Archives For Joseph Campbell

Journey

November 7, 2016 — Leave a comment

Full Definition of journey (merriam-websters.com)

1: an act or instance of traveling from one place to another: trip
2: chiefly dialect: a day’s travel
3: something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another <the journey from youth to maturity> <a journey through time>

Journey is a word that is simple to understand, except when we ask ourselves, “what’s my journey?”

A journey, most of the time, consists of a purpose, but when I ask people what their purpose is, some get a confused look on their face and some haven’t even considered it. If you don’t know your purpose then you’re not really on a journey. I think you’re on a ride that someone else is controlling.
Are you a passenger in your life or are you the driver of your life?

Great movies and books consist of an individual’s journey to get the prize. Whether that’s acquiring wisdom, a physical item like a ring of power, winning the heart of the person you love, or conquering the enemy – which sometimes is ourselves.

George Lucas built an empire on the story of Luke Skywalker’s journey. Lucas used the writings of the American mythological researcher Joseph Campbell, who wrote of myths and stories from around the world in his book, The Hero of a Thousand Faces.

Campbell saw a relationship, in different cultures, that individuals had when they traveled through their life journeys and it starts with the Hero being in their own world or present reality. An example would be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz being at the farm in Kansas. It’s a situation that you’re comfortable in, even if you’re struggling in that situation. This might start with a traumatic event, a sense of danger or maybe an increase in awareness. This is when we make a choice to either live with our current world or to move on.

If we chose to move on then, as Campbell states, we have a call to adventure. But we know that adventure is filled with danger, we’ll have to face our fears, which are not always physical dangers. Napoleon Hill outlines Six Basic Fears in his book Think and Grow Rich as the Fear of Poverty, Fear of Criticism, Fear of Ill Health, Fear of Loss of Love, Fear of Old Age, and Fear of Death. These fears are internal and they prevent us from achieving our ultimate desires, or completing the journey.

We all struggle with the decision to embark on the adventure, we know it’ll take us out of our comfort zone and we’ll have to face our fears. This decision is what keeps people in purgatory for the rest of their lives. They’re afraid of facing their fears so they stay in jobs or relationships that they hate, but are comfortable with because they know what it is, it’s their current world. For some that current world gets worse or you raise to a higher level of awareness and decide to accept the call to the adventure and begin the journey into the unknown.

As you begin your quest into your new world, which might be going back to college, you know you’ll face many obstacles. You’ll meet new people, some pleasant and some not, you’ll have to conform to new rules, customs and cultures. An example may be starting a new job and you need to learn how the new world operates and which employees are friends or villains. The hero, you, use your superhuman powers, or your strengths, to adapt to this new environment.

Campbell continues to outline the hero’s journey with the individual getting help, or ‘wisdom,’ from a supernatural character, or better known today as a mentor. Luke Skywalker’s mentor in Star Wars was Obi-Wan Kenobi. A mentor is someone who sees your strengths and then helps you refine and improve those strengths so that it will help you get to the next level of success, or conquer your fears, to complete your journey. This mentor gives you something that assists you on your journey, it may be wisdom or even a symbol, or talisman. If you’re going to college, that mentor maybe a teacher and the talisman could be your diploma.

What is that object or strength that gives you the feeling that you have a superpower?

Who can you mentor to help them on their journey?

Of course every hero needs a sidekick, someone who helps them achieve their goal. The lesson here is that in order to achieve big goals, you need help. Dorothy would’ve never killed the Wicked Witch of the West without the help of The Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

Who is your sidekick, is there someone that believes in you enough to help you live your purpose and help you on that journey?

Eventually the Hero’s journey brings them to face their biggest fear and by using all of the skills they acquired on their journey they defeat their fears and achieve success. In Star Wars the Death Star was destroyed and in The Wizard of Oz Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch. They achieved success and received a reward for their struggles along the journey. Even if it’s to get back to your original situation, which may not have changed, but you have changed, which helps to change your old world into something better, not by others becoming better, but from you gaining more experience and wisdom you learned on your journey.

How many cultures send their youth on a journey so that they can return stronger and wiser, helping them to transition into adulthood?

What wisdom and strengths did you gain from one of your past journeys?

What is your journey and where are you at on that journey? Are you stuck at the beginning, not wanting to leave your comfort zone, even if you’re in a bad situation?
If you fail to go on your journey to increase your wisdom and awareness, you may never live your purpose. One of the biggest sins a person can make is to neglect your gifts and squander a purposeful life of helping others?

What does it mean to have bliss? Is it to be happy? It must be more than that, and how come so many people struggle to have it?

How come so many people struggle to have happiness?

Happiness is a choice, what makes one person happy can make someone else upset. It’s how their past experiences affected their feelings at the time, and those feelings will come out when that experience happens again.

Until you realize that the feelings you have are linked to past experiences, you can’t release what makes you upset.

Maybe you achieve bliss by being able to control the negative feelings you have and always look on the positive side of each experience. What is the learning experience?

So we need to figure out what prevents us from being happy, what internal truths, may not be truths.

Bliss has to be more than just happiness on steroids. Its definition is ‘paradise,’ or what we would believe heaven to be. But does that definition lead us to believe that we can only achieve bliss in the afterlife? That we need to suffer during our present life to make us deserving of eternal bliss.

What if we don’t get to experience eternal bliss if we don’t find bliss in our physical life? If you believe what Napoleon Hill outlines in his book “Outwitting the Devil,” 98% of the people aren’t following their true purpose, and when we don’t follow our true purpose we commit one of life’s biggest sins, not doing what the Grand Overall Designer but us on this earth to do.

When we find and live or purpose we may find and live blissfully. So how do we achieve bliss?

In an article by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Being Blissful, he states that “How you become blissful doesn’t matter. Somehow you become blissful. That all that matters.” It sounds like the harder you try to find blissfulness that harder it is to achieve it. Like all great things in life, the harder we chase it, the harder it is to capture. I think it’s because we expect too much from others to help us be happy, but we’re happy when we learn about ourselves, and are able to accept ourselves. Once we can accept who we are, it’s easier to accept others for who they are.

When we can accept others for who they are we can look past their flaws and see the real person, the person they can be.

“Blissfulness is not something that you earn from outside. It is something that you dig deeper into yourself and find.” ~ Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Joseph Campbell said, “If you 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 you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

So how do we follow and find our bliss? Eric Butterworth outlines a nine step guide to living your bliss in the article “Want a Step by Step Guide to Follow Your Bliss”. It basically breaks down as follows;

• The process has to start with you. What do you value and what makes you happy. But on a deeper level, do you even know who you are, what are your roadblocks, or dragons as Joseph Campbell calls our barriers.

• Take some time and start writing down all of your past experiences that you found enjoyable, ones that made your heart beat faster and you lost track of time doing. Continue adding to your list over a week or even a month, until you see a pattern.

• Once you start to see a pattern in what activities gave you the most joy, prioritize them, which activities did you enjoy the most and added the most value to you and more importantly, the value it added to someone else?

• Add the top activities that bring you happiness to your schedule. What can you do daily, weekly, monthly AND yearly that makes you happy, do it often enough and you may start to live a blissful life.

If you want to make a living by working in your bliss think of situations when other people may come to you for suggestions, help or listened to your thoughts on the subject. Is it something that adds value to them or the company they work for?

Are you getting paid for that information or service?

If not, why not? Even if you are living a blissful life you need to eat.

A man with a unique since of wonder and understanding, Joseph Campbell’s life is an incredible story. Born with a keen interest in not only what people believe, but how they believe, Joe grew up with a different perspective toward religion and mythology than most might. Knee high to a grasshopper, he developed a fascination with Native American living and mythology. This hunger led him down a rabbit hole of sorts, as he devoured every Native American text in the children’s section of his local library. Once he was permitted into the adult section, where he read through many texts in a white heat. This sparked a wildfire of self-learning and educating that Mr. Campbell would not be able to tame, and would eventually come to understand as his bliss.

What is your purpose? What gets you jazzed, pumped, inspired, ginned up, or just plain ol’ excited? How do you find Zen? It’s no secret that everyone wants to be happy, but what is the secret to finding such a state of mind?

“It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming 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 you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Another way I look at that statement is; As you walk through a city you have to keep your head up. If you continue to take stride after stride with your eyes to the pavement, worried about the cracks you may step on, you will miss out not only on the correct turns and paths you are hoping to take, but the beautiful faces you will encounter along the way. The doors are always there, but if we do not become aware, or open to our purpose (or bliss) we will not see them. Even when we are aware we need something extra, like our desire, to approach the threshold of a closed door and try the handle. If it is locked, we shall rely on our persistence and courage to either pick the lock or break the door down to see what’s on the other side.

I know, I know, easier said than done right? If only we were unable to practice this method every day, right? Every dawn brings closed doors that we must either open or break down. We might not realize it, but we do. Whether it’s public speaking, dealing with conflict, taking a new job, or quitting your current one to pursue your bliss, or looking past a friend or loved one who doesn’t believe you can succeed.

In the end it’s what makes you happy that is important. Come on, we’ve heard this since we were kids. So why is it so hard to follow through? Do we feel guilty of our happiness when we know so many who aren’t, or is it something else?

“Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

There you have it! What puts that smile on your face, or makes you jump into action? That happiness you feel when you think about whatever it is that makes you feel good, that is the start of finding your bliss and living the life you want! Everyone in the world right now knows whether or not they are happy or not. Some for different reasons, such as health, wealth, etc. but nonetheless it is relevant to how we live our lives and how we operate in this world. Through happiness and finding our bliss, we can better ourselves, we can better our families, our communities, the world.

In my experience, the word “bliss” hasn’t always carried fruitful connotations, frankly because of the misuse of the term. Not necessarily religious or spiritual, it really just means happiness in the utmost.

Thankfully, through the work of Joseph Campbell, I have been exposed into a more enlightening connotation of the word. While on my adventure to discover more on bliss, I found an interesting definition for bliss when used as a verb.

To bliss or be blissed: reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else.

What could get you down when your blissed?

-David Joseph Leingang