Many / One

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The Flight of the Wild Gander
Joseph Campbell
Explorations in the mythological dimensions of fairy tales, legends, and symbols.

1 "Myth is a picture language….In the first place, this language is the native speech of dream. But in the second place, it has been studied, clarified, and enriched by the poets, prophets, and visionaries of untold millenniums. Dante, Aquinas, and Augustine, al-Ghazali and Mohammed, Zarathustra, Shankaracharya, Nagarjuna, and T'ai Tsung, were…masters of the human spirit teaching a wisdom of death and life. And the thesaurus of the myth-motifs was their vocabulary. They brooded on the state and way of man, and through their broodings came to wisdom; then teaching, with the aid of the picture-language of myth, they worked changes on the patterns of their inherited iconographies."

2 "Zeus is air, Zeus is earth, Zeus is heaven; Zeus is all things." Aeschylus, 'Heliades', fragment 70

3 "Mythology fosters a balanced intuitive and instinctive, as well as rational, ontogenesis, and throughout the domain of the species the morphology of this peculiar spiritual organ of Homo sapiens is no less constant than that of the well-known, readily recognizable human physique itself."

4 "All are bound together as the variously functioning organs of a single mighty organism."

5 "He who is called Krishna is also called Shiva and bears the names Shakti, Jesus, and Allah as well – the one Rama with a thousand names….The substance is one under different names and everyone is seeking the same substance; nothing but climate, temperament, and names vary." Ramakrishna

6 "The inward Self of all things, the One Controller, Who makes his one form manifold: the wise who perceive Him as standing within themselves, they and no others, know eternal bliss."

7 "He who is in the fire, He who is here in the heart, and He who is yonder in the sun: He is one." Maitri Upanishad, 7.7

8 "A symbol is an energy-evoking and –directing agent."

9 "Peoples of the premodern type, whether Gothic, Oriental, archaic, totemistic, or primitive, typically took for granted the operation of a transcendent energy in the forms of space and time."

10 "Everything is to be experienced as an epiphany of the One Holy Power."

11 "The idea of 'hybris', individual imprudence…runs through the philosophical as well as religious thinking of all high civilizations. There is a moral law, and it must be obeyed."

12 "To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. In all the world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the spatio-temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false conception." Erwin Schrodinger, 'My View of the World'

13 "The folk tale is the primer of the picture language of the soul."

14 "All mythology involves a corresponding philosophy; and if there is only one mythology, as there is only one 'perennial philosophy', then that 'the myth is not my own, I had it from my mother' (Euripides) points to a spiritual unity of the human race already predetermined long before the discovery of metals. It may be really true that as Alfred Jeremias said, the various cultures of mankind are no more than the dialects of one and the same spiritual language." Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

15 "We are ALL true god and true man: 'All things are Buddha things'; 'Brahman sleeps in the stone': what is required is only that one should waken to that truth and thereafter live 'illuminated' ('buddha', from the root 'budh', to know, to notice, to wake, to revive, to come to one's senses."

16 "Myths, as they now come to us, and as they break up to let their pregnant motifs scatter and settle into the materials of popular tale, are the purveyors of a wisdom that has borne the race of man through the long vicissitudes of his career."

17 "The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Kalika Purana, the Eddas, the Babylonian 'Epic of Creation', Ovid, the Memphite theogony, Vedantic philosophy, Kant, Goethe, through varieties of metaphor, have stated and stated again a single thought – and what would appear to be an easy thought to state, namely: the One, by some sleight of hand or trick of the eye, has become the Manifold."

18 "The content of folklore is metaphysics." Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

19 "The Indian, Celtic, Arabian, and medieval masters of narrative to whom we owe the most exquisite of our European tales were the practitioners of a craft that strove to reveal through mortal things the brilliance of eternal forms."

20 "Living myths are not mistaken notions, and they do not spring from books. They are not to be judged as true or false but as effective or ineffective, maturative or pathogenic. They are rather like enzymes, products of the body in which they work; or in homogeneous social groups, products of a body social."

21 "As the one fire has entered the world and become corresponding in form to every form, so the one interior Self of all things corresponds in form to every form, and yet is beyond." Katha Upanishad, 5.9

22 "Myths are a function of nature as well as of culture, and as necessary to the balanced maturation of the human psyche as is nourishment to the body."

23 "The primordial One may be represented as masculine (as in the case of Brahma), feminine (as in the World Mother}, hermaphrodite (as in the cases of 'I' and Ymir), anthropomorphic (as in most of the above-presented examples), theriomorphic (as in the Persian myth of the dismembered World Ox), botanomorphic (as in the Eddic image of the World Ash, Yggdrasil), simply ovoid (as in the stories of the World Egg), geometrical (as in the Tantric yantras), vocal (as in the cases of the Vedic sacred syllable OM and the Kabbalistic Tetragrammaton), or absolutely transcendent (as in the cases of the Buddhistic Void and the Kantian Ding-an-sich."

24 "The Way of the individual is the microcosmic reiteration of the Way of the All and of each."

25 "The poets, prophets, and visionaries of untold millenniums – Dante, Aquinas, and Augustine, al-Ghazali and Mohammed, Zarathustra, Shankaracharya, Nagarjuna, and T'ai Tsung, were not bad scientists making misstatements about the weather, or neurotics reading dreams into the stars, but masters of the human spirit teaching a wisdom of death and life. And the thesaurus of the myth-motifs was their vocabulary. They brooded on the state and way of man, and through their broodings came to wisdom; then teaching with the aid of the picture-language of myth, they worked changes on the patterns of their inherited iconographies."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite