Monday, September 7, 2009

Deep, Deeper and Deepest Thoughts to Think About

Deep: Martin Buber

"Real faith does not mean professing what we hold true
in a ready-made formula. It means holding ourselves
open to the unconditional mystery which we encounter
in every sphere of our life and which cannot be
comprised in any formula. It means that, from the
very roots of our being, we should always be prepared
to live with this mystery as one being lives with
another. Real faith means the ability to endure life
in the face of this mystery."

Deeper: A Rumi Poem

To speak the same language is to share the same blood, to be related
To live with strangers is the life of captivity
Many are Hindus and Turks who share the same language
Many are Turks who may be alien to one another
The language of companionship is a unique one
To reach someone through the heart is other than reaching them through words.
Besides words, allusions and arguments
The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak.

Deepest: Joseph Campbell Speaks of Myths

Reading again, Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, I have found the following thoughts certainly worth thinking about (if you are disposed to think about such things).

In the Foreword, “On Completion of The Masks of God,” Campbell considers his 12 years of research in comparative mythology as confirmation, “of the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony…finding “worldwide distribution” of such themes as “fire theft, deluge, land of the dead, virgin birth, and resurrected hero…appearing everywhere in new combinations."

Commenting further on this phenomenon: “No human society has yet been found in which such mythological motifs have not been rehearsed in liturgies; interpreted by seers, poets theologians, or philosophers; presented in art; magnified in song; and ecstatically experienced in life empowering visions….Every people has received its own seal and sign of supernatural designation, communicated to it heroes [and prophets] and daily proved in the lives and experience of its folk."

He reminds us that these stories and “revelations” have inspired many “who bow with closed eyes in the sanctuaries of their own tradition, [yet] rationally scrutinize and disqualify the sacraments of others...." when "an honest comparison immediately reveals that all have been built from one fund of mythological motifs—variously selected, organized, interpreted and ritualized, according to local need…” In observing what humans have chosen to be the ground of their lives, he finds that, “they have chosen not the facts in which the world abounds, but the myths of an immemorial imagination—preferring even to make a hell for themselves and their neighbors, in the name of some violent god, to accepting gracefully the bounty the world affords."

Campbell asks, “Are modern civilizations to remain spiritually locked from each other in their local notions…” and traditions of these myths/stories/religions, which essentially drive us “diametrically apart?” While the above may seem to suggest that mythologies can be destructive, or at least divisive, we also realize through Campbell's study that mythology is the mother of all arts. Speaking of the best of human creation, he quotes from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake: "utterly impossible as are all these events they are probably as like those which may have taken place as any others which never took person at all are ever likely to be."

At this stage, however, in humanity’s development, Campbell calls for a new understanding and imagination of a “broader, deeper kind than anything envisioned anywhere in the past…” something, “far more fluid, more sophisticated than the separate visions of the local traditions, wherein those mythologies themselves will be known to be but the masks of a larger….'timeless schema' that is not schema."

What that will be or could be, we can only ponder and maybe imagine. I imagine it could be a kind of “spiritual science.”

I am enjoying reading Campbell and recommend this book, as it goes much, much further into the foundation of myths, way down into the "deep, deep well of the past," not only to our cultural/geographic roots, but to biological, psychological and even pre-historic origins.

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