The great German philosopher Schopenhauer, in a magnificent essay on ‘The Foundation of Morality,’ treats of this transcendental spiritual experience. How is it, he asks, that an individual can so forget himself and his own safety that he will put himself and his life in jeopardy to save another from death or pain—as though that other’s life were his own, that other’s danger his own? Such a one is then acting, Schopenhauer answers, out of an instinctive recognition of the truth that he and that other in fact are one. He has been moved not from the lesser, secondary knowledge of himself as separate from others, but from an immediate experience of the greater, truer truth, that we are all one in the ground of our being. Schopenhauer’s name for this motivation is ‘compassion,’ Mitleid, and he identifies it as the one and only inspiration of inherently moral action. It is founded, in his view, in a metaphysically valid insight. For a moment one is selfless, boundless, without ego.
The great German philosopher Schopenhauer
-- Joseph Campbell
Myths to Live By (pg. 150-51)
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In Myths to Live By, Joseph, Campbell explores the enduring power of the universal myths that influence our lives daily and examines the myth-making process from the primitive past to the immediate present, returning always to the source from which all mythology springs; the creative imagination. Campbell stresses that the borders dividing the earth have been shattered; that myths and religions have always followed the certain basic archetypes and are no longer exclusive to a single people, region, or religion. He shows how we must recognize their common denominators and allow this knowledge to be of use in fulfilling human potential everywhere. Foreword by Johnson E. Fairchild