Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Power of Myth

It never fails, I post about having some problem, for instance, being unable to concentrate on reading, and like magic, soon after the fact, I'm finding I'm able to read again. That's one verifiably repeatable instance of this blogs therapeutic value to myself. I'm starting slow. Not reading my once-upon-a-time goal of 100 pages a day, but just a few, but I'm sticking with it, and that's what counts. And even more importantly, it's not about how many pages or books you read, but the quality of the read that matters most.

I found this book randomly, the one I'm reading now, browsing the shelves at the library. I usually browse the same area fairly regularly, the philosophy, psychology, sociology, technology areas of the library, so I'm pretty quick to notice anything new almost immediately. I'm pretty sure I read it many years ago, in the teenage years, when I used to read many complex books that I didn't entirely understand, absorbing just bits and pieces here and there, but I was inspired intuitively I think, like an inner mantra.

The book is The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.

I think this is my favorite format for a book, the question and answer format, being a dialogue between two or more people. In this case, it's a dialogue between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on the meaning and relevancy of mythology in modern times.

I want to share a quote, I really liked. Here it is:

"Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are within us. This is the great realization of the Upanishads of India in the ninth century B.C. All the gods, all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us. They are magnified dreams, and dreams are manifestations in image form of the energies of the body in conflict with each other. That is what myth is. Myth is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphorical images, of the energies of the organs of the body in conflict with each other."

It's like as above, so below, as within, so without.

At some level, everything that happens, from a thought, to a deed, on all levels of life, individually, socially, human, plant, animal, mineral, earth, sun, outer space, everything occurs and is mirrored on multiple levels, both the inner and the outer, the physical and the non-physical. It's parallel realities on a cosmic, possibly infinite scale, never ending. And mythology offers a glimpse of those parallel realities in terms that human beings can understand.

Anyway, really enjoying this book. Need to read more mythology, more Joseph Campbell, and more dialogues between great thinkers, people who are not just highly educated and intelligent, but supremely wise.