Thou Art That

Thou Art That

By Joseph Campbell

Thou Art That is a compilation of previously uncollected essays and lectures by Joseph Campbell that focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here Campbell explores common religious symbols, reexamining and reinterpreting them in the context of his remarkable knowledge of world mythology. According to Campbell, society often confuses the literal and metaphorical interpretations of religious stories and symbols. In this collection, he eloquently reestablishes these metaphors as a means to enhance spiritual understanding and mystical revelation. With characteristic verve, he ranges from rich storytelling to insightful comparative scholarship. Included is editor Eugene Kennedy’s classic interview with Campbell in The New York Times Magazine, which brought the scholar to the public’s attention for the first time.

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The sun is our second symbol of rebirth ... When you realize that eternity is right here now, that it is within your possibility to experience the eternity of your own truth and being, then you grasp the following: That which you are was never born and will never die; that is the insight rendered in term of the solar mystery, the solar light. [share]
We are the sensing organs of the Earth. We are the senses of the universe. We have it all right here within us. And the deities that we once thought were out there, we now know, were projected out of ourselves. They are the products of our human imagination seeking to interpret, one way or another, the mysteries of the universe.... [share]
We must not understand apocalypse literally, not as some physical destruction and judgment of the world, or as something that is going to occur in the future. The kingdom is here; it does not come through expectation. One looks at the world and sees the radiance. The Easter revelation is right there. [share]
Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies. [share]
Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon, but to our ignorance and complacency coming to an end. [share]
Mythology may, in a real sense, be defined as other people's religion. And religion may, in a real sense, be understood as a popular misunderstanding of mythology. [share]
It is inevitable that children should be taught in purely concrete terms. But then the child grows up and realizes who Santa Claus is. He is really Daddy. So, too, we must grow in the same way in learning about God, and the institutional churches must grow in presenting the message of the symbols to adults. [share]
People feel panicky at the thought that we might all have something in common, that they are giving up some exclusive hold on the truth. It is something like discovering that you are a Frenchman and a human being at the same time. That is exactly the challenge that the great religions face in the Space Age. [share]

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