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

Tree Hugger, how can your own experiences not be proof for you? Do you not trust the experiences you had. Or do you believe it was only the pathology of your brain creating your experience? ( I read about your out of body experience in another post.)

About science and religion-
I have religious friends that think belief in evolutuion is a contradiction to what they think the Bible has taught them. I have asked them why can't evolution be thought of as God's plan. Why can't they believe what science can prove? Why do these types of religious people think that everything must be a miracle or a magic trick. Isn't evolution miraculous enough?
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Susie, you are probably referring to the following post:
On 2003-05-11 19:19, Tree Hugger wrote:
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.

It happens, that TH and I have already discussed those problems extensively in private. Currently she has one of her periods of recovering from the forum conversations, and so she asked me to reply on your request, taking an excerpt from the private messages she had sent me before. So here's a little extract:
Martin, you said,

"but I don't see it as an evidence, that there is no spirit beyond those plants and people, gods and demons, illusion, truths and Truths."


Yes, Martin, that is exactly my point! My experience is not evidence of anything. It is simply a normal human experience that many people throughtout the ages have had.

I have never called it a pathological experience. I don't view it that way. Also, I have said repeatedly that I am not an atheist or an agnostic.
____________________________________________
On 2003-05-18 23:05, Susie wrote:
Why do these types of religious people think that everything must be a miracle or a magic trick. Isn't evolution miraculous enough?
Many people believe, what is known from everyday experience cannot be miraculous. We are used to have experiences with nature, people and supermarkets. So we think it's trivial. The mystical point of view says that only our way of looking at these things is trivial. People think, only the spectacular and extraordinary is miraculous. Probably our brain concentrates on the extraordinary, because evolution has formed our perception: To survive in the jungle might be difficult if you are blown away by every beetle and every blade of grass. TH would agree, that the beetle and the blade of grass are mysterious. But mysterious is not the same as spiritual or miraculous. The spiritual and the miraculous are specific interpretations of the mysterious.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2003-05-20 17:42 ]</font>
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Post by melissa » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

In Bill Moyer's interview with Joseph Campbell, I was left with the impression that JC didn't believe our personal sense of self survived the death process. You all seem very well versed on the thoughts of Mr. Campbell, so please correct me if I misunderstood. I was a little disappointed because so much of what JC said, up to that point, made my view of the big picture less fuzzy. I was hoping for some clarity on a central experience that I have wrestled with all my life. I have spoken to many people who have had near death experiences, including Betty J. Eadie, author of Embraced by the Light. As a Psychology major I know that many of her experiences could be a subconscious projection of her religious convictions, life experiences and personal beliefs. What I have never had explained to me by IANDS (International Assoication of Near Death Studies), counselors and those tending to be skeptical, is my experiences. I had what is referred to as a pre-birth experience which caused me to have total recall from infancy. When I went to Catholic school, I realized some of my experience did not match what the nuns were teaching, other parts of it resembled what saints claimed to have seen. In light of the way heretics and the saints were treated while they were alive, I decided to keep quiet. I told no one about what I remembered. What is interesting is that I was a child with memories that came before life experiences to reference to. What is validating for me is that many of those who claim to have near death experiences describe aspects that resemble mine. While many of those I shared with all became 'religious' as a result, I seem to have gone the other way. Experience here, in this physical existence, is linear, to say the least. Whenever I try to explain what I remember, it falls short of the reality, like language trying to describe what the metaphor is referring to. All I know,for myself,is that the conscious self not only exists separate from the body, it is more complete and communicates perfectly. I related to a God with a persona, yet I have to say that I have also experienced loosing personal boundaries and connecting to the center, or god self, that is beyond persona. Perhaps it is both. Perhaps it depends on how we are communicating. Either way, I was hoping JC would shed some light on this subject for me. Sometimes, I guess, its left undefined.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Melissa,

Campbell was a major authority on the field of comparative mythology, and he was a resourceful thinker, who was able to notice connections not only between mythologies of a very different heritage, but also relations to the arts and all important aspects of today's life. He had his own limitations though. He probably never has experienced something comparable to your experiences. So concerning your experiences you are the authority, not Campbell.

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2003-06-08 09:36 ]</font>
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Melissa and welcome to the Forums! I agree with Martin and would add that you would be hard pressed to find any definitive statement by Campbell on his personal beliefs, other than his practice of underlining sentences. He put everything on the table as a scholar in comparative religion and mythology. One may form assumptions based on his apparent bias toward this or that... but such thoughts may be your bias finding expression in his words.

I have found much in his work that supplements my perspective on the Big Questions, as it were. However, I wouldn't assume that he thought as I do.

Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Not quite sure where to place this post - it departs somewhat from the topic under discussion (I thought of starting a new thread entitled "Symmetry and Serendipity" but that falls short as well); nevertheless, there seems to be some relevance here.

Today began early for me, with a hike to the rim of Diamondhead Crater, for an incredible 360 degree view of Waikiki, Honolulu, and surrounding area (could even see as far as Pearl Harbor): a strenuous, but relatively brief hike, up the inside of the crater walls, occasionally up steep stairs and through tunnels, the final leg up a corkscrew staircase, crawling out an abandoned observation post/gun emplacement to a gorgeous view ... but back to the parking lot inside of two hours.

We followed up this hike with breakfast at a greasy spoon (yes, they have bad food in Honolulu), then drove up the mountainside to the Pali lookout. Lush, verdant, clearly tropical flora, with a spectacular view rivaled only perhaps by Yosemite, this is the place Campbell mentions in the Power of Myth interviews, where a young man who attempted suicide is barely rescued by a police officer who almost went over the edge himself (illustrating Schopenhauer's point about how in such moments the curtain separating one from another drops, the instinct for self-preservation overwhelmed by the realization that we all are ultimately One, that there is no Other).

The wind must be experienced to be believed - phenomenal! Lots of ghosts here - Pali is the site of the final battle that united Hawaii behind King Kamekameha in the 1700s. During the desparate struggle hundreds of native Oahuans were forced over the edge of the cliff as the winds wailed and the blood flowed.

After strolling a half mile along the once-precipitous Pali trail, we returned to the car and headed down the hill. On the drive up, i noticed a large Chinese pagoda rising above a graveyard - lots of cemetaries dotting this area - and i had the feeling i should check this out on the drive back

...so we detoured as we neared the area - not quite sure where we were - or where the cemetary was - we eventually turned into the first cemetary we came to (which turned out to be up the road and across the street from the cemetary with pagoda).

We still didn't know where we were - but we were parked next to the office, so on a hunch i asked a question, and found myself directed to a sweet family plot surrounded by a hedge of mock orange

where i offered my respects to the memory of Joseph Campbell.

This was not what i expected to be doing - hard to pack in everything we intended on this trip (arrived on Oahu Thursday afternoon, leaving tomorrow -Sunday - for Maui - certainly didn't expect to hunt for Joe's final resting place!)

... but as i meditated a few moments over the gravesite, i noticed that Joe was born in New York City - can't go much further east in the United States without getting one's feet wet in the Atlantic - and he passed on in Honolulu - can't go any further west in the United States than Waikiki!

Interesting symmetry: Joe came in with the rising sun in the east, and departed with the sun setting in the west

...definitely someone who knew his way through the Sun door.

Wanted to share this moment of serendipity with folks who would understand...

blessed be
bodhibliss

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2004-07-17 23:23 ]</font>
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-07-17 23:21, Bodhi_Bliss wrote:
Interesting symmetry: Joe came in with the rising sun in the east, and departed with the sun setting in the west

...definitely someone who knew his way through the Sun door.
... you know: retrospectively as if somewhone had written the story - good observation, Bodhi! Your adventure reminds me on a similiar story I read some while ago.
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 Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Bob Walter kindly forwarded the story again, that he had received last year. Hope, you and like-minded associates appreciate it the way I do, Bodhi, since there are some similarities to your own story from Hawaii.
Dear friends,

I have recently returned from a 7 week trip to Bali and Japan. The purpose
of my trip was to "follow my bliss", a journey that I gained the courage to
embark on since I attended last year's JCF workshop. I want to share a
story with all of you that happened to me at the very beginning of my
journey.

I was flying to Bali during the same week as the Esalen JCF workshop and was
wishing I could have somehow also been there too. To prepare me for my visit
to Japan, which I planned to do on my way back from Bali, I brought with me
Joseph Campbell's newly published journals "Sake and Satori" which were from
his trip to Japan in the 1950's. I had a lay over in Hawaii and decided to
stay a couple of days before making the next leg of the journey. Not having
anything to do, I happened to read in some travel guide that there was a
walking tour of Waikiki that morning so on a whim decided to go.

The tour leader was an elderly gentleman by the name of Fiercely. He led a
small group of us on a very interesting and educational walk of Waikiki
beach, the surrounding neighborhoods, and a light house. At the end of the
tour he gave each of us a flyer about his environmental organization. When I
got back to my hotel room I read the flyer which also included a brief
biography. I learned that he had gone on many pilgrimages to India and Japan
and to my amazement I also discovered he had been greatly influenced by the
scholarship of Joseph Campbell. I immediately called Firecely on the phone
to tell him how Joseph Campbell's work had influenced my life too and how I
was planning to travel to Japan to visit some of the places described in his
asian journals. Fiercely started to laugh and said he had been waiting for
those journals to be published. He asked if I would bring the book and meet
him the next day so that he could take me to Joseph Campbell's grave. I was
dumbfounded. I had no idea that Joseph was buried in Honolulu and I couldn't
believe that a chance encounter would allow Fiercely and I to exchange
special gifts.

So, the next day I met Fiercely, we took a bus to the cemetery and he took
me to Joseph's grave. I learned Fiercely goes there regularly to help keep
it tidy. Together, we washed off grass cuttings on the small plaque that
bears Joseph's name and then I was left alone so I could pay my respects. I
felt very blessed that I had been guided to this place so unexpectedly. At
that moment I imagined many of you were at Esalen playing and sharing
together in his memory and I felt the presence of both Joseph's spirit and
that of all of yours with me.

I wish you all wonderful surprises as you continue on your journeys.

Love,

Palma
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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