excerpts taken from 'an open life'
joseph campbell in conversation with michael toms
you see, symbols are the vehicles of communication between conscious and unconscious systems. and when this connection is broken, people feel rootless. but it's all right here; all you have to do is turn in...
the trinity is another symbol that we see all over, isn't it?
well it comes from various forms and with various interpretations. the number three can be read in many ways, but the traditional western interpretation is father, son and holy ghost. the father is symbolic of, or the personification of, the ultimate divine. for the father to be known, there must be a knower. god can be known only by god, therefore the second person of the blessed trinity is the knower--the son. and when there is a knower and the known, there is a relationship between the two, and this is holy spirit. now this can be translated into sanskrit as sat-chit-ananda. sat meaning being--that's the father; chit is consciousness--this is the son knowing the father; ananda is rapture or bliss--that's the relationship of the father to the son. there's a precise counterpart there. this is a fascinating realization.
eternity is not a continuation of time. eternity is a dimension of here and now. and we have eternal life now. this is what is meant by "the kingdom of the father is spread over the earth and men do not see it." when one thinks of what happens after death, one is still thinking in temporal terms. so, when we're talking about symbolic systems, that is a misplaced concern. do you see? you've got to do something else with it; you've got to spiritualize the symbol.
my favorite definition of religion is "a misinterpretation of mythology." ...
so the apocalypse is something that's with us all the time ?
the moment you see this kingdom of the father spread over the earth, the apocalypse has occurred. its a perpetual potential, and it's also something in a person who has the experience, that shuts on and off. ...
why do you think we tend to a literal interpretation of christ in myth?
i think it's the result of a strong institutional emphasis in our religions in the west, and a fear of the mystical experience. in fact, the experience of the divine within you is regarded and blasphemy. i remember giving a lecture once on this problem of becoming transparent to transcendence, so that your life becomes a transparency through which light shines. i spoke of it as "the god in you, coming out through your life." a couple months later, i met a young woman at another talk who had happened to be present at the first one; and she told me that when i had said "the christ in you asks you to live," a priest sitting next to her had said, "thats blasphemy!" so, in institutional religion, all the spirit is our there somewhere, not in you.
but what's the meaning of the saying, "the kingdom of heaven is within you," if you can't say "it's within me"? then who's in heaven?
and, "i and the father are one"
all of that. jesus was crucified because he said, "i and the father are one." well, the ultimate mystical experience is of one's identity with the divine power. that's the sense of the Chandogya Upanishad saying which says "You are It." that divinity which you see outside, and which you first become aware of because you recognize it outside, is actually your inmost being.
in some sense, we create our own gods.
yes, that's exactly what we do. no matter what the name we give it, the God we have is the one we're capable of having. that's something people don't realize. simply because they're all saying the same name for God, that doesn't mean they have the same relationship to That, or the same concept of what It is. and the concept of god is only a foreground of the experience. well, there you are... as Meister Eckhart said in his sermon "On Riddance," the ultimate riddance, and the most difficult, is the getting rid of your god to go to God. Wow! that's the big adventure. that's what you have to strive for every minute of your life: to get rid of the life that you ave planned in order to have the life that's waiting to be yours. Move. Move. Move into the Transcendent. That's the whole sense of the adventure, I think.
Friday, March 05, 2010
recognizing where our true help comes from, and how readily it is granted, inspires us with the inner independence needed to find the right direction for our lives. this is true enthusiasm. meaning the continuous transformations that occur when a person relates correctly to the cosmos. this means relating from modesty, which leads a person to say the inner yes to the help coming from the invisible world, and the inner no to the ego in all its manifestations. transformation occurs without effort and meets no resistance because it takes place in the realm of the atom--the inner realm on consciousness. it cannot be achieved through leverage, force, mental contrivance, or through the intervention of an imagined all-powerful entity. Transformations are the result of the harmonious cooperation of the two aspects of the life force, the light and dark. true enthusiasm is the experience of the harmonious flow of chi energy.