Joe on “rising above limitation and restraint.”

Joseph Chilton Pearce on the dynamic of biology and culture is well-worth the length of this interview. And THE BIOLOGY OF TRANSCENDENCE: A BLUEPRINT OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT is certainly worth the read.

In this interview with Duncan Campbell, he discusses the reasons culture is violent. He explains that by its nature it inhibits our biological drive toward transcendence. We are creatures designed to adapt and change. However, culture is not. Culture demands status quo. This tension will always build into a rage. Governmental powers that understand this have learned to shape narratives so that “an outside force . . .is organized” into a demon. The building internal rage of the individual is then culturally focused around an externalized block to the drive toward adaptability. It diverts the attention away from the self and toward other and releases the rage there.

And much more. Talk at its best.

This is an exploration of the power of story to keep us trapped in our current mindset. Charles Eisenstein makes clear the necessity for a new story for the Western world and those cultures emulating us.

Separation is not an ultimate reality, but a human projection, an ideology, a story. As in all cultures, our defining Story of the People has two deeply related parts: a Story of Self, and a Story of the World. The first is the discrete and separate self: a bubble of psychology, a skin-encapsulated soul, a biological phenotype driven by its genes to seek reproductive self-interest, a rational actor seeking economic self-interest, a physical observer of an objective universe, a mote of consciousness in a prison of flesh. The second is the story of Ascent: that humanity, starting from a state of ignorance and powerlessness, is harnessing the forces of nature and probing the secrets of the universe, moving inexorably toward our destiny of complete mastery over, and transcendence of, nature. It is a story of the separation of the human realm from the natural, in which the former expands and the latter is turned progressively into resources, goods, property, and, ultimately, money.</blockquote

“My Favorite Parenthetical Thought”

within cosmic
laws is the energy of grace,
which animates
what we call higher motivation
when a universal law
emerges in our psyche
during a decision making moment,
it comes
as a messenger of grace,
as well as psychic motivation.
In contrast,
traffic laws on the highway
are not ‘grace-filled.’
They are order-keepers
of the mundane
world that lack
the animation of grace.
an intuitive ‘hit’
to slow down
for no conscious reason,
which then turns out
to be a life-saving act
because another car
was out-of-control,
is an act of grace
operating in the mundane

Carline Myss, April Salon (Year not recorded.)

Maya Angelou and son Guy Johnson Talk Writing

The Writing Life: Maya Angelou and son Guy Johnson Live It

This conversation between two accomplished writers who speak with the ease of mother and son about something so rich and full as living the writer’s life moves you to write.

Listen for the gems casually thrown out as their love and respect for the power of the word and the stories about us they tell is revealed in the artful and playful dialogue.  Pick the emeralds and diamonds out of the air and hold them for a lifetime of wealth and beauty.

The Writing Life: Maya Angelou and son Guy Johnson Live It

Pathways to Bliss: The Necessity of Rites

I started reading Pathways to Bliss because it is Joseph Campbell who coined the phrase: “follow your bliss.” So, of course, one would find a map, a pathway to bliss here. After all, isn’t that what we are all after? Bliss?

Instead in chapter one, “The Necessity of Rites,” I am introduced to our modern “calamity.” He explains that because our current myths are not fulfilling all four primary functions of myth, we are floundering. The calamity needs to be addressed in order to know bliss.

Toward that end what follows is a summary of Campbell’s explanation of the four primary functions of myth. We can then know which functions our myths are not fulfilling and work on regaining function. When we live in the function, this is the path to follow.

However, before we can begin this enumeration, we must recognize that myth evolves out of our need to evade, avoid, deny the first law of existence. I quote at length because the poetry of his explanation carries the explanation.

Now, life lives on life. Its first law is, now I’ll eat you, now you eat me–quite something for consciousness to assimilate. This business of life living on life–on death–had been in process for billions of years before eyes opened and became aware of what was going on out there, long before Homo sapien’s appearance in the universe. The organs of life had evolved to depend on the death of others for their existence. These organs have impulses of which your consciousness isn’t even aware; when it becomes aware of them, you may become scared that this eat-or-be-eaten horror is what you are.

Myth functions to “reconcile consciousness” of this “horrendous presence,” this raw fact of life of which during our waking hours we prefer being unaware.

The four functions of myth are:

1. “To evoke in the individual a sense of grateful, affirmative awe before the monstrous mystery that is existence.”
2. “To present an image of the cosmos that will maintain your sense of mystical awe and explain everything that you come into contact with in the universe around you.”
3. “To validate and maintain a certain sociological system: a shared set of rights and wrongs, proprieties or improprieties, in which your particular social unit depends for its existence.”
4. “To carry the individual through the stages of his life, from birth through maturity through senility to death.”

So the first order of myth simply affirms life to “its rotten, horrendous base.” This is accepting life on its own terms and in no way “world-negating.” I think for the modern sensibility this seems contradictory. In fact, it is the paradox that what we call primitive man readily accepts. It is reverence for existence at its roots. When your meat is not served in plastic, you accept that life lives on death and you are in that cycle. As Campbell says, “World-weariness comes later, with people who are living high on the hog.”

The second order of myth is to create a cosmology, which science and religion have taken over. The third order of myth is sociological. And the fourth order of myth is psychological.

Functions two and three are in large part controlled by society. We go along for the bloody ride that is the journey we call history. Our focus as individuals is on function number one and four.

However, “civilized” cultures control or deny awe, an issue we will come to later. But without awe there is no motivator other than world-negating. The reverence of awe that puts us in flow when we surrender to it unwittingly becomes for the individual a struggle against culture.

And the fourth function is in dispute. The rites that take you through the stages of our lives are not servicing our needs. Thus we become neurotics.

Because we are so dependent on family and tribe for survival, we learn to think in terms of those primary relationships. However, what has evolved in the Western culture is the expectation of and need for critical thinking, which requires independence from authority. This contradiction causes personal turmoil. It is in fact, part of the uniquely Western and relatively very new dilemma of developing an individual personality.

Herein lies the necessity for rites. Rites lead us from dependence to independence. However, because our rites are no longer sufficient for transitioning us, we are in need of re-establishing them. This underlying issue is readily recognizable in the recent town hall meetings about medical care reform.

Pathways to Bliss: An Introduction

I went out to buy groceries and came back with a book. I forgot the groceries. But in my life, the two are almost synonymous. I went into the bookstore to find The Sacred Contract of America by Caroline Myss. Not in the store–would have to order. Too hungry. Browsed through the shelves and found this gem: Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation from the collected works of Joseph Campbell.

Bliss is what I believe we all seek: “. . . bliss is: that deep sense of being present, of doing what you absolutely must do to be yourself.” In our culture, most of us have lost the model for finding bliss because we do not have the guides to show us how to get there. Or even more disheartening, we chase the almighty dollar thinking that it will take us there. But as we are experiencing here in America, that plan does not work so well because one day you can wake up and the money is gone. And with it, your attempts at bliss. True bliss comes from having one foot in the here and now and one foot in the eternal. And it is myth that serves as our guide.

He suggests the first place to look if you are feeling lost, unable to find your bliss, is to look to the myths of your childhood. They are there whether you accepted or rejected them. I rejected my cultural myths and have spent a lifetime looking to replace them. Ironically, it looks as if the country I live in has caught up with me. She seems to have lost her myths as a loud and confused cadre attempts to taut the symbol of the myth as the myth. They are lost in their own hall of mirrors not understanding that the myth is “transparent to the transcendent.” They espouse one myth as THE myth thereby losing the transcendent quality of the myth. “And one of the problems with the popularization of religious ideas is that the god becomes a final fact and is no longer intself transparent to the transcendent.”