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Myths of Light

Myths of Light

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Published by New World Library
Master mythologist Joseph Campbell had a genius for finding the unifying symbols and metaphors in apparently distinct cultures and traditions. In Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal, Campbell explores, with his characteristic clarity and humor, the principle that underlies all the great religions of India and East Asia, from Jainism and Hinduism to Buddhism and Taoism: the transcendent World Soul.

Joseph Campbell began his comparative study of the world’s religions with a chance meeting with the renowned Indian theosophist Jeddu Krishnamurti on a trans-Atlantic steamer. Though Campbell was deeply fascinated by mythologies and religions from every continent, Asia’s potent mix of theologies captured his imagination more than any other, and offered him paths to understanding the essence of myth.

In Myths of Light, Campbell explores the core philosophies and mythologies of the East, comparing them through vivid examples and stories to each other and to those of the West. A worthy companion to Thou Art That and to Campbell’s Asian Journals, this volume conveys complex insights through warm, accessible storytelling, revealing the intricacies and secrets of his subject with his typical enthusiasm.
Master mythologist Joseph Campbell had a genius for finding the unifying symbols and metaphors in apparently distinct cultures and traditions. In Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal, Campbell explores, with his characteristic clarity and humor, the principle that underlies all the great religions of India and East Asia, from Jainism and Hinduism to Buddhism and Taoism: the transcendent World Soul.

Joseph Campbell began his comparative study of the world’s religions with a chance meeting with the renowned Indian theosophist Jeddu Krishnamurti on a trans-Atlantic steamer. Though Campbell was deeply fascinated by mythologies and religions from every continent, Asia’s potent mix of theologies captured his imagination more than any other, and offered him paths to understanding the essence of myth.

In Myths of Light, Campbell explores the core philosophies and mythologies of the East, comparing them through vivid examples and stories to each other and to those of the West. A worthy companion to Thou Art That and to Campbell’s Asian Journals, this volume conveys complex insights through warm, accessible storytelling, revealing the intricacies and secrets of his subject with his typical enthusiasm.

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Published by: New World Library on Mar 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/06/2014

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Myths do not belong, properly, to the rational mind. Rather, they bubbleup from deep in the wells of what Carl Jung called the collective uncon-scious.
I think what happens in our mythology here in the West is that themythological archetypal symbols have come to be interpreted as facts. Jesus
was 
born of a virgin. Jesus
was 
resurrected from the dead. Jesus
went 
toheaven by ascension. Unfortunately, in our age of scientific skepticism weknow these things did not actually happen, and so the mythic forms arecalled falsehoods. The word
myth 
now means falsehood, and so we havelost the symbols and that mysterious world of which they speak. But weneed the symbols, and so they come up in disturbed dreams and night-mares that are then dealt with by psychiatrists. It was Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Jacob Adler who realized that the figures of dreams are really fig-ures of personal mythologization. You create your own imagery related tothe archetypes. At present, our culture has rejected this world of symbology. It hasgone into an economic and political phase, where spiritual principles arecompletely disregarded. You may have practical ethics and that kind of thing, but there is no spirituality in any aspect of our contemporary 
introduction
The Humbling of Indra 
xvii
 
 Western civilization. Our religious life is ethical, not mystical. The mystery has gone and society is disintegrating as a result.The question is whether or not there can ever be a recovery of themythological, mystical realization of the miracle of life of which humanbeings are a manifestation. We take the Old Testament God to be a fact, not a symbol. The Holy Land is a specific place and no other, man is superior to the beasts, and na-ture has fallen. With the Fall in the Garden of Eden, nature becomes a cor-rupt force, so we do not give ourselves to nature as Chief Seattle did.
 Wewill correct nature. We develop ideas of good and evil in nature, and we aresupposed to be on the side of the good, which creates an obvious tension. We don’t yield to nature. The term
nature religions 
has become the objectof rejection and abuse. But what else are you going to worship? Some fig-ment of your imagination that you have put up in the clouds? A strangething has happened. It is so extreme that if you don’t believe in a figure,you don’t have any worship. Now everything is lost!In the Puritan period we had the rejection of the whole iconography of the Christian myth and of the rituals by which it was delivered to yoursoul. The whole thing was rendered simply as a rational performance of bringing people of goodwill together, particularly those in that particularchurch. But even that has been torn apart bit by bit. What do we read? We read newspapers concerned with wars, murders,rapes, politicians, and athletes, and that’s about it. This is the reading thatpeople used to devote to worship, to legends of deities who represent thefounding figures of their lives and religion. People today are hunting around for something they have lost. Some of them know that they’rehunting. The ones who don’t are having a really hard time.Now I will tell you a little story. I have only a tiny television set, thesize of a postcard, which I bought many years ago when I was on TV andwanted to see myself.
 After that I never watched it much, but when theMoon shots started, I spent day after day glued to the screen, just watch-ing them. One of the thrilling moments for me was when the astronautswere on the way back and Houston ground control asked them, “Who isnavigating now?” The reply that came back was, “Newton.”I immediately thought of Kant’s “Transcendental Aesthetic,” the first
 Myths of Light 
xviii

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