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.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Regaining my Sight

I have become unable to write. I have become unable to read, without extreme difficulty.

And yet, I still go to the library with regularity, searching for something, something to stir me back to life.

I keep thinking that the next inter-library loan library book I request will be Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel. You see, I've got this lifelong mystical fascination with all things related to Tibet, Ancient Egypt, and Sumeria. It's an obsession I was born with. Anyway, that was like the first inter-library loan I ever requested, way back in the 90s, but I read it at such a young age, still a teenager, that I think now, being much older, would probably benefit me more greatly from reading it again.

I'm only holding off, because I want to make sure that I'm able to give it my undivided attention, reading it slowly, and thoughtfully from beginning to end, something I've been unable to do with any book for over three months.

I've been under such a great deal of stress, being unable to concentrate, being unable to read, that I've even thought about starting up smoking again, though maybe this time, trying out the e cigarettes, and the only thing stopping me from doing that is this incessant need I have to become a runner, something I've started and stopped one too many times, but am not yet willing to give up, until probably I run a marathon.

I don't know if it's the smartphone, this being the first year I ever acquired one, that has interfered with my concentration, being unable to read an entire book, or if it's this work at home shit I'm doing, which in my case, is basically a digital sweatshop, but anyway, coming from reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year, that including a couple of thousand pagers, to barely reading maybe 3 books a year, there has definitely been a change in my life, and can't say that it is for the better.

There has been so much going on my life, major sources of stress, a person I'm living with almost dying, wondering almost everyday if this person is going to die, and me realizing that my situation is very precarious, that I myself could end up in a very bad place, homeless, or dependent on the mercy of family members I don't like.

I've got a new Chromebook, happy about that. Got a new smartphone right around Christmas, a present to myself, was happy about that too, now doesn't really matter, the novelty has worn off. Meanwhile, meditation for me has become non-existent. Got to get back into it, because meditation is basically a way of centering yourself, of regaining your balance, helping to redirect your focus toward the things that matter most to you, things that can often become overlooked and forgotten when you are in a state of extreme stress and anxiety.

When you are in a state of distress, you're like a blind person gasping for air, unable to see the oxygen tank within your grasp.

Anyway, just checking in, at this point anything I post, is probably better than nothing, as it's a way of keeping the blog alive.