Believe Nothing

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

N8N
Associate
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Believe Nothing

Post by N8N » Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:08 am

When I realized that I knew nothing it presented a problem. I started to question things I used to believe further confirming that I indeed know nothing. Not a single thought was my own they all belonged to sombody else.When I talked to a christian about Mythology I was dismissed. When I talked to anybody about anything they did not believe in I got the same result each time dismissed or an argument broke out. And just a few hours ago I found Mr Campbell.... and he has passed away. So I though maybe there would be people here who can discuss an idea without either accepting it or saying they don't believe it. SO here is my only original thought. SOmbody may have though this thought before me but I didn't know about it so its original for me. All the gods of Mythology are real I mean really real they were men and women who lived breathed and died no flying around with magic carpets and the like just real people who were leaders and heros of an earlier age. I'll stop there.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:14 am

Hi N8N and welcome to the JCF Forums!

What an interesting post! I think I understand what you are asking and, to a certain extent, acknowledge the possibility that this is, indeed, true. We have no way of knowing in all circumstances, of course, but we do have some examples that point in this direction.

Figures of note are remembered in a culture and their tale grows in the telling. They wind up like the grain of sand around which the pearl grows, no? The stuff of myth sticks to them as time passes until the original figure is nearly gone.

Arthur is one example of this process. We are fairly certain an Arthur existed... a 5th century warlord trying to hold back the Saxon tide, probably using Roman military tactics. Over the course of the next 700 years the whole Arthur sequence of stories bubbled up from the collective psyche, giving us everything from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Parcifal, the Grail Quest, etc.

Christ is certainly another example. Although there is less direct evidence that the man even existed, stories of this nature must have something at the center, and what grew around him is the most wonderful of mythic expressions with direct and rather startling parallels with other mythic figures.

When it comes to the 'Old Gods,' that grain of sand may be completely lost in the deep past.

This is quite a valid hypothesis. however, I can't dismiss the possibility that some, many, or most of the old gods are also the product of the collective psyche, personified expressions of the powers of existence in the natural world.

As with most things, I find the truth to be neither this nor that but always somewhere in the middle.

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
jonsjourney
Associate
Posts: 3191
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:24 pm
Location: Earth

Post by jonsjourney » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:19 pm

All the gods of Mythology are real I mean really real they were men and women who lived breathed and died no flying around with magic carpets and the like just real people who were leaders and heros of an earlier age. I'll stop there. -N8N
Campbell frequently said:
"God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."
Jesus existed and was a Hero. The Buddha Shakyamuni existed and was a Hero. Mohammad existed and was a Hero.

They were all human. They were all flawed and trying to find out something more about life than what it seemed to be. There was a dissatisfaction with what they had found and were experiencing.

But, from this seat, to say that they were gods, literally, is a problem because I agree with Joe's quote. A god is an image. It is a way of pointing to something that we have no way of pointing to otherwise. It is the part of ourselves that we do not understand. The Hero's Journey is expressed in Myth as frequently taking place out in the world, but the real journey is taking place inside one's self.

That is my view, anyway.

By the way....welcome to the forums!
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
A J
Associate
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 5:00 am
Location: San Antonio
Contact:

Re: Believe Nothing

Post by A J » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:35 pm

N8N wrote:When I realized that I knew nothing it presented a problem. I started to question things I used to believe further confirming that I indeed know nothing. Not a single thought was my own they all belonged to somebody else.When I talked to a christian about Mythology I was dismissed. When I talked to anybody about anything they did not believe in I got the same result each time dismissed or an argument broke out. And just a few hours ago I found Mr Campbell.... and he has passed away. So I though maybe there would be people here who can discuss an idea without either accepting it or saying they don't believe it. SO here is my only original thought. Somebody may have though this thought before me but I didn't know about it so its original for me. All the gods of Mythology are real I mean really real they were men and women who lived breathed and died no flying around with magic carpets and the like just real people who were leaders and heros of an earlier age. I'll stop there.
I have been where you are now, N8N, and it was Joseph Campbell, along with a bit of Carl Jung, that brought me to a point where I could quest for answers (note no capital "A"). This is a good place to come for help and just simple companionship.

Clemsy and JJ have both given sound responses. This is just a perspective from the group's Old Crone. It's possible to get to a point where the distinction doesn't matter. The heroes may have been real or they may have not. What is important is the metaphor - the symbols that they represent - the "why they are remembered and honored." part.

During one of my "church attending" periods, while attending a class, one of the students asked the rector a question. She wanted to know if people who had died were immediately resurrected or if everyone was resurrected together at the end of the world. I didn't particularly like her question, but was impressed by the rector's response, that eternity was not a matter of endless time, but of a state of timelessness, so the question was moot. I also liked that he references Einstein and the theory of relativity in his answer. I also like to think of Niels Bohr's work on complementarity, and the idea that the poles are both necessary parts of one whole. There is a both/;and answer, I think. They were real and they were "gods." We are not required to choose which element we are looking at during a certain moment.

Just me.

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
N8N
Associate
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Post by N8N » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:19 pm

Thank you for the warm welcome. I can see you are all learned people. And I'm sure you can see I am not. I do not have command of the language. I am Aki or one of the people of The Easr Coast of Canada Longdans. And my name here discribes what I know which is nothing infanitly nothing, But I am called by my people Sea'key (kind of like Sockeye) which means White Salmon with a Heart of Gold. But is does not mean that, If I showed up an a legend sombody would think I was a white salmon with a gold heart theat beast inside, but its not The spirit of the word means white solomon with a mind of wisdom. And my grandchildren call me the old fart.

When I used the word god i was just describing a thought as opposed to a being.

You see I keep the Legend of the Aki that word is used to describe the markings on a map it is the key to understanding it. So to is the meaning of the word apt'sqi'gn translated it means key but the spirit of the word is aid memory with pupil (pu-pil meaning brown pill or eye) or remember with your eyes so to speak ... hard makin my thoughts make sense....

The legends I keep when written sound like fairy tales but when they are explained they make sense. Just the two words I used for exapmle sea'key apt'sqi'gn could be translated as the Sockeye has a Key imaginations run wild stories are told and retold next think you know I'm a talking fish with a key to a great treasure under Lake Ontario or something silly like that.But I see The Wisemans Legend for I can see the spirit in the words.

Now Spirit is a funny word. To you it means many things and many other things to others.But To me words just has one meaning not 10. Spirit is just a color nothing else thats it.Its clear a word for the color clear. You go to the spirit world when you dream just an invisable world only you can see, water is spirit, ice is spirit, wind is spirit air is spirit Acohol... Liquor.. called fire water beacuse it burns clear or spirit fire Pyote or the fly mushrooms take you to the waking spirit world or you get high.When you die you go to the spirit world and never come back.So we see death as just waking from a dream this is the spirit world for the dead. SO did they go to the happy hunting grounds with the ancestors... no they just died they are gone or clear do not exist didn't go visit the creator or anything else they just went the way of the ancestors who died to. We live on in the faces of our children. Is there an after life? Like I said I believe nothing because I don't know. You hear tales of taking the Fly mushrooms and people meeting the creator talking to dead ancestors and seeing all manner of things. But when I take the fly i remember its my journey and it in my own mind everything I see in here is me or sombody elses thoughts I remember, its just me looking at me and talking to me and remembering me and talking to people as I remember them and saying to them what i forgot to say when they were here. But its just me talking to me in my head is all. By a fire under the moon. But people come back and think the spirit world was real they left theor bodies and flew to a place in the sky. and believe that they did and other believe that he did. and the stories begin.Like the giant beavers that fell from the heavens to create the lakes ... that fell out of some old farts mind never happened.. but some believe it did. like heaven means home its a place on a map that we used to travel with. We oreintates the maps from the east not north. we had no way of finding an accurate north but we always know where east is using a stick or arrow. ya stick it in the grount and it makes a shadow that points east to west the arrow head is east and the shadow of the frather is west. too easy. then lay your map on the shadow with heaven to the east or point. and there ya go map with a pointer. showing heaven, haven or home. And the only beavers that fell from heaven and created laked around here were the Norsemen. we call them big beavers because of they way they dressed. they Called us Scraelings or Scraema Screamers because of the way we sing (Not attack thats sombody elses bad dream) they fell out of a boat on the lake or sea and make settlements around the water. I'll stop now.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:59 pm

It's possible to get to a point where the distinction doesn't matter. The heroes may have been real or they may have not. What is important is the metaphor - the symbols that they represent - the "why they are remembered and honored." part.
I just want to add that AJ has nailed the most important point here. Our old gods may have a historical center, ... but that is only of academic interest (which I do find quite fascinating). Their real importance lay in what they mean now.

That grain of sand at the middle of the pearl is only a grain of sand.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
N8N
Associate
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Post by N8N » Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:33 am

The grain of sand in a pearl is still a grain of sand... Thats deep. Like where it comes from. Ah while I'm passing thru time here with you and talking about deep I finally figured out that riddle the dali lamma fella was talking about. He asked whats the sound of one hand clapping.

And I got it. :idea:

And sombody asks him whats the meaning of life and he :lol:

And I got it. :idea:

So I stopped reading his koans not much fun if they keep giving away the answers in the question

Do you get it :?: If ya had to stop and think ya don't get it :wink:

And funny you should mention King Arthur if there is one think I know about is Chief Many Spears or tribe symbol is the Spear being shot by the moon to the stars. Same as is on our flag well not the same but kind the same.

Arthur is like a great pearl and Many Spears but a grain of sand. Bet you never even heard of him before. And its no MythStory its HisStory.
User avatar
Brekex
Associate
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Mexico

Re: Believe Nothing

Post by Brekex » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:19 am

N8N wrote: Not a single thought was my own they all belonged to sombody else.
And most likely those thoughts that belonged to somebody else probably belonged to somebody else yet. Ideas are passed on, germinate in us from some seed somewhere, and we live them in our own ways, passing them on to others with our own slight tint. This is my point, in a sense to address your words.

I resonate deeply with AJ's words: "The heroes may have been real or they may have not. What is important is the metaphor - the symbols that they represent - the "why they are remembered and honored."

I will go a bit further. One way to look at it is that the relevance of myth is in the resonance we have with it (that which vibrates in one thing also makes me vibrate). When we can remove ourselves a bit from our story and recoginse it in a myth. We say: "ah, that is what I am living!" When we do this, then the personal aspect is removed a bit. Our pain/struggle/glory is made universal. This has the dual effect of making one feel that one is not alone, but at the same time it gives the ego a bit of a shake... "I am more than I".

Myths are universal stories, at bottom very everyday and human struggles (growing up, getting married, finding one's position, etc). Whether or not basic human worries were projected unto actual historical figures is beside the point, I think. The story is a very human way of empathising... certainly much more so than historical facts and figures which would have our blood turn to dust.

I hope that I have offered another viewpoint of some relevance from which to view this. Certainly there are many.

By the way N8N, you have a truly beautiful and sincere way of expressing yourself.
"Look inside as far as the eye can't see."
-Brekex
A J
Associate
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 5:00 am
Location: San Antonio
Contact:

Re: Believe Nothing

Post by A J » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:01 pm

Brekex wrote:
N8N wrote: Not a single thought was my own they all belonged to sombody else.
And most likely those thoughts that belonged to somebody else probably belonged to somebody else yet. Ideas are passed on, germinate in us from some seed somewhere, and we live them in our own ways, passing them on to others with our own slight tint. This is my point, in a sense to address your words.

I resonate deeply with AJ's words: "The heroes may have been real or they may have not. What is important is the metaphor - the symbols that they represent - the "why they are remembered and honored."

I will go a bit further. One way to look at it is that the relevance of myth is in the resonance we have with it (that which vibrates in one thing also makes me vibrate). When we can remove ourselves a bit from our story and recoginse it in a myth. We say: "ah, that is what I am living!" When we do this, then the personal aspect is removed a bit. Our pain/struggle/glory is made universal. This has the dual effect of making one feel that one is not alone, but at the same time it gives the ego a bit of a shake... "I am more than I".

Myths are universal stories, at bottom very everyday and human struggles (growing up, getting married, finding one's position, etc). Whether or not basic human worries were projected unto actual historical figures is beside the point, I think. The story is a very human way of empathising... certainly much more so than historical facts and figures which would have our blood turn to dust.

I hope that I have offered another viewpoint of some relevance from which to view this. Certainly there are many.

By the way N8N, you have a truly beautiful and sincere way of expressing yourself.
I like that word, resonance. It is a sign, I think, that our intuition is on track.

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
N8N
Associate
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Post by N8N » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:42 am

After looking into some myth I think that a myth is just a history of a defeated people. Or Gods with no followers. When Rome adopted Christianity their gods died and became myths. If there is only one god the others cannot be real.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:08 am

N8N wrote:After looking into some myth I think that a myth is just a history of a defeated people. Or Gods with no followers. When Rome adopted Christianity their gods died and became myths. If there is only one god the others cannot be real.
N8N, myth is so much more than that. Religion is myth... perhaps taking itself too seriously. When Rome adopted Christianity, it replaced one set of myths for another.
Myths are other people's religions.
I would recommend viewing, or reading, Campbell's Power of Myth.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
User avatar
nandu
Associate
Posts: 3395
Joined: Fri May 31, 2002 12:45 am
Location: Kerala, the green country
Contact:

Post by nandu » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:47 am

If you look at it deeply, the argument that "myth is only history" does not hold water. All the four functions of myth, as Joe Campbell explained, have to be fulfilled for a myth to remain alive.

Let's take the creation myths for example. How did they come into being? If ancient man wondered how everything came into being and simply came up with fanciful stories to account for it, then myths would be much simpler than they are now. Moreover, there is a commonality of symbols running through all the myths, so that themes can be recognised. I do not believe this is sheer coincidence, or historical dispersion.

There are some images inherently meaningful to man, which appear publicly in myths and privately in our dreams. These are the leftovers from an era before the human consciousness evolved into the complex entity that it is now: the inheritance of our evolutionary past. This is what Jung calls the collective unconscious.

However, myth is historically informed to a certain extent. Traditionally, most of the demons of Hindu mythology were equated with the indigenous tribes of India whom the invading Aryans killed or subjugated. Recently, there is a shift in the thinking which identifies them with the Aryans' enemies in Persia, the Zoroastrians (whose god is Ahura, while the generic name for demon in Indian mythology is "Asura") or Assyrians (see the similarity to Asura?). There is an impressive body of evidence to support these claims.

But is it all? When one reads the myths with the inner eye fully open, one sees themes running much deeper than these superficial interpretations. The gods and demons are seen to have their roots firmly in the psyche. In fact, it is these universal symbols that we recognise in poems, stories, movies, paintings and other works of art and which makes these things resonate with us.

Nandu.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
A J
Associate
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 5:00 am
Location: San Antonio
Contact:

Post by A J » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:54 pm

I have had a number of people criticize the title of my book on Murphy, A Myth in Action, because it made it seem, to them, that Murphy's exploits were not fact. One of the current meanings of the word is "falsehood," but that isn't the sense of the word as used by Campbell. How did he say it? "Myth is public dream; dreams are private myths." Or do I have the statements reversed?

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:06 pm

That's it, AJ. Myths aren't so much concerned with 'facts' as they are with 'truths.' Myths are composed of metaphors, and as Orson Scott card once said, a metaphor is the greatest amount of truth packed into the smallest number of words.

Of course, 'truth' is malleable and therein lay the rub.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
N8N
Associate
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Post by N8N » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:46 pm

Clemsy wrote:
N8N wrote:After looking into some myth I think that a myth is just a history of a defeated people. Or Gods with no followers. When Rome adopted Christianity their gods died and became myths. If there is only one god the others cannot be real.
N8N, myth is so much more than that. Religion is myth... perhaps taking itself too seriously. When Rome adopted Christianity, it replaced one set of myths for another.
Myths are other people's religions.
I would recommend viewing, or reading, Campbell's Power of Myth.
You have said what I was trying to say much better. I was looking at it from a christian prospective. If I believe in Christ then he is real and alive. If I believe in Zeus then Christ must have been an upstart so to speak.

At the end of the day whatever I believe becomes my reality. SO I believe nothing.
Locked