Top Ten Joseph Campbell Quotes

Finch
Joseph Campbell was the world's foremost authority on myths and their significance in everyday life. His work was unparalleled and led to a completely new way of thinking about society and religion.

Most people think mythology is simply Greek stories of Gods and Goddesses but classical mythology is only a very small part of the whole. From Native American stories of buffalo kings to rituals of cannibalism in Papua New Guinea, myths are the stories that shape our cultural understanding.

Cave paintings show the myths of our ancestors relating to the hunt while modern Catholic mass depicts an entirely different myth about leaving the temporal word and entering the spiritual. Most myths from a society have a parallel version originating elsewhere in the world which serves to show that the stories that shaped our civilization are universally needed and understood.

Joseph Campbell shined the light on the origins and meaning of mythology as it relates to our cultural past and future. Below are some of his best quotes about life, love, responsibility, and happiness.

The Top Ten

1 Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.

The introduction to this list highlights the lack of both precision and accuracy that permeates post-modern thought.

The author is conflating myth with legend, belief, and history.

MYTH describes stories or beliefs which are likely or demonstrably false.

LEGEND indicates a story which may or may not, but likely does, have a basis in historical fact. E.G.: folk tales.

HISTORY describes information regarding the past which is likely but not necessarily true.

BELIEF describes something held to be true, which may or may not be true, and in many cases, may be neither refutable nor provable.

FACT should require no explanation.

"Cave paintings show the myths of our ancestors relating to the hunt."

NOT myth, but history, perhaps legend and, if incorporating supernatural themes, belief.

"(M)odern Catholic mass depicts (a) myth about leaving the temporal world and entering the spiritual."

NOT myth, but ...more

Myth: a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

Truth doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. While one definition defines myth as a false belief or idea, as with many other words, it is defining "myth" used in a particular way and not as an axiom of the word.

Taking the scriptural stories literally (a 6 day creation or a 40 day flood of the earth, etc. ) serves to divide people who essentially believe the same things. When taken as a metaphor, religion unites and unifies - or can. - Finch

2 You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.

With all due respect, Mr. Finch, your rebuttal misrepresents your first post. One cannot "find a sense of (one's) own beliefs and nature" by "(losing) all sense of identity." And when "turning inward," should one expect to discover some distinctly different "identity" than one had assumed for a lifetime?
If so, one has been seriously self-deluded, and the odds of accepting one's newly discovered, effectively foreign identity would be poor, at best.

Whether it's classical meditation or practicing martial arts or a sport, everyone needs a time to lose all sense of identity and turn inward. - Finch

I just sit in my room doing nothing a lot. Because there's nothing else to do! - RiverClanRocks

3 Eternity has nothing to do with the hereafter... This is it... If you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. Heaven is not the place to have the experience; here's the place to

The Buddhists call it Nirvana, Christians call it Heaven, but no matter what name it gets called, rapture is a frame of mind. Find happiness in the life you lead and you will have found Heaven. There's nothing to wait for that you can't find right now. - Finch

Get real, Finch. You're grossly misrepresenting this Campbell quote.
He said what he said. Words have meanings. You're choosing, time and again, to torture interpretations from Campbell's words that defy credibility.
That's not scholarship, or even informed opinion.
It's transparent advocacy.

"Eternity has nothing to do with the hereafter...
This is it...If you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere."
Campbell is stating his opinion as fact.
"The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life."
And just how does one "experience eternity" in the " here and now? "
How does one "experience" infinite time in a finite existence?
Magic, perhaps?
Psychotropic drugs?
This is psychobabble, and unremarkable, at that.

All opinions are stated as facts - as that's what they are in the subjective. This movie is good, this book is bad... Obviously subjective statements but pretty much always stated as facts.

I think the idea is that many people tend to follow the "suffer now and I'll get my reward in the afterlife". Whether it's 72 virgins or being free from suffering, the concept is the same. If you aren't happy in life, by learning to deal with the struggle and seeing difficulties and opportunities, he feels there won't be a magic reset button when you die. This isn't a foreign concept within many major religions (Christianity included). Many religious doctrines preach that the nature of your life will determine the nature of your afterlife. - Finch

4 I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of a flower? Or a fly. Or a cloud. There is no meaning, it just is. Life has no meaning other than to just be. What we are really looking for is what will lead us to truly experience being alive. What gets you up in the morning? What excites you? That is what makes you feel alive and that is your purpose of the moment. - Finch

Nihilism and religion.
You say "neither is more dangerous than the other."
Nihilism caused 300 million deaths in the final 83 years of the 20th century, alone.
While acknowledging the deplorable abuses of religion over the 6,000-year history of civilization, you are challenged to compare those atrocities to the havoc wrought by nihilism in fewer than 100 years.

If life has "no meaning," if "it just is," then it has no intrinsic value.
Only a fool would not recognize this as an extraordinarily dangerous, nihilistic philosophy.
Need proof?
Look to the nihilism that lead to 300 million deaths in the 20th century.

What is the meaning of a flower or a butterfly? What is the meaning of a person or a car? They don't have meaning, they just are. Things can have value without having a meaning. I value human life but cannot say that it has a meaning. Whether nihilism is involved or not, deaths are caused by religion as well as nihilistic ideals. Neither is more dangerous than the other. It is the fanatics of any belief system that have the potential to cause the most harm. - Finch

5 When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.

Marriage isn't just two people choosing to be with each other every day, it's deciding that the relationship is more important than either individual. When you compromise in a relationship you aren't conceding to the other person but to the relationship. You must work to keep it alive and above all else or it will end. - Finch

6 Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Stop passing the buck and saying you're not where you should be because of this, that, or him, or her. Every moment in your life is a choice. There is absolutely nothing you HAVE to do but live and die. Nobody MAKES you do anything or feel any certain way that you haven't chosen to do. True there are consequences and some of them may be negative, but it's still your choice to face your fate and choose one option or the other. - Finch

7 God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that.

Most people believe in a force or way of being that transcends what can be described by language. Try to describe bliss or Nirvana and words fall short. Most people call the indescribable "God". Some people have put a literal definition to the word and subscribe to the "man in the sky" theology while others stay with the metaphor and believe bliss is within us all. - Finch

This is so pathetically weak.
Campbell acknowledges there exists "that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought."
What IS that "that which," if NOT God?
It MUST be SOMETHING, else why would Campbell grant it recognition?
So it's a "metaphor" for nothing?
Absurd on its face.

I believe he's saying "god" can simply be a catch-all phrase and label for something we do not and cannot understand. He is not saying it is "nothing" but he also entertains the concept that it is not necessarily a personal god with form and benevolent (or any other) consciousness or intent.

Just as science labels it "light" and "dark matter" without knowing their true properties, he is saying that "god" is also a term for that which we do not fully know or comprehend. - Finch

8 Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.

While it may seem cliche, the adage that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" is definitely fitting. Only difficult situations can lead us to growth and change. - Finch

9 The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

When the time comes to prove your inner character, will you be up to the challenge? Will you do what needs to be done in all situations, no matter how difficult or miniscule they seem? "Perfection" is a lot of small things done well. Do all the small things in your life well and you will achieve greatness. - Finch

"Do all the small things in your life well and you will achieve greatness."
Unless you get hit by a bus.

10 Myths are public dreams, dreams are privte myths.

There is an underlying current of believe and morality that affects us all. When we dream, our personal myths surface and can teach us what we need to learn. - Finch

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Top Remixes

1. Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
2. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.
3. Eternity has nothing to do with the hereafter... This is it... If you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. Heaven is not the place to have the experience; here's the place to
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