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Quotes by Joseph Campbell

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Joseph Campbell. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Joseph Campbell

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. Campbell's best-known work is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), in which he discusses his theory of the journey of the archetypal hero shared by world mythologies, termed the monomyth.

Since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell's theories have been applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists. His philosophy has been summarized by his own often repeated phrase: "Follow your bliss." He gained recognition in Hollywood when George Lucas credited Campbell's work as influencing his Star Wars saga.

Campbell's approach to folklore topics such as myth and his influence on popular culture has been the subject of criticism, including from folklorists, academics in folklore studies.

Find a place inside where there's joy and the joy will burn out the pain.

Your bliss can guide you to that transcendent mystery, because bliss is the welling up of the energy of the transcendent wisdom within you.

The job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.

Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up.

Longer Version:

Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat. Life lives on lives. Our own life lives on the acts of other people. If you are lifeworthy, you can take it.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.

What each must seek in his life was never on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience. Something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else.

For Shinto, at root, is a religion not of sermons but of awe: which is a sentiment that may or may not produce words, but in either case goes beyond them.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

Longer Version:

We must be willing to get rid of
the life we've planned, so as to have
the life that is waiting for us.

The old skin has to be shed
before the new one can come.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck.
When we hang onto any form,
we are in danger of putrefaction.

Hell is life drying up.

For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state,.

If you want to understand what's most important to a society, don't examine its art or literature, simply look at its biggest buildings.

Wisdom and foolishness are practically the same. Both are indifferent to the opinions of the world.

When we follow our bliss, we are met by a thousand unseen helping hands.

When I was in India I met and conversed briefly with Shri Atmananda Guru of Trivandrum, and the question he gave me to ponder was this: 'Where are you between two thoughts?

The myth is not my own; I have it from my mother. Euripides.

The object becomes aesthetically significant when it becomes metaphysically significant.

When an idea is important to a person or culture it will find its way into imagery.

Christianity isn't moving people's lives today. What's moving people's lives is the stock market and the baseball scores. What are people excited about? It's a totally materialistic level that has taken over the world. There isn't even an ideal that anybody's fighting for.

The myth does not point to a fact; the myth points beyond facts to something that informs the fact.

Heresy is the life of a mythology and orthodoxy is the death.

You become mature when you become the authority of your own life.

Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another.

The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul, and the great agent to assist the artist was the myth.

Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.

I think of mythology as the homeland of the muses, the inspirers of art, the inspirers of poetry. To see life as a poem and yourself participating in a poem is what the myth does for you.

They thought that it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group. Each entered the forest at a point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path. If there is a path it is someone else's path and you are not on the adventure.

Enlarge the pupil of the eye, so that the body with its attendant personality will no longer obstruct the view. Immortality is then experienced as a present fact.

The realms of the gods and demons -- heaven, purgatory, hell -- are of the substance of dreams. Myth, in this view, is the dream of the world.

Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss.

The myth is the public domain and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn't, you've got a long adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.

Money is congealed energy, and releasing it releases life's possibilities.

Myths are so intimately bound to culture, time, and place that unless the symbols, the metaphors, are kept alive by constant recreation through the arts, the life just slips away from them.

It is by means of our own victories, if we are not regenerated, that the work of Nemesis is wrought: doom breaks from the shell of our very virtue.

And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal --carries the cross of the redeemer-- not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

The function of ritual, as I understand it, is to give form to human life, not in the way of a mere surface arrangement, but in depth.

The senses are a kind of reason. Taste, touch and smell, hearing and seeing, are not merely a means to sensation, enjoyable or otherwise, but they are also a means to knowledge -- and are, indeed, your only actual means to knowledge.

We save the world by being alive ourselves.

If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.

Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that's what is threatening the world at this minute.

Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people's myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts -- but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message.

Our actual ultimate root is in our humanity, not in our personal genealogy.

Each of us has capacities. The real trick is knowing the machinery of the boat in which you are crossing the channel.

One can experience an unconditional affirmation of life only when one has accepted death, not as contrary to life, but as an aspect of it.

A woman is a vehicle of life. Life has overtaken her. Woman is what it is all about-the giving of birth and the giving of nourishment.

You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else's path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else's way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.

You can get a lot of work done if you stay with it and are excited and its play instead of work.

The Deadheads are doing the dance of life and this I would say is the answer to the atom bomb.

No tribal rite has yet been recorded which attempts to keep winter from descending; on the contrary: the rites all prepare the community to endure, together with the rest of nature, the season of the terrible cold.

There's something inside you that knows when you're in the center, that knows when you're on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you've lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don't get any money, you still have your bliss.

The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.

If you want to change the world, you have to change the metaphor.

Suddenly you hit on something that the student really responds to, you can see the eyes open and the complexion change. The life possibility has opened there. All you can say to yourself is, I hope this child hangs on to that.

The images of Myth are reflections of Spiritual and Depth potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating those we evoke those powers in our own lives to operate through ourselves.

In America we have people from all kinds of backgrounds, all in a cluster, together, and consequently law has become very important in this country. Lawyers and law are what hold us together. There is no ethos.

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life
seems most challenging. Negativism to the pain and ferocity of life is negativism to life. We are not there until we can say 'yea' to it all.

There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss.

If you see your path laid out in front of you -- Step one, Step two, Step three -- you only know one thing ... it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else's path. That is why you see it so clearly.

Life is but a mask worn on the face of death. And is death, then, but another mask? 'How many can say,' asks the Aztec poet, 'that there is, or is not, a truth beyond?'

Follow your blisters.

Longer Version:

I should have said, 'Follow your blisters.'

Without passion, men are not willing to pay any price or bear any burden to set the captives free.

The actual point in question, throughout the centuries of Christian persecution, has never been faith in God, but faith in the Bible as the word of God, and in the Church (this Church or that) as the interpreter of that word.

Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end.

Longer Version:

Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end. The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth--that is the world as we know it that must pass away. What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us.

Art is the clothing of a revelation.

How teach again, however, what has been taught correctly and incorrectly learned a thousand thousand times, throughout the millenniums of mankind's prudent folly? That is the hero's ultimate difficult task.

When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.

Questing... is not an ego trip; it is an adventure to bring into fulfillment your gift to the world, which is yourself.

Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement.

Not all who hesitate are lost.

It takes courage to do what you want. Other people have a lot of plans for you... Follow your bliss.

Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.

Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed.

The Garden is a metaphor for the following: our minds, and our thinking in terms of pairs of opposites -- man and woman, good and evil -- are as holy as that of a god.

Just as anyone who listens to the muse will hear, you can write out of your own intention or out of inspiration. There is such a thing. It comes up and talks. And those who have heard deeply the rhythms and hymns of the gods, can recite those hymns in such a way that the gods will be attracted.

The notion of this universe, its heavens, hells, and everything within it, as a great dream dreamed by a single being in which all the dream characters are dreaming too, has in India enchanted and shaped the entire civilization.

But the makers of legend have seldom rested content to regard the world's great heroes as mere human beings who broke past the horizons that limited their fellows and returned such boons as any man with equal faith and courage might have found.

Mythology tells us that where you stumble, there your treasure is ... The world is a match for us, and we're a match for the world. And where it seems most challenging lies the greatest invitation to find deeper and greater power in ourselves.

You don't have to believe that there was a King Arthur to get the significance of those stories, but Christians say we have to believe there was a Christ, or the miracles don't make sense.

The goal is to live with God like composure on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard, without being torn to pieces.

He must put aside his pride, his virtue, beauty and life and bow or submit to the absolutely intolerable.

At such moments, you realize that you and the other are, in fact, one. It's a big realization. Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one.

Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one.

Love your enemies, for they determine who you are.

It's characteristic of democracy that majority rule is understood as being effective not only in politics but also in thinking. In thinking, of course, the majority is always wrong.

How do you find the divine power in yourself? The word enthusiasm means 'filled with a god,' so what makes you enthusiastic? Follow it. So I have a little word: follow your bliss. The bliss is the message of God to yourself. That's where your life is.

You've got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on condition that it follow your rules.

You don't ask what a dance means. You enjoy it. You don't ask what the world means. You enjoy it. You don't ask what you mean. You enjoy it.

The priests used to say that faith can move mountains, and nobody believed them. Today the scientists say that they can level mountains, and nobody doubts them.

Don't do anything that isn't play.

Breaking out is following your bliss pattern, quitting the old place, starting your hero journey, following your bliss. You throw off yesterday as the snake sheds its skin.

The experience of Eternity right here and now, is the function of life.

Longer Version:

The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. Heaven is not the place to have the experience; here is the place to have the experience.

Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.

Eternity is not future or past. Eternity is a dimension of now.

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, 'Ah!

The Navajo have that wonderful image of what they call the pollen path. The Navajo say, 'Oh, beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me, beauty above me, beauty below me, I'm on the pollen path.'

There is no way you can use the word reality without quotation marks around it.

What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. A goal is what specifically you intend to make happen. Dreams and goals should be just out of your present reach but not out of sight. Dreams and goals are coming attractions in your life.

If you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.

At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred space and use it, eventually something will happen. Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again.

Any god who can invent hell is no candidate for the Salvation Army.

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