Friday, December 11, 2015

follow your bliss

This title and phrase has become both waved banner and clarion call for many these past years.

Few know its origin or care to track it to its source. Yet "follow your bliss" is a living philosophy that resonates deeply with  countless multitudes - both spiritual and secular. 

Attributed to Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 - October 30, 1987), an American 
mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and religion and his now famous monomyth

Campbell's concept of monomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation. 

"Follow your bliss" soon turned into one of Campbell's most identifiable, most quoted and arguably most misunderstood sayings. 

Constantly mistaken as encouraging hedonism, Campbell is reported to have grumbled later on, "I should have said, 'Follow your blisters.'" 

Based on the Upanishads sat-chit-ananda, Campbell saw this not merely as a mantra but as a helpful guide for the hero's journey we each walk through life:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are - if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. 
This was made even more popular when George Lucas stated, following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, that its story was shaped, in part by ideas described in works of Joseph Campbell. 

In later years critics have labeled Campbell and his work as a fanciful showy mishmash of over simplification of historical matters with a tendency to make myth mean whatever he wanted it to mean. 

Maybe Campbell's concept of myth - closely related to the Jungian method of dream interpretation and heavily reliant on symbolic interpretation - has grown outdated

Or it may well continue to live on in our love of Star Wars and other stories. May the Force be with us! 

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