Series I, Volume 2 - Inward Journey: East and West

Joseph Campbell

Five talks that explore the roots of myth and its psychological manifestations.

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These five talks, recorded early in Campbell's career as a public speaker, explore the roots of myth, its psychological manifestations, and the ways in which it has expressed itself differently in India and East Asia on the one hand and Europe and the Middle East on the other. These recordings, which have been remastered, were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

1. Lecture I.2.1 - The Thresholds of Mythology

"The first function [of mythology] is to reconcile consciousness to existence or to reject existence. The second function is to present an image of the universe through which the sensed meaning, or power, or nature of life will be rendered. The third function is to validate and maintain a certain given moral order, and it is here that the mythologies differ greatly from one place to another. And the fourth and final function is to harmonize and deepen the psyche—the psychological structure and experience of the individual." —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first discusses the four functions of a viable mythology, then the fundamental difference between mythologies that affirm existence and those that reject it. With this review, he provides not only a basis for a philosophy of mythology, but also a metaphor for the crucial decision each individual must make as well: namely, whether to be reconciled with —or to withdraw from—life in all of its terrible glory.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

2. Lecture I.2.2 - The Inward Journey

"When one studies primitive mythologies, the imagery of the mythological world derives from the psychological experiences of the shamans. The source of the imagery of primitive myths is the shaman's psychological crisis. The shaman is a person who in his early puberty has cracked off, broken off and gone into what we would today call a psychosis." —Joseph Campbell

In the imagery of the schizophrenic's experience, Joseph Campbell recognized a synthesis of mythological motifs similar to Jung's archetypes. He recounts Dr. John Weir Perry's analysis of an individual's descent into madness: the break away or departure from everyday reality, a retreat inward with dark encounters of a symbolic kind, and finally— in the most fortunate cases—a return journey of rebirth and renewal.

He then follows the uncanny parallels between these stages and the "universal formula" of the hero's journey gathered from mythologies of cultures around the world, and reveals how the phases of the schizophrenic's crisis correspond to the separation, initiation, and the return of the shaman's experience during his voyage into other worlds. In later years, Campbell would learn that filmmakers George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick modeled their own work on his Hero with a Thousand Faces, the groundbreaking book that explores this "monomyth" of the hero’s journey.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

Lecture I.2.3 - Confrontation of East and West in Religion

"Just as for the American Indian the buffalo dropped away, and with it their public social mythology, so for us: the world has moved past, and our mythology has dropped off, and we are turned inward, and [the gurus and Zen masters] are the ones who are teaching us how to turn inward in this adventurous quest of finding again those images in ourselves which the society can no longer render to us." —Joseph Campbell

Observing that the "West" is increasingly disenchanted with traditional religious beliefs and practices, Campbell argues that the time is ripe for the cross—fertilization of Eastern and Western cultures. He presents an illuminating analogy to our present situation in the plight of the Plains Indians near the end of the nineteenth century when the old ways were disappearing with the buffalo and their old wisdom was no longer effective. For Campbell, the response of these people of the Plains is a vivid metaphor for what modern people must do. Their adoption of the peyote religion encouraged inward visionary experiences and was an example of how a people can find the sacred even when it has been lost to the society.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

4. Lecture I.2.4 - Imagery of Rebirth Yoga

"The realms of the gods and demons—heaven, purgatory, hell—are of the substance of dreams … The mythology is the dream of the world. And if taken objectively as though there were gods, well then they are the counterpart of your dream—this is a very important point: dream and myth are of the same logic." —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell contrasts the disintegration of man's modern religious practices with what he calls "symbolic systems of rebirth in time." For Campbell, the most fascinating systems are "myths to live by," beliefs and practices to help individuals with the frustrations in life that come from not living our "true self." The goal of the ancient discipline of yoga was important to him because it emphasizes the discovery and experience of the true self. The heart of this lecture is an explanation of the chakras in the body and the meditation techniques that connect daily consciousness to the eternal self. Through the practice of rousing the kundalini energy of the serpent coiled up at the base of the spine, it is believed that one might go to "the place beyond dream."

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

5. Lecture I.2.5 - The World Soul

"In the ultimate illumination, all pairs of opposites are transcended, are left behind. And this world as we know and experience it is the perfect lotus world—this is nirvana, as it looks … The whole world as it lives is a manifestation of this radiant mystery, and we do not see it." —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first discusses the links between the ancient Hindu practice of Yoga and modern depth psychology. He then reviews the seven chakras (energy centers) of kundalini yoga and tells how a practitioner can raise kundalini energy up the spine from the first to the seventh chakra. If this is accomplished, the veil of Maya (illusion) is raised, and the world around us becomes transparent to the transcendent.

Running time: approx. 60 minutes

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Contents Audio Download
Filetypes MP3
Date Published July 01, 2014
Product Code OS04505W