I HAVE NEVER THOUGHT OF MY RESOLVE TO DEVOTE MY LIFE TO THINKING AND WRITING AS “FOLLOWING MY BLISS”—BUT THAT IS HOW JOSEPH CAMPBELL DESCRIBES IT.
THE MAN PUTS IT WELL.
MIND YOU, I DOUBT MANY WOULD DESCRIBE MY LIFE AS BLISSFUL—IT IS DIFFICULT IN THE EXTREME (AT TIMES)—BUT IT IS A GREAT AND WONDERFUL THING TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING
‘BLISS’ MAY WELL BE THE RIGHT WORD
The following Joseph Campbell quotes are by way of Maria Popova and her consistently excellent website www.brainpickings.com
Popova understands creativity like few others do—and excels at explaining it.
But, do any—who are not creative themselves—understand? I sometimes wonder. Some do, of course, but my general feeling is that they are rare exceptions.
It is a great pity that we don’t rate creativity more highly. It is a force of astonishing power that almost always enhances the human condition —yet it is suppressed in almost every way from the moment we are born. Its great crime is that, virtually by definition, it questions the status quo—and a great many people are vested in just that, and fearful of change. Those in power—the true beneficiaries of the status quo—manipulate and exploit them accordingly. The fearful are disturbingly easy to manipulate—which is why the current U.S way of life always features a bogeyman and has been structured to be, as far as most of us are concerned, economically insecure.
Some of us fight on regardless—and discover that the game is worth the candle and how truly extraordinary and enriching the creative life can be.
Joseph Campbell explains it well. He did this, according to Popova, during a lengthy conversation with broadcaster, Bill Moyers which ended up as six one episodes for PBS. They were broadcast in 1988. Campbell actually died in 1987.
“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.
“Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.
“It’s characteristic of democracy that majority rule is understood as being effective not only in politics but also in thinking. In thinking, of course, the majority is always wrong.
“The majority’s function in relation to the spirit is to try to listen and to open up to someone who’s had an experience beyond that of food, shelter, progeny, and wealth.
“We are having experiences all the time which may on occasion render some sense of this, a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what it is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth.
“Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss. Most people are concerned with other things. They get themselves involved in economic and political activities, or get drafted into a war that isn’t the one they’re interested in, and it may be difficult to hold to this umbilical under those circumstances. That is a technique each one has to work out for himself somehow.
“But most people living in that realm of what might be called occasional concerns have the capacity that is waiting to be awakened to move to this other field. I know it, I have seen it happen in students.
“The religious people tell us we really won’t experience bliss until we die and go to heaven. But I believe in having as much as you can of this experience while you are still alive.
“If you do 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. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
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