The sixth episode of The Power of Myth video series will be shown on Tuesday, April 27th in Goins Auditorium (room 136) from 3:30 to 5:00PM.
|The Power of Myth is composed of a series of conversations between world-renowned mythologist, author, educator and scholar, Joseph Campbell (left) and journalist, author, commentator and former White House Press Secretary, Bill Moyers (right).|
In “Masks of Eternity,” Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers discuss elemental energies, circles, mandalas, sand painting, Jung‘s archetypes of the collective unconscious, clowns and tricksters, chakras, peak experiences, James Joyce‘s “epiphanies,” the monstrous, the sublime, time, eternity, poetry, Schopenhauer‘s concept of will, the dance of Shiva, the Logos, Goethe‘s concept of metaphor, and the word that contains all words – AUM.
Though Joseph Campbell‘s talks are always wide-ranging, the unifying idea within his work is that the commonality of themes and characters around the world in stories and myths is due to the existence of common “archetypes” in the human psyche. The etymology of the word “archetype” is as follows:
Archetypes are primal patterns through which human beings make sense of the world. They are the basis through which we derive “meaning.” If we have no mental pattern with which to wrap a physical occurrence, then it appears as chaos. This is analogous to the state described in Genesis 1:2 as Tohu wa bohu (תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ) (formless and empty) before God speaks light into existence:
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said , Let there be light: and there was light.”
Things enter the light (of consciousness) in proportion to our ability to match them to a pattern that we already understand. Our first understandings of things, then, are of great importance because they form the basis for our ability to derive meaning from all that comes after. These “first understandings” are what Jung called “archetypes of the collective unconscious.”
Archetypes might be innate in humans at birth or more likely they are formed from processes that are innate. I use the words “might” and “more likely” because we can’t experience an archetype directly, we can only experience an archetype through its embodiment. You might say that archetypes need to be masked or clothed in order to see them.
Humans can be viewed in some ways as “meaning seeking machines.” We seek to understand the world around us and to find our place within it. The basis of religion is in our attempt to connect ourselves meaningfully to all of reality (as far as we can see it).
We find meaning through our unconscious projection of archetypes. By turning this unconscious process into a conscious one, we can begin to see through the material world to the spiritual truth that lies behind the image.
- “God is the ultimate archetype.”
- “God is an idea, but its reference is to something that transcends all thinking.”
- “He who thinks he knows, doesn’t know. He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.”
- “I don’t have to have faith… I have experience.”
- “Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.”
- “Eden is.”
I hope that you can join us today for episode 6 (of 6) of The Power of Myth – “Masks of Eternity.”