Changing the World… Wisdom from Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, philosopher, mythologist, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces was interviewed by Bill Moyers, and the video series which aired on public stations is called The Power of Myth. In it, Campbell talks a great deal about myths that are common around the world, what they mean, and what their symbolism means for us in our lives.

In part 1, one symbol Campbell and Moyers discuss is dragons. In European culture, the dragon often represents the ego — a part of us holding ourselves back — and that is why the hero must slay the dragon to be all he/she can be. Moyers says “unlike the classical heroes, we’re not going on our journey to save the world, but to save ourselves.” Campbell immediately exclaims

And in doing that, you save the world. I mean, you do! The influence of a vital person vitalizes. There’s no doubt about it. The world is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting it around, and changing the rules, and so forth. No — any world is a living world. It’s alive. And the thing is to bring it to life, and the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life is and to be alive yourself.

Interesting idea, isn’t it? We don’t change the world by any attempt to change external environment — we change it by changing ourselves, on the inside. I believe Campbell would say to lay down your banner of discontent, to put away your protest signs, and stop looking at problems around you. What bothers you about the world, bothers you about yourself. Come to terms with those things within you and learn to fully accept yourself and you will no longer feel the desire to protest. You will not want to fight against anything, and you will find your inner peace.

We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god.
Where we thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had though to travel outward, we shall come to the centre of our own existence.
Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world. – Joseph Campbell

Life is an amazing, multi-faceted jewel — it glints and reflects the light of Source. The activities of life don’t always go smoothly or perfectly, but it is through the struggles we meet our true selves. We can find a deep, peaceful place within, and the true journey of life is to find this place.

Be alive. Do what you enjoy! Follow your bliss. Allow peace to come in.