The Myths and Masks of God
By Joseph Campbell
Authorized by the Joseph Campbell Foundation, here is Volume Five of what will be a 40-hour series. These are the key lectures that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later lectures on myth, symbolism, and spiritual awakening. Powerful and provocative, this program contains Interpreting Symbolic Forms, On the Experience of God, Mythic Visions, The Romantic Impulse, and Imagination and Inquiry.
In Man and Myth, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of mythological symbols and our use of them to reconcile the conflicts inherent in life. Provocative and full of wisdom, these lectures were the basis for Campbell’s later work on myth, symbolism, and spiritual awakening.
Tape 1: Man and Myth
In this thought-provoking talk, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of myth. Building on Jung’s observations that myths are like dreams, he argues that the source of both myth and dream is the human psche. Myths, it could be said, are public dreams; dreams are private myths.
Tape 2: Mythic Living
Joseph Campbell opens this wide-ranging talk by observing that the living of life is itself a ritual act, and if society is to function, people must play various roles. Mythology gives us images of an array of roles to play, teaches us how to transcend our egos and play human roles, and helps us relate our inner worlds to outer realities.
Tape 3: Society and Symbol
Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting how a symbol can work as a sort of “automatic button” to release and channel energy. Why do some symbols seem almost univerally potent? It is because such resonant symbols speak to human experiences that have remained throughout the ages. From this perspective, Campbell explores how an individual’s relationship to society changes as one grows from infancy to old age. A culture’s view of this shifting dynamic is best understood, he argues, by examining the symbols with which the society expresses its ideals. He shows how western psychologists, particularily Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, have shaped our understanding of the human experience. He concludes with a discussion of several key Oriental beliefs, demonstrating how the prevailing myths and dominant symbols of each culture reinforce its understanding of an individual’s place.
Tape 4: The Necessity of Rites
Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting that a principle function of mythology is to reconcile human consciousness to the preconditions of its existence, to life that lives on life. He explores how rites and symbols, seemingly burdensome and punitive to the adolescent mind, reveal deeper meanings as the individual matures. Thus, Campbell observes, rites and symbols enable a society to affirm life and ensure that certain values are passed along to future generations.
Tape 5: Personal Myths
In this compelling talk, Joseph Campbell discusses what it means to live with a personal myth and what it means to live without one. In the past, every great culture grew out of a mythic base. Each had a vibrant mythology, expressive rituals, and potent symbols that infused meaning into such experiences as death and loss, pain and sorrow, fear and desire.