Posts Tagged ‘Hero’s Journey’

“When I was a graduate student in Germany – this was in 1928-1929 – I discovered the works of Freud and Jung, which opened up a psychological dimension to the field of mythology. … Jung became more and more eloquent to me. I think the longer you live, the more Jung can say to you. … Jung gives us clues as to how to let the myth talk to us in its own terms, without putting a formula on it. … [In 1953] Jean and I had tea with Jung and his wife at Bollingen … He was a very big man, and my wife tells me that his eyes were very attractive.”

Joseph Campbell in An Open Life

The second person who has had a deep influence on my life is the mythologist Joseph Campbell. He was a rascal in the way he used myths to get us to question our beliefs. He encouraged us to follow our bliss, knowing the challenges this would bring up within us. He was both charmer and gentleman. He was a man filled with immense knowledge, which he obtained through a self imposed retreat to Woodstock, New York where he  filled the hours with intense reading. He once said that his form of meditation was underlining. Campbell was far more interested in the similarities among myths than the dissimilarities. Through his research in comparative mythology he formulated the concept of the monomyth of the hero’s journey. This archetypal pattern is found within many cultures around the world. It describes the pattern of coming to grips with living an engaged life. He felt that through this journey we bring meaning into our lives.

A sample of Campbell’s rich knowledge and style as storyteller can be found here:

I discovered Campbell’s writings only after he had passed away. After watching the PBS series Power of Myth I started to read Campbell. I wonder what effect his writings would have had on the direction of my life had I discovered him earlier in my life? I did not so much read his books as devour them. As soon as I finished one, I would run out and buy another. His ability to trace many of the foundational images of the Judeo-Christian belief system to its more ancient roots in Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures was a revelation to me. His description of the myths of indigenous cultures awakened me to the deep seated wisdom that has existed from the dawn of human beginnings.

It was in the midst of reading Campbell’s works that I kept coming across the name of Carl Jung. I knew who Jung was, but had  paid little attention to him. The more I read of Campbell’s works, the more I realized that I needed to find out what Jung was saying. At the time, I was living in England. I remember walking down to the local bookstore to buy something of Jung’s. I found a copy of his work on the archetypes of the collective unconscious, i.e. volume 9i. It is difficult to describe in words what I experienced when I began reading this work. After reading the first page, I knew I had discovered a remarkable and invaluable treasure. What grabbed me was Jung’s appreciation of the shadow and how our suffering was a source of transformation. Well, that was all it took… I could not stop reading Jung, and I could not hold back from getting myself into analysis. So, I am very thankful to Joseph Campbell for leading me to Carl Jung. It is no exaggeration to state that he saved my life.

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you … When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Joseph Campbell

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