Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Joseph Campbell - Follow Your Bliss

After I mentioned thinking about archetypes a few months ago, I did a bit of research into Joseph Campbell, one of the major personalities in using mythologies to understand our own stories.  Before he died in 1987, Campbell had a series of talks with Bill Moyers.  I put those interviews, and any other DVD featuring Campbell into my Netflix queue, and over the weekend I watched about 5 hours of them.

Campbell is the guy that coined the phrase, "follow your bliss."  He talks about the mythologies of the world's peoples, the huge and small stories that people have told for centuries to make sense of the world.  The outside journeys that parallel our internal journeys.  Often, he was asked what lesson we should learn from these stories.  His response, "follow your bliss."  It's not that simple, of course, but that's the essence.

If people had charisma scores on a scale of 1-20 like characters in Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games (shhh - it was a small part of my past...), Joseph Campbell would have a charisma of 40.  Off the charts.

One exchange between Bill Moyers and Campbell in the 5th hour struck me, and I stopped, started and replayed the section over and over to get a transcription.  The last line is the one that got me.

Moyers: How would you advise somebody to tap that spring of eternal life, that joy that is right there?

Campbell: We are having experiences all the time that may on occasion render some sense of this. That little intuition of where your joy is - grab it. No one can tell you what it's going to be, I mean you've gotta learn to recognize your own depths.

Moyers: Do you ever have this sense when you're following your bliss as I have in moments, of being helped by hidden hands?

Campbell: All the time!

Campbell: It's miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of being helped by hidden hands all the time. Namely, that if you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one that you are living.

Campbell: When you can see it, you begin to deal with people who are in the field of your bliss and they open doors to you.

Campbell: I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Googling the phrase, "follow your bliss," leads you to this site: http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=31 .  It turns out that I didn't need to make my own transcript at all!  It's there.  Apparently the same phrase that struck me has affected other people as well.

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