Sacrifice as a Catalyst for Rebirth and Bliss in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
Joseph Campbell is one of the most influential writers, philosophers, and professors in history. His work on mythology has taken native stories beyond their face value and deep into the human psyche, where they resonate with the core of who we are.
Campbell’s life’s work brought countless people across the world in touch with the collective unconscious that underlies our every thought and motivates us to seek happiness. His phrase “follow your bliss” is now a household prompt, thanks to a series of interviews with celebrated journalist Bill Moyers in the early ‘90s. Gaia members can now experience this timeless discussion, listening to episodes discussing “The Hero’s Adventure”, “Sacrifice and Bliss”, and more.
Campbell’s teachings applied the lessons of heroes and metaphors of mythology to our own lives. “A myth is not a lie,” he famously said, despite this commonly misused definition. Rather, a myth is a story meant to turn the mind inward to reflect upon itself and reveal the essential truths of reality and our relationship to the transcendent.
As Campbell explains in his series of interviews with Moyers, myth is often constructed as a hero’s journey — a pivotal course of events that slowly test the story’s protagonist and push them to the next step of unfoldment — toward transcendence. Each obstacle the hero experiences is a reflection of himself, as he is moved one step closer to sacrifice the egoic sense of self to the greater good, which is total consciousness.
When we study mythology, Campbell taught, we find the theme of sacrifice to be all-important. We must let go in order to receive what is already present. Campbell said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” The hero sacrifices his lower nature for his higher nature, and his safety for the one he rescues, or perhaps an object of desire for a noble cause.
Campbell taught that sacrifice is a theme that runs through all things natural — death (the sacrifice of a living being) gives way to new life in an ever-continuing cycle. But death is often metaphorical and may be the death of a habit, a pattern of thinking, or an attachment to something. Or, he said, “When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.”
Perhaps the most poignant and revealing teaching that arises from the Campbell-Moyers interview on “Sacrifice and Bliss” is that once the hero has made “the ultimate sacrifice,” there is a realization that takes place. This is the stuff of enlightenment wherein the act of total surrender of the personal self gives way to the realization that there is no “other.”
This, said Campbell, is “the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization that you and the other are one” — and that the idea of separation (a separate “me” and “you”) is only due to being stuck in the temporal idea of time and space created by the egoic self. Finding this truth about Oneness, Campbell told Moyers, “is not a concept; this is a realization.”
The award-winning conversation between Moyers and Campbell is now a timeless classic. It is not only eye-opening for viewers who are new to the depth of thought behind mythology and metaphor, but also for those who have seen the interviews over and over again. Now streaming on Gaia, Campbell’s immortal words are readily available for everyone’s next step on their spiritual journey—their own personal hero’s journey toward transcendence.
20 Eckhart Tolle Quotes to Center Your Heart
Stressed? Worried? Unfocused? Life does that to you when you’re not staying mindful and grounded. Luckily, great teachers like Eckhart Tolle are there to help us remember where our mind should be.
Carve out a little time to meditate on some of these great words from Eckhart Tolle for a quiet moment of peace:
On Being You
-“Give up defining yourself — to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.
-“Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.”
-“You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.”
-“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.”
-“If your mind carries a heavy burden of past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.”