Powerful Quotes by Joseph Campbell

Who is Joseph Campbell?


From Wikipedia,

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: “Follow your bliss.”

One of his most memorable works was actually a series of interviews with Bill Moyers in a 1988 PBS documentary entitled, “The Power of Myth.”  Henceforth, a myriad of deeply insightful and profound quotes were gifted to the viewers of that series.

Let’s revisit some of the most impactful nuggets of wisdom straight from Joe Campbell:

But if you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, you see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth. These are the eyes of the earth. And this is the voice of the earth.

What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss.

(on what time is)  Our experience, yeah. But the ultimate, unqualified mystery is beyond human experience. It becomes inflected… there is a condescension on the part of the infinite to the mind of man, and that is what looks like God.

One could say that the images of myth are reflections of spiritual and depth potentialities of every one of us and that through contemplating those, we evoke those powers in our own lives… to operate through ourselves.

-Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


The Brown Sisters (Time is the Great Revealer)

brown sisters

If you’ve never heard of the Brown Sisters, then an article that easily summarizes their chronicled photo project can be found here.  But if you already know about them, and their forty plus year journey of posing together, you know there is something inherently beautiful to be found here.

Above pictured Heather (26), Mimi (18), Bebe (28), and Laurie (24) in 1978.

The sisters easily represent and symbolize the passage of time and the immutable undercurrent of familial (particularly sibling) bonds.  I’d seen the chronicled pictures previously, but only until today, when faced with a growing internal and personal transformation of my own, did I fully connect the significance of what they’ve presented to the world.

These sisters stand beside each other, year after year, until (assumed) present day for the next picture.  We know nothing about the state of their relationships to each other save for the obvious willingness to commit to continue the project every single year.  We know nothing about their current personal issues, marital status, plot in life, where they’ve been, are going, or even where they live.  I suppose these are facts that could be dug up, but for the photo project to work, and to convey its message, none of that is necessary.  It’s implied.

The sisters love each other.  When you scan through the years, the bond is evident.  Their eyes speak.  The love and the core relationship to one another, is evident.  It’s beautiful.  Moving.  And touching.  But moreover, the significance lies in the fact that time is the great revealer.  Time is transient.  What’s here one moment is gone the next, all seemingly at random.  They speak to what’s really important in life — that which doesn’t abide by time, but rather, that which is unaffected by its unmerciful march.  What time can’t touch.

Overall, the emotions evoked are heart-wrenching.  Especially when you truly look… and earnestly see.

Brown Sisters 2014

Above pictured Heather (62), Mimi (54), Bebe (64), and Laurie (60) in 2014.