Campbell on Life, Death, & the Afterlife

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Great quotatation! But why is he talking about life energy? Isn't it the same energy which informs the plants and animals, but also the stars and the planets?

Maybe he thought that plant consciousness belongs to the higher and more specific forms of consciousness, but that together the whole world is based on consciousness? (That's at least what I believe, because there is no precise limit in nature between the living and non-living. Think of viruses, for instance.)

Diane K. Osbon begins her Joseph Campbell Companion with an Albert Einstein quotation: There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and the matter, for the field is the only reality. We are differentiating between mind and matter, time and space, yesterday and tomorrow. But at heart it is all one and the same identity (Thou art That) I can not rememember who it was, but I remember someone making the following comment: Matter is coagulated energy. So everything is the field, and everything is one undifferentiated consciousness.

For TH: That does not mean, that a stone is conscious, because we are talking not about consciousness of a specific form, but about undifferentiated consciousness - and you know this is a Campbellian term. At this level of consciousness there are no stones and animals or any other differentiated forms.

There is a nice comment in Sukhavati - Place of Bliss where Campbell advices his audience to be aware that all gods and heavens and hells are within you, and then he continues in the best tradition of the Upanishades:
In deep dreamless sleep consciousness is still there, but it is covered over by darkness. But suppose you could find that consciousness; Suppose you could go into deep sleep awake, to go awake into that sphere where there is consciousness, but consciousness of no specific thing.
To go into deep sleep awake - This is exactly what the mystic does, after he has gotten over the difficult passage of projections and illusions of gods and demons, hells and heavens: To go into deep sleep awake. Campbell also adviced to look into the mirror to find out, what is mortal and what is immortal. And then he said: Mortal is what you see; Immortal is what you are. And what are we, after we have cut off what we see? Nothing but deep dreamless sleep!


(Please correct me, if I have made a mistake in transcribing the text from Sukhavati - Place of Bliss!)


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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Is the Cartesian mode to think of consciousness an expression of the Christian fall from nature? In separating consciousness from nature?

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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Martin,
I don't think Campbell is equating mechanistic terms with the Cartesian mode, rather addressing the manner in which the two are aspects of linguistics.

I'm suprised to see the Cartesian mode and the fall from Christianity as predicates. It is usually free will that is discussed, but the fall and free will are similar as a linguistic fulcrum. Notice that Campbell sets the scale centered upon energy (consciousness).
"By whatever and by however many predicates I may think a thing (even in completely determining it), nothing is really added to it, if I add that the thing exists. Otherwise, it would not be the same that exists, but something more than was contained in the concept, and I could not say that the exact object of my concept existed. Nay, even if I were to think in a thing all reality, except one, that one missing reality would not be supplied by my saying that so defective a thing exists, but it would exist with the same defect with which I thought it; or what exists would be different from what I thought. If, then, I try to conceive a being, as the highest reality (without any defect), the question still remains, whether it exists or not. For though in my concept there may be wanting nothing of the possible real content of a thing in general, something is wanting in its relation to my whole state of thinking, namely, that the knowledge of that object should be possible a posteriori also. And here we perceive the cause of our difficulty. If we were concerned with an object of our senses, I could not mistake the existence of a thing for the mere concept of it; for by the concept the object is thought as only in harmony with the general conditions of a possible empirical knowledge, while by its existence it is thought as contained in the whole content of experience. Through this connection with the content of the whole experience, the concept of an object is not in the least increased; our thought has only received through it one more possible perception. If, however, we are thinking existence through the pure category alone, we need not wonder that we cannot find any characteristic to distinguish it from mere possibility.

"Whatever, therefore, our concept of an object may contain, we must always step outside it, in order to attribute to it existence. With objects of the senses, this takes place through their connection with any one of my perceptions, according to empirical laws; with objects of pure thought, however, there is no means of knowing their existence, because it would have to be known entirely a priori, while our consciousness of every kind of existence, whether immediately by perception, or by conclusions which connect something with perception, belongs entirely to the unity of experience, and any existence outside that field, though it cannot be declared to be absolutely impossible, is a presupposition that cannot be justified by anything.

"The concept of a Supreme Being is, in many respects, a very useful idea, but, being an idea only, it is quite incapable of increasing, by itself alone, our knowledge with regard to what exists. It cannot even do so much as to inform us any further as to its possibility. The analytical characteristic of possibility, which consists in the absence of contradiction in mere positions (realities), cannot be denied to it; but the connection of all real properties in one and the same thing is a synthesis the possibility of which we cannot judge a priori because these realities are not given to us as such, and because, even if this were so, no judgment whatever takes place, it being necessary to look for the characteristic of the possibility of synthetical knowledge in experience only, to which the object of an idea can never belong. Thus we see that the celebrated Leibnitz is far from having achieved what we thought he had, namely, to understand a priori the possibility of so sublime an ideal Being.
Medieval Sourcebook:
Philosophers' Criticisms of Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Being of God
I would never dream of being able to say it better than Campbell so eloquently, and so often did...I understand why he admired the German language so much.

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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

AL, consider, that I ended that sentence with a "?". Usually I prefer sentences with a "." not only at the end but with the typical "."- meaning. :grin:
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The Cartesian mode is what it is, and is interpreted, often differently, by people for different reasons.

What's the purpose of making the Cartesian mode and the Fall predicates (and ascribing consciousness to them, rather than the other way around)?

I could say that the Fall and the Cartesian mode are aspects of cosnsciousness, being thrown upon our sensory experience...with an emphasis on aspects. It is rather anthropocentric to say a subtle version (of consciousness) in (around, about, etc...) people's heads is also the supreme christhood sought after by mystics and ascetics.

My point was: to find balance, energy (conscious or unharnessed...) is the fulcrum. Then the scientists can hunt for the secrets of the bio-chemical mystery that is life. :grin: Whew...I bet that made no sense!
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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Some people think that a stone is as spiritual as a human being, without knowing it. I would say, if a stone can be spiritual, than even Tree Hugger is spiritual, without knowing it.

I can see your point though. I too differentiate between a stone and a human being, because the stone does probably not suffer, when he sinks to the ground of that river.

I have always been highly interested in science. When I was a teenager, I was thinking a lot about the questions of life and death or the source of the universe. (You know, I still do.) I always had the strong feeling to find no valuable answer without science. I don't believe that Jahwe has caused the Big Bang, though I think the Big Bang is a mystery. The behaviour of atoms and molecules is a mystery for me, too. Are those god powers - like Eros or Chaos - not even there on the level of atoms? Are those powers, science is talking about, really so different from the gods? Are they not maybe also masks of eternity? - Those masks of eternity which we do not regard as masks because they are our own?

I can not claim to have fully understood terms like eternity and undifferentiated consciousness. (Especially eternity seems to be a hard nut to crack, but maybe both terms are meaning the same?) I don't know what undifferentiated consciousness is, but I believe Campbell regarded it as the reality beyond the masks, a reality transcending the categories of thought and transcending also the phenomenons on the atomic and sub-atomic level or reality. Atoms belong to the phenomenal world. They are there, but to decribe the world in terms like atoms, mass, energy, fields etc. means to talk about phenomenons. The last reality is beyond them. Beyond a human being, but also beyond a stone (or an ash-tray, like that one of Joyce).

Do you know the philosophies of David Bohm or Fritjof Capra? I think Campbell was fascinated in the way science touches the spheres of myth, and maybe both come as near together in the philosophies of these scientists, like it was at Plato times.


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Post by Liminal » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2003-05-08 15:12, Martin wrote:
Do you know the philosophies of David Bohm or Fritjof Capra? I think Campbell was fascinated in the way science touches the spheres of myth, and maybe both come as near together in the philosophies of these scientists, like it was at Plato times.
You touch on a topic that is near and dear to my heart here. It is my passionate belief that the artificial distinction between science and spirituality is just that: artificial. We do not exist simultaneously in two separate realities, one of science and one of spirituality. We exist in one reality. A singular reality that calls for an integral philosophy if we ever want to truly understand it. I think that we are now approaching the practical limits of both science and religion while they are viewed as separate.

I suspect that when humanity as a whole finally figures out that science and spirituality are the same thing, it will be nothing less than the dawn of a new era.

Which will be, in my book, mighty cool. :smile:

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Liminal » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2003-05-09 21:14, Tree Hugger wrote:
I have to respectfully disagree with you chaps. I want no part of either The Old Time Religion or The Old Time Science. I see science and religion as mutually exclusive ways of knowing the universe.
I can fully understand your trepidation and I also want no part of the Old Times. But I would like to try to provide some encouragement about the integral philosophy I spoke of.

First, it is something the world really hasn't seen yet. While the earliest days of science did co-exist with religion, I don't think it was so much that they were considered the same thing as that science was a new branch of religion. It was seen as a method for exploring and confirming the religious perceptions and assumptions that were already in place. Eventually it became obvious that science couldn't be coaxed into supporting religion and they were separated.

Second, when I talk about seeing that science and religion are the same thing, I mean that the result is going to be something totally new. It will bear little resemblance either science or religion as we know it today. Similarly, it will offer few of the terrors that both science and religion have offered up throughout human history.

Lastly is the part where I turn into a kook. This new worldview will be inherently unifying. I know this sounds very New-Agey and rose-tinted, but an integral philosophy will by it's very nature bring people together and generate harmony. The only significant violence it will bring will be early on from those who will justifiably see it as the greatest threat to everything they've ever believed and do everything in their power to stop it. But they will eventually fail and humanity will stand more or less as one when the dust settles.

I realize the last bit sounds like I've gone straight off the deep end. But that's ok. If they did not laugh, it would not be the Tao. :smile:

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



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Post by Liminal » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2003-05-10 12:02, Tree Hugger wrote:
Liminal, would you mind starting a new thread in the 1000 Faces forum to discuss your theory of science and religion?
Will do!
On 2003-05-10 12:02, Tree Hugger wrote:
[Liminal, I'd like to introduce you to one of my alter egos, Cranky Scientist. Cranky about describes it. Please accept my apology if C.S. sounded a bit harsh.
That's quite all right, my alter-ego used to be Angry Atheist. I'm quite familiar with disillusionment and it's capacity to make one cranky. Apology gladly accepted. :smile:

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thank you, Liminal. Despite what some people think, Cranky Scientist is not an athiest, angry or otherwise. The best term for me would be apatheist. I don't have enough invested in belief or disbelief in god to call myself an atheist or an agnostic. I also call myself a non-theist. Having never believed, even as a child, there was nothing for me to feel disillusioned about.


The same goes for belief in the origin of life, the existence of an afterlife, or undifferentiated consciousness. Cranky Scientist goes where the evidence goes. There's plenty of belief around, but there's no evidence to indicate one way or the other.

My disbelief is proof of nothing. My own mystical and out-of-body experiences and my interpretation of those events do not constitute evidence. They make good spooky story material for evenings around the fire.

C.S.

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

A double post. Sorry. :smile:





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