If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. ~ Joseph Campbell
I recently borrowed Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth from the library. It is an excellent six part television documentary that was originally broadcast on PBS in 1988. I wanted to discover, challenge, think about, recreate my belief system.
The first thing that I would say about the program is that there is so much depth to the dialogue he has with Bill Moyer. Topics and thoughts that had my head spinning, my mind racing. I felt that when Campbell stated some of his more challenging or difficult viewpoints I would convince myself that I understood. But, I’m also of the viewpoint that if I think I understand something, that I get it, than I probably don’t. It was an enlightening experience and a great catalyst for thinking about belief systems.
I am going to write about a few of the topics that really resonated with me. The first was when he was talking about the source of life. Well what is it? No one knows. And he thinks that it is important to live life with a knowledge of it’s mystery and your own mystery. He mentioned that a lot of people in therapy, when they find out what it is ticking in them they get straightened out. They become more balanced and live with less anxiety.
Second, he talks a bit about dragons in mythology. When Moyer tries to relate that to a persons life Campbell states that the real dragon is in you, it is your ego. Your ego is what you want, what you believe, what you can do, what you think you love and all that. The aim of your life. The issue is that it might be too small, it pins you down. If it is simply that which what your environment tells you what to do than it certainly is pinning you down and your environment is then your dragon. Moyer then asks how do you slay that dragon in yourself, what is the journey you have to make. The general formula? Follow your bliss. If you are doing what you want to do because you choose to do it and you are happy to do it that’s fine, do what you want then. There is no dragon to slay. But, if you think I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that than you are not following your bliss. I think that is simple enough to follow; that is what is so beautiful about it.
Third was about nirvana. Nirvana is a psychological state of mind, it is here in the middle of turmoil. It’s the condition that comes when you’re not compelled by desire or by fear or by social commitments. Where you hold your center and act out of there. No one can tell you how to do that, it can’t be taught. This is something that I would like to explore more. Do I have to become Buddhist to achieve nirvana or can anyone achieve it? I think anyone could strive for it and the ideals outside of the formal path that Buddhists take.
Fourth, was about the whole planet as an organism. The idea that I came out of the earth. I am the earth. I am the consciousness of the earth. My eyes are the eyes of the earth and my voice is the voice of the earth. I love this way of thinking, it makes me feel a lot more connected to the world and everything in it. I never believed in a god or a personal god, I always thought that the earth was my god as it gives me life by the sun, the water, the air and the food it provides. I also have always believed that I am just a consciousness and that my body is a medium for that. Eventually my body will have served its purpose and my consciousness will be free to inhabit another transport.
Fifth, Campbell said that it’s important to have a sacred place. Whether it’s a place or an hour in the day where you don’t know about any news, or people or tasks or what you owe people. It’s a time to bring forth what you are and what you might be. Creative incubation. At first nothing might happen there. If you have a sacred place and use it and take advantage of it something will happen. Most of our action is economically or socially determined, it does not come out of our life. What is it I’m intended to do? I’m always doing something required of me. Where is my bliss station?
Lastly, God. He who thinks he knows doesn’t know. He who knows that he doesn’t know knows.
A great story Campbell told about a priest he met at a gym. The priest sat down next to him and it went like this:
priest: are you a priest?
priest: are you a catholic?
Campbell: i was, father.
priest: do you believe in a personal god?
Campbell: no, father.
priest: Well, I suppose there is no way to prove by logic the existence of a personal god.
Campbell: if there were father, what would be the value of faith?
priest: nice to meet you.
And the priest hurriedly walks off.