MYTH AND THE MODERN WORLD
People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. 1 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 within our own
innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
MOYERS: Why myths? Why should we care about myths? What do they have to do
with my life?
CAMPBELL: My first response would be, "Go on, live your life, it's a good life -- you
don't need mythology." I don't believe in being interested in a subject just because it's said to
be important. I believe in being caught by it somehow or other. But you may find that, with a
proper introduction, mythology will catch you. And so, what can it do for you if it does catch
One of our problems today is that we are not well acquainted with the literature of the
spirit. We're interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour. It used to be that
the university campus was a kind of hermetically sealed-off area where the news of the day
did not impinge upon your attention to the inner life and to the magnificent human heritage we
have in our great tradition -- Plato, Confucius, the Buddha, Goethe, and others who speak of
the eternal values that have to do with the centering of our lives. When you get to be older, and
the concerns of the day have all been attended to, and you turn to the inner life -- well, if you
don't know where it is or what it is, you'll be sorry.
Greek and Latin and biblical literature used to be part of everyone's education. Now,
when these were dropped, a whole tradition of Occidental mythological information was lost.
It used to be that these stories were in the minds of people. When the story is in your mind,
then you see its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on
what's happening to you. With the loss of that, we've really lost something because we don't
have a comparable literature to take its place. These bits of information from ancient times,
which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and
informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries,
inner thresholds of passage, and if you don't know what the guide-signs are along the way,
you have to work it out yourself. But once this subject catches you, there is such a feeling,
from one or another of these traditions, of information of a deep, rich, life-vivifying sort that
you don't want to give it up.
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