Find what electrifies

Find what electrifies and enlivens your heart.

-- Joseph Campbell
Hero’s Journey, The (book) (p. 158)
Find more quotations at

The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work

See also: The Hero's Journey: a Biographical Portrait (video) Joseph Campbell, arguably the greatest mythologist of the twentieth century, was certainly one of our greatest storytellers. This masterfully crafted book interweaves conversations between Campbell and some of the people he inspired, including poet Robert Bly, anthropologist Angeles Arrien, filmmaker David Kennard, Doors drummer John Densmore, psychiatric pioneer Stanislov Grof, Nobel laureate Roger Guillemen, and others. Campbell reflects on subjects ranging from the origins and functions of myth, the role of the artist, and the need for ritual to the ordeals of love and romance. With poetry and humor, Campbell recounts his own quest and conveys the excitement of his lifelong exploration of our mythic traditions, what he called "the one great story of mankind."
Other quotations from this Title
I do think we are at the end of a civilization. And I do think we’re at the beginning of a global age. That is to say, it’s now once more a globe. No longer do you have different cultures within their bounded horizons, ignorant of each other and indifferent to each other. All horizons are broken.
An artist is not in the field to achieve, to realize, but to become fulfilled. [share]
In one of those cock-eyed theaters that are in New York, on 42nd and Broadway, I saw advertised Fire Women from Outer Space. That was a mythological idea. In Tibetan Buddhism these are called docheles—fire women from outer space! And in their spiritual powers they can excite you a little bit. And so I thought, Well, we’re getting back to the old days in a very funny way. Whenever the human imagination gets going, it has to work in the fields that myths have already covered. And it renders them in new ways, that’s all.   [share]
The ego is you as you think of yourself. You in relation to all the commitments of your life, as you understand them. The self is the whole range of possibilities that you’ve never even thought of.   [share]
A mythology is an organization of symbolic narratives and images that are metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and fulfillment in a given society at a given time. [share]
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. [share]
Find what electrifies and enlivens your heart. [share]
So there is no rule. An individual has to find what electrifies and enlivens his own heart, and wakes him. [share]
One of the biggest problems in mythology is this one of putting the individual in accord with nature. The world in which the primitive people are living becomes mythologized. One of the problems in our tradition is that the land –- the Holy Land -- is somewhere else. So we've lost the whole sense of accord with nature. And if it's not here, it's nowhere. [share]
Just as anyone who listens to the muse will hear, you can write out of your own intention or out of inspiration. There is such a thing. It comes up and talks. And those who have heard deeply the rhythms and hymns of the gods, can recite those hymns in such a way that the gods will be attracted. [share]
One part of the hero's journey is acquiescence. For instance, I am moving toward death, as we all are. That's also yielding. And the hero is the one who knows when to surrender and what to surrender to. The main theme is to yield your position to the dynamic. And the dynamic of life is now this form eats that form. Yield. [share]
I didn't write my books for critics and scholars. I wrote them for students and artists. When I hear how much my work has meant to them––well, I can't tell you how happy that makes me. That means that this great stuff of myth, which I have been so privileged to work with, will be kept alive for a whole new generation. That's the function of the artists, you know, to reinterpret the old stories and make them come alive again, in poetry, painting, and now in movies. [share]
I don't see any conflict between religion and science. Religion has to accept the science of the day and penetrate it to the mystery. The conflict is between the science of 2000 B.C. and 2000 A.D. [share]
What's made up in the head is the fiction. What comes out of the heart is a myth. [share]
I think the best thing I can say is to follow your bliss. If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you’re on the wrong track. I mean, you need instruction. Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself [share]
I have a firm belief in this now, not only in terms of my own experience, but in knowing the experiences of other people. When you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it, and doing what the push is out of your own existence—it may not be fun, but it’s your bliss and there’s bliss behind pain too. [share]
When real trouble comes, your humanity is awakened. The fundamental human experience is that of compassion. [share]
When you are in accord with nature, nature will yield its bounty. This is something that is coming up in our consciousness now, with the ecology movement, recognizing that by violating the environment in which we are living, we are really cutting off the energy and source of our own living. [share]
Just as anyone who listens to the muse will hear, you can write out of your own intention or out of inspiration. There is such a thing. It comes up and talks. And those who have heard deeply the rhythms and hymns of the gods, can recite those hymns in such a way that the gods will be attracted. [share]
There is one phrase in Finnegans Wake that seems to me to epitomize the whole sense of Joyce. He says, "Oh Lord, heap mysteries upon us, but entwine our work with laughter low." And this is the sense of the Buddhist bodhisattva: joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. [share]