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.

The Cure for Worry

If you’ve read my book, you already know the cure for self-pity — thankfulness! Like a flash of lightning, it came to me today:

The cure for worry is trust.

The concept of trust came to me strongly about two years ago. I had decided to go on a seven-day solo kayak trip on the Peace River. I am an experienced kayaker, so a kayak trip was not outside my range of abilities, but to go for seven days all alone in the wilderness, that stretched me out of my comfort zone a little. I was nervous about the river I was on (even though it had no significant rapids). I was nervous about having difficulties disembarking in a current on a muddy shore, all by myself. I was a little worried about bears and wolves. I was extra careful in everything I did, because I didn’t want to injure myself.

It took me about three days to relax a little and feel comfortable being on my own. On the fourth day, I started developing some pain in my right shoulder, so all that day and the next, I had to paddle very carefully — consciously — to make sure I wouldn’t injure it further. I averaged about 50 km per day, which made for pretty long days. It was late on the fifth day as I was paddling toward my goal for the day that a message came to me directly from my intuition.

It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Three words just appeared in my thoughts. I had been very meditatively paddling for about an hour, and the river was glistening, the breeze blowing and the sun setting. I chalk it up to five days in the sunshine, wilderness, solitude and serenity. Source (or God), was finally able to get through all the clutter in my mind, and the message It felt most important to deliver was:

Trust and Enjoy.

My heart sang as I realized I had finally connected with my intuition! And the message was so wonderful and simple! I did it joyfully — I trusted that I was going to be fine. I stopped worrying about drowning in the river and trusted the river to carry me. I enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful peace of that moment.

Today, almost two years later, I was thinking about why worry is so destructive and unhelpful. Worrying about your problems seems to make them a hundred times worse, both in how they feel and in how they actually are. How can a person combat that tough bugger, worry? More easily this time, the word came to me: Trust.

I love simple solutions! Isn’t this great?!? If you want to stop worrying, just trust. I won’t tell you what to trust in, just trust. Trust in God, if you like. Trust that the Universe is on your side. Trust that Source wants to bless you, not curse you. Donald Cooper, a successful businessman, says “trust the process.” That works as well as anything — trust that if you are doing your best, there is nothing to worry about. Trust the process. You are improving. You are growing. You are already amazing, and you’re getting even better!!

I don’t think it really matters what you trust in. Trust in yourself, trust in your family, trust in the laws of physics or the laws of the Universe. You cannot trust and worry at the same time. Whenever worry rears its very ugly head, take a deep breath and remind yourself to trust.

Pink sunset on the Peace River

Pink sunset on the Peace River

I’ll have to tell you the story of the time I sat out a thunderstorm on the shore of the river with no shelter or protection. That was life-changing too!