Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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Myths To Live By
Joseph Campbell
This book shows how we re-create ancient legends in our daily lives to release human potential.

1 "The true symbol does not merely point to something else. It contains in itself a structure which awakens our consciousness to a new awareness of the inner meaning of life and of reality itself. A true symbol takes us to the center of the circle, not to another point on the circumference. It is by symbolism that man enters affectively and consciously into contact with his own deepest self, with other men, and with God." Thomas Merton, 'Symbolism: Communication or Communion?

2 "Frobenius, like Nietzsche before him, saw the present as an epoch of irreversible advance in the one life course of the entire human race, here passing from its youthful, locally bounded stages of cultural growths to a new and general future of as yet unforeseen creative insights and realizations."

3 "I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, in the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass; I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name." Walt Whitman, 'Leaves of Grass'

4 "We are at this moment participating in one of the very greatest leaps of the human spirit to a knowledge not only of outside nature but also of our own deep inward mystery."

5 "We can no longer hold our loves at home and project our aggressions elsewhere; for on this spaceship Earth there is no 'elsewhere' any more. And no mythology that continues to speak or to teach of 'elsewheres' and 'outsiders' meets the requirement of this hour."

6 "In the Orient the guiding ideal is that each should realize that he himself and all others are of the one substance of that universal Being of beings which is, in fact, the same Self in all."

7 "One cannot apprehend a symbol unless one is able to awaken, in one's own being, the spiritual resonances which respond to the symbol not only as sign but as 'sacrament' and presence'." Thomas Merton, 'Symbolism: Communication or Communion?'

8 "The [Buddhist] Doctrine of Mutual Arising..implies that no one – nobody and no thing – is to blame for anything that ever occurs, because all is mutually arising….You and your enemies; you and your friends: all parts of the one thing, one wreath: 'thing and thing: no division.' This, surely, is sublime."

9 "All my life, as a student of mythologies, I have been working with these archetypes, and I can tell you, they DO exist and are the same all over the world."

10 "Myths are telling us in picture language of powers of the psyche to be recognized and integrated in our lives, powers that have been common to the human spirit forever, and which represent that wisdom of the species by which man has weathered the millenniums."

11 "And I notice, that when the limit is approached or past, when the moment of surrender is reached, when the new gyre begins to stir, I am filled with excitement." William Butler Yeats, commenting on his poem 'The Second Coming'

12 "The universe (is) a great spread-out net with at every joint a gem, and each gem not only reflecting all the others but itself reflected in all."

13 "Like the nest of a bird, a mythology is fashioned of materials drawn from the local environment, apparently altogether consciously, but according to an architecture unconsciously dictated from within."

14 "Through our dreams and a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self."

15 "The fundamental themes of mythological thought have remained constant and universal, not only throughout history, but also over the whole extent of mankind's occupation of the earth."

16 "There is indeed a life everlasting, a dimension of enduring human values that inheres in the very act of living itself, and in the simultaneous experience and expression of which men through all time have lived and died."

17 "The ultimate aim of the quest…must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and power to serve others."

18 "As an old professor of mine in Comparative Religions at the University of Munich used to say: 'In its subjective sense the religion of all mankind is one and the same.'"

19 "Mythology is apparently coeval with mankind. As far back, that is to say, as we have been able to follow the broken, scattered, earliest evidences of the emergence of our species, signs have been found which indicate that mythological aims and concerns were already shaping the arts and world of Homo sapiens."

20 "We are to recognize in this whole universe a reflection magnified of our own most inward nature; so that we are indeed its ears, its eyes, its thinking, and its speech – or, in theological terms, God's ears, God's eyes, God's thinking, and God's Word."

21 "Essentially the same mythological motifs are to be found throughout the world. There are myths and legends of the Virgin Birth, of Incarnations, Deaths and Resurrections; Second Comings, Judgments, and the rest, in all the great traditions. And since such images stem from the psyche, they refer to the psyche. They tell us of its structure, its order and its forces, in symbolic terms."

22 "All of us living beings belong together, in as much as we are all in reality sides or aspects of one single being, which may perhaps in western terminology be called God while in the Upanishads its name is Brahman." Erwin Schrodinger, 'My View of the World'

23 "The living mythological symbol…is an image that hits one where it counts. It is not addressed first to the brain, to be there interpreted and appreciated. On the contrary, if that is where it has to be read, the symbol is already dead….There is some kind of throb of resonance within, responding to the image shown without, like the answer of a musical string to another equally tuned."

24 "The old differences separating one [religious] system from another now are becoming less and less important, less and less easy to define. And what, on the contrary, is becoming more and more important is that we should learn to see THROUGH all the differences to the common themes that have been there all the while, that came into being with the first emergence of ancestral man from the animal levels of existence, and are with us still."

25 "According to the Indian view, our separateness from each other in space and time here on earth – our multitude – is but a secondary, deluding aspect of the truth, which is that in essence we are of one being, one ground."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite