Topics Joseph Campbell Quotations
Joseph Campbell was an American professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion.
- New World Library, 2008. ISBN 1577315936
- We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
- Chapter 1.
- No tribal rite has yet been recorded which attempts to keep winter from descending; on the contrary: the rites all prepare the community to endure, together with the rest of nature, the season of the terrible cold.
- Chapter 2.
- For when scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it has served mankind in the past, of how it may serve today, mythology shows itself to be as amenable as life itself to the obsessions and requirements of the individual, the race, the age.
- The tribal ceremonies of birth, initiation, marriage, burial, installation, and so forth, serve to translate the individual’s life-crises and life-deeds into classic, impersonal forms. They disclose him to himself, not as this personality or that, but as the warrior, the bride, the widow, the priest, the chieftain; at the same time rehearsing for the rest of the community the old lesson of the archetypal stages.
- Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence — for he has the perfected eye to see. There is no separateness. Thus, just as the way of social participation may lead in the end to a realization of the All in the individual, so that of exile brings the hero to the Self in all.
- It is not only that there is no hiding place for the gods from the searching telescope and microscope; there is no such society any more as the gods once supported.
- The modern hero-deed must be that of questing to bring to light again the lost Atlantis of the co-ordinated soul.
Mythology and the Individual (1997)
- The image of the cosmos must change with the development of the mind and knowledge; otherwise, the mythic statement is lost, and man becomes dissociated from the very basis of his own religious experience. Doubt comes in, and so forth. You must remember: all of the great traditions, and little traditions, in their own time were scientifically correct. That is to say, they were correct in terms of the scientific image of that age. So there must be a scientifically validated image. Now you know what has happened: our scientific field has separated itself from the religious field, or vice-versa. … This divorce this is a fatal thing, and a very unfortunate thing, and a totally unnecessary thing.
- Lecture 1A, 13:45
- Heresy is the life of a mythology, and orthodoxy is the death.
- Lecture 1A, 20:42
- All cultures … have grown out of myths. They are founded on myths. What these myths have given has been inspiration for aspiration. The economic interpretation of history is for the birds. Economics is itself a function of aspiration. It’s what people aspire to that creates the field in which economics works.
- Lecture 1B, 8:20
The Power of Myth (2001)
- Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers PBS television series, Mystic Fire Video (2001)
- The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it's really a manifestation of his character. It's amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets ... The adventure evoked a quality of his character that he didn't know he possessed.
- Episode 1, Chapter 12.
- This is the threat to our lives. We all face it. We all operate in our society in relation to a system. Now is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes? ... If the person doesn't listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you're going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it's not the one the body's interested in at all. And the world's full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.
- Episode 1, Chapter 12.
- Our life evokes our character and you find out more about yourself as you go on.
- Episode 1, Chapter 12.
- This thing up here, this consciousness, thinks it's running the shop. It's a secondary organ. It's 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.
- Episode 1, Chapter 12.
- It's a wonderful, wonderful opera, except that it hurts.
- Episode 2, Chapter 15.
- People ask me, "Do you have optimism about the world, about how terrible it is?" And I say, "Yes, it's great the way is it" ... I had the wonderful privilege of sitting face to face with [a Hindu guru] and the first thing he said to me was "Do you have a question?", cause the teacher always answers questions... I said, "Yes, I have a question." I said, " Since in Hindu thinking all the universe is divine, a manifestation of divinity itself, how can we say no to anything in the world? How can we say no to brutality to stupidity to vulgarity to thoughtlessness?" And he said, "For you and me, you must say yes." Well, I learned from my friends who were students of his that that happened to be the first question he asked his guru, and we had a wonderful conversation for an hour there.
- Episode 2, Chapter 12.
- Campbell: Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. There's a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it. "All life is sorrowful" is the first Buddhist saying, and it is. It wouldn't be life if there were not temporality involved which is sorrow. Loss, loss, loss.
Moyers: That's a pessimistic note.
Campbell: Well, you have to say yes to it, you have to say it's great this way. It's the way God intended it.
- Episode 2, Chapter 13-14.
- Follow your bliss.
- Episode 1, Chapter 15.
- People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally about.
- Episode 2, Chapter 4.
- I think it's important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery, and of your own mystery.
- We are standing on a whale fishing for minnows.
- Episode 2, Chapter 19.
- Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.
- Episode 2, Chapter 22.
The Power of Myth (book)
- Moyers: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?
Campbell: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time — namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open 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.
- p. 120
- We're in a freefall into future. We don't know where we're going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you're going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It's a very interesting shift of perspective and that's all it is... joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.
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