from Joseph Campbell "The Power of Myth"

The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stands this afternoon on the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.
Joseph Campbell

You can't believe [what's inside a computer]. It's a whole hierarchy of angels--all on slats. And those little tubes--those are miracles.

I have had a revelation from my computer about mythology. You buy a certain software, and there is a whole set of signals that lead to the achievement of your aim. If you begin fooling around with signals that belong to another system of software, they just won't work.

Similarly, in mythology--if you have a mythology in which the metaphor for the mystery is the father, you are going to have a different set of signals from what you would have if the metaphor for the wisdom and mystery of the world were the mother. And they are two perfectly good metaphors. Neither one is a fact. These are metaphors. [...] You must understand that each religion is a kind of software that has its own set of signals and will work. If a person is really involved in a religion and really building his life on it, he better stay with the software that he has got. But a chap like myself, who likes to play with the software--well, I can run around, but I probably will never have an experience comparable to that of a saint.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

CAMPBELL: We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet. A model for that is the United States. Here were thirteen different little colony nations that decided to act in the mutual interest, without disregarding the individual interests of any one of them.

MOYERS: There is something about that on the Great Seal of the United States.

CAMPBELL: That's what the Great Seal is all about. I carry a copy of the Great Seal in my pocket in the form of a dollar bill. Here is the statement of the ideals that brought about the formation of the United States. Look at this dollar bill. Now here is the Great Seal of the United States. Look at the pyramid on the left. A pyramid has four sides. These are the four points of the compass. There is somebody at this point, there's somebody at that point, and there's somebody at this point. When you're down on the lower levels of this pyramid, you will be either on one side or on the other. But when you get up to the top, the points all come together, and there the eye of God opens.

MOYERS: And to them it was the god of reason.

CAMPBELL: Yes. This is the first nation in the world that was ever established on the basis of reason instead of simply warfare. These were eighteenth-century deists, these gentlemen. Over here we read, "In God We Trust." But that is not the god of the Bible. These men did not believe in a Fall. They did not think the mind of man was cut off from God. The mind of man, cleansed of secondary and merely temporal concerns, beholds with the radiance of a cleansed mirror a reflection of the rational mind of God. Reason puts you in touch with God. Consequently, for these men, there is no special revelation anywhere, and none is needed, because the mind of man cleared of its fallibilities is sufficiently capable of the knowledge of God. All people in the world are thus capable because all people in the world are capable of reason.

All men are capable of reason. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Because everybody's mind is capable of true knowledge, you don't have to have a special authority, or a special revelation telling you that this is the way things should be.
Joseph Campbell + Bill Moyers, "The Power of Myth"

The mystery of life is beyond all human conception. Everything we know is within the terminology of the concepts of being and not being, many and single, true and untrue. We always think in terms of opposites. But God, the ultimate, is beyond the pairs of opposites, that is all there is to it.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

I had a friend who attended an international meeting of the Roman Catholic meditative orders, which was held in Bangkok. He told me that the Catholic monks had no problems understanding the Buddhist monks, but that it was the clergy of the two religions who were unable to understand each other.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

Culture can also teach us to go past its concepts. That is what is known as initiation. A true initiation is when the guru tells you, "There is no Santa Claus." Santa Claus is metaphoric of a relationship between parents and children. The relationship does exist, and so it can be experienced, but there is no Santa Claus. Santa Claus was simply a way of clueing children into the appreciation of a relationship.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

Once in India I thought I would like to meet a major guru or teacher face to face. So I went to see a celebrated teacher named Sri Krishna Menon, and the first thing he said to me was, "Do you have a question?" The teacher in this tradition always answers questions. He doesn't tell you anything you are not yet ready to hear. So I said, "Yes, I have a question. Since in Hindu thinking everything in the universe is a manifestation of divinity itself, how should we say no to anything in the world? How should we say no to brutality, to stupidity, to vulgarity, to thoughtlessness?"

And he answered, "For you and for me--the way is to say yes."

We then had a wonderful talk on this theme of the affirmation of all things. And it confirmed me in the feeling I had had that who are we to judge? It seems to me that this is one of the great teachings, also, of Jesus.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

CAMPBELL: Yes, that is what I'm saying. Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't even a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now that all thinking in temporal terms cuts off. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. The problem with heaven is that you will be having such a good time there, you won't even think of eternity. You'll just have this unending delight in the beatific vision of God. But the experience of eternity right here and now, in all things, whether thought of as good or as evil, is the function of life.

MOYERS: This is it.

CAMPBELL: This is it.
Joseph Campbell (+ Bill Moyers), "The Power of Myth"

The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea. In the Middle Ages this was the idea that finally turned that world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

CAMPBELL: I came back from Europe as a student in 1929, just three weeks before the Wall Street crash, so I didn't have a job for five years. There just wasn't a job. That was a great time for me.

MOYERS: A great time? The depth of the Depression? What was wonderful about it?

CAMPBELL: I didn't feel poor, I just felt that I didn't have any money. People were so good to each other at that time.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

You can't say life is useless because it ends in the grave. There's an inspiring line in one of Pindar's poems where he is celebrating a young man who has just won a wrestling championship at the Pythian games. Pindar writes, "Creatures of a day, what is any one? What is he not? Man is but a dream of a shadow. Yet when there comes as a gift of heaven a gleam of sunshine, there rests upon men a radiant light and, aye, a gentle life." That dismal saying, "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!"--it is not all vanity. This moment itself is no vanity, it is a triumph, a delight.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

I had an illuminating experience from a woman who had been in severe physical pain for years, from an affliction that had stricken her in her youth. She had been raised a believing Christian and so thought this had been God's punishment of her for something she had done or not done at that time. She was in spiritual as well as physical pain. I told her that if she wanted release, she should affirm and not deny her suffering was her life, and that through it she had become the noble creature that she now was. And while I was saying all this, I was thinking, "Who am I to talk like this to a person in real pain, when I've never had anything more than a toothache?" But in this conversation, in affirming her suffering as the shaper and teacher of her life, she experienced a conversion--right there. I have kept in touch with her since--that was years and years ago--and she is indeed a transformed woman.
I gave her the belief that she was herself the cause of her suffering, that she had somehow brought it about. There is an important idea in Nietzsche, of Amor fati, the "love of your fate," which is in fact your life. As he says, if you say no to a single factor in your life, you have unraveled the whole thing. Furthermore, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life's pain, the greater life's reply.

My friend had thought, "God did this to me." I told her, "No, you did it to yourself. The God is within you. You yourself are your creator. If you find that place in yourself from which you brought this thing about, you will be able to live with it and affirm it, perhaps even enjoy it, as your life."
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"
I admit I'm not sure I am ready for this - it sounds so much like blaming the victim and power of positive thinking woo-woo.
Frequently, in the epics, when the hero is born, his father has died, or his father is in some other place, and then the hero has to go in quest of his father.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

Eros is much more impersonal than falling in love. You see, people didn't know about Amor. Amor is something personal that the troubadours recognized. Eros and Agape are impersonal loves. [...] Eros is a biological urge. It's the zeal of the organs for each other. The personal factor doesn't matter. [...] Agape is love thy neighbor as thyself--spiritual love. It doesn't matter who the neighbor is.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"
This one struck home for me. I used to pretentiously sign my letters "Agape", but that is telling - to this day I have a hard time leaning into "personal" love, since I have the compulsion to think of the objective and not the subjective, which is where troubadour love lives.
Our way of thinking in the West sees God as the final source or cause of the energies and wonder of the universe. But in most Oriental thinking, and in primal thinking, also, the gods are rather manifestations and purveyors of an energy that is finally impersonal. They are not its source. The god is the vehicle of its energy. And the force or quality of the energy that is involved or represented determines the character and function of the god.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

From the ultimate energy that is the life of the universe. And then do you say, "Well, there must be somebody generating that energy"? Why do you have to say that? Why can't the ultimate mystery be impersonal?
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"
This resonates for me and my mythology, which focuses on how miraculous complexity (and maybe even the "ought from is") EMERGES. But that thought is pretty impersonal - in fact the hope it needs only contemplation and not revelation is a critical aspect of it for me!
Whereas in our religions, with their accent on the human, there is also an accent on the ethical--God is qualified as good. No, no! God is horrific. Any god who can invent hell is no candidate for the Salvation Army. The end of the world, think of it!
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"
(Emphasis mine.) Dang, this quote near the end of the book seemed laden with synchronicity for me - how much the fear of hellfire shaped me, but how the organization of The Salvation Army so shaped my life. (It's interesting that he using it as a comic short hand for "do-gooders")
Wherever there is time, there is sorrow.
Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth"

Watched "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time...