Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Myth and Society

"Myth is not the same as history."
--Joseph Campbell

Writing in his book Pathways to Bliss, renowned Mythologist Joseph Campbell, makes note of several salient points applicable to modern thinkers. He states "myths are not inspiring stories of people who lived notable lives....Myth is transcendent; it goes beyond the visible, known world. Seen as true guides, myths are highly instructive to today's thinker. They not only act as a guide to the moon and the stars, but to the heart, to artists, and thinkers of all stripes. "In our society of fixed texts and printed words, it is the function of the poet to see the life value of the facts round about, and to deify them, as it were, to provide images that relate the everyday to the eternal."

While some manage their everyday existence without the benefit of images, others see this a necessity. To them, without myth, the world is a painful, flat, plane of sameness without the spark of image. Fire seeking ground, "we are all manifestations of mystic power," writes psychiatrist, Karlfried Durckheim. Shaped in our mother's womb, then, myth is a function of this mystic, powerful, life wisdom. Borne to us, alive within us, the symbols of eternal mankind pour into the fields of time and space. An energy that originates beyond the realm of powers of knowledge, of intellect, the energy of myth flows, bound within each of us--in this body, in this person.

In the modern, critical, scientific world, the mind, the power, the transcendent can become bound up in concept, temporal tasks, even to the extent that illness is the result. We are out of center, if we even knew it at first, and illness is sometimes the result. Blocked from this source, life-force, you are left with a final, factual world view. A view that doubts, that does not believe what it cannot now see, what it cannot now hear. Myths point to something beyond themselves; myth is not allegorical, rather it transcends the known to the unknown. It is the place of dreaming, the world of muse. "Make your god transparent to the transcendent, and it doesn't matter what his or her name is." When you have done so, you realize the inspiration of a god or goddess.

Myth means to live for all time, not in the name of material goods, achievement or status in the known world. In a fast moving, modern world, myth which thrives on a slower paced lifestyle is exchanged for everything moving fast, very fast. Technology propels forward, an ever increasing consumerism. It knows no bounds; swallowed up whole, we find ourselves without myth, the valuable guide of the collective wisdom throughout the ages. Writes Campbell interestingly, "Roman Catholic monks and Buddhist monks had[ve] no trouble understanding each other." They recognize the transcendent; that the best, most important thing can't be told. It must be experienced. Jesus, the Christ said that to find the Way, it is necessary to give up [material things] what you own and follow, because things, he knew, don't last.

Anthony Gittens, a monk of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, writes in his book, Come Follow Me, about this new, transcendent way which Jesus and others before him proposed:

The Jesus Society

Leave everything behind, take nothing for the journey; risk, trust onto other people, respect them, find acceptance, seek out community, say yes to the kingdom--

Jesus, the Christ, says in his society, there is a new way to live.

You show wisdom, by trusting people;
you handle leadership, by serving;
you handle offenders, by forgiving;
you handle money, by sharing;
you handle enemies, by loving;
and you handle violence, by suffering;

In fact, you have a new attitude toward everything,
toward everybody.

Because this is a Jesus society, and you repent,
not by feeling bad, but by thinking differently.
--written by Rudy Wiebe

No comments: