This was the beginning of religion? Campbell: Personally, I think that?s how religion began. But that a guess. We don?t really know. Moyers: A Jesus goes into wilderness, experiences a psychological transformation, comes back, and says to people, follow me."
The Virgin Birth
11. The virgin birth comes into Christianity by way of the Greek tradition. When you read the four gospels, for example, the only one in which the virgin birth appears is the Gospel According to Luke, and Luke was a Greek. Moyers: And the Greeks tradition there images, legends, myths of virgin births. Campbell: According to Roman Catholic doctrine, her virginity was restored. So nothing happened physically. What is symbolically referred to be not Jesus physical birth but spiritual significance. That?s what the virgin birth represents.
12. Moyer: Bliss is now. Campbell: In heaven you be having such a marvelous time looking at God that you won?t get your own experience at all. That is not the place to have the experience-here is the place to have it.
Comparing the course readings
Beliefs of the spirits
There is a popular anecdote about Matisse that echoes the spirit of his belief that everyone has their own genius, which he believed they should strive to bring out of themselves.
Elie Wiesel: The spirit of genius mentor at work. The true meaning of education, which means, "To draw out", and by that he means both the inevitable pain of life as well as out God-given talents.
In Search for Father
Campbell: The idea of the Goddess is related to the fact that you?re born from your mother, and your father may be unknown to you, or the father may have died. Frequently, in the epics, when the hero is born, his father has died, or father is in some other place, and then the hero has to go in quest of his father.
In the story of the incarnation of Jesus, the father of Jesus was the father in heaven, at least in terms of the symbology. When Jesus goes to the cross, he is on the way to the father, leaving the mother behind.
Campbell: Well, the mother?s right there. You?re born from the mother, and she?s the one who nurses you and instructs you and brings you up to the age when you must find your father. Now, the finding of the father has to do with finding your own character and destiny.
Phil Cousineau: I believe it is that Mentor, the mind-maker, is a character who continues to show us how to help young people "make up their own minds", and more lend a guiding hand.
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