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Optimal at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I ask you a personal question? Now the assume. A cybernetic organism, living tissue, metal, endoskeleton barriers, so. Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs, lemurs and squirrels. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of The Tonight Show, where it is normally my job to interview and deconstruct world class performers of all different types.
This episode flips the script, but you get an absolutely masterful interview in the process. Some cheating, I suppose.
It features the first program or chapter titled The Hero's Adventure of the six part series, The Power of Myth, which I recently digested. I'm going to be listening to it again in full. The series is just incredible. I found it oddly and profoundly calming and I really wanted to share the first program with you. So I reached out to many different people and had to figure out rights and get it all sorted out and blah blah blah blah blah.
End of the day, I was able to get this for you. Here's the short description and why I'm so excited about it. 40 years ago, renowned scholar Joseph Campbell, you might know that name because George Lucas consulted with Joseph Campbell on writing the original Star Wars, sat down with veteran journalist Bill Moyers for a series of interviews that became one of the most enduringly popular programs ever on PBS in dialogues that adroitly spanned millennia of history in far flung geography.
The two men discuss myths as metaphors for human experience and the path to transcendence. You can listen to the full series on Audible. Simply search for the power of myth and it will pop right up. It has an average of four point seven stars out of five with nearly 4000 ratings. It's outstanding. I highly recommend you check it out. You will not be disappointed.
And in the meantime, here's a taste test. Please enjoy the first program, The Hero's Adventure. And without further ado, here are Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.
Program one, the heroes adventure. I have a dream that one day every valley and some vehicle, every in mountain should be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the. See it together. We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly no. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a God, where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.
Where he had thought to travel outward, we should come to the center of our own existence where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world. Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, The Hero's Adventure. Joseph Campbell believe that everything begins with a story, so we begin this series with Joseph Campbell with one of his favorites. He was in Japan for a conference on religion and he overheard another American delegate, a social philosopher from New York, say to a Shinto priest, We've been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines.
But I don't get your ideology. I don't get your theology. The Japanese paused as though in deep thought and then slowly shook his head. I think we don't have ideology, he said. We don't have theology. We dance. Campbell could have said it of his own life when he died in nineteen eighty seven at the age of 83, he was considered one of the world's foremost authorities on mythology, the stories and legends told by human beings through the ages to explain the universe and their place in it.
The 20 books he wrote or edited have influenced artists and performers as well as scholars and students. When he died, he was working on a monumental historical atlas of world mythology. His effort to bring under one roof the spiritual and intellectual wisdom of a lifetime. Some of his books are classics The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which established his fame 40 years ago and his four volume study of mythology, The Masks of God. Joseph Campbell was one of the most spiritual men I ever met, but he didn't have an ideology or a theology.
Mythology was to him the song of the universe music so deeply embedded in our collective unconscious that we danced to it even when we can't name the tune. Over the last two summers of his life, we tape these conversations in California at Skywalker Ranch, the home of his friend George Lucas, whose movie trilogy Star Wars had been influenced by Campbell's work. We talked about the message and meaning of myth, about the first storytellers, about love and marriage, gods and goddesses, religion, ritual, art and psychology.
But we always came around to his favorite subject, the hero with a thousand faces. Why the hero with a thousand faces? Well, because there is a certain typical hero sequence of actions which can be detected in stories from all over the world and from many, many periods of history. And I think it's essentially, you might say, the one deed done by many, many different people.
Why are there so many stories of the hero or of heroes in mythology?
Well, because that's what's worth writing about. I mean, even in in popular novel writing, you see these the main character is a hero or a heroine. That is to say, someone who has found or achieved or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience. A hero property is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself or other than himself.
So in all of these cultures, whatever the costume the hero might be wearing, what is the deed? Well, there are two types of deed.
One is the physical deed, the hero who has performed a war act or a physical act of heroism, saving a life that's a heroic act, giving himself sacrificing himself to another. And the other kind is the spiritual hero who has learned or found a mode of experiencing the supernormal range of human spiritual life and then come back and communicated it. It's a cycle. It's a going and to return that the hero cycle represents. But then this can be seen also in the simple initiation ritual where a child has to give up his childhood and become an adult, has to die, you might say, to its infantile personality and psyche, and come back as a self responsible adult.
It's a fundamental experience that everyone has to undergo. We're in our childhood for at least 14 years. And then to get out of that posture of dependency, psychological dependency into one of psychological self responsibility requires a death and resurrection. And that is the basic motif of the hero's journey, leaving one condition, finding the source of life to bring you forth in a richer or more mature or other condition so that if we happen not to be heroes in the grand sense of redeeming society, we have to take that journey ourselves, spiritually, psychologically, inside us.
And Otto wrote in his wonderful, very short book called The Myth of the Birth of the Hero. He says that everyone is a hero in his birth. He has undergone a tremendous transformation from a little, you might say, water creature living in a realm of the amniotic fluid and so forth, and then coming out, becoming an air breathing mammal that ultimately will be self standing and so forth. This enormous transformation is heroic act, and it's a heroic act on the mother's part to bring it about that primary hero, a hero for whom you might say it's still a journey to be taken.
After that, there's a big one to be taken.
And that journey is not consciously undertaken to do heroes go out on their own initiative.
Well, the comes a very common one, the pigs and Celtic myths of someone who has followed the lure of a deer or animal that he has been following and then carries him into a range of forest and landscape that he's never been in before. And then the animal will undergo a transformation and become the queen of the fairy hills or something like that. That is one of not knowing what you're doing. You suddenly find yourself in full career of an adventure than the other one, where one sets out responsibly and intentionally to perform the deed.
For instance, when Ulysses son Telemachus was called by Athenee, go find your father that followed. The quest is a major hero. Adventure for young people is the adventure of finding what your career is, what your nature is, what your. Sources, he undertakes that intentionally, then this one into which you are thrown and pitched, for instance, being drafted into the army, you didn't intend it that you're in here, you're in another transformation.
You've undergone a death and resurrection. You put on the uniform another creature.
So does the heroism have a moral objective, the moral objective is that of saving a people are saving a person, saving an idea. He is sacrificing himself for something.
That's the morality of it.
Now, you from another position might say that something was something that should not have been realized. You know, that's a judgment from another side, but it doesn't destroy the heroism of what was done.
Well, that's a different angle on heroes than I got when I was reading as a as a young boy, the story of Prometheus going after the fire and bringing it back and benefiting humanity and suffering for it.
I mean, Prometheus brings fire to mankind and consequently civilization. That's, by the way, a universal theme or the hero of the fire fire theft theme with a usually with a relay race after it. Often it's Blue Jay or Woodpecker or something like this that steals the fire and then passes it on something else and something else that one animal after another and that burned by the fires as they carry it on. That accounts for the different colorings of animals and so forth.
It's a it's a worldwide myth that fire theft.
Do these stories of the hero vary from culture to culture?
Well, it's the degree of the illumination that our action that they seem different. There is a typical early culture hero who goes around slaying monsters. Now, that is in the period of history when man is shaping his world out of a wild, savage and shaped world. It has another shape, but it's not the shape for man. He goes around killing monsters.
So the hero evolves over time, like most other concepts and ideas, and, well, he evolves as the culture evolves. Now, Moses is a hero figure in his ascent of the mountain is meeting with YABBIE on the summit of the mountain and coming back with the rules for the formation of a whole new society.
That's the heroic departure fulfillment return. And on the way, there are adventures that can be paralleled also in other traditions that the Buddha figure.
It's like that of Christ. Of course. Five hundred years earlier, you could match those two traditions right down the line, even to the characters of their apostles or the monks. Christ. Now, there's a perfectly good heroic deed formula represented there. And he undergoes three temptations. The economic temptation where the devil says, You look hungry, young man, change the stones to bread, she said, and lives not by bread alone, but every word from the mouth of God.
Next, we have the political temptation he's taken to the top of a mountain and shown the nations of the world and says, you can come into control of all these if you bow to me. And then, oh, you're so spiritual. Let's go up to the top of Herod's temple and see you. Cast yourself down and God will bear you up and you won't even be bruised your heel. So I said you shall not tempt the logic. God, those are the three temptations of Christ in the desert.
The Buddha also goes into the forest as conferences with the leading gurus of the day goes past them, comes to the bow tree, the tree of illumination and the ghostly temptations then have the same temptations. But they are three temptations. And one is that of lust. Another is that of fear. And another is that of social duty, doing what you're told. And then both of these men come back and they choose disciples who helped them establish a new way of consciousness in terms of what they have discovered there.
These are the same carotids, the spiritual hero days, the Moses, the Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, Muhammad, literally. And we know this about him. He was a camel caravan master, but he would leave his home and go out into a little mountain cave that he found and meditate and meditate and meditate and meditate. And one day a voice says, Right. We have the Koran, you know, it's an old story sometimes it seems to me that that we ought to feel pity for the hero instead of admiration.
So many of them have sacrificed their own needs. They are very often what they what they accomplish is shattered by the inability of the followers to see.
Yeah, they come out of the forest with gold and it turns to ashes.
That's another motif that occurs in this culture of easy religion, cheaply achieved, it seems to me. We forgot that all three of the great religions teach that the trials of the hero journey are a significant part of it, that there's no reward without renunciation and without the price the Koran speaks.
Do you think that you shall enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as come to those who passed before you realize what the real problem is and that is of losing primary? Think primarily thinking about yourself and your own self-protection, losing yourself, giving yourself to another. That's that's what a trial in itself, is it not? There's a big transformation of consciousness that's concerned. And what all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness that you're thinking in this way.
And you have now to think in that way. Well, how is the consciousness transformed by the trials, the test that they are certain illuminating revelations, trials and revelations are what it's all about. Who in society today is making any heroic myth at all for us?
Do movies, do this in movies, create?
I don't know. From my experience of movies, I mean, the significant experience I had in movies was when I was a boy and they were all really movies that weren't talkies. They were black and white movies. And I had a hero figure who meant something to me. And he served as a kind of model for myself in my in my physical character. And that was Douglas Fairbanks. I wanted to be a synthesis of Douglas Fairbanks and Leonardo da Vinci.
That was my idea. But those were models with roles that came to me. Does a movie like Star Wars fill some of that need for the spiritual adventure for the hero boy? Perfect. Does the cycle perfectly. It's not simple morality play. It has to do with the powers of life and their inflection through the action.
And one of the wonderful things I think about this adventure into space is that the narrator, the artist, the one thinking up the story is in a field that is not covered by our own knowledge. You know, there is much of the adventure in the old stories is where they go into regions that no one's been in before. Well, we've now conquered the planet, so there are no empty spaces for the imagination to go forth and fight its own war, you know, with our powers.
And that was the first thing I felt. There's a whole new realm for the imagination to open out and live its forms.
Do you when you look at something like Star Wars, recognize some of the themes of the hero through art mythology?
Well, I think that George Lucas was using standard mythological figures, the old man as the advisor. Well, specifically, what he made me think of is the Japanese sword past.
And remember, I did I can feel the force flowing through him. I've done some of those people and this man has the character.
Well, there's something mythological, too, isn't there, in the sense that the hero is helped by this stranger who shows up and gives him some instrument, a sword or a sheaf after he gives them not only a physical instrument, but the psychological commitment and the psychological center.
This time, let go your conscience and act on instinct.
Bonnie had him exercising with that strange weapon and then pulled the mask over. That's real Japanese stuff.
After my show, when I took our two sons to see it, they did the same thing the audience did at that moment when the voice of Ben Kenobi says to Luke Skywalker in the climactic moment, Use the force, Luke.
Let go to the audience broke out, and they did in relation to a ploy to see this thing communicate in a language that is talking to young people today, and that's that's marvelous. So the hero goes for something, he doesn't just go along for the ride, he's not a mere adventurer.
Well, serendipitous adventure can take place also. You know what the word serendipity comes from? Comes from the Sanskrit Saren by the Isle of Silk, which was a of the family, the name of Ceylon. And it's a story about a family that just rambling on its way to Ceylon and all these adventures take place so you can have the serendipitous adventure as well.
Is the adventurer who takes that kind of trip a hero in the mythology is ready for it. This is a very interesting thing about these mythological themes that the achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for. And it's really a manifestation of his character. And it's amusing the way in which the landscape and the conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he's ready for is the one that he gets.
Look, I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid.
The mercenary solo begins as as a mercenary and ends up as a hero.
He was a very practical guy, a materialist in his character, at least as he thought of himself. But he was a compassionate human being at the same time and didn't know it. The adventure evoked the quality of his character that he had known he possessed. He thinks he's an ego, he really isn't, and that's a very lovable kind of human being, I think, and there are lots of them functioning beautifully in the world. They think they're working for themselves, very practical and all.
But there's something else pushing them. What did you think about the scene in the bar? That's my favorite, not only in this piece, but many, many pieces of the seen. Well, where you are is on the edge. You're about to embark into the outlying spaces and real adventure, a real adventure. This is the jumping off place. And there is where you meet people who've been out there and they run the machines that go out there and you haven't been there.
It reminds me a little bit in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, that atmosphere, before you start off the adventure, you're in a sea port and there is old salt sea men who've been on the sea and that's their world. And these are the space.
People also got a bad feeling about this, the world right there with something.
My favorite scene was when they were in the garbage compactor and the walls were closing in. And I thought that's like the belly of the whale, that that's what it is.
That's where they were down in the belly of the whale.
What's the mythological significance of the belly?
It's the descent into the dark, Jonah. In the whale. I mean, that's that's a standard motif of going into the whales bellyache coming out again. Why must the hero do that? The whale represents the personification, you might say, of all that is in the unconscious psyche. In reading these things psychologically, water is the unconscious. The creature in the water would be the dynamism of the unconscious, which is dangerous and powerful and has to be controlled by consciousness.
The first stage in the hero adventure when he starts off on adventure is leaving the realm of light, which he controls and knows about and moving toward the threshold. And it's at the threshold that the monster of the abyss comes to meet him. And then there are two or three results. One, the hero is cut to pieces and descends into the abyss in fragments to be resurrected. Or he may kill the dragon power, as Siegfried does when he kills the dragon, but then he takes the dragon blood.
I say he has to assimilate that power. And when Siegfried has killed the dragon and tasted the blood is the song of nature. He has transcended his humanity, you know, and re associated myself with the powers of nature, which are the powers of our of our life from which our mind removes us. You see this thing up here, this consciousness thinks it's running the shop. It's a secondary organ. It's a secondary organ of a of a total human being.
And it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.
Join me and I will complete your training when it does put itself in control.
You get this far to the man who's going over to the intellectual side.
I'll never join you. If you only knew the power of the dark side isn't a thing in our living in terms of humanity, he's living in terms of a system and this is the threat to our lives. We all face it. We all operate in our society in relation to assist them.
That was the system going to eat up and relieve you of your humanity, or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes with the hero with a thousand faces?
Help us to answer that question about how to change the system so that we are not serving it.
I don't think it would help you to change the system, but it would help you to live in the system as a human being.
By doing what? Well, like Luke Skywalker not going over, but resisting.
It's it's impersonal claims.
But I can hear someone out there in the audience saying, well, that's all well and good for the imagination of a George Lucas, for the scholarship of a Joseph Campbell. But that doesn't isn't what happens in my life.
You bet it does. If the person doesn't listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you're going to have a schizophrenic cracked up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life. And it's not the one nobody's interested in at all. When the world's full of people who have who have stopped listening to them selves in my own life, I've had many opportunities to commit myself to a system and to go with it and to obey its requirements.
My life has been that of a maverick. I would not submit.
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You really believe that the creative spirit ranges on its own out there beyond the boundaries? Yeah, I do something of a hero in that. I don't mean to suggest that you see yourself as a hero, but I see myself as a maverick.
So perhaps the hero lurks in each one of us when we don't know it. Well, yes.
I mean, our life evokes our character and you find out more about yourself as you go on. And it's very nice to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather than your lower. Give me an example. Don't give you a story. I'm dealing with an Iraq story right now. There's a motif that comes in American Indian stories very often, what I call the refusal of Suiters.
A girl with her mother lived on a week long on the edge of the village. She was a very handsome girl, but extremely proud and would not accept any of the boys. They proposed to her through the mother. And the mother was terribly annoyed by them.
Well, one day they're out collecting wood and they have gone a long way from the village. And while they are collecting the wood, a terrific dog comes over them. This wasn't the darkness of night, the sun. When you have a darkness like that, there's some magician that work somewhere. So the mother says, well, let's gather some bark and make a little wigwam with buckwheat growling for ourselves and collect wood for fire. And we'd just spend the night here.
So they do that and the mother falls asleep and the girl looks from this magnificent guy standing there with a wampum sash, Gloria, some feathers and all this kind of black leather. He says, I've come to marry you and all the way to reply, she accepted the guy and the mother accepts the man and he gives the mother the wampum belt to prove that he's serious about all this. So he goes away with the girl. She has acquiesced. Mere human beings were good enough for her.
But here's something that really.
So she's in another domain now. The adventure is marvelous. She goes with him to his village and they enter his lodge. The people in there greet her and she feels very comfortable about it and all.
And then the next day he says, I'm going off to hunt. So he leaves the lodge and the door is closed with the flap. There's a flap. When he closes the flap, she hears a strange sound. So does the whole day, and she's just in the hot and there's even come, she has that strange sound again and the door flap is flung off and in comes this prodigious serpent with his tongue darting and he puts his head in her lap and says, Now you must search my head for lice and things like that.
And she finds all kinds of horrible things and kills them all. And then he withdraws. And in a moment, after the gate door has been closed, it opens again. And then he comes the same beautiful young man again and said, Were you afraid of me when I came in just now? Look, she said she was all afraid.
Next day he goes off to hunt and then she leaves the lodge to gather wood.
And the first thing she sees is an enormous basking on the rocks. And then another and then another. And she begins to feel very badly, very homesick and discouraged. Then the evening, the serpent and then the man again. The third day when he leaves, she decides she's going to try to get out of this place.
So she goes out and she's standing in the woods thinking and her voice speaks to her and she turns and this little old man there and he says, darling, you are in trouble with the man that you've married is one of seven brothers. They are great magicians. And like many people of this kind, their hearts are not in their bodies. There is a collection of seven hearts in a bag that is hidden under the bed of the eldest to whom you are married.
Must go get that and then we'll deal with the next part of the adventure. She goes in and finds a bag of hot and is running out and the voice calls after her. Stop, stop. It's the voice of the magician and she continues to run. He says, You may think you can get away from me, but you never can. And just at that point, she hears the voice of the old man. He says, I help you there, and he's pulling her out of the water.
She didn't even know that she was in water. What does that say to you? That's to say you have moved out of the hard land, the solid earth and in the field of the unconscious.
And she had pulled herself into the transcendent realm and got caught in the negative powers of the abyss. And she's been rescued now by the upper powers. What you have done has been to elevate yourself out of the local field and put yourself in the field of higher power, higher danger. And are you going to be able to handle it if you are not eligible for this place into which you put yourself? It's going to be a demon marriage. It's going to be a real mess.
If you are eligible, it can be a glory that will give you a life that is yours in your own way.
So these stories of mythology are simply trying to express a truth that can't be grasped any other way. It's the edge, the interface between what can be known and what is never to be discovered, because it is a mystery, transcendent of all human research. The source of life. What what is it?
No one knows why our story is important for getting it that well. I think it's important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery and of your own mystery. And it gives life a new zest, a new balance, a new harmony to do this therapy and psychological therapy. When people find out what it is that ticking in them, they get straightened out. And what is it that life is? I find thinking in mythological terms has helped people invisibly.
You can see it happen. How what does it do?
It erases anxieties. It puts them in accord with the inevitable loss of their life. And they can see the positive values of what are the negative aspects of what is positive. It's it's whether you're going to say no to the serpent or yes to the serpent. That's easy.
Is that no to the adventure? Yeah, the. Adventure of being alive, life of living. But when I was growing up, Tales of King Arthur, Tales of the Medieval Knights, Tales of the Dragon Slayers were very strong in my world. Dragons represent greed, really, the European dragon gods things in this cave. And what he gods are heaps of gold and virgins, and he can't make use of either of them.
But he just got there's no vitality of experience, either of the value of the gold or of the female who humans guarding there psychologically. The dragon is one's own binding of one's self to one's eco, and you're captured in your own dragon cage. And the power of the psychiatrist is the. Break that dragon, open him up so that you can have a larger field of relationships.
Jim had patients come to him who felt alone, and she drew a picture of herself as caught in the rocks from the waist down, she was bound in rocks and this was on a windy shore and the wind blowing in, her hair blowing.
And all the gold, which is the sign of the vitality of life, was locked in the rocks. And the next picture that he had, her draw had followed something he had said to her. Suddenly, a lightning flash hit the rocks and the gold came pouring out. And then she found reflected on rocks round about the gold. And there was no more gold in the rocks. It was all available on the top. And then the conferences that followed those patches of gold were identified.
They were her friends. She wasn't alone, but she had locked herself in her own little room and life. But she had friends.
Do you see what I mean? This is killing a dragon and you have fears and things. This is the dragon. And that's exactly what that's all about. At least the European dragon. Chinese dragon is different. What is it? It represents the vitality of the swamps. And the dragon comes out beating his belly, saying, ha ha ha ha.
You know, that's another kind of dragon. And he's the one that you the bounty and the waters and all that kind of thing is the great, glorious thing. But this is the negative one that cuts to.
What you're saying is if they're not dragons out there and there may not be, the real dragon is in you. And what is that? That's your ego holding you in. What's my ego? What I want, what I believe, what I can do, what I think I love and all that, what I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might be too small. It might be that which pins you down.
And if it's simply that of doing what the environment tells you to do, it certainly is pinning you down. And so the environment is your dragon as it reflects within yourself. How do I say how do you slay that dragon in me? What's the journey I have to make? You have to make each of it has to make you talk about something called the soul's high adventure.
My general formula for my student is follow your bliss. I read, find where it is and don't be afraid to to follow it. Can my bliss be my life, love or my life, my work or my life? Well, if the work that you're doing is the work that you chose to do because you are enjoying it, that's it. But if you think, oh gee, I couldn't do that, you know, that's a drag and it's locking you in.
Oh, no, I couldn't be a writer. Oh, no, I couldn't do what so-and-so is doing.
Unlike the classical heroes, we're not going on our journey to save the world, but to save ourselves.
And in doing that, you save the world. I mean, you do the influence of a vital person, vital ISIS. There's no doubt about it. The world is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting it around and changing the rules and so forth. And no, any world is a living world if it's alive. And the thing is to bring it to life. And the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life is and be alive yourself.
It seems to me that the power of the teacher, isn't it to bring vitality to others, to make others see the vitality in them till it happens.
That's one of the delights of teaching. I mean, when you're not teaching in order to have an easy job, but because you you really have something to teach and you love young people and you want to give what you've got found to them and to see them come alive, as is the reward of teaching.
You say I have to take that journey and go down there and slay those dragons. Do I have to go alone?
If you have someone who can help you, that's fine, too. But ultimately, the last trick has to be done by you.
In all of these journeys of mythology, there's a place everyone wishes to find. What is it? The Buddhists talk of Nirvana. Jesus talks of peace. There's a place of rest and repose. Is that typical of the hero's journey that there's a place to find?
That's a place in yourself of. First, now this I know a little bit about from athletics, the athlete who is in championship form as a quiet place in himself, and it's out of that, that his action comes. If he's all in the action field, he's not performing properly.
There's a center out of which you act. And Jeanne, my wife, a dancer, tells me that in dance, this is true to the center that has to be known and held there. It's quite physically recognized by the person. But unless this center has been found, you're torn apart, Kench.
Now, the Buddha's word is nirvana, nirvana is the psychological state of mind, it's not a place like heaven, it's not something that's not here. It is here in the middle of the turmoil, what's called samsara, the whirlpool of life conditions, that nirvana is what is the condition that comes when you are not compelled by desire or by fear or by social commitments when you hold your center and act out of there.
And like all heroes, the Buddha doesn't show you the truth, the illumination. He shows you the way to the way.
But it's got to be your way, too. I mean, how should I get rid of fear? The Buddha can't tell me how I'm going to do it. There are exercises that different teachers will give you, but they may not work for you. And all the teacher can do is give you a clue of the direction he's like a lighthouse, that there are rocks over here and steer clear.
You talk a lot about consciousness. Yes, most people hear that term and like me, have only a veiled understanding of it. What is it?
Jane and I live in Hawaii and we're living right by the ocean. And we have a little lenni, a little porch, and there's a coconut tree that grows up through the porch and it goes on up and there's a kind of vine plant of big powers thing with leaves like this that has grown up the coconut tree. Now that plant sends forth little feelers to go out and and clutch the plant and it knows where the plant is and what to do and where the tree is.
And it grows up like this and it opens a leaf and that leaf immediately turns to where the sun is. Now, you can't tell me that leaf doesn't know where the sun is going to be. All of the leaves go just like that. What's called heliotrope is I'm turning toward where the sun is. That's a form of consciousness. There is a plant consciousness. There is a animal consciousness. We share all of these things. You eat certain foods and the byul knows whether there's something there for it to go to work on.
I mean, this whole thing is consciousness. I begin to feel more and more that the whole world is conscious of. Certainly the vegetable world is conscious. And when you live in the woods, as I did as a kid, you can see all these different consciousnesses relating to themselves. Now, it is a part of the sort of Cartesian mode to think of consciousness as being something peculiar to the head, that this is the organ originating consciousness. It isn't.
It's an organ that inflects consciousness to a certain direction, a certain set of purposes.
But there's a whole consciousness here in the body and the whole living world is informed by consciousness. I have a feeling that consciousness and energy are the same thing somehow. Why you really see energy? There is consciousness.
Scientists are beginning to talk quite openly about the Gaia principle that you are the whole planet as an organism, Mother Earth, and you see if you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth rather than has been thrown in here from somewhere else, you know, thrown out of the earth. 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 else how do we raise our consciousness?
Well, that's a matter of what you are supposed to think about, and that's what meditations are for. And all of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional. A lot of people spend most of it and meditating on where their money is coming from and where it's going to go. But that's a level of meditation. Or if you have a family to bring up your your concern for the family. These are all perfectly, very important concerns. But they have to do with physical conditions mostly and spiritual condition to the children, of course.
But how are you going to communicate spiritual consciousness to the children if you don't have it yourself? So how do you get that then? You think about the myths, but the myth for is to bring us into a. A level of consciousness that is spiritual, just for example, a book of fifty Second Street and Fifth Avenue into St. Patrick's Cathedral. I've left a very busy city and one of the most fiercely economically inspired cities on the planet. I walk into that cathedral.
And everything around here speaks out spiritual mystery. The mystery of the cross, what's that all about that? The stained glass windows, which bring another atmosphere in my consciousness, has been brought up onto another level altogether. And I am on a different platform, and then I walk out and I'm back in this one again, and how can I hold something from that? Well, certain prayers or meditations that are associated with the whole context there. These are what I call mantras and India, the meditation themes that hold your consciousness on that level instead of letting it drop down here all the way.
And then what you can finally do is recognize that this is simply a lower level of that.
The cathedral, a chart that you love so much, also expresses the relationship of the human to the cosmos, doesn't it?
Well, I think everyone who has spent any time at Schadt has felt something very special about this cathedral.
I've been there about eight times. When I was a student in Paris, I went down there about five times and spent one whole weekend and identified and looked at every single figure in that cathedral.
I was there so much that the concierge, this little fellow who took care of the cathedral, he came to me one noontime and he said, Would you like to go up with me and ring the bells? I said, I sure would. So we climbed the flesh, the the tower up to where the great bell was, the great, enormous bronze bell. And there was a little like a seesaw. And he stood on one end of the seesaw and I stood on the other end of the seesaw and there was a little bar there for us to hold on to.
He gave the thing a push and then he was on it and I was on it. We started going up and the wind blowing through our hair up there in the cathedral. And then it began underneath Bong, Bong, bong.
I thought it was one of the most thrilling adventure of my life. And when it was all over, he brought me down. He said, I want to show you where my my room is. Well, and federal you have the nave and then the transept and then the apps and around the apps is the quiet screen. Now the quiet screen and shock is about that wide. And he took me in a little door into the middle of the choir screen, and there was his little bed and a little table with the lamp on it.
And when I looked out, there was the black Madonna, the tree in the window of the Black Madonna, and that was where he lived. There was a man living in a meditation, a constant agitation.
I mean, that that was a very moving, beautiful thing. Well, I've been there time and time again since. What do you find when you go there? What does it say about all that we've been discussing? Well, first thing it says is it takes me back to a time when these principles informed the society. I mean, you can tell what's informing the society by the size of the what the building is that the tallest building in the place.
When you approach the medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. When you approach a 17th century city, it's the political palace, the tallest thing in the place. And when you approach a modern city, it's office buildings and dwellings that are the tallest things in the place. And if you go to Salt Lake City, you'll see the whole thing illustrated right in front of your face first. The temple was built. The temple was built right in the center of the city.
Yeah, I mean, this was a proper organization. That's the spiritual center from which all flows in all directions. And then the capital was built right beside the temple and it's bigger than the temple. And now the biggest thing is the office building that takes care of the affairs of both the temple and the political building.
That's the history of Western civilization from the Gothic through the princely periods of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to this economic world that we're in now in New York.
Now, the debate is over who can build the tallest building, not to praise, but to build the tallest building.
Yeah, and they are magnificent. I mean, some of the things that are going up in New York now really are. And this is the kind of architectural triumph. And but it is is the statement of the city. We are a financial power center. And look what we can do. It's the kind of virtuosic acrobatics that will new myths come from there? Well, something right.
You can't predict what a myth that's going to be any more than you can predict what you're going to dream tonight. Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from realizations of some kind that have then to find expression in symbolic form. And the myth, the only myth that's going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that talking about the planet, not the city, not these people, but the planet and everybody on it.
That's my main thought for what the future myth is going to be and we'll will have to deal with will be exactly what on this earth deal with have dealt with the maturation of the individual, the gradual, the pedagogical way to follow from dependency through adulthood to maturity and then to the exit and how to do it and then how to relate to this society and how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos. That's what the myths of all talked about.
That's what this one's got to talk about. But the society that it's going to talk about is the society, the planet. And until that gets going, you don't have anything.
There's that wonderful photograph you have of the earth seen from space, and it's very small. And at the same time, it's very grand.
You don't see any divisions there of nations or states or anything of the kind. This might be the symbol really for the new mythology to come. That is the country that we are going to be celebrating.
And those are the people that we are one with. Hey, guys, this is Tim again, just a few more things before you take off. No. One, this is five Black Friday. Do you want to get a short e-mail from me? Would you enjoy getting a short e-mail from me every Friday that provides a little morsel of fun before the weekend and five? Black Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week that could include favorite new albums that have discovered and could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up into the world of the esoteric as I do.
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