The Serpent Shedding Its Skin

Joseph Campbell believed that "...each of us has an individual myth that's driving us, which we may or may not know." This forum is for assistance and inspiration in the quest to find your own personal mythology.

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The Serpent Shedding Its Skin

Post by jonsjourney » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:03 pm

I was thinking today about human history and the place of mythology within it.

Ideas come and go. Mythologies come and go. Most of us would probably agree that the old systems of belief are failing to speak to newer generations. I am not saying that the old stories, art and music are invalid, I am saying that they are getting dusty and a bit rusty. We have seen that the mythology of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is based on older stories, modified to fit into a more modern world. It seems that much of their ideology is fading rather than evolving in our modern world, but maybe i am wrong.

I wonder if there can be a future of significance for humans without mythology?

Yes, this question borders on heresy around here. I understand that.

I think it is a legitimate inquiry. Is it possible that humans have evolved to point where we do not need mythology to guide us? If this were true, would it also mean an end to meaningful existence? What about art, literature, music?

I cannot think of a better place to ask this question. I realize that we have all gravitated here because of an interest in mythology, which colors our viewpoints, but I was just curious how each person felt about the direction they see mythology taking in the near future.
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Post by Anteros » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:15 am

That is a good question and appropriate for our times.

In my view, the world has always been a language of symbols and that is mythology. So in a sense we currently don't have a collective or common myth that we all follow in the same way that Europe did in the Middle Ages with Christianity. But personal myths are quite strong and varied. The collective myth of our day revolves around the idea of fragmentation or disintegration. I think Campbell mentions this at some point. You mention music, art and literature. The mainstream of these kinds reflect the fragmentation and hollow sense of the society we live in. There is no sense of a meaningful existence in the mainstream arts because they are made for quick consumption. They are disposable. But many people are doing some wonderful, meaningful things through the arts on an individual basis, which rarely get out in the mainstream.

I believe that people are increasingly encountering their myths within their own personal spheres and it seems to me that the collective myth of fragmentation is helping to expose our personal myths, whether they are oppressive or liberating. There is a kind of evolution happening. In the end, personal and collective myths are connected like two stars revolving around each other.
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Post by Neoplato » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:48 pm

Anteros Wrote:
There is a kind of evolution happening. In the end, personal and collective myths are connected like two stars revolving around each other.
I also agree that there appears to be an “evolution” happening. It seems to have began a 3 or 4 thousand years ago but has been stifled to some degree.

The only way I see “myth” not being needed is if one day everyone on Earth “woke up” to the sudden understanding of what it meant to be human. (John Lennon’s “Imagine”). However, even if that were to happen, I don’t think the “creativity” of human nature would disappear, I think it would be greatly enhanced. It is in our nature to create, and I know that I’m never truly happy unless I’m creating something or just exchanging creative ideas.

Imagine what the human race could create if we weren’t so preoccupied with destruction and “delusions about illusions”.
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New Mythology

Post by Samarra » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:14 pm

In Power of Myth, JC mentions that things are too much in flux right now for a myth to congeal, but that when it does, it will probably have the Earth as its icon. Perhaps there's a Gaia myth in our future?
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Post by Neoplato » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:29 pm

Samarra Wrote:
Perhaps there's a Gaia myth in our future?
If there is, it's only a re-learning of the past. :wink:
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Post by jufa » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:46 am

Has anyone here truly considered men are the product of their flesh mentality. They are a continuous thinking system initiated in ancient days by their ancestors, who casted the die and set the mold to shape the thinking and ways of man's living in today's world. "As a man thinkest in his heart, so is he." As a man continues to think in his heart, so he remains. "If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?"

Man has not understood he is the chosen One, the Saviour. The One who is to stop the buck passing of believing in this thought system of thinking. Man is the Saviour because life is in the omnipresent extension of all men's conscious who have lived and died without fulfilling their purpose of redemption of mankind while living within this dimension. Man is the redeemer, the cross bearer for those who failed their mission and themselves, and all members of the human family, which he is the total culmination of by way of this inherited ancient system of thinking being thought and lived today.

Never has man found anything within matter that would allow him to dare commit suicide to such illogic; to allow him to open a door into the invisible foundation which cannot be verified by his sense mind. Why? because men ride the wave of other men's thoughts, and advance those thoughts according to their human indoctrination, teachings, and beliefs. People are the same the world over, yet different in cultures, traditions, and ways of interpreting and doing according to the social structure they live within. Nevertheless, all mankind bear the same desires, heartaches, joys, love, hate, disappointments.

Always men attempt to deny and escape this truth, but denial and escape is inevitable because all that men undergo in flesh is of the very things they formed by way of thinking and believing. Human thoughts do not change to make one society different than another. Thoughts move, however, and what is comprehensible in one society according to the movement of thought, is the same in all societies according to the movement of thought. Men must comprehend it is not about escaping, it is about becoming aware of who they are, and what they are. Men cannot know who or what they are, however, until they know who their Father/Mother is, and Their origin. When men realize who and what they are, they will also realize their purpose is to prove within themselves God is the only power. Not a power, however to overcome any thing or condition within the world of matter, but the power to overcome ones twin personalities.
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Post by noman » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:48 am

I wonder if there can be a future of significance for humans without mythology?

Yes, this question borders on heresy around here. I understand that.

I think it is a legitimate inquiry. Is it possible that humans have evolved to point where we do not need mythology to guide us? If this were true, would it also mean an end to meaningful existence? What about art, literature, music?

- JonsJourney
Heresy? I thought you had to be a heretic just to get into this place. :?

Here is Campbell in a 1978 radio call-in show:
Caller: Is the mythic dimension evolving or mutating or is it still being produced or is there something about our technological, materialistic, factual oriented materialistic reality that is antithetical to myth and is starting to sort of dissolve?

Campbell: I don’t see anything coming in the way of a common mythology. I don’t even know whether a culture can survive without a mythology. It’s a moment of questions and mysteries I think.

- New Dimensions Radio, 1978
Campbell's three sentences are the end of a very long answer. But that second sentence of Campbell’s has always stuck with me. A healthy skepticism is the mark of sincerity I believe. Prior to this quote he talks about the need for mythology, and the problem of ‘in-group’ thinking when all of our horizons have been smashed. But he also says that a common mythology won’t come for a long, long time and that each person must find his or her own way – where it is darkest and where there is no way or path.

For me, the idea of a culture without a mythology, more accurately, without a myth/ritual system is as untenable as a flock of cats. There’s no such thing as a flock of cats. And there is no such thing as a society, culture, or organization without myth/ritual system. It happens naturally.

But then, like Joe, I was raised a Catholic. Catholics, I’ve heard tell, are endowed with the greater belief of the value of spirit and myth-rites and so on and don’t know how to think and feel with a secular mind and heart. That’s why Campbell said one time Catholics tend to become artists and poets and Protestants become sociologists and psychologists.

A popular title for non-fiction books I've noticed is “The End of ----------“. Have you ever noticed that? Just typing “The End of” into the Amazon search engine I find:

• The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy--If We Let It Happen
• The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
• The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
• End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life (Christian)
• The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
• The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services
• Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life
• The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
• The End of Food (On the danger of future global food shortages)
• The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
• The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal Is Bringing Science and Spirit Together
• The End of Nature (On global warming)
• The End of Gender : A Psychological Autopsy
• The End of History and the Last Man (on the end of war)

Is there anything that isn’t ending? Society is always right on the edge, just turning the corner, and you’d better have this book – the one you desperately need so you and society will be ahead of the curve. I could see an author just specializing in ‘End of…’ books. But if I wrote an ‘end of’ book it would be titled ‘The End of ‘End of’ books: Why we can no longer afford to read about endings.”

Anyway, so far I haven’t found anyone writing about the ‘End of mythology’. Instead it’s about the loss of myth. The problem with thinking in terms of the end of mythology is that mythology is just too broad a term for it to go away. The Soviet Union forbade religion and religious instruction to children. But they had a mythology, as Campbell would say, ‘in full career’.

So I think the idea of mythology being obsolete is a matter of definition. To use Anteros’ metaphor, perhaps the collective myth star is burning out, the personal myth star growing brighter as a result. But then it could result in a supernova, or a black hole – Ikes – get me out of this metaphor!

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Post by Clemsy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:15 am

I wonder if there can be a future of significance for humans without mythology?
Interesting question, JJ.

What I know of human nature says no. There will always be those who require the package (the stories/symbols)) and the wrapping paper (the rules and regulations) of myth. According to Campbell, the Christian myth was already outdated when it was formulated. Indeed, any attempt to update it is met with reactionary fervor. Crises also send people back into the security of the tried if not necessarily true.

I read Time Magazines "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now" and can only roll my eyes at THIS.

Calvinism? Holy predestination, Batman!

I simply can't wrap my head around the idea that god has already decided everyone's fate and there's nothing you can do to change it, but be a good boy anyway just in case.

(But, hey. That's just me, you know, the heretic.)
"The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin's time. Indeed, some of today's enthusiasts imply that non-Calvinists may actually not be Christians. Skirmishes among the Southern Baptists (who have a competing non-Calvinist camp) and online "flame wars" bode badly.
Calvinists vs. Southern Baptists. (Hold my seat while I get the popcorn.)

As I said, Holdfast isn't going anywhere whatever the orientation. The Big Three especially are experiencing a period of enthusiastic renewal.

What one hopes we're evolving towards is the maintenance of the idea of civil liberty which keeps those myths off the backs of those increasing numbers who take different paths... or in the case of the Sacred Teeter Totter, stand on different Spots.
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Post by Scarlett » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:47 am

Jonsjourney wrote:
Is it possible that humans have evolved to point where we do not need mythology to guide us? If this were true, would it also mean an end to meaningful existence? What about art, literature, music?
Well, I suppose that would be based on what you believe. Do you believe in a higher power? Do you believe in something spiritual that connects us all? Or are you an atheist?

I believe in a something mysterious – something spiritual and unnamable that works through the universe. So mythology is something that I think many humans need to make sense of their world. I am just happy to be alive – so I make meaning out of my own life. I try to evolve with the myths of my childhood. I look to them as guides -- not rule books. However, Jonsjourney I understand where you are coming from because as humans we don’t like to admit that we might be dependent on anything such as a myth system. It’s a tempting thought to imagine that humans can evolve to a point where we are spiritual beings who do not need any guidance. But then we wouldn’t quite be human if we were completely evolved beings? I don't know. I like being human!

I don't know about you, but I need guidance :) And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Guidance or moments of grace as I like to call them come to me in many ways:

Human relationships (with my friends, my son, my husband, my family, and others who have crossed my path)

During quiet reflections (meditations or prayer)

Reflecting on and letting "my" myths guide me.

Poetry

Reading something that gives me an AHA! moment 8)

And other ways....

Jonsjourney wrote:
I am not saying that the old stories, art and music are invalid, I am saying that they are getting dusty and a bit rusty.
I think you can always go deeper.... past the dust....

I was reading T.S. Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent recently and I thought of all of this talk about heresy around here lately and how we need to integrate new awakenings or levels of consciousness with past thinking.

In Eliot’s essay, he is talking about poetry, but I would like to share something that I think has some relevance here because art was mentioned, and often the great artists can be the ones who share their vision with others -- thus providing experiences of awakening for other people.

T.S. Eliot wrote:
He must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same…

But the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past's awareness of itself cannot show.

Some one said: "The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did." Precisely, and they are that which we know.

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20489
We walk in the present with a new awareness, guided by our past, not ruled by it.

I know I sound emotional when I keep saying this -- but look to your heart -- if you believe in something spiritual -- it will always be present to guide you with or without a system.

--Scarlett
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Post by movingalways » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:21 pm

jufa: Never has man found anything within matter that would allow him to dare commit suicide to such illogic; to allow him to open a door into the invisible foundation which cannot be verified by his sense mind. Why? because men ride the wave of other men's thoughts, and advance those thoughts according to their human indoctrination, teachings, and beliefs. People are the same the world over, yet different in cultures, traditions, and ways of interpreting and doing according to the social structure they live within. Nevertheless, all mankind bear the same desires, heartaches, joys, love, hate, disappointments.


jufa, for me, this is the true meaning of 'committing suicide', that is to die to, to permanently destroy every thought system that lives within our human conditioned mind so that no more shall we be caught up/entranced by our habitual recycling of human subject-object comparison and interpretation. Call the subject by whatever name you wish - self, person, individual, me, I; likewise the object, in this case the myth of the serpent - whenever subject-object are present in one's awareness, there is always a sense of awareness as being divided.

It is time to break the spell of our human vanity, that vanity of humanity that believes it is the creator of its own thoughts, a vanity that keeps humanity from realizing it creates nothing. Man is a thought manipulator only, moving an image he did not create 'over here', then another he did not create 'over there', believing he can know himself via this dance of everchanging imagery and word.

That is our insanity - believing we actually know ourselves from an ever-changing relative positioning of thought. Mythology can never reveal our unconditioned "I". Nor can science, or literature, or art, or music. Thought originates, as you say, from the invisible. There is but one way to become aware of invisible unconditioned thought, and that is to clean out one's house of every inheirited, hand-me-down human interpretation. That means every religion, every philosophy, every conditioned ISM must be transcended, then destroyed - one thought at a time.

Jesus stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, Gautama the Buddha stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, two examples of beings who realized that there was but one way to KNOW THYSELF and that was to stop taking thought and start living by Thought.
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Post by jufa » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:01 am

Hi Movingalways!

The title of this thread is Named "The Shedding of the Serpent Skin." To this poster, from what I've read, you have been the only individual who has truly spoke of what this mean. The shedding of the skin, in this instance, is more than a myth or metaphor. Man sheds his skin, animals shed their skin, and even the earth shed and put on new layers. The shedding of skin is a regeneration process which is only the tip of the iceberg. True regeneration is renewing beliefs, thoughts, imaginations, minds, conscious, consciousness, and the soul. It is a throwing away of the old wineskin so new wines can be carried to quench the thirst without bitterness.

Man's trials and tribulations have been based in their need to expand their beliefs of the mental and physical domain which they are aware of. All which men believe they possess and have acquired is based in the totality of their human thoughts, beliefs, and actions corresponding to the activity of that which they have interpreted of others men, and labeled in lack of understanding or comprehension. They pile on to this lack of understanding more and more of what other have told them in lectures, writing, and actions of demonstrations. But no one forgets, for the soul is a storehouse of all human and spiritual knowledge which has ever been, or will be. So there is no transcending of soul, and, therefore, no shedding of the scabs which blind me. I've said this to say "there is a way which seem right unto a man, but the end thereof is the way of death."
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Post by Neoplato » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:02 pm

Movingalways wrote:
Jesus stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, Gautama the Buddha stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, two examples of beings who realized that there was but one way to KNOW THYSELF and that was to stop taking thought and start living by Thought.
I like the way you expressed this. The "unconditioned mind". I use the term "pure mind" but I guess what I really mean is "free from conditioning". The trick is to "uncondition" your mind after it has been "conditioned" (ouch).

I also like the notion of "stop taking thought" and "live by thought". One way to stop taking thought is just by turning off the TV. I hope you don't mind if I use the phrase "living by thought" in future posts. I really like the phrase. :D
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Post by jonsjourney » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:35 pm

A lot of nice responses...I have been in California for a week and I am just getting around to checking in again....I will read up and try to add to the conversation.

One thing...
My goal in asking this question was to inquire as to whether any of us can conceive of a coming mythology which would be comparable to our big organized religious belief systems. I tend to believe no, unless some massive scale tragic event should come upon the Earth...much larger than a tsunami, earthquake...etc.

More to come...
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Post by movingalways » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:39 pm

Neoplato wrote:Movingalways wrote:
Jesus stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, Gautama the Buddha stepped into his Unconditioned Mind, two examples of beings who realized that there was but one way to KNOW THYSELF and that was to stop taking thought and start living by Thought.


I like the way you expressed this. The "unconditioned mind". I use the term "pure mind" but I guess what I really mean is "free from conditioning". The trick is to "uncondition" your mind after it has been "conditioned" (ouch).

I also like the notion of "stop taking thought" and "live by thought". One way to stop taking thought is just by turning off the TV. I hope you don't mind if I use the phrase "living by thought" in future posts. I really like the phrase. :D


Neoplato, thought is not mine to keep, for all thought originates from the same source. Call it God, Life, Spirit, Consciousness - the name matters not; what matters is that the receiver of the thought realizes that all thought is given impersonally and unconditionally, and it is to be lived as it is given - impersonally and unconditionally.

"Stop taking-living by thought" is to uncondition your mind of every projected image you have attached yourself to in your awareness of you (the belief you are separate from you, that you are two 'you's). This is the narrow path spoken about by Jesus, and although turning off the TV may help you enter the wilderness of you, simply shutting down the senses will not bring about the transformation that is required to be cleaned out of the totality of your humanism. Such a mission requires an intensity of commitment to being obedient to the Invisible Omnipresent Spirit of Life that few are willing to demonstrate.

Taking thought and living by thought, I have come to realize, are the same path, that is, the path of conditioned being or awareness. If we are living by thought, we are taking thought, for if we are living by thought, there remains a subject and an object in one's awareness, does there not? And if this dualism and relativism is present in one's awareness, then how can omnipresence BE who we are?

It is to our total humanism we must die if we truly want to stop taking thought, and BE the Spirit of every Thought that is Omnipresent within the Unconditioned Mind. Every metaphor, every myth, every belief must be transcended; not a single "I think" - the thought of separation from one's omnipresence - must remain within one's conscious awareness if stepping out of one's borrowed living is to be one's New Life.

"OUCH" indeed. Can you think of any other journey but this that is truly worth taking-living?
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Post by jufa » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:13 pm

Excellelnt metaphors you have presented Movingalways!

Excellent metaphors you speak of in your post, I say because man himself is a metaphor of life living within the metaphor of life It is the individual man who cast the shadow of himself, No other can cast my shadow. The final obstacle an individual must overcome is their self. It has always been the self to overcome, to gain mastery over, for in so doing, one takes back his true will of obedience and righteousness of life. That will and righteousness of life is "Into thy hand I commend my Spirit." Commending ones Spirit back to Its Source you describe excellently:

It is to our total humanism we must die if we truly want to stop taking thought, and BE the Spirit of every Thought that is Omnipresent within the Unconditioned Mind. Every metaphor, every myth, every belief must be transcended; not a single "I think" - the thought of separation from one's omnipresence - must remain within one's conscious awareness if stepping out of one's borrowed living is to be one's New Life. -Movingalways
What is the shadow that follows us, which is to the side, front, back, over us and under or feet according to the position of light? It is the trail of our living we have left behind and still attempt to live within. It is our attitudes, our arrogance of thinking we are something more than anyone else, or being smarter, more prone to selfishness, and all the drawback we believe gives us power ot living, when the only power to man is being born, and dying. All in between only serves the ego.

The light which knows not of following is the light which cannot differentiate. All within Lights vision of perception is of the energy of itself which did not, nor does not need anything but the grace of gratitude it is, and that is the life of an unconditioned Mind.
Never give power to anything a person believe is their source of strength - jufa
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