Did the Call fail you?

Joseph Campbell formulated what became his most quoted dictum, "Follow your bliss" in the decade before his death. Join this conversation to explore this idea and share stories.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

Faolan
Associate
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:00 am

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

Campbell wrote, ""...follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

Does that not sound similar to Jesus saying, "seek and find, knock and the door will be opened"? If Joe had any sort of faith at all, this concept of bliss was his version of divine providence.

The problem with it is the number of people I know who have followed their own bliss and lived to regret it, because they are now lonely and quite poor. There IS such a thing as the starving artist. There is a great risk in following your bliss.

Did Campbell not realize that perhaps his happiness wasn't so much due to following his bliss as it was being at the right place at the right time, coupled with his natural talents and incredible charisma? Maybe he didn't give himself enough credit.

Perhaps others shouldn't expect to ultimately succeed when following the Call to Adventure? Did Campbell ever address the possibility of utter failure when answering the call? And let's not assume it was answering the wrong call, okay? Assume the person felt a deep desire to become a movie director. Twenty years later he is without family, living in a tiny apartment, with no money for gas or food. But, hey, he's following his bliss, right?
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

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

Faolan,

it can indeed be dangerous to follow your bliss, if you do it not only at the weekend, but make it to your profession.

When Campbell forumulated his dictum, he was of an old age, and though fame came after his death, he was already able to look retrospectively at a successful life. So was he maybe a little bit too optimistic?

I think Campbell had good luck - but also was clever enough! - to get a job as a highschool teacher, that allowed him to earn some money, but to follow his bliss at the same time. In Power of Myth, referring to the Ikarus story, he speaks about some technicals details, the hero must be aware of.

Certainly there are a lot of artists in their fourties, ending up with lots of alcohol and sorrows in a dingy apartment. But are they the victim of someone who had advised them, to follow their bliss?

I don't believe that people choose a life based on a suggestion of a teacher. The teacher is only able to encourage them, and so there is nobody to blame. But, at the end, everybody is responsible for his own decisions. Maybe the same starving artist would have committed suicide with fourty, if he had ignored what he believed his bliss was?

I imagine, that it is difficult for a movie director to work in his chosen field of the arts, without any money. If I had planned to become a movie director, I probably would have tried to get a job as a cable boy or whatever. I probably would still live in a small appartment, but, at least without the responsibility of having a family, I wouldn't have to starve. And I would participate in film-making, even if not as the director, but as a cable guy. Probably I would be able to contact some interesting people, and to start my own little projects. Maybe I'd find a way to distribute little films over the internet.

I've heard recently about an interesting European filmlet project. Directors get 99 Euro (!) and have to produce a filmlet with that money. I haven't seens the DVDs so far, but I'm planning to do. It is an amazing and encouraging project!

It's easier probably for an author or painter. I am myself a painter, and I don't have any money still, with fourty years, because I put everything in my art. On the other hand, I have always had a low degree job, and so I never was factually a starving artist. I'm able to bear poverty, but probably would not be able to produce, if I was starving.

I think it is wise, not to expect to become successful or even famous, but to search for companionship and followers by presenting what you have done as often as possible. So this journey may be a difficult one, but it can be survived.

We don't have any warranty, that we would be luckier, if he had not done what we have done.
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
Faolan
Associate
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:00 am

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

it can indeed be dangerous to follow your bliss, if you do it not only at the weekend, but make it to your profession.
Right, and following ones bliss is not often compatible with family life, as the Buddha and many other spiritual seekers have demonstrated.
When Campbell forumulated his dictum, he was of an old age, and though fame came after his death, he was already able to look retrospectively at a successful life. So was he maybe a little bit too optimistic?
It would seem so. However, I do remember reading somewhere that a student once asked him what it took to be a writer. He replied, "can you handle ten years of failure?". He also said that one cannot follow ones bliss and expect money to flow as a result. I guess he felt living on a meager wage while devoting most of ones time to artistic persuits would lead to more happiness than just chasing after a better income. I also recall his saying that he couldn't speak to the experience of those raising families. That was not his experience, and he couldn't say much about the struggles of an artist trying to live out his dreams and attend to his kids. The movie "cheaper by the dozen", with Steve Martin, does a good job of looking honestly at that conflict.
I think Campbell had good luck - but also was clever enough! - to get a job as a highschool teacher, that allowed him to earn some money, but to follow his bliss at the same time. In Power of Myth, referring to the Ikarus story, he speaks about some technicals details, the hero must be aware of.
I believe that following your bliss requires foresight and preparation. Once married with children, following your bliss can become an extremely selfish act. Campbell spoke almost approvingly of an acquaintance of his who left his family, like the Buddha, to follow his dreams. I view that act as unethical.
Certainly there are a lot of artists in their fourties, ending up with lots of alcohol and sorrows in a dingy apartment. But are they the victim of someone who had advised them, to follow their bliss?
How many are the victims of hope? Can they be counted? I wouldn't blame Campbell. Dreaming, as we have said, carries with it its pitfalls, one of which is the possibility of destruction when following the will o' wisp of bliss.
I don't believe that people choose a life based on a suggestion of a teacher. The teacher is only able to encourage them, and so there is nobody to blame.
I agree with that, but temperance is a word that should be more often associated with following ones bliss. I fear more for kids who read words like I quoted in my first post, who expect a magical answer to the call to adventure. The risk of failure needs to be understood, and once those risks are understood, the hero’s journey is that much more heroic. Joe did speak often that the hero enters into the "dark forest", not knowing the path and going where none had gone before, but he did believe that one on the correct path would ultimately win through. That is a good image, but people should not forget to enjoy their day to day journey, and prevent themselves to become obsessed with outcomes. Following your bliss might be easier from a Taoist viewpoint (go with the flow).
But, at the end, everybody is responsible for his own decisions. Maybe the same starving artist would have committed suicide with fourty, if he had ignored what he believed his bliss was?
True enough. That's why its better to follow your dreams, no matter what the risks, than to settle for something which feels totally inauthentic. There are many kinds of death, and refusing the call is one of them. The danger I am emphasizing is the belief that your adventure will end in grandiose fashion. I see that risk more in teenagers reading campbells work without understanding the context of his words.

I've heard recently about an interesting European filmlet project. Directors get 99 Euro (!) and have to produce a filmlet with that money. I haven't seens the DVDs so far, but I'm planning to do. It is an amazing and encouraging project!
Very interesting. How much is 99 euro in dollars?
It's easier probably for an author or painter.
Yes, so long as they don't quit their day job, right? :smile: I have two published books, dozens of magazine articles, and I can say without hesitation that I have followed my bliss, but there has been little in the way of recompense. I'm lucky my wife is patient, but my menial full time job is not making up the difference very well. When we have a kid...oh boy...
I am myself a painter, and I don't have any money still, with fourty years, because I put everything in my art. On the other hand, I have always had a low degree job, and so I never was factually a starving artist. I'm able to bear poverty, but probably would not be able to produce, if I was starving.
Do you have a website?
I think it is wise, not to expect to become successful or even famous, but to search for companionship and followers by presenting what you have done as often as possible. So this journey may be a difficult one, but it can be survived.
I agree, only I'd say to people, "don't expect 'doors to open' as if by magic". I believe that opportunity is where luck and preparedness meet.
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

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

On 2004-12-15 15:04, Faolan wrote:
I believe that following your bliss requires foresight and preparation. Once married with children, following your bliss can become an extremely selfish act. Campbell spoke almost approvingly of an acquaintance of his who left his family, like the Buddha, to follow his dreams. I view that act as unethical.
I remember him talking about Gauguin, who left his family when he started a professional artist's career at about 40. Campbell, in the Companion Book, speaks about it when he says, it's a mess if the Call comes not with twenty, but with fourty, when you have already built up responsibilities.
How many are the victims of hope?
Yes, let's call them the victims of hope. There are probably as many victims of hope, as there are victims of hoplelessnes. However, I have had very few support for about twenty years, while I was working on my art, without any attempt to have a career in the arts. I was rather dragged by my bliss, than I have followed it. What I have learned from Campbell is, not to regret anything. His direct advice in the Campbell Companion Book, as well as the more indirect help I received from his comments about the hero's journey, were exactly the kind of help I had missed for twenty years.
I agree with that, but temperance is a word that should be more often associated with following ones bliss.
I was thinking too of the virtues of the medieval knigthts. Temperance was one of them, something I did not have at all most of the time. Something else I have learned from Campbell.
How much is 99 euro in dollars?
Unfortunately, the US-dollar is not much worth these days! So, at the moment it's about 1 Euro = 1,3 Dollar.
Do you have a website?
Yes, it's www.martinweyers.com. There are only a few English texts available currently, but I'm working on a complete English version. If you click on "Galerie" you can view some of my works.
I agree, only I'd say to people, "don't expect 'doors to open' as if by magic". I believe that opportunity is where luck and preparedness meet.
Agreed. As I have suggested before, Campbell helped me how to be prepared. Unfortunately I discovered his books late in life (about five years ago).

I remember an interesting story from Hero with a Thousand Faces (I think, originally, from the Arabian Nights) that illustrates the problem of the artist's temperance and possible failure nicely. I will post it later.

_________________
"Mythology begins where madness starts." - Joseph Campbell in Pathways to Bliss

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin_Weyers on 2004-12-15 17:17 ]</font>
User avatar
JR
Associate
Posts: 720
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2002 6:00 am
Location: transition to permanence
Contact:

Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The fact of the matter is you have to accept the responsibility of you chosen path unwaveringly. This is one of the reasons why the term bliss is so misunderstood as Campbell used it. Faolon said it in the first post, there is such a thing as a starving artist. In fact it's such a common state of affairs that more or less everybody knows what to expect from a life as an artist. Campbell didn't say "follow your bliss and you'll be rich, successful, or even happy" he said follow your bliss and you will be fulfilled in your life and comfortable in the knowledge that you lived as you felt you needed to; made a small contribution to the vitality of the world. It is a total anomaly that Campbell benefited at all from his own chosen career (in fact much of his fame and fortune came well after he was dead). I certainly couldn't name any other living mythologists as successful.
JR
User avatar
bodhibliss
Working Associate
Posts: 1659
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 5:00 am

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

Good point about Joseph Campbell's own bliss not making him rich. The Campbells lived in the same two-and-a-half room apartment in Greenwich Village for forty-four years, and Joe drove a Volkswagen Bug.

Campbell was a teacher and an author - neither of which are necessarily high paying professions. I once heard someone who should be in a position to know mention in passing the most income Campbell earned in any year of his life - and i was truly shocked at how low the figure.

Joseph Campbell may have voiced his formula late in life (the earliest reference i've found in those words "follow your bliss" is in a Sam Keen interview around 1970), but he indicates lived his life by this maxim. The seeds of this philosophy can be found in passages of his personal journal as far back as his twenties, and echoes throughout The Hero With a Thousand Faces - though not in those words - published in 1949.

David Kudler drew on lectures as far back as 1962 when compiling the most recent edition to the Campbell library, Pathways to Bliss - which suggests most of the work Campbell published in his name - the bulk of the four-volume The Masks of God, the collection of lectures in Myths to Live By, The Mythic Image, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, and the multi-volume Historical Atlas of World Mythology, were all written after Campbell had put this axiom into words.

And there are references to sat-chit-ananda (being, consciousness, bliss) in Heinrich Zimmer's Philosophies of India, one of the books Campbell edited from Zimmer's notes after the latter's sudden death in 1943 - Campbell's contemplation of which he credits with the formation of a conscious intention to follow bliss.

I've enjoyed the same serendipity - along with my share of hunger, homelessness, and suffering. Bliss though does not seem a final destination at which one arrives. As i read Campbell, the process of following one's bliss, with all its ups and downs, is itself the goal.

blessed be
bodhibliss
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Bliss though does not seem a final destination at which one arrives. As i read Campbell, the process of following one's bliss, with all its ups and downs, is itself the goal.
I think this is right on. I remember Campbell quoting something to the effect that 'when you're on a journey, and your goal keeps getting farther and farther away, you realize that the journey itself is the goal'. I think of it as finding that aspect of life which connects, and giving yourself to it, almost like falling in love.

I also remember him pointing out that it wasn't by accident that he didn't have children and family before he was able to support them. There definitely is a link between my choices, what happens in my life, and my inner relationship to those things.

_________________
The associate formerly known as grdnfrk.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-12-17 09:18 ]</font>
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

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

Welcome to this conversation, JR, Bodhi and Robert! I think you brought in some important points.

I remember a story about a female student that told Campbell after a lecture he had given Prof. Campbell, you don't understand. Today we're going directly from childhood to enlightenment. And the professor would reply: Well, my dear, then all you have missed is life. Campbell never promised that someone who follows his bliss will have success or money, but that he will have an interesting life.

Yes, the journey is the goal, and what makes the journey pleasurable or (in bad times) bearable is the resonance with likeminded people. If, as an artist, you have an audience of 10 people or 10.000 000 people does not make a difference basically. If you're living for your bliss, in bad times you will still have your bliss; If you're living for your art, you will still have your art. But it is important to have exchange with other people.

On the other hand, it was not Faolan's point to complain about a lack of success or money. The way I understand him, he was talking about people who chose the hero's way instead of a more secure career, but got stuck in frustration and depression. This is the hero who has gone astray somewhere in the desert, and does not find the water of life that is known to be everywhere. I think many artists have to go through such a passage, but it is important to prepared, as Faolan suggested, but as well not to give up, and to be active and attentive, if things are getting difficult.

In the following excerpt from Hero with a thousand Faces Campbell retells an Oriental story about a hero, who died with thirst in the desert, because he was lacking attentiveness. It's from the chapter The Crossing of the first Threshold. As I understand Campbell's cyle of the hero's journey, "first threshold" does not necessarily mean, that it can not be related to events later in life.
Two vivid oriental stories will serve to illuminate the ambiguities of this perplexing pass and show how, though the terrors will recede before a genuine psychological readiness, the over-bold adventurer beyond his depth may be shamelessly undone.
The first is o£ a caravan leader from Benares, who made bold to conduct his richly loaded expedition of five hundred carts into a waterless demon wildemess. Forewarned of dangers, he had taken the precaution to set huge chatties filled with water in the carts, so that, rationally considered, his prospect of making the passage of not more than sixty desert leagues was of the best. But when he had reached the middle of the crossing, the ogre who in-habited that wildemess thought, "I will make these men throw away the water they took." So he created a cart to delight the heart, drawn by pure white young oxen, the wheels smeared with mud, and came down the road from the opposite direction. Both before him and behind marched the demons who formed his ret-inue, heads wet, garments wet, decked with garlands of water lilies both blue and white, carrying in their hands clusters of lotus flowers both red and white, chewing the fibrous stalks of water lilies, streaming with drops of water and mud. And when the caravan and the demon Company drew aside to let each other pass, the ogre greeted the leader in a friendly manner. "Where are you going?" he politely asked. To which the caravan leader replied:
"We, sir, are coming from Benares. But you are approaching decked with water lilies both blue and white, with lotus flowers both red and white in your hands, chewing the fibrous stalks of water lilies, smeared with mud, with drops of water streaming from you. Is it raining along the road by which you came? Are the lakes completely covered with water lilies both blue and white, and lotus flowers both red and white?"
The ogre: "Do you see that dark green streak of woods? Beyond that point the entire forest is one mass of water; it rains all the time; the hollows are full of water; everywhere are lakes completely covered with lotus flowers both red and white." And then, as the carts passed one after another, he inquired: "What goods do you have in this cart—and in that? The last moves very heavily; what goods do you have in that?" "We have water in that," the leader answered. "You have acted wisely, of course, in bringing water thus far; but beyond this point you have no occasion to bürden yourself. Break the chatties to pieces, throw away the water, travel at ease." The ogre went his way, and when out of sight, returned again to his own city of ogres.
Now that foolish caravan leader, out ot his own foolishness, took the advice of the ogre, broke the chatties, and caused the carts to move forward. Ahead there was not the slightest partide of water. For lack of water to drink the men grew weary. They traveled until sundown, and then unharnessed the carts, drew them up in a contracted circle, and tied the oxen to the wheels. There was neither water for the oxen nor gruel and boiled rice for the men. The weakened men lay down here and there and went to sieep. At midnight the ogres approached frorn the city of ogres, siew the oxen and men, every one, devoured their flesh, leaving only the bare bones, and, having so done, departed. The bones of their hands and all their other bones lay scattered about in the four directions and the four intermediate directions; five hundred carts stood as full as ever.

_________________
"Mythology begins where madness starts." - Joseph Campbell in Pathways to Bliss

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin_Weyers on 2004-12-17 10:04 ]</font>
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

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

BTW I would like to move this thread to the BLISS forum, if nobody objects.
Faolan
Associate
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:00 am

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

Martin wrote, "it was not Faolan's point to complain about a lack of success or money. The way I understand him, he was talking about people who chose the hero's way instead of a more secure career, but got stuck in frustration and depression."

Yes, that was my focus. The Dark Night of Soul can certainly last more than a night. I was also talking about that tension between duty to friends and family and following ones bliss. At what point does following your bliss become unethical? Should the man who leaves his wife and young children to answer the sirens song be lauded as a hero?

Martin Wrote, "This is the hero who has gone astray somewhere in the desert, and does not find the water of life that is known to be everywhere. I think many artists have to go through such a passage, but it is important to prepared, as Faolan suggested, but as well not to give up, and to be active and attentive, if things are getting difficult."

Exactly, and I've found myself there sometimes. I'm also thinking about the hero finding temperance in action so that we do not harm those we love in search of our own self fulfillment. It's a catch 22: Stay and live to support the dream of the family, risking resentment, or leave to pursue ones bliss, even if the call to adventure leads away from family.

There are too many artists who are susceptible to sinking into solipsism. That's why I'm glad Campbell stressed bringing the boon back to the people, to return to social engagement. But can that social aspect be integrated from the beginning? We have the monomyth with the Call entailing a departure. That need not be taken literally, as Campbell did stress before, the journey can be psychological. People can follow their bliss while maintaining their responsibilities and families intact, making the journey psychological and involving their loved ones in open communication.

Why is it that I anticipate people following the advice of "follow your bliss" to suddenly drop everything and run off into the wilds? Am I stereotyping?


_________________


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Faolan on 2004-12-17 23:13 ]</font>
aecleo
Associate
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri May 16, 2003 5:00 am

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

Faolan,

Culture has its own regime. I have brought this up in another thread, and many people disagreed with me. But, culture wants to survive like any living being would. So, it has rules about staying with one's family and such. I don't view it as good or bad, but simply as the way it is. I understand that you feel this pressure.

On the other hand, part of you longs for bliss. Culture frowns on it. You would have to hurt your family to do it. Still, you have the urge to do it.

So what do you do? You can try to find the middle ground, by finding employment that will provide for your family and contribute to your bliss. You can choose one or the other. But, you can also look for a different philosophy/religion/way-of-life that might work better for you.

One of the questions I have been considering is: Do we choose the philosophy/religion/way-of-life that will work for us? Or do we choose one that will validate us?

There are many paths to God. You must find what works for you. Maybe this is it, maybe not. Most of the people in this forum find that it works for them, so they're going to tell you how great it is. And if you don't agree, you're going to hear a lot from some very intelligent and learned people! (Yes, that's a compliment to you all!) But please remember that you don't have to follow it. Take what works for you, and leave the rest!
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Why is it that I anticipate people following the advice of "follow your bliss" to suddenly drop everything and run off into the wilds? Am I stereotyping?
Maybe. To use Campbell as an example, I think that his bliss was in both his work, and Jean Erdman. I don't see the either/or distinction in his life or his work. Maybe it's just that he made some very wise decisions that some of the rest of us have not, and then we rail against an unkind fate when we have put ourselves right where we are.

Also, it may be a mistake to equate the hero journey exactly with following your bliss. The journey has to do with departure, crisis and return, which is only a part of life. I think following your bliss is an idea that can apply to more than that, even for those who never hear the call to the hero journey.
_________________
The associate formerly known as grdnfrk.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-12-18 09:34 ]</font>
Faolan
Associate
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:00 am

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

I'll play devils advocate...
aecleo wrote: ...part of you longs for bliss. Culture frowns on it. You would have to hurt your family to do it. Still, you have the urge to do it.
Who does not hope for a state of extreme happiness? It doesn't matter to me whether culture frowns on what I might do to achieve happiness. But it does matter, ethically, whether one is selfish. We all agree, I think, that it's important to distinguish between a wish to return to the frivolity of childhood, and a legitimate call to adventure which stems from the deepest part of the soul. I doubt most people have the ability to distinguish the two. I believe most people chase after shadows of an ideal, incapable of appreciating what they have. The follow the will'o'wisp of bliss.
So what do you do? You can try to find the middle ground, by finding employment that will provide for your family and contribute to your bliss.
That middle ground would be challenge enough! :smile:
You can choose one or the other. But, you can also look for a different philosophy/religion/way-of-life that might work better for you.
A Machiavellian philosophy would "work" best for me in the short term, but I don't think I'd feel good about myself on my death bed.
What do you mean "work better"?

One of the questions I have been considering is: Do we choose the philosophy/religion/way-of-life that will work for us? Or do we choose one that will validate us?
You mean to compare living for the self against living for society, right? But in my teenage years the philosophy of life that seemed to work best for me seems jejune today. Following ones bliss requires perspective and wisdom, and yet the journey is best achieved early in life (less danger to ruin whatever has been accomplished thus far). A catch-22, isn't it?
There are many paths to God. You must find what works for you. Maybe this is it, maybe not.
True. BUT, I am married, avowed to a life with my spouse. Now I am no longer one self, but a "whole half" of a new spiritual unit. Would I not betray my self to break vows which are foundational to my own integrity? That edifice was built by my own hands, not by the hands of "god"; so much the worse if the wall is torn asunder by a blind leap into the "Dark Forest". One can, in such circumstances, loose his way, because his Self may unravel. Existence precedes essence, so the only consistceny in our lives is created by an agreemetn within ourselves to be reliable in character. Everybody has an unreasonable, capricious, selfish animal lurking beneath the surface of their modern minds.
Take what works for you, and leave the rest!
Hmmm...irresponsible hedonism would work for me, but the wisdom traditions have taught how that sort of thing leads only to suffering. Follow your bliss is like the Golden Rule: The Golden rule, as stated by Jesus (rather than Confucius) allows for the semantic loophole of masochism. Likewise, "Follow your Bliss" allows for the semantic loophole of solipsistic hedonism. Surely Campbell would not have condoned such a use of his expression?

Am I naval gazing here?
aecleo
Associate
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri May 16, 2003 5:00 am

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

Faolan,

I don't! (hope for extreme happiness) Life is about experiencing all of the feelings and adventures of life. I don't want to get out of any of it. Of course, I have the occasional rant when times are bad, but the understanding that it is just a bad time saves me.

What I mean by "work better" is lead you to be more fulfilled and successful. Perhaps using Campbell and mythology makes you think about what you could have done had you not taken on the responsibility of a family.

Faolan, if you've made commitments to other human beings, you must decide which is more important, because it seems you think the middle ground is too difficult. Maybe it's refusal of the call? You're in a hard place and only you know the answer to what you should do. A lot of people, once they decide to follow something, encourage others wholeheartedly without considering the possibility that a different way may be better for others. I simply want you to know that you don't have to follow your bliss. You don't have to agree with Campbell or the other associates on the JCF website. Do what's right for you, whether it's this or not.

Now, on to my question...

Let me try to explain it again, because I don't think I went into enough detail before. If a person finds a religion, for example, and reacts with, "Wow! This is it! I've really found it!" Does he react like that because it will fill the gaps (weaknesses/losses) in his/her life? Or does he react because he found something that agrees with what he/she thinks or feels about the world?

Say, for example, that Earl loves music. He spends all of his life smoking pot and working odd jobs to buy new instruments. He drops out of school and doesn't think about the future. Then, Earl comes across the John Lennon Rock and Roll Temple (yes, it really exists) and spends the rest of his life in a smoky little apartment where Rock and Roll has become a religion. Did he do that because it makes him content with and fulfilled by his life? Or does he do it because he feels like he found his home - with people feel the same way about music as he does? (I don't care whether you consider it right or wrong that he joined this religion, but why.)

To put it on a more human level, let me explain the feelings of Earl. He is pressured by society - his family and teachers. But, his friends are supportive. So, he feels a bit like the world doesn't love and understand him. And, when he finds the John Lennon Rock and Roll Temple, he finds a community that supports him whole-heartedly. Does he believe that he has found the true path to God or does he finally feel like there is nothing wrong with him because he has a group that supports him against society's pressure to be 'normal'?

There are a couple real-life circumstances motivating this question. First, my mother had a very black-and-white personality. When she found Fundamentalism, it was exactly the way she was, and she didn't have to work hard to fit in psychologically. However, being black-and-white has some dangers, and when she finally found some truths about her life, she couldn't reconcile them, and took her own life. (I'm not looking for sympathy; it was her choice.)

Second, a friend of mine recently converted to her new husband's religion and has done a 180 degree turn. Politically, socially, and morally, she has made a total change, even on subjects that she was fairly grounded on before. I hear stories about how various people in her new faith do this and this and blahblahblah. It's obvious that these people are taking care of the newest member of the religion. And she is eating it up. (and driving me crazy in the process!) I am convinced that she joined because of her husband and the little social circle he is in. She was not remotely interested in religion before marrying him. In other words, she is reaping a great benefit - and is a lot like the second reason Earl had for joining the religion. The interesting thing is, to me, that my friend is so serious about it. She claims that she would have joined even if she weren't married to a member of it. (She had been introduced to the religion years earlier, but didn't find it suitable for her.)

It seems that everybody believes they joined whatever religion for the reasons in the first option. But, there seems to be strong evidence that they actually did it because of the second option.

These two examples seem to be for the second possibility. Is there anybody who really joins a religion for the first reason? I'm confused by these people that I know and am related to!

I hope you can understand; I'm having a hard time explaining it clearly!
Siddha
Associate
Posts: 1310
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 5:00 am
Location: Calgary, Canada
Contact:

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

Faolan,

You've inspired a wonderful conversation. I'd like to add a different perspective. I think the key is, as Martin said:
This is the hero who has gone astray somewhere in the desert, and does not find the water of life that is known to be everywhere.
What does it mean to go astray? If I may simplify something beyond words:

Follow your bliss > takes us (sooner or later) to the point where we face increasingly the fears and ego desires that blind us to our true nature > then we have a choice. I can't think of a better scene that illustrates this than Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker when Luke finds our Vader is his father. “Join the dark side Luke…”

"Following your bliss" doesn't guarantee anything in terms of material success; it does guarantee a new set of choices one can make. In my coaching I see people regularly make the choice that Luke makes when he lets go and takes a leap of faith, and other’s who give in to Vader and join the soulless system that they are living under. One can't judge either choice, it is frightening, I find myself at that point repeatedly. And that is one key, the surrender process becomes more and more challenging.

I can tell you from personal experience and through my observations of my others that when one truly surrenders to ones path miracles do happen. I have a child now and having her has definitely raised the bar. Now when I face "the" choice, it's not just my survival but that of 2 other people. However, when I look my child in the eyes I can't bear the thought of modeling for her "giving in to the system." Giving up... what a lesson. The most loving thing I can model is that I followed my bliss and lived a vital life. When I think of her future I don't want her to be a cog in the machine, I want her to live a passionate life. My example, I believe will be infinitely more influential than anything I could convince her of with rational arguments.

I find it as wrong to use her as an excuse not to follow my path (imagine loading that level of guilt unto a child), as it is to use my work as an excuse not to make time with her and try to connect with her at a level beyond intellect. I believe that “following ones bliss” comes straight from God and when we do it the way he/she/it intended one can never hurt another. Thus a litmus test for me is that if one is hurting another, one is not following ones bliss.

The paradox is that there is in my opinion nothing safer than following one's path. In today’s economy it is becoming more and more apparent that a “stable and long term job” is an illusion. The problem is that because people are tied to fears and ego desires, they don't follow their path (they don't surrender - which is the key) they try to make their path happen. That's when they end up starving, depressed, etc. Stuck in Samsara with the wrathful Buddha.

How does one explain magic? You can't it is beyond words. But then you see the pattern. People trusting their path, going with it, not trying to control it or make it safe, just surrendering and then the oddest things start to happen. People call them up with opportunities to do what they love to do which were inaccessible at an earlier time.

Don't let the practicalities of life sell you a "rational illusion" life itself is nothing but sheer magic!

Locked