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A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

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Celebrated scholar Joseph Campbell shares his intimate and inspiring reflections on the art of living in this beautifully packaged book, part of a new series to be based on his unpublished writings.


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Celebrated scholar Joseph Campbell shares his intimate and inspiring reflections on the art of living in this beautifully packaged book, part of a new series to be based on his unpublished writings.

30 review for A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Mridula

    What shall I say about Joseph Campbell? I consider him my spiritual guru. He was the one who gave a proper direction to my creative side, my right-brain, when it was wandering lost in the forest. His outlook on myth and the human psyche has informed my viewpoints ever since I discovered him in my early twenties. But of late, I have been disturbed - because I found myself more and more in disagreement with Joe, and I didn't like it at all! But deep down, I felt that this disagreement was somehow e What shall I say about Joseph Campbell? I consider him my spiritual guru. He was the one who gave a proper direction to my creative side, my right-brain, when it was wandering lost in the forest. His outlook on myth and the human psyche has informed my viewpoints ever since I discovered him in my early twenties. But of late, I have been disturbed - because I found myself more and more in disagreement with Joe, and I didn't like it at all! But deep down, I felt that this disagreement was somehow essential to our relationship. Then came the pandemic and the lockdown, and all of us were left with a chance to reassess our life - and I suddenly found myself writing again. In the terms of Campbell's Hero Journey, I had finally "heeded the call to adventure". I was "following my bliss". Then, a fortnight back, I was diagnosed with hernia and needed a surgery. This made my withdrawal even more acute. In a world going to hell on a handcart, I needed some spiritual solace, and I came back to Joe. From across the gulf of years, my guru told me: "When we talk about settling the world's problems, we're barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It's a mess. It has always been a mess. We're not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives." No, he is not advocating callous indifference - he is just telling us the only way to set the world right is to take that journey inward and find our own still centre, the place of Nirvana, where the Buddhahood awaits each and every one of us. This book is a collection of his essential thoughts from across many books and lectures. For anyone not familiar with the person, it is good introduction. For a Campbell aficionado, it something to be dipped into at leisure, reading a bit here, a bit there. And the biggest takeaway was - though I now disagreed with a lot of what he said, the creative flame lit in my mind was still by him. He was still my guru, because it is not the function of the teacher to pour things into the student, but draw his essence out. "From the darkness of ignorance, With the lodestone of truth, He who has opened my eyes: To him, my guru, I bow." Joe says - "Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world." Yes. I suddenly realised that over the years, I had lost the joy. Now to bring it back!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    QUOTE: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.” [p. 298]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Campbell is the first voice I've heard that reconciles what I've been taught about God (religion) and what I feel about God (spirituality). Campbell and his views are a revelation to me that made me feel both justified for my doubts, and confident in where I'm going with my relationship with God. And on top of that, a lot of the typcial guilt associated with not being a by-the-book Catholic disspated. This collection of Joe Campbell writings, quotes and lectures is a bit chaotic and disorganized. Campbell is the first voice I've heard that reconciles what I've been taught about God (religion) and what I feel about God (spirituality). Campbell and his views are a revelation to me that made me feel both justified for my doubts, and confident in where I'm going with my relationship with God. And on top of that, a lot of the typcial guilt associated with not being a by-the-book Catholic disspated. This collection of Joe Campbell writings, quotes and lectures is a bit chaotic and disorganized. Inside his philosophical musings are poems by Whitman, speeches by famous Native American chiefs, gospel passages, the Gospel of Thomas, and small rants. However, this mural of wisdom seems to lend to the man's train of thought and instead of being frustrating show a glimpse into the mechanics of his mind. And most amazingly, he pulls a common thread from amongst all those voices. I'm a fan of this era of writing, so was not suprised to hear that Campbell and Steinbeck (my all-time favorite) were friendly and shared many deep conversations about God, women/relationships, struggle, art and life. While Campbell is certainly no Steinbeck when it comes to building words on a page, he has a wonderful soul coupled with an incredible mind. A must-read if you feel a rift between what your church/temple preaches as dogma and what you are feeling in your heart: "Life has no meaning. We have meaning and we bring it to life." J.C.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    After reading two of his books already, I am sad that I did not start reading them so much earlier in my life. I have used what I have learned so far to go through a Vision Quest of who I am and where I am going and who and what I want in my life. I now have a much clearer picture of who I really am and it has been through a great deal of pain and sacrifice that I am coming out on the other side knowing what I want to truly fight for and how the studies of Myths would have shown me a better path After reading two of his books already, I am sad that I did not start reading them so much earlier in my life. I have used what I have learned so far to go through a Vision Quest of who I am and where I am going and who and what I want in my life. I now have a much clearer picture of who I really am and it has been through a great deal of pain and sacrifice that I am coming out on the other side knowing what I want to truly fight for and how the studies of Myths would have shown me a better path then what I had taken. I wish Joseph Campbell were alive today so I could thank him for showing me that things like Love are worth fighting for, even when Everyone tells you to give up and walk away. His understandings about how if you really look at the clues that are presented to you, the right path is much easier to walk. I have collected several more of Joseph Campbell's books and will continue to read and even re-read them as I feel they are a great source of enlightenment. I cannot give a stronger review then to say that reading his work is being aligned with true genius and you will close the end of the book a better person for reading it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Darth TJ

    Ugh. This book. I love Joseph Campbell. I want to be Joseph Campbell when I grow up. This book is amazing, but I fear the majority of people won't get it, as they are too caught up in the material, competitive Western complex to really let it resonate within them, down to their subconscious where their brain can start to grasp at it, embrace it. Even in saying that, I am sure some people will grow annoyed at me or label me pretentious, but it's true. All we care about is how we appear, all we nu Ugh. This book. I love Joseph Campbell. I want to be Joseph Campbell when I grow up. This book is amazing, but I fear the majority of people won't get it, as they are too caught up in the material, competitive Western complex to really let it resonate within them, down to their subconscious where their brain can start to grasp at it, embrace it. Even in saying that, I am sure some people will grow annoyed at me or label me pretentious, but it's true. All we care about is how we appear, all we nurture is our ego. At least, most of us do. I'm sure the rinpoche's up in the Himalayas don't give a damn what anyone thinks of them. Ego death isn't for everyone. There are so many things I can write about this book, so many things, but all I will say is that though Joseph Campbell, along with many other authors and video game developers, helped make me who I am, Campbell taught me how to be, how to relate to the world around me. In making folklore, both ancient and modern, more palatable for the lay person, Campbell has combined philosophy with gospel-like archetypes and created truths that are more akin capital T Truth than any other writer I know of. I know, I know, even I was told time and time again by multiple advisers and professors that capital T Truth doesn't exist, but a part of me thinks it does, and Campbell has found it hidden away in the stories we tell ourselves. Campbell has many points. Most people don't want to renounce all worldly goods and live a life of simplicity. And I mean true simplicity, a shire-like existence. Most people would definitely sell out their morals and truths for a little bit of cash and fame, making art they don't want to, promoting things they don't even like or need. Most people are constantly Otherizing, competing, one upping, starting pissing contests. They live in the scarcity mindset: me vs them. The majority of the human race lives against nature, trying to control it rather than letting it be, learning for it. This book has once again shown me that one of the things I despise most about the Western scarcity mindset is competition. I hate it. Sure, I've played literally hundred of hours in competitive online shooters and mmorpgs, but those are games. I'm talking about people being competitive in life for no reason other this twisted belief we have created that says if you compete with someone and win (and winning is subjective, for some people it's gaining attention, others accolades) than you are better than said other person. What utter crap. You are no better than the child slave who made the phone you now use to check how many followers you have on youtube or pinterest or to read this review. No. I refuse to believe that competition is a good thing anymore in our society. We need to evolve past thinking that competition is healthy. What's really healthy is supporting others, having compassion. I'm probably getting into some dangerous territory here, so I will just say this. I'm realizing more and more that the main trait I look for in a person is humility, the ability to admit fault and apologize. This book helped identify why that is as well as solidify it as the number one trait that indicates a good, honest person. And you know what, people like that are few and far between. But everyone sure is good at wearing that mask of humility and understanding, at faking it, when they are actually too afraid to be up front. Passivity is the new norm. I know too many people who would read reviews on goodreads, look at pictures on FB, or occasionally surf to tumblr and judge the ever living crap out of everyone they see. Base their entire opinion about that person on soundbites of their life. Not understanding that everything on the internet is fake. Not understanding that every person is a multifaceted gem that only shines with certain kinds of light. I fear the way our society is heading. I despise that everyone has this fake, ridiculous persona online and a different mask for every person they see offline. That these fake people change their personality based on the people around them, feigning interest in something they claimed to hate just for a little bit of attention and ego stroking. I hate this constant judgement and fear of being judged. I am sick of hiding my education, my interests, and my passion just so others can feel comfortable with themselves. I am tired of keeping secret the fact I write and I love to write because people immediately label writers as egotistical and inane. Am I stupid to think that for humans to evolve, truly evolve, into a space faring race we either need a common enemy we can all rally against or,more difficultly, be kind, compassionate, empathetic? Well, in studying Joseph Campbell I have learned that there are two types of people: those who want progress and those who want validation from others. The latter truly holds us back as a species. Ugh, I would write more, and edit, but I am late. So it goes. And with that I think I will do to my goodreads what I did to my FB, and delete it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sage

    Absolutely perfect for when you are going through a big transition in your life. It eases your nerves and puts things in perspective. You don't have to be all stressed out about making the right decision, just follow your bliss, participate in the joyful sorrows of the world, and everything you want or need will come to you. Absolutely perfect for when you are going through a big transition in your life. It eases your nerves and puts things in perspective. You don't have to be all stressed out about making the right decision, just follow your bliss, participate in the joyful sorrows of the world, and everything you want or need will come to you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Sadorus

    This book changed my life. Joseph Campbell has a gift for de-mystifying the hidden meanings in mythological stories. I would kill for another book like this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    As a fan of Joseph Campbell's writings I was excited to see a book titled "A Joseph Campbell Companion", especially prefixed by the words "Reflections on the Art of Living". It sounded like something right up my alley. How could you possibly go wrong with a title like that? The short answer is that this book is not organized in a helpful way. I was expecting something akin to Anne Charter's "Portable Beat Reader" where each section is well organized and documented and each entry is titled and da As a fan of Joseph Campbell's writings I was excited to see a book titled "A Joseph Campbell Companion", especially prefixed by the words "Reflections on the Art of Living". It sounded like something right up my alley. How could you possibly go wrong with a title like that? The short answer is that this book is not organized in a helpful way. I was expecting something akin to Anne Charter's "Portable Beat Reader" where each section is well organized and documented and each entry is titled and dated so you know where it came from -much like an encyclopedia. Instead what you get is a long series of sound bites and miscellaneous quotes that you have to look up in the reference pages in the rear of the book for clues as to how to put things into any sort of context. Although much of the writing is superb, it is often hard to tell where passage starts or stops. The result makes me think of the sort of book that's good for the bathroom. You can pick it up and read a random passage and get something out of it, but reading it from front to back is often frustrating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This book was given to me by the dearest of friends and I am so grateful for its significance it has in my life. “The goal of the hero trip down to the jewel point is to find those levels in the psyche that open, open, open, and finally open to the mystery of your Self being Buddha consciousness or the Christ. That's the journey.” Campbell illuminates Christian/Buddhist/Hindu myths in a way that makes so much sense in terms of life, the journey, and spirituality. His motifs of the inner journey and the on This book was given to me by the dearest of friends and I am so grateful for its significance it has in my life. “The goal of the hero trip down to the jewel point is to find those levels in the psyche that open, open, open, and finally open to the mystery of your Self being Buddha consciousness or the Christ. That's the journey.” Campbell illuminates Christian/Buddhist/Hindu myths in a way that makes so much sense in terms of life, the journey, and spirituality. His motifs of the inner journey and the oneness of all things really spoke to me, and though I am constantly encountering these themes in the wisdom I pursue, there's something about the way Campbell writes that makes them even more tangible and striking. That's my ultimate takeaway: I am so struck at the truths that Campbell reveals again and again. This book is extremely important.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

    Joseph Campbell's books (the power of myth, hero of a thousand faces, the champion) got me through a couple of dark periods in my life. Opened my eyes to things I had already thought to be true and at times felt he was talking directly to me through his books. Crazy, I know!! To this day, when something is bothering me and I can't shake it, I pick up one of the 3 listed above and open to any page and randomly pick a spot and starting reading. Within a few pages my mind is at ease and somehow my Joseph Campbell's books (the power of myth, hero of a thousand faces, the champion) got me through a couple of dark periods in my life. Opened my eyes to things I had already thought to be true and at times felt he was talking directly to me through his books. Crazy, I know!! To this day, when something is bothering me and I can't shake it, I pick up one of the 3 listed above and open to any page and randomly pick a spot and starting reading. Within a few pages my mind is at ease and somehow my questions get answered. If you are in a zen like mindset and looking for answers within yourself, here's a good start.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    5th read: A book meant for becoming. As Rilke would say, a book to help you live in widening rings. -- "You've got to use the advantages that you have cultivated. As you go from threshold to threshold, it must be the same you that makes the jump. You don't go down again, you start from where you are. From that, more and more will blossom." (Joseph Campbell) Each time I reread this book the layers open further and further. I can think of no higher praise. -- "The return is seeing the radiance everywher 5th read: A book meant for becoming. As Rilke would say, a book to help you live in widening rings. -- "You've got to use the advantages that you have cultivated. As you go from threshold to threshold, it must be the same you that makes the jump. You don't go down again, you start from where you are. From that, more and more will blossom." (Joseph Campbell) Each time I reread this book the layers open further and further. I can think of no higher praise. -- "The return is seeing the radiance everywhere." (Joseph Campbell) This is the third time I've read this book in the last year and a half, and each time I finish it, I want to dive back in. -- An incredible book. This is Joseph Campbell as spirit guide -- even more so than the previous Campbell books I've enjoyed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    This might be a great starting point for reading Campbell. His writing can be very dense, but this presents his big ideas in wonderful and bite-sized chunks.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

    “So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfillment of the potentialites of the energies in your own system.” “People say that what we are seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.” “Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure.” ~ Joseph Campbell from A Joseph Campbell Companion Joseph Campbell is awesome. He sits in the grandpa slot in my spiritual family tree and he’s one of t “So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfillment of the potentialites of the energies in your own system.” “People say that what we are seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.” “Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure.” ~ Joseph Campbell from A Joseph Campbell Companion Joseph Campbell is awesome. He sits in the grandpa slot in my spiritual family tree and he’s one of the few authors on whom I’ve written three Notes (check out the other Notes on Pathways to Bliss and The Power of Myth). If you’ve seen the Bill Moyers PBS series, The Power of Myth, you know how incredible Campbell is—the glow in his 80+ year old eyes… the giddiness with which he talked about the spiritual truths. Simply amazing. Alright. I can get all misty-eyed and ramble, but let’s just jump in and celebrate the man who brought us “the hero’s journey” and the wise, wise words: “Follow your bliss.” I’ll share a bunch of Big Ideas with you here: Follow Your Bliss - Three very big words. Excitement - Have fun not knowing. Phone Call from God - Answer it. Hero’s Forest - Enter it. Shedding Skin - Shed your skin! Or perish. Time to light our hair on fire, my friend. Let’s have some fun with this one precious life of ours. To our hero’s journey. Here's my video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHnuE... And click here to find 250+ more of my reviews: http://bit.ly/BrianReviews Brian

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vache

    Rarely does one come across a book as important as this one. A Joseph Campbell Companion is the perfect book to live by. I chose this book because it was recommended to me by my uncle. I am extremely glad that I read it. This book provided answers to all questions I had about life. It put me on the right track on the way to finding my place in the world. I found myself underlining and taking notes on almost every page because Campbell is so insightful. Although almost every line in this book is Rarely does one come across a book as important as this one. A Joseph Campbell Companion is the perfect book to live by. I chose this book because it was recommended to me by my uncle. I am extremely glad that I read it. This book provided answers to all questions I had about life. It put me on the right track on the way to finding my place in the world. I found myself underlining and taking notes on almost every page because Campbell is so insightful. Although almost every line in this book is genius, I must pick only one. "Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning. Love is a friendship set to music." This quote reveals so much truth in such little words. I love how Campbell is able to explain such big ideas in very few words and make these complex ideas easy to understand. The way which Campbell writes is genius. It is pure genius. I have not read anything this truthfully magnificent in an extremely long time. I am very glad I read it. This is the kind of book that I will always keep coming back to later in life, when I actually have real problems. This is the kind of book that will guide me through hardships in life. I wish I could recommend this book to everyone, but many stupid people out there will read this book and finish it thinking why I wasted their time with such a pointless book. Close-minded people will not appreciate the true genius of this book. I recommend this book to anyone who is trying to make something of their lives, but is struggling in doing so.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danna

    In 1984, Joseph Campbell and ten students gathered for thirty days in Big Sur, California at the Esalen Institute to immerse themselves in an intensive exploration of the "mythological dimension". Poet Diane Osbon was one of those students, and as a result of that experience she was inspired to write this book. It's a collection of quotations, excerpts, and her own musings, rather loosely strung together in a stream-of-consciousness manner; more of a diary of random thoughts than a narrative or In 1984, Joseph Campbell and ten students gathered for thirty days in Big Sur, California at the Esalen Institute to immerse themselves in an intensive exploration of the "mythological dimension". Poet Diane Osbon was one of those students, and as a result of that experience she was inspired to write this book. It's a collection of quotations, excerpts, and her own musings, rather loosely strung together in a stream-of-consciousness manner; more of a diary of random thoughts than a narrative or informational text. I found reading the whole thing in large chunks a bit tedious; it is most enjoyable as something to pick up, browse a bit, find a specific idea that captures your fancy, then put it down and ponder that idea for a few days.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    Joseph Campbell's Art of Living book is quite similar to his Myths to Live By. I liked Myths to Live By better, though. If Campbell's writings were jazz, Myths to Live By would be traditional but Art of Living would be acid. My feelings otherwise are the same for this book as Myths to Live By. Basically, Campbell advocates a kind of religious ideal that blends certain universal features from other world religions and belief systems, with the heaviest blends being from Buddhism and what looks lik Joseph Campbell's Art of Living book is quite similar to his Myths to Live By. I liked Myths to Live By better, though. If Campbell's writings were jazz, Myths to Live By would be traditional but Art of Living would be acid. My feelings otherwise are the same for this book as Myths to Live By. Basically, Campbell advocates a kind of religious ideal that blends certain universal features from other world religions and belief systems, with the heaviest blends being from Buddhism and what looks like Jungian psychoanalytic theory about archetypes. If you are going to read any work by Campbell, I'd recommend Myths to Live By instead just because it makes a better case for Campbell's blends.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    This is a fantastic view of Joseph Campbell in how he integrated his experience in mythology with building his own personal life. It's more than an autobiography and more than a self-help book, it's his journey and there are lessons that can be found by reading it. Finding a way to put aside the "Thou Shalt"'s is something I can use in my own life; especially in today's world where it can seem that one aspect of life takes over every other element. This is a book I will read again and again. This is a fantastic view of Joseph Campbell in how he integrated his experience in mythology with building his own personal life. It's more than an autobiography and more than a self-help book, it's his journey and there are lessons that can be found by reading it. Finding a way to put aside the "Thou Shalt"'s is something I can use in my own life; especially in today's world where it can seem that one aspect of life takes over every other element. This is a book I will read again and again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    A selection of 2 to 3 page excerpts from Joseph Campbell's lectures. Super good. He has a way of looking at tired old worn out concepts in fresh ways that really suck me in. This is a pretty good intro to Joe Campbell. If you take myths and religions as the symbols and psychological archetypes that they are, you can transcend them. If you take them literally, there you will stay as a slave to the rules. "Ideals are dangerous. Don't take them seriously. You can get by on a few." A selection of 2 to 3 page excerpts from Joseph Campbell's lectures. Super good. He has a way of looking at tired old worn out concepts in fresh ways that really suck me in. This is a pretty good intro to Joe Campbell. If you take myths and religions as the symbols and psychological archetypes that they are, you can transcend them. If you take them literally, there you will stay as a slave to the rules. "Ideals are dangerous. Don't take them seriously. You can get by on a few."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barak

    As I tend to discuss forbidden subjects such as politics and religion with people, a friend at work highly recommended me Campbell's writings on the latter. I guess myth, mythologies, fortune cookies and Bazooka Joes were never my strong suit, and I found this book to be somewhat boring; needless to say I was not spiritually inspired as I guess I was meant to. As I tend to discuss forbidden subjects such as politics and religion with people, a friend at work highly recommended me Campbell's writings on the latter. I guess myth, mythologies, fortune cookies and Bazooka Joes were never my strong suit, and I found this book to be somewhat boring; needless to say I was not spiritually inspired as I guess I was meant to.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adam Fleming

    Is it fair to rate a book you haven't finished? I found it jumbled and disjointed. I got just far enough to find out that Campbell hung around with Steinbeck. Not sure it makes much difference. I couldn't get into this guy's guru-ship or whatever you call it. Is it fair to rate a book you haven't finished? I found it jumbled and disjointed. I got just far enough to find out that Campbell hung around with Steinbeck. Not sure it makes much difference. I couldn't get into this guy's guru-ship or whatever you call it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rjb

    My Bible. A collection of the insight and wisdom of Joseph Campbell edited by a poet. What could be better?!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    To me, this one deserves six stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophia de Reeder

    I don’t consider myself spiritual or religious in any sense of the word, but this is the closest I’ll get. The quotes in this book are like testaments and proverbs that speak to the linking forces between artists, specifically writers, and for that reason I somewhat consider it my writing Bible when it comes to structuring my stories and how I view my pieces as a whole. I think all fiction writers need to read Joseph Campbell.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This books is a collection pulled from Campbell's unpublished writings and talks. As usual, he manages to find relevance in nearly all major religious traditions and offers a lot of good advice for living joyfully in a sorrowful world. The structure of the book doesn't really have an overarching topic, but is just kind of chunked out into different musings on major life stages, art, and finding meaning. It makes it easy to pick up, read a little, and reflect -- I'd imagine not unlike reading a B This books is a collection pulled from Campbell's unpublished writings and talks. As usual, he manages to find relevance in nearly all major religious traditions and offers a lot of good advice for living joyfully in a sorrowful world. The structure of the book doesn't really have an overarching topic, but is just kind of chunked out into different musings on major life stages, art, and finding meaning. It makes it easy to pick up, read a little, and reflect -- I'd imagine not unlike reading a Bible or other religious text.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Serin Silva

    Loved this book. Aligns to my personal philosophy and way of being. If you're a fan of Campbell, pick this up;-) Loved this book. Aligns to my personal philosophy and way of being. If you're a fan of Campbell, pick this up;-)

  26. 5 out of 5

    SJ Loria

    Reflections on the Art of Living “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world” Some of his ideas on gender roles didn’t quite age well, but aside from that simple point, this book is fascinating and resonates spiritually. I never got into any Campbell aside from Power of Myth until this book. It may seem a bit funny to combine Nietzsche and spirituality, but that’s mainly because Nietzsche is presented as an evil postcard, not at all the right idea or reflection of him. His three stages of Reflections on the Art of Living “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world” Some of his ideas on gender roles didn’t quite age well, but aside from that simple point, this book is fascinating and resonates spiritually. I never got into any Campbell aside from Power of Myth until this book. It may seem a bit funny to combine Nietzsche and spirituality, but that’s mainly because Nietzsche is presented as an evil postcard, not at all the right idea or reflection of him. His three stages of life are something Campbell references frequently. First, you are a camel. Camels carry other people’s stuff and follow other people’s direction. Next, you are a lion battling a dragon called “Thou Shall.” That thou are the responsibilities and ideas of society. Finally, one can become a child. Attuned to the moment and playing with life. Campbell outline life from beginning to end borrowing a bit of Nietzsche, journey away from the cave, and a lot of comparative religion into a beautiful tapestry of meaning. I think he was enlightened, or a prophet, call it what you will, and very much appreciate his idea that life is not an intellectual puzzle to figure out but instead an experience that culminates in rapture. I suppose my question is, can the rapture of being alive be a permanent state of being? I feel moments when love pulsates, when I am you and you are me, sometimes in the entanglement of consciousness, while pausing in the state of nature, when coming across jewels along the road from art, music, or literature. Usually, those moments fade, and I will feel the pain of love lost, the suffering of life. Yes, if I was able to accept that and see God’s will and spiritually mold with another that would be the best route. Indeed, joyful participation in the sorrows of the world is a beautiful way to live. Hopefully that’s one or two more steps down the road. The allegory in Plato’s Symposium [I’m paraphrasing]. In the beginning, human beings had one head with two faces, and two bodies fused together. They were male-female, male-male, female-female. The gods realized these beings were too powerful, and split the unified being into two parts, the indivi-dual. We’re just running around looking for our other half. 32 If your intuition is a virtuous one, you’ll find the right him or her. 32 So, through the eyes love attains the heart; For the eyes are the scouts of the heart, And the eye go reconnoitering For what it would plead the heart to possess. And when they are all in full accord At that time, perfect love is born From what the eyes have made welcome to the heart. The eyes make it blossom; the heart matures it: Love, which is the fruit of their very seed. 36 Every commitment is a narrowing, and when that commitment fails, you have to get back to a larger base and have the strength to hold to it…whatever the hell happens, you say “this is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment – not discouragement – you will find that strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! When looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. 39 As Schopenhauer says, when you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. 63 The call is to leave a certain social situation, move into your own loneliness and find its jewel, the center that’s impossible to find when you’re socially engaged. You are thrown off center and when you feel off center, it’s time to go. This is the departure when the hero finds something has been lost and goes to find it. You are to cross the threshold into new life. 77 Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares, Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but lightly turns and leaps from one position to the other. 82 Sayng grace before meals lets you know you’re about to eat something that once was alive...[one Hindu groups of monks prayed as such] “Brahman is the cosmic, universal, life consciousness energy of which we are all manifestations. Brahman is the sacrifice. Brahman is the food that we are eating. Brahman is the sacrifice. Brahman is the ladle that carries the sacrifice to the fire. Brahman is the process of sacrifice. He who recognizes that all things are Brahman is on the way to realizing Brahman in himself.” 91 Just as each light bulb seen aloft is a vehicle of light, so each of us below is a vechile of consciousness. But the important thing about a bulb is the quality of its light. Likewise the important thing about each of us is the quality of his consciousness. An Aztec prayer to be said at the deathbed. “Dear Child! Thous hast passed through and survived the labors of this life. Now it hath pleased our Lord to carry thee away. For we do not enjoy this world for ever, only briefly, our life is like the warming of oneself in the sun. 100 The Sufis have a wonderful image connected with Chakra VI. This is the story told by Hallaj: One night a moth sees a lamp, a burning flame behind glass. It spends the whole night bumping against the glass, trying to become one with the flame. In the morning it returns to its friends and tells them of the beautiful thing it has seen. They say, “you don’t look too good.” This is the condition of the yogi trying to break through. So, it goes back the next night and somehow gets through. For an eternal instant it achieves its goal: it becomes the flame – tat tvam asi – thou art that. And so, here is the subject and here is the object – the Soul and God – between is a plane of glass. Remove the pane and there is neither subject nor object, because to have an object you have to have a subject. The final barrier to enlightenment is the barrier…the pane of glass is a way of speaking about the dividing factor. Beholding God – God with characteristics – is the final wisp of ignorance…”the ultimate leave-taking is leaving God for God.” -Eckhart 115 I was in India with a group of scientists, and if there’s one variety of the human species that is not susceptible to awe, this is it. 121 If you want to hear om just cover your ears. Ah – waking consciousness; ou – dream consciousness; and then, mmm.- the real of deep, dreamless sleep. Om is the sound of the radiance of God. That is the most mysterious and important thing to understand, but once you get the idea, it’s very simple…The secret to having a spiritual life as you move in the world is to hear om in all things all the time. If you do, everything is transformed. You no longer have to go anywhere to find your fulfilment and achievement and the treasure you seek. It is here. It is everywhere. 122 The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe to match your nature with Nature. 148 The font of life is the core of the individual, and within himself he will find it – if he can tear the coverings away…The Kingdom of God is within us, but we. Have this idea that the gods act from “out there.” 168 What did you do as a child that created timelessness that made you forget time? There lies the myth to live by. 181 Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara renounced his enlightenment until all beings without exception should be prepared to enter in before him. He who looks down on the world with mercy, frequently pictured as a male with two female figures called “Taras” personifications of the tears of mercy that flow from his eyes. 195 The rational mind creates opposites. Compassion and love go beyond pairs of opposites. 197 Though it is hidden in all things, the Self shines not forth. 241 Whoever drinks from my mouth shall become as I am and myself will become he, and the hidden things shall be revealed to him…I am the All, the All came forth from me and the All attained to me. Cleave a piece of wood, I am there; lift up the stone and you will find me there. 296

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Jacob

    Joseph Campbell has been a major revelation and a guru every since I first saw and heard him on the Bill Moyers special on Mythology. Campbell was a world famous scholar of mythology, but his works on mythology are not what you should read (unless you too are a mythologist). It is the wisdom that Campbell picked up as a mythologist that is what needs to be read. He wrote several “wisdom” books, but some of his best stuff was his verbal teachings, and the compilations of his sayings that abound i Joseph Campbell has been a major revelation and a guru every since I first saw and heard him on the Bill Moyers special on Mythology. Campbell was a world famous scholar of mythology, but his works on mythology are not what you should read (unless you too are a mythologist). It is the wisdom that Campbell picked up as a mythologist that is what needs to be read. He wrote several “wisdom” books, but some of his best stuff was his verbal teachings, and the compilations of his sayings that abound in several books. This one is my favorite. Follow your bliss! One of his most famous sayings–follow your heart, follow what makes you happy and what feels right for you. Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. Thats the way to say yes to life. Campbell used that exact phrase–that interestingly enough I wrote about Bonhoeffer in a review on this site just a short while ago. We can’t change the world. We can work to make it better certainly, but the main thing is to say yes to life and to live it, in spite of the sorrows, or perhaps even because of the sorrows! One section that pops out at me right now: Wandering time is positive. Don’t think of new things, don’t think of achievement, don’t think of anything of the kind. Just think, “where do I feel good? What is giving me joy? This is basic. Get those pressure ideas out of your system, and then you can find, like a ball on a roulette wheel, where you are going to land. the roulette ball doesn’t say, “well, people will think better of me over there.” Take what comes and be where you like. What counts is being where you feel like you’re in your place. What people think is their problem. So much more to say about Campbell. later

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    "Grandpa being as you studied mythology your whollle life... sit down and tell us what you think matters most in the living of it." All over the map... joyously broad... probably the closest you could get to having a very personal conversation with one of the foremost scholars of mythology. Campbell seems to have done more than merely study mythology in the cold clinical way I had always assumed... he "bought in" and drew deep life lessons from his studies that he applied to his own life. There "Grandpa being as you studied mythology your whollle life... sit down and tell us what you think matters most in the living of it." All over the map... joyously broad... probably the closest you could get to having a very personal conversation with one of the foremost scholars of mythology. Campbell seems to have done more than merely study mythology in the cold clinical way I had always assumed... he "bought in" and drew deep life lessons from his studies that he applied to his own life. There is no greater endorsement of a worldview than for the person holding that worldview to advise you in the same way that he advises himself. In particular his words on what constitutes art toward the end of the book are enough to highly recommend this book. Personal Note: I really appreciated the way the editor would occasionally typeset certain passages in a poetic form... it really made me consider those words extra carefully... also the passages done that way were well-chosen so I always felt a complete thought had been expressed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved the integration of Western, Eastern & Aboriginal philosophies. Having just finished a Bhuddist book, I felt like this book was stuck in the duality, and could not give it more than 4 stars. In terms of morality, duality is the second stage, and quite basic. There is right and wrong, but there is also grey. I was also stuck on the fact that Campbell placed so much emphasis on the differences between men and women. Women have life thrust upon them, and men must s I really enjoyed this book. I loved the integration of Western, Eastern & Aboriginal philosophies. Having just finished a Bhuddist book, I felt like this book was stuck in the duality, and could not give it more than 4 stars. In terms of morality, duality is the second stage, and quite basic. There is right and wrong, but there is also grey. I was also stuck on the fact that Campbell placed so much emphasis on the differences between men and women. Women have life thrust upon them, and men must seek it out. - sort of thing I think that we are all equal souls seeking enlightenment, and that we must reach past the duality to where all is equal. Looking at gender and language: Campbell is looking at the world through the lens of French - there are two genders. But if he switched lenses, to say German, he would see that there are three genders. What if the true hero must be gender neutral? He throws off his gender to reach the Grail.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I've read a number of books by Joseph Campbell, including some interview books (The Power of Myth, An Open Life). This is a good distillation of much of his thought (religion/myth as metaphor for the psychological/existential challenges of life). I like to read a few pages and then put it aside. There's certainly enough interesting ideas to ponder, such that I feel no need to try to finish a particular chapter or chunk in one sitting. The book mixes quotes from his writings (or others' writings) I've read a number of books by Joseph Campbell, including some interview books (The Power of Myth, An Open Life). This is a good distillation of much of his thought (religion/myth as metaphor for the psychological/existential challenges of life). I like to read a few pages and then put it aside. There's certainly enough interesting ideas to ponder, such that I feel no need to try to finish a particular chapter or chunk in one sitting. The book mixes quotes from his writings (or others' writings) with passages derived from a seminar he held near the end of his life, and arranges the material somewhat thematically.

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